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Black Lemonade co-founder, Patricia A. Ackerman on MSNBC : Video from the show

Posted on August 31, 2011 by callidad


Black Lemonade co-founder, Patricia A. Ackerman was a panelist on the 8.14.11 MSNBC special, “A Stronger America: Making the Grade,” with news anchor Tamron Hall and contributor Jeff Johnson.

Patricia A. Ackerman (BLP co-founder) to be interviewed on MSNBC special, “A Stronger America: Making the Grade”

Posted on August 14, 2011 by callidad


Patricia A. Ackerman (co-founder, Black Lemonade Project) will be one of the round table participants in the MSNBC special “A Stronger America: Making the Grade,” a live two-hour discussion on strengthening America through education, from the Detroit School of Arts.


MSNBC will air “A Stronger America: Making the Grade,” a live two-hour discussion on strengthening America through education, from the Detroit School of Arts. The special, hosted by MSNBC Anchor Tamron Hall and co-hosted by MSNBC Contributor and Correspondent Jeff Johnson, will bring together a roundtable of prominent figures to discuss parenting and early education, how to help our students compete on a global scale, the effects of the economy on education and opportunity, and other essential topics.


(reprinted from

MSNBC’s “A Stronger America: Making the Grade” special comes to Detroit with the cooperation of Detroit Public Schools, a district undergoing historic change to transform a system that leaders say have been failing too many of its students. The district has implemented a five-year academic plan, where students are seeing a more rigorous academic curriculum in every school, and has expanded its process to authorize additional high-performing charter schools, including five that will be open this fall.

'Making the Grade' will be on location in Detroit inside the Detroit School of the Arts, a high-performing school where students have access to top visual arts, music, dance, drama and other programs in a comprehensive college-prep setting located on the grounds of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The town hall special will include an audience of nearly 800 students and teachers from across the Detroit area.


Viewers will be able to participate in live chats on MSNBC’s Stronger America Facebook page (, and will be able to participate in the show through the use of the #MakingTheGrade Twitter hashtag on the day of air. Clips and additional information on the show is available

How and Why Urban Schools Fail to Engage Parents of Color

Posted on August 9, 2011 by Patricia A. Ackerman


Providing urban parents experiences that motivate, enlighten and bond many of them for life transforms their ability to impact the education of their children. 


How and Why Urban Schools Fail to Engage Parents of Color

"Can you hear me, now?" was a popular query in a cell phone ad a few years back. The caller was seeking confirmation that two-way communication was occurring. By inference, and assuming no language barrier or auditory impairment, any caller could depend upon that brand of phone for clearly transmitted conversations. By contrast, when it comes to communication between urban schools and parents concerning involvement in the children's education, either something gets lost in the transmission or the schools fail to connect in a meaningful way. Miscommunication between schools and parents can have serious consequences for both, but especially for the parents who may be affected more negatively.

Since the positive correlation between parent involvement and student achievement has been well documented, the under-representation of urban parents appears to be solely their fault. Conventional wisdom is that schools bend over backwards to get every parent involved, but for whatever reasons (ignorance? fear? unconcern? other priorities?) many urban parents choose not to do so. "They" are the problem. "They" don't know what's important. If "they" really loved their children… and so it goes. That communication from the school may be misdirected is never a consideration.


However, for parents whose circumstances may be less than optimal, invitations from the school to get involved may as well be communicated in a foreign language. For these parents, the activities of daily living may be so compelling that finding time to attend meetings, conferences or volunteer at the children's school seem like an impossibility. It is tantamount to asking them to run before they know how to walk! Until they can discover new ways of thinking about themselves, their children and their future, nothing will change. Instead of repeatedly dialing the wrong number, urban schools can play a major role in transforming reality for urban parents by offering them parent-centered opportunities as a critical first step. Empowering parents with a different sense of themselves clarifies their perspective and unleashes their commitment and creativity to benefit their children. Thus far, there is little evidence that urban school leaders understand this potential or desire to tap into it.


Rightly or wrongly, urban schools seem to expect parental commitment without the development of trust or mutual respect. Among many urban parents, for whatever reasons, the kinds of commitments desired by today's schools require cultivation. Investing time and scarce resources into cultivating more than superficial relationships with urban parents seems fiscally irresponsible when the return on investment may be modest. Moreover, failure to do so assures the status quo. If the status quo is unacceptable, urban school educators should do two things: 1) resist the temptation of short-term "quick fix" approaches that typically over promise, but under deliver; and 2) invest in programs that not only build trust and respect, but also change parental attitudes, values and behavior.


Changed attitudes, values and behavior are the building blocks of empowerment. So, what needs to happen is not rocket science. Priorities for parent involvement need to be changed and alternative approaches explored. The future of our nation and its children resides in our ability to radically re-direct the trajectory of our aspirations in a global community. Otherwise, the coveted place the U.S. once held on the world stage will become ancient history. Consistently, the airlines remind adults on-board each and every flight what to do for children seated next to them "in the event the cabin pressure drops and the oxygen mask appears." "Put your mask on first; then, attend to your child!" Urban school leaders should heed this directive! Parent-centered engagement programs are not a quick fix, but they can resuscitate uninvolved moms and dads with fresh air.


Providing urban parents experiences that motivate, enlighten and bond many of them for life transforms their ability to impact the education of their children. Those of us who do this work persevere because our auditory capabilities are intact. We heard the needs of those whose reality we now champion long before any of them knew we were listening. We will not rest until others take time to hear and heed their call!

(This article was originally published by the Huffington Post June 27, 2011. 

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