Monday, July 28, 2008

Educate or else

I am truly disgusted with the education system in America, particularly in Chicago, Illinois. The majority of the schools are underfunded and no one seems to care. Illinois ranks 49th out of the 50 states as it relates to school funding. What is really interesting is this, the legislators aren't really concerned. The Rev. Senator James Meeks (Illinois) just made an announcement on Fox News Chicago about the first day of school. He is calling on parents to keep their children out of school and board buses to go to these affluent suburbs like Winnetka and enroll in schools there. The whole point is not to discourage or take away from these schools, but it is to tell the legislators that it is time out for this inadequate funding. One of the schools New Trier just received approval from the state to rebuild its school and this will cost about $1 billion. Oh, the other discrepancy is New Trier spends about $18,000 per student and most Chicago Public Schools (CPS)receive 1/2 or less of that per student. The average ACT score at New Trier is 27 and in CPS it is 13.

I can't really imagine legislators thinking that there is nothing wrong with this picture. I read an article in one of the newspapers about a week ago and it was talking about the legislators voting themselves a raise. Let's get real here, you want a raise for what? Is America really serious? If our legislators don't do anything soon, I think the situation will get worse. Right now, Black males have a 1 in 4 chance of going to jail, whereas white males have a 1 in 23 chance. Prisons are bulit based upon the reading scores of minority males (specifically Black and Spanish speaking) in the 3rd grade. What this basically says is "Read or go to jail." I know in Illinois, most prisons spend a minimum of $20,000 to house a prisoner for a year. Will someone please tell me why Illinois will spend at least $12,000 more to keep a child locked up with no possible chance of truly being rehabilitated (if that was the case there wouldn't be so many repeat offenders)? America needs to wake up and smell the cocoa beans. When you have children living in deplorable situations and the possibility of them changing their situation seems hopeless, why should they want to go to school? When the most successful person in their neighborhood is the local drug dealer or pimp, why should they go to school? The street life is has more to offer than the classroom.

I wish the legislators and administrators would come into my classroom unannounced. I want them to see the horrible desks in my room. I want them to hear the things I have to hear on a daily basis. I want them to go into the restrooms that are lacking toilet tissue and working hot water. Can you talk about the germs/feces that the students are spreading around. I couldn't imagine wanting to do work when I look at the facility.If the facility is run down, what message are we sending to our students? I try to make the room as aesthetically pleasing as I can, but sometimes it is difficult. I make signs of positive quotes by famous/notable people to try and encourage my students. Sometimes they read them and most times they don't.

Now, I'm no rocket scientist but it looks like something is wrong with this picture. It seems like Illinois is living in 1958 and not 2008. I can't believe this is happening. Shoot, who am I fooling, I can believe it. Everyday when I go to work, I am reminded of the inadequacies in education. It is crazy. I get tired of people placing the blame on the teachers. WAKE UP CALL: I am only as good as the resources available to me. Just imagine if we were having a relay race and the person who finished first won $1000. The race isn't fair if you have running shoes and I don't. I feel like that is how many of the public schools in Chicago and other urban areas are. Now on most days, I really like teaching; however it is difficult for me to want to stay in a profession that is not taken seriously. I think it is unfair to punish the students because of the decisions their parents may have made.

This past school year our focus was on the American Dream and is it attainable for all. Everything we read pertained to people either coming to America or already living in America trying to make their lives better. Some of the books read were "A Raisin in the Sun", "The Jungle", and excerpts from "Fast Food Nation." We also read a number of articles relating to this topic. One article read was written by Gregory Mantsios and it is titled "Class in America: Myths and Realities." This article discusses how the economic opportunities afforded to one varies by class. The writer gives an example of three young people who all start out with similar dreams for their lives but their socieoeconomic status dictates their future. Most of my students didn't know that the economic class they are born into pretty much is an indicator of their future. The three people showcased had very different opportunites afforded to them because of their parents socieoeconomic status. It is unfortunate that this is the harsh reality.

This article also discussed how poor white people have better opportunites than poor Blacks or Spanish speaking children. A good number of poor whites live in middle-class areas and are able to reap the benefits of a middle-class lifestyle. As it relates to people of color, they often don't have those same opportunities afforded to them. I had a client who once told me that her sister was able to receive public assistance and she was able to complete school and eventually get off of it. I know for a fact when a lot of Black people try to get or keep public assistance while in school, they are often denied. This tells me that the system is designed to set minorities up for failure.

I know some of you may be wondering what does this have to do with the school funding situation. It has a lot. If the legislators and administrators would put the student's best interest first, some of this tomfoolery will end. The truth of the matter is this: All students will not go to college (for whatever reasons). We need to stop fooling ourselves. The administrators keep cutting fundamental vocational programs with the false pretense that all kids will go to college and graduate. The current graduation rate for CPS students is for every 100 students going to college, only 6 will graduate and out of the six, only 3 will be Black males. We will need painters, carpenters, plumbers, hairstylists, mechanics and other trades that are being eliminated from many of the vocational programs. The fashion program was just closed. Now let me ask you this: Don't you wear clothing on most days? I know you wear them at least 4-5 days out of the week (depending on your work week). If you choose not to wear them, that is a choice, but when you leave your house you have them on.

Another issue I have with the government is they offer programs for white teachers to come and teach in the inner city for 3-5 years and in exchange they will either repay/forgive most of your student loans. Now you might think this sounds like a good program, but the downside to this is many inner city schools lose teachers almost every year. Oftentimes these teachers are planning their escape before they get into the school. In my opinion, this is just another way to hold poor students back. I am not suggesting that all the teachers that take advantage of these programs are not the best, but a good number of them are. Some of them don't really teach and they participate in social promotion (just passing kids) because they don't believe in these kids. The ones who do care often get burned out because of poor administration.

For those of you who wonder how teachers become bad, just go into any of these schools and observe what is going on. There isn't a whole lot of instruction, just a whole lot of frustration. It comes from every angle. The students come to school carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They might be on the verge of getting put out, maybe someone is touching them inappropriately at home, most of them come to school hungry. There are a myriad of more issues these children face and no one really know how to address it. The teachers are frustrated because they are trying to teach a class and there are so many distractons. The administratuon wants teachers to do so much paperwork. If you are at a school like mine, you will come to know what's important. I do have a few books for all teachers to read and if you have a heart for children, they will truly change your way of thinking/teaching. The first book is "The Failures of Integration: How race and class are undermining the American Dream" by Sheryll Cashin. The second book is "Black Students, Middle Class Teachers" by Jawanza Kunjufu. Last, but certainly not least, "Keeping Black Boys out of Special Education" by Jawanza Kunjufu.

Although I recommend these books for educators, anyone should read them if they are truly concerned with the way the education system is headed. Even if you don't have children/grandchildren in school or if your children go to private school, you still pay taxes and a small percent of your taxes go to fund schools. For those of you who don't think this has no bearing on you, it does. If it doesn't have an affect on you now, it will later.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wal-Mart, the good, the bad, the ugly!

My friend SuperFantasticGirl kept telling me that Wal-Mart was the devil. I finally watched the documentary about it(Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price) and she was absolutely right. Wal-Mart comes into small towns and ruins what people have worked years for to maintain. They are against unions (so all union employees should not patronize them) because they don't always follow the labor laws. This documentary follows Americans who has first hand knowledge about what this company is doing. I am just going to touch on a few issues here.

Public assistance: Many of the employess who work for the Waltons received public aid. Now if this is such a great company to work for (you know that feed us that bullshigedy on their commercials) then pay me a fair wage. I know they have the money to do so. Drive by a Wal-Mart on a Saturday morning and you'll see the lot is full of cars. Better yet, go by on the 1st of the month and see how packed the place is. The following is an excerpt taken from a Wal-Mart internal memo:

"We also have a significant number of Associates and their children who receive health insurance through public-assistance programs. Five percent of our Associates are on Medicaid compared to an average for national employers of 4 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Associates' children are on such programs, compared to a national average of 22 percent (Exhibit 5). In total, 46 percent of Associates' children are either on Medicaid or are uninsured." Source: Wal-Mart Internal Memo [PDF File], via New York Times

Is Wal-Mart actually proud that their employess receive public-assistance? Sound like it to me.

My second point is full-time status. Full-time employees work 34 hours per week (this change occurred in 2002 to prevent employees from getting health care). This is 6 hours per week less than most other businesses. Wal-Mart's plan is to keep as many employees as they can in a part-time status. If you go to and enter Wal-Mart, you will get a lot of information there, such as "In 2002, Wal-Mart increased the waiting period for enrollment eligibility from 90 days to 6 months for full-time employees. Part-time employees must wait 2 years before they may enroll in the plan, and they may not purchase coverage for their spouses or children. The definition of part-time was changed from 28 hours or less per week to less than 34 hours per week." The change was not done to benefit more full-time employees, but to discourage more employees from being eligible for Wal-Mart's healthcare plan. Those of use who have worked other places know that 90 days is a long time to wait for health coverage. Now these underpaid employees have to an additional 90 days. It's crazy.

My last rant is unpaid wages. You heard it right, they are not paying their empolyees like they should. Let's get real here: I work a 34 hour work week at $9.68 an hour (the average wage) and you won't pay me for overtime. At the end of the year, I got $17, 114 annual salary. I am still poor. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $17,650.

Wal-Mart gets tax breaks from most of the cities they set up shop in. I could go on, but I don't have the energy. I strongly urge you to watch this documentary and judge for yourself. I hope America wakes up and see Wal-Mart for who they really are.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

to sag or not to sag?

I received an e-mail the other day explaining the origin of SAGGIN or NIGGAS (the reverse). For those of you who are unaware, this is a so called fad; however what many young people don't know and understand is how it came about. First, we need to go way back to slavery. (I know you are probably thinking "Why do Black people always have to talk about slavery? Well, the truth of the matter is, most ills facing America stemmed from slavery, AND it's a part of history that we can't change, so deal with it!) Anyway, the slave owners were trying to find additional ways to demoralize/dehumanize slaves so they would not allow them to were belts. (Yes, Black people did have morals at one point).

The next way this was perpetuated was from prison. Many prisons didn't allow prisoners to wear belts because they could use it to committ suicide. It is also a way for other prisoners to know that an inmate is "spoken for." I guess many young people don't realize this fad is not cute. It is truly sad that young Black boys have a 1/4 chance of going to prison. White males have a 1/23 chance. What is wrong with that picture?

In Lynwood, Illinois, they are issuing $25 tickets for people who sag their pants. I found this chart I posted and in Detroit, it looks like there are various levels of saggin. I think the fines for Detroit could go up to $500 and the offender can spend 93 days in jail. It is a misdemeanor, but come on, let's get real here: Is this the only issue plaguing the African American community? Let's talk about the number of foreclosures, and how about the number of Black males who are constantly going back into a prison system that is supposed to "rehabilitate them." What about the number of African American children that can't read/write/perform math on grade level? Are these not relevant issues? I mean, let's get real here: I teach high school and Lord knows I hate seeing drawers and things of that nature, nonetheless, if this is the only concern of police departments, then they need to send some of their officers to other high crime areas.

I found this picture on line and I believe the Deputy Mayor in Dallas is trying to encourage everyone to pull their pants up. There is even a local rapper Dooney 'Da Priest" is getting in on it as well. He has produced a song and a video to encourage young men to change this behavior.
Hopefully young Black men (and older ones) will get rid of this slavery/prison look and start looking like the young intelligent Black men they are. Also, maybe they municipalities will find other ways to utelize their resources.

Friday, July 18, 2008


It is summertime in Chicago and the natives are restless. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past say 2-3 years, Chicago has torn down many of its housing projects and calls itself gentrifying neighborhoods. When you get a chance, you should check this out Let me explain to you what gentrification is. According to

Gentrification is a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district's character and culture. In layman terms: let's get rid of the poor and bring in the rich.

Well, since this gentrification has occurred, there has been an increasing number of shootings throughtout the city. We got a new police chief (Jody Weiss) who worked with the FBI before coming to Chicago. He made a number of changes within the police department and many people are trying to blame him and the changes for the increase in violence. Now, I am not an expert on violence, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Prior to Mr. Weiss coming to Chicago, a good number of drug dealers and gang members were confined to one general area. Most of them were living in the housing projects. When the violence occurred, it was in a specific area and sometimes it would be newsworthy, and sometimes it would not. Now, that the housing projects are gone, the rebel rousers are scattered about. This is making it difficult for people to know what is going on in various communities.

Also, where are the parents? I say this all the time because when things go wrong, we (Americans) like to find someone else to blame. Instead of finding out who the real culprit is, we shift the blame on someone else. It's easier to do so. There was an incident with a young child (about 8) who was shot sitting in the car with his parents. The intended target was the stepdad/dad/boyfriend (not sure what he was, but he was linked romantically to the mom). Mr. Weiss made a comment about the man being the intended target and if parents weren't involved in criminal activity, maybe this child wouldn't have gotten shot. People were outraged and wanted him to apologize. He didn't. I was cheering on the sidelines. I am glad someone is not afraid to say what is right. It's about time we stop pretending like all of these people shooting and getting shot are not in a gang. Let's wake up and smell the cocoa beans. If everyone is not in a gang and is a good kid, then there would be no violence.
It baffles me when people get on the news trying to blame others for what the good ol mayor did. Maybe if the city didn't call temselves "getting rid of the riff-raff" (which is also code for minorities), maybe some of these issues wouldn't be happening. I am witnessing what gentrification is doing to a neighborhood. I work in an area called Bronzeville. According to Wikipedia, The name itself was first used in 1930, by James J. Gentry, a local theatre editor for the Chicago Bee publication. It refers to the skin color of African-Americans, predominant in that area at that time. It is also more accurate, because the skin tone of African-Americans is more brown than black. It has become common usage throughout the decades. Well, Bronzeville is now looking like Vanillaville. Many of the residents in this area will lose their homes they have lived in for years because the property taxes will skyrocket. What the hey, it's all in the name of making the city a better place. For whom?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cute things I can buy if I ever get paid

Jesse Jackson take 2

All I have to say is Dummy, No Class.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Things have not changed

I just read the article by Mary Mitchell in the July 15, 2008 Chicago Sun-Times. it talks about how 7 students who integrated Mount Greenwood Elementary School 40 yrs ago returned to take a picture. The were greeted by a mob of at least 5000 and a swastika on one of the school doors. One of the ladies was too frightened to get out of her car. It is so disturbing to know that 40 yrs later Chicago is still as racist as it was 40 yrs ago. I read this quote from Ken Kunz " That was Chicago in the 60's--a racist, backward place with someone named Daley as mayor. Today, however, Chicago is a's a racist, backward place with someone named Daley as mayor!"

Amen! Where do I send my offering?

Monday, July 14, 2008

RAT & Roach GIRL

My second class had to tell my tutor that there was a roach on the desk where she was sitting. I was sooooo embarrassed, but she said she had already seen it when she was going over the lesson with them.

I am at work sitting in the classroom and guess what happens, mimi comes out. Thank God the kids had left, but it was still nasty. I teased my co-worker last week because it was visiting her classroom. I guess it just came on over to my room. Hopefully, it will leave tonight. Ugh, so gross. This is why I keep telling the kids they shouldn't eat all over the building.

Super Size Me... after midnight

McDonald's is offering value meals for $3.99, but it's only after midnight. Go figure. I don't know if it's all of the meals or only a few.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The search is still on

I am still looking to move. I haven't have much success. I will probably have to purchase a place. Keep me in your thhoughts and prayers.

Jesse Jackson should have been the Bama of the Week!

Alright, for those of you who don't know it, Jesse Jackson really put that foot in his mouth. Talk about self-sabotage. That comment he made regarding Barack Obama speaking down to Black people. I'm sorry, but someone needs to tell these dead beat parents to start parenting and stop blaming others for their short comings. The time is long overdue for the people in the Black community to start addressing the issues that are plaguing us. Really, who are we looking for to save us? Surely it isn't Jesse or Brother Al. We need to learn how to save ourselves. I think Mr. Obama made a valid point during his speech on Father's Day. He is just saying what other have been too afraid to say.

I was in the car listening to the Doug Banks and Dee-Dee show. They were asking their listeners how they felt about the comment and if they felt like the Black community sweeps its issues under the rug. Most of the callers agreed that we like to keep our issues on the hush, hush and kind of pretend like it doesn't exist. I think that is the biggest issue. How in the devil can Jesse Jackson open his mouth and get upset with anyone? I mean him and Brother Al are always riding the coat tails of others. It is time for Black America to wake up and smell the cocoa beans. We need to try and rectify these issues. What has happened to the village? Where did they go? Why is grandma, her kids and grandkids all hanging out together?

The reality is this: Parents are not parenting anymore. They are too busy hanging out and trying to get their groove on. Children don't respect themselves because their parents don't respect themselves. I am not sure what has happened to the Black community. When have we become so cold and calloused? We don't care about anything except foolishness like who is wearing the latest gym shoes and other tomfoolery that means nothing at the end of the day.

As you might now, I am teaching the Freshman Connection program at my school. One of the outcomes of the program is to have the students create a guide to action. They are supposed to find an issue that affects their community. It may be a local, or global issue. Many of the students in one of the classes could not participate in a class discussion about some of the topics. Some of the kids couldn't answer some basic question and laughed about it. Do they not know that Black folks need to be informed on issues that have a direct affect on them? It is my prayer that they get it together before it's too late.

Anyway, I digress, back to the Bama of the week, Jesse Jackson. It's time for Jesse to sit down and allow someone who can connect with the American people to reach them. I am not sure who told Jesse Jackson he was the voice of the people, I know he is not my voice. Mr. Jackson is living in a glass house and is throwing some huge boulders. He should really sit back and find something else to occupy his time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Loreal HIP

I purchased some of that Loreal HIP eye shadow. It is not as deep as I thought. I try all types of make-up products and I wasn't too impressed. It was ok.

I didn't get this shade, I got some copper/gold color.

Au Naturale

I have been wearing my natural nail for almost 2 months now. I am suffering bad. I am not used to having my own nails. I am trying to see how my natural nail will grow. I am so tempted to go home and put that AXXIUM Gel back on them. I am trying to be strong, but I don't know. I sure do miss my enhancements.

Freshman Connection

I am working this program with the incoming freshmen. The program is designed to give students an introduction to high school and an opportunity to meet new friends. Many of them are so immature. I think they must still believe they are in elementary school.

The students are also supposed to find a cause and develop a plan of action. I am trying to figure out if I should give them some suggested topics or allow them to chose their own. I'm really leaning towards the suggested topics.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Taste take 2

I went to the Taste of Chicago again. I realized something: the food selection is not that great. I think if you go a few years, you will try everything there. It would be nice to have a little variety there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stevie Wonder at the Taste of Chicago

Saturday, I went to the Taste of Chicago with my BFF. We saw Stevie Wonder (not up close, it was too crowded) and he did pretty good. He was on for two (2), yep 2 hours (with the exception of the 5 minute break when Jesse Jackson spoke about something). His second hour was better than the first (in my opinion). I should have gone on Friday to see Chaka Kahn and Angie Stone. Tonight Joss Stone will be there. I will miss it.

It's been a while.

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I was without my work laptop and my daughter and sister has banned me from using the one at home. (I can use it, but my time is limited.) I am back in the swing of things.

I have been looking for a place to move and I am having a difficult time. People don't always call you back. I feel like they might not need my money.

I want to recommend to everyone the Sunday Brunch Buffet @ Shaw's Crab House 21 E. Hubbard. I went on Father's Day and had a good time. The regular buffet will not begin until September of this year, so you'll have to wait to get that good food.