Inspirational and thought-provoking messages informed by my faith, ministry in education and community development
Dr. Flowers' Blog
St Philip's has a wealth of talent. Our students and staff are blessed with many gifts and anointed people. Most importantly, we are a body of BELIEVERS. This belief - fueled by our faith - has sustained us through the onset of challenges that include a pandemic, devastating deaths, social unrest, AND NOW A FLOOD that has caused major damages to over one third of our campus. With over a million dollars and counting of repairs confronting us, we are convinced the same faith that got us to where we are will not only sustain us but provide God's abundance.
I am honored to serve with an inspiring army of FAITH soldiers fighting to deliver unparalleled academic experiences, social services, community advancement, and spirituality into the lives of those we serve. We have rallied to not only respond to the latest crisis confronting St. Philip's campus, but we have also increased our support to our neighbors adversely affected by the unprecedented winter storm. Many thanks to Texas Land Care, Inc, for sending dozens of plumbers to South Dallas to support our neighbors who also experienced flooding and other issues from pipe bursts, St. Michaels and All Angels Church, Highland Park United Methodist Church and Good Shepherd Episcopal Church.
As believers, I thank our faculty, staff, volunteers, and loyal supporters for having the courage to do what most military forces are trained to resist -- surrendering! Your courage and compassion in these times leaves me in awe! Thank you for becoming willing practitioners of prayer. Thank you for your sacrifices and serving as beacons of hope.
An African proverb says, "If you want to go fast ... Go alone. If you want to go far .... Take others with you." St Philip's has certainly gone far, and thousands have come along for the ride. Faculty, parents, volunteers, alumni, and staff have served for decades to ensure God's mighty work - through our efforts - advances the lives of others. We are all soldiers and this latest battle of restoration from the flood damage, is simply a conquest in the making.
I am thankful for every parent who chooses St. Philip's for their child and every faculty, staff, volunteer and supporter who joins us in this important work of liberating children and a community through the St Philip's School and Community Center ministry. Let's march onward in total surrender to prayer, hope, and faith to bless many more. Let us be reminded that for believers, burdens become blessings and the best is yet to come!
Even after the vaccine is deployed “America, we have a problem,” we will continue to ring out. COVID-19 will leave remnants on both the health and educational well-being of our great nation. Scientific research is tracking the long-term effects of the virus on the human body. Educators are beginning to report on the setbacks our students are experiencing. Early estimates indicate an 18 month to two-year setback in educational performance between March and December 2020. Click the link below for a glimpse of St. Philip’s assessment of academic gains since last year.
The clouds are telling us there is a storm on the way and our children will get wet. More than ever before, there is a necessity for parents to buckle down and take action in the exploration of excellence in their school selections for their children. We are now in a climate where schools and districts are lowering standards for grades and graduation requirements to respond to COVID 19 and the drive for equity in schools.
With clouds in the sky, the clarion call is now for parents to spread their umbrellas of wisdom in navigating their children’s educational pathways. If those pathways include college, it will be critical for parents to become more intentional - and even sacrificial - in taking measures to achieve their goals. Astute parents must also recognize that college readiness is not an automatic, nor is it an explicit goal of most of American school districts (productive citizenry is the target).
Parents of St. Philip’s students have identified that college readiness requires the exceptional. The general public might ask how to define “exceptional” for schools. Sacrificial parents make great schools, great teachers make great student outcomes - when combined with great leadership… the exceptional is born.
What shall we say to our children during this era of civil and social unrest?
Just as it was for us during the assassination of the Kennedys, Malcolm, Martin, 9/11, Katrina, Sandy Hook, Trevon, George the waves of turbulence continue to place parents into positions of having to try help their children make sense out of nonsense. The African proverb referring to grass suffering is a reminder that often the actions or inaction of adults yield devastating consequences for our children. The role we must take as educators and parents involve a consistent formula for helping our children. That formula is the same one that proved to be critical in our being able to endure decades of unexplainable circumstances in our nation and throughout the world.
To help our children it is important to constantly remind them that God is on the throne and HIS GLORY shall prevail. We are to raise them to understand that the world has a darkness that cannot be seen. We must let them know that darkness loves surprise because it is more impactful when it catches you off guard. Just like the sudden ambush of a power outage, we have to raise them to understand trouble, tragedy, and evil lurk, but the light of Christ is a light that shall prevail and not be overcome.
For us as adults, we must be reminded that in the darkest of times the light shines brightest and take deliberate action to make sure we keep our hearts laser-focused on the light of Christ.
As we continue on into 2021 and beyond there are likely to be more incidents that reveal the fragility of America but do not abandon faith or forsake hope. Faith and hope sustained our nation through tragedies like the 16th street Baptist church bombing, the Mother Emmanuel shooting, and the Charlottesville massacre. ONE nation under God calls for UNITY and strength is never ultimate where division dwells
Let us keep praying for our children as the fragility of our nation fostered by our fore-parents and fanned by forces of today continue to become exposed. Elephants will continue to tussle, even in their play they are oblivious to the damages to the very sustenance they rely on.
The title of this WID-WID has nothing to do with the popular band from the 1980s nor is it long related to the St. Philip’s annual 6th grade academic excursion when they visit the Grand Canyon. This WID-WID is intended to insert imagery in the mind of the reader when reflecting on educational disparity.
For decades, I have maintained that America does not have a gap in learning between brown children and white children. Technology and research have been undeniably clear on the disparity. We are not dealing with a gap in academic performance across America. We are confronted with trying to close a canyon.
As we trudge into 2021, the canyon confronting our schools is Expectedly Expanding Exponentially (EEE). There are two major factors that I believe will cause us to come up with a word even more grandiose than canyon. The first is COVID related. We are hearing about it from states across the nation. Screen time is not effective. Kids are not showing up for class. Teachers are burning out. The list of to-dos is lengthy, and the impact is adversely affecting kids of every ethnic background.
The other factor that places us at risk of never being able to close the gap, gorge, or canyon of academic disparity has been brewing for 20 years. The civil unrest and racial tensions that confront us have moved the issue of mediocrity from a state of percolating to brewing. The calls to eliminate testing, academic competitions, grading systems, and graduation requirements are not new. However, there is now a surge which is gaining the listening ears of school boards, legislatures, and even unions in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are on the brink of experiencing a massive buckling in a quest for excellence in our schools. We must not allow further corrosion of our nation’s racial achievement gap to be interpreted, viewed, and analyzed under the veil of attempting to achieve equity for our students. The bar does not need to be lowered. Excellence is hard. Completing engineering, medical, or law school is hard. We must acknowledge that keeping the bar high yields results for even those who abandon the path before reaching the goal.
At St. Philip’s the message to our students is that when they try; even if they don’t hit the target, they will be somewhere close to the top. I call this the “associated rewards of high expectations.” School should be hard; success is often accompanied by discomfort and even pain. School being “hard” is acceptable and should be natural for any educator who is serious about the profession and the best interests of children. As a friend of mine, Jay Wagley, conversed with his child, “life is hard….get a helmet.”
African American success stories are filled with the vestures handed down from generation to generation. Stories with lessons about working twice as hard or going above and beyond leveraging the struggles of ancestors. The St. Philip’s Creed captures the acknowledgement of historical and current day disparity and devastations. Instead of lowering the academic bar, our students are taught as Calvin Hill’s father taught him: “many reasons but no excuses.” We will not allow historical strife and present-day injustice to deter us of our God given rights to succeed. Lowering academic standards is a handout. The hand, however, is on top of your head pushing you down to the depths of destruction.
To Parents: Don’t get drawn in.
To America: We must strive for excellence for all!
For those who are at the forefront of the movement to drop the standards, I have two encouragements. First, I acknowledge the testing system is significantly flawed with bias unfavorable to children of color. Our targets need to be aimed at the content not the complexity to ensure relevance is representative and equitable for all. Second, there is a universe of knowledge surrounding how to teach children who learn differently. Only 1 percent of children of color are enrolled in schools that are specifically set up to meet the needs of students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. Energy used towards school reform that meets the needs of students who are nearly absent in these types of schools is desperately needed. More of these services and schools would begin to bring the canyon down to the size of perhaps a creek.
We all need to be on guard. The current movement is not in the best interest of students of color. American education is guilty of much. We have a legacy of riding trends from NEW Math to STEM, STEAM and now STREAM. As we look to do what is best for all of our children there is a truth that still abides, “Reading is still fundamental. We must not diminish our quest for excellence.”