The Screen is Cracked

In a school bathroom few weeks back I dropped my phone on the floor, on that ol' school tile floor. My first thought was "ewww" and my second thought was "please do not be cracked."  I waited for a second, finished washing my hands so that I could use the damp paper towel to wipe the phone and also took the obligatory deep breaths while hoping the screen was still in tact. Alas, my nasty phone had a cracked screen, the kind that makes you call the phone company about a replacement. I still had a little hope. If it still worked, I could just tell the story every time someone said "damn! what happened to your phone?!" Unfortunately, that was not the case. I touched the screen and it called someone, switched screens and started a text, started Netflix, then just flashed app after app. I was forced to leave an awkward voicemail saying "I was not trying to call you and my phone won't hang up, so hope you are having a good day."

Why wouldn't my phone listen to my fingers? Why wouldn't it follow the directions I was trying to give it? Well because the screen was cracked. Very similar to that of our education system. A collection of beautifully constructed buildings with the tools to change the world, but the metaphorical screen is cracked. And the conducting we are doing from the front of room, offices, and board rooms is not working. 

Over the last ten years it has been my pleasure to serve in so many schools, all public, most in the Greater Milwaukee area also known as home. I have sat in so many meetings reviewing data and being tasked with making an impact. Looking at the data though we are failing. We are failing our youth. Asking them to be okay with the cracked screen because it kinda works even if it doesn't work when and how we expect or need. 

Last week I had a conversation with an educator about behavior in a classroom and he told me that most of what he's got every single day " is the ability to drop a couple of character nuggets inside of a young person and I hope they heard some of the content because it's exhausting. Teaching is exhausting." I did not argue because teaching for sure is exhausting. But I do question a system that is not doing what it is tasked to do. If my phone is unable to make a call using my fingertips cause the screen is cracked I mail it in to the manufacturer and they send me another one. If a reading class is unable to teach reading, where do we send it? Who do we talk to? In many cases we talk to the youth that are not putting forth their best effort, perhaps their attention to lessons leaves a lot to be desired. In my opinion though looking to youth as the culprit is like saying the floor cracked my screen. We should be putting our youth in a position to be globally competitive,  they deserve that. They deserve everything we've got every single day.

One of my hopes for the blog posts I make is to be figuratively called to the carpet. I want someone to post three links, like naw sis you wrong on this one. I hope that someone reads the blog and snaps off in my comments, then screenshots it and tells everyone I am on one. I hope to start a dialogue, have some discourse, be forced to repost with edits. Today, September 29, 2017 you will have a hard time doing that but I am up for the challenge. I wholeheartedly believe the education system is broken. I think the screen is cracked and instead of replacing it, we asked our homegirl to fix it with super glue because they were successful once. We are putting a new screen protector on it so it is at least cute and a new case so it does not get worse.  

We're not doing the right things. We don't know what the right thing is. We continuously work in silos and small small groups trying to solve a problem that is so big it has to be collective. In our meetings of five important people we say collective impact and cooperation over coordination. The education system is broken, the screen is cracked we can no longer text, we can no longer call and the only people losing our young people. So, these little meetings are tired. 

I am talking to myself as well as you. As as adult in Milwaukee I am responsible for more success and less stress among young people in my community. WE need to be speaking to youth every time we see them, not just walking by them like they are invisible. WE need to be bold enough to have hard conversations with each other so we are prepared to have it with young people. WE did not grow up in this time, so save your walking in snow both ways and when you were this age stories for happy hour. WE need to stop settling for low expectations and good enough. WE need to call each other out. 

If I pulled out a phone with a cracked screen, the jokes, the questions, the commentary would be active with no hesitation. So, why don't we call out adults poor language around youth and the constant apathy? Some of us work in buildings with teachers who have lost their will, but we avert our eyes. We need to do better. We need encourage parents. We need to remind youth of their voice and power. We need to create support systems for our own greatness. We need to collaborate in actuality and stop meeting about it. This is hard work and we need to do better. There is not time to sit back and gather data and think about it, we have done that already. 

You will not get a trophy, ask Drake, there is no award for doing what is needed. We want to teach intrinsic motivation but we are not modeling it very well. You know I am right and in the illustrious words of so many youth over the last two weeks, "fight me." 

Yours In Glitter, 


Nikotris Perkins