On the Tragic Death of a Harlem Principal

“The principal, Jeanene Worrell-Breeden, 49, killed herself soon after the testing was completed at Teachers College Community School, adding a tragic note to the episode and raising questions about whether the allegations had factored into her death. She jumped in front of a B train near 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue on April 17, and was taken to Harlem Hospital Center, where she died on April 25, the police said…” NY Times.

Life is a dangerous place to live; sometimes a very sad place to live and work; and always a very difficult place to live and work. Despair, frustration, disappointment and death can come too easily, and so you must always have your spiritual directional guides in good working order. The principalship is a very lonely and stress filled day-to-day position. It can also wreak havoc (or at least put a lot of pressure) on your personal and family life. You are the only one of you in the school building (Even my AP’s had each other!). You can get 100 questions a day; and not one of them will be: “how are you doing?” (Teachers, try asking that question, and watch your principal’s face and reaction; I know because once a teacher ask me that question, and I know how good it made me feel!)

I am not casting blame here; but the Bloomberg era’s misinformed decision to in essence remove school district superintendents, had a devastating and deleterious effect on school based administrators. Principals need coaching and support! They need to be able to check in with someone they trust; and they also need someone who is invested in their success, to check in on them. I can remember many sad, disappointing and challenging days as a NYC principal; and the very positive and supportive role the Brooklyn H.S. superintendent (Joyce Coppin) played in helping me to remain positive, optimistic, and to see myself moving through the present difficult situation. It is also important (something I enjoyed) and of great help for principals to have a twice-a month social get together with other principal friends.

I am sure that the “anti-standardized testing crowd” are fully locked, loaded and ready to fire. But the sad truth, is that these suicide situations are very complex, and rarely caused by one single event. Further, the huge number of schools in this nation, that are identified as primarily serving Black, Latino and poor students; schools that perform dreadfully poor on standardized exams; would suggest that if “test results” was the primary cause of a principal’s suicide, we would be looking at suicide numbers in the tens of thousands! The truth is that as a national group, principal (as compared to other professionals) suicides are rare.

We could do more to help prevent these types of tragedies by not rushing so many principals into the position, before they are mentally and emotionally prepared (or we or they discover they are not a good professional match) to take on the job. We should also stop this current dangerous “reform” idea that professionalism and experience doesn’t matter; it does, particularly in those moments of extreme stress, when the Ed-Amin knowledge, professional preparation and experience are the only thing that will help; I know, I have been there! We must also deepened, expand and enhance our efforts in the ongoing professional development, and supervisory oversight of principals. Finally, a principal must have a strategic plan to put the students in the position of being able to perform well academically in class and on exams; and “after you have done all that you can, you just stand!”

Live today, to Serve tomorrow

“If We Must Die”

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
Claude
McKay

“When it comes down to it we don’t get the same treatment. Let’s be real. Let’s keep our mouth shut, memorize badge numbers and write complaints…” — Chryssey A Schloss-Allen

Excellent and wise advice Chryssey A Schloss-Allen. I think it is safe to say that any Black person my age 60+ who is either not dead or in prison, has at some point(s) walked away from an insult from a public official who is sworn to protect and serve us. My personal motto has (and still is) always been: I need to live so that I can serve out my calling; and if I die in that effort so be it; but if possible I will try to avoid dying; knowing how low and unimportant Black life is viewed by many in this nation, and how much I am needed by those same Black lives. Over the years, I have given that same advice (“Live to Serve”) to thousands of young people; particularly young men. My motivation was not out of a philosophy of pacifism, about fear or cowardice, rather it was a matter of discipline. I always had the community’s children in mind, who were waiting and depending on my work and support. I had no interest in making a death-martyr-statement on a NYC street like Atlantic or Bedford Avenues. I read once that: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” This is not a call for indifference, passivity, or the acceptance of injustice; rather I see it as a strategic battle plan/approach to get your work done in a very complex and dangerous environment. Ultimately, my personal pride, convenience, need to make a point, falls far short of the contribution I need to make with the needs of young people; young people, who like you are waiting to make their contribution to a world seriously in need of that contribution. We should also note that the news media (the liberal, right and middle wing Foxes) is structured and inclined to demonize the Back victim, and are in a rapid and rabid race to humanize, professionalize and (ex)honor(ate) the offending police officers. Public defenders (The brave Ms. Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore excluded) don’t see me as part of the public for which they are sworn to defend. Every casual and very normal word or statement made in public or on social media will come under scrutiny so as to point to an anti-police attitude (as opposed to a pro-justice attitude). And I know, like many of my colleagues, I have made many comments concerning my frustration with Back life in America; particularly as it pertains to young people and education; but that does not mean I am thinking or even wishing that my life would end; again I want to live to serve! Your life is important, because your calling and contribution are important. I am thinking of someone like Tiffany Harrison Bryant; and all of the positive change power she has given to young people; starting when she herself was a teenager! Black life indeed matters; and a Black life that is in a state of service matters most when it is alive to serve. You should know that the “wolves” make no distinctions between Black lives, and are ready armed and able to deny and destroy every Black life. And so guard yours carefully!

Finally, and why your advice is correct; the last time I was stopped (the frequency tails off for Black men as you get older) and made a formal complaint. I was stopped on my own block, and according to the officer, because I was driving an “expensive car in this neighborhood”. The police officer actually protested at his complaint hearing: “But I am shocked (and he really was) that Mr. Johnson is making a formal complaint about his stop; as he was so polite and calm during the entire situation!” (And I was) I simply memorized his badge number, and his “log book” reflected the stop. I turned on my interior car lights, keep both hands on the steering wheel, had my license, insurance and car registration card in my hand when he walked up to the window; answered his questions politely and quietly, and didn’t utter a word of complaint and/or protest; until I filed a formal complaint. (He had a growing stupid look on his face when he saw that I indeed lived on that block, had a back seat full of books and folders, and a NYC Principal’s parking permit in my front window.) No apology, no ticket, nothing. But there was just no way that I was going to make my case for police misjudgment, unprofessionalism, racial profiling, and overreach, at night, alone, on an empty Decatur St. block. I don’t see my primary role in life as to serve as a “change agent” for eliminating the racism that exist in the hearts of many Americans (Black and White); I do however, want to neutralize its deleterious effects on the education of Black children! Somethings, to be quite honest must be addressed by time; as people and attitudes began to leave the land of the living. And somethings must be forced (and dragged like the confederate flag wavers, kicking and screaming) to the table of justice by way of political organization, economic boycotts, active protest, and electoral politics. But I do see my primary task as empowering and intellectually equipping a younger generation to dismantle the barriers and structures of race, sexism, classism and economic exploitation; though their very strategically, skilled and smart placed positions in the world. In short, I decided that if I wanted to strike a serious blow against racism, I could do better than lose my one life on a Brooklyn street; and that I would work hard and effectively to educate and empower the lives of many young people of any color.

Flagging down the truth: Educationally, united we strive, divided we fail.

Thanks Mike Williams for the good article*; and sorry it took so long for me to respond. It is important to note: That absent from this entire “flag” debate are the patriotically proud and affirmative voices of those descendants of those who fought and died during the civil war in the service of their nation. Honoring the ignoble confederate flag, and any other symbol of a band of traitors, shamefully dishonors the very noble efforts and sacrifices of the Union soldiers and sailors. As a nation we are under no moral obligation to honor traitors who took up arms against the US; only an educational professional responsibility to respect and be true to the teaching of history.

We are a nation that in many ways still exist in a state of “civil war”; and because this division of the nation, along with its continual rebellion and reluctance (this includes the north) to fully accept its Black population into full participating citizenship; (particularly in matters related to public education) greatly hinders our potential and progress as a nation. The “less developed” parts of the nation; meaning both intellectual, cultural and economic, is a continued legacy of this unresolved “civil war”.
And although this division of achievement and development exist in other nations like China’s rural-city divide; it has a very different deleterious effect when a nation is fully “developed” economically and educationally. Even in our most advance and “liberal” urban centers, large numbers of Black children can live in a city like Washington DC, NYC, Chicago, etc.; be very close to a quality education, and yet not receive a hint of it themselves.

These national acts of political rebellion against the American promise of liberty and justice for all, is based on the need of an economic system that will maintain a class of citizens who are poor and inadequately educated. The most efficient part of this national system is not public education, rather it is a self-funding criminal justice system that can “capture and dispose of” the human overflow of a failed on purpose educational system. The primary source and target for this cynical civil service job producing “sanitation system” are people of color.

The question that is raised of course is, how going forward will this work, when a nation refuses to take advantage of the talents and gifts of its own citizens? What happens when a nation is in some form of civil-rights-war with huge segments of its own population? And this is where China’s “developmental divided” has in my view a better chance at resolution. Because of their present state of racial homogeneity; there is every reason (and incentive) to bring all of their citizenry up to “educational speed”. They are also not creating a constantly in need of feeding criminal justice system (they prefer less, not more social unrest) that is required to siphon off a large number of what would be some very unhappy jobless members of the working class. We on the other hand have states and attitudes that refuse to move out of our apartheid past. See how the recent comments of a Donald Trump are paying off so well for him in the polls; he is not without a huge audience, for he is a spokesperson, and the last best hope of a dying class of Americans, who see their unearned advantaged world collapsing under the weight of a Black and Brown population explosion (They are probably not helping themselves in places like Alabama, where poor Black women find it almost impossible to get family planning education and healthcare!). Latinos should know that his comments have nothing to do with emigration, or “border security”; and everything to do with a world of racial exploitation coming to an end; his target (and his audience collectively winks and knows this) means all Latinos in America, regardless of their citizenship status.

The reliance on the demonization of the darker, non-English speaking “other” (including those who are US citizens) is a powerful cultural narrative in our nation. We are held back (as other nations evolve) because we use our diversity as a political weapon of disenfranchisement, rather than as an asset that could fuel a powerful national development. The south is in no hurry to have a same-nation marriage with the “enemy” north! And I see no movement in the intellectually developed parts of our northern nation to go back to the back of the bus of thinking about things like women not having power over their own bodies. Hope is coming, but in the immediate future it does not look good; and that means no incentive for (or not a hint in the interest of accepting on the parts of the south) an intellectual-modernity “Marshall Plan” for segments of the new-old confederacy. Unfortunately the Republican Party requires a voter base that is bare-brained, uneducated, prejudiced, poorly educated, unenlightened, and wedded to the idea that says: You may be poor, ignorant and destitute as hell, but at least you are not Black or Latino! If White Right-Wing politicians are desperately clinging to a pro-slavery, anti-American treacherous flag; or to a false illusionary heritage that their confederate ancestors fought and died for something anywhere close to noble; we indeed have a long way to go.

The strength of the present German economy is in part due to their seeing historical Nazism as a product of social pathology; not historical pride. To get some southerners (and their northern ideological comrades) to see the civil war in that enlightened context will be a serious (again educational) challenge; as leaving it behind also represents the leaving behind of the nostalgia for time when they had a privileged place in America; a time when Latinos stayed out of the place, and Blacks in America knew and stayed in theirs! That realization that time is not an ally, and that they really lost the war against the US, generates the intense anger you see spewing from the conservative class on places like Fox news! And If these same White misleaders are willing to say: I rather see my White constituents sick and without healthcare insurance, rather than take help from a Black POTUS; I think it is safe to say that we are probably in a very bad place in national race relations, confederate flag flying or not.

But we are also in a very bad place of desperation, when your concept of victory is to fly the flag of your failed anti-patriotic military effort, and traitorous disgrace. That confederacy of deceit and defeat flag, and those sadly desperate flag wavers, both belong in the same museum display case.

*How the South Skews American: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/how-the-south-skews-america-119725.html

Sean Combs and one very uncommon core curriculum…

Link

“Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs says UCLA kettlebell incident that led to arrest was self-defense”—LA Times

Although the full details of the incident in question has not been fully presented; a particular section from the LA Times article caught my attention; and like any good recipient of a rigorous High School Common Core Education; I thought about some wider issues and implications:

“…Justin Combs, who graduated from Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 2012, accepted a full merit-based athletic scholarship to play football at UCLA…”

And so I did a little research:

http://www.privateschoolreview.com/school_ov/school_id/19271

http://www.ionaprep.org/

“Today, Iona Prep continues to fulfill this vision and develop young men who are exceptionally well prepared for college while possessing the moral core necessary to be a leader in a society that often does not promote Catholic values. Our Christian Brother education, which permeates the entire program at Iona Prep, is counter-cultural. Iona Prep educates young men at a time in which self-promotion, consumerism, selfishness and personal gratification are the most visible values that adolescents see. In contrast, the Essential Elements of a Christian Brothers’ education defines an education which gives our young men the courage, moral strength and intellectual tools to be leaders in today’s society…”

Student: Teacher Ratio 12:1

% of Faculty w/ Advance Degrees 85%

Number of AP Courses offered: 16

Extra Curricula Activities:
Art Club, Bagpipes, Campus Ministry, Christian Service, Film Club, Gael Force (Newspaper), Gaelic Society, Gamers Republic, Habitat for Humanity, Italian Club, Jazz Ensemble, Math Team, Mock Trial, Music Club, Music Ministry, Peer Counseling, Philosophy Club, Photography Club, Prep Players and Stage Crew, Prep Reps, Recording Studio, Rock Climbing, Rock Ensemble, S.A.D.D., Spanish Club, Speech and Debate

Athletic Programs:
Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Crew, Cross Country Track, Football, Gulf, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Outdoor Track & Field, Volleyball, Indoor (Winter) Track & Field and Wrestling.

And then there is a strong moral, ethical and spiritual component to the curriculum; that reflects the best progressive traditions of the Catholic church:

“…Proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed. Permeate the entire curriculum, activities, and all aspects of the educational process with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Encourage young people to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ…”

And:

“…Stand in Solidarity with those Marginalized by Poverty and Injustice. Promote policies and structures that reflect a climate of compassion for the poor and disadvantaged. Include education and advocacy for peace, justice, global awareness, and care for the Earth. Prepare students to work toward the creation of a just society. Encourage ministry experiences that work with and serve the poor and marginalized…”

From what I can tell (without the benefit of a visit) the school is a very strict, but well-balanced, focused, values rich, academically rigorous, and orderly school….Sounds good to me! But I keep returning to this idea that: A lot of “regular” folks are raising their children educationally to be like celebrities, without some academic achievement to celebrate! And tragically, also like non-scholarly athletes. And then I keep discovering these many celebrities (and I praise, and applaud the attention they give to the quality of their children’s education!) who are raising their children like purposeful, well-rounded and focused scholars (who could also be athletes). What’s up with that?

RACISM DENIERS OFFER HOPE FOR THE IGNORANT, THE CONFEDERATE FLAG IS A MAJOR SYMBOL OF THAT HOPE

There is something historically and philosophical similar about the thinking of the class of “Deniers”; whether it is the topic of the: African slave trade, the horrible and calculated acts of cruelty by Nazi Germany, the genocidal behavior of Turkey against Armenians, or the persistent presence of racism in every day American life. It is as if they are saying: “If we say it does (did ) not exist”; then in the minds of those who are the least intellectually exercised; it would in fact mean to them that the horrible event, or a state of reality actually did not, and does not exist.

For venues like Fox News the motivation is clear; grow and nurture a viewership by keeping them bare brained and indoctrinated with falsehood. And yes it is also a cynical political calculation, by hungry for votes at any cost Republican candidates; a sort of leading by employing the lowest common denier stupid thought. But this cowardly behavior also requires a non-reflective empty of any serious thought head to accept the inverted truth of the obvious.

This denier movement is linked to, and is at the core (no pun intended) of the Rights resistance to the Common Core Curriculum (CCC); and also (in my view) fuels their opposition to the very positive changes to the AP American History exam.

The strange political bed fellows that oppose the CCC is worthy of a post in itself: Right-Wing Racist Tea-Partiers, Teacher Labor Unions, and “White Liberal Educators”. They have all joined the anti-CCC parade, for their own self-serving reasons; but where are the voices of educators who advocate on behalf of Black, Latino and the poor children of any color, those student who suffer from a low core curriculum? We will never know, but perhaps a more thoughtful and reflective public education experience, might have given Mr. Roof a different way of looking at the world; a way that said: We are all one human family, worthy of life!

I do believe, however that the right-wing section of the anti-CCC parade. Is based in this “Denier Philosophy” that employs ignorance, anti-intellectualism, and an anti-compassion for the other, by promoting a crude form of social-economic Darwinism (they oppose the Scientific-Darwinism); meaning, only those we deem fit should be allowed to survive and thrive; need I name our nations designated unfit? Ultimately, it means that southern states want to be able to teach their version of the: “war of northern aggression”; waged against good folks, who were just trying to make a decent and honest, and Christian living through slavery (full sarcastic mode employed here); and thus the honor shown to that treasonous and horrific flag of subjugation!

All campaigns that seek to harm and exploit innocent people, are inherently anti-education and anti-knowledge. Education is the enemy of terrorism, be it racial, ethnic, religious or national. And that is why we must fight to take the curriculum out of the hands of those who would direct its usage to serve the narrow political interest of the narrow of mind few; and place it instead in the service, and proper education of the common (pun intended) folks. For as we saw last week, ignorance does hurt and kill people

Ok, this is my last comments on: Leading while Black, (or White, or Whatever)

Ok, this is my last on this, because I believe, it has already taken up too much time. For we still live in a nation where the POTUS despite his diverse parentage, still receives the full disrespectful of Black people treatment. And Black teenagers can’t even play and swim in peace, without being subject to racism and police violence.

As I stated in an earlier post: “First of all, (and I hope all of my former students know this) the concept of “Race” as it is falsely and cynically constructed in the political-social world, is not scientific (remember that phenotype-genotype stuff?)” The truth is that many of us Black folk might be surprised to know that we may in fact be more closely related to someone who identifies and presents as “White”; then we are to a person who presents and identifies as “Black”. This artificial racial division (after all we are not talking about two different species) was designed as a tool to enslave, exploit and discriminate against specific members of the human family. Once: “The Wretched of the Earth” (Fanon) were effectively dehumanized and heathenized, any amount of cruelty was sanctioned and acceptable.
And even as the “obvious” rules of American apartheid has been eliminated; the primary use of race today by groups like the Republicans, is to offer White Americans a real and false sense of entitlement; as the politicians and corporate captains pick their pockets. It works, for example; White parents don’t realize that by society’s suppressing and lowering of the academic standards for children of color in our public schools; the “ceiling” for achievement is lowered for all children regardless of color.

And so, my question and concern: The challenges we face are “deadly” serious; therefore, how can we afford distractions? We are sentimental, and I guess that is nice in its own way; but it can also get in the way. The majority of phenotypic Black Americans (those who “look” Black), can’t opt out of their oppression; and those Black Americans who are “passing”; must live in constant fear of discovery, and thus be subject to the collective dismissal and disenfranchisement shown to all of their people. But worst they must live a painfully inauthentic life; perhaps even being forced to listen (and grin) to racial slurs uttered by those (they wish to pass as) around them.

The struggle to affirm our humanity requires discipline, integrity and honesty. This work is not to be played with, lives and futures are at stake. And we should: “Tell no lies, and claim no easy victories”. I learned something from attending a majority white high school and college; I realized that whenever my fellow White students decided to “drop back” into society they would be welcomed with open arms. I on the other hand was never in, and would never be welcomed in; and would always be kept at arm’s length, away from full citizenship and human recognition… And to borrow from the title of a book authored by George Lamming: I must live, die, love, lose, survive and thrive “in the castle of my skin”!

THE REAL, ON THE REAL GRADUATION RATE…

I told a reporter once, when we were discussing this topic; that whoever finds and reports the “real” graduation rate for ________ school district, should automatically earn a Pulitzer!

Ok Mike, not to make excuses for Chicago (“Chicago Public Schools have been mislabeling dropouts, getting them off the books and out of the graduation rate. CPS now says it will stop the practice…”– NPR); but misleading (as in false), purposely obscure and confusing graduation rates, is a national school district: Standard Operating Procedure. And that would include the little known middle school dropout rate, because these students are not usually counted, if they are counted at all, until their cohort reaches the 12th grade. And, as bad as these graduation rates may appear, they are actually much, much worse! The reason school districts are very eager and adept at this art of deception; is the belief that journalist and politicians will just not invest the time and money in finding out the real graduation rate (they might actually be forced to do something about it!).

Also, even though students of poverty, and students of color are the most adversely affected by these huge (real) dropout rates, I think that even the general tax-paying public, finding out the real high school dropout rate, might be shocked and angered into demanding demonstrative change; if not for matters of morality, at least for that fact that a huge amount of their money is being wasted.

But, (sorry, I know I never make these things simple) the misleading dropout rate is only one-third of the graduation rate problem. A school district can offer multiple standards for gradation from: “I am on my way to college”; “I am prepared for some type of career and meaningful employment”; to the “digestive system” student: “I am just passing through to graduation by meeting middle school standards” (you know I had to throw in a little science!)

Further, the “fake” graduation rate would be reduced even more if students were honestly forced to meet true high school (any high school in America) standards. School districts maintain elaborate (and costly) systems of disingenuous “credit recovery” programs; where high school students can earn credits for classes they failed by attending some iteration (summer, afternoon, evening, weekends, etc.) of these programs; and in some cases whole schools have this approach as their school philosophy and procedures. The criteria for passing these classes: (1) the student shows up, and (2) the student has a pulse.

It helps that the students most adversely affected by this travesty, are the children of parents and communities that are the least organized politically to put a stop to this shameful system that is destroying their children. That is why in places like Chicago, they can close a historical percentage of schools, and then be on the verge of bankruptcy! How does this happen? There is just no one Black or White who knows what questions to ask (or they do, and are not asking them!); or, even know if any questions should be raised at all.

But the good news on US graduation rates (I wanted to end on an upbeat tone); is that colleges and business employers, offer public schools a subsidy parachute, by providing high school “graduates” with the skills, and content knowledge that many of them should have learned in high school; and of course, the criminal-social service industry is always ready to pick up the rest of those dream denied young dropouts.

The NYPD recruitment of Black Officers: It is very hard to find what you are not looking for!

“NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton says it’s hard to hire black cops because too many have criminal histories”—NY Daily News

Mr. Bratton and I have the opposite problem. Around the house, I usually can’t find what I am looking for; and in his case he can’t find what he is not looking for. As a former NYC principal I can assure you that there are plenty of Black and Latino young people who are capable and eligible for any type of civil service career. It is just a matter of identification, encouragement, cultivation and preparation.

The cynical Irony of this entire scenario, is that the NYPD along with our Borough District Attorney’s offices are systemically structured to nail young Black and Latino men and women who can’t afford bail even if they are innocent, and then they often “plea out” to a felony charge, with less, little or no jail time; however that decision makes them ineligible, if not unattractive for any type of meaningful employment (civil or otherwise). In a cruel sense, it is policing policies that are creating the very problems that they claim are preventing them from diversifying their ranks. Now, Work with that awhile!

WHAT A REAL RECRUITMENT EFFORT LOOKS LIKE…

Mr. Bratton only need to travel a few miles north to West Point, or take a day trip to Annapolis; to get some ideas.

The U.S. Military Service Academies have made a serious commitment to diversify their ranks while maintaining their standards for admission, and with no use of a quota system. In particular the Navy has opened its bases, the academy itself, aircraft carriers and even nuclear submarines to minority student visits (I know because I took students from Phelps on these trips). The office of naval research opened its underwater robotics lab to a group of minority students from Phelps, and also was a major sponsor of the Phelps Robotics team. The Navy also conducts a summer program at the Academy for high school students (I had students take advantage of this also) Most important the Navy has assigned specific personnel to do strategic outreach information and recruitment sessions (and it is real solid outreach, not for show public relations stuff!) Everyone I have spoken to including retired Black naval officers agree that these outreach efforts have been successful!

The big difference here is organizational culture, which feeds intent (or lack of). Institutions like the Navy see diversity as part of their strategic mission to defend the nation; and of course, they see Black and Latino Americans as part of that nation! And unless our police departments across this nation adopt that cultural posture; to see people of color as citizens worthy to be served and protected. And to not see Black and Latino communities as areas to be conquered and controlled, they will always fail in the area of recruitment. For what military force, para or full, would want to recruit the enemy?

DEAR JASON, 3 INSTRUCTIVE THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM OUR MOMS WITHOUT KNOWING OR LIKING IT.

Dear Jason, thanks, and to your question concerning the article: “3 destructive things you learned in school without realizing it”. Beyond the fact that the “destructive things” mentioned have everything to do with schools reflecting the societal values and principles in the national environment in which they exist. It makes sense that the writer’s high school promoted a materialistic, market driven (the selling of the self), selfishness culture. And as we are told by anthropology, “culture is perfect”, and perfectly all-encompassing. A school can, on its own, only valiantly push back against the twisted virtues of a system that says capital gains is more important than what people gain from the educational experience.

But more importantly beyond the technical flaws in the article. I have read several of these “anti-high school” missives; and in fact commented on one that is very popularly making the rounds on social media (“Things I never stopped learning because of High School”… http://majmuse.net/?p=1941

First, a bit of Caribbean Mom wisdom I received as a child. I was always taught (and did not fully appreciate when I was young): That just because a parade is coming down the street, it does not mean you must jump in! Find out who is leading the parade, and where they are leading it. I was also taught to be suspect of those who by the virtue of the color of their skin, enjoy the power of forgiveness, a network of connections; an enfranchised and “special conditions” life experience in America.

As a youngster, I hated to be told that: “I had to be twice as good, and three times as careful, then my White school mates”. This rule severely struck my “fairness nerve”. But I must admit, the elders of my youth who although lacking college degrees, were not lacking in common sense; they were on to something about America that was true. As a person of color my: Right and legitimacy (regardless of credentials) to hold a leadership position, will always be constantly challenged and under attack (See Mr. Obama). I would go further to say that a smart young Black man, like yourself, is in reality, the most dangerous (and in danger) person in America. (And not the stereotypical “hoodlum” whose lack of a high school education, and self-destructive behavior, feeds an ever hungry criminal justice industry.)

And so, as I was instructed, so I went on to instruct (you) and thousands of others. You probably still remember my: “Life is not fair!” speech. All of this to say you may indeed find many personal examples of where a high school staff person did not perform their job admirably, or even in a professional competent manner. And as entertaining as these: “My high school did not prepare me (failed me)” stories may be, they can’t compete with the real sociological-economic data. There is an undeniable correlation (by grade) between high school completion, and potential earning power over the course of a lifetime!

For the children of color, for those children of any color who are trying to break out of the cycle of poverty. I say approach these stories with skepticism. Each life is different, and some lives in America are very different from others. We know nothing of the families, social and economic fences that surrounded these “anti-high school” writers. What was their inheritance (social and financial), who gave them a break, who opened a door at the right time for them?

Young folks should not be deceived; public education (with all of its flaws) is still the most efficient and effective journey one can take to improve the quality and positive productivity of one’s life. For the disinherited of our society, a high school education is not their enemy; and I would be very suspicious as to the motives of those who say, and advise otherwise. At the very least, I trust my mother over them!

What part of this excerpt from a newspaper article, do the affected parents and politicians not understand?

“The number of students taking the test for District 23 kindergarten classes, which includes schools in Brownsville, Brooklyn, increased from 78 last year to 94 this year. But as in previous years, too few kids qualified to open a single gifted class in four of the city’s 32 school districts, including Districts 7 and 12 in the Bronx and Districts 16 and 23 in Brooklyn.”

I wonder if Black and Latino parents (and their elected representatives) fully comprehend the implications of the above statement? How about this: Open the same amount of G & T classes in all 32 school districts? I can hear it: “it can’t be done”. But, between 2000-2003 we opened our own district funded G&T classes in CSD 29! And for those who say there are not enough G & T children* In places like Districts 7, 12, 16 and 23; well I found plenty as a high school principal!

*Really not sure what that means, since all children are gifted and talented in some way or another. The only question then is the modality (how it is expressed), the degree of discovery and development. In any event in the case of “G & T” kindergarten entrance evaluations; we are in fact testing the parent’s level of education, english language mastery, “pushiness”, awareness of how the system works, and their access to information and financial resources!

NY Daily News; 5/27/2015. “Public school students will learn this week if they were picked for coveted gifted programs”… http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/city-reveal-students-chosen-coveted-gift-programs-article-1.2238023?fb_action_ids=10205007427440519&fb_action_types=og.shares