“We need compassionate citizen-activists to protect our most unprotected children, those students who only need an opportunity, not a bribe to get into college…”

…Title 1 high school principals will need to be extra creative and work extra hard in selling the: “Hard Work and Perseverance will win” storyline, but sell it they must, even in the face of societal hypocrisy; what other option do they have? For many students, a college education is their best opportunity to “break the chains” of many painfully debilitating social, educational and economic narratives, some of which have haunted their families for generations…

The Recent College Admissions Cheating Scandal is not the Biggest College Admissions Cheating Scandal… Full article at Our Time Press: http://www.ourtimepress.com/the-recent-college-admissions-cheating-scandal-is-not-the-biggest-college-admissions-cheating-scandal/?fbclid=IwAR07vX1jPoM8XKROjs8uSJyI6dEfoAiI3FYD83kLkO0SBnJ5wWPS8AiDiYg

The Alabama Senate Signals it’s Serious About the State’s Academic Achievement Race to the Bottom.

The Alabama Senate Signals it’s Serious About the State’s Academic Achievement Race to the Bottom.
By Michael A. Johnson

Recently the Alabama Senate voted to remove the Common Core reading and mathematics academic standards from public schools by the 2021-22 school year. The vote was 23 for and 7 against. Presumably, the 7 who voted against met the Common Core reading standards and therefore they understood the devastating effect this bill will have on the future educational and employability of the state’s young people. There would be something morally amiss if anyone was willing to sacrifice access to quality learning for an entire state’s children for a U.S. Senate seat. One of the state’s very decent and capable senators Doug Jones, can’t possibly compete with this rejection of high academic standards bill; after all, the only way he can beat it is with a proposal that advocated for flat-out statewide illiteracy.

Putting the moral argument aside for a moment; Alabama’s business community must stand-up and speak-up. After all, they will be financially hurt by the shortage of academically capable and competent workers; and the increased cost of providing employees with the: ‘things they should have learned in K-12 school’ work-readiness training, will fall on employers. Further, this bill threatens to cost the state’s citizens more (tax) money. It’s not like Alabama can afford to expand its present financially starved, and human rights challenged prison system. Poor and inadequate education will contribute to a lot of negative life outcomes, one being criminality. This bill will help to grow the state’s ‘school to prison pipeline’ population; a pipeline greatly fueled by the many very capable, but grossly under skilled and marginally literate young folks in the state. I call on the business community to take a stand because the college and university communities can’t risk hurting their relationship with the state’s elected officials by speaking common (core) sense to politicians’ misapplication of legislative power.

As a Black American I can’t even claim that racism is in play here; for this bill is equal opportunity harmful to the future aspirations of all the children of Alabama, regardless of the color of their skin. This is the legislative expression of leaving every child in the state behind the learning curve of the nation and world’s other school children. The Alabama senate just made every other state’s superintendent and department of education job a little easier by insuring that Alabama’s children will lead the nation in the race to the bottom of many academic achievement indicators; as well as helping to produce students with greatly diminished job and college preparedness skills.

The only hope the children of Alabama have if this rejection of high academic standards bill is ratified, is for the state’s superintendents, principals and teachers to engage in: ‘civil educational disobedience’. Alabama’s children have a civil and human right to a quality education; and the professional ethics of educators should not allow cynically ambitious politicians to force them to comprise their moral and ethical pledge of doing no educational harm to children. Not only should they continue to strive to engage students with nationally recognized high academic standards; given Alabama’s present educational state of affairs, educators should double-up and double-down on providing students with the rigorous content and skills development learning that will make them competitive with their national and international peers. The tragic alternative is state sponsored educational disentitlement and disadvantage for children, who can’t vote to protect their own future dreams and aspirations.

Michael A. Johnson has served as a public school teacher, principal, school district superintendent, and as an adjunct professor of Science Education in the School of Education at St. John’s University. He writes a bi-weekly column: “On Education” for Brooklyn’s: Our Time Press (www.ourtimepress.com/
) He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

“The racially diverse, high-achieving schools of NYC’s past have vanished”

The racially diverse, high-achieving schools of NYC’s past have vanished
By Susan Edelman/N.Y. Post
March 23, 2019

When Horace Davis attended Brooklyn Tech HS, he had no shortage of African-American classmates. Rather, black students far outnumbered whites.
At the time the Jamaican immigrant graduated, in 1984, the elite school that trains students in math, science and engineering had 4,531 students — including 2,239 black and 814 white. Black and Hispanic kids made up 63.5 percent of the student body.
Davis, now general manager of quality-assurance engineering at Con Edison, credits the “SP” or “Special Progress” classes at his middle school, IS 24 in East Flatbush.There, he was grouped with higher-performing kids who received more rigorous, accelerated course work. He and three classmates took the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and scored seats at Brooklyn Tech. “Back then, there wasn’t any test prep,” Davis told The Post.
Horace Davis, 1984 graduate of Brooklyn Tech and now general manager of quality-assurance engineering at Con Edison. “It was just a matter of having a good, solid education in the community. The expectations and the standards were high.”
From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, black and Hispanic kids made up close to half or more of the Brooklyn Tech student body. Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, the other original specialized schools, had many more black and brown kids than today, though not a majority.That historical success deserves a close look, Davis and other alumni contend, in light of this past week’s dismal news: Black and Latino kids received just 10.6 percent of the 4,798 seats offered at eight specialized schools for the 2019-20 school year. Whites got 28.5 percent, and Asian-Americans picked up the most — 51 percent.

What happened? Experts cite three major factors: The reduction and dearth of gifted or honors programs in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the influx of Asian immigrants, and the test-prep craze.
Experts and politicians largely blame the lopsided racial results on the Department of Education’s failure to provide enough early, advanced programs to nurture bright minorities.

In a letter last week to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, Councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr., who is black, noted: “As recently as 1989, Brooklyn Tech was 51 percent black and Latino. As enhanced academics for high-potential students in those communities was eliminated, the percentages of students of color decreased to the point we are at today.”
Eighteen fellow council members signed the letter, which did not mention the SHSAT. In response, a Carranza spokesman simply repeated his statement: “We need to eliminate the single test for specialized high-school admissions now.”
The biggest specialized school, with 1,825 freshman seats, Brooklyn Tech last week offered the largest share to black students (5.2 percent) and Hispanic students (6.4 percent). But that is way down from decades ago.

When Denice Ware earned her Tech diploma in 1983, the school had 4,531 students — including 2,239 blacks and 814 whites. Ware, a retired Verizon human-resources director and operations manager, was one of six black middle-school classmates who made the cut. “I was proud to ride the A train with other kids from my neighborhood to Brooklyn Tech,” she recalled.
She said her preparation started in “IGC” (Intellectually Gifted Children) classes at her Ocean Hill Brownsville elementary school, and continued in SP classes at IS 271, which has since closed for poor performance. “I was a product of the talented and gifted programs that most of the junior highs offered,” she said. “We had a very robust curriculum.” But those programs, in nearly every city school in the ’70s and ’80s, have all but vanished.
By the early ’90s, an “anti-tracking movement” led to the gradual elimination of such programs, said Syed Ali, a sociology professor at Long Island University in Brooklyn who has studied the specialized schools. Critics argued kids of all abilities — and races — should learn together.
“The big problem was that honors programs in every school began to disappear,” Ali said.
In 2001, when mayoral control of city schools began under Mike Bloomberg, he instituted a standardized test to admit high-IQ kids into separate G&T programs.
He also spurred the creation of “screened” schools, which siphoned off high-performing students — often more white and Asian than black or Hispanic. But between 2009 and 2013, the DOE, citing low enrollment, dropped 60 G&T programs mostly in poor, minority neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, the New York Times reported. Today, 10 city districts with more than 90 percent black or Hispanic enrollment have only one G&T program, records show.
Meanwhile, the ’80s brought an influx of Asian immigrants to New York, with a growing number of their kids striving to get into the specialized schools. And the test-prep business sprung up. Asian students received most offers to city’s elite high schools
“It created an arms race — more and earlier to outgun the kid sitting next to you,” said David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor.
“Among Asian-Americans, there’s a culture of test-prep which doesn’t exist as much in the other groups,” said Clara Hemphill, editor of the education site Insideschools.org.
The extra tutoring can cost thousands of dollars, which many low-income minorities can’t afford. Still, Hemphill said, “Even parents of modest means will spend a lot of money on it.”

I Want a Public School: “How Hard Are You Really Trying?” Challenge…

Recently there was another of those interesting Facebook ‘challenges’ titled: “How Hard Did Aging Hit You?” (Give those creative Facebook algorithmicteers credit for their ability to keep coming up with ideas to get eyeballs to platform!) For my discriminating eyeballs, I always preferred the ‘matured’ photos; I also rejected the premise, and the I suspect additional purpose of the ‘challenge’, suggesting that we need to purchase ‘something’, conveniently advertised on Facebook, to delay our aging process. Anyway, there’s an education challenge I wish to issue: I want to challenge public education policy makers and schools to stop using phrases they don’t truly believe; those edu-poetic up-lifting statements that they neither honestly aspire to nor intend to carry out for all children.
Here, social media has not been helpful. Educators at every level can sound brave, committed and ‘tough’ on internet platforms, while in their daily practice/work-space avoid the dangerous task of changing the underlying conditions that create and perpetuate learning inequalities. Ideology is not phraseology, ‘sloganisms’ are not confirmative-actions; for it’s what we actually believe and do for children that ultimately matters.
Here’s a few ‘greatest hits’ of the often spoken but rarely practiced educational phrases:

“It takes a whole village to raise a child”
“All children can learn”
“Children First”
“No child left behind”
“The soft bigotry of low expectations”

Some wonderfully affirmative statements, that if put into practice would radically change US public education. What if schools really acted like every student was under the protection of the ‘entire village’? It would not matter then who was the child’s biological parents, because we would all become the ‘parent’. Every school would be a full (social, medical, dentistry, optometry, nutrition, counseling, informal education, etc.) service school.

Those 5-affirmations are so powerful, that if public school systems were to truly believe, embrace and practice them: all ‘achievement gaps’ (real and contrived), student academic-underachievement, high failure & dropout rates (concentrated in some populations) would end. Taxpayers would get what they pay for. Any ‘racial integration plan’ that does not address the inequitable distribution of quality education, would end. Billionaires could invest money in efforts that actually work in raising poor student’s academic achievement like: closing societal opportunity gaps in: technology hardware-software and internet access, K-8 reading/writing enrichment, K-8 STEM labs in Title 1 schools, having students: ‘algebra ready’ by the end of 8th grade, radically expanding K-8 gifted & talented programs; healthcare, quality housing and food for families, creating employment for student’s parents, and providing students with access to out-of-school informal educational experiences.

And if the 5-affirmations were truly adopted nationally, it would mean that all schools would be empowered to eliminate those rules and regulatory barriers that hindered student learning, as these schools would also be held publicly accountable for their admissions practices, disciplinary-expulsion policies and academic performance.
Further, college and university student admissions applications would soar; while the non-credit bearing ‘cleaning-up’ what was not learned in high school ‘college courses’ would disappear. People nationwide would begin entering the education profession (receiving much higher salaries then the present pay scales) because education is where their heart-work is to be found. Our nation (and world) would reap the benefits of having millions of children realize their innate gifts and talents; imagine the scientific, medical, artistic-creative innovative and inventive ‘gifts’ we would communally enjoy. And, society would be able to fulfill its collective humane calling of making every child’s life matter.

The multibillion dollar (not really) ‘fixing’ poor students ‘gap-closing’ industry would need to create work somewhere else. Personnel, from superintendents to school-aides, would be required to be competent and effective, or be ‘counseled-out’ and into another profession. (A compassionate act, since the ‘chronically-unfit’ people currently working in K-12 education need to find their true passion/calling in life!) Americans planning to be employed in our criminal-justice system, may want to consider another career path; since public education’s role in feeding and replenishing that system would end. And then there is the job-market ‘problem’ of what to do with so many young people who achieved academically by receiving a high quality educational experience. We would probably need to invent a new definition of what ‘work’ and ‘employment’ means in a highly educated society.

I’m not sure if I’ll get any takers on this challenge, and why should I? After all, we are in this special time in US history when we have a commander-in-chief of: words don’t matter, and what I say no matter how untrue, doesn’t matter. And so why not in the rhetorical realm of public education; where it does not matter that we say things that we have no intention of doing; for reasons that even R. Kelly understands: Because only certain children in our society really matter!

Michael A. Johnson has served as a public school teacher, Science Skills Center director, principal, and a school district superintendent. He also served as an adjunct professor of Science Education in the School of Education at St. John’s University. He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

The whitewashing of Japan’s Naomi Osaka was no accident by Baye McNeil

Educators, this is an excellent lesson-conversation starter for what is a very complex topic. The writer however does an outstanding job of making it accessible to Middle and High school students studying World History; Cultural awareness-sensitivity; or for an English Language Arts class where the learning objective is: “Nailing the Essay!” And/or a lesson on “parts of a newspaper” e.g. Opinion vs. Reporting. US Principals should consider this essay for members of their staff as a discussion prompt for conversations about the often very sensitive, but necessary topic about race and society. Perhaps, the ‘distance’ (Japan) from the issues may allow for a ‘bringing it home (to the US) break-through’ moment.

The whitewashing of Japan’s Naomi Osaka was no accident — By Baye McNeil
Washington Post January 31
Baye McNeil is an author who lives in Japan and writes a column for the Japan Times… https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/31/naomi-osaka-has-become-face-japan-will-she-change-views-race/?fbclid=IwAR2iz4GTe9gzkZH9Qf4zOo-KmgDOTcWRCHAtVX9E1u32K_zof5cfxQJuMBg&utm_term=.3140946b1a06

If Black-American adults feel that a Black sexual-predator is being ‘discriminated’ against for receiving ‘extra-condemnation’ is the problem, then we have failed as K-12 educators…

One evening coming home from work, I was ‘pulled over’ by NYPD officers on my own block in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn NY. When the ‘guns drawn’ officer on the driver’s side of the car saw my dashboard NYCBOE Principal’s Parking Permit, my NYPD ‘Family member badge and card’ (gift from the police precinct near my school), me in a suit and tie, my license/registration in my left hand and both hands on the steering wheel, the interior car lights on revealing my ‘backseat office’ of books and papers, he apologized by saying: “Sorry, but we pulled you over because we saw an expensive car in this neighborhood.” What’s true is, that type of painful dehumanizing experience is one I have known since childhood, and will probably only end when I am dead, or with the 2nd coming of Wakanda! However, what is also true is that if I were to ever irresponsibly drive drunk and endanger my fellow citizens, the police should absolutely pull me over; not for driving an “expensive car in that (Black?) neighborhood”, but for dangerously driving drunk! Both of those realities, painfully demeaning treatment, and properly executed procedures, can both exist in the same world; and they essentially capture the complicated reality of Black life in America.

And now to Ms. Taraji Henson and her R. Kelly Posting:

“Henson shared videos of searches for the #MuteRKelly hashtag on Instagram and compared those high number of hashtag hits to the low number of posts containing #MuteWeinstein or #MuteHarveyWeinstein hashtags… “HMMMMM,” Henson wrote on Instagram.”

I can’t believe that so many Black folks still employ this faulty and amoral logic approach to assessing bad black behavior. I’ve seen this same failed thinking with the defense of everyone from Bill Cosby to Black murderers who may have received more jail time than their White criminal colleagues. Some of the reasons this anti-reasoning movement (that is unfortunately perpetuated by many ‘well-educated’ Black Americans) continues to flourish, is the presence of intellectual deficiencies created in the K-12 education-world. This is the example of the diminished demand from schools generally, to ask K-12 students to address more ‘open-ended’ and thought-provoking questions. Another villain: ‘Multiple choice’ Q&A, which can too often remove the complexity and subtle nuances that make up ‘real life’ and the real challenges we face in the world. Histography (like math and science) should be more complex and analytical as a student moves from elementary to high school; students need to learn to be more comfortable studying in the ‘grey complex areas’ of curriculum topics (e.g. George Washington as POTUS, and his role as an evil slave owner) In middle and high school science classes, students need to engage in more real scientific methodological (problem-posing-solving) inquisitive driving science labs; let students experience the intelligence growing practice of having to search for the most ‘revelatory’, appropriate, applicable and logical answer, rather than the easy and obvious ‘right’ answer (which is what real scientific inquiry is really about).

Here is my assignment Ms. Henson:

Two seemingly opposed, conflicting and/or connected or totally disconnected ideas can both be true; and so, one does not necessarily cancel out the other. And we enable the ability of evil people to inflict greater suffering, create more victims, by falsely anointing them as (racial-political) “victims”.

X is true: America is fundamentally racially discriminatory in all aspects of US life; including the differences in the: ‘area of suspicion of being a criminal’, arrest, convictions, sentencing and in many cases the extralegal summary execution of Black Americans by either a white citizen or a law enforcement agent. There is a collective unconscious or conscious belief, that the police can be called on any Black person by any ‘deputize’ white citizen for doing the most innocent of normal daily activities e.g. shopping in an ‘expensive’ store, entering their own house or putting groceries into their own car (not making this stuff up!) There is a major national ‘racial punishment gap’ in our K-12 schools. A dramatic difference in how real or alleged criminal activity and/or any ‘bad’ behaviors perpetuated by Black or White citizens is treated. This is why the society has wrapped its collective arms of protection around the Trump-MAGA “child” from Covington Catholic High School; and when an innocent unarmed Black child is killed by the police there is a different collective effort to first ‘de-child’ the victim, and then exonerate the officer(s) at any cost: “The victims candy bar looked like a weapon” or “The teenager was prone to criminality because they were sent to In School Suspension for a day in the 3rd grade!” Spoiler Alert (not): Black life in America is subject to unfairness and discrimination!

Y is true: Black people who engage in sexual-predatory-criminal behavior (more likely than not against other Black people), are sexual-predatory-criminals. White people getting away with the same acts, or who are penalized less harshly, or who get the news media’s entitlement: “benefit-of-the-doubt” and/or ‘soft-treatment’ for engaging in the same level of criminal pathological behavior, does not excuse or exonerate Black criminals who are sexual-predators; and it surely does not help the Black victims of those Black criminals to feel or heal better.

Z is what I want to be true: (1) That we fight (not request) without ceasing, for equal treatment under the law and social/legal justice. (2) That our (Black people) standards for acceptable behavior in our community should not be based on the fundamental racially discriminatory practices of American society; neither should our standards be driven by some ridiculous ‘rule’ that says: Unless every White sexual-predator-criminal is treated by the US criminal justice system, American society at large and/or the news media; in the same exact way that every Black sexual-predator-criminal is treated; then we must give a life-time ‘pass’ to Black sexual-predator-criminals, especially when they achieve ‘celebrity’ status!

X + Y = Z… Not: Because of X we should ignore or justify Y!

The other ‘discrimination’ question I would like to see explored in the context of this phenomena is: Why do Black victims always have less value and receive less sympathy then White victims? And in the face of that political reality, perhaps we (Black people) should have less sympathy for Black sexual-perpetrator-predators and a lot more sympathy and compassion for their Black victims.

Michael A. Johnson has served as a public school teacher, Science Skills Center director, principal, and a school district superintendent. He writes a bi-weekly column: “On Education” for Brooklyn’s: Our Time Press. He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

Warning: Principal Burnout Danger From the Los Angeles Unified School District Teacher’s Strike.

One story not being widely reported is the heroic and champion actions performed by Principals, AP’s and other school administrators during the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teacher’s strike. Imagine performing two very difficult jobs at the same time, teaching and managing a school! And although their efforts are ‘superhuman’, they are in fact very human and thus in danger of coming out of this conflict (that will eventually end) emotionally and physically exhausted. This could spell possible ‘burnout’ danger as the school year progresses. It is extremely hard to serve in a school administrators role in ‘normal’ school times; particularly in those (Title 1) schools where the majority of the children are poor and in need of every ounce of your psychic and physical energy. Principals can regularly feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unsupported even in non-strike times, and so in the present strike conditions in LAUSD…

But I can appreciate that these ethical school leaders understand why they must ‘stand in the gap’ and keep schools open. Putting some kids ‘in the streets’ unsupervised could create a series of serious life-long problematic situations (e.g. an arrest, pregnancy, house fire, etc.), or could even mean a death sentence. When parents are ‘living in and/or on the edge of poverty’, taking off from work to do childcare is not an option. Also, many of these children desperately need the daily meals and the orderly and stable environments their schools provide. Parents with the financial resources can provide safe out of school ‘substitute learning experiences’ for their children during the strike; and so, we see another harmful (for some students) emergence of the ‘opportunity gap’ in public education. We know that most poor parents won’t have this option, which is why student-attendance is so high in the poorest strike afflicted LAUSD schools.

Too many school districts in this nation cynically take advantage of the good will and professional commitment of school-based administrators; and I don’t think that will end this year. But I would hope that the California Governor, State Legislators, City of Los Angeles, and the LAUSD school board could come up with a one-time financial grant-award to all LAUSD school administrators that would hopefully be substantial enough to allow them to take a nice rest and recuperation travel-vacation break when schools go into their calendar closings. That financial-gift plus ‘over-time’ pay could at least help to keep these wonderful educators from burning out before the end of the school year. It would also be a really wonderful gift-that-kept-on-giving if some of the things the striking teachers are asking for (e.g. adequate social-guidance-counseling services and expanded health care resources) could also be awarded to these brave administrator’s schools!

Michael A. Johnson has served as a public school teacher, Science Skills Center director, principal, and a school district superintendent. He writes a bi-weekly column: “On Education” for Brooklyn’s: Our Time Press. He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

PRO-HATE HIGH SCHOOL FIELD TRIP: And for present and aspiring school-building leaders a good teaching case study on how not to organize a school field trip.

Laura Keener spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Covington:
“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion. We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”

Nice start, but not nearly enough…

Several Teachable-Learnable Takeaways From Covington Catholic High School’s Field Trip:
I guess we should start with the low standard of intellectual rigor, the absence of inquisitiveness and critical thinking skills that is being offered to these students. And for a school that by definition claims a religious affiliation, there is a terrible absence of proof that these students have seriously engaged the writings of any prominent (even Catholic) theological thinkers (e.g. Paul, Augustine, Pope Francis, Merton, Matthew-Mark-Luke…) But despite their apparent theological learning deficiencies, it would be totally amazing and sufficient, if over a 4 year Catholic high school experience, they were to somehow managed to accidentally stumble onto the words of Jesus!

•Let’s just call it what it is, the “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) slogan and hat is a statement and call for racism and bigotry. Elected officials, military, police personnel and everyone else who wears the hat believes in the MAGA’s undergirding vision of Making America White (Supremacy) Again. And if the answer is yes to the question: “Would Jesus wear a MAGA cap?”; then we are lost, and we all might as well sign up for team Nietzsche.

•The call and chant of “Build The Wall”! clearly has nothing to do with border security, crime or terrorism, and everything to do with eliminating and reducing the number of American Brown bodies in the US. It’s a racist response to declining white birth rates and the perceived loss of white entitlement. Also, were these students (and their chaperons) the least bit concerned that their “Wall Call” likely meant walling off a lot of fellow Catholics; or was the overriding motivation to wall off people of color, Catholic or not?

•The so-called ‘pro-life’ movement has some explaining to do. In many instances it is simply serving as a front that provides a platform for male old-fogies (some so uninformed that they think a condom is an apartment you purchase) to control the reproductive organs of women; and thus, keep them ‘in their places’! What is ‘pro-missing’ from this movement is the compassion and concern for mothers, their babies (especially when those babies are Black and Brown) after they enter this life. Increasingly, women are not fooled by the ‘pro-life’ hypocritical rhetoric; they are fully aware that this ‘movement’ has nothing to do with their dignity, agency and even less to do with the well-being of their children.

•Where were the adult chaperons (there is no way these high school students took themselves on a field trip), when these young people verbally and physically abused this Viet-Nam Native American veteran. Why did they not stop the students? Did they agree with, and encouraged the ugly hateful behavior of the students? It’s good that students are being disciplined but what about the adult administrators and teachers?

•(Especially on an out-of-state trip) Student safety is #1 (just ask any of my former students about hotel beds being pulled into halls for the assigned night watch staff!) The faculty advisors/chaperons and the principal should have had a ‘cover all contingencies’ pre-trip meeting. I would be slightly worried as a Covington parent if they did have such meeting and this was the result! Now in life ‘stuff-happens’, and so you can’t predict everything that could possibly happen on a trip. But what you can do is plan responses for those things you know could very easily happen, for example: “What do we do if a student or chaperon becomes seriously ill or injured, if an ‘intoxicated’ or ‘belligerent’ person confronts the group”. You also have a pre-trip briefing meeting with the students to discuss the do’s and don’ts of the trip, and what will result from a deviation and/or violation of those guidelines. Next you put in a ‘redundancy rich’ fail-safe system that will allow the chaperons to make the ‘in the best safety of the students’ decisions on the spot. For example: On a trip to “physics day at an amusement park” my teachers concluded that there were too many students from other high schools who seem to be not-well supervised, and trouble was brewing. The chaperons wisely decided to cut the trip short. And its important principals that you back up teachers when they are forced to make these types of decisions.

•Those of us who know a few things about the ‘inner-workings’ of schools are asking some larger school culture/operational questions about this Covington situation. High schools as a practice, and for a lot of good reasons I won’t go into here, tend not to send the ‘prone to trouble making students’ on field trips, especially out-of-state on ‘potentially controversial’ trips. In fact, these types of trips would most likely be made up of ‘prone to behave’ student leaders! And so, unless these students were members of the Junior Evangelical Fascist Club (such a school club would also be problematic), the sheer number of ‘regular’ students participating in the ugly behavior says something about the school culture generally. Further, the hateful boldness and aggressive moral disregard for the humanity of a person of color did not suddenly appear on the bus ride to Washington. These students are clearly being exposed on a daily basis to a curriculum that teaches (perhaps not explicitly) that they (white people) are superior and Black and Brown people are inferior. There is also an obvious pedagogical fail in the history department, or why are these students (and their chaperons) so ignorant and dismissive of Native American history and culture in the context of American history? I have a lot of other questions like, politics aside, why chaperons are allowing students to place themselves in a confrontational and potentially dangerous (of violence and/or arrest) situation, but I’ll stop here.

•Not sure how this school trip fits into the best ‘caring for others’ (like refugees) theological concepts of the church, But let’s imagine that the school really wished to deliver a ‘pro-life’ learning objective to the students, well they failed. What does MAGA or harassing Native American people, or “Build The Wall” have to do with “pro-life” issues? We are accustomed to students going ‘off-task’ during a lesson; but the chaperons and an entire school going off-task? The other possibility is that the ‘real’ learning objective being honestly taught here is that: “pro-life”, MAGA and “Build The Wall” are indeed morally, philosophical and, politically linked in the school’s collective belief system thinking.

•The entire school (and others) must with outside help, undergo a major truth and reconciliation deconstruction, followed by a moral-ethical and theological reconstruction process; or the ‘disciplined students’ will be seen as martyrs and heroes of the: Pro-Making the Nation Safe for White Racist Life Movement. Without this demonstrative ‘house cleaning’ process; the hateful parts of the school’s culture could indeed intensify and grow more dangerous.

•Finally, the Catholic church should use this as a teachable moment. And the only suitable person to teach this lesson is the Pope himself. The Pope should deliver a homily that is read in every Catholic church in the world (Yes, he has it like that!) The topics should cover: (1) “We Catholics are not what you saw at the Covington Catholic High School’s Field Trip.” (2) “We don’t believe in building denigrating walls between people” (3) “And the true Makings of Greatness is the amount of compassion we act on in behalf of our fellow human beings.” Such a powerful message would not only educate billions of people around the world to the dangers of teaching and acting on hate; but it would also go a long way in healing the world-wide hurt and pain caused by the POTUS author of the “Build The Wall” slogan and that stupid MAGA hat.

Michael A. Johnson has served as a public school teacher, Science Skills Center director, principal, and a school district superintendent. He also served as an adjunct professor of Science Education in the School of Education at St. John’s University. He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

I love to read, but sometimes reading can be painful…



“A Historic Black Golf Course Faces Uncertainty as a Bidding War Over Its Future Begins…”
Washington City Paper

I never told students that sometimes reading can be painful; in part out of fear that such a comment would be discouraging. Get them hooked on reading I thought, and eventually they will discover all of the attributes of reading’s power to make us smile, laugh, learn and yes sometimes even bring forth feelings of sadness. Reading: “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo in high school, was an extremely gut-wrenching experience for me, especially since all of us boys in that 1968 English class were a year away from the Viet-Nam war draft. But I am forever thankful to my English teacher for introducing me to that book; for it has taught me some life-long lessons that I still call on to this day. And as we have learned from our last presidential election, the price we pay for ignorance is far worse than any discomfort that knowledge and information brings to our ‘emotional senses’. Besides, in this nation teaching a politically disenfranchised child to read effectively is a subversive act, giving them access to books is an act of intellectual insurrection. Being able to read, in joy or sorrow, is far superior to the sorrow and suffering of not being able to read, and not reading!

But by all accounts, this article was a painful read. (One day I will learn to stop reading DC news if it conjures up such hurtful memories, but for now…) The Langston Gulf Course should be a Crown Gem of the DC-MD-VA region. It could also as I utilized it, serve as an important gateway resource for introducing Young Black and Latino Washingtonians to the sport of gulf. I tried very hard to engage the former Ward 5 Black councilman (and others) in a conversation about the great potential of this wonderful institution; in the same way I tried to get him to ‘wrap his brain around’ the great potential greatness of Phelps ACE high school for the citizens of Washington DC.; I failed on both accounts because his mind and interest were always elsewhere. We can’t blame the loss of every community institutional resource on ‘gentrification’; even if gentrifiers come along later and see pearls where we see mud.

I also think that we need to clearly define “Black Power” in the context of our current political condition. We can’t just elect a Black person to office (as wonderful as that is) and then assume that we have arrived, and our work is over. The price we pay for having unaccountable Black leaders is simply too painfully harmful and deadly.

A Historic Black Golf Course Faces Uncertainty as a Bidding War Over Its Future Begins: “This was the mecca of black golf on the east coast… Langston brought everybody together. Now, the fear is change.”

Washington City Paper: https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/sports/article/21043261/beloved-historic-black-golf-course-langston-faces-uncertainty-as-a-national-bidding-war-over-its-future-begins

“The Unique Racial Dynamics of the L.A. Teachers’ Strike”

“The city’s public-school teachers are predominantly people of color—and a plurality of them are Latino, like most of the students they serve.”

“…Roxana Dueñas, a 34-year-old ethnic-studies teacher at a high school in Eastside L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood, says her own background as an LAUSD student whose working-class parents immigrated from Mexico was a driving force behind her decision to pursue the profession. “I see myself in my students in both the literal and metaphorical sense.”

“Rodolfo Dueñas: it’s almost like you’re looking at your little brother, your little sister, and you’re reliving the traumas of education in the past,” he says. “And you’re like, ‘Dang! Some of these things are still happening.’ It’s almost like you’re fighting for something you wish you could’ve fought for when you were in school.”

Full article from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/01/why-los-angeles-teachers-are-striking/580360/

http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/