Thursday, April 30, 2015

Baltimore MomLoses It With Son

Toya Graham mother of six in Baltimore was videoed punishing  and slapping her 16-year old son; after seeing him with a rock in his hand during the Baltimore rioting. This mother though you may not approve of her methods. You ought to approve of her overall parenting. No free range parenting here! Do you remember the old announcements which used to ask "It's 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your child is? " this mother not only went looking for her son in the middle of a riot, she found him and held him accountable.

As a parent educator I never condone hitting children in the face; which, Ms . Graham did repeatedly. But, what I did wholeheartedly approved of is her literally walking into fire and pulling her child out of danger. After calming down Michael and Toya were interview by Anderson Cooper. Michael, told his mother about the riot planned the night before, when he did not come home from school she went to find him. While on the surface this may seem to be a negative relationship, in fact it is a relationship full of communication. It is troubled like  most parent teen relationships. I suspect however, that Toya and Michael have a closer bond than would first appear possible given the first set of video clips.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why Empowerment Trumps Help

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
This philosopher much like us lived at the turn of a century. He died in 1204. One thing his time and our time must share are the poor. His statement reads to me about empowering a person.

When you give a struggling persin something they need you do two things one intentional and one not. The first is you help the iut of a bind. The second is to teach them there will always be help. Which may or may not be true. So, what do I suggest di both simultaneously. If someone comes along who needs help feed them and teach them to fish. 

Empowering someone is all about helping them to developing the tools to get back on their feet and get to the place where they can empower others. 

Empowering trumps help because it offers a person the chance to grow and turn to another and help them to do the same.

This is the foundation of my philosophy of parenting education. It's my job to empower parentshelping them to recognize how their strengths and weaknesses affect them and their children. Giving them the tools they need to strengthen the relationship between parents and children. In the end I am saying it is better to empower children than to help thEm, though both are necessary.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Warning: Using Worksheets and Other Elementary Teaching Materials Could put your Accreditation in Jeopardy

I am writing this blog post as as a warning to any Early Childhood Centers that are NAEYC accredited . As a professional in Early Childhood who is certified in helping ECE Centers gain Accreditation, I was very concerned to hear recently of a program in ECE using worksheets. The use of worksheets, flashcards and other elementary school type learning tools  are strictly against appropriate practices. You are putting your accreditatin in danger. NAEYC  is very strict and serious about Developmentally Appropriate Practices. DAP  materials are hands-on, 3-dimensional, and children make choices to interact with the activity.

 Coloring sheets are one thing and also usually frowned upon. Pencil, pen, crayon, activities asking children to circle, draw a line, or anything other than coloring is in no way Developmentally Appropriate Practice. I have seen centers go on probation and even lose their accreditation over these types of activities

Children who spend less time on active play and interaction actually have a harder time in school. Early learning is all about interaction children in preschool should NEVER be given a worksheet of any kind.

DAP is the foundation of our education form. Chiosing what is appropriate is a centers and teachers most important obligation. Just for the reinforcement  children ages three to five needs hands-on, 3-dimensional activities they can be physically and mentally engaged in, handouts, worksheets, and flash cards are in no way appropriate! Read more about Developmentally Appropriate Activities. Here Let me make a clarification point here. This is not talking about limiting learning. It is only saying the learning materials need to be hands-on and 3-D for, instance teaching the alphabet using magnetic letters children can manipulate.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Parenting, Alcohol, Hot Tub, and Naked Twister

This sensational title refers to a thirty-five year old Mom who participated in a drinking and sex party with her 16 year old daughter and some of her daughter's male friends. Story link The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) took her children and rightfully so. However, I think there is a bigger problem here. This Mom was in AA, itv was her sober coach whob ured her in. Again, the correct thing to do. My suspicion is this is not the first time this family had contact with DFCS. However, the case was probably closed or being monitored. I believe there needs to be programs which the state can push adults into for after care and support. If this family was mandated to attend such a program; a professional may have been able to keep this troubled parent from going of the rails. Ac professional could have intervened before thiscl parent got to  the point she was engaging in such detrimental behavior. I wonder where her family and friends were in this situation. Had they noticed but, had no idea how to help?

Sometimes, troubled adults need more help. Especially, those who are also responsible for minor children. So, for those of you who need help figuring what to do keep reading!

Get together some friends and talk about how to help this person succeed in recovering. Study about their condition and how it can affect children.  Here are some other ways you can help.

  1. Get in contact with an agency, counselor, or pastor who specializes in the area your person is struggling to overcome. Meet with them and ask for advice and support.
  2. Talk to your recovering friend about your wanting to help or support them and the family as they go through recovery.
  3. Give them the information you found and encourage them to go see someone. Even go with them as a support.
  4. Offer to take the kids if the parent is feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
  5. Pay attention to the adult's mental and emotional state. If you see they are in need suggest they see someone and offer to take the kids.
  6. Discuss creating a family safety plan. Do this especially if the person is resisting help. If there is trouble the children need to have a plan. Do this both if the parent is supportive or resistant. If they are resistant keep the plan between you and the children. Here is a link to understanding and creating one.
Please remember you could be the difference between a troubled pparent getting this far out,of control and a parent who recovers and teaches the kids that as Randy Travis sings Tough times Don't last Tough People Do.

Believe in Parenting


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

APS Cheating Scandal My Radio Commentary to Georgia Public Broadcasting

How do you feel about the APS Scandal?
When Sean Powers of GPB asked me this question I had to stop and think. When I first heard about the scandal I did not believe it. I’ve been an educator for many years and I thought no fellow educator would do such a thing. It flies in the face of everything education stands for. I did not want to believe educators who knew the children they taught would knowingly put them in such jeopardy.

For me, that’s the worst kind of betrayal. It is equivalent to what happened during the Enron scandal. These teachers robbed the minds of these children in two ways. First, they encouraged the children to cheat. Taught them to act without integrity. They gave them the correct answers not to further their education, but to gain personal or economic benefit. Secondly, they made it look as if the children had learned and understood something they hadn’t. These teachers put their students’ future education in jeopardy.

Monday, on the first day of sentencing the judge said he might have to someday put these same kids behind bars. And that brought it home for me. The actions of these school personnel is far reaching and utterly disgusting.

On top of that all though convicted of their crimes they now have the nerve to refuse to admit guilt. They think that on appeal they may get better sentences or walk away without punishment. REALLY.  What about the children whose minds, character, and lives they robbed

Don’t they deserve justice? I am sick, disgusted, and grieved by the behavior of these so called educators. But, more importantly I am overwhelmed by the pain and betrayal they have visited upon the parents, children and city of Atlanta. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

APS Scandal: The Judge's Perspective

Today was the first day of sentencing for 11 of the APS School Personnel convicted of racketeering. The Judge said something which stabbed me in the heart. "These children come into my courtroom at 17 and unable read. They commit crimes, because they can not read and I have to put them in jail for ten years." I did not really hear anymore.
However, I had never thought about how judges must hate to send a kid to jail because they haven't really been given a chance.

Here is where I beg parents. PLEASE! Be sure your children learn to read well by age 8! There is a phenominon called the School to Prison Pipeline. The American  Penal System  uses 3rd grade reading scores to predict the number of jail cells they will need in the future. There are many workung to change the practice, but parents are the great equalizer. Make absolutely sure your children are reading well by age 8.  This will decrease the likelihood it will be your child standing where those former educatots stood today. Standing before a judge awaiting sentencing.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Colorado's Parents Rights Bill

 Colorado is looking to expand co-parenting rights in giving unmarriied, separated, or divorcing parents equal amounts of time with children if both parents are basically normal and without child endangering habits. There are supporting and opposing viewpoints.

The folks for the law want to see parents to have more opportunities and room to make decisions especially when speaking about custody or (responsibility as labeled in Colorado). The Judge in Colorado decides best interest  of the child. Tis law helps determine boundaries especially in co-parenting relationships.

Those opposed to this law are concerned about parents developing too much power over their children lives. This is especially true in abuse and neglect cases where parents tend to be both controlling and manipulative.

As a child and parent advocate I usually lean toward what strengthens the parent-child relationship. I believe one of the largest issues in the world is governmental oversight of parents. Governments all over the world are becoming more and more "big brother-ish" when it comes to parenting largely due to the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child. This treaty while very positive in recognizing children as human beings and should be treated with dignity. Also, over encourages  nation states to oversee all their children. This can only lead to more nations following Scotland's example with their "Getting it Right For All Children" program (See more here) this is the biggest danger to families period. I applaud Colorado for striving to give parent protection from this kind of government control. Below are an article for and against. As well as the study the for used as a reference. What do you think?!/menu/standard/file/Warshak-


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Qualcon Early Registration Closing Sunday

The online Quality Conference closes on Sunday April 12th. If you are a parent, director, teacher, or trainer this is a chance to learn more about Early Childhood Education. Save yourself some money and get your training.Here are the sessions they are divided into morning and afternoon.

SessionWorkshop        Presenter     
OneThe Emotions Before the ExplosionsAnn Corwin, Ph. D.     
OneUpside Down and Inside Out - Lesson Planning for Child-Led Classrooms  Barbara E. Harvey   
OneInsider Tips for Finding--and Keeping--Great Staff    Jennifer Carsen    
OneThe Physical Environment as a Quality IndicatorMiriam Dressler    
TwoR.I.C.E. – First Aid for Misbehaviors with a H.A.L.F. Dose of HumorDebbie Farr, Ph. D.     
TwoWorking with Children of Military FamiliesLiz Williams
TwoCreating CalmnessJudy Arnall 
TwoPurposeful Outdoor Play

If you would like to register click on the  title for the Quality Conference for Early Childhood Leaders.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why the Convicted 11 Teachers Need Jail Time

Here in Atlanta there is a group of Activist who are rallying to have the convicted public school teachers get no jail time for their crimes. I find this to be unconscionable. These eleven people were found guilty by a jury of their peers. The crime they committed is not as dire as the results. They not only gave up on the children they were serving they helped them to cheat the system and then got paid for doing so!

They betrayed the taxpayers, the school system, the parents, and most tragically the children. Teachers are often considered noble because of the job they do for our communities. However, these teachers betrayed that trust and instead monetized the non-teaching by telling children the right answers, and hosting home parties where they erased and replaced answers.

Never concerned these tests which were wrong, would make it harder on the children and confuse their educational progress for years to come. It would show proficiency the children did not have making it harder because knowledge is built on knowledge. If the child had not learned what the test says they will have  future struggles because teachers use past test scores to build lesson plans. However, a new teacher may not catch on to the faulty test scores, and  children not having these skills and try to build on a faulty foundation. This would cause confusion for children and a lot of wasted time trying to teach based on lies. It is criminal for the trusted professionals to have done this to children.

OF COURSE THEY SHOULD GO TO JAIL! If the Judge has any sense they should get as close to the maximum sentence as possible. I heard an activist say they never committed a crime. But, stealing the learning and the future from vulnerable children by a teacher is worse than any drug dealer. A person buying drugs knows what they are buying. Children depend on the  expertise and integrity of teachers to teach them. These teachers put their future lives in jeopardy for their own gain. I find this so criminal if I were the judge I would give them time and a half.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Convicted Teachers, Parenting, and Educational Advoxcacy

The fact that eleven school officials and teachers were convicted of cheating, racketeering, and robbing children of an education should scare every parent in America! It makes the need for advocacy on the behalf of children a more important parental obligation. I will be releasing a book this month on how to be an Educational Advocate. I will leave the how for the book. However, I want to lay out the why in this blog post.

Teachers in the Atlanta Public Schools gave up on the children and instead held cheating parties. Rather than striving to get the community involved. Encouraging parents to understand the need and get them involved they cheated for bonus money and their own careers. It is sad and disgusting. The truth is this is a snapshot of what is happening all over America. It is partially the fault of the educational establishment and partly the fault of parents for believing them.

The educational establishment over the last forty years have convinced parents they are not needed. Just send children to school and we will take care of the rest. Okay, how is that working for us? It isn't! So, now what? Parents it is time to not only to get involved but to stay on educators to ensure that not only is your child learning, but, every child in the classroom.

 It is human nature to work harder when you are being watched. When a teacher knows you are watching and asking question they are more likely to step up their game. If you ask about how common core is effecting the classroom and pay attention you maybe able to also go to the school board and give specific examples the teacher is not free to give.

Schools are beginning to recognize this error and starting to talk about Parent Engagement. However, they are thinking about engagement from their point of view; how you can become a part of what they are doing. This is  a mistake. Schools were created to help you not the other way around. As you begin to take an active role make it clear you are a partner not a patsy. As an adult you are an equal do not accept less.
Educational Advocacy is about ensuring the school is both supported and held accountable for the job they are doing. No one can do that better than parents. Get a group of other concerned parents together and develop a strategy to make things better. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Discuss what your experiences are with the teachers and the administration. Create a list of specific needs and present them to the PTO/PTA.
  2. Create a group who are specifically going to regularly go to school board meetings and bring back information. Discuss and create specific tasks to present to the school board for consideration.
  3. Create a group to look at the school note any problems or concerns. Create a specific list for the principal. Ask how the principal needs support from the parents and then be sure he/she gets it.

Creating a strong, concerned, group of parents willing to both support the schools and hold them accountable is key to making schools better. Each school is as different as the children and parents it serves. While what kids stays the same. How they learn it can very. The goal is to syupport teachers in teaching and be ensured children are learning. One good thing about common core teachers can not teach to the test. They must teach children how to think so they can write and explain the process of the learning. Overall, however education belongs in the hands of parents, teachers, and the local community. If you do not get involved with making sure your child learns then who will?