It’s not complicated. It’s not easy either.

How many educators begin their speeches by singing James Brown's "I Feel Good"? If you answered one, you get an A. If you said Phyllis C. Hunter, give yourself an A+.

Phyllis, who is a renowned literacy expert from Sugar Land, Texas, kicked off our recent Teacher Appreciation Week in style. Her recipe for a good speech? "You have to tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Then you tell 'em. Then you tell 'em what you told 'em."

Her tone was lighthearted, but Phyllis addressed one of the most troubling social justice issues of our day: Too many children, especially African-Americans and Latinos, are growing up in poverty, amid violence, and without the educational advantages of kids from the right zip code. As a student in Phyllis's hometown said about his neighborhood: "This is not Chicago. It's Chiraq."

How can we do better? "I didn't say it was easy," Phyllis told our audience. "I said it's not complicated."