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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The BIG Picture: Thoughts on the "Issues"


NOTE: This is an update of a piece that I first published prior to the 2012 general election.

About Me

My passion is empowering people via methods that balance skill and will, analysis and synthesis, and ideas and execution.

One of my current projects monitors the academic, enrollment, financial, and governance status of all 2200+ Georgia public schools.

This project helps to identify and to engage the stewards of public education's status quo in civil discourse.

Another current project uses "geomapping" to study local anthropology.

This project helps to identify and to engage the stewards of a community's status quo in civil discourse.

I am an agent of accountability, much like a "big brother" - but not like a "Big Brother".

I am a registered Georgia mediator.

We are called "neutrals" - which may be misleading.

Rather than "keeping the peace", my mediation approach is to use self-control and civil discourse to make peace by neutralizing the forces that oppose it.

I am an "equalizer" - not a "neutral".

While I do not take sides, I do inform perceptions, question assumptions, and create a balance of power via resources, interests, communication, and expertise.

I am a mentor to several students - who teach me as much as I teach them.

In this nurturing role, I do not make decisions or give directives.

I help to identify options, and help to evaluate the consequences of choices.

I let mentees (and clients) make their own choices.

I value divergent thinking (seeing multiple solutions to a problem), because it inspires creativity (the process of having original ideas) - which adds value to society.

My education began when I finished school, and embarked on my current journey of unlearning and relearning.

I do not think with my eyes, and do not mistake activity for achievement.

I succeed because I embrace and understand my failures.

I know that I do not know.

This is the greatest lesson I will ever learn.

I relearn it daily.

About "The Issues"

We are a nation at the crossroads - one that could be compromised by weapons of mass distraction.

Our challenge is to not choke from all this smoke - and to stop falling for the good old okey-doke.

For all who have chosen their "side", I offer a message of hope and accountability to both factions …

1.    Understand the flaws of your position.

We have all believed in something – only to later find out that it was not quite what we thought it was …

(The) Boogeyman
Ex-Boyfriends & Girlfriends
East Coast vs. West Coast Rap Feud
Game Shows
Professional Wrestling (Wrasslin')
Santa Claus
(The) Tooth Fairy
Web Van

Be forthcoming about your side’s shortcomings – including future unintended consequences, and other elements of the issue that you do not understand.

Inform your perceptions, challenge your assumptions, and influence your circle to engage in civil discourse - especially with dissenters.

2.    Sometimes "let go"; sometimes "let know".

The Bible contains a passage that almost seems to contradict itself – until closer examination …

Proverbs 26:4-5
New International Version (NIV)

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Pick your battles, and make sure you fight the right fight.

3.    Sometimes the cause masks the agenda.

Slavery was once a policy that opposing factions argued for and against with great passion.

Ditto for Prohibition, and denying the right to vote to people because of their skin color or gender.

Policies are created, challenged, and changed by self-interested humans - who may be guided by ambition and myopia as much as they are by principles and convictions.

4.    Sometimes our cause masks our issues.

Media is littered with assumptions, perceptions, intentional manipulations, meaningless data, half-truths (also referred to as “true lies”), innuendo, and vitriol.

Weapons of mass distraction are produced and consumed daily by folks who love to argue.

They justify both their passions (and vices) by stating noble, well-meaning intentions - and by using famous quotes as subtle, self-congratulating endorsements.

Folks who love to argue may not always do so because of their passion – they may just love to argue.



Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The BIG Picture - Marietta High School in Black and White (EOCTs 2012-2015) #DoBetterMarietta


It is difficult to have a conversation about academic achievement disparities between White and Black students.

I fear such conversations.

For MANY reasons.

Let me share a couple.

As a Black male, it is a difficult discussion for me because - despite my accomplishments - friends and foes have provided subtle and overt feedback that I am good (so good that I am considered "strange") - but not "as good."

This is a tough position to play. I hope I play it well (and better than I once did), and know it has taught me humility, grace, and mercy.

It is also difficult for me because I have soberly witnessed the complex, interwoven layers of factors that contribute to this disparity ...

  1. There is a "student performance" layer. Students must perform - regardless of the circumstances - but all circumstances matter.
  2. There is a "circumstances" layer. Circumstances must be created that - when coupled with appropriate opportunity - create an environment of equality that facilitates success.
  3. There is a "zero sum" layer. Many believe that only the first layer or second layer exists - but not both. This debate-based myopia reinforces and widens the disparity.

Though I admit my fear, I am more afraid of maintaining the status quo.

So ...

My fear is my only courage
I'm scared to disobey
I'm scared to rock that boat
But sometimes rock it anyway.

Please give this an honest listen, and let's talk ...

Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dear Hannah: Teach Students, Not Subjects (Johney)


Dear Hannah,

Teach students, not subjects.

You will not know them on your first day together.

You will not know them on your last day together.

Never stop LEarning who they are, and you will never stop LEarning who you are.

Why oh why can't Johney READ?
Probably because the brother's name is Khalid
Yet the majority of so-called experts agreed
On the cultural ideas they would force-feed

Why oh why can't Johney WRITE?
'Cause instead of him creating he just has to recite
We offer him a perspective that he finds quite trite
Then have the gall to try to label him as "not too bright"

Why oh why can't Johney do MATH?
Might it be that he fails to see the relevance of its path
He'll tell you that he's tried to get it, but that not yet he hath
Its oddities sometimes confuse and ultimately draw his wrath

Why oh why can't Johney LEAD?
'Cause we've instilled in him a false way to succeed
Servitude and loving take back seats to greed
Destiny and purpose are supplanted by need

Why oh why can't Johney CREATE?
Perhaps it's because the boy just can't relate
To the stark & cold reality that continues to await
Solutions to the problems of our existing state

Why oh why can't Johney THINK?
Maybe we've not yet shown him the missing link
Between ideas and paper and that pen of ink
That leads the horse to water, and also helps him drink



Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dear Hannah: Master Plan (REMIX)


Dear Hannah,

Stick to the Master Plan - even when current events make it feel like the world is out of control.

waiting for the world to change
how can we rearrange

how it is
how it's supposed to be

will notice we
need to see

that nobody
can globally
confine the free
who pay the fee

to organize
seems to me

when two or three
touch and agree
on bended knee

demons flee

our history's
no mystery

Thinkin of a master plan
Nothin' but a pen
inside my hand

so I ...
commence this verse
to break the curse
of bad and worse

thoughts perverse
that coerce
us to disburse
move in reverse

let's immerse
not disperse
then converse
ideas diverse





I work
You work
They work
We work.



Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dear Hannah: #FlipIt


Dear Hannah,

Tune in to signal in a sea of noise ...

race matters
face(book) chatters
TV spatters
grace scatters

facts disputed
reason muted
minds polluted
hate rebooted

no time to waste
on knee-jerk haste
and cut-and-paste
- focus misplaced

this crisis state
and sub-par slate
and unmoved freight
says we can't wait

a quest for peace
through angst release
provides a crease
for noise to cease

another key piece
we must police
is shedding "eye fleece"
... feel me (capisce)?

systems unpacked
by data extract
yield info exact
and plans that impact

... and questions chased
with knowledge based
on ideas traced
produce actions paced.



Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dear Hannah: #MasterPlan


Dear Hannah,

Stick to the #MasterPlan - even when current events make it feel like the world is out of control.

today may seem bleak
yesterday seemed bleaker

be slow to speak
check first the speaker

payback sounds chic
to forgive is "chic-er"

meek ain't weak
might is weaker

wrong is strong
love is stronger

war is long
peace lasts longer

stay the course
finish it well

what that resembles
time will tell

seek small solutions
rinse and repeat

don't think with your eyes
don't vote with your tweet

revolutions aren't televised
nor broadcast online

instead they occur
in both heart and spine

of maybe two or three
who touch and agree

then hatch up a plan
they can work faithfully

with no fanfare nor buzz
just concrete small steps

well-disguised as work
done in efficient reps



Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dear Hannah: Spiritual Leadership


Dear Hannah,

We grow by caring for people and things.

Reading J. Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership has helped me grow as a husband, father, and man.

Wisdom Earned Through Lessons Learned …

1.     Spritual Leadership Defined. Spiritual leadership is the process of serving, influencing, teaching, and learning from others – with God’s principles as the standard.

2.     Success & Failure. God uses each success and failure to humble, teach and strengthen us.

3.     Leadership Qualities (Chapter 8).

I use several mnemonic devices to help remember these principles. Here is the first …

"Leaders 'WISHeDD' (Wisdom, Integrity, Sincerity, Humility, Discipline / Decision Making) for Courage and Vision."

4.     More Leadership Qualities (Chapter 9).

"Leaders do not ‘WHIF’ (Writing, Humor, Inspiration, Friendship) at the PLATE (Patience, Listening, Anger, Tact, Execution)."

5.     Anger Is A Leadership Quality? Anger (an intense emotional response) has been a prevalent (and counterproductive) part of my life. I now accept it as a leadership quality.

See, prayer (intimate conversations with God) is an essential leadership quality. Prayer can be hindered by sin.

If we are so angry that we cannot pray, then we are too angry – and on the threshold of sin.

God tells us to be angry, but to not sin in our anger (Eph 4:26).

A wise man knows his limitations. Recognized anger is a limitation that can help us stay on a healthy leadership path.

6.     Time Management (Chapter 12).

“Every moment matters
You had better realize
Then you can quickly respond
To opportunities you recognize.”

·         Power is work done efficiently - that is, with wise and skillful use of RICE (Resources, Interests, Communication, and Expertise).
·         God grants power to His efficient problem solvers.

7.     Leaders are Readers (Chapter 13).

·         Mature reading challenges us with new (and old, unanswered) questions (rather than confirming that we already knew the answer).
·         Reading biographies provides wisdom and inspiration from someone's life and ministry.
·         Bacon's rule - read to weigh and consider.

8.     Improving Leadership (Chapter 14).

"Improve, Inspire, ‘GRASPP’ (and inspect) what you expect ..."

·         Group Morale (maintaining teamwork & camaraderie)
·         Relationships (unity and cohesiveness)
·         Administration (improving the ministry)
·         Spiritual Tone (spiritual health and maturity)
·         Problem Solving (corrective action)
·         Planning (establishing courses of action).

9.     Counting Leadership Costs (Chapter 15).

"SeLF-CROP (Self-Sacrifice, Loneliness, Fatigue, Criticism, Rejection, cost to Others, Pressure) leadership costs by counting them."

10.  Leadership Responsibilities (Chapter 16).

"A leader DIGS (Applied Discipline, Initiation, Guidance, Service) their responsibilities."

11.  Leadership Tests (Chapter 17).

"Don't be Jealous - leaders earn their FICA (Failure, Impossible Situations, Compromise, Ambition) score through testing!"

12.  The Art of Delegation (Chapter 18).

Getting work done through others is the highest form of leadership.

13.  Replacing Leaders (Chapter 19).

·         All leaders are replaceable.
·         All leaders have strengths and weaknesses that begat opportunities and threats (SWOT).
·         A leader's departure provides both threats (fear, regression) and opportunities (courage, advancement).
·         Leadership success requires opportunities to fail!

14.  Reproducing Leaders (Chapter 20).

·         All leaders grow by caring for things and people.
·         Spiritual Maturity > Age
·         Purposeful leaders want to serve. Ambitious leaders want to be served.

15.  Leadership Perils (Chapter 21).

"Jealous feelings ‘PPIIPEEDD’ (Pride, Popularity, Infallibility, Indispensability, Prophet or leader, Egotism, Elation and Depression, and Disqualification) through a leader's heart invite peril."

a.     JEALOUSY seeks to deny or destroy the work of others (page 155).
b.    Christ, rather than the leader, should be the object of a ministry’s POPULARITY (page 156).
c.     Nobody is perfect. The leader must maintain a teachable spirit (INDISPENSABILITY).
d.    INFALLIBILITY is a blinding illusion.
e.     It is more important to be a PROPHET of God than a leader of men (page 159). The prophet replies upon God’s wisdom and power.
f.     EGOTISM is a self-centered orientation (page 154). Leaders should not become too confident or "self-made" (page 156).
g.    Excess in joy (ELATION) or sorrow (DEPRESSION) is unhealthy for the spiritual leader (page 157).
h.     Self-control is the key to preventing DISQUALIFICATION in ministry (page 160).



Copyright © 2016 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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