Things That Matter

Two Sisters Are Using Their Black Girl Magic And Facebook Live To Read Stories To Children With Working Parents

For Latinos, the power of storytelling has a unique value. For us, stories are often used to instill a greater sense of culture and understanding of our current circumstances. Stories are told not just around the table at dinner, they’re told in car rides, during lectures, in the kitchen to supplement a recipe. But nothing quite stands the test of time as the stories told at our bedsides while we’re children. Delaware Sisters Zaria, 13, and Hailey Willard,8, know the power of this tradition well and are using the practice of reading books to help children that are younger than themselves.

The two sisters love books and reading so much that they read bedtime stories to American children on Facebook live, every night.

The Willard sisters’ primary goal is to pick out books with characters that look like them.

                                                                   @ZariaxHailey/Instagram

Once every Sunday,  the two sisters, whose love for literacy was passed on to them by their mom, Victoria, head off to their local Dover, Delaware library to pick out a week’s worth of books for their growing audience of young children online. Of course, in an age where online bullying is not only rampant but severe, their mother had hesitations. Still, the sisters were able to convince her that reading and streaming live would be worth it.

For their part, the sisters’ main goal is reaching children whose parents might not have time to read to their children at night. In a post to their Facebook page, the two girls state that “Parents sometimes work late or are too tired for stories. We are not only helping children, we are giving parents a nice break after a long day of work.”

Their love for reading is not uncommon among African American women. According to a Pew Research study, College-educated Black women in the US are the most likely people to read. They even read a bit more than educated white women. The same study, which was originally focused on the types of media formats that people read, also found that black women read more of any type of media, women from all backgrounds read more than men, and people who went to college read more than those who didn’t.

                                                              @brownbookshelf/Twitter

According to reports, African American women and girls are leading the way when it comes to reading and making changes for literacy and representation in literature.

In January 2018, Marley Dias, organizer of the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign, published her first book Marley Dias Gets It Done: So Can You, a book about social justice activism for kids. Dias, fourteen, won Smithsonian Magazine’s American Ingenuity Award in the Youth category in 2017, became known for her #1000blackgirlbooks campaign which she launched in 2015 when she was in sixth grade. The campaign brought attention to the startling lack of representation in children’s literature, to which children’s book literature agents have since responded.

                                                                 @ZariaxHailey/Instagram

This year its Delaware sisters, Zaria and Hailey, who have taken up the campaign for spreading a love for books, reading, learning, helping others, and representation. And Twitter users agree. Several gave well-deserved props to Zaria and Hailey in response to David Muir’s July 17, ABC news feature on them and their literacy project.

This Twitter user congratulated Zaria and Hailey’s parents.

https://twitter.com/KennyHargrove1/status/1151648204942925825

“That’s Dope as hell I know there parents are proud of them and shout out to there parents for raising some Beautiful young ladies..!” said @KennyHargrove1.

Esa señora agrees that the two are changing the world

https://twitter.com/angelimaquilim1/status/1151716513537298432

“That is so precious! Thank you girls for what you do! You’re changing the world.”

Another Twitter user found what Zaria and Hailey are doing “inspiring.”

https://twitter.com/TDKdweller/status/1151644941702979584

“Very inspiring, keep up the good work girls.”

What are Zaria and Hailey doing next? Continuing their work on a children’s book series and moving their storytime from 8:30 to 8:00 PM once school starts up again after summer.

In their own words, “We have huge plans for our ventures and we hope you follow along and share with your network of people. We are brown girls who read!!”

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Things That Matter

A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Advocates against the use of standardized tests for college admissions have long argued that the use of such exams sets back students from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have disabilities. Aware of the leg up it gives to privileged and non-disabled students an advantage in the admittance process, they’ve rallied for schools to end such practices.

And it looks like they’ve just won their argument.

A judge has ruled that the University of California system can no longer use ACT and SAT tests as part of their admissions process.

Brad Seligman is the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California on Tuesday. The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California include five students and six organizations College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition.

In his decision, Judge Seligman underlined that the UC system’s “test-optional” policy on UC campuses has long given privileged and non-disabled students a chance at a “second look” in the admissions process. According to Seligman, this “second look” denies such opportunities to students who are unable to access the tests.

The decision is a major victory for students with disabilities and from underprivileged backgrounds.

News of the decision comes on the heels of the university system’s ruling to waive the standardized testing requirements until 2024.

In May, a news release asserted that if a new form of a standardized test had not been developed by 2025, the system would have to put an end to the testing requirement for California students. On Monday, the judge’s ruling took things further by banning the consideration of scores from students who submit them all together.

“The current COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test sites,” Seligman wrote in his ruling. “While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil.'”

A spokesperson for the University of California said the university “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.”

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the UC system is considering further legal action in the case. The system said that its testing has allowed for an increase in admission of low-income and first-generation-to-college-students for the fall of 2020.

With UC being the largest university system in the country, Seligman’s ruling is a massive deal. Students and advocates have long fought for the elimination of these standardized tests arguing that they do not accurately reflect a student’s academic ability.

“Research has repeatedly proved that students from wealthy families score higher on the SAT and ACT, compared to students from low-income families,” reports CNN. It’s important to note that the analysis by Inside Higher Ed revealed that the “lowest average scores for each part of the SAT came from students with less than $20,000 in family income. The highest scores came from those with more than $200,000 in family income.”

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FIERCE Maestras Are Giving Newbie Teachers Career Advice And It’s Basically The Sweetest Thing

Fierce

FIERCE Maestras Are Giving Newbie Teachers Career Advice And It’s Basically The Sweetest Thing

Joe Raedle / Getty

No matter what experiences you’ve had as a student, hopefully you have had at least a handful of teachers who left good impressions on you. As a whole class of students from this year graduate and become teachers themselves, we wanted to ask veteran maestras for advice on how to continue the cycle of positivity.

In a recent post to our Instagram page we asked all our FIERCE maestras, what advice do they have for a new teacher and boy did they deliver!

Check out the replies below!

Stay nourished.

“Advice: eat during your break girl and practice self-care.” – la_misses_m

Take it easy.

“Take it one day at a time. At times you will doubt yourself but push through the all the challenges. Always remember why you are there, which is to teach your students. You got this!! Good luck!!” – erixcii

Make sure you’re feeding your relationships.

“Focus on relationships above everything. Relationships with your students and their families!”- allirousey

Don’t forget to build relationships with your students.

“Self-care and building relationships with your students and families!!” – jazzyfue

And definitely remember to trust yourself.

“I’m an SLP, but I would tell her to trust herself!! You got this! You know your kids and you talents!” – maryoso_moli

Self-care Sundays shall your temple.

“Practice Self-care and build relationships with students. Remember to always be kind to the janitors/grounds keepers/ clerical staff (they make our jobs easier). Consider keeping a scrap book or journal of sweet notes and emails that you can look through on the tough days. Always teach with your heart and with a growth mindset; never get complacent because our profession is ever changing and we will likely never have the exact same group of kiddos again. Keep learning from your coworkers (what to do and what not to do), from your students, insta teachers, workshops, and personal experience (make notes to yourself in your planner for next year). Being organized has saved me, even on the most hectic days. Always have a back up lesson available. Empathy is key! Take. Days. Off. I know lesson plans are time consuming, but your mental health is worth prioritizing.” – cmirene

Know it gets better over time.

“The first year may be hard, but it gets better and better every year.”- yulzzzz5

Don’t be a Yes Ma’am.

“Advice: learn to say no. You’ll be super compelled to go more than above and beyond because it’s all for the kids and as much as I ADORE AND LOVE my students just as I am sure you will you need some you time. I started being the only teacher at school functions and being stressed about helping my high schoolers have the best time that I was drowning. Love them but love yourself too! You deserve you time.” – del_ranita

Don’t be a shrinking violet.

“Don’t shrink yourself to make your whyte colleagues feel comfortable. Connect with other teachers of color and ask for/give support. Lead with love for your students. They should always come first.”- queenurbie

Be an authentic leader.

“My one piece of advice is to invest time in getting to know your students, their stories and be your authentic self with them. Kids love knowing that their teachers are people and are just like them.” – meerehyah@educatinglittleminds 

And finally, remember ya live and learn!

“I remember I used to always want to be “perfect” for them and would fear making mistakes or letting them see me when things wouldn’t go right. When a lesson didn’t work out as planned. I learned to let that go and to let them see me make mistakes. It is okay! And it is okay to admit it. They’ll appreciate it! Teaches them that we aren’t all perfect and we all make mistakes-it’s a part of life. Teach on and be You! They’ll love every piece of you.” – su_heeey

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