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.
By the 19th century, free Blacks were yearning for education. A few Blacks were able to benefit from private schools. The consensus in the nation, however, was that education should not be a public expense. To whites, education was a class issue. Blacks, on the other hand, believed that education should be available to everyone. To overcome Black illiteracy amid the Black masses in an English-speaking country, there was a need ab initio for English-speaking teachers. This meant public education. There was an issue of supply and demand. There were too few teachers for the Black masses.
Around 1800, the Industrial Revolution was in full bloom in England and it was right around the corner in the United States. There was a need for an immigrant workforce. Home schooling and private schools for the elite would not do the trick. Public schooling was the only option. White industrialists saw the light. The first public high school in the nation was established in Massachusetts in 1821. It was segregated.
The South would prohibit public education from becoming a public expense until after the Civil War. Black politicians led the charge for public education in the South during Reconstruction. They had allies in the North who were advocates of protectionism and militarism and they saw the need to transform the South from a slave economy to a wage economy. Public education was a part of Reconstruction in the South.
laws first arose in Massachusetts in 1852. It would eventually spread like wildfire to the entire nation. Forced schooling and the Industrial Revolution would become the seeds for the military-industrial complex. In 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower would predict the bloodless military coup that occurred in this country in 2000.It is still in play today.
This nation had to develop a trained, indoctrinated and patriotic feeder population for industry and the military. This was the Prussian paradigm. It was exported from Europe to the United States in the 1800s. The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute were established in the 1800s to suppress Black rebellions. This was the emergence of the prototype for the military-industrial complex.
Forced schooling to many whites sounded like
forced labor. They would not take it lying down. The Ku Klux Klan and the Scottish Rite Masons in Oregon, for example, sponsored an initiative requiring children between the ages of 8 and 16 to attend public schools. While the Supreme Court in 1925 recognized the right of states to enact forced schooling laws, it also upheld the constitutional right of a parent to choose a private school. Of course, only the white elite could afford private education. The minds of rich children would remain intact. They still shun state-sponsored brainwashing.
Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925 recognized the right of a parent to protect a child from indoctrination by sending the child to a private school. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court was concerned about the enthusiasm of Black teachers in a segregated setting to indoctrinate Black children. The goal in Brown was indoctrination and assimilation.
Blacks who advocate equal funding for Black children have no knowledge of the purpose of education. Throwing more money at public education, controlled by whites, is like throwing kerosene at a burning fire. Many Black children are resisting a forced, public education even if the alternative is prison.
Given the history of racial oppression in this country, a Black child should be constitutionally entitled to a customized education. Black children have special needs that have arisen from racial oppression. Public education will not do the trick. In addition, charter
schools are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. This is a rehash of the “talented tenth.”
Both Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey served apprenticeships. The same can be said for Robert Morris Jr., Aaron Alpeoria Bradley and Scipio Africanus Jones. All of these revered ancestors were also committed to self-study. We must look to the past to fashion an educational paradigm for the future.In the meantime, Blacks must put an end to mayoral control.
June 3 :UAM Weekly Forum at Elks Plaza, 1068 Harriet Tubman (Fulton Street) near Classon Avenue in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Take the “C” train to Franklin Avenue. Two blocks to Elks Plaza. Admission is free. June 20: Dinner-dance for Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls at the Cotton Club, 656 West 125th Street in Harlem from 9 p.m. There will be a sumptuous buffet, live music featuring vocalist Ann Sinclair and the Cotton Club All-Stars, door prizes, a raffle drawing and more to help Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls.
July 5-August 1: Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls for children ages 7-15 in the Catskill Mountains. This is the only African-centered, sleep-away, summer retreat in the nation. It offers many activities, including swimming, arts and crafts, sports, field trips, fishing, archery, African history and culture, legal advocacy, mock trials, skating, martial arts, exploration of the Underground Railroad and more. Call UAM at (718) 834-9034 for further information.