Let life be breathed into the education debate. At stake are not only the lives of our children but also the prosperity and happiness killed by the poverty in our urban neighborhoods.
I recommend that the following organizations hold at least three major Minneapolis School Board candidate forums, in May, July, and late September, 2014: The NAACP, the Minneapolis Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum. They should commit themselves to an active and shared leadership role and no longer stand in the shadow of silence.
With all of the pretense that goes on in the City of Minneapolis regarding education, you would think that three months into 2014, an election year, we would already be listening to and weighing passionate thoughts and policy recommendations to deal with the continued mis-education of children of color in Minneapolis public schools. Nellie Stone Johnson’s mantra remains relevant regardless of race or color: “No education, no job, no housing.” (and thus, in a word, no family, no childhood stability).
In 1965, before Watts, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat and a sociologist (and later a U.S. Senator from New York), predicted today’s state of our Black urban neighborhoods if we didn’t pay attention to education, economic development (jobs), housing (where families live), marriage and family, and how not doing so would lead to poverty for many. The big difference: it’s with Whites, now, too. It’s no long just “a Black thing.”
Just eight months ago, we were hearing about pitched battles between education reformers and their opponents. The reformers seem to have been a group of African American leaders led by Gary Cunningham and the African American Leadership Forum with significant support from outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak. Yet they blame lack of money or misbehaving students rather than a “cultural” or “community attitude” and dismissed the work ethic of education and training leading to downward spirals, not to mention denying the role of government policies.
Forceful, resilient, and constructive debate on real-world solutions are needed, not just what sounds good. Our children are in danger of educational extinction in the current education “culture/climate.”
Where is the real outcry from reformers who only seem to want to contain the wreckage rather than actually fix the fact that Black students drop out, are untrained for work, have babies out of wedlock, and perpetuate the poverty cycle? You would think this would be high on the agendas of government, public schools, foundations, and churches instead of just more meetings on the wreckage and their reports about how good they are to be thinking about it?
When Mayor Rybak was hired to take on the challenge of educating children of color, reformers sounded like a good ol’ Baptist choir as they sang hallelujah, as if talk and checks would guarantee a new education initiative. The Minneapolis Board of Education needs to determine real reform, not recycled meetings and recycled reports.
Despite Mayor Rybak’s new position and meetings about new directions in education, we hear little about the three Rs: reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic, which is why some maintain Minneapolis public education has died. There were occasions when it was difficult determining whether the superintendent of education still believed in public education. What happened to the anticipated, intense education debate?
Unmarried women with children in poverty are no longer just a “Black problem,” it is spreading to all the races. In 1965, 23.6 percent of Black children and 3.07 percent of White children had unwed mothers. Today, almost half of all first births (Back, White, Brown, Yellow) are from unmarried women: 30 percent White, 54 percent Hispanic and 72 percent Black.
For Ron’s hosted radio and TV show’s broadcast times, solution papers, books and archives, go to www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. To order his books go to Beacon on the Hill Press.