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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor: "Are you with me Now?" 3.5.21

There is only one news program I watch consistently, it is First Take with Stephen A, Max Kellerman and Molly Querm Rose. This may sound funny and a bit weird to you but for me so many great interviewers and journalists have always come from sport, and sports is almost always on the cutting edge of national and international events and policies.

Today’s program was no exception. Dr. Fauci was on First Take and the questions and conversation that followed were great. On the show, Steven A questioned Dr. Fauci on vaccinations for African Americans and Latinos. Dr. Fauci talked about the high percentages of both groups getting and dying from COVID and why. He also talked about the reluctance of African Americans to get vaccinated because of the government’s 40 year ethically unjustified Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

One major point that resonated with me was when Dr. Fauci discussed that even though most African Americans today were not alive during the study; the Tuskegee Experiment is “a memory that gets passed down generation to generation.” How can a memory of something that no one actually remembers by being living through the times, get passed down? Well, it happens when the memory is manifested as a saying like, don’t trust the healthcare system.

Later on in the day, I read an article in The Atlantic by Caitlin Flannagan Private Schools Have become Truly Obscene – Elite schools breed entitlement, entrench inequality and then pretend to be engines of social change. There is little here I didn’t know and there is a lot more to be said especially, about how our college and university systems (both private and public) play into so much of this nonsense. That said, I couldn’t help but ‘hear’ the Dr. Fauci line about how memories get passed down generation to generation when Caitlin Flanagan stated, “These schools pass on the values of our ruling class—chiefly, that a certain cutthroat approach to life is rewarded.” There it is again in a different context but when you get rewarded or get punished it sinks into a collective memory that is hard to break.

My favorite line in the article – “If these schools really care about equity, all they need to do is get a chain and a padlock and close-up shop.”

Them that’s got, get more

In the midst of COVID, when private school students gained even more of an edge, how can the federal and state governments send a message of the importance of performance scores on standardized tests as the vehicle to equalize the playing field?

“You can’t think your way to write action; you can only act your way to write thinking.” -David Milch

Our students are really taking off on BP Living. If you have a chance go to the site and look around. Also, start following us on Instagram and Twitter and Tik Tok. All of this work is students as activists. They all are certainly are acting their way to write thinking. Shouldn’t that be the norm in all schools? Instead, we have the reverse. We are now developing Phase 3 of the BP Living app and are preparing to get all of our BPL schools and beyond involved for next year starting at Big Bang.

Peru - El Cóndor Pasa - Daniel Alomía Robles remake If I Could

Our work in Peru is taking off. I’m not sure how it got the lift but we are riding some beautiful thermals. Roberto Barrientos Mollo is organizing everyone in Peru. The schools are urban and rural. All girls and coed. Night and Day schools and schools that would certainly fit with Upstream. I’m sure Javier will make an appearance soon. What an incredible orchestration of the sound of real work. That’s the sound of imperfect perfection, of muddling through. Melissa Agudelo is doing the coaching for this group. Yesterday, I was a participant and I can tell what joy she was feeling being with them.

At our Harbor Freight Fellows Regional Coordinators meeting aside from the members talking about their regions and how great things are going, I get to hear from places all over how they are coping with COVID and that’s eye-opening unto itself. In just an hour, I get a broad picture of the landscape re: how regions in the country are managing coming out of COVID restrictions. What differences in operations are making a difference?

Quick note: We just finalized an agreement with EON, an AI/VR company to deliver 1,000 licenses to our students over 3 years. A bunch of us – MR, David, Andrew and Andrea - took this agreement across the finish line. We feel it is a start and a great addition to work for students to use these tools to practice and develop their skills. More to come when we do the press release and start the programs going.

It is great to see so many of us are focused on Carlos’ time with Nicole Hannah Jones today but next Friday although not nearly as star-studded in a rural region of South Carolina, Crishell Bass one of our incredible regional coordinators spent loads of time in her district and surrounding districts getting career and technical directors to read and have teachers and students read Get Real! We received some wonderful feedback from all of these folks that point to how parents can use Get Real! with their children and how children can see themselves in the book. There was so much great advice in the feedback. It reinforced the notion that Get Real can do what we set it out to do. Next Friday at 1 EST, Carlos and I will be having a discussion with all involved about the further roll-out and a Q and A for participants in these rural South Carolina districts.

Be Well!


Elliot Washor Co-founder of Big Picture Learning

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1 Comment

Doug Stowe
Doug Stowe
Mar 18, 2021


I saw that article from the Atlantic being passed around and applauded by defenders of public schooling and thought to myself that it was narrow minded. There are independent schools like the Clear Spring School where I teach that are truly working toward more meaningful educational reform. To see all private and independent schools in the same harsh light would be to ignore the potential of independent schools to innovate and lead toward better education for all. I'm not saying that some or even many independent schools don't deserve a harsh critique. Many here in the south got their start as parents pulled their kids from newly segregated schools. Clear Spring School got its start from an interest shared…

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