Tag: education

Moving Mountains

Once upon a time there were four young athletes who lived in small towns in northeastern North Carolina. Three of the young men played football in high school. The young lady was captain of her high school’s dance team. Statistically speaking, all four of these young people should have dropped out of high school, had one or more illegitimate children, been arrested for selling or purchasing illegal substances, homicide or a slew of other offenses. Although statistics report that today’s black youth are more likely to be incarcerated or less likely to obtain advanced degrees after high school if they graduate at all, these four individuals have overcome these statistics by proving they are not sex-crazed, drug selling high school dropouts. All four have just graduated from high school in northeastern North Carolina. As the story continues, two of the young men will be attending college in the fall and the third will be enlisting in the Navy. The young lade will also be attending college in the fall.

So, how did these four young people graduate even though the cards were stacked against them? One important piece of information that I neglected to mention earlier in the story was that all four of them attend church regularly. At their church, they are taught the importance of maturing into responsible young adults. They have also attended sessions on planning, applying, and paying for college along with their parents where they learned about financial aid, the Fafsa, and how to respectfully address police officers. Jeremiah, Jharel, and Damien have attended a summit specifically designed for African American boys on dressing professionally, proper handshakes, and how to start their own businesses. They have also been taught the importance of having a strong support system to encourage them. Church members pray for them and encourage them regularly. They have been given the tools to grow into respectable adults. Additionally, they have very strong support systems at home.

So, why am I sharing this story on Edvice? Have you ever tried to paint a wall without paint or a paintbrush? It’s pretty difficult and tends to not turn out well. It is my personal belief that we can train a child to grow up to be successful if they are given the right tools. There are recipes to help shape and mold today’s youth into productive citizens who can positively contribute to the world in which we live. It is not always easy or convenient. It requires sacrifice and time, but it is certainly possible and well worth the investment. These four young people are living proof that not all of today’s youth are lost and
are worthy of our time and energy.

Perhaps you may know or interact with youth on a regular or semi-regular basis. Don’t be afraid to encourage them or offer them advice. It’s not enough to place all the responsibility on their parents or someone else. It takes a village to raise children and it’s amazing how much kids will listen when they know someone actually cares about them. During a time when  young, black teenagers are being shot without hesitation, it is extremely refreshing to know these stories have a positive beginning. We should all remember the seeds we plant today will grow into something. If we plant and cultivate seeds of greatness, that’s the harvest we will reap.

© 2017 Bryan A. Ruffin


NC Senate Bill 873

SB873 or the Access to Affordable College Education Act was filed on May 10, 2016 with the first edition of the bill being released on May 11, 2016 by Republican Senator Chairman Tom Apodaca who serves Buncombe, Henderson, and Transylvania (District 48) counties in North Carolina. The most recent edition of the bill guaranteed the following:

  1. No in-state tuition increase for standard college term
  2. Reduction of student fees by 5% and no more than a 3% annual increase in the subsequent years
  3. Reduced tuition at certain institutions
    • $500 per semester for in-state students; $2500 per semester for out-of-state students.
    • Graduate teaching or research assistants in a similar instructional or research assignment and is at the same time enrolled as a graduate student in the same institution would be permitted a lower tuition rate no lower than $500.
    • includes Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Winston Salem State University, and Western Carolina University. 
  4. Evaluation of admission cap on out-of-state students
  5. Establish Merit Scholarship at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina Central University

    • Up to 50 scholarships awarded–40 for resident students and 10 for nonresident students at each of the two universities
    • fully funded four‑year scholarship that covers the cost of all of the following: full tuition, student fees, housing, meals, textbooks, a laptop, supplies, travel, and personal expenses. Each scholarship also provides four summers of fully funded enrichment and networking opportunities that may include international travel and study.
    • Cheatham‑White Scholarship
    • recipients selected on the basis of academic merit, honorable character, outstanding leadership potential, and a demonstrable commitment to service. Financial need shall not be a consideration.
    • Nominations determined by size of Senior class student body at high schools.

There has been a public outcry, particularly by proponents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who feel that the components of the bill are a trick to unwittingly force HBCUs to close its doors, arguing that some HBCUs on the list are struggling to stay open and that lowering the tuition to $500 would cheapen the degrees offered by these institutions. Proponents believe the tuition decrease will likely lead to students receiving a sub par education since it will be extremely difficult to attract highly qualified professors. The North Carolina NAACP rallied against the proposed statute.

Critics question why universities with high rates of minorities are on the list instead of predominately white universities since they have higher tuition rates. As rumors of name changes of certain HBCUs to attract a whiter audience spread, bills such as SB 873 cause HBCU proponents to become even more restless. 

As politics continue to rule decisions in education, many believe that this is nothing more than a setup for a HBCU takeover since every move in politics in strategic. I implore you to read “The Paradox of Tarheel Politics” by Rob Christensen to learn more about the history of strategic political corruption that has existed in North Carolina since the late 1800s. 

According to Gwendolyn Glenn with WFAE, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, and Winston Salem State University are no longer included in the Senate legislation. The last edition of SB873 was withdrawn from the calendar and re-referred to the Senate on May 26, 2016. 

So what advice does Edvice give? Before laws that can be misconstrued like this one are introduced, serious conversations need to take place between stakeholders about the current state of higher education at all North Carolina colleges and universities. Surveys should also be administered to find out why certain universities struggle to increase enrollment to determine what can be done to help these universities. The information that is gained from the conversation and surveys should be used to create a plan of action to avoid public outcries like this one. The lesson that can be learned in this situation is to include as many stakeholders as possible in major decisions so everyone feels like they have a voice to express their concerns.

© 2017 Bryan A. Ruffin


Think Globally!

What does it mean to incorporate global awareness in the classroom? When I taught 7th Grade English/Language Arts a few years ago, one of the major projects I had my students participate in was a Global Read Aloud. The concept was introduced to me by a teacher from Denmark who created the G.R.A. The concept was simple–a novel was chosen. Teachers and students across the country would read the book, reflect and answer questions about the novel using various educational platforms like Edmodo, Padlet, etc. Any platform with collaboration options will work. Students created videos, prezis, blogs, and artwork. This proved to be a great way to increase fluency and comprehension, not to mention target the higher levels of Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. The sky was the limit with what could be done to spark creativity, increase student use of technology and promote literacy.

From experience, teachers can struggle with authentically incorporating global awareness into their classrooms on a daily basis; but, it is actually quite simpler than most would think. Incorporating global awareness doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Teachers should think of something they are already doing with their students like reading and amp it up to keep their students interested. Incorporating technology, class competitions, or social media is a plus. But, be careful. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to incorporate a piece of technology just for the sake of “incorporating technology.” Doing so can cause the students to focus solely on the technology and not the skills they should be learning. Teachers should also be aware of their school division’s social media policies before having students use it for assignments. A general rule of thumb is if the technology does not enhance the lesson or make it more engaging, save it for another time.
Side note: My classes were only allowed to check out laptop carts once or twice a week so our interaction was somewhat limited in the G.R.A. since we were not a 1:1 school, but we were still able to participate and complete the novel. Many students found time to post while at home. I encourage educators to work through obstacles that can potentially hinder your progress towards becoming a global thinker. You are only limited by your own thinking. If you think it can be done then do it. Like creating this blog, taking the first step is all it takes.

Happy teaching and learning!

© 2017 Bryan A. Ruffin