Fierce

Teachers and Principal of Predominately Black and Brown Students Bring Noose to School

Four teachers, and the principal, were seen holding a noose in a school office at Palmdale, California (outside of Los Angeles), after a photo of them circulated social media. The four teachers and the principal of Summerwind Elementary School were placed on leave but not fired.

Following the incident the Superintendent of Schools, Raul Maldonado issued a statement meant to reassure parents, “I am appalled that this incident occurred. “I am committed to the Palmdale Promise’s values of equity, integrity, and multiculturalism, and I know that most of the district believe[s] in the same values the Promise upholds.” However, parents remain concerned about these apparently racist acts and a lack of diversity and sensitivity in their district.

Parent Shaka Phillips, “The integrity of the school is completely compromised. To the black community, a noose is a weapon, a symbol of slavery and lynching.”

A school environment that somehow encourages, or normalizes joking about a noose by teachers, is especially concerning in a school where the student body of is 18% Black, 65% Latino, and 9% White. Summerwind, like most elementary schools in the US, is staffed mostly by white teachers and administrators.

This is true for elementary and high schools all over the United States. The National Center for Educational Statistics found during the 2014-2015 school year that the overwhelming majority of teachers teaching in Elementary and Secondary schools are white: 80%. Individual schools are not mandated to make public the diversity (lack of diversity) of their teachers. They are mandated to make public their student demographics and are even given high ratings for the diversity of their student body.

Meanwhile, data shows that increasing teacher diversity can improve student success and reduce dropout rates.

Schools may be slow to reform but parents at Summerwind wasted no time mobilizing a protest outside the school on May 9. They protested outside the school until the teachers in the photo were removed from classrooms. The principal in the photo, Linda Brandts, was herself, not on campus that day. The four teachers were, eventually, sent home per the demands of organized parents.

In various reports about the Palmdale school’s noose incident, community members are calling for a variety of reforms and citing incidences like this one as a reason why many are leaving the district. Some believe the incident has created an opportunity for teaching and learning, but many want racist teachers fired. “We drop our kids off with the idea that we are sending them to a culturally competent institution for learning. We think that we’re sending them to a school; they’re safe,” said Breyson Clemmons, “Never do we think we’re sending them to a plantation where they got nooses hanging up, and holding on to nooses. Taking pictures and smiling, where’s the humor?”

Others are in disbelief, Community activist Miguel Coronado, whose wife works for the District, said he couldn’t believe it when he saw the picture.

An unnamed teacher who works at the school reportedly said, before the incident, that the predominately white teachers are a problem.

Twitter user @davitydave expressed his outrage by pointing out there is no way in 2019 that educators can claim innocence. He calls their actions “racist AF.”

Telemundo52 News Reporter, Dinorah Perez, tweeted about the story by quoting a parent from Summerwind Elementary. The parent, like many others, expressed worry and fear about bringing her child to school.

@techSMIF, a former resident of Palmdale, where the incident took place, cites people like those trolling the comments about the incident as the reason he’d never move back to that city.

Based on reports by residents, and former residents, the city of Palmdale, or at least the schools, are inequitable places where the seats of power are reserved for the privileged few, and where some of those with power abuse it. Not unlike the Idaho teachers, who last Halloween, posed in photos wearing a Mexican border wall costume that said, “Make America Great Again.”

We send our kids here to school to get educated and we trust the teachers and want them to feel safe,” she said. “When you get a picture like that you don’t trust the school. You don’t want your kid coming back here. It shows what they think about us. Even if it was a joke and it wasn’t supposed to surface and it did, it backfired. You’re not supposed to be joking about stuff like that. Because still to this day it happens.”

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Texas Teacher Continued To Teach Her Students From Her Hospital Bed Until She Died From COVID-19

Things That Matter

Texas Teacher Continued To Teach Her Students From Her Hospital Bed Until She Died From COVID-19

Blancas Family / GoFundMe

For so many of us, our teachers are our heroes. They help make sure we have a safe place to come to, to learn in, to express ourselves. Teachers have helped shape so many of us into the people we are today.

That was the work that one El Paso teacher was doing all the way up until the very end. Unfortunately, she’s passed away after battling COVID-19, however, thanks to her compassion and commitment to education, her memory will live on for a very long time.

An El Paso teacher behind heartwarming viral video dies at 35 of COVID-19.

Zelene Blancas was a kind soul who shined positivity on everyone she meant, according to so many of those who knew her. Unfortunately, like so many other Americans and people around the world, Blancas recently lost her battle against COVID-19.

The first grade bilingual teacher from El Paso, Texas had gone viral for her positive vibes just two years ago in a video shared to YouTube of her students giving each other hugs and high-fives.

Blancas, who taught at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary School, died of COVID-19 and passed away this week, former Socorro ISD colleague Patty Flores shared on social media. In her social media post, Flores said she and Blancas worked together as fourth grade bilingual teachers.

“Ms. Blancas was a dedicated teacher who loved her students and provided a positive, loving environment for them. She had a light that shined from within and was a positive influence on all those around her,” Flores said. She added, “She was my colleague and friend and simply a beautiful person all around. She will be greatly missed but her legacy of kindness, love and joy will carry on with all those who were blessed to have known her.”

According to a GoFundMe page seemingly started by her family to raise money for her treatment, Blancas tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 20, had to be hospitalized on Oct. 24 and was placed in the intensive care unit. The GoFundme page had raised $33,226 of its $15,000 goal with almost 1,000 donors to the campaign as of Monday.

Blancas and her class had gone viral in 2018 for a video posted to YouTube.

In 2018, Blancas and her students went viral for a video showing Blancas’ students giving one student high fives, hugs and handshakes. The video quickly racked up the views and had received more than 13.6 million views in November 2018 and had 22.2 million views as of last week.

According to a prior story written about the viral video in the El Paso Times, the video showed an example of a new educational initiative at the time called social-emotional learning, which teaches young students how to cope with their emotions, handle conflict and develop interpersonal skills. 

One student was chosen at random to be the recipient of friendly greetings and classmates chose one of four greetings from a set of four greetings pictured on an adjacent wall.

As the students left for the day, they lined up and chose which greeting to give the selected student, allowing students to feel in control of greetings they receive and allowing them to go home happy, Blancas told the Times.

“I want them to go home feeling like I’ll be waiting for them here the next day, or for them to feel like they’ll have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment,” Blancas said two years ago. 

“Regardless of the grade level she taught she was an inspiration and motivation for her students,” Flores told TODAY. “What she taught all of us about creating that positive environment, even during long distance learning, will never be forgotten.”

Blancas also helped out following the El Paso massacre in 2019 at Walmart.

Following the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, 1,337 pairs of pink socks were sent to students at Shook Elementary School and on Nov. 19, 2019, a “Kindness” pep rally was held, encouraging students to wear their pink socks on Mondays and teaching them about kindness in the process. 

Nick Adkins, co-founder of Pinksocks, told TODAY that Blancas was an example of the best of humanity. 

“The ripple effect of love and kindness that she put out into the universe through teaching her kids through the years is immeasurable. Ms. Blancas and the entire staff and students at Shook are what we should all strive for each and every day, each and every now. She lives on in the love that she taught and spread. I am grateful for her. We all are,” Adkins said.

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Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Entertainment

Stephen And Ayesha Curry Are Donating Thousands of Books To Schools For Christmas

Handout / Getty

Hark the herald! Stephen and Ayesha Claus Curry– are here to bring literary joy this season.

The Golden State Warrior and his wife are donating thousands of books to schools around Oakland, California this holiday season in an effort to bring joy to children.

The couple, behind Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, made the announcement earlier this week.

“We along with our entire team at Eat. Learn. Play. understand the importance of early childhood education, especially when it comes to literacy,” Stephen and Ayesha told People magazine in a recent interview. “Nothing is more basic, more essential, more foundational, or more important to a child’s success in life than the ability to read well. We know there is a lot of work to be done, but with partners like Literati, we’re hopeful that we will be able to make an impact on these children’s lives.”

The Currys’ donations will arrive to schools in boxes that will contain six books.

The packages will include five children’s books and one for adults. All of which come from Stephen Curry’s “Underrated” book club selection.

Along with their thousand book giveaway, the couple’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation will donate boxes to students who are learning remotely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in collaboration with and Literati. Fourteen thousand boxes will go directly to Oakland Unified Schools.

According to people, “The remainder of the donation, which was also made possible through Bay Area investor Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, will be distributed through community partners in the new year.”

Speaking about their own experiences of teaching their children during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Stephen and Ayesha (who are parents to Canon W. Jack, 2, Ryan Carson, 5, and Riley, 8) told People that they’ve been hard work attempting to keep their children busy and learning.

“My oldest is pretty disciplined so that’s been easy, but our 5-year-old has a little trouble staying engaged for an extended period of time,” Ayesha, host of ABC’s new show “Family Food Fight,” explained.

Ayesha says she has found that taking part in “some kind of physical activity right before class starts” helps her daughter Ryan “to focus the mind and get some of the wiggles out, and periodic ‘dance breaks’ between lessons.”

“We also added resistance workout bands to the legs of her chair, which give her something to do if she gets antsy during a long Zoom session,” Stephen added.

“Luckily for me, Stephen has really stepped in with education and their schooling. And I’m okay with that because I birthed them so now [he] can birth and nurture their education,” Ayesha joked in a recent episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

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