We are SO excited to be a part of Tech Equity Week, which was founded by Qeyno Labs in partnership with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Qeyno Labs was founded by Kalimah Priforce, who was the inspiration behind, and is the star of, our short film Code Oakland (watch the trailer here!).
Qeyno is organizing and delivering high-impact hackathons for young people across the United States while helping to put Oakland on the map as the place where technology, transformation and social justice meet. Yeah, it's cool.
This Friday, we are screening Code Oakland at the Kapor Center (a great philanthropic supporter of tech equity) thanks to local teacher and CodEDAcademy founder Kennan Scott. You may ask, how did a teacher find time to organize this event? WE DO NOT KNOW. But we greatly appreciate being a part of it! And guess what else....
There will be robot technology. There will be dinner. And two of the youth tech/film stars of Code Oakland (Isaiah Martin and Sasha Williams, who are AMAZING) will join the panel discussion after the screening along with Kennan and film director Kelly Amis.
Register for this free event HERE and let us know if you attend!
There are now quite a few ways to watch or screen the TEACHED short films, so we thought we'd make a quick list to make sure you are maximizing the options, most of which are very low-cost if not free (we want everyone to be able to access these films). Also be sure to sign up for our mailing list (on the home page) to get news about new films and screening dates.
THE WHERE-TO-GET-TEACHED CHEAT SHEET (try to say that ten times real fast!)
- KANOPY. Over 3,000 universities, colleges and libraries subscribe to this awesome service, which makes viewing FREE for their students, professors and members.
- VIMEO-ON-DEMAND. We love Vimeo for its high-quality content and presentation. You can rent or buy the TEACHED films here to stream any time without ads.
- TEACHED VOL. I (The Path to Prison, The Blame Game and Unchartered Territory) and the short film Code Oakland are available on DVD. Go here.
Host a Screening:
- ll five of the current TEACHED short films are available for screening at events, your workplace, faith-based institutions, etc. Go here to get started.
Attend a Screening:
- Keep an eye out for our presence at film festivals (around the world!) and at conferences and special events on our find a screening page.
We are thrilled to announce a premiere event coming up on November 17th at Georgetown University in partnership with Georgetown's Prisons and Justice Initiative and its Film and Media Studies Program.
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.
At the beginning of February, the Loudspeaker Team had the great joy and honor to fly out to Washington, D.C. to hold an interview with David Johns, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans! I could tell from his Twitter page that I was going to enjoy meeting him, but those tweets did not prepare me fully for how much of an inspiration Mr. Johns truly is.
The area in which a child lives should not determine where he/she goes to school. After watching the our new video entitled "Because They Can: A Parent's View", I realized that the methods of teaching carried out in the area that a child lives may not match his/her learning style or satisfy their desire to learn different things.
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.
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 are honored that our latest short film Code Oakland (the first to be released for TEACHED Vol. II) will be playing this weekend at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Check out our beautiful film page on the SFBFF site HERE. Producer/Director Kelly Amis will join other filmmakers for a Q&A after the screening.
For tickets, go HERE.
This is interesting, from Education Week (article follows):
"One in 4 (American) teachers report leading class longer than the length of the school day, according to a new analysis of a national survey"...."That's only possible...if teachers are lecturing in empty classrooms, have no lunch breaks, team-teach, or teach students in overlapping shifts. While the last two do happen—rarely—the first is ridiculous...and the second would typically run against teachers' contracts."
So American teachers have been over-reporting how many hours they spend in front of a classroom (over-reporting to a degree that can't be argued: 25% claim they are working longer than the actual school day itself). And these numbers don't even begin to look at the massive variation in what teachers are actually doing when "leading class," only how long they say they are doing so.
We love good teachers. We honor good teachers. Good teachers and schools are arguably the most direct way to eliminate inequality and promote democracy in America. But we also see that the profession has become one dominated by a culture of non-accountability, negativity and refusal to acknowledge reality that is sometimes, as this article reflects, truly unbelievable. How did the research mentioned below get used so much (U.S. teachers were supposedly teaching class up to 73% more than in other countries?!)?
TEACHED VOLUME I
1. THE PATH TO PRISON
The United States now bears the ominous title of being the world's most prolific jailer: with only 5% of the population, we represent 25% of the incarcerated. The vast majority of our prisoners are functionally illiterate—even if they went to school—and an inordinate number of them are people of color. In The Path to Prison, a former gang-member and felon from South Central Los Angeles shares his own path, helping us understand how so many capable and intelligent young men—especially African-American males like him—end up uneducated and behind bars in the 'home of the free.' (8 min.) Featuring: Jerone Shell
2. THE BLAME GAME
The discourse around education reform—especially on issues involving teachers—lacks nuance, thoughtfulness and, often, commonsense. Political rhetoric is distracting from efforts to improve teacher quality, especially in schools serving urban, minority children. It has become virtually impossible to fire a teacher in America, and when incompetent, absent or even abusive teachers can’t be fired, they are shuffled to the schools where parents have the least power to do something about it. Meanwhile, qualified candidates go through the steps to become teachers only to be knocked around and sometimes out of the system by the same rules. In this short film, teachers themselves ask whether the system is serving students’ needs…not to mention their own. (17 min.)
Featuring: Howard Fuller, Pearl Arredondo, Virginia Walden-Ford, Steve Hill, Michelle Rhee, Amber Pierce, Batia Oren, Dan Gerstein, Lisa Raymond, Barrie Weiss
3. UNCHARTERED TERRITORY
Charter schools have been around for over twenty years, yet many Americans are still unclear about what exactly these schools are and everyone wants to know why some are so great and others…not so much. Unchartered Territory looks at the advent of charter schools offering urban, minority children new school options while also providing new staffing models centered on results and accountability. Interviewing some of the most successful 'pioneers' of this still-developing frontier, this short film provides an insider’s look at both the opportunities and obstacles presented by charter school reform in America. (15 min.)
Featuring: Kevin Chavous, Deborah Kenny, Irasema Salcido, Steve Barr, Jason Epting
TEACHED VOLUME II
In production. Planned for release in early 2015
1. CODE OAKLAND
This short film examines the evolution of Oakland through the eyes of social entrepreneurs who are determined that youth of color not be left on the sidelines as Silicon Valley spreads across the Bay and into the home of the second largest black community in California. Kalimah Priforce, whose first success as a social justice rebel was a hunger strike at the age of eight, and Kimberly Bryant, a successful electrical engineer turned founder of Black Girls Code, are organizing large-scale hackathons to prepare youth to redesign the future through the power of digital coding. Joined on the national stage by #YesWeCode founder and CNN Commentator Van Jones, their work represents the cusp of a growing movement to change both the face and use of technology in America. But is Silicon Valley ready to be hacked? (22 min.)
Featuring: Kalimah Priforce, Kimberly Bryant, Van Jones, Yes We Code, Qeyno Labs & Black Girls Code, Isaiah Thomas, others (tbd)
In this short film, we follow Tyzjae (Tie-zhay) Monroe from sixth grade to his junior year in high school as he and his mother struggle to find him a school that acknowledges—let alone nurtures—his obvious intellect. As a black male growing up in urban America, Tyzjae has already encountered his share of obstacles and set-backs in his quest to follow a direct path to college. When it is discovered in junior high that he is an exceptionally good quarterback, suddenly his value to area schools increases exponentially and the path seems all but certain. So what happens when a serious injury at the end of ninth grade keeps him off the field for a year? (Coming soon)
Featuring: Tyzjae Monroe, Tequaila Monroe, Curtis Monroe, Catrina Brown, Marco Clark, Alisha Roberts.
3. THINK OF CALVIN
On a Friday night after a long week at work, Calvin Davis joined his family in Southwest Washington, DC for an informal gathering. Still wearing scrubs from his job at Children’s National Medical Center, Calvin caught up with old friends while his two boys rode their bikes around the block. When police followed his fifteen year-old home, pulling on gloves as they approached the teenager, Calvin intervened to ask “Why? What did he do?” How these questions escalated into a night in jail for a father with no prior record will make you “Think of Calvin” next time you question racial profiling or how America has become the world’s most prolific jailer. (Coming soon)
Featuring: Calvin Davis, Carlet Harris, Montae Harris, C.J. Davis
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!
Court resumed this week in the Vergara v. California case, a statewide lawsuit of nine California public school children looking to strike down the laws that limit schools from often doing what’s best for kids when it comes to assigning who is teaching them.
The case is being lead by the organization Students Matter, a non-profit founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch, which is dedicated to promoting equal access to quality public education.
The Students Matter goal is to see a transformation of the teaching profession in California so that hard-working, effective teachers are rewarded and retained, and others who are not up to the job are not kept in the classroom and on the payroll. Ultimately, Students Matter seeks to create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators, and community leaders to rethink the current system so it works rationally for teachers and students alike.
We are honored that the TEACHED Vol. I short films are included as trial exhibits in this potentially game-changing lawsuit. We have seen far too many amazing teachers booted from the classroom due to lack of seniority while others who are not able to manage a successful classroom remain for years, sometimes decades. We have even seen teachers who have abused children (with clear evidence to prove it) paid to leave because the system we currently have in place makes it nearly impossible to fire even them.
Some argue that efforts to rethink tenure and seniority are really about making it easier to fire older teachers (who are farther up on the salary scale) and replace them with younger "less expensive" teachers. Ironically, the polar opposite is the reality: when California's economic woes required laying off teachers over the last few years, teachers were pink-slipped according to seniority only, and because those who have been in the system for fewer years are lesser-paid, i.e. the newer, younger teachers, many more of them had to be laid off to save the required amount. For kids, that is a lose-lose situation.
Not only did California push out thousands of new-ish teachers who had devoted themselves to teaching (unlike many other professions, new teachers must pay for their own training in the form of a teaching credential, so it is a time and financial commitment before you ever get hired), it also convinced college students here who had been thinking about going into teaching to look elsewhere.
There is much to read on the Students Matter website to better understand this case; don't miss their timeline, trial tracker, short clips of the teacher's testimonies, their blog and their Twitter account for the lastest updates. People say that "as California goes, so goes the nation". If this case succeeds here (my guess is it will reach the U.S. Supreme Court), it could spark a national movement to transform the teaching profession.
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.