The Laquan McDonalds of this nation face the official Macroaggressions of Despair and Death

“For a moment, lying on the ground, he moves but then is still after he appears to be shot several more times. An officer kicks an object away from his body. The video shows none of the officers on the scene offering assistance to the teenager, Laquan McDonald…” –NY Times 11/25/15

This does not seem to ever end, even as the animal hunting seasons have a beginning and an end. And if not for an independent journalist (note the word “independent”) and the act of a fair judge; we may have never seen an indictment of the murderer. One watches the video and wonders: “What could the prosecutor be looking for, that would take a year?” We have reached the point where for Black Americans, your only shot at justice (after you are murdered) is if there is a video record, and even then, as in the case of Eric Garner murdered in Staten Island, there are no guarantees.

For many people in this nation the terror they fear the most is not somewhere in a Middle East country, a terror that is led by a group of crazy religious misinterpreters. At the very least, these fatal ISIS fanatics follow a “non-discrimination” clause in their murderous behavior. Most Americas are still not aware (and not being told) that the vast majority of the victims of ISIS are Muslims.

What Black young Americans, must face inside of the US is the ongoing terror of life in their head, hearts, homes, the potential for terror just outside their door. They must duck the official organized terror of society, and the deadly fratricidal terror the society has organized in the minds of other hopeless young men, who look and live hopelessly, like them. They are driven mad by the daily weight of bearing the daily terror of psychological and social suffering, brought on by joblessness, poor physical and psychological healthcare, inadequate and ineffective educational systems that offer no way out of their terror filled lives; their mis-education only prepares them for a future terror of hopelessness (and the only option is to inflict their hopelessness on themselves, and on those around them). If young Black people don’t have a chance to survive on a street, or a classroom, then what chance do they really have?

No amount of training, no matter how well-meaning and professional is going to rid the heart of hate. And what critical number of “bad apples” must fall off the tree before we say that there is a systemic problem of institutional racism deeply secured in the cultural roots, trunk and branches of the tree? And so I ask (And I will keep asking, while we wait for hearts to change): “What are the areas in society where we can take control of, right now, to affirm and protect the present humanity, and the future positive possibility of our young people?”

The steep teaching-learning curve that Bernie Sanders faces in explaining “Socialism” to America.

Let us first lay out a few (25) “learning challenges” that exist in the general population:

1) The # of people who think that it is ok to give a professional football team a name that is derogatory to, and disrespectful of Native Americans.

2) All of the people who live in towns with only one traffic light; who recently called their congressperson because they feared that Syrian refugees were coming to blow up their one traffic light.

3) The number of Americans who believe that it makes more economic and social sense to incarcerate young Black and Latino kids, then to invest half of that money, and reduce the level of public pain, by properly educating them.

4) The amount of folks in places like Alabama; who have not come to the realization that the Right-wing only wants woman to have children; but then they enact laws and policies that psychologically and physically kill children.

5) Those Tea-Party recipients of: Social Security, VA benefits and Medicare who were chanting that they want the: “government out of their lives!”

6) The huge number of local, state, and national civil servants, and skilled professionals, who think that “undocumented” people are coming across the Mexican border to take their jobs.

7) The number of former high school students in this nation, who either: flunked, were absent, cut class, or they were sitting in the dean’s office when world geography-history topics were covered; thus they have no idea where places like: France, Lagos, Iran, Mali, Syria, Jordan, Greece, Belgium, etc. exist on the world map. (And forget about the historical-cultural literacy about these places)

8) And the other former student in an American history high school class who either avoided, or got completely wrong, the: “Explain, giving examples of: the origin, policies, personalities and programmatic objectives and outcomes of The New Deal” essay question.

9) All of those Republican Presidential polling participants who put Messrs. Trump and Carson in the lead positions.

10) The percentage of people who believe that there is widespread voter fraud, such that Black voting rights must be legally and statutorily suppressed.

11) The number of Americans who believe that Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush really care about Syrians, Christian or otherwise; and not their own selfish political agenda.

12) The number of people who don’t question the male civic, political, and faith-based leaders, who are unfaithful husbands; and yet they are leading the movement for “traditional marriage”.

13) The # of people who don’t know that the 9-11 hijackers entered the US utilizing standard travel visas and passports. And in fact the US refugee resettlement program is a very robust and multilayered screening program; and the path (because of the length of time and the intensity of review) that would be the least useful to ISIS or AL-Qaeda terrorist.

14) The entire Fox News viewership…

15) The number of American citizens who are quick to say: “Thank you for your service”, to returning military men and women, and then show a tremendous disregard in areas of providing quality healthcare, housing and employment for them.

16) The huge unfortunate number of (soon to be disappointed) Black male teenagers who think they are going to: “Buy their momma a house, when they get to the NBA or NFL!” As opposed to utilizing their athletic and/or intellectual talents to get a real and meaningful college education and then: Buy their momma a house!

17) The # of people in many Republican states who say: “I don’t have no healthcare insurance”, but “I hate Obamacare” (Because the name Obama is attached to it!)

18) The number of Americans who are not: “doomed to repeat history”; because they never learned about things like the US Japanese-American internment camps, The Salem witch trails, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in the first place.

19) The # of Americans who can’t balance in their brains, the two non-conflicting ideas of having and appreciating effective and good policing; without having police brutality and police misconduct.

20) (A) The persistent large number of Americans who still believe that Mr. Obama is a Muslim. (B) The persistent large number of Americans who actually believe the underlying “given” presumption, that being a Muslim is actually a bad thing.

21) The percentage of Americans who think that Don Lemon is really a serious journalist; and that Raven Symone actually has something to say.

22) The number of male elected officials (including those with “incomplete” female anatomy and physiology information), who actually believe that they should be in control of women’s reproductive healthcare and rights.

23) The number of Black American citizens who continue to allow their children’s education to be deformed; by a never-ending parade of faux educational reform movements; after each unsuccessful exercise all you hear is: “just kidding” (“fool me once shame on you, fool me…”)

24) There is a very popular museum that displays exhibits where dinosaurs and humans are in the same time period. Places in this nation where the Common (to them) Core Curriculum is anti-intellectual, and reeks of terrible “invented history”; like slavery was a Confederate jobs program.

25) All of the people in America who don’t know the difference between Karl Marx and Groucho Marx. The difference between Communism and Socialism, Capitalism and Socialism, between a Liberal and a Conservative, between the Right and the far Right. (If John Boehner is a conservative, then who are the people who ousted him?) Bernie would probably need to explain why a great deal of what is labeled as “conservatism” by the intellectually lazy American news media, is in fact proto-fascism (And thus that raises the question: What is fascism?). An understanding of Democratic Socialism requires an explanation of both Democracy and Socialism; a very tall order in a so-called democratic society that is so comfortable with compromising the voting and civil rights of its Black citizenry. Don’t get me wrong, I admire Bernie’s high expectations; but there is just too much material he must cover, in so short a time period; and for an audience that is so easily distracted with the overwhelming noise of triviality. There is some discomfort that is associated with facing things as they truly are; and I am not sure how you successfully market discomforting truths as a political platform? In any event, good luck Bernie!

“Black Male Educators Are an Endangered Species”– By Stephen Jackson

Washington, DC — Over the past seven years, DCPS (DC Public Schools) stood as the epicenter of education reform. District residents have seen marked improvements. Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s Capital Commitment Campaign is in full swing and enrollment is steadily climbing. Most recently, Henderson with the mayor’s full support, announced the Empowering Men of Color initiative aimed at serving the population that has experienced the least amount of success, historically, in our school system. This is not only a strong statement acknowledging the District’s need to support Black and Latino men (in the same fashion they have every other subgroup in the city), it tells every household of color that their presence and existence is valuable and necessary to the foundation and diverse culture the city has grown to become. Ironically, DCPS has a major challenge: How to achieve the goals of the Empowering Young Males of Color initiative without having a solid and significant cohort of strong Black male educators?

Research shows that there is a strong link between the lack of male educators of color and the academic and behavioral performance of male students of color. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 1.7 percent of the nation’s 4.8 million public school teachers are Black men. The majority of Black boys never have the opportunity to be taught by someone who looks like them or to experience an African American male role model in their classrooms. Recently, the Albert Shanker Institute, a research think tank, endowed by the American Federation of Teachers released a report stating that they saw a drop in the number of Black teachers in nine cities including Washington, DC. According to the report, the largest drop of Black teachers took place in the district between 2003 and 2011. The percentage of White teachers more than doubled from 16 percent to 39 percent. Black teachers in the district dwindled from 77 percent to 49 percent. A 28 percent decrease in the number of Black teachers in a system that has over 67 percent Black students.

While DCPS and other school districts around the country fail to recruit, retain, and develop Black male teachers, DCPS also has another serious challenge: retaining and developing Black male administrators, which includes principals and district level leaders. Over the past 24 months, as the principal of the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, I have watched more than two dozen competent and capable African American male principals and central office supervisors leave DCPS under the current leadership. They include: 16 principals, 2 instructional superintendents, and 10 central office directors, managers and specialists. Unfortunately, most of the principals were replaced with White or Black females. A few were replaced with a Black male principal or an assistant principal that were already in the system. In addition, two Black male instructional superintendents were replaced with a Black female and a White male.

Black male administrators are disappearing in school districts like DCPS at extremely high rates. The “great White hope” syndrome has taken over urban school districts across the country, sending a message that male educators of color are not needed to properly educate and lead young men of color. New York City, Newark, New Orleans and other urban centers across the country are strong examples of this diseased phenomena in which Black male educators are disappearing and becoming invisible. The question is: Does DCPS leadership believe that it is necessary or particularly beneficial for children of color to be taught or led by educators of color? ‘If “Black lives matter,” how can the district successfully lead and turnaround urban school systems when Black men are absent and invisible?

The glaring lack of cultural competency at the executive level has taken over urban school districts across the country. Interestingly, there are no Black male educators in senior leadership on the DCPS Executive team- including Dr. Robert Simmons, Chief of Innovation and the leader of the EMOC initiative, the most recent district office leader of color to disappear. What is DCPS’s issue with retaining and developing Black male leadership?

In speaking with nearly all of the principals, instructional superintendents and department heads who left DCPS, a vast majority have cited a lack of respect for their opinion.

They shared their personal experiences of being pushed out or encouraged to seek employment elsewhere; others were terminated. Most of them left on their own accord. All expressed frustration and a lack of support from DCPS’s District level leadership. Each shared similar stories regarding the lack of interest from central office staff in supporting the truly effective practices to drive student support. Many Black principals reported being told that they are “going off the reservation” by district leaders when they strongly advocated for the schools they led. This was often given as a thinly veiled threat to the principal that their job was in jeopardy when they brought up issues around staffing, autonomy, equitable funding or even school readiness for August openings.

I recall in one of our Principal Leadership Academy meetings where Chancellor Henderson was excited about the new initiatives she had planned for the school year. In a most enthused and animated speech she told a room full of principals, “I charged my executive team to ramp it up. I challenged them to build a DCPS that they would send their children to!” Then she asked her leadership team to stand up; that’s when it hit me, there was not one Black male educator on her leadership team. As a matter of fact, there was not one person of color standing.

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, the 20th reunion of the Million Man March took place right here in Washington DC. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Reverend Willie Wilson, DC Councilman Vincent Orange and others gave powerful speeches that supported the million men on the mall. Additionally, Minister Farrakhan spoke about the importance of education and the role that Black men play in educating our children. It’s hard to ignore what is taking place in the District of Columbia with regard to Black male educators.

The lack of diversity in DCPS and other urban school districts has become a pervasive issue that few want to acknowledge or attempt to address. It has turned out to be the “elephant in the room” with regard to school improvement and turnaround efforts. There seems to be very little support for and confidence in the Black male educator. He is not valued nor seen as an asset. He is not given a platform or a voice to affect young men of color on a large scale. He is often overlooked and undermined. His greatest advantage is often used against him. In many cases, it’s the reason why he isn’t considered the “chosen one” when it comes to educating Black boys. The fact that he is an educator of color disqualifies him from being a part of the movement to empower young men of color. The irony is that the annihilation of the Black male educator is happening right here in Washington, DC. This is a major challenge that DCPS leadership must address. I implore DCPS to realize that losing African American teachers and administrators furthers cripples and marginalizes young Black men. Every effort must be made to hire, retain and develop Black men in school and district level leadership positions. We cannot empower them if we don’t hire them.

Stephen Jackson is the former principal of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School of Washington DC — the first public high school for African Americans. As a seasoned educational leader with over 30 years of experience, Jackson has been hailed at the local and national levels as a trailblazer in the education reform movement. Known for turning around tough schools with his keen eye for quality instruction, he has the uncanny ability to mobilize people with an inspiring vision. Follow him on Twitter at @sdjackson9

The Press Pushes For A Ground War….

And Mr. Obama wisely pushes back against press-profiteering…

Meanwhile: The French President declares war; but I did not hear anything about engaging ground forces! (And for good reason!) And now state governors engage in silly political posturing; stoking the ugliest anti-Islamic, anti- “colored people” sentiments that are always just below the American historical psychological skin-surface (“We should only take Christians refugees”: as if a person who could fake a passport, could not also fake being a Christian!) Leadership actually means leading, not following the most base, vile and thoughtless instincts humans have so far been unable to weed out of our genetic information file.

And so much for the “liberal bias” of those who work in the news media. Listening to the misleading “questions” offered up at the POTUS’s G20 press conference (complete with indigent cussing); seeking to make another US president engage in another misguided, misappropriate, and long-term destructive response to a terrible tragedy. The News media collectively (including PBS/NPR) is simply parroting the Republican talking points; trying to push the POTUS into a senseless and non-productive ground war in the Middle East. They all refuse to present the unique challenges of fighting a stateless suicidal apocalyptic force; the historical religious complexity of ISIS; and why the gulf nations, our “allies”, have not seriously engaged them. Maybe it is because as much as they don’t like ISIS and its tactics (like that family member over-drinking and behaving badly at Thanksgiving dinner), they hate the unwelcome to dinner apostate Shia more).

Beyond the monetary benefits of the public (customer) eyes on the screen and not on the ultimate prize of peace; from the news coverage of an expanded ground war; more is in play here. The words of Glen Greenwald are helpful here:

“The relevant distinction is not between journalist who have opinions and those who have none, a category that does not exist. It is between journalist who candidly reveal their opinions and those who conceal them, pretending they have none”

When the POTUS receives 4 “questions”, not seeking answers, but essentially offering to hold his coat, while they “cover the fight”; that’s not reporting, that’s advocating for business.

It would be nice if the news media pushed for our government to march into battle against US poverty and the devastating and debilitating effects it is having on many of our citizens; declare war on poor and inadequate education, and the large number of children of color who die intellectually, as they die physically. Get angry, upset and outraged at all of the American citizens who are forced to live out lives of the terrible terror of lost hope. Why not push the POTUS to declare and lead that war? Is it because, in the words of the great Bobby Womack: “But that’s not commercial”


I am praying for the French victims and their families, and no one can stop me!

Again seeing some troubling comments trending on social media. And I am wondering where all of the “Only Black Tragedies Matter” (OBTM) folks were when I was building educational institutions that made students matter (majority Black); and these institutions were being destroyed. I hope (even in my seniorhood) that I don’t ever depend on the amount of news media “coverage” to define my level of compassion and concern for other people. And who anointed FB, CNN, CBS, NBC, etc. as the standard for my response to human events anyway; I refuse to grant them that power!
And it will also be a sad day when I become so emotionally beaten down, that I want to take on the ugliest aspects of the oppressor; and that is caring only about those who look like me, worship like me, live where I live, speak my language, think like me. My goal is not to be, or to replace the custodial agents of evil, rather I want a new society, of new women and men, who can live in peace, and where everyone is able to realize their own full humanity.

There is no evidence I have that the recent French victims of terror, participated in any type of colonial activity in Africa; or that the terrorist were acting as pro-Black, pro-African, anti-colonialist actors of good will. These perpetrators of evil seem not to be concerned about the race and/or nationality of their victims (how does a suicide bomber acting in a crowed area, pick and choose his victims?) I think they would (and have) killed a Black person just as quickly as any other person. And I do hope that the OBTM groupies stayed awake long enough in their world history classes to know that a large percentage of the French Population is non-White!

It is hard for me to understand this idea that one innocent life taken violently is more important than another life; and why are we depending on the amount of news media attention (or what FB does) to set the standard that will determine our level of spiritual love and concern for others who are suffering. I just believe that we are truly lost, and have lost, when we take on the worst attributes and belief systems of those who are seeking to deny us our full humanity; my goal (sorry if you are disappointed former students) has never been to adopt the inhumanity of the inhumane actors of the world.

Perhaps my view is due to my experience as an educator where I always had students who were not Black. I have always loved these students, cared and fought for their success without any compromise, prejudice, or half-hearted effort. One letter I keep and cherish to this day, was written by a father from Bangladesh, who delivered the letter to me in tears, at his son’s graduation; one line touched my heart: “To be honest Mr. Johnson, when I first came to this school I did not know what to think; but I thank you for treating all of the children the same!”

I want a world where no one, regardless of color or nationality need fear that their life and safety will be taken from them by people who are evil. I want a world where all people can be educated and find their uniquely called meaning in life (or any who are left out will surely inflict pain on themselves, and on the world). And I am not waiting for “news coverage” to tell me when the suffering of others is painful for me; I just listen to the words of my own heart. And I don’t want to ever lose that ability, that compassion, even if I am the last person on earth to feel it.

When it comes to voting rights in Alabama, what does Christian love have to do with it!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”– John 13:34-35 (NIV)

The behavior of White Christian Republicans in Alabama helps me to understand better how even after the African slaves “converted” to Christianity in America; they were still held in brutal slavery. How the mostly Christian founding fathers could place such beautiful biblically inspired words into the documents that established this republic; and at the same time see no problem in keeping other members of the human family (many practicing Christians) in brutal bondage.

It is more clear now why the symbol of hateful heritage worship, as represented in the confederate flag, can coexist with the symbol of the cross; they see no contradiction between the two symbols. Here one can practice a kind of “social christanity”; that allows for a surface show of pretend piety, caned exhalations, belied biblical quotations, random spiritual references in public documents, insincere invocations and pretentious prayer at any public event opportunity.

The “pro-traditional family” Republican crowd; go to extreme efforts through the denial of support for the creation of a healthy childhood environment; the indifference to the economic depression that exist in concentrated Black communities of the state; an impoverished (low standards) state of education, that can only produce generations of poverty; the practice of solving high Black unemployment through medieval mass incarceration, thus making sure that many “traditional Black families” will suffer the most strains of devolving into chaos and dislocation. The act of Incarceration serving as a Black state social service agency, has an additional benefit of removing large numbers of the Black citizenry from the voting process!

And now we also play the game of: “Get a photo ID if you can!” Yes, these same White Republican social christians can make every effort to deny Black Alabamians (most of them fellow Christians!) access to the right to vote. It is a shameless state (and state) of a fraudulent religiosity, where Christians, Christian principles, and Christ need not apply without a picture ID!

Why am I not shocked by the behavior of that SC school resource officer; students of color face many forms of violence in our public schools every day.

“The authorities in South Carolina are investigating an encounter captured on two videos that went viral Monday afternoon that show a white school police officer in a Columbia classroom grabbing an African-American student by the neck, flipping her backward as she sat at her desk, then dragging and throwing her across the floor….” –NY Times 10/27/15

First of all the entire idea and rational behind having the position of a “school resource officer”; is that this is a person who by emotional make up and specialized training is supposed to be the kind of officer who can lower the atmosphere for violence and confrontation in a school. Students of color are often subject to daily incidents of psychological, educational and/or physical acts of violence in public schools (sometimes from other students, and sometimes from the adults in the building). A large part of what is wrong with underperforming schools is the high number of Instruction interruption events that take place over the course of a day. These disruptions actually add up to weeks and months of lost instruction time; negatively affecting for what is in many cases students who are already struggling academically. In too many schools students must struggle through a violent environment; and then sometimes by accident, try to actually learn something. A large number of adult acts of violence go unreported; at least the way the incident factually took place. Tragically, schools can have their own professional “wall” of staff silence when it comes to holding adults responsible for bad behavior; especially when there are no non-staff witness present (“Who are you going to believe us professional adults, or this kid?”) A Further sad note is the adult physical and psychological mistreatment of students is easier to perpetrate in the K-8 setting, as opposed to high schools. Unfortunately, younger students are often unable to advocate for themselves (the reason the parents of these students should be ever alert as to what is going on with their child in school!) These acts also often go unrecorded and not publicized; however in this one incident it was:

I find this so hard to watch….

This felony assault on this student, is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in a school. It was good that the students in the class exhibited a calmness, by not putting themselves in danger of this clearly disturbed officer; and yet they knew they had to record it. Five things that are critical for me here:

(1) I believe that how this incident was handled is probably a reflection of how students of color are treated in other parts of that school’s operation (academic expectations, course assignments, counseling, discipline procedures, etc.) The question for me is, how can we get parents and communities of color to be equally appalled and upset by the psychological-educational violence that is inflicted daily on their children.

(2) A student sitting in her chair; even one who is refusing to leave the room; is not a physical thereat to hurt anyone; and so a physical forced removal has no place here (and particularly the type of force used in this situation.)

(3) In every school there is “some adult person” in the school building who can get a student to “calm-down” and comply with a directive from an adult. As the student was just sitting, the school had time to get that person to intervene in this situation.

(4) The “arrest” of the student is not only part of the standard officer exoneration plan; it also speaks to how students of color are viewed and treated in that school. Since I think that it is the rare situation when a confrontation of this nature occurs and race is not a factor. One is forced to think how this non-violent “refusal to move”; may have been handled if the officer saw the “refusing” student as a human being, someone who could be his child, as citizen worthy of respect, honor and protection.

(5) I hope the parents get a good lawyer (to inflict serious monetary damages on that school district); and that lawyer consult with a retired school administrator to buttress their case that this is not the way to handle this type of situation; in fact it was handled in the worst possible way. No, I am not shocked by this (latest) incident; but I am shocked and saddened, by the fact that I can no longer be shocked.

Well, Good Luck With That Mr. President!

“President Obama defends Black Lives Matter movement…” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-barack-obama-defends-black-lives-matter-movement/

Well, good luck with this Mr. President! And I understand and appreciate that one of your job descriptions is to serve as Intellectual commander and chief of complicated ideas and concepts. But unfortunately we find ourselves in the age of anti-knowledge and counter (as in contrary, not covert) intelligence. And if the Republican presidential primary polls are to be believed, at least 50% of those polled, prefer a candidate who will offer them the most thoughtless, unimaginative, offensive and crude suggestions as to how our nation should be led. Unfortunately, starting off Mr. President, with a 50% class cultural-illiteracy rate, presents a unique set of challenges, even for the skilled educator and chief.
Further, I am sure that there are many White citizens who are part of the nations unemployed, the working poor, and the “one check loss, or one serious illness away from poverty” middle class; who (like many of us) are watching as 4+ million dollars of tax payers money is being spent on the (comical if it were not so costly): “Get Hillary Benghazi-Email” Political Action Committee (PAC), in-(silly)action. It really requires a large less-than-adequately informed segment of the electorate to pull that political scam off. And thus, an additional major teaching and learning hurdle for the Professor and chief.
We have the modern confederacy states, starving their schools of resources and rich learning content; avoiding high national standards; while at the same time introducing curriculum and supporting textbooks that are anti-factual in history courses, and anti-science in science courses. Not the best recipe for building an enlightened population, who can navigate and process complicated theories and ideas.

I just think, Mr. President, that the complex concept of: “Black Lives Matter”, is an intellectual bridge too far, for too many Americans. All Educators know that one of the hardest lessons to teach, is to get students to hold “two valid truths”, in their minds at the same time; without seeing them as statements of negation. The French Revolution was historically speaking a good thing; however there were also some things that emerged from that effort, that were not so good. The important ecological role of lions in nature of helping to control the overpopulation of wildebeest—a good thing; lions entering human habitats, and attacking humans a not so good thing. If we say we need to reduce the national rate of Black unemployment; it does not mean we want to raise White unemployment. And the call for: “equal pay, for equal work”, in behalf of American women; does not mean exploit the labor of men, and pay them less than women.

Saying that a special wrong requires a specialized response; sounds simple enough, but not so to the simple-minded; and the resistant to complicated information closed mind. Or, a mind that has been poisoned by centuries of a sense of racial entitlement. And then I can’t imagine; someone saying in response to the movement to save endangered elephants in the world: “Forget it, no, we should save all four-legged animals!” Or, interpreting the movement to save these endangered elephants; as a movement that is calling for the hunting and killing of all other animals. The “All Lives Matter” movement is, if we are to be honest, a nice way of saying that: “No, Black Lives Don’t Really Matter”; because the obvious general statement suggest that the specific statement is unnecessary; that it is a false concept, something, as the President alluded to, as something: Black folks just made up!

And that is why my diminishing tolerance for foolishness (along with my seniorhood, and how I now want to efficiently use the rest of my time); I won’t invest any time in trying to explain BLM to my White friends and colleagues; or to any, amazingly still confused Black person; who insist on equating the Black criminal element in the Black community, to that of the responsibility of those who are officially sworn to serve and protect that community. Black Lives Matter less because of systemic and pervasive societal racism. And that overarching cultural dismissal of Black lives, equally infects both Black and White citizens (Read Franz Fanon’s: “Black Skin White Masks”). I don’t know why people find it is so strange, that in a society that is so invested in undermining the value and humanity of Black people; people are shocked that Black people would want to kill other Black people! When a K-12 mis-education (and a distorted advanced formal education), has conditioned a Black person to look into a mirror each morning, and believe that they are looking at the image of their number one enemy in the world. Forget about the violent “gang-banger”, what about what we (non-gangbangers) allow to happen to our children in our public schools. The extent to which our public schools damage, and commit daily acts of intellectual and self-esteem violence inflicted on our children; that are in many ways the most severe, damaging and long-lasting examples of : “black on black” criminal-cultural-emotional violence.

The fact that a mere non-radical and non-violent call for the affirmation of Black American Life, is met with resistance, diversion and derision, alone speaks to what does, and does not matter in our nation. And there is something strange about petitioning those who would deny your personhood; when in fact your de-personalization enhances the quality of their entitled personhood. If you are forced to make a case for your humanity; I suspect that those who are denying that humanity, will not be moved. We need to (as we demand respect for our lives), also affirm and assert our own meaning and sense of mattering.

And we could start in a place that does not require the permission of others…. And that is taking control of the education of our children’s lives as if those lives mattered; by political force and affirmative resistance in public education (An educational rights movement!). And in our neighborhoods, civic, social, religious organizations, and homes by personal force. It would matter greatly, and greatly matter to their sense of mattering; if Black children could receive a quality and self-affirming education.

Charter Schools, a Choice for Black Parents?

“Why Don’t Suburbanites Want Charter Schools?” —Laura McKenna; The Atlantic Magazine; http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/why-dont-suburbanites-want-charter-schools/408307/

Probably because they prefer real choices for their children!

First, let me say I deeply respect those Black charter school parents, who are operating out of the best instincts and interests on behalf of their children. I have nothing but admiration for those parents, who are fighting with whatever weapons they can get a hold of, to save their children from the demoralizing ant-Black academic achievement public school systems of this nation. And in particular those parents who have come to understand that our public school systems, have neither a plan nor interest in providing an appropriate education for Black students who are either “on, or above grade level.” The world of public education is the opposite of NPR’s Garrison Keillor’s students who attend the mythical Lake Woebegone school district; as far as US public education is concerned all Black students are all incapable of high academic performance; and the tricky thing about education, is that you tend to get what you expect.

But I hesitate to call Black parents “choice” of charter schools, an educational choice in the way I understand the words: “education” and “choice”. While reading this article I wanted to at least start with a little honest vocabulary, and say: White communities and parents, instead of the, “nice”, safe and careful word: “suburbanites”! I fully understand that the average American (including journalist and commentators) would rather spend 5 minutes in the ring (or is it a cage?) with Ronda Rousey, then to have a painful, honest and authentic discussion about race and education in this nation. But on this topic, and others like it in education, “race” as a main discussion focus, is desperately needed. The fact that charter schools are presented as a “choice” for Black parents (Can we also be honest and agree to call Black kids: the “targeted population” of the charter movement?) is itself misleading. White parents (our “suburbanites”) may be actually choosing to pass on charter schools; but for sure the optional choice in Black communities to “select” these schools is not an example of a ground swell of affirmation that emerged naturally and independently from the Black community. It is in many ways like poor people without health insurance having “a choice” of receiving primary care in the hospital emergency room, or nothing; some choice!

And so when is a choice not really a choice in the full meaning of the word? What is an educational “choice” apart from an informed decision; without self-determined-defined-developed options? How does it feel to have a “choice” that is disconnected from power? To experience a “choice” that is in fact a result of a decision made outside of the Black community (“You can choose but you can only pick option A or B of two bad choices”?)
And let us not forget the racial apartheid that characterizes the profile of the funders and ownership class that controls charter schools; and how does that reality affect the cultural and self-esteem needs of the children and the community where they live. The charter school movement leadership; seems to in many ways to mirror the racial makeup of public education’s ‘reform’, and ‘anti-reform’ uninformed folks in the traditional public school system. In an interesting way the limited choices Black parents are forced to make, reduces them and their communities to live in a culture of constant compromise; never really being able to practice and project their true humanity; to affirm their parental ideas as to what they think their children need. And perhaps, if given a real choice Black people, may in fact choose charter schools, but that is not what is going on here; the real choices are only being made by the “suburbanites”!

Why don’t we call charter schools what they truly are; beyond their commercial importance in a slowly recovering economy. They sadly represent a surrender, a failure and a cowardly choice on the part of our political, education and civic leaders to confront, and dispense with a public education system that fails children of color by maintaining the primacy of adult employment and happiness in our public schools. Why can’t we get rid of restrictive and anti-academic rules and regulations, right now in our public schools, and save millions of children, right now! Why can’t Black parents have the political power to insist that their schools not become liberal carpet-bagging training centers for drive by educational saviors, on their way to lucrative consultant contracts and “suburban” school districts? Why are the schools that serve the poor and children of color allowed to be essentially controlled by labor-organizations (who generously fund and own politicians) that treat public schools as if they were some type of factory producing inanimate “widgets”; rather than a place that is charged with nurturing future animated and willing human being that we care about? Why can’t Black educators and communities have a say in what is the best ways to educate their children; why can’t they have a say like “suburban parents and communities”?

Over the years I have seen so many examples of this false educational choice made by Black parents: theologically committed Baptist and Methodist sending their children to Catholic parochial schools; Black parents living down the block from a low-performing public school, scraping together their very limited resources to send their child to a private school; and finally the latest growing wave of Black Homeschoolers; who are trying to save their children from both charter and traditional public schools. When will these people really have a choice, like their White counterparts, to just send their child to the neighborhood school knowing that they will be safe, academically challenged and cherished as essential human beings?

My experience as a teacher, principal and superintendent has taught me that Black parents, like most parents are pretty much focused on the bottom lines of:

-“Is my child safe?”
-“Can my child learn and progress academically in this school?”
-“Is the school committed to high standards and high expectations?”
-“Is my child’s success a requisite priority in this school”
-“Do the adults who are in charge of the district, and those who work in the school honor, and really care about my child?”

Missing from the list; and something I have never heard in more than three decades in public education, from either Black or White parents is: “I wish for my child to be turned into a commodity and sacrificed on the altar of conservative political expediency, and educational entrepreneurship!” “That the only way to improve a school is to close it!” Or, “that my child should be the product of the never-ending policy and organizational churn (masquerading as reform) that characterizes public education in communities of color.
I think that Black children, parents and communities, could really stand a long period of absence of both liberal and conservative “educational reformers”; whose political wars continues to leave huge numbers of an entire population of young people firmly in the classroom to cell block pipeline. I tell parents that if either a liberal or conservative walks into a room and says: “I want to help your kids”—Duck and Run!

Black parents want what suburban parents enjoy–the ability to choose a good option for their child. Or the choice between two good options, like a TAG program and a very rich non-TAG school program. The real choice between a specialized-magnet school; and a really good neighborhood school! And this real choice (if we chose to make that choice possible) could exist without the need to create a brand new school system; that has even less accountability, then the first school system; and is based on a profit motive; after all, based on recent events, it is not like the business community has such a stellar record of achievement! And if you can only produce modest gains by skimming children of the most active and aware Black parents; by removing “troublesome” and low performing students; excluding large numbers of ELL and special education students; then clearly this latest experiment in “privatization” is not the answer.

There are some very good reasons that public education in any society, is not a profit making enterprise, and that is because the education of a society’s young people is viewed as an investment in the future. When we as a nation (well, at least large numbers of us) decide that Black children have a place and role in the future success of this nation; there will be an end to wasteful and non-productive experimental projects; that in the end always seem to leave some people in our society a little richer; while at the same time leave the children and parents of color with a lot of impoverished hope.

“Triangulation” as the strangulation of sound and principle thinking.

Hillary Clinton’s decision to support a no-fly zone in Syria…

“Hillary Clinton is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems,” Obama said at a news conference at the White House. “But I also think there is a difference between running for president and being president.” –Mr. Obama is being extremely generous and gracious here; “half-baked” would be granting her plan too much credibility.

Let’s see what we have so far. One won’t allow a Muslim to be President; one (living only to Cruz to bruise) would shut-down the government, and defy the Supreme Court, if he does not get his way; another will round up all of the Mexican undocumented men, women and children (he describes as: drug dealers, rapist and murderers—yes all of them!) and ship them back to Mexico! And now we have the John McCain-Lindsey Graham school of international politics (let’s just arm anybody, and go to war with anybody!) inspired plan for creating war with Russia. This presidential campaign has opened the door to so much reckless posturing, racism, anti-immigrant “scape-goat” mongering, rank opportunism, and the most un-presidential positions imaginable being taken.

There must be a better way to select a person for what is one of the most important jobs in the world! Unfortunately this political theater (dare I say comedy), plays well to the vast don’t know, don’t want to know, “short answers” requiring public. The dishonesty of some politicians, and the intellectual laziness of journalist; to keep insisting that the more than a thousand (yes 1,000+!) of “Anti-Assad” groups fighting on the ground are easily and clearly divided into Islamic extremist; and those “pro-American” groups and fighters advocating for a democratic Syria. Nothing, could be more disingenuous and disconnected from the truth. And even further, the Ignoring of a major “fact on the ground”; that a primary factor in this conflict (A proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia) in Syria, is a centuries old war as to how to define Islam; and we should step into that?

The POTUS is correct to not go for this right-wing (and now HRC wing) fiction that we can just wade into what is both a complex and contradictory war zone, and magically make it right. Here Mr. Obama is taking the right approach: Stay focused on: (1) The removal of Assad; and (2) the degrading and destroying of ISIS. Unlike our “allies” in the region like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who both prefer to fight the people who are effectively fighting ISIS!
Let Mr. Putin dig his own second Afghanistan. Russia’s last big adventure in the region ended really badly; with the loss of a great deal of money, credibility and the lives of a lot of young Russian soldiers (Estimates range from 33-38 thousand killed and approximately 35,000 wounded!) Let him overextend his material and military resources between Syria and the Ukraine, even as his national economy disintegrates; let’s see how that will work for him, after Russia is forced to ration Vodka!

Meanwhile back at home, we need a principled grownup like Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren to save us from having to make a choice between a Dumb and Dumber candidate for POTUS.