Flint, the flowing poisonous water is a perfect metaphor for educationalcide

The access to clean water, the ability to live in a clean, healthy and safe environment; as well as having an access to a rigorous, inspiring, meaningful and purposeful education; is a right that should not be denied any of our children…

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“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

The poison of Flint Michigan is flowing everywhere the poor, and people of color live in our nation. This is the result of a national acceptance that we live in a top and bottom citizenship status based on race and class. The governor of Michigan essentially said that the poor, and the people of color in Flint are neither citizens of Michigan or the United States, and therefore we should not extend any rights and protections that they would naturally earn as members of a state and national family. It’s the abandonment and discarding of an entire city of people.

For sure Flint is one part of our entire national conversation that is poisoned by the most vile and hateful voices (the news media works hard at obscuring, and wrongly labeling it: “angry at the establishment voters”), this religious, racial, and reactionary rhetoric, eventually in places like Flint, turns into harmful and hurtful actions (or non-actions!) It speaks to, and for many who believe, that what happens to the children of the disenfranchised and politically disconnected does not matter. These evil people have made sure to build a wall of protection around their own children; insuring that no societal poisons enter their minds or bodies, or interferes with their children’s positive life possibilities and dreams. “Our children are safe”, they say. It’s the kind of cynicism that could only emerge from a fake “Christian” governor asking for fake prayer for Flint; he and his collaborators are the ultimate militant non-believers; not only do they renounce any concept of an ultimate divine system of universal justice and accountability; they even dare God to try to save the children of Flint from the life-long pain they have so callously inflicted on them.

It is a necessary death by many means that the poor and people of color must suffer. Death by civilian gun violence, or delivered officially by those who allegedly swore to serve and protect them. It is the death of poverty, housing that serves as the breeding ground for despair. It’s the economic recovery that never stopped by your block in Flint (Brooklyn, Birmingham, Atlanta, Chicago…). The chronic and long joblessness that leads to a hopeless sense of hope. It is the slow grade by grade death, stretch over many years of the criminal justice system incubators called public schools; “schools” designed to allow others to pay their children’s college tuition, while the students that earn them that money are filled with the poison of low expectations, with a toxic mix of disinterest and disregard for the necessity of nurturing human dreams and intellectual potential.

Those of us who are professional educators (and medical professionals) know that the destructive lead poison that was purposely distributed to the children of Flint, will have long-term, and in many cases irreversible negative effects on their ability to learn. If those Flint children also attend schools that are culturally poisoned by poor educational practices and low expectations; let’s be honest, those children don’t have a chance to realize their full academic potential.

Nothing short of a massive (billions) federal and state initiative that combines medical and educational interventions, can save the educational chances of these children. And their parents and community would not be wrong to take their case to the United Nations and the World Court of Justice; for they are truly victims of a state-sponsored governmental (and a national government that did not stop the state) crimes against their humanity, for this is a form of educationalcide, a crime against the children’s health, and educational future.

Without Visionary Leaders the People (particularly the children) Suffer…

I have faced many different challenges and opportunities over the years from my encounters with those in the “professional political” arena. Some of these experiences have been positive and supportive; and others have been of the opposite character. And I have often felt sad that the communities who were in the greatest need of smart, principled, knowledgeable, skilled and visionary political leaders; were in fact cursed with the opposite type.

And then there was Norman McConney. When I first met him (by way of Sandra Townsend) on a visit to Albany, and explained my STEM vision for children of color; I honestly thought he would just go through the motions like so many other politicians, and just blow-me-off. It has been a very hard and life long struggle to get Black leadership (appointed and elected) to see education in general, and STEM education in particular, in the context of enrichment and enhancement of the talents, skills and abilities already present in their constituent children (and don’t get me started with my disappoint with the Black church’s (with a few exceptions) tepid, or total inaction on the education front). STEM education, I still believe to this day, can serve as a tool of community empowerment and liberation. But with Norman the opposite happen, he got it! He said that he thought my idea of an advanced and enhanced community based STEM program, that did not take the traditional “remedial” (fix the broken Black kids) approach that is so often given to children of color was revolutionary. Our plan was not to “close the achievement gap”; but rather, we were going to create a STEM achievement gap between those students in our program, and any of their peers, regardless of color! He went on to set up a one-on-one meeting with the then Deputy Speaker, so that I could get support for my program. “Bring your best 30 minute presentation!”, he said. I did, and as they say: Well, The rest, is (Science Skills Center) history!

And so it was nice to read this tribute about a man, who did (rather than just talk) a great deal for all New York State students, and in particular for the children of the disenfranchised and disadvantaged citizens of the state. The good you do for children, will live, and live, and live, long after you are gone…

Norman McConney Jr., champion for minority students, dies at 68— By Wayne Barrett | Jan 04, 2016

“In an era when the leaders of both the Assembly and Senate Democrats are black, it’s hard to remember what Norman McConney Jr. found when he arrived at the Capitol in the mid-1970s as a young black aide to Buffalo Assemblyman Arthur Eve, the most influential of what was then a small number of minority legislators. McConney, 68, died on Jan. 1 of congestive heart failure after a lifetime in the corridors of Albany power, a sage and principled operative, a tactical tribune for his people, a master of budgets and bargains. His penetrating eye saw through every Albany contrivance, even when he tactfully kept his wisdom to himself.
McConney’s highest title was executive director for the office of deputy speaker, when Eve rose to that position under Speaker Stanley Fink in 1979. He was a force behind the emergence of what was then called the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, and once won its Man of the Year Award. He developed the People’s Budget and the New York State Budget Equity Document, annual fiscal analyses that emphasized social justice expenditures.
He made higher education his niche, drafting legislation for the Regents Professional Opportunity Scholarship program, which aids students seeking professional licenses, and the state Science & Technology Entry Program, which targeted minority high school students pursuing science careers. He was the lead negotiator for the bill that created nurse practitioners in New York.
His friend and fellow Albany wise man David Langdon said McConney was “recognized as one of the great political minds of Albany” and that governors and speakers “would seek him out when trying to resolve some of the thorny issues they were facing.” Minority students, Langdon said, “can thank Norman for many higher education programs he devised and helped bring to life.”