These are the moments when you feel that every sacrifice was worth it!

These are the moments when you feel that every sacrifice was worth it!

The email feedback about the book is great. The Book talks are great, in particular I love the professional conversations; and I always learn something important (about myself and the work) in the Q & A sessions. All of these experiences are helping to frame the next book. But I must admit, the feedback below is the #1 reason I wrote the book. I really want to help the ‘on the front line’ school based administrators to create the kind of change that will ultimately make them, their teachers and their students successful!

This warmed my heart!

This, from one of the nation’s top secondary school administrators speaking of her History department chairperson:

“…I asked her to read your book*…specifically the chapter about creating a strong social studies/History department. The end result was great…She centered her departmental meetings around the needs of the department and the guidance in your book. She told me to tell you thank you! For me, I too say thank you so much for your continued leadership.”

Excerpt From Building an Effective History Department:

“When developing or refocusing a history department, some of the questions the faculty must pose and answer are:

•Why are we requiring students to study past topics in the world, America, state, local, and civics-economics studies? Why is geography and cultural literacy important? Is this just about studying: “Dead people, dead places, and dead times?” Or, is there a larger and more important purpose at work here?

•What are the conceptual standards that would define the level of historical literacy required for a graduate of our school? What are the major (defining) historical movements, places, events, and people that we believe they should be familiar?

•How will the history department weave the study of anthropology, geology, political science, economics, social psychology, and social movements/ideas into the course of study?

•Very important, what is the history department’s approach to current events, an important study that I believe has become a lost instructional art. Also can the history department link current events to past events and further to their possible influence on future events.

•How will the department pedagogically, and in a safe and productive way, address the difficult past and current conversations around topics of race, economics, ethnicity, LGBTQ, gender studies, immigration, religion, and power?

•If the high school has a theme (e.g., STEM-CTE, performing arts, fashion, culinary arts), how can the history department reflect, reinforce, and enhance the school’s thematic mission?

•In a Title I school, or a school with large numbers of students of color, or in racially, culturally, and economically diverse schools, what role (if any) should the history department play in empowering students for whom the larger society (as well as public education systems) has systematically and historically denied access to the full fruits of the American Dream? And how do we address these issues while fulfilling our ethical requirements of making the school a safe and comfortable space for White students and staff persons?

•How will the history department address the issues of the curriculum cultural deficiencies, inaccuracies, falsehoods, and in some cases, demeaning historical portrayals and treatment of certain people; regions and nations of the world?…”

*Report To The Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership:

“I know that creating a solid, rigorous education for all black and brown kids in NYC public schools can be achieved. I lived it!”— Shari Logan New York Post Metro Reporter

A great opinion piece from a great and talented journalist. The message for all educators: Assume greatness in every student under your care! I really hope that Shari and the NY Post don’t let up on this topic. As a professional educator I am dismayed by the huge amount of ‘negative messaging’ that suggest that Black and Latino children are born with inherent learning deficits that can only be helped by way of lowering standards. The truth is that NYC is blessed with many smart, wonderful and willing to learn at a high level Shari Logans, who are just waiting for someone to give them the opportunity to display their gifts and talents!

Setting a high bar for nonelite schools works — I’m proof
By Shari Logan–NY Post April 6, 2019

When I began high school 20 years ago in September 1999, I was not frightened about the impending workload. I had a clear idea of what was expected of me.
I had just completed a summer enrichment program for selected incoming freshmen. About 100 of us completed daily assignments in math, science and English. We read several books, such as “Gifted Hands” by Dr. Ben Carson. We learned about the school’s robotics team.

Our teachers constantly reminded us of their high expectations: Get to class on time, complete every assignment, pass every test with an “A,” graduate on time and get accepted into college.

I did not attend one of the elite specialized high schools, but Science Skills Center HS in downtown Brooklyn — one of several hundred city schools that don’t use the SHSAT exam to admit kids.

Whether or not the controversial SHSAT exam is kept or abolished, the other schools must raise the bar.

Science Skills Center seemed to have all the makings of a low-performing, inner-city school. The population was majority African American and Hispanic — like 70 percent of today’s public-school students. Many qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.

Despite those factors, we passed our Regents exams with flying colors and 90 percent graduated in four years. Our college acceptance letters were brightly wallpapered in the school lobby to encourage us to soar.

Each morning, Principal Michael A. Johnson shook each student’s hand and told us, “Make it a great day.” On Wednesdays, students took part in “Dress for Success” to get used to wearing career attire.

We boasted graduates in every profession imaginable — from cops and city employees to educators, entrepreneurs, and computer programmers, plus at least one journalist.

I know that creating a solid, rigorous education for all black and brown kids in NYC public schools can be achieved. I lived it.

Shari Logan is a New York Post metro reporter

Original Opinion Page:

“New York City school districts with the largest black and Hispanic enrollment offer the fewest programs for gifted and talented children — a void one successful graduate calls “educational genocide.”

I must say that the NY Post has properly nailed this topic! Congrats to Susan Edelman for some great journalism. This is the side of the story that is not being covered by most media outlets (I wonder why?). The focus unfortunately has been on the topic of ‘racial integration’, and not the vastly more important objective of the integration of rigorous high level learning for NYC’s Black and Latino K-8 children! Hat’s off to Jumaane Williams and Robert Cornegy Jr for standing firm for higher standards for all children regardless of zip code!

‘Educational genocide’: NYC schools are leaving black and Hispanic students behind By Susan Edelman NY Post April 6, 2019

New York City school districts with the largest black and Hispanic enrollment offer the fewest programs for gifted and talented children — a void one successful graduate calls “educational genocide.”

“It’s like killing off a group of people who are not getting the quality of education they deserve, and it’s a crime,” said Tai Abrams, a 2005 alumna of the Bronx HS of Science, a specialized high school that has bred eight Nobel and eight Pulitzer prize winners.

Abrams, who left Wall Street to tutor bright minority kids, and other alumni of the city’s elite high schools told The Post that they credit their early education in programs for gifted students for getting them into the top schools.
Today, 10 school districts with 88 percent to 96 percent black and Hispanic enrollment have only one K-5 Gifted and Talented program or none, city data show.
Of the 15,979 children in the city’s 86 G&T programs, only 21 percent are black and Hispanic kids, though they make up nearly 70 percent of the total public-school enrollment. Another 73 percent are Asian and white. Alumni, city lawmakers and educators decry the disparity.

“There’s nothing wrong with the brains of black and Latino kids,” said Michael A. Johnson, a respected former Queens principal and superintendent. “Good, rigorous gifted and talented education can prepare them.”

Led by Robert Cornegy Jr., 19 City Council members sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza last month saying the disappearance of G&T programs for black and brown kids was to blame for their low rate of acceptance to eight specialized high schools.

Black and Hispanic kids received just 10.6 percent of the 4,798 seats offered for the 2019-20 school year at those high schools, while whites got 28.5 percent and Asian Americans 51 percent.

Before 2008, the 32 community school districts each used various measures to choose kids for G&T classes. Then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg changed the system citywide to require a minimum 90th-percentile score on national standardized intelligence tests.

As a result, from 2009 to 2013, the city Department of Education closed some 60 G&T programs, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods. Not enough kids took the tests or As a result, from 2009 to 2013, the city Department of Education closed some 60 G&T programs, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods. Not enough kids took the tests or scored high enough to justify the cost, officials decided.
“Parents living in poverty don’t know about this test. It’s an awareness problem,” said James Borland, an education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who focuses on gifted issues.

“In the wealthier areas of town, more kids take the test. And standardized tests advantage kids from wealthier families who can afford the test prep, so it’s a double whammy.” Asian students received most offers to city’s elite high schools
Since 2016, the de Blasio administration has added G&T classes in eight schools in black and brown neighborhoods for kids in grades 3 to 5 who are chosen without taking the test. While 88 percent of kids in these classes are black and Hispanic, the enrollment totals only 176, data show.

Several alumni told The Post that more G&T programs could change the equation.
Abrams, the daughter of Guyanese immigrants and raised by a single mom, was valedictorian of the first graduating class of PS 235, the Lenox Academy, then a K-8 public school for gifted children in Flatbush. Today, the school runs an advanced reading program for high-performers. All passed the Regents math exam in seventh grade — Abrams got 100 — shocking school officials who demanded they retake it. “They thought we cheated,” she said. All seven kids scored high enough on the SHSAT, the sole entry criterion for the specialized schools, to get in: One went to Stuyvesant HS, Abrams and another went to Bronx Science and the rest went to Brooklyn Tech.

Abrams earned a bachelor’s in math from Duke University. After two internships on Wall Street as an investment banker, she worked for a business-consulting firm.
But she left to give minority kids the same prep she received. In 2016, she founded AdmissionSquad, a nonprofit that helps get high-achieving middle-schoolers into top city high schools and colleges. It charges fees on a sliding scale from $100 to $350 a month. Her philosophy: “Give them the access, give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and you’ll see that they can do the work.”

Last year, Safina, Ralph and Semira Davis — a set of eighth-grade triplets from Mount Vernon, The Bronx — traveled to AdmissionSquad in Brooklyn for four months. All got into top city high schools: Safina was one of 10 black students admitted to Stuyvesant, Ralph went to Brooklyn Latin and Semira got into Beacon HS.

Abrams is against abolishing the SHSAT — which Mayor de Blasio and Carranza say is the way to boost diversity.

“I believe those schools are designed for the city’s gifted and talented students. They’re designed for advanced learning. The test serves as a mechanism to select those students,” she said.

“The test is a meritocracy. You’ve got to study hard, study well and show up on exam day. From that perspective, it’s fair,” she said.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams agreed. Schooled in G&T, he said he wouldn’t have gotten into Brooklyn Tech if not for his SHSAT score. “My grades were terrible, and I had behavior issues,” he said. He graduated Tech in 1994.
While Williams may back multiple measures to admit kids, he vowed, “I will not support any plan that takes away having the test.”

As for G&T programs in black and Hispanic areas, “I think we have to bring them back,” he said.

Brooklyn Tech alums Michael Walker and Stephanie Jackson say gifted classes got them into the elite school.

Michael Walker attended Brooklyn Tech from 1979 to 1983, when black students outnumbered white ones. G&T in elementary and accelerated Special Progress classes in middle school paved his way.

“That education was our prep program. We weren’t taught how to pass an exam. We were being taught the material on the exam,” he said.

His fiancée, Stephanie Jackson, Brooklyn Tech Class of ’86, was placed in an Intellectually Gifted Children class in grade school and went on to gifted classes at the former Satellite West, a middle school a middle school near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“I recall reading ‘Othello’ in eighth grade,” she said. “Satellite had a rigorous program in science, math, English and the arts. We were nurtured and prepared and told we could compete.”

Jackson and Walker also oppose elimination of the SHSAT.
“It’s a badge of honor to be able to say you went in there, didn’t choke under pressure and delivered what was expected of you,” Jackson said.

Original article:

“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:

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 (
) He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership…

“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
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…

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…

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…