The Screen is Still Cracked

As we begin July the only month not focused on the school year in many minds, I have decided to follow up on my blog post from September 2017 My Screen is Cracked. You are relieved, I am sure, that my screen is no longer cracked, but I also hope you are interested in making the 2018-2019 school year one that does more to pay the educational debt owed to our youth. I always have a sense of unbridled hope that the system will come back from the summer better than it left. And I as I sit at meetings talking about the school year both the upcoming and the one after, I know that it won't just happen because it can. But instead it will happen because WE made it happen. 

When my phone screen cracked, I spent weeks figuring out the best way to handle it while using an old phone as a loaner. In thinking about those weeks, I not only found the best way to fix my phone but perhaps some options that we could use as we make things happen for our youth.  

So, with our outdated, loaner phone of a school system in hand here are some things to think about.  

1. Do it Yourself - Concerning your phone just buy a kit off Amazon and install it yourself. Concerning our education system, we did this already and continually promise ourselves that we have really figured it out. We tell ourselves that after a good meeting and an innovative conversation about how we should change curriculum and update professional development. Unfortunately, those great conversations are usually not widespread and the implementation is even worse. If it does happen, it is often small scale and under resourced. So, I would say DIY is not the way to go. The debt owed is too large to chance a homemade fix. In fact, it is what we are doing now and parent engagement, student engagement, reading scores, and school culture tell us it is not working. 

2. Hire Someone to Do It - Stop at a kiosk, I mean at a vendor table and get the latest and hottest. You actually may see me there, talking about how I can assist with youth-adult partnerships and culturally dignified lesson planning. Thing is these are micro solutions. When you hire someONE they have an expertise and they are using it to improve spheres to which they have access. I have helped improved culture, attendance, behavior, and even test scores. These improvements are spread among 5 schools over the last 10 years. I have been helpful, but I have not revolutionized the system in a way that guarantees a quality education for every child. Some people fix screens, but the issue you may have with the scratches, speaker, camera, and memory are things they won't even advise you on. Instead you are reminded that "all we do is fix screens here." They are not wrong and they are very helpful as well as skilled at their craft. But that is not where the center of the revolution will take place. The issue is too deep to just think about it from one cosmetic perspective, we need it work for EVERY young person.

3. Trade It In - Sometimes you can just throw the whole thing away and get a new phone. School doesn't work like that. Firing everyone and rearranging the lives of all children will be traumatic not beneficial. We saw this happen last year in Milwaukee, WI and it was not good for youth or our dedicated and amazing educators. 

4. Insurance Claim - Now you pay for insurance monthly. Similar to the taxes we all talk about we pay when things do not go our way. Or maybe similar to the taxes that entities remind us we pay when they talk about how they have used your dollars correctly and should get your vote. Either way, filing an insurance claim means calling a 800 number, it means being on hold, it means explaining the situation in detail to make sure the accident is covered, and finally it means waiting 3-7 days for a phone to arrive. 

If we translate that into school, we are talking about seeking exactly what we need from someone else. This may mean scaling schools that are working. Looking at the tax breakdown in other counties. Meeting with similar sized districts to talk about what is working for them and asking them can they send assistance for implementation. Evaluating the growth in states that have figured it out and trying to make it work for us, though we may have different "insurance" carriers. 

Now, this can work we have seen it do so on smaller levels. But you have to pay the monthly premium. Which would be a collective and continuous effort in the same way for the same group of youth in talking about our school system. I feel like we defaulted on that insurance so, though an option in theory, we are not covered. 

5. Take it to the original manufacturer

I went with the this one and though it turned out, in my opinion, to be the least expensive and guaranteed way for success, it is not the easiest of processes. 

Perhaps we can get this going for education as well. I, Nikotris Perkins, would like to talk to the manufacturer of the education Black children are receiving. I started with it when I was 3 years old so I can explain my experience in, out, and around. And just like the Apple store, I have questions to get to the root of the problem. 

1. What happened? (exact date of incident and was it dropped, exposed to liquid, went missing, etc.)

2. Exact Device Info (make, model, all available on original purchase receipt)

3. Documentation (who are you, please provide information so we can confirm your identity)

4. Deductible (can be paid by debit, credit, auto withdrawal, or pre-paid card)

When I was asked all these questions about my phone I was scrambling to find original receipts and remember the date I actually dropped my phone. However, when I sat in a meeting last week about education this turned ugly. Misinformed and emotional reactions were often the answers supplied. Very few people said “I dropped the system” or “I can do better.” Most talked about how great they were doing or all they should be thanked for. Thing is though I go to work and do my best everyday, I am part of the problem of a broken system. I work in the system and I don’t hold it accountable everyday or in every way I can. I do my best to affect that I can touch, which leaves so many youth behind. That is true for many of us. There are also those of us who are going through the motions and not providing services that are really addressing the needs of the youth we serve. 

Our outcomes are telling our stories. Our youth are screaming for us to figure this out. We really don’t have time for July to be an off month. No one is coming to save us and this loaner system is not working. We need to build city wide answers that will prepare youth for adulthood. Teach them how to read, think, and compute independently and in collaborative spaces. We are the manufacturer and all the broken screens are piled in front of our faces.