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Monday, May 8, 2017
Monroe's Meetup: Charter Schools: Are YOU choosing excellence?

"Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country." - President Barack Obama

Charter schools were developed according to three basic values: opportunity, choice, and responsibility for results. Charter does often times mean choice, I do agree with that. However, given the age of accountability (test scores, teacher evaluations, and school grades) we have to know what it is that we are choosing. Are you choosing less testing, less number of kids in each classroom, less rigor, more diversity, and lower expectations?
Check the article below: 

Romano: Schools of hope is just one more gimmick set up to fail in Florida

Let's DIALOGUE! As parents we just have to do our research about the choices that we make. Every choice has a consequence: positive or negative. So drop a note below. Tell me your thoughts about charter schools. Does charter EQUAL better?



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Monday, June 13, 2016

HELLO MY WONDERFUL NOOKERS! It's been sooo long, ok, well maybe just a month or so but long in the grand scheme of things, and I MISSED YOU GUYS! I've been working on some intense stuff that will be out this year and let me tell you it's WORTH the wait! You'll forgive me as soon as it drops. Promise.
I will have receipts soon but in the meantime...once again I was honored to have the super talented Aly L invite me to do a cover scene on her YouTube channel "AlyL" [subscribe: here] from the show "Grey's Anatomy. If you know ANYTHING about me then you know that I am literally obsessed with that show and I watch it on a constant loop. Izzie is without a doubt my favorite character so playing her was more than an honor. Mind you, this scene is serious, and I had to keep an "I'm dead inside" facial expression the entire time. Y'all know I talk with my face *crying emoji* and I couldn't do it this time. the video below and enjoy!

It was suuuper fun to record and Aly and I work well together so *raises glass* here's to more scenes in the future!

Natasha Marie

P.S. I'm going to do some music reviews soon. I've been listening and "Lemonade" and "Moonlight" definitely deserve some track by track love. -)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Monroe's Meetup: Holding Schools Accountable

As school accountability and school choice increases, districts should not be surprised to see that schools will become more segregated as our more affluent citizens flee to “better schools”. So do all children deserve a great education? Yes! Is linking school grades that are based on student performance that is correlated sometimes with poverty to teachers' evaluations and livelihoods make the most sense? Probably not. So what are districts going to do to balance or equalize the movement that is causing the most voiceless children to be stuck in the most destitute schools with the ineffective teachers?
Yes, one solution is to provide incentives for the most effective teachers to come to struggling schools. Yes, money is the first step. The next step would be to ensure that the school culture and climate is one of high expectations. I, for one, believe that our children will rise to the level. Another thing that helps is to provide extensive support and professional development to both teachers and students to ensure that the learning environment is one that is culturally responsive and engaging to all students.
So, kudos to the district for taking the first step [read it: Pinellas Pay Bump For Teachers]. Now we need to make it part of the larger plan to put the most effective teachers in front of our children every. single. day.


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Sunday, April 10, 2016
Natasha's Nuances: STOP COLORISM!

I think by now we all know that COLORISM is an important and detrimental issue that is seemingly ingrained in the very fiber of our bloodstained history. By us, of course, I mean the Black Community. I experienced colorism, or a preference due to my skin tone, as a child in a family of immigrants who wanted nothing more than to achieve The American Dream...part of which included living up to the Eurocentric ideals of beauty e.g. lighter (or whiter) is better. In fact, in our home country of Haiti, colorism is very real. We're very much like The Hunger Games in a sense. Those who live in the capitol have the class, power, money, and seemingly are all of a more French creole (white) descent. The rest of the country lives in the districts getting poorer and more rundown the further from the capital.
In this fight for equality, we ultimately have to address some in house issues. I'm not talking about this nonsense about "Black on Black crime". I mean the shackles that have been passed on generation after generation that keep our minds enslaved and oppressed. COLORISM is one of the areas that we can rectify on our own with just a little bit of effort. It simply takes a belief that we are WORTHY of praise and the emulation that comes from cultural appropriation. We've been so trained to hate our image yet we're allowing other races to siphon our very souls for monetary gain. I actually did a podcast some time last year where I touched on how colorism effected me as a child and my experiences with it [Listen to it here: Colorism in Black Society]. Personally I'm TEAM MELANIN, not TEAM LIGHT SKIN or DARK SKIN because we're all BEAUTIFUL! If the narrative is gonna be changed we have to do it ourselves.
Out of solidarity for TEAM MELANIN, I created a tee that says STOP COLORISM on the front and Flexin' My Complexion on the back. The shirt can be purchased as a tank, tee, or hoodie (in a few color options) on teespring [Buy it: here]. Remember to love yourselves and each other. WE ALL WE GOT!!! *fist in the air emoji*

Natasha Marie

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Natasha's Nuances: Pinellas Pay BUMP For Teachers

According to The Tampa Bay Times [read the full article here: Pinellas proposes pay bump up to $25,000 for teachers at struggling schools] Pinellas is now offering to increase the pay of teachers up to 25,000 a year to teach at the struggling schools in the district. 
This doesn't mean that any and everyone will be chosen just to fill the slots. These educators would have to reinterview for their jobs at Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo and Melrose elementaries as district leaders look to recruit top talent from other areas of the county and outside its borders. This will allow for the district to filter out those who are just looking for a pay increase and are not truly looking out for the best interest of the deserving students at these failing schools. IF you're just in it for the money?
The five schools, which are predominantly Black, were the focus of a yearlong Tampa Bay Times investigation. A resulting series called "Failure Factories" documented the schools' decline to some of the worst in the state after the School Board abandoned integration efforts in 2007, then failed to provide the proper resources. Yep. They left our poor babies to fend for themselves.
2007 was so long ago but I want to push forward towards a brighter tomorrow. I'm excited that these kids will finally receive the education that they deserve...which will help to eliminate the school to prison pipeline narrative that has been thrust upon them. Here are some of the Highlights of the district's school reform plan:

  • Pay increases of up to $25,000 in bonuses and extra instructional time.
  • Longer school days for students and teachers.
  • Teachers and administrators must reinterview for their jobs.
  • New assessments that give real-time feedback to teachers.
So if you're interested in this AMAZING opportunity please, by all means, contact the Pinellas County School Board (via their website) and express interest.

Natasha Marie

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Friday, April 1, 2016
Monroe's Meetup: State Assessments Coming Soon...

With school grades and 2014-2015 FSA achievement levels being released last week. School and districts are preparing to take state assessments next month. Please do your part to ensure that your child is ready for the big days. It is just like the Joe Clark speech on 'Lean on Me'. 
"And now I've got a message for those people out there who've abandoned you and written you off! Can you hear me? Can you hear me? GOOD! You are NOT inferior! Your grades may be. Your school may have been. But you can turn that around and make liars out of those bastards in exactly one hour when you take that test and pass it and win! So here's what I want you to do. When you find your thoughts wandering? I want you to knuckle back down and concentrate! CONCENTRATE!"
Several parents have come to me and asked about ways to support their students as we head into testing in the next month. Preparation is KEY. Here are some steps to follow to ensure that your kids are equipped with every tool possible to level the playing field. 
  • Log onto the site
  • Level the playing the field:
    • Children are familiar with the format, they can focus on the content.
    • Put the games down and practice 1 -2 hours a week.
  • Partner with your teachers about your child's strengths and weaknesses at school.
  • Make sure there is a sense of urgency at home related to the test.
It is going to take everyone, the school and the family, to ensure that your child does their best. 

Good Luck!


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