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Film and forum will explore the challenges of Black male students

By Guest blogger on Nov 5, 2010 12:54 PM

We have another guest blog this week. This one comes from Ouida Washington and is about the film screening and event taking place at CCP tomorrow.

Black male students are in crisis in America.

According to the Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, African American boys are the lowest performing students in 46 states. The Breaking Barriers Report, produced by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, indicates that Black boys are more likely to live in a home where their father doesn’t live. Other troubling statistics say that Black boys are more likely to attend a school where the teachers are not certified in science and math, and are more likely to live in a household that falls below the federal poverty line.

Yes, Black boys are in crisis, but they also have the potential to be tomorrow’s great leaders. 

On Saturday, Nov. 6, Washington Koen Media will open a dialogue about these challenges with a screening and discussion of its documentary Beyond the Bricks (BTB), a film that chronicles the lives of two African American boys as they struggle to stay on track in the Newark, New Jersey public school system.

The event will be held at Community College of Philadelphia in the Great Hall of the Winnet Building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The dismal statistics that we hear about on a regular basis seem to have diminished our hope and drowned out the voices of African American boys, causing us to throw up our hands and assume that there are no answers. But beyond these statistics are real stories of real children. If we just took a moment to listen, we would recognize the tremendous capacity of these children and be inspired to realize that the primary remedy is about us coming together, rolling up our sleeves, and finding real solutions that protect, uplift, and build supportive environments for all our children.

In Beyond the Bricks, young men tell their own stories and share what they believe are solutions. Viewers will see the difference it makes in a child’s life when the community steps in and be given examples of success when public and education policymakers work together to address the needs of children

More than a film, Beyond the Bricks is also a national community engagement campaign that is asking communities nationwide to step up and take on this challenge to stop the rhetoric and begin to effectively work together to improve the lives of African American boys. 

With the support of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement at Open Society Institute and local partners around the country, Washington Koen Media has embarked on a 10-city tour to empower communities to love and safeguard our children.

The film will bring together parents, community leaders, policy advocates, educators, and students to share and promote local and national models that are working, look at new ideas, and plan together to finally address the issues that Black males and their communities are facing. The time is now!

Ouida Washington is co-founder of Washington Koen Media and producer of Beyond the Bricks Project.

The guest blog section is a place for people, other than our regular cast of bloggers, to share their views. (See our "About Our Blog" note at the top, right.) Got something you'd like to write about? Email us with a pitch, idea, or a completed post.

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Comments (16)

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on September 15, 2012 3:51 pm

I am excited to see this film!! I recently saw 'Won'y back down" and loved the films theme about Parents and Teachers working together to improve a school. Teachers and Parents respecting each other and respecting the kids goes a long way, I really love seeing different ways that people do it and make it work. Education is just so important!

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 15, 2012 6:17 pm

I agree!

(Hi MBA to M'Ed mom! Your comments always make me smile. Have a Great year.)

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 15, 2012 7:39 pm

Sorry Rich, I thought you were talking about "Won't back Down"

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on September 16, 2012 1:19 pm

Thanks Rich! I am working as a teacher's aid for a fantastic teacher and I love it. My posts should be a bit more positive because of it. : ) It's nice to learn from someone who knows what they are doing and does it so well. The kids just tug at my heart.

Hope you have a great year also. I am excited for things to start to change for this district in a positive way.

Submitted by tom-104 on September 15, 2012 6:32 pm

For a different view on "Won't Back Down" see this FAQ from Parents Across America:

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 15, 2012 7:44 pm

Thanks Tom-104 for your invaluable contribution to this discussion.
To Rich Migliore I have this question,"Have you seen the film Won't Back Down?
When you said, "I agree" did you mean that you loved the film?
If so, I am completely perplexed. Please comment further Rich.
I am gonna have a tough time understanding where you are coming from if this is true.
This film is about the parent trigger laws and its proponents are the enemies of teachers everywhere.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 15, 2012 10:40 pm

When I said I agree, I meant that I agree with this statement by MBA: "Teachers and Parents respecting each other and respecting the kids goes a long way, I really love seeing different ways that people do it and make it work. Education is just so important!"

I sheepishly admit that I haven't watched the film Won't Back Down. I guess I have some homework to do. Sorry for my lack of clarity.

But I assure you I am not for the privatization of the American schoolhouse. Especially by big business.

I have always said that everyone should "think deeply" about what that means to American democracy and the notion of the common good.

However, that does not necessarily mean that I am not in support of charter schools which operate as public schools. I am for different models of school governance as long as they give parents, students and teachers a true voice in the governance of their schools.

I have long been a proponent of teacher led schools which was the original philosophy and vision for charter schools.

The School District can govern and lead many types of schools and keep them within the district and staff them with PFT.

The SRC and all of our leaders just need to get away from the present culture of adversarialism and work with teachers and parents in a collaborative manner.

I am for public education which serves the best interests of students and their community. It is in the students best interests of students and the best interests of us all that we have a strong, sound profession of teaching which treats all stakeholders professionally and respectfully.

A strong and viable public school system is essential to a strong and free America.

Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on September 16, 2012 9:50 am

Thanks Rich for clarifying things. For a brief period of time I had considered taking you off my list of folks I respect (regarding issues of education).
I do respect your continued efforts at dialogue.
Your "sunshiny" optimistic approach challenges me at times. I am personally devastated by what I see unfolding before me in our city and country. So I challenge you to keep challenging me.
I haven't seen "Won't Back Down" but I have read much about it and have grave concerns about the continued eroding of what I consider "the truth" of public education's promise.
We all need to watch this film and use every tool in our power to educate and articulate an equitable vision for public schools.
With renewed respect,
Eileen Duffey

PS-We all need to attend the PCAPS conference next Saturday.
We all need to go to Enon on September 24.
We all need to go to SRC meetings.
WE all need to expect a strong union to challenge the upcoming contract.
There is much work to be done. That work needs to begin NOW.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 16, 2012 11:06 am

Thank you for your renewed vote of confidence. Respect is earned not only by what we say, but by what we do. I appreciate that you hold me to such a high bar. When any of us lose our credibility in the eyes of others, we lose our power to lead and we lose the power of our voice.

I too, am personally devastated by what I see happening to public education and the profession of teaching and learning. I often read about what is unfolding with a dropped jaw.

You, and so many others see as well as I do the profound issues of the privatization of public schools and public school systems. When we think deeply about all of the ramifications of what is happening and all of its impications as to the basic values and beliefs we share as Americans, it should open all of our eyes and minds and hearts and compel us to rise and speak.

My positive advocacy is simply because positive leadership, in my experience and research, works so much better and more powerfully than negative leadership. Effective leadership is inspirational and uplifting.

I am also just a very positive person and I believe in democracy in education so much because I believe in those good people I have worked elbow to elbow with over the years. They include students, parents, teachers, nurses and support staff, along with some Great principals and AP's.

When I taught Reading, English and Law, I often asked my students to analyze literature and even history from the perspective of good vs. evil and Man's inhumanity to Man. There is a reason why literature is part of the American curriculum.

I assure you, when the time is ripe, I can, have, do and will -- stand and fight very well for what is right.

But I foresee a renewed opportunity for those within our community to do some new and creative things for children. The "new generation" of educators should seize the opportunity to stand and lead.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 15, 2012 7:57 pm

Tom-104, thank you so much for providing this link. I, too when I first saw this movie advertised, was excited and said, "I can't wait to see this." Now that I have additional information, I will probably still go to see it, but your link has given me food for thought while watching the movie as well a motive to dig a little further into the motives. Thanks again.....

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on September 16, 2012 1:57 pm

Tom, I am going to read the link you posted too. I saw the movie and liked it because I like to see parents and teachers working together to support teachers and getting rid of the things that make a school not work. There may be other issues about parent trigger that I may not be aware of, but I like when teachers get to perform at their best cause that's when the kids benefit.

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on September 16, 2012 1:30 pm no idea what was associated with this Now I am a bit bummed, but thanks for posting that information.

Submitted by tom-104 on September 16, 2012 4:14 pm

Don't get too upset with yourself. I'm glad I was able to bring you some information about the origins of this movie. This movie and "Waiting for Superman" are deliberately designed to disguise their underlying intent.

If those attacking public education came out with their true intent people would see the undemocratic nature of their goals and there would be outrage and opposition. The education privatizers claim to be a new civil rights movement, for example, when in fact they are turning back the clock attempting to end the fight against inequality in education.

And, as my posts show, go outside the corporate media and find reliable sources on the internet that won't only provide you with corporate spin about education.

Here are two more links about "Won't Back Down":

"We Won’t Back Down, Either"
from Yinzercation (based in Pittsburgh)

"Won't Back Down" and "Will Stand Up"
By Lorie Barzano
Chair of Coalition SAUS (Strengthen Austin Urban Schools), a parent led group representing inner-city public schools working to ensure accessible, quality Public Education for all children and healthy, thriving Public Schools in Austin’s urban core.

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on September 17, 2012 11:27 pm


Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on September 18, 2012 7:52 am

Thanks, too, Tom. The search for truth and credibility seems to be getting harder and harder in today's world of propaganda, newspeak and outright lies.

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