NYC Public Advocate Letitia James Chastises Commissioner John King


“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?


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…

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Must-See Education TV

PBS Frontline: Separate and Unequal/Omarina’s Story

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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A Great and Mighty Walk

New Rochelle United Methodist Men


“An Evening of Outreach & Understanding”

A Film by St. Clair Bourne


A Great and Mighty Walk

 Friday, July 18th  


New Rochelle United Methodist Church

1200 North Avenue

New Rochelle, New York  10804


Ed Gooding             Email:

“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


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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When The People Speak

“An element of hypocrisy hovers over this scandal.  The N.B.A. more or less turned a blind eye to Sterling until his words blew up in everyone’s face…Digging out from the rubble of racism continues to be a long, arduous, uncomfortable process.”  William C. Rhoden, Calm in the N.B.A. After the Sterling Storm, New York Times 05/04/2014

The disgraceful owner just keeps talking and now his “estranged” wife has chimed in to protect her financial share of the team.  Just a question but who would want to play, or coach, for either one of them after this soap opera plays out?

This is (almost) better than the playoff basketball games themselves!!!

Earlier this month in Westchester County two different New York City police officers fired their weapons during separate incidents, though they both involved the same city.  The first cop was drunk at 1:00am and unloaded on a vehicle injuring a resident of New Rochelle.  When apprehended by Pelham police it took some time since the suspect started waiving a weapon outside the car window at the time of approach.  In the second instance a cop used his gun to fire shots, up in the air, outside a New Rochelle housing complex.  Nobody injured or killed but rumors floating that justice may be distributed unequally here.  And it won’t have anything to do with the terrifying acts themselves.

Ras Baraka is elected Mayor in Newark, New Jersey…does anyone have a twenty on Cory Booker? Leaving the city in quite a mess now Senator Booker has been very quiet since being anointed into Congress.

Old friend Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and master of the 2004 presidential voting irregularities in that state, has a new gig as Chairman of SOS for SOS.  This group will use influence and dollars to shape national elections in favor of conservative candidates.  To see a sample of Mr. Blackwell’s work check out the 2006 documentary film American Blackout   [

Speaking of Newark (AGAIN?!?) according to May 3rd/4th Wall Street Journal (Amid Controversy, a ‘Doable’ Job in Newark) the present Superintendent of Schools, Cami Anderson, is doing such a great job Governor Chris Christie’s “administration recently awarded her $32,992 in bonuses on top of her $247,500 salary, on grounds that she accomplished most of her contract’s performance goals for the 2012-13 school year, such as rolling out a merit-pay plan for teachers (my emphasis).”  I hope for that type of incentive pay no kid in that district is without a school book, teachers don’t have to bring their own copier/printing paper and every high school student received free SAT test preparation.

Maybe it’s time for a stronger voice monitoring the outcomes of school children in The Garden State.

Ras Baraka is elected Mayor in Newark, New Jersey…

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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A NBA Teaching Moment…What Will Be The Outcome?

Brought to you by all the wonderful business owners, companies, and corporations that sponsors this great game played indoors in shorts with a round ball.

Why is there hesitancy to move?  An idiot is busted spewing hatred on such a level—the actual recording gets to the point of comedic—that any question of his ability to manage this Los Angeles sports franchise is eliminated.  Yet we’re made to tip-toe through a process, listening to days of fruitless conversation while the lawyers clock billable hours.

Once again a civil rights group is embarrassed by association and young people are challenged to differentiate the good from the bad & the ugly.

Lesson #1:  Money does not guarantee intelligence

“Signed…An Educated Brother!”

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