Bill Gates Unplugged

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Surmounting Classroom Technology Needs – Fort Worth ISD?

From: Eddie Griffin, Child Rights Advocate,
Fort Worth Independent School District, Community Action Team, Parent Team Leader

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

RE: Making the Classroom Seeable, Comprehendible, Rigorous, Engaging, Challenging & Entertaining

We have reached the 4G Multimedia level of communications and innovations for new modes of teaching and learning in the classroom. It is a new delivery system that can be effectively used to fulfill our purpose in education.

POSTULATE: People progress at an arithmetic rate. Technology progresses at a geometry rate.

ASSUMPTION: The general trend in mass public education inhibits intellectual growth. Impeding forces are old modes of thinking, and old production and education models.


“Bill Gates Unplugged” is an open door to the exciting future in technology that can be applied in the classroom. This is not theory, but actual research in process. In other words, classroom teachers will not be able to dictate the new modes of learning. In fact, teachers are already woefully behind this generation of multimedia-hungry babies.

Following the Lead

Excerpts from a Texas teacher’s request:

I teach twenty-two energetic third graders at a public school in a very high-need community.

My students, who are accustomed to television and video games, need entertaining, engaging lessons to hold their attention and peak their interest.
Therefore, the prerequisite of any lesson in my classroom is it has to be engaging. The most engaging lessons need materials and technology. Technology is definitely scarce.

There are not enough LCD Projectors available at my school

She has requested help to purchase a “SAMSUNG SPL220 MULTIMEDIA PROJECTOR”.

Total Project Cost: $826.82
Current Balance: $611.17

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: +1.206.709.3400
Jeremy Robinson-Leon
Phone: +1.212.784.5702

RE: Fort Worth ISD Research identified Needs

The FWISD CAT FAMILY Team includes a representative of Alcon Laboratories Corporate Giving program.

Current research reveals that 70% of those incarcerated, never were able to learn in school, because of poor eye sight.

We have seen a number of classroom requests for “projectors”, in order to enlarge the traditional blackboard.

The second discovery is the mode of delivery of learning materials. The multimedia generation is bored with the slow learning process.

We discovered this impediment in our Texas classroom. The state school system is moving away from hardback books to more online and multimedia software-driven curricula.

We were the first to introduce computers into inner city school classrooms, to make technology more accessible to the poor. We expanded computer placement through the FWISD school system, and are in process of placing online accessible computers in community GO Centers.

What is happening in cell phone technology and social online media has thrown us into a new teaching arena.

We have yet to catch up in the classroom, by making lesson content “seeable”, “comprehendible”, “rigorous, engaging, and challenging”, and “entertaining”. This is the type of delivery system we need in education for today’s generation.

The FWISD is the largest school district with whiteboards in every classroom. But not all teachers have explored or mastered its infinite multimedia features. There are still teachers who will do barely enough to get by.

We need to identify teachers who are hungry to teach and use innovative techniques in the classroom. The best vehicle to encourage teachers to supply their classrooms needs is through DonorsChoose.Org. A teacher can go there and convey their classroom needs to potential donors, for specific projects of all sizes., Gates Foundation and Stephen Colbert Team Up to Support Teachers and Promote College Readiness for All

"Double Your Impact" program to fund 50 percent of teachers’ classroom projects aimed at promoting college readiness

NEW YORK -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and, the online charity that connects individual “citizen philanthropists” with classrooms in need, today announced a landmark grant that enables to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of individual classroom projects developed by teachers to promote college-readiness among students in high-need and underserved urban and rural public schools.

TV personality Stephen Colbert, a board member, moderated the event where the announcement was made. “Double Your Impact” will be funded with a $4.1 million investment from the Gates Foundation and is expected to support more than 17,000 classroom projects, touching more than 300,000 students across the nation. By enabling to contribute half of the required dollars, the grant helps to incentivize individual “citizen philanthropists” to donate and accelerate the process of fully funding projects. enables teachers to describe specific educational projects for their classrooms and individuals to choose which projects to fund. This approach has been effective in funding projects in high-need and underserved schools.

“Teachers across the country are creating classroom projects and lessons that engage kids in creative and innovative ways. Generous citizen philanthropists, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s invaluable support, are making sure they have the materials needed to spark the passion for learning,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of “This grant helps us drive attention and contributions to projects aimed at preparing kids to succeed in college.”

“ supports teachers in a truly powerful way—engaging the public in support of teachers and the innovative energy they bring to the classroom,” said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education at the Gates Foundation. “We hope this partnership will give citizen donors an added incentive to support projects that empower public school teachers to help prepare students to graduate ready to succeed in college and beyond.”

Today’s event was held at Manhattan Bridges High School in New York City, which has benefited from three teacher-submitted projects funded through the “Double Your Impact” initiative. Manhattan Bridges serves new immigrants and English Language Learners–historically academically-challenged demographics–and has consistently posted graduation rates significantly higher than the city average, in part due to its tailored programming for students.

“ allows people from all walks of life to help specific classrooms directly,” said Stephen Colbert. “As I endeavor to protect our children from bears, is protecting public school kids from classrooms that lack the materials necessary to rigorously prepare them for college.”

While many organizations raise funds for basic school supplies, the model supports specific classroom projects that are submitted and designed by any public school teacher in the U.S. to further defined educational goals. Under the “Double Your Impact” initiative, the requests eligible for 50 percent funding from through the grant from the Gates Foundation are those that promote college-readiness. Such projects include student trips to college campuses as well as classroom books, SAT/ACT preparation materials, and other resources that strengthen the learning experience.

“ has helped provide the additional materials, such as college essay prep books, that can help teachers like me create programs that are targeted to the unique needs of our students and get them really excited about learning,” said Elizabeth Smith, a teacher at Manhattan Bridges High School. “My goal is to create opportunities for my students to learn in innovative, inspiring ways. This has made all the difference in what our students believe they can achieve.”
Founded in 2000, is a nonprofit website where public school teachers describe specific educational projects for their students, and donors can choose the projects they want to support. After completing a project, the donor hears back from the classroom they supported in the form of photographs and student thank-you letters.

To date, 88,000 public and charter school teachers have used the site to secure funding for $30.3 million in books, art supplies, technology, and other resources that their students need to learn. Through, individuals from all walks of life have helped 1.8 million students from low-income families.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Eddie Griffin (BASG)

SUPPORT: H.R. 1064

Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act:

To provide for evidence-based and promising practices related to juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity prevention and intervention to help build individual, family, and community strength and resiliency to ensure that youth lead productive, safe, healthy, gang-free, and law-abiding lives.

Current Status:
The Committee voted to report the bill favorably to the whole House of Representatives by a vote of 17-14.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Family Information Night


Thursday, November 19, 2009
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Martin Luther King Center
5565 Truman Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76105

Be Informed!

Find what services and basic resources are available for you and your family and the steps you should take to access these services.

YOUR TEXAS BENEFITS will be available from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm to provide information and assist families in signing up for CHIP, Children’s Medicaid, Food Stamps, and TANF.

FREE DINNER will be provided at 6:30 pm
DOOR PRIZE drawing will take place at 8:30 pm


Please call to register or obtain additional information:
Call (817) 457-3911 or Email

In collaboration with the Fort Worth Independent School District Family Resource Centers (FRC) and Stop Six Community GO Center

Please bring with you:
• You photo ID
• Everyone’s Social Security card
• Children birth certificates
• Proof of income
• Resident verification (copy of lease, mortgage papers, letter from whom you stay with)
• Copy of Assets (utility bills, medical bills, child care, etc.

Call 817-569-4778

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Closing the technology skills gap: Applying for Microsoft training vouchers’


Re: “Closing the technology skills gap’, ‘applying for Microsoft training vouchers’ and their ‘job training program.’”

Microsoft Success Driven by 'Constant Learning' - Andrea Taylor

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

POLY H.S.: We Knew We Could

By Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It took a masterpiece strategy and a Herculean effort for Polytechnic High School to survive being axed for lagging academic performance. Everybody in Fort Worth pitched in to save historic Poly High.

From top to bottom, from the state legislature to the students themselves, everybody was on the same mission.

What is astounding about this story is that most everybody feared the worse, and the kids were walking around, cool, calm, collected, and confident that they would do it.

Like most people, I started with my doubts. As I saw it, we had to achieve Mission Impossible, a subject that generated some lively discussions and ideas between us. When I tried to pin the tail on the donkey, the chief academic officer assured me that this was Our Mission Impossible together.

How can you resist the ultimatum: Either you are part of the problem or part of the solution? And, the kids at Poly were already giving their all and all.

So, when I saw the Star-Telegram’s headline this morning, “Polytechnic High rated academically acceptable by the state”, I was not surprised.

We set out to achieve Mission Impossible, with somewhat of an overkill strategy. We poured it on, and on, and on, every hand on deck, every resource available.

It was school in the morning, school in the evening, on weekends, no holidays, the kids went for it like ice cream.

If you oversleep, you got a call. If you needed a way, someone would pick you up. Just to know that somebody cared for them. After all, this was a school sitting on hard hood turf. Few kids make it up out of here and go on somewhere in life.

The teachers kicked in on their part, tutoring in the morning, on free time, during off hours, whenever and however they could. They worked as a team, meeting in the morning, developing collaborative teaching strategies, with each reinforcing the other teachers’ subjects.

The Fort Worth business community kicked in also, with incentives and goodies, scholarships and awards. The local colleges provided volunteers and tutors, some calling themselves the G-Force, serving as navigators to the college-bound. Community Action Teams worked to generate parental support.

Soon the parents were as strongly involved as the student were confident in saving Poly High School.

“I knew we had it in us,” said Luis Ubanda Jr. victoriously as the reports from the state came in. “We had no doubt that we would make it.”


I saw this display of self-confidence in these students when I visited the campus in 2009, contrary to what I saw in 2006, when a group of us unveiled the new GO Center for the school. The Class of 2009 was a different class, with a different aim and different motivations.

WISH ME- I wish that I could capture it and put it in a bottle, so that it could be sold again and again, and released upon a generation like a magic spirit upon the head of each high school student. But the law of physics forbade me by this principal: Something set in motion from rest will gather momentum and lose it over time and distance. Therein is a natural tendency to scale back the force and reduce our effort.

SEEN IT BEFORE- After reaching the state’s highest rating of “exemplary” for two consecutive years after its turnaround, Trimble Tech High School regressed to an “acceptable” rating and has been holding steady for these many years.

When NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, followed after the Bill Clinton's Teach America 2000 Act, we began seeing an upon trend in academic achievement standards. The logic behind this new educational stratum of milestones was base upon the recognition that we were living in rapid globalization and our kids were falling behind the rest of the world. The Education Department set forth to establish some minimum academic standards, with a key provision to raise those standards annually.

On the other hand, the public education system was stuck in stagnate mode. They were more accustomed to straight line progression, rather than an annual escalating academic target. Our educational efforts were more like trying to hit a moving target by shooting behind it.

The Fort Worth ISD, as of late, has put on its futuristic thinking mode, being the first and largest school district to introduce smart whiteboards into each classroom. The FWISD website is an all-you-can eat buffet of information, programs, times, schedules, schools, and classroom information, and soon mom get be able to pull up her child’s daily attendance and progress report.

The challenge now before is not another Mission Impossible, but a Possible Mission of achieving even greater heights.

Congratulations to the FWISD & POLYTECHNIC HIGH SCHOOL.
You made this history.

Watch the Video at

Monday, June 29, 2009

JENA 6 Case Closes with Resolution

Eddie Griffin

It's taken more than two years, but the "Jena 6" can now put this saga behind them. The five young men whose trials had been on hold pleaded "no contest" to simple battery—a misdemeanor for which they received no jail time. It's the kind of charge that should have been made all along.

Just after the trial, criminal defense attorney Jim Boren—the attorney representing Robert Bailey and a coordinator for legal strategy across the cases—called ColorOfChange executive director James Rucker. His words speak for themselves. You can listen to the core of his voicemail message here:

The Jena Six: Resolution
"None of this would have happened without you"

While this is a great moment, it’s important to remember that if it were not for the extreme nature of this case, most of us wouldn’t have known about it or gotten involved. The reality is that there are countless Jena 6’s: young people–often Black and male–who are overcharged or unduly criminalized, and whose plight is unknown to most of the outside world.

Even in the case of the Jena 6, we need to take stock of what did not happen. While Judge JP Mauffray was taken off the case due to the appearance of bias (a pivotal moment for the cases), District Attorney Reed Walters–the person largely responsible for the problems in the first place–still has his job.

It’s the reason our work cannot just be about identifying and fighting for individuals railroaded by the system, but about creating systemic change in criminal justice in America. We are truly grateful to have the chance to do this work with you, and we’re hoping for your continued engagement and support.

Thanks and Peace,
– James, Gabriel, William, Dani and the rest of the team
June 28, 2009

Excerpts from Eddie G. Griffin (BASG) files: Jena 6 Campaign


One by one, they are picking our children off, out of our hands, out of our control, out of our schools, and sending them straight into prison… the African-American community was so outraged at the Jena 6 case that they sent 30,000 people to Louisiana to protest the injustice…

After a nationwide fight to get young 17-year old Mychal Bell out of jail, and posting a $45,000 bail, we as a people had hardly licked our wound before they sent him back to jail- this time with an 18-month prison sentence, under the technical auspices of probation violation.

So, why did they let Bell out of jail on a $45,000 bail? They took his money one day and put him back in jail the next day, but only because they were ordered by the higher court to give the child a bail hearing. After nine months of incarceration, minus bail money provided by thousands of well-wishers, he was back where he started-in jail- worse, in prison doing 18-months.

Maliciously delicious to the Devil’s appetite because, by law, no one can save the little black boy- don’t call him Mychal, call him Sambo for breakfast.

There is something fishy here. Are the others of the Jena 6 going to be devoured before our eyes also?

Monday, September 17, 2007 11:05 AM

Reed Walters initially charged Bell and five other black teens, who have come to be called the "Jena 6," with attempted murder after the white student was beaten and knocked unconscious at Jena High School last December. The white student suffered cuts and bruises but was treated and released from a local hospital.

Walters later reduced the charges to aggravated second-degree battery, contending at Bell's trial-the first case to go to court-that the tennis shoes Bell was wearing constituted a dangerous weapon.

Louisiana's Third Circuit Court of Appeals, acting on an emergency defense appeal, reversed the aggravated second-degree battery conviction of Mychal Bell, 17, ruling that the youth had been tried improperly as an adult in a case that has raised allegations of unequal justice in the small, mostly white town.

Walters said in a statement Friday that he intended to appeal the reversal of Bell's conviction to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

National civil rights leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, had been planning to join African-American celebrities and thousands of Internet bloggers in a demonstration in Jena next Thursday, the day Bell had been scheduled to be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on the battery conviction.

Nearly 200,000 people have signed petitions criticizing the prosecution of the black students and calling on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to intervene in the case. Bus caravans headed toward Jena have been organized at scores of churches across the country and organizers had predicted more than 20,000 protesters might show up in the town of 3,000

So long as these kids were in the dark without representation, they were all going up the river. When the lights came on and the public pressure flooded in, it began to change everything."

Alan Bean, director of Friends of Justice, a Texas-based civil rights group that was the first to notice the Jena case, said he expected the reversal of Bell's convictions will turn next Thursday's protest into a "celebration" of the power of public opinion to influence the Jena 6 case.

The NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Congressional Black Caucus have all denounced what they view as the harsh prosecutions of the Jena 6.

On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama added his criticism of what he termed the "excessive charges" in the case.

"When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it's a tragedy," Obama said in a statement. "It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions. This isn't just Jena's problem; it's America's problem."

US House of Representatives Committee Probes Case with Racial Overtones


After last month’s mass demonstration in Jena, Louisiana, you would think that the country would wake up to the plight of African-American youth being routed out of the school system into prisons. But no, there seems to be this mad insistence in prosecuting six black boys for a schoolyard fight that was instigated by nooses looped over a tree by fellow white students. And to make matters worse, nooses keep cropping up all over the country to reiterate the point that black people still cannot get any respect.


I was inspired to write the article after receiving several emails calling for the boycott. In an earlier article, “Beyond Jena”, I wrote: “By now, we should be three miles down the road past Jena, with contingency planning as to where do we go from here.” At the time, I believed that the then-upcoming September 20 mass demonstration would not be enough to change the situation in this part of Louisiana. Therefore, I eagerly endorsed subsequent strategic actions…

Secondly, Jena is David Duke territory. This is where he reigned as Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Third, Louisiana, historically, has had the highest number of recorded lynchings, more than any other state in the union. Considering that fact, the Jena nooses represented a real threat to the black students at Jena High.

FREE AT LAST: Genarlow Wilson

Praise the Lord and Hallelujah! Genarlow Wilson is free. And the scoop has not yet been posted on Genarlow’s blogsite…

In September, presidential candidate Barack Obama said: "Going forward, we have to fix our criminal justice system. Whether it’s Jena 6 or Genarlow Wilson, it’s long past time for us to admit that we have more work to do to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair…”

In an article dated June 29 entitled “Can We Save a Black Boy”, Eddie Griffin wrote: The only way to save a black boy is one child at a time. Today, it is Genarlow Wilson, The Jena Six, and Memory of Ron Pettiway.

Lord, help us. See how much time and energy it takes to try and save one black boy at a time. There must be a more expedient way.

JENA 6 Chronology: From September 6, 2006 to April 29, 2009

The Last Word on Jena 6

We have investigated and flushed out the facts in the Jena 6 case. Together, we have focused international attention upon a case of Unequal Treatment Under the Law. Six black teenagers were being charged with “attempted murder” and “conspiracy to commit murder” in adult court, where they could each receive up to 80 years. This was Jena, Louisiana, but it signified what is happening to thousands of black male youth across America.

Jena 6 defendant cracks, cops plea

After spending nearly a year in jail, Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell finally cracked and copped a plea to a lesser charge of second-degree battery and an 18-month sentence, with credit for time served.

The case sparked one of the largest civil rights protest in recent memory, bringing national and international attention to the small Louisiana town of 3,000. Originally, the six black youth faced up to 80 years for their involvement in a school fight following months of racial tension that began when white students hanged nooses on a schoolyard tree after black students requested to sit under it.

Paradox of a Guilty Plea

When we advocated school integration, I never expected that we would have to teach our children to accept humiliation and racist threats without fighting back. But obviously that is subtle meaning behind the guilty plea of Jena 6 Mychal Bell. In reaction to the nooses hanging across a schoolyard tree, some people feel that the black Jena High School youth should have gone about their business unperturbed.

It is okay for an old black man like me to turn the other cheek, because I have been around long enough to see why the Lord said, “Vengeance is mine.” He has always avenged me against my enemies.

But I have never taught my children to be docile and accept humiliation, abuse, and violence against them. Never!

Why We Protest

To the critics who have arisen in light of the recent wave of mass demonstrations, let’s get some things clear as to why we engaged in protest.

First, social protest is a means of raising public awareness about situations that may otherwise go unnoticed. Take for example the small town cases: Shaquanda Cotton, Jena 6, and Genarlow Wilson. Lest people forget how these cases arose from obscurity to national attention, review the plight of these youth.

Shaquanda Cotton was a 14-year old girl sent to prison for up to seven years for pushing a school aide in Paris, Texas- note that the hall monitor was not seriously injured.

Six black high school students faced up to 80 years in prison for jumping a school mate- note that the school mate was also not seriously injured.

A 17-year old boy was sent to prison with a 10-year sentence for having consensual sex with a 15-year old girl.

If there is one thing that these three cases had in common, it would be this: The majority of the American public agreed that the punishment for these juveniles were too harsh.

So, what do we do? Do we allow these things to happen and say nothing? Without public awareness, these children would have been condemned to long periods of incarceration and their lives destroyed without even given a second thought.

These are the basic facts. Whatever came afterwards was a reaction thereto.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

HAT TIP to Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, has some answers that addresses the Prison Pipeline crisis. She offers us some valuable insights in stemming the flow of our youth into the juvenile justice system and hence into prison.

As a community activist and child's right advocate, I find Marian Wright Edelman work very refreshing, if not fascinating with hope.

Breaking the pipeline to prison

By Marian Wright Edelman
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children's Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies to help children escape poverty, abuse and neglect and gain access to health care and education. Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar and was a leader in the civil rights movement. Her latest book is "The Sea Is So Wide And My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation."

(Excerpted by Eddie Griffin)

(CNN) -- One of the most dangerous threats facing black America right now is quietly stealing our children at a young age.

Incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid, and poor children of color are the fodder.

So many poor black babies in rich America enter the world with multiple strikes against them: born without prenatal care, at low birthweight and to a poor, and poorly educated, teenage single mother and an absent father.

At crucial points in their development after birth through adolescence, more risks pile on, making a successful transition to productive adulthood significantly less likely and involvement in the criminal justice system significantly more likely.

This is America's pipeline to prison, a trajectory that is funneling tens of thousands of youths down life paths that lead to marginalized lives, imprisonment and, often, premature death.

Nationally, one in three black boys and one in 17 black girls born in 2001 is at risk of imprisonment during their lifetime.

It's time to sound a loud alarm about this threat to American unity and community, act to stop the growing criminalization of children at younger and younger ages, and tackle the unjust treatment of minority youths and adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems with urgency and persistence.

We must reduce detention and incarceration by increasing preventive supports and services children need, including access to comprehensive child health and mental health coverage, quality early childhood development programs like Early Head Start, and supports for parents including home visitation programs. And every child has to get an education that prepares him or her to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

The failure to act now will reverse the hard-earned racial and social progress for which the Rev. Martin Luther King and so many others died and sacrificed. The urgent challenge for each of us and for our nation is to prevent this waste of our children's lives and our nation's future capabilities.

Read what is being done to stem the flow of our youth into the Prison Pipeline:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Motivational Teacher Junichi Lockett Unleashes “Soldier Mentality”

As a takeoff: SOLDIER, how do you hit a moving target? A lession from World War II: If you are going to shoot an enemy plane out of the air, AIM AHEAD of the target.

ENTERTAIN this thought: That Time is a moving target. If you are going to solve a today’s problem, you aim at tomorrow.

At A.M. Pate Elementary School, Junichi Lockett, Jr. teaches fourth graders to aim high and shoot for 2017, the year and the day they will hit their target: Graduation from high schools.

When Junichi Lockett, Jr. released “Soldier Mentality” at The Dock Bookshop in a book-signing debut on Saturday, May 30, it drew a crowd mostly of the upward mobile 20-30 crowd, along with teachers, and supporters.

Soldier Mentality is infectious. Even UTA NAACP President, Carla M. Christle, walked away infected with the soldier’s mentality. She hits me and the crowd with a 50-caliber dose of rap-fire reality rap, about what the soldier mentality is all about. She took me to another dimension and another place where education is stingingly entertaining, and leaving a man with bullet-riddle thoughts in the head. Ouch! Carla shoots like a gunner on a mission. Don't get in her way or in her life. She'll blow you away.

I was utterly impressed to the nth and honored to be one of the guest speakers at the roll out of the book, “Soldier Mentality”. It was a launch into a new mode of critical thinking. I was also honored to be dubbed as one of Mr. Lockett’s mentors. Needless to say how proud I am to adopt him as a son and protégé.

I met Junichi Lockett, Jr. when he invited me to speak to a group of students at the University of Texas at Arlington, and talk about the early days of the civil rights movement on this campus. In the year the Old Guard brought Ole Dixie down, we opened the way for organizations like a campus chapter of NAACP. It was Mr. Lockett who connected the dots from his generation back to my generation.

He later graduated from college and went to work in “the trenches”, teaching at the elementary school level for the Fort Worth ISD.

Working in the trenches is something Mr. Lockett knew about. He was also a veteran of the Iraq War, and by right a war hero. He survived, with his mind intact, ready to put his soldier’s survival mentality into action.

SOLDIER, what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

As a writer and researcher, I challenged everybody in the crowd that appeared infected by the soldier’s mentality with this question. My objective is to provoke the protégé and understudy To Think and Think Critically.

I asked the question of each in the crowd, each one gave me that same hilarious “ding” look in their eyes.

I remember one of Mr. Lockett’s fifth graders attending the ceremony, standing along side her father when I asked her the question.

The “ding look” is when you catch a young person by surprise with a thought-provoking question. The first reaction: The fifth grader’s eyes shot straight toward the ceiling as if a light bulb went off in her head. DING!

She shot back with an answer that caused even her father to laugh and say, “I didn’t know all that was in her.”

I worked the crowd, gathering feedback of this infectious phenomenon known as “Soldier Mentality”.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009



Fort Worth, Texas – The Fort Worth Independent School District has empowered all school campuses to control the content in their individual school Internet Web sites. Under an older Internet administration program, maintaining and updating individual campus Web sites was costly and tedious. With the newly launched Microsoft SharePoint Content Management System, the District is not only saving $100,000 per year, but also providing schools with the power to better unite their local teams.

Each campus should have at least one trained Technology Integration Educator, or TIE, who will keep their campus Web site up-to-date. TIE’s receive a stipend of $500 for their Web site work. The District’s Communication Department has spent the last six months establishing official school colors and ensuring that each mascot is unique to that campus.

“The campus Web site is a very important tool to keep students, faculty, staff and parents connected at each school,” said Jennifer Perez, the FWISD Web Master. “Now, we have provided each campus with the skills and the tools they need to regularly and consistently update those sites so each school community can better organize as a team.”

FWISD’s Digital District follows the Strategic Plan goals of making all operations in the District efficient and effective. Additionally, it supports family involvement and community partnerships as an integral part of the education of all children.

Each newly improved campus Web site now mirrors and be accessed through the primary District Web site,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Class of 2020: My Stroke of Insight/Hindsight

Dropout Summit: Part 2
By Eddie Griffin

Friday, April 03, 2009

I saw him with 2020 hindsight, Michael Sorum, Chief Academic Officer for the Fort Worth Independent School District, bringing up the rear in the buffet line at the Dropout Summit. I noticed his name tag first, though I should have known him now by sight. In lieu chicken breast, I chose rather to chew on Sorum. Either that, or we were going to chew the fat together.

“What’s our mission?” I asked.

“Mission Impossible, sir,” he replied.

We both burst into laughter. He remembered my last words when first met. Our mission is Mission Impossible... meaning a 100% graduation rate with kids who can hit the ground running.

“Okay," I replied. "So, you know now what YOU have to achieve.”

“Oh no sir,” he replied. “That's what WE have to achieve.”

We’ve been going at it, indirectly, for some time, testing, testing, testing by fire... hot fire... rapid fire... and straight shooting at point-blank range. In my mind, I was holding Mr. Sorum responsible for our district’s low academic achievement.

When our school superintendent Melody Johnson introduced Mike to me, the Leo in me growled. Surely, she must have known that this was like throwing Daniel into a lion’s den. She just casually, out of the blue, asked “Oh, I want you to meet with our Chief Academic Officer.”

Chief Academic... what? Let me go back and get an organization chart of Dr. Johnson's executive cabinet, this ISD army of intellects, because I had never heard of a Chief Academic Officer.

“And, what is the basis upon which you are evaluated each year?” I asked the academics officer, as we shook hands. It was a direct question, like YUM, I’m fixing to eat your lunch.

“Upon the basis of the district’s academic achievement,” he replied.

“Oooh,” I said, turning to Dr. Johnson, a surprised but coy look on my face and secretly thinking in my mind: “Can you believe it, this guy still getting a paycheck?” Let me not rush to judgment in a food frenzy, this may be his first year on the job, I thought.

“Before a student graduates out of my class," I told him, "they must achieve MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.” It is the starting point of mutual understanding between me and all of my students and understudies. My students ask for this challenging methodology, vowing no tears at failure.

No student is allowed out into the big world until they come through me. I am the hardest obstacle they will ever encounter.

There is an art behind Paradoxical Thinking. The answer to the question:

What happens, when an irresistible force meets and immoveable object?

Of every student, I ask this question. Then I set myself up as that immoveable object. I represent resistance. The object is to stimulate an equal counterforce. They, the student, must become an irresistible force. In other words, in order to graduate out of my class, a student must have learned how to think for themselves and solve multiple problems of diverse sizes.

The 2020 Hindsight perception starts in the year 2020 and looking backwards to today... that is if Planet Earth lives to see 2020.

This is how a Chief Academic Officer should look at planning a future education system suited to the needs of today’s first graders... that Class of 2020.

Congratulations to Mike, not only did he show up with Dr. Johnson’s executive cabinet at the Dropout Summit, but he was back in the trenches on Tuesday night, at the Poly High School forum.

This is 'hood turf, not a place for the fainthearted. Nevertheless, here comes the general, Dr. Melody Johnson, with her army onto the battlefield of ‘hood turf.

My footprint is upon this turf. I walk this beat here.

So, I was compelled to look at Poly High School which is threatened with terminal sanction. One more bad academic report... no telling what the state was going to do. And, closure was the almost certain option.

But during the program and pep rally motivated to save Poly High School, I heard teacher team leaders talking about their team-building efforts and collaborative teaching methodologies, and an all out mental assault to reach academic achievement. I saw and heard testimonies to the effect: all-hands-on-deck.

If they fail, I thought, they will at least go down with a great fight.

During the entire Poly forum, I sat next to Michael Sorum, our Chief Academics Officer, who was sitting, as it seemed, still in an uncomfortable hot seat.

As I departed, I shook his hand and said, “You got a winner here. I love the effort.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dropout Summit: Part 1

A Thankful Eddie Griffin
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As I give thought of the day, I am thankful and humbled by my friends. On yesterday, my friends came out to the America’s Promise Alliance’s Dropout Summit. And, I saw a lot of love in the room… love for our children, love for ourselves… and, more importantly, love for each other.

Our kids are in good hands in Fort Worth, Texas. Eat your heart out, World.

There they were marching up onto the stage, the Class of 2021, singing a vow to some day march across that latter stage in life, school graduates.

Danna Diaz wiped a tear from her eye, and leaned over to me and whispered, “Where will you be in 2012?” I wept silently also. I thought about my 5-year old granddaughter, the one who always asks, “What did I do wrong?” She, too, is in the Class of 2021.

We talked about the grandkids, Mayor Mike and I, and about how gray we are getting. We both have 9-year old grandsons. This is the Class of 2018. After our being overly drunk on politics, we have sobered up to see what is really important in our life’s work. What will become of our children and our children’s children?

Star-Telegram editorialist Bob Ray Sanders moderated the panel discussion with a panel of teens, one of whom was nicknamed “Knucklehead”. Strange, I thought. For over 20 years, I had dubbed my kids “Dingbats and Knuckleheads”. This was my way of teaching at-risk kids how to learn from their mistakes.

So, Bob Ray and I chewed the fat as usual, going back to elementary school together, him and me. He hasn’t changed a dime.

What’s happening with the newspaper business these days and all these rumors about the Star-Telegram going out of business?

I could swear that boy Bob Ray still got blinders on, with his head to the sky. The future of US newspapers, I explained, is one universal national daily, and subscribing locals for papers and online delivery. (But what the heck, I’m talking to an old school mate from the 1960s and who still does not have a Face Book account.)

And here was my star student Candis Davis joining me at our table. This is the Class of 2009. And typical of a young lady, she is flirting... maybe, maybe not.

“What?” I exclaimed. “I thought you were set on TCU?”

Well, since receiving an acceptance letter from TCU, she has had some other enticing offers, like, for example, Baylor.

“Baylor? That’s in Waco,” I muttered. Oh well, at least one of my high school kids is set on TCU. She, too, is in the Class of 2009, and also a member of the Student Council.

I was amazed the students had a brain trust amongst their group. And, when the voting was done, I found myself voting for the ideas of the kids.

After all, where will I be when they face the challenges of 2012?

Class of 2024

Class of 2019, 2022, and 2024

Dropout Summit Response to Part 1

In looking back over the past weekend’s Dropout Summit, I overlooked Gloria Campos, our illustrious host, and she was offended. This is part of the exchange that brought this to my attention.

From: Campos, Gloria
Subject: RE: Dropout Summit: Part 1
To: Eddie Griffin
Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 3:52 PM

I guess me driving in from Dallas before reporting for work was not note worthy.
Sorry if I disappointed you.

Gloria Campos

WOW! I admit to being too narrowly focused that day at the summit. Plus, Gloria did not look like herself on TV. She was wearing glasses. She probably didn’t see me, the “blind man” in the back, wearing the dark glasses.

Nevertheless, I wrote to apologize, as best I could. After all, it was she, moderating the summit from the podium that said: "it's not about us, but all about the kids.”

So, I wrote:

Gloria, but of course, you were our maiden of honor. We were enriched, charmed, and blessed by your presence. My essay, “Dropout Summit: Part 1” was focused more on the kids, the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2009. It would have been impossible to write about everybody at the summit... Are you jealous, Glory?


I should have known not to ask or add insult to injury. But this was her response:

No I am not, but I know when I've been snubbed...
Gloria Campos Wfaa-TV News Anchor/Reporter

A Confession and Apology to Gloria Campos

After some deep soul-searching, I confess the truth that I paid little attention to Ms. Gloria Campos. The Dropout Summit was a work session for me. So, I was panning the room as she was speaking. There were people I wanted to see and talk to about ongoing business. My bad!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Best Cost-Saving Efficiency Plan

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today a department-wide action directive challenging every agency, component and office to generate new efficiencies and to promote greater accountability, transparency and customer satisfaction.

“Developing a leaner, smarter and more efficient DHS is a responsibility shared by all agencies, offices and employees across the department,” said Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Transforming DHS will require significant effort and input on everyone’s behalf. But through a unified and sustained effort, we will make lasting and meaningful improvements.”

An Efficiency Review Initiative Steering Committee, composed of key office and component leadership, will be established to coordinate this DHS-wide initiative. The Steering Committee, which will have its initial meeting before the end of the month, will identify and develop strategies to reduce costs, streamline processes, eliminate duplication and improve transparency and customer service.

The action directive requires each agency to initiate an internal review of current efforts related to improving efficiency, which will be incorporated into a department-wide inventory.

When she was Governor of Arizona, Napolitano oversaw a similar initiative resulting in more than $1 billion in savings and cost avoidances for the state government focused on procurement, energy conservation, travel, fleet management, training and electronic communications.


Today the Department took a major step forward to advance one of President Obama's most important goals – improving efficiency and transparency across the Federal government.

Efficiency is essential to effective governance. It helps reduce costs and ensure taxpayer money isn’t wasted. It improves performance and customer satisfaction. And it strengthens employee morale.

Over the next 120 days, we will begin implementing nearly two dozen initiatives to trim costs, streamline operations, eliminate duplication, and better manage resources across the Department.

This effort is the result of a comprehensive assessment by our Efficiency Review team, which worked with DHS components, offices, and employees to identify more than 700 initiatives – some immediate, some long-term – to improve efficiency and transparency.

Among the immediate changes we will make over the next 30 days:

• Eliminating all non-mission critical travel for employees and maximizing our use of conference calls and web-based training and meetings;

• Reducing subscriptions to professional publications and newspapers to lower costs and avoid duplication;

• Eliminating printing and distribution of all reports and documents that can be sent electronically or posted on-line.

Over the next 30 days, we will also begin using purchasing agreements to substantially save on office supplies. This may sound like a small matter, but by leveraging the Department's collective buying power, we can save up to $52 million on office supplies over the next five years.

We're also going to take action to improve how we track and monitor fuel usage for our vehicles. Over the next 60 days, we will begin implementing a new electronic tracking system that will help increase alternative fuel usage; guard against waste, fraud, and abuse; and optimize how we manage our fleet.

In addition, we will begin acquiring hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles over the next 120 days. We expect a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency in large vehicles, and even greater efficiency in smaller vehicles as a result of this change.

To become more energy efficient, we will also begin implementing energy efficiencies at DHS offices across the country. Over the next 120 days, we will initiate a process to identify and move toward renewable energy technology and greater energy conservation, with a goal of saving $3 million per year.

Over the next 60 days, we will also implement a process to purchase computer software licenses as a single Department – as opposed to individual agencies. As a result, we expect to save over $47 million per year and $283 million over the next six years.

Finally, we’re going to take steps to streamline employee training and orientations, and reduce costs and backlogs associated with background checks for new employees.

This is just the beginning. In the coming months, we’ll announce even more initiatives to improve efficiency. I look forward to keeping you updated as we make these changes, which will result in a stronger, more effective DHS.

Janet Napolitano

Thursday, March 26, 2009

President Barack Obama on the passing of John Hope Franklin

President Barack Obama noted the passing of this history-maker:

Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people. Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, as our nation mourns his loss.

(source: Anderson@Large)

Friday, March 20, 2009

HAT TIP to the Students at Village Academy High School


Out of the mouth of babes never has come a more heart-wrenching testimony of life in America as families sink deeper into financial ruins. They spoke into a video camera that mirrored their painful souls, to an invisible audience, and cried out into the abyss: Is anybody listening?

A compassionate President responded: “You bet! Somebody is listening.” Not only was the President of the United States listening, he went out to California to see them personally.

Never let anyone tell you that your voice cannot reach the pinnacles of power. Even a child has a voice that needs to be heard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity— it is a pre-requisite. The countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.—President Barack Obama, Feb. 24, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education

March 7, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides approximately $100 billion for education, creating a historic opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of jobs, support states and school districts, and advance reforms and improvements that will create long-lasting results for our students and our nation including early learning, K-12, and post-secondary education. This document describes the principles and strategy that will guide the distribution and implementation of the ARRA funds appropriated to the U.S. Department of Education. Accompanying documents provide initial guidelines for three components of ARRA education funding: the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title I), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Separately, we will issue guidelines on other ARRA funds as they are developed. The Department will periodically provide updated information at

Principles: The overall goals of the ARRA are to stimulate the economy in the short term and invest in education and other essential public services to ensure the long-term economic health of our nation. The success of the education part of the ARRA will depend on the shared commitment and responsibility of students, parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, education boards, college presidents, state school chiefs, governors, local officials, and federal officials. Collectively, we must advance ARRA's short-term economic goals by investing quickly, and we must support ARRA's long-term economic goals by investing wisely, using these funds to strengthen education, drive reforms, and improve results for students from early learning through post-secondary education. Four principles guide the distribution and use of ARRA funds:

a. Spend funds quickly to save and create jobs. ARRA funds will be distributed quickly to states, local educational agencies and other entities in order to avert layoffs, create and save jobs and improve student achievement. States and LEAs in turn are urged to move rapidly to develop plans for using funds, consistent with the law's reporting and accountability requirements, and to promptly begin spending funds to help drive the nation's economic recovery.

b. Improve student achievement through school improvement and reform. ARRA funds should be used to improve student achievement. In addition, the SFSF provides funds to close the achievement gap, help students from all backgrounds achieve high standards, and address four specific areas that are authorized under bipartisan education legislation – including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the America Competes Act of 2007:

1. Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;

2. Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;

3. Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;

4. Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.

c. Ensure transparency, reporting and accountability. To prevent fraud and abuse, support the most effective uses of ARRA funds, and accurately measure and track results, recipients must publicly report on how funds are used. Due to the unprecedented scope and importance of this investment, ARRA funds are subject to additional and more rigorous reporting requirements than normally apply to grant recipients.

d. Invest one-time ARRA funds thoughtfully to minimize the "funding cliff." ARRA represents a historic infusion of funds that is expected to be temporary. Depending on the program, these funds are available for only two to three years. These funds should be invested in ways that do not result in unsustainable continuing commitments after the funding expires.

Categories of funds and schedule for distribution: Balancing the need for speedy investments and for rigorous accountability and transparency, the Department has designed the following approaches for distributing different categories of funds. Some funds will be distributed in stages to states on a formula basis and then distributed from states to local education agencies (LEAs) or institutions of higher education (IHEs) for use over the next two school years (2009–10 and 2010–11); some funds will be distributed all at once; some funds will be distributed through a competitive grant process.

The ARRA Pell grant and work study funding will be used for school year 2009–2010. These funds are available, pending disbursement, beginning July 1.

Pell Grants—$17.1 billion. This will increase the maximum Pell award for all eligible students from $4,850 to $5,350.

Work Study—$200 million.

The funds under the SFSF, Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B will be available in two stages. Funds from these very large programs are to be delivered by formula from the Department to the states. The Department will release 50 percent of Title I, Part A and 50 percent of IDEA, Part B funds before the end of March 2009, without requiring new state applications. Streamlined, user-friendly applications for the initial 67 percent of the SFSF will be available to governors by the end of March, and funds will be made available by the Department within two weeks after receipt of an approvable application. For these three categories of funds, we expect to make available the remainder of the funds during the period July 1 to Sept. 30, 2009, conditioned on states providing additional information. The guidelines for securing these funds will be available on our Web site at

SFSF delivered to the state governors ($48.6 billion)
$39.8 billion is devoted to public early learning, K-12, and higher education. This amount must be distributed by formulae from the state to local education agencies and through a mechanism determined by the state to institutions of higher education.

$8.8 billion is allocated to governors for education (including school modernization), public safety, or other government services.

Title I, Part A ($10 billion) to State educational agencies.

IDEA, Part B ($11.7 billion) to State educational agencies.

A minimum of 50 percent of the funds for the following programs will also be available by the end of March as soon as guidelines are issued:

IDEA, Part C ($500 million).

Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants ($540 million).
For the following programs under $500 million, all of the formula funds will be available by the end of March:

Impact Aid Construction ($100 million: only 40 percent will be distributed by formula; 60 percent will be distributed through competitive grants at a later date).

Independent Living Services ($140 million: only $52.5 million will be distributed by formula; remaining $87.5 will be distributed by competitive grants at a later date).

Education for Homeless Youth ($70 million).
For the following programs, funds will be made available beginning in fall 2009, and will be conditioned upon receipt of further information that will be outlined in future guidance:

Title I School Improvement Grants ($3 billion).
Educational Technology State Grants ($650 million).
The following funds will be made available beginning in fall 2009, based on the quality of the applications submitted through a competitive grant process. Guidelines for these funds will be posted shortly:

Teacher Incentive Fund ($200 million).
Teacher Quality Enhancement ($100 million).
Statewide Data Systems ($250 million).

Under the $5 billion in SFSF reserved for the Secretary of Education to make competitive grants, the Department will conduct a national competition among states for a $4.35 billion state incentive "Race to the Top" fund to improve education quality and results statewide. The Race to the Top fund will help states drive substantial gains in student achievement by supporting states making dramatic progress on the four reform goals described above and effectively using other ARRA funds. $650 million of the $5 billion will be set aside in the "Invest in What Works and Innovation" fund and be available through a competition to districts and non-profit groups with a strong track record of results. Guidelines and applications for the competitive funds will be posted expeditiously. Race to the Top grants will be made in two rounds—fall 2009 and spring 2010).

In the coming months, the Department will also announce opportunities to compete for discretionary funds under non-ARRA programs. The priorities for these competitions will be aligned with the reform goals of the Race to the Top fund, and will recognize states and LEAs that optimize the use of the varied funding streams provided under ARRA. In addition, the Department will identify technical assistance resources to help states and localities effectively implement the most promising and evidence-based reforms using all relevant federal, state, and local resources. With federal funds available for R&D, the Department also hopes to work with schools to support rigorous testing of interventions that states and districts support with ARRA funds, to build the knowledge base about what works.

What must states do to receive SFSF, Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B funds? States will receive initial Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B funds under pre-existing applications. For the first round of state stabilization funds, governors must provide three things:

Assurances that they are advancing the four reforms described in the statute and complying with maintenance of effort requirements;
Baseline data on their current status in each of these areas; and
Basic information on how the funds will be used.

The Department intends to provide governors with a streamlined, user-friendly, initial SFSF application package.

For the second round of funds, state educational agencies (SEAs) must provide information regarding their ability to meet reporting requirements under the ARRA under Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B. In the case of the SFSF, governors must provide plans outlining the state's plans and progress in the four reform areas described above. As part of its application for the second part of the SFSF, a state must describe how the state and its LEAs plan to use SFSF and other funding in a fiscally prudent way that substantially improves teaching and learning. Governors and chief state school officers should work closely with other state and local officials in the state to develop effective data reporting systems and plans that will meet the assurances required by SFSF.

Conclusion: This distribution strategy balances the need for speed and economic stimulus with the need for aggressive and effective education improvement and reform in order to drive our nation's long-term economic well-being. It provides significant resources quickly while giving states and local educational agencies time to carefully plan thoughtful use of funds. It seeks to align the use of the funds provided through SFSF, Title I, IDEA and state incentive grants, with the purposes of prudent investment under the ARRA and improving student achievement. Success will depend on the quality of leadership, judgment, coordination, and communication of all involved. It represents a historic opportunity to restore America's global leadership in education.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Education Department to Distribute $44 Billion in Stimulus Funds

$49 Billon More to Be Available within 6 months

March 7, 2009

Contact: Sandra Abrevaya
or John McGrath
(202) 401-1576

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that $44 billion in stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will be available to states in the next 30 to 45 days. The first round of funding will help avert hundreds of thousands of estimated teacher layoffs in schools and school districts while driving crucial education improvements, reforms, and results for students.

"These funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to save and create jobs and improve education, and will be invested as transparently as possible so we can measure the impact in the classroom," said Duncan. "Strict reporting requirements will ensure that Americans know exactly how their money is being spent and how their schools are being improved."

Guidelines posted by Duncan today authorize the release this month of half the Title I, Part A stimulus funds, amounting to $5 billion, and half the funds for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $6 billion, without new applications.

By the end of March, governors will be able to apply for 67 percent of the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) and discretionary SFSF, totaling $32.5 billion. These funds will be released within two weeks after approvable applications are received.

In the next 30 days, nearly $700 million more will be available for various programs including vocational rehabilitation state grants and impact aid construction, Duncan said. Another $17.3 billion for Pell Grants and work-study funds is available for disbursement for the next academic year beginning July 1.

An additional $35 billion in Title 1, IDEA, and State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, as well as monies for other programs will be distributed between July 1 and September 30.

ARRA funds must be used to improve student achievement. To receive the first round of state stabilization funds, states must commit to meet ARRA requirements, including making progress on four key education reforms, sharing required baseline data, and meeting record-keeping and transparency requirements. To receive the second round of funding, they must provide evidence and plans for progress on these assurances. All four education reforms were previously authorized under bipartisan education legislation—including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the America Competes Act of 2007:

Raising standards through college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;

Increasing transparency by establishing better data systems tracking student progress over time;

Improving teacher effectiveness and ensuring an equitable supply and distribution of qualified teachers;

Supporting effective intervention strategies for lowest-performing schools.

Finally, a $5 billion fund has been established under the law for the Department of Education. This includes a $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund to help states with bold plans to improve student achievement—including these four reforms—and $650 million to assist school districts and non-profit organizations with strong track records of improving student achievement. State grants will go out in two rounds over the next year, beginning in October 2009. Applications will be available later in the spring.

"These investments will save and create jobs in the short term, while raising achievement in the long term," Duncan said. "We will need a strong commitment on the front end and even stronger proof on the back end that states are making progress."
Duncan also said that states should work hard to avoid "funding cliffs" by investing ARRA funds in ways that minimize "the tail"—i.e., ongoing costs after the funding expires.

"These are one-time funds, and state and school officials need to find the best way to stretch every dollar and spend the money in ways that protect and support children without carrying continuing costs," Duncan said.

Additional details, including a category-by-category list of all ARRA funds appropriated to the Department of Education, as well as requirements and plans for their distribution are posted at

"Our goals are to save jobs and improve education. Today's guidelines show exactly how we can do both—balancing the need for a speedy release of funds with the need for aggressive and thoughtful school improvements and reform to improve results for our children," Duncan said.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Candis: A High School Student Leader

Near Southeast Fort Worth was once the epicenter of hopelessness. Drugs weigh the community down and alcohol washes away the pain of guilt and responsibility. Crime is petty but prevalent, and money is nowhere to be found. But out of the rough comes a rare diamond. Candis is going to college.

This is hood rat turf. Kids here are not known to go to college. They are usually included into the statistics of the dropouts and teen pregnancy. And, anyway, who would even dare them to hope to go to college, when the thought of cost comes in? But Candis worked, hoped, and dreamed of a scholarship. And, she got it.

I remember watching her grow up under the tutelage of Wallace Bridges and the Near Southeast Fort Worth CDC “Weed and Seed” program. She was one in a group of ashy face high school kids chatting in a forum with adults and community activists. The teenagers talked, and I never considered how serious they might be about their goals and aspirations. Hood rats are always full of fat talk.

But there was something Wallace Bridges did. He made Candis and the other teens feel special. To him, they were somebody. And, he was determined that they would be somebody.

Shirley and Johnny Lewis conceived the “Weed and Seed” program in Near Southeast Fort Worth. The idea was to first weed out crime and corruption. And, indeed, this is the only part of Fort Worth where crime is down.

Second came the seed- the children of a new generation. These kids would be nurtured in a cleaner and safer neighborhood environment. And, although they were surrounded by poverty and family hardships, they had a haven, even if it meant sleeping on the floor at the home of Wallace Bridge until the storm blew over.

Wallace is the program director of the Near Southeast Fort Worth CDC “Weed and Seed” program. He has connected with all the near elementary and middle schools.

The two high schools in the area, Poly and Trimble Tech. is as different as night and day, one academically acceptable and other unacceptable. But the neighbor "hood rats" are fighting for better. One by one, I see them fighting for a way out.

Candis was one of the first seeds to blossom. The announcement came during a Black History program at the new neighborhood Shamblee Library. Candis Davis received an acceptance letter to TCU, as in the prestigious Texas Christian University.

All I could say was: You Go Girl!

Friday, February 20, 2009


WHAT: Parent-Student forum hosted by FWISD Board of Education Representative Christene Moss –Dunbar High School “Excellence—the Wildcat Way”

WHEN: Monday, February 23, 2009, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Dunbar High School auditorium, 5700 Ramey

SUMMARY: Fort Worth ISD Board of Education Vice President and District 3 Representative Christene Moss will host a Parent-Student Forum at Dunbar High School on Monday, February 23, 2009. The meeting will get underway at 6:30 p.m.

All of the different components of the Dunbar community will participate in order to share the achievements and successes of Dunbar High School. In addition to parents and students, other groups invited to the meeting include local pastors and community members, the Alumni Association, Adopt-A-School Partners, Booster Club, and parents of all students in the Dunbar Pyramid. We are especially excited about sharing with 8th graders at Dunbar Middle School all the wonderful programs at Dunbar High School.

“It is our hope that parents, students and the community will spend some time to understand the gains that are being made in the Dunbar pyramid,” said Mrs. Moss. “At the same time, it is important for all involved to understand their responsibilities in continuing that growth.”

All parents and students are strongly encouraged to attend so they may learn about Dunbar High School “Excellence—the Wildcat Way.” Additional information is available from Dunbar High School at 817-496-7400.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trimble Tech Students Righteous Stand against FWISD Board Changes

By Eddie Griffin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The school board meeting last night was too much fuss over too little that mattered. The reckless assertions of Trimble Tech High School cherry-picking its students from the pool of high school applicants, based upon their academic performance, at the expense of other schools, were harmful both to students and public.

A school that pulls its academic achievement up by its bootstrap should be lauded and emulated, and not undone. Like some supporter said during the meeting, “Other high schools should be like Trimble Tech.”

I am particularly astounded that these faulty notions of cherry-picking were not nipped in the bud by senior board members who predated the 1995-1996 Trimble Tech Improvement Plan- a plan that led to the school achieving an “exemplary” rating with the state.

On the other hand, as I recall our little coalition of parents, businessmen, and civic leaders who drafted the improvement plan, there were certain board members who never took time to participate in the workshops, never read our reports, and only gave us verbal lip-service for support. Now these same surviving board members are asking ignorant questions about why the school uses the current application screening process.

The Tech students were right last night. The criteria for entrance should be based upon the student’s career goals and essay. That was our objective as architects of the plan. We wanted students who were serious in their career aspirations, something we could easily discern from their essays.

The School Board, on the other hand, was wrong. By tweaking the entrance policy for the simple sake of change, members of the board have made the student application and review process part of a new bureaucratic function. Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, students applying for entrance into Trimble Tech High School would be required to submit their application to the central office.

It seems to me that the students themselves are more qualified to judge their peers and determine who best fit into their school environment, rather than someone so far removed as the central administration which already has a problem figuring out how to raise other high schools up to Tech’s level.

Maybe I should have added: If it’s not broke, don’t tweak it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


"How our schools should be"

[Excerpt Edit by Eddie Griffin]

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 10:20 am

"This kind of innovative school…is an example of how all our schools should be," President Obama said yesterday, as he and Mrs. Obama visited a public charter school in Washington, D.C.

The President and First Lady read "The Moon Over Star," a book by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkey, to a second grade class at the Capital City Public Charter School. After finishing the book, they asked the students if they had any questions. The President fielded queries about pets ("We had a fish. I’ve got to admit the fish died"), why he wanted to become president ("to be able to help people"), and his favorite superheroes ("Spiderman and Batman").

Less than 10 years old, the school serves 244 students in grades Pre-k through 8, and is widely regarded as one of the best schools in Washington.

"We're very proud of what's been accomplished at this school and we want to make sure that we're duplicating that success all across the country," the President said.

That task falls to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who attended the event along with the President and First Lady.

We sat down with Secretary Duncan to get to know him a little bit better and understand where he gets his passion. He told us that improving our schools isn’t just about education – it’s a matter of social justice.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Overview

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Towards Solving the Fort Worth ISD Problem:

Solving Problems in Education

Thursday, January 08, 2009
By Eddie Griffin

Let me be as brief and concise as possible. We are not getting there in Education. As the saying goes, “a servant is not greater than his master”, so also students are not greater than their teachers, and many teachers are simply 9-to-5 employees, stagnate in educational growth, and less educated than the captains of industry.

Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Melody Johnson has taken a blind step toward improving curriculum delivery with Smart Boards and technology upgrades. Streamlining and economizing is a problem, because applied technology in the classroom must be guided by forward thinking and insight into the future. Where there is no vision, the people perish.

It was reported to me that two whiteboards were marred when two Fort Worth ISD teachers used the boards as chalkboards, marking on them with ink markers, before they were instructed and trained. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks. But old dogs are protected by teachers’ unions, clearly a lose-lose situation.

We need a new type of teacher, not merely more new teachers. We need hands-on people, technologically savvy, and innovative. This think-inside-the-box paradigm is not working. It’s time to think outside the box. We can do no worse than the current 50% dropout rate.

[See Smart Board YouTube Demonstrations]

Promethean Board demonstration