If you've had or have a child in a charter school, or otherwise support them, you might consider calling the NAACP today to tell them you oppose the moratorium on charter schools that they are considering this Saturday. The number is 202-759-6227.
I'm sure our TEACHED friends and supporters represent many different views on charter schools, but for those of you who have seen the positive systemic change they can bring about (as in Washington, DC), or who have seen a child's or entire family's lives changed from having more choices than their assigned neighborhood schools, please consider calling the NAACP to say so.
We are happy to announce that our first three short films, TEACHED Vol. I, are now available for streaming on Vimeo-on-Demand! We made these films because we believe that more people need to understand how and why we still have a race-based "achievement gap" in the U.S. More people to understand the consequences of inaction especially for low-income urban youth who are hit hard by our failure to provide every student with an excellent educational experience.
On Nov. 12th, 2015, we will show preview clips from our upcoming short film "Think of Calvin" at a tremendous Race & Justice Summit in Washington, DC being organized by the Atlantic magazine's Atlantic Live program and featuring Atlantic correspondent and author Ta-Nehisi Coates. TEACHED Producer/Director Kelly Amis will speak at the event. To register, go here.
In DeRay Mckesson on Why Blackness is Not a Weapon, TEACHED creator Kelly Amis sits down with the young civil rights crusader who, since driving to Ferguson, Missouri to take part in the protests surrounding the police shooting of Michael Brown, has since become one of the nation's go-to visionaries on how a future America would look if equality became our true priority.
I recently watched President Obama giving his beautiful eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of those dear souls shot in Charleston, and it inspired the following writng. I'm not feeling very eloquent after two weeks of deep sorrow about what's happening in our country (there have been so many horrific tragedies, but what happened to those in Charleston.....it's impossible to fathom what those innocent people went through) plus personal reasons (suddenly losing a very dear friend, also in a way terrible to imagine). I can barely remember what day it is. But maybe that's why I want to speak honestly and without filter and challenge myself and others to consider the following.
We're so excited to launch our first youth screening series here in Code Oakland's hometown! The first event is at Impact Hub Oakalnd -- such a cool venue -- and one where we shot part of the film no less! This will be a youth-centered event to celebrate the stars of Code Oakland, especially the young up-and-coming tech stars featured in the film. Organized in collaboration with Oakland Public Libraries, Youth Radio, Downtown TAY, Black Girls Code, #YesWeCode, Qeyno Labs and other great local organizations, this fun event will include food, entertainment (the local all-girl band, Sisters Keeper!), the short film screening and a taste of the hackathon experience.
Then, we have two screening events coming up at Oakland Public Libraries, 81st Ave. Branch and Rockridge Branch. Some details on the flier below and more coming soon!
Thanks to the Kapor Center for Social Impact for sponsoring these great events for Oakland youth!
Go HERE to grab free tickets for the Impact Hub screening on May 9th, 6:30 pm. For the library screenings, just show up! We're going to give you an opportunity to see what coding & hackathons are all about -- NO experience required.
Haven't seen the Code Oakland trailer? Watch it HERE.
Our newest film, Code Oakland, is already getting into film festivals not just around the U.S., but the world! We have screenings coming up in St. Tropez, Canada and even one in India (not on the list yet -- stay tuned for those details). Meanwhile check out the dates for the Art of Brooklyn, Julien Dubuque, Humboldt Internat'l, "(In)Justice for All" in Chicago and more.
Go to our screenings page for dates & details.
Also, if you're in the Bay Area, save the date of May 9th, 6:30-8:30, for a very special screening of Code Oakland at Impact Hub Oakland! Details coming soon.
We have less than two weeks to go in our Kickstarter campaign to finish TEACHED Vol. II: three new short films about race, education and equality. You can watch the trailer for two of themon Kickstarter: Code Oakland and Think of Calvin.
Many independent film projects like ours rely on crowdfunding: lots of people giving what they can.
Please make a pledge today and share the news with everyone you know.
Other ways to help:
- Send an email to 10+ friends! Copy, paste and send:
- I made a pledge to this Kickstarter campaign for the awesome independent film project TEACHED, because I believe we need more ways to bring communities together for candid discussion around issues of race, equality and opportunity. TEACHED short films, produced and directed by former teacher and long-time education equality activist Kelly Amis, focus on the experiences of urban youth in America today. Please join me in helping TEACHED finish three new films; you can watch the trailer for the first one, "Code Oakland," and read more about the project, HERE.
- Tweet for us! Copy, paste and tweet:
- I made a pledge 2 @TEACHED Kickstarter b/c I believe in #edequality & the potential of all children. Pls join me! http://kck.st/1CHKgUG
- Like us on Facebook and join our mailing list if you're not already on it; go to www.teached.org and fill out sign-up form on the right column.
Everything you do helps us one step forward. Have a great day and thank you for your support. We can't do it without you!
Dear supporters and education equality warriors,
We have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help us finish three new short, cinematic films about urban minority youth in America. We are very excited about these films, which share stories that are inspiring, candid and sometimes outrageous. These are stories of typical black boys and men in America who face what should not be typical for anyone: institutions and policies --- not to mention portions of society as whole -- that treat them in significantly different and unjust ways, bringing into question our most basic principles of democracy and equality.
Please check out our Kickstarter campaign for more information about the films. Each week we will premiere a new trailer for one of the films, starting with Code Oakland, which you can watch now!
It takes a village to raise a child, and we've learned it takes a HUGE crowd of supporters to make a film about that child! TEACHED films are independent, non-profit and intended to be shared with communities across America to get more conversations going and bridges built between diverse populations. So please join our effort to put more stories like these "on the loudspeaker" and support our Kickstarter campaign today (and pssst -- please pass it on)!
We are proud to be presenting TEACHED and our interactive screening model at this year's Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) Symposium being held in New Orleans. We will be showing clips from our films and talking to the Emerging Leaders of BAEO's Bailey-Sullivan Leadership Institute on how to organize communities and advocate for educational equality using our short films.
BAEO’s Annual Symposium has convened for 14 years to inform, inspire, and empower emerging leaders (age 16-35), parents, educators, elected officials, community leaders, and clergy from across the country as they work to increase access to high-quality educational options for Black children by actively supporting transformational education reform initiatives and parental choice policies and programs that empower low-income and working class Black families. The Symposium remains the largest gathering of Black education reform supporters in the nation, drawing as many as 1,000 participants.
BAEO was founded by
, an inspiration to the TEACHED series and a star of our short film
. He has also just announced the publication of his new book "No Struggle, No Progress" coming out in the fall. We send our congratulations and can't wait to read it!
We are thrilled that TEACHED Vol. I will be screened at the innovative SXSWedu Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas this year.
If you are attending, please join us on March 4th at 2pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to watch the TEACHED Vol I trilogy of short films and hear from Producer/Director Kelly Amisand our amazing lineup of guest speakers including former Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty:
Pearl grew up in East Los Angeles, the daughter of a high-ranking gang member. Explaining that she was written off by teachers when she was a student, Pearl is now inspiring both other teachers and students with her work as the founder of a teacher-run pilot school and education advocate.
RiShawn Biddleis the Publisher and Editor of Dropout Nation, a website of commentary and analysis of American public education that is required reading for anyone who believes in education equality for all children.
An acclaimed reporter and current columnist with The American Spectator, RiShawn now has over 20,000 unique readers visiting Dropout Nation each month to learn about the policies and practices that contribute to the achievement gap, the depths of our nation's dropout crisis and related issues including juvenile justice.
Adrian Fenty, recent Mayor of Washington, DC, has much to be proud about for the reforms he ushered into a long-dysfunctional and failing education system, reforms that have proven effective and are still evolving today under Mayor Vincent Gray and DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
On his first day as mayor, Adrian introduced legislation to assume control of the public school system; once approved, he brought in founder of The New Teacher Project Michelle Rhee to serve as Chancellor. Together, they pursued a difficult but necessary reduction of the system's central office staff and underused school facilities as well as a new performance-based compensation plan for teachers.
Kalimah Priforce runs Qeyno Labs, which works with local schools and partners to make "career day" an everyday experience for the millions of students that cannot afford private college and career guidance.
An Echoing Green/Black Male Achievement Fellow, Kalimah is committed to empowering the minority-led startup community throughout the country and is also educator-in-residence for the Oakland-based "Hidden Genius Project", a program that trains black male youth in entrepreneurial thinking, software development, and user experience design
We hope to see you in Texas with plenty of questions for our esteemed panelists. For more details about our screening event at SXSWedu go HERE.
As aTeach for America (TFA) Charter Corps teacher, TEACHED Producer/Director Kelly Amis taught in an elementary school in South Central, Los Angeles. That is where her passion and commitment to education equality began. The TEACHED film series is a reflection of that continuing drive to help the general public “see” what goes on in urban public schools every day and hopefully become inspired to join the fight for transforming the education system so it serves all children well.
Over the last year, Kelly has found new levels of support from the organization she credits with steering her career towards work in social justice and equality. First, there was the Teach for America Social Innovation Award, which Kelly won (!). This competitive award gave Kelly $50,000 to further develop TEACHED and many additional gifts including a free Dropbox business account and pro bono advice from a dynamic duo of non-profit development experts called Arbor Brothers.
Since the award was announced last spring, more Teach for America members have stepped up to host TEACHED screening events, including in New York, Chicago and Sacramento.
TFA New Yorkhosted a screening ofThe Path to Prisonas part of their"What if we..."series. The night included a panel discussion and small group sessions where audience members brainstormed and then shared strategies for change around the question: “What if we….eliminated the school to prison pipeline”? TFA-NYC then worked with Leadership for Educational Equityto organize afollow-up eventfor interested attendees to further develop and begin implementing aplan of action for change in NYC.
We are thrilled to watch these variations and ideas develop on how best to use the TEACHED films to organize communities for making change and are excited to share this alternative—showing one film at a time, going into the issues it raises deeply and over several meetings—with those planning screenings in 2014.
TFA Sacramentohosted a packed-house screening ofThe Path to Prisonat the Guild Theater followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A on California's issues with the under-education and over-incarceration of minority males in particular. We've heard from many Sacramento parents and community leaders since the screening who plan to organize their own grassroots events and look forward to working with them. The TFA Sacramento team is planning events around the other twoTEACHED Vol. Ifilms for 2014 with some incredible guest speakers lined up. Check our eventspage for details as we get them.
To learn more about Teach for America, go here.
TFA Chicagohosted two TEACHED Vol. I screenings, one at a local school for parents, teachers and TFA alumni, the other atNorthwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy. Thanks to all the TFA staff who helped organize these events andStudent for Education Reform's Tanesha Peeplesfor participating. Read an article in The Chicago Bureau about the Northwestern screening HERE.
The TEACHED team is very grateful this holiday season to have partnered with such an exceptional organization. Thank you to all the TFA members that helped share the films and discuss education equality within their communities!
By Kelly Amis
Public school systems had been failing for decades -- especially in poor, urban neighborhoods. This is not news. When the idea of charter schools came along-- public schools that would 1) run themselves independently of the bureaucracies that were/are a huge part of the problem, 2) would get to hire their own staff members ensuring 'fit' with the school, AND 3) would be held accountable for results in educating students -- many amazing people stood up and said they would create and run great public schools where they were needed the most. You can see some great examples of these leaders and schools in our film Unchartered Territory. Some not-so-great charter schools have been launched as well. The difference is that when chartered public schools fail, they are required to improve or close; they don't get to keep operating for generations of failure.
To argue that charter public schools are taking money from the traditional public school system doesn't make sense; they are a part of the public education system. If parents are choosing them -- and children are benefitting from them- - it's even an odd argument to make. In most cases, the charter schools are spending less but doing more with the funding they receive.
How is that possible? Because their funding actually gets into the classroom -- to the school level. It's not sucked up by huge bureaucracies, or to pay salaries of people who are no longer in the classroom but can't be fired due to contract terms, or to work around archaic and indifferent policies that have evolved over time to protect adult interests over the students'.
The charter school design is an alternative public school model. Students' lives and future generations of families are being positively impacted by having these alternative schools appearing in their neighborhoods. The question shouldn't be "How do we stop funding from going to the alternative schools that parents are choosing for their children?" but "What do we need to do to streamline and improve the traditional system so that funding and control gets to the school level and is used effectively and in an accountable way in every school"?
To learn more, please read this great article by Mashea Ashton, CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund:
Moody's Report on Charter Schools Misses the Real Problem
The link: http://huff.to/1hmAwbj Follow Mashea on Twitter: @Mashea
Moody's Investors Service recently released a report claiming the rise in enrollment in public charter schools could pose a dangerous financial risk for traditional public schools, especially in urban areas with weak economies. Yet blaming charter schools for financial woes in the school district is unfair, and it drives a poisonous wedge between administrators, educators and the broader community, who should be working together to provide kids with access to high-quality education.
Public charter schools have long been the scapegoat for traditional public schools' woes. Moody's report follows the usual line of reasoning: charter schools have seen increasing enrollment, which means students are leaving traditional public schools. Because the students are leaving, those schools are losing funding, and they are struggling to stay open.
It's easy to blame schools' problems on a lack of funding. But that twists the issue. Basic fairness dictates that public funds should follow the students to the schools that are best able to provide a quality education, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools. (And in practice, charter schools are the ones getting the shorter end of the stick, on average receiving 70 percent of the per-pupil funding expended by district schools.)
The Moody's report highlights a couple of school districts with serious financial health issues predating charters that are struggling to adapt, but essentially ignores the many other urban districts where public charters and the district are able to grow together and thrive in fine financial health. The simple truth is that the schools that are failing are failing for other reasons, such as counterproductive policies, entrenched bureaucracy and a refusal by stakeholders to work together to find solutions that result in the best education for kids.
Outdated policies keep kids trapped in underperforming schools. For instance, hiring and firing policies in 11 states still adhere to Last In, First Out (LIFO), which rewards teacher tenure, not ability or success rates with student performance. Too many underperforming schools are allowed to remain open year after year, draining resources and using up space that could be allocated to schools that actually meet students' needs. It's problems like these that lead parents and students to look to charters for better educational opportunities in the first place. In Newark, N.J., support for public charter schools is overwhelming, with 71 percent of respondents supporting expansion of the sector.
These are very real challenges that face many urban school districts across the United States. Slowing the growth of charter schools won't solve the problems, though; it will only trap students in failing schools by taking away viable, affordable options for high-quality education. That's the main point Moody's report seems to miss. The true tragedy of failing public schools is that they're failing our children, who deserve better.
While resources and government relations can play an important role, they should never take precedence over the students themselves. It's important to remember that the funds raised through state and local taxpayers for education are dedicated to children, not districts, charters or any particular bureaucracy. Leaders in these struggling communities need to stop pointing fingers and start working together to expand access to high-quality education. Every legislator, bureaucrat, administrator, educator, reformer and parent should be asking how we can provide a system of great schools -- not a great school system -- to best serve our children.
We are thrilled that the first TEACHED short film The Path to Prison is being screened this week along with a new feature-length documentary film titled How to Make Money Selling Drugs, thanks to a great non-profit organization called React to Film.
React to Film has chapters at universities and colleges across the nation -- it helps the student-led groups organize film events with a social justice aspect. RtF also has a high school film/advocacy program, sharing films and producing curricula with high school teachers.
I will be speaking at the Berkeley RtF chapter's How to Make $/Path to Prison screening this Friday; links to that event and all the other chapter events are here.
If you want to organize your own screening event around The Path to Prison and/or our other short films, go to the Host a Screening page.