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© 2017 James E. Ford

ARTICLES

2017
2018

We Need More Teachers Like Black Panther's T'Challa, Now!

February 23, 2018

There is a socio-cultural significance to seeing a film that centers characters of your likeness and way of being.When you’ve been starved of positive portrayals and dignified examples of Black excellence in the media, immediate enthusiasm is almost a reflex. 

It's Time: Launching a Statewide Study of Equity in Schools Across North Carolina

January 16, 2018

As part of my commitment to rid the education system of the vestiges of institutional racism, my consulting firm, Filling the Gap Educational Consultants, LLC, will be partnering with the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research to launch a statewide study on equity in education. This collaboration seeks to close opportunity gaps for students of color in North Carolina by conducting evidence-based research, making recommendations based on the research, and working with others to implement best practices throughout the state.

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2015

5 Lessons We Can Learn from the #ConcernedStudent1950 Protests

November 16, 2015

Like so many in the nation, I’ve been closely following the ‪#‎ConcernedStudent1950 protests at the University of Missouri. As an educator, I think every situation good or bad comes along to teach a lesson. As a social studies teacher, I always tried to push critical discourse and thinking about current events. Academic content should be used to connect to broader themes. 

Lessons From Singapore

September 08, 2015

This past July, I was fortunate enough to travel to the countries of Singapore and Malaysia with 40 other North Carolina educators, as part of the Global Teachers program through The Center for International Understanding. It was the final chapter of my whirlwind term as North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

We Still Have A Race Problem

July 22, 2015

I am writing because I don’t know what else to do. I have been emotionally spent from the massacre of nine beautiful souls during a Bible study at Emmanuel AME Church last week in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Silence Is Betrayal

December 14, 2014

I want to be very clear about my position on this issue. I will not be on the wrong side of history. I cannot remain silent because #BlackLivesMatter

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Why Black Families Should Be Skeptical of Trump's Education Secretary Pick

December 30, 2016

A billionaire school choice advocate who never went to, worked in or sent her kids to public schools could raise eyebrows...

We Need to Start Telling the Truth About White Supremacy in Our Schools

December 13, 2016

At some point, as an instructor I had to give this phenomenon language. After trying for several years to teach around it, I decided to call this issue by name. I concluded that my students’ sincere questions about the course content deserved an honest answer.

It's Time for Teachers to Take Some of the Blame for Trump

December 05, 2016

After much thought and reflection, all I’m able to muster at this point is an apology. That’s right, I am sorry. As an educator, I can’t help but feel this election is emblematic of our failure as a sector to prepare the populace for self-government. Nobody is exempt here. Traditional public or charter, homeschool or private, this one is on everybody.

The Roots of Discipline Disparities

November 15, 2016

The data on discipline tell a story that bears an uncanny resemblance to the reality described by Ta-Nehisi Coates and to my experience as an urban educator. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students are more likely to experience exclusionary discipline than their white counterparts are. In other words, students of color get disproportionately punished and suspended.

Mission-Minded Teaching

August 30, 2016

As educators prepare their hearts and minds for the endurance race of the academic year, we must also take time to reflect and remind ourselves of our purpose as educators. Revisiting the philosophical foundations of our work--understanding the 'why'--can provide much needed inspiration to sustain us ..

Education Must Be Part of the Movement for Black Lives and Social Justice

June 01, 2016

Thus far, most of the movement’s energy has understandably been directed at the criminal justice system and reforming its practices. But this is just one institution within a complex web of several that disadvantages Black people. As the movement for Black lives continues to expand its reach, education must be central to the discussion of racial justice.

State Teacher of the Year Says Teacher Appreciation Week Not Enough

May 24, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Week has come and gone once again. For a moment our country paused to pay tribute to its educators. Teachers were adorned with chocolates, gift cards and thank yous from every direction for being part of the world's most underrated and noble profession. It's the least we could do as a society, after all.

Who Will Lead the Edu-Revolution? [Pulling the Race Card] (Guest Post)

April 21, 2016

The next person I’ve asked to guest post is none other than James E. Ford, former North Carolina Teacher of the Year and someone who I’ve gotten to know on the Internets and in person as a thoughtful brother. Here, he offers his take on all things education, and who’s going to lead the next education revolution.

In Charlotte, Children Still Wear the Garnment of Disadvantage

April 20, 2016

The bustling Southern city of Charlotte, North Carolina, is once again grappling with segregated schools, a problem we had all but conquered nearly 40 years ago. Unfortunately, for too many poor students and students of color in the Queen City, the opportunity gap is alive and well.

Why Are So Many Students of Color Being Suspended?

April 20, 2016

I spent the entirety of my six-year teaching career in the urban education setting and absolutely loved it. My classroom was filled with jumpy, brilliant, often immature ninth-graders, the vast majority of whom were black and brown. By the numbers, this population and grade-level would appear to be the most “problematic,” representing the bulk of suspensions according to the most recent statewide discipline data.

Stop Using Parents as an Excuse Not to Teach Our Children

February 16, 2016

Too often when I’m in casual conversations or meetings with parents, legislators or other teachers, when the topic of “equity” or the “achievement gap” is raised, the discussion gradually shifts to the families. It typically begins with a comment like, “Well, you know education starts in the home” or “I think it just comes down to the parents.”

What Segregation Looks Like

January 07, 2016

One teacher grew up in an integrated system and became the North Carolina’s teacher of the year. Now he wonders about the future for his students, who are growing up in an increasingly divided system

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2016

A Missed Opportunity to Diversify the Teaching Force

December 20, 2017

The fact that the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program has returned is great news for the State of North Carolina. The Old North State no doubt stands in dire need of a steady supply of great teachers in the most challenging schools and subject areas. While there is ample cause for a celebration, there also appears to be a missed opportunity. The state needs way more teachers of color, and thus far little has been done to fix that.

James Ford Talks Teacher Retention with Betsy DeVos

July 14, 2017

As I arrived at the US Department of Education on Tuesday morning, I didn’t fully know what to expect. I had been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with fellow former teachers to discuss teacher retention and why we left the classroom. I have many opinions on the topic and was more than happy to provide both some anecdotes and research.

Fighting for the Dreamers in and Out of the Classroom

April 19, 2017

Amid news that a DACA protected student was just deported, I am reminded of one of the single bravest acts performed by one of my students: disclosing his undocumented status to the entire class.

Student-Teacher Relationships Are Everything

January 31, 2017

I can't overstate this point. In the classroom, relationships are everything.

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