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!

Why I think this idea of Black people being ‘tricked’ by the DNC into voting for Democratic candidates is dismissive and disrespectful.

(Full Disclosure) I have spent a great deal of my adult-professional life discovering and uncovering the inherent gifts, talents, and immense creative intelligences of Black children. I never did and never will believe that Black children, (and by extension Black adults) are in any way academically ‘naturally inferior’ to any other people on the planet; and I include capabilities in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Any so-called K-12 Black related ‘achievement gaps’, ‘academic under-performance’ or poor standardized test results; are all purposely and artificially created and crafted by public school systems that don’t honor and respect the right of Black students to receive a quality education, when that honor and right interferes with the rights and benefits of adults who work in public education.
I get it, it’s politically more convenient and safe to blame the ‘under-performance’ of Black students on standardized exams by saying the test themselves are racist; when the truth is that not preparing Black students to perform well on standardized exams is the real racism!

Unfortunately, this low to no expectations of Black students is extended and attached to their adulthood, and sadly this ‘down-grading’ of Black American thinking ability is now being pushed by ‘black-celebrity-talkers’ under the guise of ‘wokeness thinking’.
I was physically in many southern states that voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden During the recent Democratic primary.
In Alabama in particular I did not see any indication (I’m talking a post-card, flyer, campaign office, church fan, a person walking around in a sandwich sign, billboard, lawn sign, etc.) of a “Biden for President” promotional effort. What I think occurred was not an act of DNC ‘strategic-brainwashing’, instead the Black voters in Alabama and other states exercised their ‘mother-wit’, intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge (much of which gained through personal experience) of American racism, prejudice, and bigotry. Black voters are the most strategically smart voters in the US. And so, this is why they have and will support Joe Biden; wealthy celebrity militants notwithstanding:

(1) They don’t believe the polls and estimate that Trump’s positive poll numbers are closer to 50%+ of white American voters. And,

(2) When you combine those numbers with Black voter suppression, intimidation and ‘misdirection’ efforts, his numbers become even more potentially dangerous.

(3) They also don’t believe that Trump’s horrible response and performance in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic; as well as his immoral, corrupt, and incompetent leadership will necessarily deter large numbers of white American voters from seeking to return him to office; and that’s because of his ‘pact’ with white supremacist ideas and policies.

(4) Black voters correctly I believe, hypothesize that poor working and unemployed white Americans, who continue to vote their fears and prejudices; and not their economic interest, did not receive the type of quality education that would allow them (and many other Americans for that matter) to effectively distinguish between a ‘communist’, ‘socialist’ and a ‘democratic socialist’(and thus the no Black vote for Bernie Sanders).

(5) And following the historical ‘prejudice rationale’; Black voters believe that there is an ideological link that binds a significant number US white citizens to embrace both anti-Jewish and anti-Black feelings (another reason why Black voters believe that a significant number of white US voters won’t vote for Bernie Sanders)

Nowhere I visited in the south during the Democratic Primary did I witness any: “Boy, do we love Joe!” private or group energy (or even the discussion of the same). My sense was the decision to vote for Biden was a calculated move based on the above-mentioned variables. The outcome Black voters desired was not crafted by some magically presented plan by the DNC (really, come on folks the DNC?) This was simply Black voters voting their existential survival interest. “Who” they ask unemotionally, “can defeat the ‘every word out of his mouth’ is (and never apologizing for it) racist and bigoted Donald Trump!”

Black leaders should stop denigrating the people they purport to represent. Black voters have essentially designed a ‘hierarchy of people who don’t care about us and will actively seek to hurt us’; and right now the racist Trupublicans are at the top of the list; that could change (it has in the past—study US history!)

What is needed is a Black leadership that is not waiting for the never-enough few crumbs to feed Black people that fall from either the Republican or Democratic Party tables. We need independent projects and programs that can create in those things and areas we can control; the kind of efforts that would produce educational and economic generational progress leaps!
And there is no freedom worth having that could be granted (and therefore taken back) by our giving our votes to any political party or person; we need to create our own freedom!

The Ahmaud Arbery story: I am so tired of American racism hiding behind Donald Trump.

I am so tired of Donald Trump being portrayed as an aberration, a ‘deviation from the norm’, not-Republican, not-a-true-conservative, not-Mitch McConnell, not Susan Collins (aka “adults in the room”). That he is not the pre-trump era: attempts to dismantle and limit the expansion of healthcare to the poor, of blocking Obama judges, GOP “southern strategy”, Black voter suppression, convincing and manipulating poor/working-class whites to act in their racially-bigoted and not best economic interest, GOP gerrymandering to politically disenfranchise Black citizens; that he is not what America is truly about. His “style” is a little different, but he is in essence every bit of the above pre-trump GOP behaviors and he is very much American…

I am so tired of the news media, professional political thinkers and the cable news ‘talkers’ not recognizing that even a 40+% (plus those large numbers who for a lot of reasons won’t publicly declare) endorsement, support, encouragement, ‘likability’ rating, for someone like a Trump signals a defeat for what people pretend America stands for. Accounting for a 1% standard racist-nutcase cohort in any society; his favorability count is 39% too many people for a nation that wraps itself in the “Liberty And Justice For All” slogan…

I am so tired of a gutless and rudderless Democratic Party, who couldn’t find their way to becoming a ‘real’ opposition party if they were standing in the middle of it (and Yes we must ‘hold-our-collective-noses’ and vote for Joe Biden in the same way we try to save as many children as possible in public school systems that are designed and operating to destroy them; until we gather the collective courage and political will to make a real and meaningful change of those systems)…

I am so tired of talking and listening to white liberals/progressives/independents/conservative “never-trumpers”; who want to lay all of America’s ugly national commitment to the sins of bigotry and discrimination, on the shoulders of Donald Trump. Their political-operational slogan should be “Defeat all Versions of Trump and all American Expressions of Racism & Bigotry!”…

I am so tired of the unbelievable multiple ways (violence, poverty, housing, healthcare, public education, another young black person, law enforcement, ……..) that a young Black life and body can be destroyed alive or dead…

I am so tired of the pre-COVID-19, during Covid-19, (and most likely) post-COVID-19 horrible racial mistreatment of Black people in every area of the pandemic, from healthcare to the policing of the safe-distancing regulations…

I am so tired of professional educators (many who are black) pretending on both the social and news media platforms that this school-closure “distance-learning” thing is actually working well; when there are so many reports from all over the nation that a large number of all-ready underperforming students in the most educationally underserved (read: Black, Latino, poor white kids) zip codes are essentially and totally “missing in distance-learning action”…

I am so tired of professional educators (especially the phenotypically Black ones and the ethically/culturally identifiable Latino ones), who incredulously behave as if “back to normal” Public Education in any form, was in any way working effectively for the overwhelming majority of Black and Latino students…

I am so tired of people with good steady incomes, stock and investment options, nice places to live, plenty of good food to eat and first-rate health insurance, who then demand that Joe Biden basically becomes Bernie Sanders or that he pick a black vice-presidential running mate, or they will join the ‘never-Biden’ club. First, there is nothing Biden can be or do to make them happy; because (full-disclosure like me) 4 more years of Trump won’t hurt them personally; even as those additional 4 years will inflict a great deal of pain and suffering on people who don’t share their (our) privileged lifestyle of having a choice of living well and comfortable under Trump…

I am so tired that once again Black so-called Americans find themselves pleading for the fundamental right of not being killed by any random white citizen or law enforcement agent while: picnicking, walking, jogging, driving, standing, breathing…

I am so tired of fake-progressive white elected officials who automatically feel obligated to apologize to one group for inconveniencing their right to ignore the social-distancing statutes, while they ignore the pain of other groups who are violently over-policed for minor violations of those same safe-distancing violation…

I am so tired of the coward and cowered (with a few exceptions) black elected, religious, and civic leaders who allow the mistreatment and denial of Black people and Black business in the governmental response to this Covid-19 pandemic. Why won’t they do something beyond simply asking for “Black casualty reports”…

I am so tired of living 69 years of perpetual and unrelenting tiredness…