The Education of Our Children

Posted by TubmanCity / on 11/17/2008 / 1 Comment


Tyrone Powers, Ph.D.  

I attended Southwestern High School with Dr. Andrey Bundley. We graduated in 1979 not completely satisfied with the education we had received, and determined to continue the learning process. Our experiences in urban Baltimore were similar. We had watched the miseducation process claim many victims. We watched hopeful kindergartners grow to hopeless high school students. We looked into the eyes of parents who saw children full of promise turn into broken promises. We both vowed to do something about the problem - to solve the hate that hate made - to be a part of the solution. We both attended and graduated from Coppin State College - now Coppin State University - in Baltimore. We both eventually earned doctorate degrees. And we both came back home to get involved in the education process.  

Since his return Dr. Bundley has held several teaching positions in the Baltimore City School system. He has served as Principal at Green Spring Middle School/ Roland Patterson Middle School. He served as Principal of Walbrook High School in Baltimore and he presently serves as an Administrator in the Baltimore City School system. Dr. Bundley has had numerous job offers, but he has refused to leave the job he committed himself to in 1979 incomplete. He is committed to educating young people. His success at Green Spring/Roland Patterson and Walbrook is legend. His implementation of a "Marcus Garvey" style discipline in the schools allowed faculty, staff and students the ability to believe again. In the process he mended the broken promises and returned - those broken - to young people of promise. He has sustained the hope of young kindergartners - as young high school students they still believe. No rhetoric - just work. Dr. Bundley ignores the nay-sayers - he shuns the spotlight. What he does he is compelled to do by the Creator. I have had the privilege and the honor of walking, talking and working with him. Remember his name for there is much more to come from this man on a mission - this man on God's mission. 

Educating Students In Urban America- Doable  
By Dr. Andrey Bundley  
(Excerpt from Dr. Bundley's upcoming book entitled - "Effective Principles for Urban Principals.") 

Many perceive the goal of educating students in urban public schools to be a difficult task - fraught with many obstacles. I do not totally disagree with this notion, but difficult times, difficult people, and difficult tasks never stop a determined people - a people on a mission. As a high school principal, I experience firsthand the impediments in the process of educating students. I am not dissuaded by the task placed before me - in fact, I am encouraged. I am fully confident and persuaded that the task is doable. Let me assert here that my confidence and persuasion is not groundless and vacuous. Experience has demonstrated to me time and time again that students attending urban schools, who are confronted with adversity, rise above their circumstances when they are nurtured and guided. I will submit that I am a living example of scaling the wall of adversity. I also know that it is a fallacy in logic to judge the whole by a relatively minor part. My contention is that those who succeed are not subjects of some positive accident - in fact they are the products of a strategic plan for success.  
True leaders recognize that a highly structured school environment, coupled with sincere nurturing contributes to student success. Marcus Mosiah Garvey argued that there is no organization without discipline. I argue that there is no structure - no working structure without discipline. But let us not be deceived, discipline is only one part of the equation. A school full of well disciplined students does not necessarily make for a school full of educated and intelligent students. Success cannot be simply measured by well-behaved students. So I do not suggest that discipline is the sole indicator in measuring success. I add to this equation the ability of our children to do well on national and state standardized tests.  
I truly understand the arguments regarding bias on standardized tests. As we work towards fairer tests - we can simultaneously work towards higher test scores on current tests. The goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive. We cannot allow our children to fail while we litigate. I'm convinced that we can do more than one thing at one time. The history of Africans in America indicates the ability to adapt, improvise and overcome until better days arrive. We can succeed in a system designed for failure. Evidence is clear that many students from urban school systems achieve on subtests, which are academic achievement indicators for national and state tests. The success that these students experience can be directly attributed to the leadership and structure provided in the educational environment. 
I would also add to this equation for student success, the development of good moral character. We must not only set the example for our children - we must be the example. It does little good to tell our children not to drink as we sip on a beer. We are part of the equation - and we must be a part of the solution. I submit that holding all students to high standards is very important. Having said this - I also understand that student progress in reaching the high standards will vary based on the students' academic exposure and background. I am a realist. Students will move towards the goal of success at different paces - but they all can, must and will arrive. 
Principals must be leaders. There are certain qualities that are required for successful leaders in schools in general, and in urban schools in specific. Management skills are essential. Leaders encounter, daily, a myriad of events in the educational process for which they are directly or indirectly responsible. Good leaders never shun their responsibilities and they often seek out more and more challenging responsibilities that lead directly to more concrete measurable successes. Leaders must allow for good self management skills - thus allowing them more quality time to spend nurturing and guiding the subjects of all their efforts - the students. The nurturing of students is most significant. In urban schools this sincere process of nurturing is essential to success. Students must believe that the Principal, faculty and staff believe if they are to succeed. The nurturing process also contributes to discipline and a peaceful learning environment. 
School leaders must also have a clear vision for the school and a commitment to the mission. The mission of the school must be stated clearly and unequivocally in a Mission Statement. The vision entails a projected view of what the school will become - and what the students will achieve. The Mission encompasses collective strategies and activities which are executed by those wedded to the vision. Understand the vision and mission must be made real. Faculty and staff must understand that the mission is achievable and that the Principal/leader intend to walk the school towards the "Promised Land."  
Leaders who ensure student success also have a way of establishing strong interconnections with both staff and students. This connection is created because the leader expresses a genuine interest in what students and staff members care about. Connections with students are also made because leaders address issues related to their reality in an accurate and affectionate way. Students want to be guided by leaders. The use of metaphors and images ( i.e. concrete comparisons and ideas) has a strong impact in this process. A metaphorical question such as, "are you a puppet or puppeteer?" gives a student a concept to think about. Imbedded in the question is the idea of who's in control. The puppet is controlled while the puppeteer is the controller. This concept has life teaching implications that can be generalized to different situations for students, thus helping them in the educational process.  
Finally, leaders must have a reason, a fire inside, a motivation to educate and lead in urban schools. They must truly care or they should move into another profession. Students are not factory products; they are living, breathing human beings with hopes, dreams and aspirations. As my close friend and cohort, Dr. Tyrone Powers often states - "Playtime is over - Recess has been cancelled - there is much work to do." This required motivation in leaders should be in concert with and imbedded in it a purpose that is community in nature. When I think of community, I think of notions such unity, struggle, true, strong and determined brothers and sisters. Essentially, the leader in urban education participates in empowering those in the school in order that they may grow and position themselves to help others in the community or those to whom they feel a connection. The work and efforts of these Principals/leaders will have a long lasting effect on our society - on our world. Principals/Leaders must understand that they have the future within the walls of the schools - the community expects the Principals/Leaders to handle the future/ students with care - they are our last and best hope.


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  • Melchizedek says:

    The solution Dr Powers, is recognition of the fact that the branches of knowledge which are presented as the entirety of an education system, is a distortion of the facts. No branch can sustain life if it is not attached to the body of a tree. The purpose of a human being was established as the Body of Knowledge at great cost, to inform every member of the human specie, that the transmission of knowledge from the nuclues of your constituent atoms, which it bonded into your compound human body, to execute its magnificent vision with passion, is your greatest asset. The branches of knowledge, however, sprang out of that Body to formulate its Knowledge into a cutting-edge scientific system for effectively neutralizing that chemical compound body's distorion of its flawless transmission, while creating various high-tech systems for efficiently executing the magnificent vision of that flawless transmission.

    Since the branches disconnected themselves from the body, its now a celebration of ignorance.

    January 15, 2009 at 12:50 AM | Permalink


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