Saturday, May 31, 2008
i am a little drunk, so i won't say much now, but you should check out tracey scott wilson. and when the good negro is produced again (though, admittedly, tickets probably won't be 10 dollars then) you should see it. and you should hope the talent is as amazing as it was today (two words- anthony mackie). if it's not, though, that's okay because the writing was just amazing. A-MA-ZING. 2 hours and 45 minutes and i would have stayed for another hour if she would have answered my questions. straight up.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
anyway, just a funny coincidence- today, after writing that totally gushy post about ta-nehisi coates' book a few days ago, i realized that dude is my neighbor! we work out at the gym at the same time every morning. :) today i saw him at the check-out desk, and everything clicked.
harlem is so very small sometimes.
the other thing i found myself doing today at the gym is wondering whether or not people can tell what my gym jam is just by reading my lips. because ta-nehisi demonstrated his formidable grasp on hip-hop during the reading, i figure whatever he calmly bops his head to as he jogs is impressive. i started to wonder if he can tell that i, 9 times out of 10, am "ellipting" (that's my word for what i do on the elliptical machine, btw) to "what have you done for me lately" by janet jackson. and i wonder if he thinks i'm less cool as a result.
i guess i'll just have to keep wondering on that one :).
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
tnc is kind of amazing. i saw him read at mcnally robinson in soho tonight. tears flow to my eyes easily, especially in the presence of beautiful words, and the author's eloquence moved me tonight as only beautiful prose can.
get a copy.
Monday, May 26, 2008
we will see what i have to offer later on. maybe i'll start to pay more attention. but i may not. i may just comb my afro out and walk around happy as a lark because it's almost summer in the city.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Maze to the College Doorstepclass="byline"> By Renee Moore
My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. – Hosea 4:6
A report from Chicago, cited in a March 19 article in the Christian Science Monitor ("Why Good Students Don't Make It to College"), describes a big problem in our secondary schools, and uses big numbers.
In a three-year study, University of Chicago researchers found that 83 percent of Chicago Public School students aspired to a four-year degree, but about 40 percent of those don't even apply to any four-year college. In many instances, these students were the first in their families with college aspirations and lacked the home or school support necessary to face down the daunting college admissions process, including what the Monitor described as "the often-overwhelming Free Application for Federal Student Aid" or FAFSA.
These problems and numbers have names and faces. As a senior English teacher in rural Mississippi Delta high schools for many years, I have seen too many young people who had the potential (and the skills) to be successful in college, but never made it to the college campus. The reasons are as varied as they are troubling.
In every high school I've worked, there was one guidance counselor for 400-600 students. Since the counselor was also the designated building test coordinator, whenever any type of state assessment occurred, the counselor's office became a test-security zone. This took the counselor out of his or her guidance function for huge blocks of time each school year. Add in the required meetings, scheduling hassles, and paperwork demanded of the counselor, and there was precious little time left to actually counsel students.
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What time was available mostly went to serious counseling needs among our high-needs student body. Consequently, getting college planning information out in a timely manner was challenging. Sometimes, all seniors got was a last-minute call during the morning announcements, or a round-up of five or six of the top students just before a scholarship deadline.
Many of my senior students, including some high achievers, never took the college entrance test (the ACT in Mississippi). Most who did take it waited until the second semester of their senior year. Some did not understand why the test mattered; others had not decided whether they would attempt college. Some could not afford the test fee, and the school had run out of fee waivers. One group that we always seemed to have to push to take the ACT were the athletes. I've had so many players argue with me that they really didn't need to take the ACT—'that the colleges really wanted them to play, so the test score didn't matter. They believed their prowess trumped the need to prove academic ability (despite knowing NCAA rules required them to take the exam).
Many students qualified for admission to the nearby historically black college or either of the community colleges that served our county. Unfortunately, they were told by numerous uninformed sources (friends, relatives, even teachers) that these were inferior schools for those who couldn't handle "real" college.
We did have annual College and Career Days with representatives from several colleges in the state. But there was usually more activity around the booths of the military recruiters, especially for Reserves and National Guard. The big lures here were the promises of either training in an employable skill or money for college—promises that were not always kept. More than one of these students would come back later, sometimes in tears, when they learned they were being deployed to a war zone in a foreign country. All they had wanted was a way to afford more education.
One of the best students in my journalism class got accepted at one of the state's private black colleges with a full scholarship into the choral music program. His mother refused to sign any papers and put incredible pressure on him not to go. She had dropped out of school to marry young, only to have her husband leave her with five small boys. This college-bound son was the most dependable and hard-working of all her children. Her great fear was that he would earn a degree and begin to look down on her. She eventually won the battle, and he is now working in a lumber yard.
The Delta has one of the highest adult illiteracy rates in the country (40 percent). It has only been since the early 1970s that black students in the Delta were allowed to attend school for a full year. Prior to that, black schools were mandatorily shut down twice a year for several months, so the students could work the cotton fields with their families. Parents, many of whom have not attended college, are befuddled by the college admission process. One of the most daunting tasks is the completion of the FAFSA, required of all students before financial aid of any type is awarded.
I remember sitting in the school office with the counselor, trying desperately to convince several mothers that their government welfare payments would not be cut off (a common belief) if they completed the financial aid form. Many refused to give the information or sign these forms, effectively keeping their children out of college. It was also common among athletes who were thinking about college to hold off doing any of the admissions or financial aid paperwork because they believed (and with good reason) that the recruiting coach (who had expressed so much interest in them during the playoffs) was going to take care of everything.
Many good ideas have been suggested—and attempts made—to solve these problems of timing, information, and perception. The addition of technology (and part-time clerical help) to counselors' offices has freed them up to do more one-on-one work with students. Giving teachers more up-to-date information about college admissions and required coursework enables them to advise students earlier in their high school careers. Using college students who have effectively navigated the process to come back and mentor aspiring college-goers has also proven to be an effective intervention. One grant program, Jobs for Mississippi Graduates, is attempting to provide high-needs schools with a full-time person whose job is to teach, urge, and assist students as they work through the considerable barriers along the road to higher education. With such a person in place who deeply cares about their futures and has the time to turn that caring into action, we could really improve the numbers. But what happens when the grant ends?
Even with these improvements, the tremendous need for support among students and families with no college-going tradition can easily overwhelm the available resources. Too many of our students never make it through the maze to the college doorstep. Too many will be stacking lumber or going off to war because they made life-altering decisions based on poor information or wrong perceptions.
Everyone may not want or need to attend college, but those who do should be given the opportunity. What are we going to do about it?
After a 12-year career as a freelance journalist, Detroit native Renee Moore moved to rural Mississippi with her minister husband, earned teaching credentials, and taught high school English for 16 years. She now teaches college and high school students at Mississippi Delta Community College. A former Mississippi state Teacher of the Year, Moore serves on the board of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Mississippi Teacher Licensure Commission. Her TLN blog, Teach Moore, can be found here.
- the visitor's trailer is REALLY CHEESY, but somehow i still think it's worth going to see. i just hope i won't come out with a weird need to play a djembe with an old white man.
- the edge of heaven just got a great review in new york magazine. so shoot me.
- indiana jones features one of my many boyfriends, shia labeouf. and yes, we have been together since even stevens ;).
- iron man. because i have to see it, right?
- and a jihad for love because my job deals quite a bit with islam, and i find myself wanting to learn more and more to counteract my previously deep ignorance of the religion and the culture that comes with it.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
for one, i've been at the gym a WHOLE lot. the cutest boy is there when i am now. and at the laundromat when i go on sundays. and suspiciously walking his (VERY CUTE) dog on my corner when i'm on my way to work. go figure :p.
for two, i've actually been doing my work? i've realized that the fact that i'm quitting in two months means that if i don't want to fuck the over whoever comes after me, i should wrap up all of my loose ends.
for three, i've actually been cooking. like breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week (and even dessert sometimes. michelle's blondie recipe, halved, makes perfect dessert for two with some left over for snacks for a few days, if you're interested). it has been a minute since i went out to eat, and my bank account has quite a bit to show for it :).
for four, my extracurricular life has gotten busier, with a new project on deck for the summer. again, social justice related, but this time with a focus on mainstream media. fun, but SO MUCH WORK.
for five, my brother graduated from grad school this weekend and will be attending georgetown law this fall! i went home to vegas to celebrate with him and the fam. jon is a nice boy, or an "IBM" as sanaa lathan might say :) (yes, i finally watched something new and i have yet to rinse the bad taste out of my mouth).
and don't worry, my google reader hasn't been getting any more love than flying solo has, so i'm behind all over the place. i will be back...
Friday, May 9, 2008
t.j. holmes. dude is fine. period.
1 reason not to watch-
they consider this news. now, i do agree it's entertaining, but it got almost as much air time in the 20 minutes i spent watching as did the storms last night in north carolina.
there seems to be something wrong with that.
on an unrelated note, my current gym music is the latest fader mag podcast. check it out.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
the show was great, and i am SO PROUD. my beautiful friend. i'm like a proud mama. :)
yes, you wish you were here.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
homemade tortilla chips frying. yum.
more delectable food photos after the jump...
mmm. chips is done.
hennepin bubbles. pretty, pretty beer.
nachos and eggs for brunch.
yummy yummy cake batter before white- and bittersweet-chocofying...
yummy yummy baked cake
i'm eating quite well, though happiness hasn't really come to visit in awhile. chocolate cake always helps, though, so after the office party tomorrow i'll be darned if i don't get the spirits up...
the article is definitely worth a read.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
colbert vs. rain. dance-off. i just have to say, rain is not that good-- he's kind of like michael jackson with a ponytail. weird. his feet seem too big, or something.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
things i'm excited about-
Saturday, May 3, 2008
somehow my formerly delicious chips have lost their flavor.
goodbye william. i miss you.
Friday, May 2, 2008
my coworker kevin brought some of these nasty things into the office today. because of our proximity to 34th street, people are always bringing nasty free samples into the office- once i brought salt-and-vinegar flavored crickets. yesterday was kevin's turn. i tried one of the "lemon lift" engobi, and not only was it one of the nastiest things i've ever tasted, it actually gave me a headache. also, the fine print notes that children and pregnant/nursing women shouldn't eat engobi. i, of course, missed that until after i ate the nasty thing. note to the entrepreneurial-minded out there: "infusing" drugs into food seems like a really bad idea.