Dear Parents and Teachers:
A recent article in Newsweek magazine gave teachers a big
red F.“Why We Can’t Get Rid of Failing Teachers.”. The cover of the
magazine looked like a writing punishment on a blackboard “We must fire bad teachers. We must fire bad teachers” over and
over down the cover. The article did quote Kate Walsh, president of the
National Council on Teacher Quality speaking about the achievement gap in the
United States, “It was a scandal of
monumental proportions, that there were two distinct school systems in the
U.S., one for the middle class and one for the poor.”
What makes a teacher bad? Is it genetic? Is it poor teacher
training? Is it burn out? Is it race or gender? Is it poor leadership? Or, like
the above quote: Are there “two distinct
school systems in the U.S., one for the middle class and one for the poor.”
I believe the overhauling and firing of teachers in the urban areas like New
York and Washington, D.C. is to keep pace with gentrification. If the
demographics of the city changes through gentrification, then the powers that be scramble to line up
the public school system to reflect the incoming real estate middle class with
a higher tax base.
The article, like most discussions on education is a
political one. The people who are most affected (teachers, parents and
students) have no voice. The discussion is among Newsweek writers Evan
Pat Wingert, and Randi Weingarten head of the American Federation of
and Michelle Rhee chancellor of the District of Columbia Public School
they are talking about education, they are mostly concerned with keeping
certain adults from earning a living as teachers. There seems to be very
about the needs of children. So much for No
Child Left behind.
On that note, an article
in the Economist (The Finger of Suspicion) revealed
Elementary and Middle schools suspected of cheating. Thirteen teachers
including the principal and assistant principal at one school were
cheating (unusually high numbers of wrong
to right eraser marks) on a standardized test. They were afraid of
making Adequate Yearly Progress required by No
Child Left Behind law.
There is something compassionate about the
slogan “Leave no child behind” while the slogan “No child left
behind.” feels and
sounds punitive. There is merit in lining up standards to foster
and to insure a better learning outcome, but does it have to be done
Gestapo? It is my belief that learning takes place all of the time.
instruction, is better when the total child is approached with the
nurturing the child’s God given gifts while helping him/her acclimate to
requirements of formal education.
To educate means to draw forth—to pay attention to the
child’s spiritual assignment, her/his emotional and physical needs and
cultural proclivities that live inside him. A child is not the sum total
test scores. Labeling a child a failure and consequently his teacher
solely on test scores is a colossal dehumanizing error. While education
credence to different learning modalities, in the end, the state demands
everyone sit down with a paper and pencil test to prove their
whether they have ADHD, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, near sightedness,
retardation or blindness. In the quest to raise test scores for the
children’s needs are neglected.
I could have designed my own curriculum when I was five
years old. I would have started my day with piano lessons, then
I would have used my genetic inheritance of music to learn math,
history and anything else that I needed to know. It’s called
would like to teach a more child centered program—one that maintains the
integrity of the child and the teacher while they move through a
interdisciplinary learning process.
As an independent contractor, I am offering a win win situation for the
student, the parents and the teacher. The idea that someone must be
within the context of traditional education is ludicrous.
My name is Kwelismith. I am an
interdisciplinary performance artist, music educator and author. While
is firing bad teachers, I would like to take a grass roots approach in
meet the needs of African American children and by association all
would like to visit your school to introduce my book and CD to your
students and parents. It’s About The
Music is the name of my non-profit company. Secret Meeting
Kwanzaa Songs and City Sounds is the title of my book
and CD. Secret Meeting heals the fissure between African and
(European) cultures. It is a book that validates student’s cultural
and their identity. Through songs, poems, essays and learning
Secret Meeting engages children as it encourages literacy and
opening libation poem calls children to a meeting using Black
In a workshop for students, I will present an
interdisciplinary music lesson using the songs in the book. Students
experience what it feels like to learn music, language arts, literature,
history and visual art simultaneously.
In a workshop for parents, I will help parents identify how
their own values can be aligned with Kwanzaa Principles. They will
their own talents and family history to learn how their child might feel
music-child centered environment.
Using the book Secret
Meeting in a workshop for teachers, I will help teacher’s identify
state academic standards overlap with music and are therefore being
through this interdisciplinary process.
In order to Leave no
child behind,It takes a village.
We can do this.
For workshops and books, you may
contact me directly by telephone (202) 652-0559, by email
aol.com, by USPS mail Kwelismith 1820 Valley Terrace SE Washington, DC
20032. For CDs go to www.CDBaby.com. to hear
song samples and to order.
Interdisciplinary music educator