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Thursday / November 23

Mobilizing a Conspiracy of Care

When one thinks of the word Conspiracy, without a doubt thoughts of evil plots and schemes easily come to mind. History is replete with examples of conspiracies designed to pervert justice, overthrow governments, and manipulate truth. Conspiracy, from the Latin word “conspirare” meaning “to agree to plot.” On the other hand, the word Care has an opposite effect when it is mentioned. Care, or “the provision of what is necessary for someone’s health, welfare, and protection” evokes feelings of concern and compassion.

I have been an educator for nearly five decades. Over the last decade I have devoted my energies to an organization that is dedicated to the affirmative social, emotional, cultural, and academic development of boys and young men of color. This organization is the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color or affectionately known as COSEBOC. In my ten-year tenure as the founding Executive Director, I have witnessed situations where the full academic potential of boys and young men of color has been systemically diminished by policies, procedures, and practices that are not culturally sensitive or responsive. In other words, there are too many situations that seem to conspire to limit the innovative and creative talents of boys and young men of color.

On the other hand I am privileged to have witnessed firsthand, many programs, schools, and districts that have successfully changed the narrative for boys and young men of color. These are places were Care prevails. Schools such as Urban Prep in Chicago, Eagle Academy in New York, Boys Latin in Philadelphia, or Fenway High School in Boston intentionally combine personalization with high expectations and rigor for all students. These schools are determined to see every student reach their highest potential. They understand the necessity of mobilizing all stakeholders in the service of students. They understand that a synergy must exist between their schools and the surrounding communities.

The act of mobilizing a serious Conspiracy of Care will require leaders who recognize and understand the true significance of the “Whole Village” participation. Leaders who are of the transformational type realize that within the Village reside many individuals who possess skills, talents, and knowledge that can be channeled in support of all learners. This pool of community talent is what I affectionately term, the Community Faculty. The Community Faculty members can be found throughout the Village. They are the school crossing guards, the local store owner, barber, plumber, bus driver, and many others who daily share their wisdom and guidance with children and youth.

Imagine the impact that can be made when this talent pool is organized, connected, and inspired to serve the best interest and well-being of every student—particularly those who live in marginalized and under-resourced communities. The Conspiracy of Care can serve as the organizing framework as the Village prepares to raise their children. I suggest to readers of this blog that it is time to mobilize and conspire to care. It’s time to intentionally agree to plot to provide for the compassion care essential to the affirmative, social, emotional, cultural and academic for every student and especially those traditionally undervalued, underestimated, and marginalized.

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Ron Walker has over 45 years of experience serving as a teacher, principal, staff developer, and consultant in various educational communities. Currently, Ron serves as the Executive Director and is a founding member of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color. The mission of COSEBOC, founded in 2007, is to connect, inspire, support and strengthen school leaders dedicated to the social, emotional and academic development of boys and young men of color. Under his leadership COSEBOC is impacting over 600 schools across the nation with a combined student population of over 300,000. COSEBOC has been recognized for its work on changing the negative narrative often perpetuated by the media and others to a positive counter narrative that lifts up the gifts, talents and promise possessed by boys and young men of color.

COSEBOC is recognized as a critical organization in the efforts to eliminate the academic achievement gap. In this regard recognition has come from many organizations such, the Council of Great City Schools, Education Trust, Cities United, The Center for Law and Social Policy, The Panasonic Foundation, The Kirwin Institute, Harvard University and the American Public Health Association just to name a few. COSEBOC has been awarded major national grants by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Open Society Foundation.

Ron has also grown the visibility of COSEBOC and has made many presentations on the national and state level. He has presented to the U.S. Department of Education, College Board, California Association of African American Administrators and Superintendents, The American Public Health Association, The Council of Urban Boards of Education as well being interviewed by Soledad O’Brien on the topic of Educating Black Males.

He was also invited to attend President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Forum held at the White House. Ron has been recognized for his service in education by the Boston Public Schools, Boston College School of Education, Temple University -School of Education, The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and many community groups. He was nominated for Ebony’s Magazine Manifest Award for individuals making substantial contributions in the field of education. Ron has authored two publications on leadership and is featured in numerous education articles. He remains steadfastly committed to high quality education for children and particularly boys and young men of color and other underserved populations.

Ron attributes any success that he has gained to his unrelenting belief in God, the lessons taught by his parents Solomon and Delores Walker and the faith that his wife Toni, children and grandchildren place in him.

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Latest comment

  • Ron is on point in his observations for urgency of communities to respond to the traumatic conditions in schools, neighborhoods and communities that diminish efforts to care for children and youth. Fortunately, there are numerous schools that are successfully educating children; those named in Ron’s article are places in which adults, students, parents and community members are aligned around a a strong vision of 100% of their students being successful. Unfortunately, we need to exponentially expand the lessons learned from schools that have “conspired for the success of their children. The real truth is that we really do not what must be done to ensure the success of schools everywhere; the problem is the collective lack of political will and courage to challenge status quo by bringing together “usual” and ‘unusual” partners to bring the necessary dissonance in schools and districts to interrupt business as usual.

    It must be clear by now that there “Ain’t no Help on the Way from the White House or state houses across the land. We have clearly transitioned to the Trump area in which billionaires and their ideas about solutions for “Other Peoples Children” which they would never recommend or tolerate for their own children or grandchildren.

    It’s time to wake up and take responsibility in every village, hamlet, and township and city across the US. Wake up everybody – we have work to do! Work that we cannot count on for others to do. It is time to take responsibility to get the job done for our kids.

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