Category Archives: Native American

Closing the education gap – new book – “I Got Schooled”

This summary, borrowed from Amazon:  I Got Schooledoffers a look at America’s educational achievement gap that could only have come from an outsider. 

Famed director M. Night Shyamalan has long had a serious interest in education. The MNS Founda­tion he and his wife started once gave college scholarships to promising inner-city students, but Shyamalan realized that these scholarships did nothing to improve education for all the other students in under-performing schools. When he learned that some schools were succeeding with similar student populations, he traveled across the country to find out how they did this and whether these schools had something in common. He eventually learned that there are five keys to closing America’s achievement gap. But just as we must do several things simultaneously to maintain good health— eat the right foods, exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep—so too must we use all five keys to turn around our lowest-performing schools.

These five keys are used by all the schools that are succeeding, and no schools are succeeding without them. Before he discovered them, Shyamalan investigated some popular reform ideas that proved to be dead ends, such as smaller class size, truculent unions, and merit pay for teachers.  He found that the biggest obstacle to school reform is cognitive biases: too many would-be reformers have committed themselves to false solutions (*) .

This is a deeply personal book by an unbiased observer determined to find out what works and why, so that we as a nation can fulfill our obliga­tion to give every student an opportunity for a good education.

(*) Not the answer to closing the education gap:

  • small classroom sizes
  • master’s programs and Ph.D.’s for the teachers
  • paying teachers like doctors
  • funding the schools at $20,000 per pupil

Truly a book worth reading … and sharing … widely.

Here is a 58 minute video interview with M. Night Shyamalan that’s worth watching         [click here to watch].

For busy people, I am posting a summary at  of each of the five practices MNS Foundation discovered that “moved the needle” in closing the gap.


Watch A Teacher Make Her 3rd-Grade Kids Hate Each Other For The Best Reason Imaginable

A Teacher Makes Her 3rd-Grade Kids Hate Each Other For The Best Reason Imaginable

The payoff at the end is brilliant and a perfect metaphor for what we deal with and face every day in our society.

1:30: This teacher begins a study that will be talked about for 40 years.
3:00: She re-creates segregation and racism in her classroom.
7:45: Mrs. Elliott flips the entire class on their heads.
10:00 Jane Elliot makes the most profound discovery about us all
11:43: The students learn something that the world is still struggling to.
There are too many great moments to point out. Just watch.


Great Albuquerque/Coronado History Read

Cities of Gold PPBKCities of Gold
A Journey Across the American Southwest in Pursuit of Coronado
Douglas Preston, 1992

463 richly researched and documented pages detailing 450 years of southwest adventure and discovery! Very hard to put down!

Douglas Preston literally takes you in his saddle bag on two 900-mile horseback/roughing-it odysseys with his cantankerous Santa Fe artist friend Walter Nelson. Two journeys cover the same geography: Coronado’s 1540 epic exploration from New Spain/Mexico through Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas.

The chapters and episodes are written from multiple viewpoints: New Spain’s (Mexico’s) culture, Coronado’s expectations in planning and leaving New Spain, Coronado’s experiences en-route, various and numerous native American initial encounters with white Europeans – Mexican Aztecs – and black Africans, And last, but not least by a long shot, … Doug and Walter’s experiences and observations of both what had changed and how little had changed in the intervening 450 years.

I found this a tremendous context piece to open my understanding and appreciation of the nearly complete uniqueness of New Mexico in particular and America’s great southwest in general. You will be exposed to amazing repeating patterns of history from 1540s Spain and New Spain right up into today’s New Mexico business and politics.

Cites of Gold is a thoroughly charming, entertaining, amazing, irritating, enlightening, frustrating, and fulfilling read! Check it out for yourself!