Dr. Carol Francois is continuing her work to educate and enlighten people through her learning community and podcast.
Dr. Francois got her start on her journey throughout education in her youth when she was sent to catholic school in her small hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Francois always had an innate interest in education, going back to when she would play teacher with her dolls as a child. While her parents were not involved in education themselves, it was something that they felt was crucial.
“My mother would say, “If you get a good education, that’s the one thing they can’t take away from you”,” Francois said.
What cemented her love of education was her experience with her 10th grade biology teacher Claudia Jones.
“I had this marvelous role model of a brilliant woman teaching a difficult subject, and somebody who had garnered immense respect in the community and in the school,” Francois said.
As for the issues in the education system, she’s always been aware of the problems that exist. She has taken on a number of roles in education such as Dean of Instruction at North Dallas High School, Grade level Principal for Berkner High School, Field Service Agent, Director of Support Services Department, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Associate Commissioner For the Education of Special Populations, Associate Commissioner For the Education of Special Populations, Chief of Staff for Dallas Independent School District and Director of Learning for Learning Forward (a global professional learning association). In her time as an educator, she even spearheaded the “scorecard approach” in DISD, a system that focuses on looking at education through multiple lenses as opposed then just through student scores.
“Usually you look at, how many kids are scoring well on X test, (whatever the test of the time might be). That’s not enough. Then, how many kids are graduating, how many kids are getting into colleges and universities if they so choose to? So, it’s a way of taking a whole different approach to determining the success of an organization outside of a few single factors,” Francois said
In taking on those various roles, she was able to see the disparity that existed in students education.
“When you’re in those roles, you see the inequities you see, when there are schools that are better resource not so much in terms of financial, better resources, but the the quality of the teaching staff, the quality of the administrative staff, the expectations of how the schools are going to be operated and supported by the people who are in charge of those schools,” she said.
Working in education, she was able to view budgets and look at other details like how assignments were made, teaching assignments, administrative assignments and more. She does note that this was not an issue that she just took note of in education, it’s present in every system in America.
“All of America’s institutions have been structured for the benefit of white people. And, that’s the world we live in and that’s the world we need to change,” she said.
This dedication and skill crossed over into her work for Why Are They So Angry? (WATSA), a part of Francois Consulting, which she is Chief Learning Ambassador of. Originally, she states, it spawned from a Facebook post after the murder of George Floyd, telling people that if they wanted to understand what took place, they need to read a list of books. Someone responded by jokingly asking if she was going to lead a book study, to which she initially declined. She spoke to her niece about it, who told her she should follow through and provide books. She communicated with people via Facebook and subsequently set up a Zoom meeting. This grew into the “Why Are They So Angry?,” learning community private Facebook group that has grown to over 300 members where they discussed books and films, as well as an online course (Systemic Racism: See it, Say it, Confront it, which Francois wrote in less than two weeks), which inevitably snowballed into the “Why Are They So Angry?” podcast.
The WATSA? podcast, hosted by her and Kourtney Square, is a place where she uses her skills as a teacher and educator to help inform people on issues they have never heard or read about before. In it, Francois hones in on a particular institution in America and examines how systemic racism plays a role in it. They follow a formula where they start from the past and discuss how systemic racism appeared in that particular institution, tell a specific story about it and then examine how it (systemic racism) presents itself today. Recently, they have discussed the beginnings and evolution of the Girl Scouts, and the systemic racism involved in various Presidential administrations. Their podcast has a slogan of “See it, Say it, Confront it.”
“It’s the idea of saying- we live day to day, and probably don’t give a lot of these things second thought. But if you really take a close look, you’re going to see some things that you didn’t really recognize as systemic racism. But once you start peeling back the onion, then you know it is. And now it’s time for you to do something about it,” she said.
To view the WATSA? site, click here.
The “Why Are They So Angry?” Learning community, which hosts bi-weekly Zoom meetings: