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Assimilating Black children in the U.S.

Alton H.Maddox | , Jr. | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a carbon copy of former Mayor Edward I. Koch if you exclude Bloomberg's wealth. Koch lacked the resources to buy off Black hustlers and to purchase political parties. Accordingly, he was unable to get an educational waiver for his friend Robert Wagner Jr., who was unqualified to be schools chancellor. Black children dodged a silver bullet.

History would come close to repeating itself 20 years later. Of all the people who could be schools chancellor, Bloomberg chose Joel Klein,a numbers cruncher and a legal sycophant with no experience in education, to lead the nation's largest school system.

With no legal challenges from the Black and Latino communities, Bloomberg was able to secure an educational waiver for Klein. These communities are still unable to comprehend the rationale for public education. This waiver may have been good news for Klein, but it was bad news for our children.

Watchdogs were present in 1983 to protect our children from Wagner's incompetence. I was among those Black attorneys who, through litigation, stopped him in his tracks. Black preachers and politicians simultaneously led a successful administrative effort to compel Commissioner of Education Gordon Ambach to declare Wagner unfit to lead the nation's largest school district. When Klein came to bat, he had no opposition. Lapdogs had replaced watchdogs. Today, the New York City Department of Education should be in receivership. The New York Legislature disenfranchised Black and Latino parents while the U.S. Justice Department had its head in the sand. It did not hurt that Klein had just left the Justice Department.

You can determine the character of professional persons by the language they use. Lawyers describe their adversaries by employing dehumanizing terms. Klein was the lead speaker on Saturday, May 16 at an educational rally in Washington, D.C. He repeatedly referred to Black children as "kids." Many cookbooks direct chefs to put a "kid" in an oven.

A "kid" is a defined as a "young goat." The ovens will be the final destinations for our children if we continue to give great deference to white paternalism. At the very least, the use of "kid" is politically incorrect and no white schools chancellor should use it in referring to Black children. Klein views them as his adversaries.

The New York City Department of Education is already a holding pen for the prison-industrial complex. More than 50 percent of our children are being prepped for penal institutions. Children must be given hope and vision. You cannot run a school like you run a Fortune 500 company.

Even if Black and Latino children became proficient in taking tests, they will never enjoy meaningful public employment in New York City. See the uniformed services, for example. See also the lack of Black teachers in New York City. In New York, there is no need for a glass ceiling. Blacks have no meaningful employment opportunities in New York.

Public schools are necessary parties to the military-industrial complex. Ironically, "free Blacks" laid the groundwork for public schools. In the 18th century, most whites were indifferent to education for their children. Other whites were engaged in providing home schooling or private education for their children. Education has never been a constitutional right and it was designed for the classes and not the masses.