My son Henry, who has Down syndrome, goes to a school dedicated to inclusion, where students of many levels of ability learn together, and learning how to get along is considered an essential part of their education.
I see a common theme in the African American community -- a tolerance of the current state. "This system wasn't made for us, that's just how it is," I hear. This mentality permeates through world famous academics, and is widely read in higher education.
You encourage. You strengthen. You guide. Reading? Check. Writing? Check. Math and Marine Biology too? Check and check. But what happens beyond the books is where the real magic happens and allows for those checks to find their balance.
I stood off to the side, my heart beaming with pride, my eyes filling with tears, and wished that I could have known last year, as I lost sleep and grew more grey hairs, that kindergarten isn't about the end of childhood at all. It is so much more about beginnings.
Even I, who did not suffer first hand from bullying, can remember being comforted by the fact that all of my peers would be wearing the same thing, regardless of how popular, fashionable, beautiful, or wealthy they may be.
When she received her class photo this fall, there were pictures of every teacher in the school on the back. You would think she had won the lottery. She excitedly pointed out every one of them, first name and last. She has memorized their first names from reading the name tags they wear.
I do not hate math. I respect math. I did well in math. But because I've not used many math skills beyond the basics in my adult life, I've often questioned our education system's obsession with math and its dominance in our classrooms.
I have some very important things to tell you. I mean, super important. You ready? Turn on your best listening ears. Open up those learning eyes nice and wide. Get that brain warmed up. Because what I'm about to tell you is something that I hope you'll always remember.
Mention entrepreneurship at the elementary school level and you are likely to hear someone say, "You can learn everything you need to know from running a lemonade stand." While one can learn a lot from lemonade stands, entrepreneurship itself is often much more complex.
I'm trying so hard to support their evolution, but some days it feels like holding icicles in my hand. I am so tender, careful not to squeeze too hard or bend them in ways they aren't meant to go, but it's out of control.
Just to give a sense of scale, only 56 percent of Maryland's fifth-graders -- and only 37 percent of low-income students -- read at an advanced level in 2013. At Chadwick, more than 95 percent of the low-income students read at an advanced level.
Those promoting the Common Core standards maintain that local districts can still design their own curriculum to meet these federal standards. But parents and teachers know that standards drive the curriculum.