Where did you go to school?

Last night, February 16, 2018, I attended the Reagan Day Dinner that was hosted by the Dallas County Republican Party. The keynote speaker was none other than our current Vice President of the US of A, Mike Pence. I guess I should tell you I’m not a Republican. But, I am not a Democrat either. I’m not Tea Party or Green Party or any other party. I dislike aligning myself with groups that will create a barrier between someone and me based solely on association. So there you have it.

According to my name tag, I was assigned to table 111. When I arrived there was a couple there. She was smiling, cheerful and full of energy. He was quiet, distracted and eating the dessert that was preset on the table. She smiled brightly, introduced herself then after reading my name tag she asked where I went to school.

I’ve grown use to this question over the years. At first it took me by surprise. That and the other question people ask to determine your pedigree. The very first time someone asked me, “What does your father do for a living?” We had just started attending an evangelical, conservative, Christian church. I was thrown off kilter and slightly offended. Since I didn’t grow up with my dad playing a direct role in my life I didn’t want to or feel the need to talk about him. I asked my then husband why people kept asking me that question. He said they were trying to determine who I was which was based upon my father’s occupation. Well, how do you politely tell people it’s none of their business or better yet who he is does not define who I am. I’ll move on. We can discuss my father issues another day.

Back to the question of where I went to school. It may seem innocent enough but is it really? In a matter of nano seconds I wondered how she would judge me based upon my answer? Will this give her confirmation of biases she may already have? Will this become a potential place of judgement if I didn’t graduate from the “right” school?

I responded to her question. I have a bachelor degree from Texas Tech University and a Master of Education from the University of North Texas. As our table filled up she took on the role of table host and introduced me by my first name and the colleges I attended. The rest of the members of our group were related so I ended being the only one formally introduced.

Why does this matter? It’s one of many things that divide us. It’s one of the many barriers that keep us from changing parties or being able to hear what’s being said. If I walk away from you self conscious and feeling belittled then I will not expose myself or my life. I might feel judged and maybe even feel as though I don’t fit in. It’s hard to blend in at dinner that cost $175 per person. It’s not the church picnic. (Just to clarify I didn’t not pay to attend. I know people who know people.) The conversation is different, the dress code is different, the expectations are different.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was filled with single mothers. It never crossed my mind to ask about someone’s father or to ask where their mother went to school in reference to colleges. Back in my mother’s day there was one public high school for people of color, Booker T Washington. There was no need to ask until Pinkston became the second segregated high school in the area. The assumption was not that our parents went to college but more of the men were drafted and went to the Vietnam war or maybe one of the HBCUs. If our parents had gone to college we would not have been living in that apartment complex. At least that’s what I like to believe.

On the other side of the road education and your father’s occupation determine your level of worthiness or pedigree. I’m not saying it’s intentional but it’s definitely there and for me it’s uncomfortable and still not something I ask. It still doesn’t cross my mind or seem relevant to who the person is or their station in life.

Funny story time:

There were seven other people at the table. Six of them were guys. From my assessment they were all related. One of the elders started quietly yelling at the other elder. His face was red and he was visibly angry. The angry guy was the uncle and the one he was taking his quiet rage out on was his brother in law (bil). Apparently the brother in law lost the uncle’s phone. The uncle demanded the bil get up and take pictures of VP Pence. He slowly got up to take the pictures. Meanwhile the female who was also the girlfriend of one of the younger guys asked, “did you call your phone?” He angrily replied, “call with what phone?” One of the younger guys called the uncle’s cell phone. The suit pocket of another of the younger ones started to vibrate. The uncle immediately calmed down and regretted calling his bil an idiot a few minutes earlier. He ordered one of the boys to make an apology to his bil for the mistake. That was the highlight of my evening.


Cup and Saucer

Many, many, did I say many? moons ago I remember hearing people talk about standardized testing and how they are biased. The specific example I remember hearing was regarding a question along the lines of, what do you place a cup on? The correct answer was a saucer.

A couple of months ago during a volunteer opportunity/work event I was talking to a teacher who works with students of financially challenged parents. She was teaching her class to set a table for a meal. As she provided instruction for sitting down at the table, she said, “like you do at home” to which a student replied, we don’t have a table at home. That was a reality check for the teacher. Never assume the students have tables, chairs, or anything else.

When I was growing up, my brothers and I ate in our individual rooms and usually in front of the television. I remember a table at some point but I also remember them having a fight, breaking the table then using the top to break dance on. They were resourceful fellows and the first in the neighborhood to repurpose furniture for entertainment. The guys in the neighborhood learned how to break dance on that table, I became their agent and manager by finding places for them to dance for money.

But anyway…

I don’t remember sitting at the table as a family. I don’t recall ever using a cup and saucer. I would sometimes make my mom a cup of instant coffee but I didn’t give it to her with a saucer. I didn’t drink hot tea back then. I would not have been able to pick out a proper tea cup in a line up.

I honestly didn’t learn how to set a table until I was in my early 20’s. I learned after a very embarrassing incident during a visit at the home of the parents of my boyfriend at the time. It was Christmas. His mother asked me to set the table. Uh, what? At the time I swear she was trying to expose my ignorance in many areas in order to discourage him from dating me. I pulled him aside and confided in him my delimna. I had never set a table in my life. After telling me lay down, he told his mother I had a headache and needed to rest. He set the table for me.

Cup and saucer… we make a lot of assumptions about the lives people live and the experiences they have. The affects of those assumptions are evident when only a certain group of people are invited to the table to make decisions about an entire population of people. The decision makers pull from their limited experience without regard for others. I will not say it’s intentional, although I’m not ruling that out. I will attribute some of the decisions to ignorance, being out of touch with various people groups and perhaps not caring to understand.

Some might think or even say a person who grew up in a household without a table is doomed or will not have the ability to over come. These are the people who are easy to discard and write off. I say to you, you are wrong. I believe if given opportunity, education and wisdom most of us will thrive.

Are the tests bias? Of course they are. The question I have is, how do we bridge the gap between the decision makers and the experiences of the test takers?

Harper Collins controversy three years later

I am a bit late weighing in on this topic but I will go with better late than never.

I have read many articles that were in support of and against the revised e-book purchasing system that Harper Collins put in place for libraries. Library workers and patrons were in an uproar about the change. Harper Collins’ new policy would only allow an e-book to have 26 electronic check outs before the library would be required to purchase another license at a discounted (paperback book) rate. The concern was the cost of repurchasing new e-books. Harper Collins found this to be a fair process and the standoff began.

A movement began to boycott Harper Collins. Like any good boycott, the purpose was to ensure Harper Collins would feel the financial hit from consumers to get them to change their minds. They did not. But some of the libraries changed theirs when they saw what was offered from some of the other publishers.

After reading several articles, I found myself supporting Harper Collins. Some of my reasons are as follows:

1.) Authors, publishers, editors, advertisers and IT departments all get a portion of the proceeds. The publishing companies add-on an additional cost when the decided to offer books via e-book. They did not quit offering paper copies of books, they added another process, additional employees and resources in the form of programmers, servers etc. What is the cost to them? Who should they pass the costs too?
2.) They do not have a forced renewal program based upon time for all of the books they offer. You renew a title, at a discounted rate, after the maximum number of usages is reached. Some other publishers don’t offer the books immediately. Libraries what to offer popular books when they are first available on the market, that is the draw the them and satisfaction of their customer.
3.) Libraries are realizing they are not as negatively affected as they thought they would be. They are not running out of their initial 26 checkout options at the rate they thought they would.

Harper Collins stuck to their business model and libraries are coming around and seeing it’s not such a terrible model after all. Not all have embraced the changes but they are adapting and accepting the change.


Kelley, M. (2012, February 17). One Year Later, Harper Collins Sticking to 26-Loan Cap, and Some Librarians Rethink Opposition – The Digital Shift. The Digital Shift. Retrieved July 27, 2014, from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/02/ebooks/one-year-later-harpercollins-sticking-to-26-loan-cap-and-some-librarians-rethink-opposition/

Kelley, M. (2012, October 24). Giving HarperCollins’s Ebook Model Some Credit and More Thought | Editorial. Library Journal. Retrieved July 27, 2014, from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/10/opinion/editorial/a-modest-ebook-proposal-a-big-six-publisher-has-already-provided-a-model-to-build-on/#_

Vaccaro, A. (2014, June 27). Why It’s Difficult For Your Library to Stock Ebooks. Boston.com. Retrieved July 27, 2014, from http://www.boston.com/business/technology/2014/06/27/why-difficult-for-your-library-stock-ebooks/rrl464TPxDaYmDnJewOmzH/story.html


Who’s afraid of the big bad iPad?

How often do we find ourselves afraid of something because we are ill prepared? We fear it because we don’t understand it or because it challenges us to change our comfortable way of living and thinking. There are a number of administrators, teachers, parent and students who feel this way about incorporating technology into the classrooms.

When technology meets children they are propelled into a world of wonder, challenges, immediate rewards and instant gratification. Who doesn’t want to hear encouragement and earn rewards on their quest to becoming the best of the best?
Some of the challenges with technology is how rapid it changes, how slow we are to embrace it, fears of over exposure to the world and its potential dangers. Conversely, the good things are instant answers, exposure to other experiences, the ability to reach out to people on the other side of the world which has completely changed business, training and now slowly but surely the educational model.

One school district in my area issued iPads to some of their students. Initially parents were concerned about the cost, responsibility that it placed on their children to keep up with the iPad, potential breakage along with not fully understanding how the devices would assist in the educational process. The parents were not comfortable with the teachers’ ability to incorporate technology into the learning process. They parents expressed valid concerns.

How do educators successfully integrate technology with the curriculum? This is new territory. There has been research conducted on the subject of incorporating technology into the classroom and the most effective route to increasing student’s usage, the effectiveness of technology on learning as well as other topics along this vein.

As we continue to speed towards an increasing usage of technology in the classroom, we can embrace the fears and realize the technology will not blow our house down but with the usage of the right software, we can build a house that is able to withstand strong winds.