Going to meet Biden and my top 12 dream educational ‘verzuz’!

I personally don’t care what Black (fully-woke or half-woke) rappers, singers, dancers, comedians, professional athletes, professional activists, actors, songwriters, etc. meet with Joe Biden. I only have one request based on my observation of their personal family practices. I want them to advocate for the same quality education level they push for their children to be extended to all Black children. Shout-out to those (e.g., LeBron James) who have already taken up that cause. My #1 question for Mr. Biden: When will quality education for Black children matter?

And oh yeah, my top 12 dream education ancestral verzuz are:
1. Carter G. Woodson and Asa Hilliard
2. Lorraine Monroe and Ronald Edmonds
3. Jaime Escalante and Marva Collins
4. Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune
5. Hannibal Afrik and Jitu Weusi
6. Frantz Fanon and Frances Cress Welsing
7. John Henrik Clarke and Walter Rodney
8. W.E.B. Du Bois and Paulo Freire
9. Anthony Amato and Frank Mickens
10. Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky
11. Benjamin Mays and Elijah Muhammad
12. John Dewey and Maxine Greene

The Educational Problem With the Kente Cloth Performance.

As a former principal, I fully appreciate the power of positive symbols. And so, I am not questioning the sincerity (hearts) of our Kente adorned politicians, or even their right to wear the attire of any one of the many American beautiful collage of cultural attires, some representing groups who are daily disrespected and denigrated by the present occupant of 1600 Black Lives Matter Way. My concern with the recent ‘Kente wearing performance’ is that it is tragically symptomatic of what always happens in public education, where rhetoric, form, and appearances are offered to the Black community, in place of real educational learning quality substance and authentic change for the children of that community.

Recently in NYC a great deal of ‘storm and drama’ was created by the introduction of that politically hot trigger word, ‘integration’. And unfortunately, NYC’s Asian students (and their communities) were unfairly maligned and castigated for doing nothing wrong except following the rules and conditions that were established in the past and were actually created to help white students and not Asian students gain access to the then 3 academic specialized high schools!

I along with several others informed whoever would listen that in reality, the NYCDOE had complete (total) control over the admissions policies of the majority of ‘specialized high schools’ in the city, as well as the many specialized high school programs (inside of schools), and those high schools with a special admissions process. The NYCDOE could have enacted major, sweeping, dramatic and profound access changes (for Black and Latino children) at 10X the population of the three specialized high schools that formed the center of the integration controversy; and this could have been done without seeking the permission of any state or local legislature (or emotionally beating up on Asian students).
And further, the NYCDOE has the authority to redesign a present high school or design a brand new school that could then essentially become: a Brooklyn Technical High School #2, Bronx Science H.S. #2 or Stuyvesant High School #2; and no legislative body can stop the NYCDOE from doing this.

The best-ignored solution, of course, is to ‘integrate’ great school leaders, quality instructional practices, adequate materials, supplies and equipment, and high expectations and efficacy into any school a Black or Latino child attended; thus properly preparing them for the SHSAT or any standardized exam they will face in life.

In terms of that important ‘Integration’ ‘pipe-line’ to gain access to a high performing high school, also known as K-8 gifted and talented programs. We proved in (2000-2003) Community School District 29 Queens (CSD29Q); that there is no legal or regulatory ‘cap’ on the number of gifted and talented programs that can exist in a local school district (e.g. NYCDOE). In CSD29Q we placed (without consulting the central board) additional G&T programs in a geographical and performance cross-section of schools in the district, thus giving more students who were on and above academic grade and performance levels the ability to receive the rigorous and challenging academic work that met their needs. It is my hope, that out of a very tragic situation for the Floyd family, a legacy of a national and local political action hunger will grow for the realization of serious and not superficial change.

I think the common cry theme we are hearing from all over this nation and the world; is that people want real change, not symbolic gestures. It’s been a ‘nice ride’ for a Democratic Party whose, let’s just be honest, total credibility and legitimacy with Black people is wholly dependent on the Republican Party performing (‘acting the fool’) in the role of first-class bigots and racist; but, that’s not a sound long-term organizing and mobilizing strategy.

Further, the “just vote your troubles away” Black leaders have taken some serious (but not fatal) hits as of late. For example: Black New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted in a ‘northern liberal’ city, for an alleged ‘progressive’ mayor; and yet clearly the NYC police department is not properly operating under civilian control and seems to be immune (inoculated by the various police unions), from adopting any of the modern enlightened and effective policing methods. We only need to look at the Philippines to see what results from a para-military police force not being under civilian and judicial control.

I suspect that the Republican’s racist and bigotry posture won’t change even if Trump is removed. Full disclosure: I’m voting not so much for Biden, but to remove a serious existential threat to the well-being and safety of many citizens in this nation and the world. But I am only one vote, and if I were the Democratic National Committee (DNC) I would be careful and concerned for that day when the Republican bigotry ‘pass’ alone won’t grant the DNC access to the ‘collective black cookout’.

The DNC better start thinking about some real and substantial change actions (not Republican lite projects) quickly. Don’t just show-up but show-out with some meaningful generational improvement economic and educational* change initiatives. And importantly, don’t keep believing that you can also just show-up, year-after-year thinking you’ll get into the collective black cookout by simply wearing Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian, Senegalese, Egyptian, etc. outerwear. I think Black people are beginning to say: “Come real or don’t come at all!”

*would require that the DNC end their unquestioning and unprincipled alliance with teacher’s unions!

Rebels With a Cause … Public Education, a Cause in Need of More Rebels.

After observing, as a principal and superintendent, countless numbers of world and US history classroom lessons, one of my key take-aways is that power exists in the power of definition. The American Revolutionary War is not a 1775 violation of the sovereign law and order of the British nation; instead, it’s now defined as a righteous and just struggle. I could imagine some London newspaper columnist proclaiming: “My word, those British (subjects) colonial ingrates are destroying their ‘own’ colony!” The violence of the American Revolution was initiated only after many peaceful and lawful unsuccessful protestations that were made to (and ignored by) the British Government. To put it in a modern context, the colonist took a non-violent plea for justice knee during a professional football game; and then the act was ignored, scorned, and banned by the NFL.
The ‘bad acting exploiter’ always seeks to ‘flip-the-narrative’, such that the causes for any Righteous Rebellion are ignored and downplayed, in the effort to demonize and marginalize those who have taken up the cause of Rebellion.

Staying with Historiography…

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. And so, now in the spring of 2020, the ‘primary-concern’ is about African-Americans “destroying their ‘own’ neighborhoods”, and not why African-Americans don’t own (like other Americans) the neighborhoods where they are the numerical majority. And by “own” I mean having the political capacity, leverage, and power to truly receive: Professional (and real) protect and serve treatment from their police departments. Not being the last on the list of the least, in receiving quality healthcare services (pre and present pandemic), that is commensurate with living in one of the most powerful and richest nations on the planet. (And my personal disappointment) Having public school systems that leaves their children under-prepared, their gifts and talents undiscovered and undeveloped, as these public schools also damage their children’s hopeful future aspirations. And yet these same school systems are amazingly efficient in preparing Black children for social-psychological destruction, and prisons. And to be painfully honest there are many Black and Latino ‘leaders’ who represent and reinforce this system of political Black child educational dis-ownership by the larger society.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was not a document that affirmed the humanity and human rights of those 1800’s Africans being held in cruel and inhuman captivity. And if we are to be truly honest, the Emancipation Proclamation was not a morally courageous act, it was in fact a strategic military tactic. It’s true underlying message to Black US enslaved persons was that: “We don’t care about you, and you are on your own!” In the last presidential election (and as the present normalization of ‘Trump-culture’ confirms and continues), America sent a similar message: “African-Americans, we don’t care about you; and you are on your own!” The question is then: “When will we take ownership of our ‘own’ correct readings of these two very clear messages?”

There will always be some significant number of white Americans who driven by politics, morality, decency, conscious or spiritually; who will step-up and step-into the idea of wanting to live in a nation that truly practices liberty, justice, and freedom for all. Freedom, however, can’t be subcontracted out or based on any form of ‘good-hearted’ reparations; the people who are to be freed must take ownership of their own ‘freeing’ process.
But our sitting idle, year after year, watching and waiting for public schools to make Black students competitively competent (and express shock when these children are not); and this after so many (Asa Hilliard, John Henrik Clarke, Lorraine Monroe, et al.) have warned Black America that our public school systems ‘are working’, by not working for large numbers of the ‘American Dream’ disinherited student populations.
Therefore, not fighting for the educational empowerment of Black children (all, not just the ones living in your house); means that we are in essence burning down and destroying our own, and their future possibilities.