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Errol St.Clair Smith

Errol St.Clair Smith

I'm the executive producer of BAM Radio Network, which means I get to eat, sleep and drink education talk radio. Over the last nine years, I've been a fly on the wall in over 3,500 discussions between some of the most thoughtful, passionate and fascinating educators in the nation. On these pages I share the most important lessons I've learned from them, along with an occasional rogue insight of my own. BACKGROUND: I am a 25-year veteran of the media. Over those two-and-a-half decades, I had the opportunity to author four books; write for The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times; and spent three years as a popular radio talk show host on KIEV in Los Angeles. I worked for seven years as an "on air" political commentator and co-hosted the Emmy Award-winning program Life and Times on PBS television. I eventually moved on to become a business reporter at KTLA in Hollywood. Owing to some great mentors, some good timing and perhaps a shortage of available talent, I managed to pick up five Emmy nominations and one Emmy Award along the way. Oh by the way, I went to Harvard. Well … actually, I was invited to speak there once, but I really learned a lot from the experience. :)

Posted by on in General

NOtalone2

I just listened to a riveting post-election episode hosted by Rae Pica, with Jill Berkowicz Ed., Sean Thom, and Jason Flom.

I was struck by the inescapable predicament teachers around the country are facing. Elections have always been about winners and losers, but this time it's different - very different.

This time we’re not talking about the garden variety agony of seeing your team come up short.

The feelings swirling around our communities are not the classic dejection of seeing hopes for the future temporarily deferred.

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Posted by on in General

 speakup 3

                               “Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”    Amy Fast  @fastcranny 

In 2008 when  I heard that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States, I sat quietly with my wife and daughter and savored the meaning of the moment. 

I was filled with the spirit of the possibilities the future held. I had no idea what kind of leader our new president would be, but the faces of the masses gathered on election night 2008 shouted hope in a way I had never seen.

I saw how much the moment meant to people who could not hold back their tears -- and I shared that. 

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Posted by on in General

broken

I could hardly believe my ears. As I sat in a television green room is Secaucus, New Jersey, I overheard a couple of TV producers plotting to be the first show to broadcast two people having sex on live TV. This was the early 90's and radio and television were in transition.  As a mass media buff, I had been closely following the changes taking place in the media, driven by people like Morton Downy Jr., Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, and Rush Limbaugh. I had followed closely the emergence of a gaggle of “personalities” that would eventually be called “shock jocks.” I was also tracking a new genre of programming called “Trash TV.”

The formula of this new media was simple. Use crude humor, drama, conflict, exaggeration, insults, aggression, and anything offensive or shocking to build a loyal audience.

By the mid 90’s shock jocks had started an all-out arms race, competing for who could drop the crudest, bizarre, startling, offensive, and sensational bombs on their listening audiences. By the late 1990s, it was no longer “shocking” to hear incendiary comments, “locker room” talk, or vitriolic exchanges between people on the radio. 

It turned out that pushing the envelope of decency and incivility was very appealing and profitable. The audiences grew, and the wallets of the talk-show hosts and media outlets swelled.   Soon entertaining and titillating audiences became as important as providing factual information. In fact, eventually, the facts would no longer matter.

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Posted by on in School Culture

speakup

I’ve now spent a decade listening to educators speak about what matters most.  I’ve sat silently as teachers, principals, superintendents, professors, parents, and advocates voice their thoughts and opinions on myriad education topics from homework and teacher assessment to growth mindset, metacognition, innovation, creativity, risk-taking and leadership. Those voices have been thoughtful, articulate, passionate, compelling and committed to doing what’s in the best interest of kids. 

Personal blogs, a zillion Twitter chats, and a bazillion hashtags have amplified those voices and spread the ideas that educators value most around the world. Every week teachers now connect online and delight in their newfound power to get their discussions to trend on Twitter -- or better yet go viral.

It was unthinkable a decade ago, but we now live in a world where every educator’s voice can be heard.

That’s why I was left scratching my head about how little I’ve been hearing from educators on the subject everyone around the world is discussing.  I was confused and puzzled by the deafening silence until I read the following article.

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Posted by on in General

lockers 1

Jock sweat, sneaker funk and residual locker room “stank.” I can still remember that stuffy, putrid smell. And who can forget the bare bones facilities, dank showers, and unfiltered “boy talk” that made up the soundtrack at most high-school gyms?

Sometimes we talked about the game, sometimes we talked about each other, and sometimes we talked about the girls. Yes, sometimes the chatter was juvenile, lustful, and objectifying of women. It’s also true that this talk can still be heard in college locker rooms, frat houses, sports clubs, military bunkers, boardrooms, bars and any place where males get together beyond the earshot of females.

Crossing the Line

We have all been schlepping through months of repugnant sludge masquerading as a presidential election. For many, myself included, the tone of the campaign has been agonizing. Many of my friends in education tell me that they’ve stopped watching the spectacle altogether. “I simply can’t bear it," they say.

Many are tortured to see language and behavior that we find reprehensible rationalized and justified by some of the most respected thought leaders in our nation.

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