Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


Westran Teachers, Staff Participate in Poverty Simulation

Quote from Article:

Teachers and staff in the Westran School District got to walk a mile in the shoes of those in poverty during a simulation held Friday afternoon at Westran High School.

The poverty simulation was organized by the Northeast Community Action Center, which serves as 12-county area in northeast Missouri. Participants were given fake money and a list of tasks to complete in a limited time frame like getting a job, paying rent or paying for childcare. Some of those who were unable to complete some of the tasks were left without a home or were unable to eat for days at a time, within the simulation. The purpose of the simulation was to raise awareness about child poverty and the struggles some of their students face on a day-to-day basis, said Randolph County NECAC Coordinator Patsy Redding.


Over the span of a few hours, teachers and staff ran through a 30-day scenario in which they had to balance work, health, family and housing on a limited income. There were several booths set up around the WHS gym that represented jobs, housing, a pawn shop, pay-day loans, community services and more.

“We have booths that represent the community, and inside, we have chair set up that represent families,” Redding said. “They have to go a month trying to pay their bills and go to work. If they don’t, some of them are evicted or have utilities shut off. Just like real life. That’s what we’re showing them.”

The keyword surrounding the simulation is “awareness,” said Ralls County NECAC Coordinator LeAndra Bridgeman, who worked as part of the simulation.


Participants are often surprised by what some families have to do to get by, she said.

“A lot of times people will respond with, ‘I didn’t know that this is how my students are living,’” Bridgeman said.


“We know as much as we can about our kids… but we may not know everything,” Wilbers said. “Being able to experience this [simulation] and have a better understanding of might be going on, gives us the ability to have a little more sympathy. This is a human being we’re talking about… they need that sense that someone is in their corner taking care of them.”

District Deeds Synopsis:

What a great idea!  Many Teachers we know do their very best to understand the personal challenges of their Students including poverty and homelessness and go over and above to help them any way they can.

What we liked about this  “walk a mile in my shoes” exercise is that it gave Teachers first hand experience in navigating the the maze of challenges families in poverty face every single day.  It was enlightening that some of the Teachers in the simulation were evicted or had utilities turned off despite advanced education and language skills.  Can you imagine the struggles of a family in poverty that may not have a college education and polished language or communication skills?

We encourage San Diego non-profit organizations to provide this Poverty Simulation for San Diego Unified Stakeholders!

When Unions Open Their Own Charter Schools — Lessons From California’s Kwachiiyoa Elementary

Quote from Article:

As difficult as it may be to believe nowadays, when teacher unions deem charter schools their mortal enemies, there was a brief period of time when they took a different approach. Affiliates of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers once created their own charter schools. They were to be established as models for how excellent schools could be if the best educational and labor practices espoused by the unions were followed.


In 1996, NEA created the Charter School Initiative. It was a project to build and support six charters around the country. The national union put $1.5 million behind the effort. Then-NEA President Bob Chase told a congressional subcommittee that “charter schools can become a positive vehicle for reform within public schools, depending on how they are developed, funded, structured and governed.”

Chase was convinced that “when charter schools are created along the lines that our members have chosen, professional educators applying best practices and teaming with parents and community members, that they do indeed offer hope for positive changes within our public school system as a whole.”


Only four NEA charters opened, one of which was the Kwachiiyoa (pronounced koo-chee-OH-ah) Charter School in San Carlos, California.

The word kwachiiyoa comes from the Kumayaay people of the San Diego area and is loosely translated to mean “everyone a learner, everyone a teacher,” which became the school’s motto.


Kwachiiyoa opened in September 1999, ostensibly with the full support of NEA, the California Teachers Association, the San Diego Education Association, the local school board and the teachers college at San Diego State University. The San Diego Union-Tribune called it “perhaps the most enthusiastic charter school launch the city had seen.”

By design, the school had no principal. It was to be run by a 12-member governance council consisting of six teachers, two parents, two community partners, one education support employee and one student. “The governance structure of Kwachiiyoa Charter School is based on the philosophy that teachers are professionals whose voice in school management and operations is essential to achieving academic goals,” read a school goals document. Goal No. 1 was “high student achievement.”


The staff was unfailingly positive about the school’s mission, as shown in this promotional YouTube video and in its initial school accountability report from March 2000.

Three years later, Kwachiiyoa was the lowest-performing of the 121 schools in the San Diego Unified School District. It ranked lowest even when compared with other California schools with similar student socioeconomic backgrounds. For the 2002-03 school year, Kwachiiyoa was forced into a state intervention program for underperforming schools.

When it came time for the charter’s renewal, the union disappeared from the picture. The teachers tried to proceed with a new charter application without union support, but the district denied it based on the school’s record.


In a masterpiece of understatement, the San Diego school board concluded that “it is evident that the instructional program included in the original charter petition is not satisfactory.”

It would be inaccurate to blame this outcome on the implementation of the unions’ ideas, since the school board learned that the unions “had little or no involvement in the operations of the school in the prior chartering term.”

After noting that participation by the local union and San Diego State University was one of the primary reasons for approval of the original charter petition, the board discovered that virtually no collaboration had taken place. The teacher professional development program was never created, much less instituted.


Kwachiiyoa closed and another charter school was granted the site, though eventually the district sold the property and a developer turned it into homes.

The other three NEA charters remain open to this day, though they had trials and tribulations with the union at the time of their founding.


“Everyone a learner, everyone a teacher” was an appropriate slogan for the Kwachiiyoa failure. The unions thought to teach us about what makes a successful school but learned that it really wanted nothing to do with the responsibility.

District Deeds Synopsis:

A few lessons were clear to District Deeds when we read this article.

Creating and successfully deploying a “District” school is extremely difficult.

Creating and successfully deploying a “Charter” school is extremely difficult.

Criticism of any school or district needs to be based on fact, not based just on the “type” of school for personal financial reasons.  We would think that because the San Diego Education Association (SDEA Teachers Union) had experienced the difficulties of launching a Charter School they would be empathetic of the challenges of Charter Schools currently in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).

Instead it appears that the SDEA management is opposed to all Charter Schools just because they are Charter Schools that have teachers that are not in their Union.  That is their right and arguably their responsibility to Union members.

We also believe that Teachers want only the best education for their Students.  In some areas of San Diego, that means having their Students attend a Charter School.

We hope that this article helps those Teachers not just blindly follow their Unions opposition to all Charter Schools but instead use their well developed intellect to keep an open mind regarding k-12 education.

We also hope that, no matter what massive contributions their union provides to buy the current corrupt Board pf Education members, they vote for Trustee Candidates that understand that they represent all San Diego Unified children…even those children attending Charter Schools that are better than the so-called SDUSD “Quality School” in the neighborhood.

We trust that our dedicated Teachers will vote their conscience and not their wallet.

We trust that for Teachers it really IS “all about the Students”.

Top 147 Recommended African-American Children’s Books

Link to Book List: A List of the Top 100+ Recommended African-American Children’s Books

Quote from Article:

Children book authors, industry professionals, and avid readers contributed their favorite children’s books to this list. We know children and young readers will enjoy most, if not all, of these books, as they have already brought joy to countless children.  We recommend printed books for young readers, or when reading to a child. Some of these books are decades old, but are still in print due to their significance. Others are brand new, reflecting contemporary voices and themes.

The titles below are currently listed in order of publication date (newest to oldest). A list, even one with 147 books, can not possibly capture all the great titles available. You can always discover other excellent tiles on the list of Coretta Scott King Award Winning Books and elsewhere on AALBC.com. Here is a printable list of all the books on this list and a beautiful collage of the books covers.

If you feel strongly about uplifting children through books please read and share, “Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children’s Literature.” You can also find a wide variety of books for children on AALBC, and be sure to check out The Brown Book Shelf (who contributed to this list).

Also check out our list of Bestselling Children’s Book Authors and our Bestselling Children’s Books lists.

District Deeds Synopsis:

A wonderful resource for all SDUSD Stakeholders, especially Principals and Teachers who have the authority to integrate these fine books into their curriculum.

Happy Reading!!!

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Have a great week!!!



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