Sunday, March 1, 2015

Is It Children First or Money First?

The article below appeared on and when I read it as an educator I struggled with whether or not I would write this post. The more I thought about Governor Christie's commentary about his adopting the Common Core because New Jersey needed the federal funds that would come in exchange for adopting the unpopular education reform, the more I could not rest. Many school districts around the country tout slogans such as "Children First," but statements such as those made by Governor Christie in the article below really makes one wonder is it "Children First" or "Money First?" Where does the best interest of the children enter the picture when you read statements such as these? As an educator and critical thinker, I find this article and these statements something to critically think about.



In an interview at CPAC with conservative show host Laura Ingraham, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) acknowledged why many governors likely adopted the unproven Common Core standards were dangled before them by the Obama administration: He signed onto them because his state needed the federal funds that would come in exchange for adopting the unpopular education reform.
Ingraham asked Christie about his prior support for the nationalized standards, and observed that he did sign his state’s Race to the Top application for the federal funds.
“I know you’ve had some hesitations, but why did you sign it?” she asked the governor.
“In New Jersey we’ve always been for the standards, for high standards, and we had standards beforehand,” Christie replied. “My concern now as we travel toward implementation is not only the heavy foot of the federal government coming in, but it is not doing all that we need to have done in New Jersey.”
“So it was all teed up when I came in by Governor Corzine,” he said. “We signed on and tried to get funds during a really difficult fiscal time.”
“Regrets, do you have regrets?” Ingraham asked.
“Sure, or course,” Christie responded.
“Political regrets?” she pressed.
“Implementation regrets,” he said. “Unlike other people who just get to talk about this stuff, we actually have to do it. Once you start to do it, what I’ve seen — the concerns that I have are significant — and I set a commission up that is now coming back to me with some recommendations, but my charge to them is that we have to keep government at the local level.”
“With education it is most important to have parents involved, there have to be teachers involved as a part of this process and it needs to be part of this process and will be I think as we move forward in New Jersey,” Christie added.
As Breitbart News reported Monday, the New Jersey Assembly voted 63-7 to delay the use of the tests aligned with the Common Core standards to evaluate teachers or students.
During a recent trip to Iowa, Christie, who has a Democrat-led state legislature, said he has “grave concerns” about the Common Core standards. The only action he has taken in his state, however, has been to order a commission to study student testing. At the end of January, the commission announced New Jersey schools could be testing students too often, and recommended that a research study be conducted to determine the extent of testing in the state.
New Jersey was one of 46 states whose state boards of education adopted the Common Core standards, a federally promoted education initiative introduced in the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill through a competitive grant program called Race to the Top (RttT). States could apply and compete for federal grant money as long as they adopted a set of uniform, “common” standards and aligned testing and teacher evaluation programs, as well as massive student data collection systems.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 21, 2015 Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Malcolm X

Malcolm X was murdered 50 years ago today in the Audubon Ballroom in New York. Malcolm founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) after leaving the Nation of Islam. Can you imagine what might have occurred if the Organization of Afro-American Unity and the SCLC and other groups had joined forces? Something to critically think about.  Rest in Peace Malcolm.

  "My Alma mater was books, a good library... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity."  Malcolm X

Sunday, February 15, 2015

African-American Community Leaders Recognized in Black History Month Ceremony

by Jayed Rahman, writer for Paterson Times

Municipal officials on Friday afternoon held a Black History Month award ceremony to recognize nine African-American community leaders for their contributions to the Silk City.

“I think about black history and the struggle our ancestors went through, the hard times they went through, and I always say that no matter what I do in life I hope they are proud of me for what I’ve done,” said Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, who served as the mistress of ceremonies.

Council members expressed their appreciations and a sense of proudness by recognizing four city activists, three educators, a theologian, and a social worker.

Community activists recognized were: David Gilmore with the Medgar Evers award; Dwayne Cox with the Jesse Owens award; Ernest Rucker with the James Forman award; and Gerard Burns with the Ralph Abernathy award.

Educators recognized were: Marc Medley with the Frederick Douglass award; Felisa Villarin VanLiew with the Harriet Tubman award; and William Raheem Smallwood with the Benjamin Mays award.

Psychologist and social worker Kelley Moss-Brown was recognized with the Inez Beverly-Prosser award.

Pastor Randall Lassiter was recognized with the Martin Luther King award.

The awardees shared character traits and similarities with great civil rights leaders whose namesake awards they received.

Medley, like Douglass, has been on a crusade to promote literacy in the African-American community. Medley said he was moved to promote literacy after reading a poster inside the abolitionist’s home in Washington D.C. which read: “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

City’s nine council members each named a candidate for the awards. The same council members also handed out framed resolutions recognizing the contributions of each of the awardees.

Council president Julio Tavarez, who nominated Medley, was absent from the ceremony. In his place Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, handed the award to Medley. Tavarez’s absence garnered a strong negative reaction from the audience, when it was announced the council president couldn’t make it. One audience member blurted out: “Not surprised.”

“We take pride in our own African-American men and women who overcame insurmountable obstacles and achieved great success” said mayor Jose “Joey” Torres. Torres listed a number of city residents who went on to overcome racism to obtain success. He listed Larry Doby and Johnny Briggs, both of whom made it to major league baseball by cutting through the color line.

“Change was made when William “Bill” Mason led the Charter Study Commission that changed the form of government to our current Faulkner Act Plan D,” said Torres. Mason was a 4th Ward councilman from 1974-76.

Torres highlighted the important roles city’s African-Americans community played not only locally but nationally.

While Torres was reading off his list, William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, donned a Nigerian garb, to bring some “authenticity” to the ceremony which began at 11:30 a.m. and continued into the afternoon.

“We don’t do what we do to receive awards,” said Medley, a principal at the Frank Napier Academy, a school named after the city’s first African-American school superintendent. “We do what we do to make life better for others and the awards come as a byproduct.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Some Thoughts on Valentine's Day and Black History Month

You are invited to join me each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET on and WP88.7 FM for The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. Each week I interview authors from around the world to offer unsurpassed book talk radio. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @readingcircle01 and @thinkcritical01.

Monday, February 9, 2015

All We Need Is LOVE

McDonalds and Coca-Cola got it right during the Super Bowl! I know it's not grammatically correct to use "got," however, their latest campaigns hit on something that the world is sorely lacking and that is LOVE. McDonalds got it right with their Lovin campaign and Coca-Cola got it right with their #MakeItHappy ads encouraging positivity. Interestingly, video game ads such as Game of War - Who I Am and Clash of Clans were about violence, war and fighting. It was noted and observed by many that there seemed to have been a shift in this year's Super Bowl ads away from the predominately humorous ads that we've become accustomed, to more emotional messages such as those mentioned above. Even fathers for once were made to look good instead of being made the brunt of the jokes in campaigns for Nissan, Toyota and Dove.With a world filled with violence, it was good to see major corporations recognizing the need for more LOVE for only love can conquer hate and unfortunately there is too much hate going around.

So, on this February 9, 2015, the fifty-first anniversary of  The Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, they had it right too........ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.   I invite you to follow The Critical Thinker on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and to tune in live each Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. ET on to hear The Critical Thinker live as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley.  Each week we bring to you provocative authors who share their work and also give you something to critically think about.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

This Is Our Elephant

There was once a group of tribesman who had captured and killed an elephant to take back to their village. The tribesman all grabbed one of the ropes tied to the elephant and they all began walking towards their village. In order to get to their village the tribesman had to climb a steep mountain, which meant they would have to carry the heavy elephant up and over the mountain. To make the task easier, they decided to chant as they labored. They all began to chant “THIS IS OUR ELEPHANT, THIS IS OUR ELEPHANT.” For a while things were going great until one of the tribesmen began chanting “THIS IS MY ELEPHANT, THIS IS MY ELEPHANT.”  When the other tribesman began to hear their fellow tribesman’s chant they all decided, well, if it is HIS elephant, let HIM carry it and they all dropped their ropes and stopped pulling. Now of course all of the weight now fell on this one tribesman and he could not carry it on his own. Realizing his brethren had dropped the ropes and was no longer pulling, he now began chanting “THIS IS OUR ELEPHANT, THIS IS OUR ELEPHANT” and when the others heard this, they picked up the ropes and began pulling again as all of them chanted “THIS IS OUR ELEPHANT”  together until they were able to reach their village.

Think about it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It's Real Easy To Be An Armchair Quarterback

Armchair quarterback (noun) a person who offers advice or an opinion on something in which they have no expertise or involvement
Word Origin - 1940; as a person watching televised sports from an armchair 

"Armchair quarterback" is an idiom that originated in the United States. It refers to someone who doesn't participate in an action but still makes judgments about it. The phrase takes its meaning from the fact that a quarterback is the player in the American sport of football who controls much of the game. An "armchair quarterback" is someone who offers his or her opinion on something without actually being a part of it. It is an idiom that has branched out from the sports world to encompass many other aspects of life.
                                                                                                 Source: wiseGEEK

It's always interesting to me how folks who are not in the job of whatever the job may be, i.e. president, principal, pastor, CEO, governor, superintendent, head coach, etc. etc. etc. always have so much to say about how things are being done or was done. As an elementary school principal, I have to make decisions everyday that impact students, staff, parents and other stakeholders and there are always even among the mentioned ranks those who feel that if they were in my seat, they would have done X or Y. I am using myself as an example since I am in a leadership role, however, the same types of judgments are cast towards anyone who is in a leadership role. I am not naive and realize that it comes along with the leadership game, but it just came to me to put this down in a blog post Just Because. If you are in a leadership role, you will be able to relate to this post. I watch and listen to the pundits pontificate over what they would do if they were President Obama........"He should have done this or he should not have done that,"  and on and on and on. It really does not matter what leadership role you are happens to you. Always those who sit on the metaphorical armchair and can do you better than you can do you. Yes, my friends, it's easy being an "Armchair quarterback," because you are always talking and offering advice without risk to you. To share what you would have done or not done in any given situation really does not matter because (A) YOU were not the one in the situation (B) however the results of the decision(s) turns out, YOU are not the one being held accountable for them. Hence it really is easy being an armchair quarterback, or armchair president, or armchair principal, or armchair CEO or armchair pastor, etc. etc. (Fill in the blank - Armchair _______).

I heard this response one time from someone and have used it myself since hearing it and the dialogue goes like this:

Armchair QBIf I were you, I would have done this..........
MeNo, if you were me, you would have done the same thing I did because you were me
Think about it for a little bit and you will get it. After some thought, I think you get my point. Leaders are constantly besieged by pundits who really may mean well or perhaps have served in the particular position in the past, but it's a different game for the person who is in the position now, so what may have worked then, may or may not work now. Let's be very clear, coaching and armchair quarterbacking are two different things. For example, many of our radio talk show hosts have made their careers by armchair quarterbacking the President of the United States, particularly President Obama. The two that I am thinking about and I am sure there are others, have had nothing to talk about on a daily basis for nearly seven years now other than President Barack Obama. They have become expert armchair quarterbacks as neither would be able to do any better with the country than any other president has, but you wouldn't know that by listening to them. They would change the country, even the world. Everything would be well under their leadership.

I fly on Microsoft's Flight Simulator X and I have a ball flying my jets all over the world. I know the instrument panel, the readings, the checklists, the jargon, etc. etc. I can fly fighter jets, commercial aircraft, helicopters, private planes and so on. The difference between my flying on Flight SimX and flying the real thing is, I can crash over and over again and no one gets hurt; no lives are lost. No equipment is damaged. No money is lost. Armchair quarterbacking is very similar. There is nothing lost with what you would have done in my situation because you are not the one actually in the pilot's seat. Armchair quarterbacking is like being in the simulator. In fact, it might be even less because at least being in the simulator, you really do have to have some knowledge of what you are simulating. Reread the definitions at the top of this post; words such as "no expertise or involvement,"  and "without actually being a part of it." 

We have entire organizations created to be armchair quarterbacks and they are well paid armchair quarterbacks I might add. It is easy to walk into a place, say a few words, offer a few opinions and then walk back out, on to your next stop. It's another thing to live situations from minute to minute and make decisions based on the information that you have at the moment.

So if by chance you are a professional armchair quarterback or an amateur one, just know that it is really easy to be an armchair quarterback compared with actually BEING the quarterback. You can substitute any leadership position you would like into the quarterback role. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback. Something to critically think about. I invite you to listen to me live each Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. ET locally in the northern New Jersey area on WP88.7 FM and around the world on I also invite you to follow The Critical Thinker on Twitter @thinkcritical01.