I Am Numb

Discussing race in a time of hopelessness…

By Adell Cothorne
I would love to say my heart is heavy as I try to process the senseless executions this week of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Yet, saying my heart is *heavy* would be a lie. My heart is NUMB. I am NUMB.

Black_Lives_Matter_protest_against_St._Paul_police_brutality_(21552673186)I am numb because I cannot fathom how much more it will take for some REAL change to occur. I am NOT condoning violence. But I DO wonder how many men and women of color have to lose their lives at routine traffic stops or outside storefronts before something tangible and systemic is done to ensure the right to live.

One cannot pinpoint just one situation that brings us to where we are today. There are a myriad of situations and conditions which have made some members of our society view other persons as animalistic or *less than.*

We can go back centuries and read the works of one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. Yes, him again. In Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson hinted that African Americans’ skin color may be derived from bile and they produced a very strong and disagreeable odor.  He also wrote of how African Americans were inferior when it came to reasoning, imagination, and the composition of complicated melodies. Trust me, there are PLENTY other noble statesman who can be called out for their racist thoughts, but Jefferson’s views were used as the bedrock for a racist nation in which we currently reside.

stop killing usTalking race
As a long-time principal in both urban and suburban school districts, issues of race and equity have been at the center of my life. These days, as I transition from principal to teacher at a predominantly white Catholic university, discussions of race occupy a central place in my classroom. Many of my students will teach in areas with a sizeable population of African Americans, including Baltimore City. A number of them have shared with me that this will be the first time they will interact with people of color on a consistent basis. Each class period usually involves a discussion on how race impacts teaching and learning. My students are preparing for future teaching careers in which race will be front and center, even as they try to make sense of a world in which violence against people of color is a daily occurrence. These are the sorts of questions and comments they have for me. Continue reading →

Ten Minutes from Chaos

Baltimore girl Adell Cothorne says that to understand what’s been happening in her city, you have to follow the money…

BmoreWhen people danced in the streets after the announcement that all six officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident will face charges, I couldn’t help but feel indifferent. I suspect that the announcement by Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby had more to do with politics and money than justice. I want to believe that Mosby’s intentions were pure. But I also know that one of Baltimore’s biggest tourist events, the Preakness Stakes, is just ten days away. The race generates millions of dollars in revenue. And a city on fire wouldn’t exactly be a welcoming draw for all of those ladies in flowery hats and men in seersucker suits… Continue reading →

Would You Like Fries with That Reform?

What does the battle over the minimum wage have to do with education? Everything…

By Adell Cothorne
Way back before I became a principal, a whistleblower, the “cupcake lady” or joined the fight to save public education, I was a McDonald’s worker. It was 1984 and you name it—cashier, grill operator, grease trap emptier, bathroom cleaner—I did it. I’ve been thinking a lot about my McDonald’s days since watching a recent report on CBS Sunday Morning called “The Battle Over the Minimum Wage.”  Continue reading →

Needs Improvement

Former DC principal and whistle blower Adell Cothorne says don’t believe the hype about IMPACT.

The verdict is in and the results are unanimous: Washington DC’s IMPACT teacher evaluation system is a smashing success, successfully separating the highly effective wheat from the underperforming chaff—and sending the latter scrambling for the exits. But former DC principal Adell Cothorne warns the system’s cheerleaders to cool their jets, arguing that the system was deeply flawed from the outset, and that the most important lesson we can learn from IMPACT is not to repeat its mistakes. Here’s a look. Continue reading →

Adell Cothorne Speaks!

Whistleblower Adell Cothorne reflects on Rhee, Ravitch and why she’s in the fight to save public education

DC principal, whistleblower and cupcake baker Adell Cothorne.

Now some of you may know my story. For those of you who don’t, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Adell Cothorne.  I am a former District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) principal.  If my name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because I garnered some national attention when I filed a whistleblower’s lawsuit against DCPS in regards to alleged test tampering by members of my school staff. But enough about me (for now). I recently had the opportunity to hear the views of two women who currently have a significant impact on education and I’d like to tell you about it.

Who were the two women, you ask?  None other than Michelle Rhee and Diane Ravitch. The fact that these two women were speaking in the city of Philadelphia within 24 hours of each other was significant. Two women with completely different views on America’s current education system speaking in a city experiencing educational dysfunction – on steroids. The movie script practically writes itself.
Continue reading →