4/7/2016 0 Comments
Carol Markham-Cousins has spent the past 35 years nurturing an educational career dedicated to working toward equity, access and excellence for all students, especially those whom our system rejects and removes. Starting in 1978 as a special education teacher she has been fortunate to teach and administrate at all levels of education. For 20 years as a principal, her role has been to ‘turn around’ schools, challenging the status quo. My career has also extended into the court system. World travel has been a part of my life for 43 years, constantly expanding my world-view both professionally and personally.
From Fire in my Belly to Fire in my Soul
Engagement: Turn-around at Washburn High
The change happened over 6 years after the bold move to “Fresh Start”. Resulting in building a culture of excellence, inclusion and acceptance for ALL students and staff. WHS thrived, and neighborhood families began to attend for the first time in 20 years increasing the enrollment nearly 100%.
To the non-traditional approach of not tracking students met resistance. Code for: OK to have integration in the hallway and lunchroom but NOT in the “honors” classes”. A few influential families expected me to change what we had been developing over 6 years. I listened, but refused to make the changes these few powerful parents wanted. It was time to challenge the perceptions of what ALL students could achieve together.
Because I refused to change, challenged the district decision to reverse direction and exposed other unethical practices, the district leadership took the bold move of removing me as principal 6 weeks before the end of school, without any grace or true explanation.
Standing up for equity in education in the face of fear and racism changed the course of my career. What do you do when you are thrown under the bus and then publicly humiliated? First: hide in shame and disbelief, and wait for the rescue team to arrive. It never does!
Three years later the team has not arrived, but I have! When stripped of your title you find out who you are. If I am truly about kids, then do that work.
“This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED.”