“Silence of the Lambs” starring New York State Politicians Cuomo, Gillibrand and Schumer

Even with all the local/national noise regarding Black death in the hands of law enforcement, inequality and mass incarceration The Big Three of New York have been very still in their action-reaction-inaction. In fact the silence has been…well, deafening.

Granted, I’m not a consumer of network media (ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, News12, C-Span) or print (Daily News, NY Post, NY Times, Gannett, Journal News) so it’s possibly a missed opportunity on my part.  Perhaps their political [fluff] websites says something but those are usually re-election promotions telling folks how great a job they’re doing.  However, I do pay attention to alternative outlets, social media and the like.  Just have not heard or seen much from them on this explosive issue.

Have the corporate captains of the microphone even challenged Cuomo, Gillibrand and Schumer over the past three weeks?  What about the so-called Civil Rights leaders?  Are they backing off this threesome due to the Democrat pin labels?  After all, shouldn’t they be the weightlifters for meaningful change in state policing?

Enquiring New York minds need to know.

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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For the Sake of Michael Brown

North St. Louis County and many of its municipalities have suffered decades of economic disinvestment, loss of manufacturing jobs and disruption by highway construction and airport expansion. Those who chose to stay in these ring suburbs, or who had no other options, had to live—or die—with the consequences.

White flight, particularly to St. Charles County, first hit the school districts, then the tax base. Remaining homeowners are heavily taxed in areas with often struggling schools, little industry and dwindling businesses and services. The mortgage bubble really burst in these areas, with rampant home foreclosures. Large retail areas in North County have been abandoned. Small businesses face difficulty establishing a presence due to high prices for retail space and insurance costs. Those who stay charge more, and those who buy from them pay more.

When businesses and retail move, those who remain have to spend their money with establishments elsewhere in the region. That builds up the tax base in other areas, not their own. For those who lack reliable transportation (let alone job skills and education), there are few opportunities to eke out a livelihood locally. There is little escape.

Disillusionment, resentment and tension set in where economic opportunities, recreation and thriving businesses once flourished. The “look at us, we are on our way back” slogans boasted by chambers of commerce say nothing about those who have been treated as invisible or dispensable.

As for our youth, many of them may not be properly educated, but they are not stupid, and it is not difficult for them to hear what they are being told in the cold language of unaccredited districts and transfer students. Michael Brown graduated in the much-discussed Normandy School District, an unaccredited school district that expired not long before he was killed. He and his peers—specifically, those strivers willing to transfer to a better school district—were told they were not wanted by many other districts in the region, once those districts were no longer required to accept them.

It may take a village to raise a child, but many administrators and parents in better-resourced parts of our region had no problem saying quite publicly that Michael Brown and his brothers and sisters did not belong in their village.

So it is not difficult to understand the frustration and anger of the sons and daughters of these disinvested ring suburbs. It is even easier to understand why, when their frustration and anger turned to rage at the murder of one of their own by a cop, it was directed at the police.

Most obviously, a police officer killed Michael Brown—in cold blood, according to eyewitnesses. But our sons’ and daughters’ rage at the police started long before Michael Brown and his friend were told to get out of the street on Saturday afternoon by a foul-mouthed Ferguson cop.

In many North County municipalities, it seems police run contests to see how many young black men you can pull over, flaunting the officers’ power and the motorists’ powerlessness. Our young men especially are regularly inconvenienced and humiliated while simply trying to get where they are going. The Missouri Attorney General annually releases a report, which no black person needs to read, that documents appalling disparities in how often black drivers are pulled over and searched, compared to white people, all over the state and the region.

But Michael Brown was not pulled over while driving. He was told to get out of the street while walking. For offering what was initially, according to an eyewitness, the mildest of resistance to a rude and unnecessary police order, this unarmed teen was shot in the middle of the day, and his bullet-riddled body left by police to lay in the street for hours, as if to provide a grisly example.

That did it. That’s what drove people (not just young people) to act out their pent-up rage. That’s what drove people to demonstrate (which is within their rights). That’s what drove people to the candlelight vigil on Sunday. And that’s what drove a few who disregarded the greater good to lash out at what was in front of them. The resulting chaos created an opportunity for looters—many of them, according to reported arrests, not from the immediate area—to smash and grab from what businesses remain.

We can’t bring Michael Brown back. But we can insist on a prompt, credible, transparent investigation—under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Justice, we urge—and that his killer be brought to justice. The officer should receive the constitutionally guaranteed due process he did not give to his victim. When his name is finally disclosed—as should have been done immediately—here must be no effort to bring him to the vigilante justice we see too often delivered from behind the authority of a badge.

We also must insist—as a life-or-death matter essential to the peace and functioning of our society—on an immediate and thorough review of police policy, procedure and training throughout the region. There are successful models of police/community cooperation that can be adopted. We must diversify our police departments—the Ferguson Police Department reportedly has three black cops in a staff of 53. We must train police officers who patrol minority neighborhoods in how to better understand the people on their beats and interact with them in a spirit of mutual respect. And we must stop protecting police officers when they use unwarranted force, against black men or anyone.

In the meantime, our angry youth and many supportive citizens remain on the streets, taunting police in riot gear with snipers sprawled on what amount to tanks, training high-powered rifles on unarmed black people with their hands in the air, chanting, “Don’t shoot!” among other things we won’t print.

We commend St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and community activist and writer Tef Poe, in particular, for showing leadership on the streets in these tense days. It is clear, now more than ever, that many more of us need to leave our offices, churches and comfort zones and engage more directly with our angry and misdirected youth.

“We as leaders can help redirect their justified anger,” French tweeted in the heat of the battle. “But we can’t do it from churches or our living rooms. We have to be with them.”

It should also be painfully clear, now more than ever, that this is not a black problem, but a problem for our entire region and others like it across the nation. True, if our community were more organized and voted its strength, then municipalities like Ferguson would not have the utterly inadequate mayors and police chiefs that are making life-or-death decisions today—and making them very badly, with fatal consequences.

But these consequences have regional impact. In countless editorials, we have urged our corporate and political leaders to do more to include African Americans in educational, economic and social opportunities for the greater good of the region. Over and over, we have exhorted, our region cannot thrive when we consign so many of our youth to the oblivion of failing schools and poor job skills. Now, more than ever, it is clear that our region needs to do more to include African Americans from the earliest ages for the region not only to thrive, but simply to function peaceably.

We believe it is because not nearly enough capable people with resources in this region have heeded our plea that we have reached this crisis point of complete breakdown, when the St. Louis region has entered the world’s spotlight, not as one of its great places to live and work, but as one of its war zones. We need peace. But first, we need justice and equity, so that Michael Brown’s death is not wasted, like so many young black lives before his, and with them the future prospects of this region and nation.

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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NYC Public Advocate Letitia James Chastises Commissioner John King

aneducatedbrother:

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James wrote the following letter to John King but has received no answer. King believes that children must be tested as a matter of civil rights. James, who is also African American, does not agree. What do you think?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Letitia James

June 25, 2014

Commissioner John King
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234

Dear Commissioner King:

I am writing you to express my concern regarding the New York State Education Department (SED) stand-alone field testing policy. I am strongly recommending that the New York State Education Department ban field testing for all New York City students. SED’s $32 million, five-year contract with test publisher Pearson did not include stand-alone field testing of multiple-choice items in math and English language arts (ELA). Pearson’s approach to test development is costly and unworkable and uses our students as guinea…

View original 281 more words

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Must-See Education TV

PBS Frontline: Separate and Unequal/Omarina’s Story

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/separate-and-unequal/

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

Posted in Business Schools, Charter Schools, Criminal Justice System, Education, Education Reform, Inequality, Law, Mass Incarceration, New York Region, Public School Education | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great and Mighty Walk

New Rochelle United Methodist Men

Presents

“An Evening of Outreach & Understanding”

A Film by St. Clair Bourne

JOHN HENRIK CLARKE

A Great and Mighty Walk

 Friday, July 18th  

6:00pm-9:00pm

New Rochelle United Methodist Church

1200 North Avenue

New Rochelle, New York  10804

RSVP 

Ed Gooding             Email:      EdG2553@gmail.com

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

 

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Should There Be A Single Road To College?

“To combat the loss of one’s eyesight you must significantly increase your insight.” John Henrik Clarke

In what is shaping as potentially another divisive element deep inside the education walls of higher learning George Leef, a contributor to Forbes and self-described “writer on the damage big government does, especially to education” wrote in his opinion [06/18/2014] entitled Koch Derangement Syndrome Breaks Out After $25 Million Donation To United Negro College Fund:

University of Pennsylvania professor Marybeth Gasman argued that UNCF should reject the money because it is tainted with the Koch brothers’ political advocacy, which she says works “to undermine the interests of African-Americans and the institutions that support them.”  The Kochs want to shrink the federal government, but Gasman objects, saying that federal programs “built the black middle class.”

Coincidentally this very subject, the health of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), came up last week during a round of golf with a very good professor friend of mine from Adelphi University in New York.  We were in agreement that the majority of these institutions are struggling.  His argument that in 2014 these institutions need to remain because they are the only viable opportunity for many college hopeful young people today is a valid one.

But at what cost?  Should these administrations be allowed to accept the “paper” from Koch like donors, regardless of what side their political fence swings, keeping poorly managed schools afloat while compromising on the lessons children are taught?  Do these donations create a different type of elite populations?  Or is the opportunity for a young persons college or university experience enough to justify accepting the money?

It’s an interesting dilemma but one which should remain solely between the giver and receiver.  Others have every right to voice, however a critical decision like this should be trusted with those involved.  More to the problem is the weight that lies around the neck of education in every district, in every city of every state.  Why in a Nation as rich as the United States is money such a factor?  Shouldn’t every child, that wants to study, have an equal opportunity and access to college or universities?  No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top seems to be providing us with a universally reform front which consists of plenty promises without much substance.  Unfortunately that leaves many youngsters in limbo.  

Maybe initiatives like the one supported by Governor Jack Markall of Delaware [A Case Study in Lifting College Attendance-New York Times 06/10/2014] will help direct reform to a better road.  Called Getting to Zero it’s program goal is to get every high school senior with a SAT score of at least 1,500 to enroll in college.  The incentives include application fee waivers for low-income students and full participation by high-school guidance counselors.  State officials are also encouraged to make phone calls to parents in order to navigate the necessary complex process.

In the end Dr. Michael L. Lomax, United Negro College Fund President and CEO, will have to answer for this and every other piece of funding his organization receives.  My only wish is that the outcome will be beneficial to every young, gifted mind inside our Nation.

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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A Single View of Education Reform

From Carmen Dixon, an educator and community organizer living in Harlem, New York City, The New York Amsterdam News, May 22-May 28, 2014

Corporate Charter School Hijackers Destroying Public Education

Opinion-Editorial

New York City has become a hotbed for education reformers making promises to ready Black and Brown children for college and their careers, even as young as kindergarten. Wealthy philanthropists have committed to transforming failing urban public schools into world-class learning centers. Their strategy? Use privately managed charters, vouchers and frequent standardized tests to measure student achievement and teacher quality.

This strategy would seemingly yield schools that have the freedom to experiment, increase available options, assess students and hold teachers accountable. At least that’s what we’re told. In reality, the results of school reform have been devastating to communities of color.

As an organizer, I’ve learned that people act out of self-interest—what is most important to them. So during my brief stint organizing at a prominent education reform advocacy group, I found it hard to believe that our billionaire board members were suddenly model altruists for Black students in Harlem.

What I learned is that reformers disguised as critics of the status quo are thieves hiding in plain sight. They are guilty of the following:

Commandeering the charter school movement, which was originally designed to be a space for exploring innovation in education, for financial gain. Schools have no business as publicly traded entities in the same stock portfolio with privately owned prisons.

Lobbying elected officials and finance campaigns to intentionally cut resources to traditional public schools. They have not once supported the Campaign for Fiscal Equity to restore public school funding.

Convincing parents to give up their power by supporting traditional public school closures in exchange for privately managed charters with no public oversight.

Cleverly using civil rights language to rob students of their own civil right to an appropriate education.

Reformers are ushering in a new school system characterized by segregation, overcrowded classrooms, data-driven instruction that emphasizes test preparation and results over creative and analytical thinking, a general disregard for students with special needs, more students unprepared to handle the social and academic rigors of college, more Black and Latino males being fed into the school-to-prison pipeline and fewer highly qualified teachers of color in exchange for a cheaper, whiter, inexperienced teacher force with a high turnover rate.

Putting students first means responsible use of taxpayer funds inside classrooms instead of outside contractors profiting from them. It means hiring qualified staff to support all children. It means supporting teachers and providing time to collaborate with their peers to create meaningful and relevant lessons and assessments instead of demonizing and firing them based on test scores. We need to hold elected officials accountable to restore funding to public schools. These funds can reduce class size and restore music, art and early intervention programs. They can also establish extended learning, linked learning and community schools.

If the corporate reformers truly believe every community deserves a quality public school, why are they promoting the opposite of what their own kids receive?

Historically, it’s no secret that Black folks have had to fight in order to educate their children. A basic tenet of grassroots organizing is that the movement is always cultivated from the soil of people toiling through their own experiences.

That’s why on May 17, the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, thousands of educators, parents, students and activists gathered at City Hall Park to march and rally to save our public schools from corporate takeover. This is an authentic civil and human rights movement.

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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