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In Oakland: A charter school for black boys, charter conversions and other proposals

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, November 10th, 2011 at 4:49 pm in achievement gap, charter schools.

The Oakland school board holds a special meeting Nov. 21 to hear eight pending charter petitions — three district schools that would secede from OUSD and run independently; one new school and four existing charters that are up for renewal (KIPP Bridge, Civicorps, ARISE High School and Aspire’s Lionel Wilson College Prep).

NOTE: This is a public hearing only — no decisions are scheduled.

You can find the schedule here, and I’ve pasted it below. All of the petitions are posted online, if you want to take a look.

Staff Photojournalist

As I reported last month, teachers at East Oakland’s ASCEND and Learning Without Limits elementary schools voted to break away from the district and apply for a conversion charter. The leaders and staff of the new small schools say they’ve watched the erosion of the conditions their schools were promised when they opened — namely, control over curriculum, staffing and budget.

Their concerns came to a head last spring, when many of their teachers, low on the OUSD seniority chain, received a layoff warning or termination notice. The district issued hundreds of those notices, and ended up rescinding most of them.

Parents from nearby Lazear Elementary, which is slated for closure in 2012, have — as promised — submitted a charter petition as well. The Math, Science & Technology Bilingual Charter Academy would go from preschool through eighth grade. Its goal is for all children to graduate bilingual and biliterate. Unlike other models I’ve seen in Oakland for English- and Spanish-speakers, it proposes to teach children in separate classrooms, according to their dominant language.

Compared to many of the other charter school petitions — especially in recent years — details of its instructional program are sparse. ASCEND’s document, for example, devotes a full 45 pages to the school’s instructional practices. (I saw the principal turn in the 535-page document; it looked very heavy.)

The instructional plan for Math, Science & Technology Bilingual Charter Academy, by contrast, is covered in about four pages. Use of technology, as advertised in the school’s name, is addressed in a single paragraph:

Technology is a tool that enhances learning that goes on both in and out of the classroom. Technology is integrated in the curriculum across grade levels in a developmentally appropriate way. In K- 2 students begin by learning basic computer skills such as word processing and keyboarding, as well as various programs such as Imagine Learning. Another program, Google Earth, can enhance the study of neighborhoods in second grade. By third grade, students are learning to use digital devices for research, writing, organizing ideas, and working on collaborative, long-term projects.

Another charter proposal, for a new, k-12 school that’s open to all, but designed for African-American boys, was submitted by the organization 100 Black Men of the Bay Area. As they make the case for the new school, the petitioners note the poor performance of African-American males nationally, as well as in the city’s public school system:

While the Oakland Unified School District is working hard to meet the academic and developmental needs of its students, the underperformance of African-American and Latino students remains stark.

Staff PhotojournalistI found that statement noteworthy, as one of the leaders behind this charter school — Chris Chatmon (pictured, right) — was appointed by OUSD a year ago to help change that very system.

Chatmon, who would serve on the charter school’s board of directors, is the executive director of the Oakland school district’s privately funded Office of African American Male Achievement. He is also the chairman of the education committee of 100 Black Men’s Bay Area chapter.

The petition acknowledges the work of Chatmon’s department, and it says the school would “serve as an integral partner with the (Office of African American Male Achievement) in an effort to drastically change the trajectory of African American male students in Oakland.”

Still, as the school district would be overseeing the charter school — and determining whether to approve it to begin with — I wonder if Chatmon’s employment in OUSD poses a conflict of interest. I’ve asked the district’s charter school office and general counsel if they’ve looked into it and/or determined otherwise. I called Chatmon yesterday and told him I was blogging about the petition, but I haven’t heard back from him.

But more importantly, what do you think about the bigger picture — a public school essentially created for African-American boys? Is this an answer to the city’s enormous achievement gap?

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  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    Hey Katy, You might want to check with Mr. Chatmon about his current status. There may have been a reevaluation of funding for his projects and leadership.

  • Katy Murphy

    I’ll ask him when he calls me back. I was on the phone with Troy Flint, the OUSD spokesman, when I saw your post, so I asked him about it. He said the district is looking for funding to expand the African American Male Achievement initiative. He also said: “As far as I know, there has been no discussion of leadership changes in that office.”

  • Nextset

    This is an interesting premise. A black boy school that actually admits it’s a “black boy school”.

    It’s not that we don’t have black schools. Have had them for over 100 years. They’ve always mixed boys and girls. It wouldn’t surprise me if we’d previously separated sexes somewhere in the past from classroom to classroom. Home Ec in the 1950s was not known to include a lot of boys. Wood Shop and Auto Shop was not known to include girls.

    Do I have a problem with the concept? No. We are desperate – try anything and everything. Will this close the “GAP”? Are you kidding? The gap is largely physical. Too bad, so sad.

    While you can cherry pick students in whatever intelligence band you want with whatever degree of difficulty you may have from place to place, once you get into large numbers of any given ethnic, the well established ethnic IQ norms assert themselves. OUSD is a large district. However. this charter may do something to limit it’s intake of black boys to cherry pick. And this can happen as an unintended consequence.

    I still believe it should be easy to beat OUSD’s performance with the black boys. The old style black schools run by (old school) black teachers and administrators did far better.

    But then, maybe the proposed school will be run by white liberals.

  • Katy Murphy

    I should note that the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area Community School petition says the school would be open to all students (not just boys, not just African-American students), though it’s fairly clear about its target student population.

  • Mick,

    Open more charter schools.Closing public schools that parents are fighting to keep open. How can this make sense?

  • Jeremy

    Its the begining of the end for the district. People from their instituion are starting to attack it- an implosion is looming.

    The bottom line is that the teachers union has the district their fiefdom. Just look at the past and present mayors of this city.

    They side with anarchists and idealists becuase they are of the vanguard also yet the city is collapsing around them. Those 60 type racilas are now only fringe groups and cannot sustain them selves.

    Its only a matter of time before Oakand is once again thrust into the limelight fro becoming a charter district- the question is, when the roof caves in- who will survive and how?

  • Jeremy

    I meant to say that the union has destroyed their fiefdom- man I cant type)!

  • Sharon

    “…privatization justified by identity politics.”

    This is how Ramsin Canon, politics editor for a news website in Chicago, summed up where we’re headed in his piece “How & Why a Democratic President Privatized Our School System.”

    As the concept of a common education disappears and US citizens divide themselves up into smaller and smaller groups, boutique charter schools already exist (with more being started everyday) that cater to:
    - African American boys
    - Kids w/parents who want them to learn Greek (=Greek Orthodox)
    - Kids w/parents who want them to learn Punjabi
    - Kids w/parents who want them to learn Hebrew (=Jewish)
    - Kids who attend certain local Christian churches
    - Muslim kids
    - Kids from certain immigrant groups
    - Kids w/parents who want to train them to become Conservative Republicans
    - soccer-playing kids
    - football-playing kids
    - etc.

    The line “everyone’s welcome” is always given (legally required b/c they’re getting public funds), but the reality is that only certain groups will feel comfortable at these schools.

    Anyway, Canon’s piece is very insightful if you want to learn how we got to this point. http://ramsincanon.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/how-why-a-democratic-president-privatized-our-school-system/

  • elp

    We have been down the road of well paid OUSD consultant to charter school creator before – any one remember Education for Change? How are they doing for the kids? How are the founders doing financially?

  • Harold

    It seems that no matter who is running the OUSD, there is never a shortage of dumb ideas.

    Teach Ebonics = dumb
    A school for “black” boys = dumber

    What are we getting for our $260,000+ Superintendent?

  • Nextset

    Sharon really hit the nail on the head with the “everybody’s welcome” nonsense these fringe school put out to dummies who want to believe.

    Will a Black Boy school teach the black boys to speak, read and write standard English? Somebody please tell me!!

    And perhaps they should be made to read Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt and other such books about white society so they have some clue about mainstreaming (actually reading the 1920 versions and moving forward to the later version is really entertaining – love the part about calling cards).

  • Nextset

    Remember, secondary school is about preparing the students for military service, industry or higher education. It’s not about making them happy, making them feel good, or teaching them reproduction.

    So exactly what is the plan with the Black Boy School to get these kids ready to make it in the Brave New World?

  • Sue

    Sharon is absolutely right. These are the 31 flavors and some!

    I have been thinking about all of this lately and do feel that OUSD- if it doesnt define its new identity (not one created by those board members who need to get out of the way)- they will be taken over!

    However- I would much rather have the smaller boutique charters replace the system once it does fall part, than thos mega corp charter schools that are on a binge to become the monopolies of public education.

    Eventually- there will not be much difference between the hugs system and districts.

    Same wine- different bottle!

  • Katy Murphy

    A comment made in response to this has been deleted. Please keep your comments respectful.

  • Nextset

    More thought about the Black Boy Academy. By limiting the class to Black Boys you go to the Bell Curve and see that you are limiting the school to a very specific IQ band. Now assumning your incoming class will not include Black Boys whose parents want them to be able to get a job in White America that pays over $100k a year – a living wage to some people – you narrow your band of IQ even further.

    I say that about the brights not being allowed to set foot in such a school because that’s exactly how this thing works. My parents and all their friends and virtually all my relatives put my particular cohort in White Schools because they expected us to be able to compete comfortably with Whites and Jews for professional positions. At least that’s the idea. We were all carefully told at about age 4 or 5 that we were not permitted to associate with bad/wrong/whatever-you-call-them people. Most of us moved out of black neighborhoods also.

    Remember, my parent’s generation got the WWII experience of working in White Professions, White Organizations, living in housing with Whites. For the most part they are all military experienced and that’s telling becuase the military screens for IQ. They know more than a little about competing with people who are surprised to see you there, may not want to see you there, and think you are an easy victim.

    This is interesting because our parent’s generation started out their childhoods living in all-black neighborhoods – back east. I won’t even bore you with what’s happened to two generations under me. Readers can extrapolate where this is going.

    So now you tell me somebody in Oakoand wants to do a Black Boy Academy. Exactly who do you expect to enroll?

    And when they arrive, how do you expect the college prep track to go? How’s that going to work for you? Do you want to explain to us how that’s going to work?

    Exactly what will a Black Boy Academy teach? What classes will not be possible there that you could get at St. Anything school? What language will the Black Boys speak and learn?

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    This is just Brave New World in Action. Caste protocols. Face it, you want the Black Boys segregated so that they will feel more “comfortable” and so they won’t have to experience the stress of trying to live up to white norms.

    While we did have legally segregated schools in the mid 20th century, they were staffed with Black teachers who couldn’t easily get jobs in white industry, were PO’ed about it and did a “To Sir With Love” number on the black students to get them ready to go farther (socially, professionally and occupationally) than the teachers. Not so here.

    So is this school going to teach the kiddies to be parking lot attendants or inmates? Shutting off exposure to mainstream while keeping them happy increases those odds. Black boys are better served by mixing up their exposure to the world at large while lighting a fire under their behinds. Aggression, creativity and ambition can find an occupation. They have an advantage there.

  • Makeitgoaway

    Although I know it is chic on this blog to tear down OUSD, trying something new when the old programs are not working is not necessarily bad. The Harlem Children’s Zone serves disadvantaged Black Youth and has been very successful and sustained that success over time while preparing students to enter the mainstream world. It can be done.

    http://www.hcz.org/programs/high-school

  • http://www.thefrustratedteacher.com/ TFT

    HCZ also benefits from hundreds of millions of dollars in donations and they kick kids out who don’t make the grade.

    Nextset, to the horror of humans everywhere, nails it in his last comment.

    This is simply the new segregation.

  • Nextset

    Makeitgoaway and TFT: I wasn’t kidding about the road to hell.

    If you want to do a Black boy school, fine. Just have no illusions about which black boys are the likely ones to enroll, and what their profiles will be.

    Now tell us your plan. Are you going to try to run a college prep academy? Great if you can pull it off. Please go over those stats and numbers on the incoming students and how you get there from start? Wuill you be handing out F’s or will everybody be above average this year?

    I like college prep. I did college prep. I have a number of friends and relatives who could not and did not. So are you trying to say one size fits all and it’s college prep? Hmmm I think OUSD has already tried that one. Is it Sacramento School board that just abandoned that formally and established for the first time a non-college track with board approval (might have been a smaller district in Sac County)?

    You cannot command reality to reshape itself to please you. You can cherry pick students in a small class. So what’s it going to be?

  • Nextset

    Makeitgoaway: I looked at their webpage: I laughed at the post they have that 90% of their students went to college.

    I know black students that were unfortunately allowed into UC Berkeley who wound up locking themselves in their bedrooms before dropping out in a single quarter.

    But they were accepted.

    Colleges have every motivation to enroll black students that are statistically certain to fail and drop out at that school. The same student might have survived if they’d been matched to a less competitive school (perhaps a HBC), but enrolled in a miss-matched school because they foolishly thought being accepted meant that they were appropriately placed.

    AA in action. People get hurt, because it’s not about them it’s about the school getting the stats.

  • Cheryl

    I am not certain what the solution to this very complex problem is for the larger community but I am trying distance learning by way of California Virtual Academy for my son. He was always in trouble, out of class and not learning. Very bright kid, but the classroom drove him crazy and that means that he drove his teacher crazy. Further, it is not healthy for a person to be told that they are bad every day after a while they will believe it. So now I am working on supporting him with the great curriculum provided by CAVA supplemented with yoga, music, and exposure arts and provided by someone that LOVES him and let’s see what happens. I heard somewhere that you cannot teach a child that you don’t love…

  • Believer

    Nextset,
    Could you be more explicit about the outcome of the decisions your family and cohort of friends had on your education, future occupation, perspections about the people you went to school with and who is in your circle now? Are all of you making $100K or more? Were your lives more enriched by your educational experiences on a social, emotional level? Bottomline was the decision that your parents and others made worth it for you?

    On another note…. Is the issue that this school is specifically for African American Boys that is is difficult for bloggers to accept? The audacity to believe that an academy can exist which not only meets the social, emotional needs of our African American Boys as well as prepare them academically with a college preparatory curriculum which results in not just acceptance to college but to graduate and pursue higher degrees. Who do they, we, think we are?

  • OUSD Parent

    I think a school for african american boys is just fine. Schools and universities were started to foster the development and educational needs of girls when girls were not, for whatever reasons, able to receive a quality education in the existing schools. Look at what females are accomplishing now. They are outpacing males in academics at all levels. While some may argue that female only schools are irrelevant, at one time they were instrumental in providing a learning environment in which girls could excel. Schools are also popping up to support the development of males. What about the East Bay School for Boys? So why not a school for African American boys? If OUSD wants to retain children of all genders and races, socioeconomic classes it needs to provide opportunities for the children to succeed. If not, parents will seek other options.

  • Nextset

    Believer – You realize that my parents generation grew up in Aparthied America. Through them and my grandparents we are quite versed in segregation and it’s advantages and disadvantages.

    My parents generation (that is their familiy and friends) made a concious decision to walk out of segregation at least within some limits. They moved to white neighborhoods in the 1960s. They enrolled their kids in all white schools. At the same time they personally remained in a black world. Effectively they pushed the next generation – my generation – out of the all black society they were really pretty comfortable in.

    Hell yes there were unintended consequences. Other families made the jump 10 years earlier and maybe more but the numbers probably went up more with the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

    WWII had much to do with all this. And that’s an understatement. WWII led to the GI Bill and the increased college attendance by the working class. College and grad school led to occupational and related military advances. More importantly WWII led to the great migration across the country.

    I have to go but will continue this thread later. The discussion now to “create” black boy schools is facinating to me because within my lifetime my relatives ran all black schools. If I thought this “new” school (“new” idea?) would ever be run like a Dunbar School I’d be all for it.

    I’m more worried that the black boy school would degenerate into a holding pen for future black inmates and welfare slaves. I know I can’t trust white liberals not to screw it all up and I don’t see any pool of black conservatives (other than returning military perhaps) who could be expected to recreate Dunbar High.

    Don’t think for a minute this school can’t make things worse for blacks, it can. Look at the all black schoools we already have. This proposal could be just another ghetto school minus the black girls. Although maybe that’s an improvement.

  • On the Fence

    I do not predict this charter to be the ” holding pen for future black inmates and welfare slaves”, as Nextset does. I actually think the opposite will be true, but it makes me just as weary. I predict that this school will be able to create just enough of a barrier/hurdle to attract and select only the most high achieving black boys and then claim that their educational practices (rather than their cherrypicking) is the reason for their success! I fear that we will go through this whole disengenous charade declaring that this charter has learned the secret to close the achievement gap. I also worry that we will end up pouring public monies over the heads of Mr. Chatmon and his colleagues for their roles in this new ‘miracle’.

    Nextset and many others have suggested the need for separate schools based on a students aptitude and/or willingness to do the work. Nextset has cited Lowell High as an example, I believe. I’m not sure what I think of this. I can see many pros and cons to that set up. My only real point is that we should be transparent about whatever we are doing. What I hope to avoid is all the disengenous nonsense about charters vs. publics, and how great a school or teacher or administrator is, if it is mostly a result of selection bias of the student population.

  • Nextset

    On The Fence: I am not “predicting” the outcome of the proposed school. I am saying what the risk factors and risk issues are. To predict I’d have to know more of the staff and the program as well as the profile of the students. That info is really not available until it all comes together.

    But I’m not born yesterday wither so I am concerned. If the school gets off the ground, good luck to all.

    As far as the school being desirable to “only the most high achieving black boys” – that is simply not a rational thing to say.

    The proposed school will attract black families who are interested in an afro-centric school experience. We known who they are – good luck with that!

    Because of the pressure they will be under to produce test scores you are likely to see cherry picking. Not really a bad thing, it is what it is. The problem there is cherries being picked from what bushel??

    In general I believe black students, boys and girls, are safer (better brought up) in a competitive environment where they are disciplined to a greater extent than the White and Jewish students (they’re going to need that to survive). And yes, that’s a racial difference thing. They are physically different. The program needs to deal with that difference. You need to look no further than the onset of puberty difference between black and the other ethnics.

    It’s also important to have them in a program where they are not actuarialy likely to fail – which requires screening and appropriate placement from college prep to bonehead courses.

  • Nextset

    Too many typos, sorry!

    As to my support of Lowell style segregated school – that speaks to the need to split the students off into campuses based on aptitude and ability. The college bound track needs their own school, and the other tracks do also. Mixing the tracks creates too many problems with the different standards which go with the different tracks.

    The black students would split like all the other ethnics. If the dividing point is 9th grade, a percentage of the students would go into each track. The percentages would vary by ethnic for various reasons the schools are not responsible for (including self selection). Retention rates and transfer rates also. You should not expect or even desire racial balance in these things. It is what it is.

    Elsewhere in the industrialized world these splits are done around 12 and occupational/professional schools start far sooner than ours. We have had the luxury of giving kids years and years to “decide” and to “find themselves”. That’s all ending as the state subsidy of education is reducing. With the higher fees and student loans replacing grants – people need to fish or cut bait sooner than later. Testing and placement exams are going to come sooner and become more important in the Brave New World. It seems they are more efficient in allocating precious resources.

    I suppose this means getting into the right kindergarten is going to be even more important.

    if the family is ambitious it’s not clear to me where a black boy school in Oakland is going to help with the ambition. It’s far too likely such an Oakland school would be afro-centric and mainly focus on keeping the chillun’ happy and feeling great about themselves. That’s a road to ruin.

  • Sharon

    Typically, the “no excuses” charter schools which take in students from difficult-to-educate groups and claim they’ve worked miracles also require parents and students to sign behavior contracts. This conveniently eliminates a huge swath of parents who don’t think they — or their son or daughter — can realistically (or don’t want to, or actually can’t) keep up with the demands. This method produces a high attrition rate that makes it easier for the schools to obtain so-called “high” graduation and college acceptance rates. The highly lauded Urban Prep in Chicago is just one of these schools.
    http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-chicago/it-s-a-miracle-urban-prep-loses-more-students-still-has-100-college-going-rate

    So here’s my tip for OUSD’s novice charter school operators who want a way to guarantee their *success* and future charter renewals. Start to develop a behavior contract and figure out techniques (either passive or active) that will eliminate your most struggling performers (= force them out and back to the regular public schools). That way, in the years to come you’ll be able to boast about being miracle workers who have *produced* higher student test scores, higher graduation rates, and higher college acceptance rates. And then your school can be used to justify even more taxpayer-funded, privately-run schools.

  • Curious

    I am curious to know what people think who have read the charter petition. It seems that many of the blog entries regarding the 100 Black Men’s proposed school are based on unvalidated assumptions.

  • Nextset

    Curious: Which unvalidated assumptions are you claiming?

    Sharon: You’ve got a point there. Cherry picking includes pruning. But even though everything you say is true there is nothing wrong with doing this, getting the superior stats, then claiming to be the better school. That’s what good schools do, and the students to the extent they can, rise to the challenge. Good students don’t want to fail.

    The trick is screening out those physically unable to do well in a given program – suitability requirements for enrollment. OUSD would do well to have a set of schools that imposed suitability requirements for enrollment and stop worrying about racial representation.

  • Just us

    @ Sharon-

    I got a better idea. Why doesnt the district, who has zero incentive to get better considering they do not have a 5 year petition to go through; adverstise boldly that they have lower standards, make excuses, and continue to show students dance instead of reading.

    This way, in Oakland, they will assuredly recieve kids and parents who are looking for the excuses and/or dont care about education.

    OUSD will then keep their schools open and well stocked! What does OUSD have to lose- its kind of already being done right?

  • Jim Mordecai

    Monday, 11/21/2011 ASCEND’s petition to convert to a charter school was presented to the Oakland School Board by its current principal, Larissa Adam, and its founder and former principal, Education for Change (EFC) corporate CEO Hae-Sin Thomas.

    Larissa Adam is the Principal of ASCEND. Ms. Adam co-founded ASCEND in 2001. After teaching at ASCEND for two years, she became Assistant Principal in 2003, and has been principal there since 2004.

    Hae-Sin Kim Thomas is the Chief Executive Officer of Education for Change, and was the founding Principal of ASCEND, one of the first five small autonomous schools created in Oakland.

    Does anyone see a conflict of interest when the principal, and majority of the permanent teachers of an Oakland Public School, are going to convert that school to a charter school that is publicly funded and privately managed?

    And, does anyone else find it strange that the District allows a principal petitioning to remove her school from the District to continue to manage that school?

    I know that principals have a union, but I thought they were at will employees as principals but would have a job as teachers if busted. Shouldn’t petitioning the Board to remove your school from the District get you busted?

    Jim Mordecai
    Oakland Teacher
    5022 Webster Street
    Oakland, Ca. 94609
    510-205-4635

  • Harold

    Our School Board remains toothless and useless.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Monday night the other petition on converting Oakland school to a charter school was a petition from Education for Change CEO Hae-Sin Thomas and the Principal from Learning Without Limits, Leo Fuchs.

    Fuchs is a name associated with betraying atomic secrets. Some might think it an appropriate name for a principal betraying Oakland Public Schools by taking his Oakland Public School charter.

    Aside from Fuchs’ name associated with a famous betrayal, some might question Hae-Sin Thomas exploiting her history with Oakland administrators to advance an agenda of growing Education for Change’s inventory of charter schools. As the Oakland administrator responsible for organizing 22 of Oakland’s small schools these two conversions to EFC charter schools will leave 20 small schools left to target for conversion.

    As CEO Hae-Sin Thomas will have doubled EFC’s inventory from two elementary schools to four Oakland’s loss is her success.

    In my opinion the Oakland small schools policy was not sustainable. With current state budget cuts, and without the Gates money, increase class size and consolidation of programs is a reality facing all of the state’s schools.

    Only in Oakland a familiar figure to small school administrators seems to hold out the promise of not having to take the cuts that other schools in other districts will have to eat.

    Only thing needed is to get 50% of the permanent faculty to vote for charter conversion and Education for Change will be there for the principals and teachers. Principals know that Education for Change allowed the principals of their two schools to become the principal of the schools they lead to become EFC charters.

    And, even when one of the two principals didn’t stay at the converted school, the District welcomed him back and placed him in a new principal assignment.

    OUSD administration is so tolerant that it not only welcomed back the EFC principal that had lead his Oakland school to charter conversion but it is tolerating both ASCEND and Learning Without Limit principals who on Monday lead the petition to convert their schools and is nevertheless letting them to continue to lead their schools.

    Sort of like Lincoln tolerating Lee maintaining his commission while organizing Virginia and other states secession military to fight the union. Unlike Oakland principals, Lee resigned his commission when he decided to support right of the Confederate states to succeed.

    Jim Mordecai

  • peonteacher

    As long as it’s not run by the government, it should be given the chance to succeed. I very seriously doubt it will – education requires the ability to mentally focus, and it seems a great many black Americans feel that should not be required – some type of gimmick is what black kids need, they say. Most kids who attend that school will already be several years behind in math/reading/etc, so even if they learn how to use their brain, they’ll still have to work twice as hard to be at-level.

  • J.R.

    Peonteacher,
    This was a joke right? I have witnessed kids of all ethnic backgrounds under-perform(as well as excel) for one reason or another. The will and desire to perform and succeed starts in the home with the child’s first teachers, THE PARENTS.

  • Maryetta Golden

    I am a parent of 3 males, grandma of 12 grandsons; an aunt, great aunt to a host of nephews, godmother/mentor to a myriad of Black males, a retired school administrator, teacher, & counselor, & have worked in 4 public school districts @ all levels!
    With that said-I am a firm believer that we need a K-12 school, or programs in schools, specifically designed for Black males to address how they learn, & how to teach them! They are a special breed(noun)! They can be exceptionally gifted & talented, & yet criticized, reprimanded, receive punitive actions, disciplined, & labeled “behavior problems” because they don’t sit still! Many are mis-diagnosed with learning disabilities, & often placed in special education because of behavior management, (not academic) concerns. Please understand, many of them are kinetic learners, meaning they innately like to move around, talk a lot, engage others in their conversation, but yet retain the material being taught. They are different learners!
    I am beginning research on solutions to help resolve this major issue, which must be recognized, dealt with transparency, compassion, & empathy to bring about positive change in our schools.

  • Nextset

    Maryetta Golden:

    I believe we once had such schools – they were called “black schools”. They were staffed with teachers and administrators who were “old school”. They taught their students with an iron hand – coached them on how to make it in the larger world – then often placed them in jobs and higher education.

    It all seemed to work pretty well. Until the civil rights movement of the mid 1960s imposed unwanted forced integration on schools together with protectionist policies and lower standards for blacks – indiscipline and coddling to protect “self esteem”. The rest is history.

    Why is it that nobody worried about black student “self esteem” when the black schools were run by black old school staff? I don’t remember hearing of any “dealt with transparency, compassion, & empathy” going on when my ancestors and extended family ran black schools K-college) for 100 years up through the 1960s. Quite the opposite. The world was a tough place – and their students had to be tougher and better than most to find a role in it.

    And they were dealing with students before the federalization of welfare. People were POOR sometimes. Everybody had to manage as best they could. General relief didn’t pay much – you had to hustle. So I don’t believe poverty is anywhere as bad now as it was then. Poverty is never the problem with schools and education – trashy people are more the problem.

    Maybe they dealt with trashy people better in the first half of the 20th Century. It wasn’t allowed to get in the way of education.