In the L.A. Beez -- Hive For Hyper Local Ethnic News -- article entitled Feds Eye African-American Performance Gape in L.A. Schools, the predominantly African Americans readership are feed the foolish arguments that the habitual failure of Black children in LAUSD has something to do with "the ongoing budget crunch," seniority of teachers, or the preference of good teachers to go to "affluent neighborhoods." Nothing could be further from the truth. The painful reality is that our society -- whether Black, White, and/or Brown -- we have allowed a coat of endemic ignorance, not stupidity, to be used in defining education without rigor for children of color in this system. While a patina of colored folks have been co-opted into this racist system to give it visual credibility, it is still the American beehive that continues to give children of color the royal shaft instead of the royal jelly.
Good teachers don't go to less affluent neighborhoods because poverty scares them, they don't go because no attempt is made to maintain enough discipline to create an environment where rigorous education can take place. While you wouldn't know it at inner city schools like Audubon Middle School from the burned out and cynical attitude of teachers and administrators, they did not get into teaching in the first place to teach the affluent, but rather as an expression of the idealism and social justice that brightened their own eyes while going to school.
There was little or no affluence in the Bronx when the Muslims created first-rate education for their children when they got tired of waiting and there doesn't need to be in the hood of today. There just needs to be consequences -- good and bad -- for all constituencies: teachers, students, parents, and administrators based on whether they follow or subvert a clear, pragmatic, and specifically defined high quality education program. What there needs to be is a confrontation of the deeply held belief by most African American children that being "school boy" is a negative. When I taught at Dorsey and tried to teach at the same level that I later taught at Palisades Charter High School, I had to suffer the ignorance of my principal who called me into her office to remind me, "This is a Black school." Dumbing down Black and Brown education while talking about how all of our kids are going to college is not just dishonest, it is criminal and should be prosecuted as such.
Whether or not Russlyn Ali remembers where she and her people came from remains to be seen, but there is one sure way to find out if the Civil Rights division of the Department of Education investigation is for real or just the same old same old- get in their faces with the facts. The following people in the Civil Rights Office in San Francisco are charged with the expanded investigation, but don't seem to be able to find out whether LAUSD is engaging in "intentional or unintentional discrimination."
United States Department of Education
Civil Rights Division
Jim Wood Civil Rights
These lawyers seem to have forgotten the fundamental idea that intentional is not just overt acts but also the failure to act when there is a clear duty to do so. In discussions with these folks they are constantly reminding me of the limited scope of their investigation, which seems limited to asking LAUSD whether or not they are intentionally discriminating. The guy I talked to reminded me of a male Butterfly McQueen from Gone With The Wind fame, who said, "I don't no much about birthin' [educated students of color]." While even that might be okay, the question remains is he open to learning from people who are having their children discounted on a daily basis by LAUSD.
If the scope of Ms. Ali's investigation is to be limited to English Language Learners, which clearly includes native born African American children - when it comes to standard English - who normally arrive at the school room door "having heard millions of less words than their affluent White counterparts," (Geoffrey Canada- Harlem Childrens Zone) she might consider contacting her colleagues in the Department of Justice and see if they might be willing to bring a Ricco organized crime investigation against LAUSD, since natively intelligent children of color could not continue to do so abysmally in school unless there was a well organized conspiracy to make sure they don't live up to their potential. Educate Latinos, lose your cheap labor source. Educate Blacks, and you destroy the tacit belief held by many Whites and Blacks that Black children cannot compete. Enough is enough already.
Flickr: Jim B L