I wish they would really stop it….. (with the half story telling)

 

Perhaps there were some “management missteps”; but a system that creates and encourages a crazy and destructive school culture, should share some of the sword.

 

“Stuyvesant Principal, Now Retired, Mishandled Cheating Case, Report Says” 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/31/nyregion/stuyvesant-principal-now-retired-mishandled-cheating-case-report-says.html?ref=education&_r=0

  

               The truth is that Stuyvesant (and Bronx Science) parents exert a great deal of unnecessary pressure, power and intimidation on the NYC Board (and now dept.) of Education. Parents of majority Black and Latino schools don’t enjoy the same level of attention, concern and commitment to their children’s success. A teacher from one of those schools once told me that a teacher better be prepared to vigorously “defend” any grade lower than an “A”. I remember when the knowledge of  a Science Skills Center H.S.  advance robotics lab became known, (our robotics team became legendary and was recognized by Dean Kamen Founder of the FIRST Robotics Competition (http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus/founder)  both Stuyvesant and Bronx Science parents (and staff) insisted that they also get  a state of the art robotics labs. There is a great deal of “unnatural” pressure on these students to gain entrance to Ivy League and “top tier” universities. This pressure bleeds over,  and distorts the cultures of these two schools. Our primary objective as educators should be to grow ethical human beings, with strong academic skills that will allow them to put that ethical outlook into practice. I like academic intensity, and I admired their Science competition prep program. I also definitely like strong “parent push”(unlike great Black and Latino high schools); these two schools will never be “downgraded”; they were strong academically when I was going to high school in the 60’s and they remain academically strong to this day; but these two schools can benefit from an educational philosophy/cultural makeover; that would push the meaning of school beyond, only scoring high on standardized exams.

 

Parents, Sign Your Children Up For Camp Inequality..

“……The camps started five summers ago, with thirty kids; this summer, he says, there are six hundred a week. They’re put on by LINX, a Wellesley company that also offers enrichment classes during the school year. LINX offers more than thirty camps, focused on topics like science, moviemaking, and theater. For about six hundred dollars a week, parents get weekly e-mails from their children’s counselors and reports measuring their kids’ progress on a variety of metrics—from jump shots to progress at building a car to success at being a community member. Mr. Schiering says that a lot of cost of the programs goes into hiring instructors who are not just leaders in their fields but are proven at boosting kids’ morale. Brian Scalabrine, a former member of the Boston Celtics, is the head coach of the basketball program….” From the article: The Day-Camp Boom  by Avery Johnson; The New Yorker; August 26, 2013

 

 

         The often missed role of a quality out-of-school  informal learning experience in supporting academic achievement; is placing a lot of children purposely, in a disadvantaged state. A further example that the so-called “Achievement Gap” is artificially created and maintained. I will never forget what a  Downstate Medical Center White Physician/Researcher/Professor “accidently” revealed to me many years ago. The Science Skills Center (SSC) held summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enrichment programs at several sites in Brooklyn (IBM-Brooklyn, Pratt-School of Engineering; Brooklyn Union Gas and Con Edison). These programs placed young Black and Latino students (elementary-high school) in direct contact and under study with STEM professionals at the places where they worked. This program also allowed students to see, admire and be inspired by STEM professionals who look like them. At the Downstate Medical Center site students were able to study a full range of medical specialties. One of the highlights of the program (and I still can’t believe that the brave and wonderful Downstate President Donald Scherl allowed this; and I can’t believe I asked!); students were allowed to spend one of their rotations in anatomy/physiology/pathology, actually being able to see and touch cadavers; there were many exciting moments during those summers; like the time the students were able to observe an open heart surgery being performed). But it was in one of the MD-PhD  research labs that I received my: “moment of truth”, from a very unguarded and honest White physician. She was one of the top Downstate instructors that president Scherl insisted be part of the program (he, Dr. Deas and I all agreed that we would not waste our, or the university’s time if this program was to be just the standard: “dog and pony” tour.) After the professor in question led, (with the help of her graduate students) the SSC students through a scientific research exercise; she pulled me aside to first express how “smart”, “attentive” and “Intellectually hungry” the students were; no problem, I got this a lot from many different instructors at all of our summer program sites. But then she said something very different, and very interesting (at the time I only revealed this: “close your mouth moment”, to 2 people with whom I had a personal trusting relationship; Drs. Blackstock and Deas) The professor said: “If I knew this program was going to be this educational, comprehensive and exciting; I would have put my children in it”. I have spent many years thinking about what she meant by that statement; and perhaps I will never know; because I am only left with a lot of questions like: “What about the program led you to believe that it would not be “educational, comprehensive and exciting”? One can only speculate (and could misconstrue) what is truly in another person’s heart; I only know that many Black staff persons at Downstate (MD’s, nurses, allied health professionals, administration, security, and maintenance workers) did put their children into the program; and to this day none have expressed any regret for having done so. I thought about the SSC summer medical program as I read this article. One cannot deny the reality that after the 1963 march on Washington many of the walls of public discrimination have come down; but I am haunted by the words of that professor; and the thought that we have missed the big opportunity and picture, by not strengthening our capacity to provide our young people with the experiences, exposure and skills that would truly integrate them into positions of power and positive creativity in service to our society. People have inquired: “with all of the setbacks and disappointments you have experienced (i.e. 2 great STEM public high schools built from scratch, only to see them down(de)graded; the elimination of dynamic elementary and middle school STEM programs in CSD29); why are you staying with this theme of “empowerment through formal and informal STEM education”? Perhaps it is in part because I am constantly reminded, on purpose or by accident by powerful people, in person and in articles that they understand that this is the best approach to the passing on of a powerful and success orientated personality to their children.  But most important I am inspired, and held captive by the hope that if we give young people a chance, they can indeed eliminate any gap, real or imagined. In fact, the gap will be between them and the rest of the world. That’s my hope, and that’s my belief, and I am sticking with it!

 

 

The British Parliament and NYC Voters Not Going For The “Okey-doke”*

               One group blames it on the “legacy of miscalculations and mistakes” in Iraq; another group blames it on a teenager’s Afro. Whatever the rational, two sets of folks seem to be determined not to be: “…had, took, hoodwinked, tricked, bamboozled and led astray” by the absence of facts. The British Prime Minister went into parliament fully empowered by the “word” and power of the leader of the former colony, and now close ally, America. But the fiercely independent and outspoken (You must at least once, watch the British Parliament in session on CSPAN; what a dynamic political show!), Parliament said: “don’t even try it!” The truth is, that places like Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t lend themselves to simplistic questions; that then could be resolved and answered with simplistic answers. Cultural Literacy Education (of course!) is required here. The intellectually lazy analysis (and news reporting) that speaks of “moderates”; “pro or anti-western forces”; “Liberals-Conservatives”; “democrats vs. anti-democrats“, are incapable of helping the U.S. and its allies in properly organizing sound operational principles in a very dynamic and volatile region. The complex historiography of this region; including the ethnic, religious mess created by colonialism’s artificial creation of nation-states **; requires a fuller appreciation for who is fighting (and backing) who, and why. And, as sad and difficult as this may sound, the people of that region may need to engage in their own social/historical development, without the disruptive intervention of the west. For example, the repressive leadership in Iran “plays” the US as the existential threat to the nation; this as a way to not be forced to respond to the growing internal request for social-economic and religious change desired by their people. And of course, we cooperate by playing the “arch-enemy” of the nation of Iran. Mr. Obama must be wisely suspect of the right-wing “coat-holders”, like Lindsey Graham and John McCain who are pushing the POTUS into an ill-advised “face-saving” action that has every possibility of making a bad situation, much worse. A big question (clearly observed by the majority of the British Parliament): Why didn’t the Arab League call for military intervention? Surely the Arab led nations would have seen those same terrible pictures of Syrian victims, along with the rest of the world. And I suspect that Arab nations (on both sides of the conflict), with their “connections” on the ground, are fully aware as to who is truly responsible for this horrible human rights violation. How many times have we gone off on a mission to simply “do something”, and then think about the after-effects, after. The US by virtue of its powerful status in the world; and its seat on the UN security council, must “do something”; the point is, to do something meaningful, productive, ethical and smart.

        Meanwhile in NYC, it would appear that garnering the endorsements of three major NYC papers was not able to propel the mayoral campaign of Ms. Christine Quinn into the lead. It seems that the citizens are refusing to be “herded” into a Bloomberg 2.0 mayoralty. Perhaps people now realize that imperial, arrogant and dismissive rule are not good leadership qualities. When democracy can be purchased, perhaps it becomes devalued. Whatever one thinks of Mr. de Blasio he seems to be a man who at the very least is in love with spoken suggestions, not just the sound of his own opinionated voice; and he expresses a vision, beyond and unlike Mr. Bloomberg’s fascination with his own reflection in the mirror.  He is, at least open to the idea that just taking the “easiest”, most anti-democratic and demeaning path to crime solving is not the only way; maybe (if we give it some thought) we can reduce crime, while at the same time, not make large residents of NYC live in fear of arbitrary and disrespectful treatment by those who have sworn to protect, and respect them. I am hoping that if Mr. de Blasio gets elected he can also overturn the tremendous damaged done to NYC’s public education system; where the majority of children under Bloomberg’s  leadership, are in grave danger of being stopped and frisked, and yet don’t have the opportunity to experience a stop in commercialized mis-education, and be free, and empowered to learn.

 

 

*trick

**Study Notes: An excellent book on the deleterious, and long term devastating effects of colonialism on “developing” countries; written by a brilliant scholar; Dr. Walter Rodney: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

I Really Wish That Black College Athletes Who Play For These “Big Money” Universities; Would Wake up and Smell The Reality.

Johnny Manziel Suspended For First Half Of Texas A&M vs. Rice For ‘Inadvertent’ NCAA Rule Violation…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/johnny-manziel-suspended-ncaa-texas-am_n_3832310.html

  

 

What the heck is a ½ game suspension?  Growing up I never heard of (or received) a “½ spanking!” The games people play with the people who play in the: National Conspiracy to Accumulate Assets (NCAA).

 

I Really Wish That Black College Athletes Who Play For These “Big Money” Universities; Would Wake up and Smell The Reality; they should know:

 

  • The NCAA does not exist to create and/or to protect and promote student athletes.
  • The NCAA disciplinary system is inconsistent, hypocritical, racially discriminatory, arbitrary, and yet is very well structured to maximize (when possible) the playing time of its most marketable athletes.
  • College Sports is about Business and not about sports. Therefore,
  • It provides huge financial benefits to a lot of folks (the networks, the products producers (hats, shirts, water bottles, pennants, etc.), the universities, the college alumni-giving-fundraising office, and a cast of industries and people dependent on college sports.
  • In the present system you are a commodity, a product, a tool, an expendable means to generate these huge profit making entities. Therefore,
  • Except for a few ethical coaches, your health, psychological well-being, your gaining  a meaningful educational experience that will allow you to make a living if you are one of the majority of college athletes who will never see the inside of a professional sports locker room, unless you are there as a reporter, or as a cleaner.
  • You will be convinced that “if you want to go pro”, you must sacrifice your health, your access to a meaningful and future marketable free college education; you will be told that you have very few choices; but you must maintain the power to create a positive outcome for your own life, and your own future.
  • You are essentially an unpaid professional; who is expected to exhibit all of the expectations of a paid professional (i.e. practice time, study (plays) time, and conditioning, etc.). You are building wonderful libraries and science labs for which you will probably never enter during your 4-5 year college experience.
  • If you engage in any illegal or  immoral behavior that interferes with the NCAA or the University’s  ability to make money because it harms their capacity to positively brand and market the “sport”; you will be replaced by one of the ten (essentially equally) talented young athletes who are waiting to take your place.
  • The people who look like you, the community where you may have grown up, the HBCU’s in your home state will gain the least financially from this unpaid exploited “professional” athletic system.
  • The “Noise”: Mass adulation, cheering fans, “back-slapping gifts” from alumni; is conditional and temporary. The “attention” given to you for exhibiting “good” behavior; is not about building good character, rather it is to keep you eligible to play.
  • Program “fillers” courses, and silly made up majors are designed to give you the maximum time to practice, spend time in the weight room, and to assist in maintaining your academic eligibility. The “tutors” who “help” write your assignments and papers will disappear once you cease to be a marketable (payable) commodity; and they surely will not follow you into the “real” world, once your playing days are over. Professors, supervisors and other authority figures you encounter after your playing days will not follow an unwritten rule of giving you a pass no matter the quality of your work. If you are confused to the point that you refuse to even pretend you are a student, and do no work, the college will be forced to place you on academic probation.
  • You should keep your head (your “mother wits”) above the artificial, made-up world in which you now exist; stay in a place of doing what is right and just, find a spiritual center, cling to it, and move only from that point of reference. Love and care for yourself.
  • Starting in High School, gather a circle (encircling) team of trusted adult advisors around you; A group that holds your future wellbeing as the priority; folks who don’t look to financially benefit if you turn pro!  This team could include your parents/family members, a religious leader, a high school educator/ mentor, the family doctor; and should definitely include an Attorney. Don’t meet any college recruiter or coach alone.

And the powerful possibility of shifting the present reality:

  • Finally, (and this is my “hope-stretch”/Dream point) Think about attending a HBCU. I know and heard the big “Psyche-Sell”: “if you don’t play for____________; you won’t be seen by pro-scouts.” I think that the networks are so focused on making huge financial profit, that they will “follow” the “best athletes” to the newly empowered teams and conferences; the professional leagues will seek to recruit the best athletes, wherever they are.  Most important, you will be immersed in an environment where the interest in helping students who look like you to graduate, is actually an institutional mission. Given a serious educational experience; there is the opportunity for you to be prepared for a successful life after a professional sports experience; or if that professional experience is interrupted by injury (or just being cut); or if you never get to the professional level. But whatever you decided; heed the instructions given before a boxing match: “protect yourself at all times!”

 

One Good Reason to Invest Time and Money in Closing the “Informal” Learning Gap.

 

Five Reasons Not to Love D.C.’s Olympic Bid……….. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2013/08/27/five-reasons-not-to-love-d-c-s-olympic-bid/

     “….The nonprofit behind the current effort is called DC 2024, and it has at least one prominent D.C.-area supporter: Washington Pigskins owner Dan Snyder, who said in a statement, “We look forward to assisting the Washington Olympic Committee in presenting the nation’s capital and fabulous surrounding region to the Olympic sporting world. We are fortunate to have most of the venues needed in an internationally recognized city that is accustomed to staging high-profile events….”

 

     What I have learned over the last 5 years: This is a classical DC (Disconnected Consciousness) unreality move. Is there any appreciation of the scope of responsibility connected with serving as a host site for an Olympics? Have these folks ever attended an Olympics? Is there any thought to the idea that the leadership role of the racially insensitive and boldly dismissive owner of Washington’s NFL team; makes this Olympic hosting bid, at the very least, controversially flawed? There seems, in this town, to be a “numbness”, a resigned acceptance to corrupt, inadequate and inappropriate leadership qualities. I suggest that this committee invest their time and money into a project that would have a real positive impact on the future of the city; and, it could actually be pulled off! Invest in creating a first (class) place “informal learning” educational system in a city that houses the highest national concentration of wonderful and exciting informal learning institutions (a small sample: http://www.museumlink.com/washindc.htm). So many children in this city live in the shadow of a giant-wonderful “informal” classroom; so close that their hungry minds are sadly pressed against the glass partition; they live daily in a separate and unequal sea of educational opportunity. Simply offering “Free Admission” to these venues, or a once a year “Zoo day” type of activity is not enough. There must be a comprehensive, official, organized and formal effort, independent of “parental push”; to get young Washingtonians of color and poverty into these “informal” learning centers on a consistent and long term basis. The need to invest in greater resources for the expansion of the outreach activities for the educational departments of these cultural institutions. And the committed idea that children of color really have a future place in this city; and represent a positive addition to the future development of this city. When I first began to organized educational trips for students at Phelps High School; I  found it hard to believe students who informed me that they lived in DC all of their lives, and had never taken advantage of the many museums and learning/cultural intuitions in the city.  It was not just a case of not visiting all of the Smithsonian’s buildings; in many cases they had not been to one! Sadly, I came to understand that indeed, these young people were telling the truth. I have learned that every city has a culture; in this case it is unfortunately, the terrible belief that the children of color in this city don’t deserve serious efforts that would lift and enrich their lives. If a committee, in partnership with the city government took on this small, important and very achievable project; that I believe, would be a first-class performance worthy of a gold medal! And the best news is that the massive Olympic infrastructure, and its associated cost, need not be built; as the venues are ready, and waiting for a very deserving young audience.

       

 

Well, the real story has come out…….

 

(Like I said on 8/13/13:  “Hoover Alabama: Whatever the real story is…it’s not going to be good…”      http://majmuse.net/?p=773 ; Well, the real story is now out thanks to a journalist, and it is not good…)

“Hoover bus shutdown will yank welcome mat from blacks and Hispanics”-John Archibald-8/27/13

 

“Dang it, Hoover. You might as well just come out and say it. It’s not about money. Not really. You want to ditch your school bus program because you want to ditch school bus kids. You think of bus service as a welcome mat to undesirables, like black people and Hispanic people. Worse yet, you believe providing door-to-door transportation makes your city too attractive for – shiver — poor people.

I know, I know. You can’t really come out and say that stuff. Not any more than you already said it, anyway. Hoover has been howling about the “apartment problem” since the early 2000s, way back in the old Superintendent Jack Farr days.  And then this year, confronted with flagging performance at some schools, School Board President Paulette Pearson was clear as clear when she responded this way:

“There is no other system like ours that will bus you, that will get you to school and back,” she said. “I’m talking in Birmingham, Alabama. There is not another Over-the-Mountain school that will do what we do.”

And then there are those pesky apartment people. “We make it easy because we have some housing in our area that’s pretty affordable,” she said. “People can take advantage of that. And they move in.” Who is they? Do you really have to ask? Just say it, Hoover. Say it. The system for months has scrambled to figure out how to deal with falling test scores in some schools, with a general feeling that children of non-professionals and other ne’er-do-wells would drag their system into mediocrity.  If they didn’t act fast, they’d cease to be a place to flee to and become a place to flee from. It all started to come together last year, after concerns about falling scores in places like Trace Crossings Elementary began to make homeowners (and sellers) start to question who was arriving at schools in buses, and what they looked like. Then this spring – at the end of school – the system began to act. It asked school bus drivers to list more than just the usual statistical summaries of bus riders. It asked for a list of names of children on the buses, which could easily be matched to demographic data.  I’d like to be able to tell you the demographics. Heck, I’d like to be able to tell you something as simple as where the buses stop – which is something other systems post on their websites. But Hoover’s Information Office – they use that term in the most Orwellian way – says it has not had time in recent weeks to dig up things like bus route maps or bus rider profiles.  Even as it works to shut down the bus system.  Still, it was only weeks after the bus survey – in late May — that Trace Crossings parents brought their concerns to the school board. That’s when Pearson said her piece about … those people.  “I think a lot of people see this (system) as a bit of a safe haven,” she said. “So they come straight to us.” They come straight to Hoover for the hope of a better education. They come straight to Hoover for the hope of a better life.  They come straight to Hoover for opportunity to pay rent in that community, to pay taxes in that community, to live in that community, and as a result to attend schools in that community like anyone else, with all the rights and privileges that come with belonging.  In doing that they somehow offended that community. Which says plenty. Hoover, without saying much of anything else, has screamed its position for the world to hear. The school system will no longer be a welcome mat. It will no longer be a safe haven for those looking for a better life. It can’t make students leave. But it can make it hard for them to stay. You don’t need to say anything else, Hoover. You already said it all.”–John Archibald-8/27/13

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/08/hoover_bus_shutdown_will_yank.html#incart_river

Love the one you text…

NSA Officers Sometimes Spy on Love Interests………. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/23/nsa-officers-sometimes-spy-on-love-interests/

“If you’re down and confused.  And you don’t remember who you’re talking to….

 

         This takes the meaning of the phrases: “a terrorist under every bed” to a new (low) level. I think we need to take a moment, take a deep breath and thoughtfully analyze the actual, and true level of the threat. This is beginning to look like the electronic version of “stop and frisk”; with the entire U.S. public playing the role of Black and Latino young men. I think most Americans accept that the post-9/11 environment would mean a higher security status that would dramatically change the way we went about our daily lives. Most people accept longer lines at airports, more scrutiny and I.D. requirements when entering  government buildings. I also think that the average American understands (even if they haven’t read Carl von Clausewitz’s: On War, that the U.S. can’t fight an asymmetrical war against an enemy who sees any/every U.S. citizen (including Muslims) as potential targets; and thus the need for some types of governmental clandestine actions. Yes, we get that extraordinary times, call for extraordinary actions; but where is this going? Every American citizen can’t be turned into a suspect. Operationally, it seems that the net is being spread too loose, and too wide. Things seem to be getting a little crazy ; and I don’t get the feeling that the national legislative branch is  anxious to trade in their cheerleading uniforms to play their required oversight and review of  possible abuses role.  I was in NYC on 9/11 and I get the full pain, suffering and fear of that experience. As CSD 29 superintendent I had a large number of children in my office late into the night, as we searched frantically (without cell phone access) for relatives that could take custody of the children. For most of the children, their parents worked in Manhattan, and because of the subway shutdown, just could not get back to Queens; but for an unfortunate few, their parents were to never come home. I am still haunted by my memory of the children playing in my office, oblivious to the terrible event that had just occurred; and us adults trying so hard to pretend for them that this was just a subway delay, and their parents were on the way. I think for the rest of that month I probably attended more funerals and memorials then I had attended in my entire life. The problem with fear, (the ultimate objective of the perpetrators of 9/11) is that it has historically caused human beings to overreact in response to that fear. We saw this tragically played out against Japanese Americans during this nation’s war with Japan. The government, with the public’s consent wrongly defined just being Japanese as sufficient to be called a “potential” enemy. Can you imagine if every time the U.S military went into action, (Italy, Korea, Germany, Granada, Panama, etc.)  the government rounded up and “locked-up” all of the U.S. citizens who had a cultural link to that nation?

        (And everything you need to know about life you can learn in English class.) One of the themes in the book Animal Farm  is a lesson about how the fear of the enemy can cause a few (the “protectors”) to opportunistically use that fear to take liberty and freedom away from the many; but it is also a story about how the many; out of  fear, real or imagined; grant permission to the protectors to take away their freedom and liberty.

Gen. Powell’s plea for voting rights fairness, and Antoinette Tuff’s creative approach to problem solving is a challenge for the Nation.

          Over the years, I have always asserted when speaking to many “good hearted/well intentioned” cooperate sponsors to my educational projects; that the failure to seriously educate and prepare large numbers of young U.S. citizens of color is not just a matter of donating to a worthy cause, and/or “a good funding public relations move. Denying a quality education in general and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, in particular; has the short and long-term effect of making our country unprepared to meet the technical, intellectual, environmental, economic and social challenges of the future. I predicted many years ago that “developing” countries would grow the capacity (and need) to absorb their own STEM student graduates; relying on the importation of STEM expertise, at the expense of a willing and talented pool of Black and Latino students, was a recipe for a future human-resource disaster. This problem is further acerbated by having large numbers of U.S. citizens, uneducated and disconnected from the ability to help build our national economy. Further, at the same time the U.S. would experience a shrinking pool of White students, who policy makers do see that it is in the national interest to effectively educate. Denial has the strange effect of not only denying the denied, but also of denying the deniers. Blocking Electoral, Educational and Employment opportunities invites great harm against all of our Nation’s people. For how our nation would benefit greatly from having more people like Ms. Tuff (http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/category/antoinette-tuff/) in our workforce. How many talented Black Americans are living unemployed and unable to contribute their skills and talents on behalf of us all?  Black unemployment specifically harms individuals and families, but also hinders the nation’s capacity to solve many of our present problems, and problems we are yet to see. Can we continue to incarcerate such a large number of “talent wasted” young Black and Latino men? Ms. Tuff is a model of what we so desperately require, if we are to survive and thrive. We need the benefits of diverse world views, a different approach of interpretation, an alternative way of seeing problems and their solutions.

       Gen. Powell’s (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/colin-powell-voter-id_n_3795986.html?utm_hp_ref=politics) warning to a Republican party gone philosophically wild, is instructive. This group’s attempt to turn back the civil rights clock, demonstrates that perhaps there is some truth to the often quoted: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” Any cynical attempt to hinder one group’s ability to exercise their right to vote diminishes the legitimacy of our historic claim to democracy. Therefore, we cannot lecture other nations on their lack of “democratic principles,” if at the same time, American state legislators devise multiple road blocks to targeted groups of citizens attempting to engage in the most fundamental of their civil rights. Trying to artificially “grow” the voting power for one group, as you dismiss the voting capacity of another group, faces two major problems that incline this action toward tragic failure. First, it is a matter of biology and birth rates; these vote deniers will not be able to expand the pool of White right-wing voters fast enough (our species has a forty-week gestation period, and in most cases, one baby at a time!) to match the growth in the number of those whose voting rights they seek to deny. Finally, like any last desperate evil act, it will, in fact, inspire unintended outcomes; for the first time in a long time, I am hearing teenagers talking seriously about, and become interested in their voting rights being in danger of being taken away. Engaging young people in this conversation would probably have meant a lot of “on the ground” work, and cost millions of dollars in advertisement. What’s that saying about the danger of poking a quiet bee hive…….

Askia, I like the conversation you have boldly started………

Askia, I like the conversation you have boldly started by offering a critical (and perhaps unpopular) analysis as to Black America’s info-entertainment “inadequate and non-nutritional” diet. We have come so far in our struggle for justice and equality, and yet fallen so short in our expectations of our creative visual arts. We are both old enough (sorry about “aging” you guy :-) to remember the sheer excitement and pride of seeing a Black face on TV, or in the movies, any Black face,(You would actually call friends and family to say that a Black person, (not on Tarzan), was on TV). But it seems that by now we should have moved from mere quantitative, to more qualitative standards. What is wrong here? Isn’t there a positive trajectory for progress of audience appreciation? I agree with you that what type of “product” finally gets to our TV screens, or into movie theaters, is not random or accidental. And I don’t buy the: “We are simply responding to the demands of the market (audience)”. They in fact have the capability to create the parameters of acceptability and likeability taste of that very audience. They create the need, and then fill it, as they fill their bank accounts. Well, you know my hope (forever linked to hope!) is in education; for if we can get young people to view video media critically (as is done with literature); perhaps a future generation will began to deconstruct what they are watching; and then go on to construct visual media that reflects who they are (in our full beauty and complexity); and who we can be, given the opportunity, vision and skills.

A Public School System on death-row…

I have been a reluctant fan of Victor Davis Hanson (VDH) for several years (I like his meticulous approach to research and the writing of ancient Roman-Greece military and political history; but don’t always like his modern comparative conservative analysis.) However, yesterday in an excellent interview on CSPAN, he made several points that connected (Students should be taught to approach video in the same way they approach literature.) so well when I read the Aaron Kase’s article on the Philadelphia School System in Salon magazine. VDH said:

“..Most people don’t have deep beliefs, they simply respond to winners…”

“..We are who we were 2500 years ago; we react to the same stimuli…”

“..We study the past because it keeps telling us that there are a small number of people who are absolutely no good, and when they get into positions of power, they will take things that are not logical; and you can’t explain to them that it is not in their interest to take that piece of land…”

“..Culture determines the way people fight or not fight…”

“…As I get older I understand that the mind of one person can get a lot of people killed, and (or) a lot of people saved..”

“…The victory is going to the people with the greatest morale, the greatest conviction in their cause…”

“…In June of 1940 in Germany we couldn’t find a German who didn’t agree with Hitler, after his stunning victories in France and Poland. If we had this conversation in March of 1945, we couldn’t find a German who would say they were for Hitler. What had changed? Not their ideology, and not Hitler, he was in fact even more devious. We keep thinking that people are ideological, or that they are political, or that they have deep seeded opinions based on convictions and principles; as I get older, I think that this is true of only 20% of the people…”

“..They (‘Savior Generals’) believe that: “most people won’t do what I will do.” They don’t have a lot of confidence in human nature; and yet they were mature enough not to have contempt for the people..”

 

         When I think about public education in places like Philadelphia, New York City and Washington DC; you wonder if asking the parents of these students, and the communities in which the students live, to see the inferior mis-education given these children, as an intellectual and emotional death sentence. Is it simply a case of just asking too much……Describing a crisis that does not objectively represent itself as a crisis to those most affected? The ability to live in a “separate peace”, as a vicious war of destruction is waged against your children….. The standard has been so reduced for many children, such that all that is required is to: Just open school, and give them lunch, a desk and a chair….In many ways this is a new and insidious expression of separate and unequal. This form of inequality is much more subtle and lethal because, often it is fashioned in the minds, and with the hands of people with whom the children have a cultural link. In a strange sense, I understand the immoral rational for Gov. Corbett’s mean and harmful actions; And yet I don’t understand the absence of a dramatic mass reaction in defense of those children…but then again, maybe I do.

 

“Indescribably insane”: A public school system from hell 

 

Pennsylvania’s right-wing governor drains public schools of basic funds — and the sickening details will shock you

By Aaron Kase/Salon

Want to see a public school system in its death throes? Look no further than Philadelphia. There, the school district is facing end times, with teachers, parents and students staring into the abyss created by a state intent on destroying public education.

On Thursday the city of Philadelphia announced that it would be borrowing $50 million to give the district, just so it can open schools as planned on Sept. 9, after Superintendent William Hite threatened to keep the doors closed without a cash infusion. The schools may open without counselors, administrative staff, noon aids, nurses, librarians or even pens and paper, but hey, kids will have a place to go and sit.

The $50 million fix is just the latest band-aid for a district that is beginning to resemble a rotting bike tube, covered in old patches applied to keep it functioning just a little while longer. At some point, the entire system fails.

Things have gotten so bad that at least one school has asked parents to chip in $613 per student just so they can open with adequate services, which, if it becomes the norm, effectively defeats the purpose of equitable public education, and is entirely unreasonable to expect from the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

The needs of children are secondary, however, to a right-wing governor in Tom Corbett who remains fixated on breaking the district in order to crush the teachers union and divert money to unproven experiments like vouchers and privately run charters. If the city’s children are left uneducated and impoverished among the smoldering wreckage of a broken school system, so be it.

To be clear, the schools are in crisis because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania refuses to fund them adequately. The state Constitution mandates that the Legislature “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education,” but that language appears to be considered some kind of sick joke at the state capital in Harrisburg.

It’s worth noting that the state itself runs the Philadelphia School District after a 2001 takeover. The state is also responsible for catastrophic budget cuts two years ago that crippled the district’s finances. And in a diabolical example of circular logic, the state argues that the red ink it imposed, and shoddy management it oversees, are proof that the district can’t manage its finances or its mission and therefore shouldn’t get more money.