Shameful partisans teach disrespect to President in school speech episode

A couple of years ago, when my son was in kindergarten, George W. Bush was his guy. He enjoyed seeing Bush on TV, speaking from the podium, and handling official business. Maybe it was because the President was speaking in words that he could stand, I don’t know, but he was a self admitted George Bush fan.

“Is George Bush a good President?’ I would ask him. “Yes” he would answer every time. Hard to believe with him growing up in a house with solidly progressive parents, but our son loved him some Dubya.

“Dad have you ever met George Bush?” he asked me while sitting at the table one day. “No son I haven’t,” I said puzzled by his question. “Then why do you always say that he takes your money?” he inquired. All I could do was laugh and shake my head.

It really makes all the sense in the world that our little fella hearted the POTUS. He was born soon after 9/11, and George W. Bush was the only President he had known in his lifetime. He realized -as a student of current events- that
being the President of the United States was the highest honor reserved for an American. He respected the office.

Though I challenged his thinking, I never tried to indoctrinate him, or force my belief that George W. Bush was a sub par President upon him. But that’s not what we’re seeing from the losing team these days. The losing team opposes anything thing the President does, and literally wishes for his failure everyday. And we know at least one pastor who takes it one step farther by praying for his death. Steve Anderson said he wants the President to “die like Ted Kennedy of brain cancer.”

Parenthetically, remember when George Jefferson called up the White House, got mad at the operator and the secret service visited him, thinking he was a threat to the security of President Jimmy Carter. But now I guess it’s OK to say you want the president dead, and think that this man wouldn’t rejoice if someone did take the law into their own hands.

Yes there was a lesson plan for teachers that was to accompany President Obama’s speech, calling on students to write the President and tell him how they would improve the country. Imagine that, a challenge to students to engage in the process of government. The nerve of the President to ask today’s youth to put their thinking caps on.

Critics would rather our kids be like the lady who Jay Leno interviewed recently on the street. Leno asked her “Who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?” The woman thought about it but was unable to come up with an answer. He then asked “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” “SpongeBob Squarepants!” she replied.

Someone has to stand up to the losers who find any and every excuse to oppose the President. They do in loudly, without shame, and without remorse. It’s easy to sit on the sideline and allow their birther, death panel, socialist, rantings to go unchallenged. But ignorance can’t be allowed to prevail.

Barack Obama won the election. Barack Obama is the President. Barack Obama is black. Barack Obama wants America’s healthcare system to get off the bottom of the heep of industrialized nations and be more efficient. Get freaking over it.

I cannot for the life of me imagine keeping my child home from school because he was going to hear a speech from the democratically elected President of the United States of America. Can’t imagine it. I also can’t imagine being such a sore loser.

Even after President Bush stole….er…won the election in 2000 v. Al Gore, I -like most progressives and liberals- vowed to move on and give the President the chance to show he was willing to work across the aisle with Democrats like he did as governor of Texas. He didn’t.

And here’s President Obama, bending over backwards to placate Republicans when his party has a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Do you know what President Rove…er…President Cheney….er…President Bush would have done with a filibuster proof majority? I shutter to think. Yet the President gets no reward, no thank you, no atta boy (well let’s hold off on atta boys) for extending an olive branch.

It’s sad to think that not only are loser conservatives hell bent on bringing about the President’s failure, but intelligent, rational, and free thinking conservatives stand by and listen to all the hate speech and partisan roadblocks being thrown out by their brothers and sisters without saying a word. RNC figurehead Michale Steele is afraid to speak around El Rushmo, so of course he won’t denounce the behavior of his faithful. Shame.

I’m sure parents out there feel just as good about their decisions to teach their children to hate the president, and disrespect the presidency, as I do about my decision to teach my son to respect the office. But I can wholeheartly say that any parent who takes their child out of school because they don’t want them to hear from our Commander-in-Chief is doing their child a great disservice.

Eastfield College Pleasant Grove campus opens with big celebration

On Monday, Dallas County Community Colleges District celebrated the opening of the Eastfield College campus in Pleasant Grove.  Leaders and citizens alike were excited about the new campus at 802 S. Buckner Blvd.

Not only will the campus be used for educating Dallas citizens, but it will also house the Southeast Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Southeast Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Wilkinson Center.

Eastfield Pleasant Grove already has 300 students registered for the Fall Session.  The theme of the day was how the Dallas workforce lags behind in the area of education, and that DCCCD is the largest college system in Texas.  The citizens of Southeast Dallas have another landmark to be proud of, and hopefully the city as a whole will embrace it.

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Dealing with Bullying – Tips from the Teacher (Part 2)

A continuation of Nature Sargent’s post regarding bullies.

Myth #6: Large schools or classes are conducive to bullying.

Primarily, research suggests there is no correlation between bullying and increased class size.  There is the suggestion of a correlation between increased size in schools and classrooms leading to less bullying because of greater opportunities to develop friendships.  The more children there are, the more likely your child will find someone who is like-minded.

Myth #7: Most bullying occurs off school grounds.

Of course bullying happens mostly at school.  School is where children spend most of their time around peers.  It goes without saying that some incidents happen in the neighborhood, apartment complex, and other places where children gather while unsupervised.  However the majority of bullying incidents are on school property.

Myth #8: Bullying affects a small number of students.

The National Association of School Psychologists estimated 160,000 children stay home from school daily because they are afraid.  Parents, if your child constantly complains of not feeling well and there are no accompanying symptoms such as fever, sweating, or vomiting, you should ask them if there is another reason why they don’t want to go to school.

During the course of the school year, almost every child will have to deal with bullying.  Observing a bully and knowing that you could be next is often as stressful as being the victim.

Bullies don’t just frighten their victims, they control other children in the class because of the possibility they may turn their terrible eye toward them.  This may cause a smart student to shine less brightly in order to avoid the attention of a jealous peer.

It may lead a natural athlete to lose races and other physical contests to avoid angering a bigger student who feels they deserve first place.  Bullies can control large numbers of children even when two or three are there preferred victim because of the possibility of their wrath.

Myth #9: Teachers know if bullying is a problem in their classes.

I cannot say this strongly enough: teachers don’t know!  Bullies are sneaky.  Tell the teacher.  No professional, well trained, committed teacher would knowingly observe and ignore bullying.  Also, be mindful that a single teacher is dealing with 20 to 30 children in a classroom.  Sometimes, you may have to tell us more than once!

Sometimes, when a lot is going on a teacher may say, “Sit down; I will be with you in a minute.”  Teach your child how to respectfully get the attention they need.  “Ms. Sargent, I need you to stop, look and listen to me,” was the code my students agreed upon as a no matter what I need you right now.  What is the code your child’s teacher has as an immediate attention getter?

Myth #10: Victims of bullying need to follow the adage “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names can never hurt you.

Children who are bullied over a long period of time often suffer from depression, consider suicide, and have other mental health difficulties.  Words hurt.  Some words inspire greatness while others ruin lives, careers, and marriages.  The power of life and death are in the tongue.  Teach your child to value words and to use them in a helpful, healthy manner.

What can you do?

First, talk to your child about their responsibility to protect themselves by using their resources.  It is important for you or your child to tell the teacher.  If this proves ineffective, immediately schedule a meeting with the principal.  Parents, be aware of your district’s policy and procedures.  In Dallas, parents get a Student Code of Conduct book.   Read it!  Make sure your children know the rules.  Information is power.

There are many great books for children that deal with bullying.  Please read this Bullying Resource List that will help you if you want to use picture or chapter books to prompt this conversation with your child.

In closing, I hope these Tips from the Teacher help you have a safe, successful school year.  Write to you soon!

Nature Sargent is a native of Dallas, Texas.  She graduated from Skyline High School, and attended Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, of which she is a graduate with a BS in Family Studies.  She holds an EC-4 certification in the State of Texas.

Dealing with Bullying – Tips from the Teacher (Part 1)

By Nature M. Sargent

Greetings beautiful people!

What’s up with all the bullying?  For the purpose of this article, we’ll use Dr. Dan Olweus’ definition of bullying.  Dr. Olweus, a psychology professor at Norway’s University of Bergen, defines bullying as an accumulation of negative actions, occurring repeatedly and over time, directed toward one student by another student or students.

There are many myths about bullies and their victims that parents, students and even teachers believe.  Dr. Olweus has identified through his research 10 specific myths I will outline and hopefully you can add this information to your parenting tool box.

Myth #1 Bullies suffer from insecurity and low self-esteem. They pick on others to feel more important.

Research suggests bullies have average or above average self-esteem.   The real issue is lack of compassion, empathy, neglectful parenting and uncorrected aggressive behavior.

Bullies must have aggressive behavior patterns stopped through effective classroom procedures, enforced discipline at school, and attentive parents who teach children how to deal with disappointment.

Do not allow a child’s circumstances to dictate whether or not you will discipline them.  All children require discipline, no matter their home situation or ability level.  It is inappropriate to give a bully a pass because they are in a single parent home, have a parent in jail or living with a disability.

Curtailing aggressive behavior is essential!  A favorite saying of my mother’s is, I can discipline you now or the police will later.  Bullies only grow more aggressive over time.  Do not allow your sense of empathy to blind you to their real need for boundary setting.

Myth #2: Bullies are looking for attention. Ignore them and the bullying will stop.

Bullies are interested in controlling others, physically and socially.  Ostracizing is a very popular, emotionally devastating social bullying practice.  Often, one girl will get angry with another and convince all the other girls in the class to ignore her.

I have witnessed a class of girls drive a peer to hysterical tears because they won’t speak to her.  She was unable to eat her lunch and she wanted to go to the nurse.  Needless to say, she was in no way able to focus on learning.

If it is difficult for adults to ignore a bothersome peer, how much more difficult is it for a child?  During the school day they must interact in a thousand different ways.  Moreover, getting hit in the back of the head isn’t something one can ignore.

Do not tell children to ignore a bully.  It sends the message you in some way believe what they are experiencing is their fault.

Myth #3: Boys will be boys.

Research says bullies grow in their aggressive practices and redirect them.  Approximately 60 percent of middle school bullies will commit a criminal act before the age of 24.  Bullying behavior you don’t correct may lead your child to at least one criminal act.

Also, in Why Kids Kill: Exploring the Causes and Possible Solutions, Dr. Sylvia Rimm identified one constant among the children she worked with, “All of them [children who expressed anger violently] had been teased by others more than what is typical.”    Victims may eventually respond to bullying by acting violently.

There is no way to prevent all bullying, however, once a parent or teacher is aware of the harassment, it is essential to respond firmly.  Bullies may grow to be criminals or make choices with far reaching consequences at an age when boundary setting by adults could make all the difference.

Victims may grow increasingly frustrated and bitter.  They may begin to view adults as powerless, stupid individuals who seem to look the other way or be uncaring.  An inability to successfully resolve the problem can lead to a violent and unexpected response to something small, such as teasing or name calling.

Children do not understand a proportionate response.  After years of bullying, one more incident is just too much.

Myth #4: Kids can be cruel about differences.

Most victims of bullies tend to be sensitive children who are unable to retaliate.  Peer response to bullying makes it clear that picking on obviously handicapped children and use of racial slurs are unacceptable.

I have witnessed children setting boundaries as it relates to ethnicity, but not as it relates to skin color.  What is the difference?  They do not allow slurs, but will tease about dark skin.  They have been taught about other cultures and the changes in America over time; they can identify prejudiced behavior and will challenge it.

However, appearance, clothes, hygiene, family circumstances such as jailed or absent parents and academic struggles are all reasons to tease.

Myth #5: Victims of bullies need to learn to stand up for themselves and deal with the situation.

Bullies choose weaker, younger and less socially capable children to harass.  None of those qualifiers lead a child to stand up for themselves.   Suggesting a child stand up for themselves is on par with telling a runner with a broken leg to shake it off.

It is essential to give your children tools on the best way to deal with aggressive behavior, tactics include defusing, deflecting, distancing and reporting.  Teach your child how to change the subject, calm down an angry peer, remove themselves from a situation and to get help from adults.

Give them what if scenarios and let them practice.  The best way to learn is to practice.   Prepare them for difficult circumstances and discuss ways to handle it.  Practice social skills for the same reason schools have fire and tornado drills.

An emergency is not the time to discover no one in the portables can hear the siren.  You should know the building will be empty in 2 minutes because you have done it!  It is never too early to learn how to deal effectively with uncooperative and mean people.

Nature Sargent is a native of Dallas, Texas.  She graduated from Skyline High School, and attended Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, of which she is a graduate with a BS in Family Studies.  She holds an EC-4 certification in the State of Texas.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. releases statement through Charles Ogletree

Here is a statement released by Charles Olgletree who has been retained by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. after he was arrested at his Cambridge Massachusettes home. This information was posted at and distributed.

Statement on Behalf of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — by Charles Ogletree

This brief statement is being submitted on behalf of my client, friend, and colleague, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This is a statement concerning the arrest of Professor Gates. On July 16th, 2009, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 58, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor of Harvard University, was headed from Logan airport to his home [in] Cambridge after spending a week in China, where he was filming his new PBS documentary entitled “Faces of America”.

Professor Gates was driven to his home by a driver for a local car company. Professor Gates attempted to enter his front door, but the door was damaged. Professor Gates then entered his rear door with his key, turned off his alarm, and again attempted to open the front door. With the help of his driver they were able to force the front door open, and then the driver carried Professor Gates’s luggage into his home.

Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there.

The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard.

Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’s photograph, and the license includes his address.

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’s request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’s home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates.

As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.

Professor Gates was taken to the Cambridge Police Station where he remained for approximately 4 hours before being released that evening. Professor Gates’s counsel has been cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorneys Office, and the City of Cambridge, and is hopeful that this matter will be resolved promptly. Professor Gates will not be making any other statements concerning this matter at this time.

Support Paul Quinn College website launched in hopes of aiding school

A new website called Support Paul Quinn College ( has been launched in support of the historically black college in Southern Dallas.  Paul Quinn has a hearing set for next month where they will have a chance to appeal the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools decision to revoke their accreditation.

The website has a letter of support from Bob Shapard, CEO and board chairman of Oncor, which is signed off by a number business and civic leaders (see list below).  This will run in the Business section of the Dallas Morning News on Sunday.

Support Paul Quinn College also has a presence on Twitter, and Facebook.

This is a good thing.  We’ve seen how social media can help bring attention to issues, and I hope the same thing happens here.

Let me say this though.  GIVE PAUL QUINN SOME MONEY.  If I thought that it would be throwing good money after bad, I would not make that appeal.  But I made a donation to Paul Quinn earlier this year and don’t regret it a bit.  It doesn’t take much, and every little bit counts.  The struggle that PCQ finds itself in is a financial one.

The school is headed in the right direction and needs the support of the entire community.  I’ll continue to do what I can to help and I hope you will too.

  • Joel T. Allison – President and Chief Executive Officer, Baylor Health Care System
  • Hon. Rafael Anchia – Texas State Representative District 103
  • Hon. Tennell Atkins – City of Dallas Councilmember District 8
  • The Bishop College 5 + 1
  • Hon. Lew Blackburn – Dallas ISD School Board Trustee 5
  • Richie Butler – Managing Director & Executive Vice President, CityView
  • Hon. Dwaine Caraway – City of Dallas Mayor Pro Tem
  • Rev. Bryan L. Carter – Sr. Pastor, Concord Missionary Baptist Church
  • Hon. Carolyn R. Davis – City of Dallas Councilmember District 7
  • Bro. Rodney Dulin – Sr. Pastor, Central Pointe’ Church of Christ
  • Tom Dunning – Lockton Dunning Benefits
  • Matrice Ellis-Kirk – Heidrick & Struggles
  • Laura V. Estrada – President, Garza Business Services, Inc.
  • Robert A. Estrada – Estrada Hinojosa & Company, Inc.
  • Regen H. Fearon – CEO, Mom’s Office Suite
  • Reginald Gates – President, Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Dianne Gibson – “Miss Community”
  • Hon. Helen Giddings – Texas State Representative District 109
  • Donna Halstead – Dallas Citizens Council
  • Rev. Fredrick Douglas Haynes, III – Sr. Pastor, Friendship West Missionary Baptist Church
  • Cynthia Hollingsworth – Shareholder, Gardere
  • Lyria Howland – President, Howland PR, Inc.
  • Jeff Herrington – President, Jeff Herrington Communications
  • Matt Hildreth – President & CEO, Amegy Bank of Texas
  • Dr. Michael Hinojosa – Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
  • Hon. Angela Hunt – City of Dallas Councilmember District 14
  • Debra Hunter Johnson – Reciprocity Restaurant Group
  • Eric Johnson – The Law Office of Eric L. Johnson
  • Lyndon Johnson – President, Reciprocity Restaurant Group
  • Willis Johnson – Dallas businessman
  • Hon. Vonciel Jones Hill – City of Dallas Councilmember District 5
  • Thomas Joyner, Jr. – President Executive Director, Tom Joyner Foundation
  • Kevin Kelley – Kelley Witherspoon LLC
  • Hon. Mavis Knight – Texas State Board of Education, District 13
  • Dr. Wright Lassiter – Chancellor, Dallas County Community College District
  • Ken Luce
  • Jack Matthews – Matthews Southwest
  • Dr. Lauren McDonald – Chairman of Parkland Health and Hospital System
  • Hon. Pauline Medrano – City of Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem
  • James Mitchell – Alpha Epsilon Boule’ Education Foundation
  • Beverly Mitchell Brooks – President/CEO, Urban League of Greater Dallas
  • Kathy Nealy
  • Everett New – Cox Smith
  • Erle Nye – Chairman Emeritus, TXU Corp.
  • Hon. Jessie Oliver
  • Dr. Sheron C. Patterson – Senior Pastor, Highland Hills United Methodist Church
  • Edna Pemberton – Positively Oak Cliff
  • Christopher Plumlee – Dallas businessman
  • Hon. Carla Ranger – Dallas ISD School Board Trustee 6
  • Carol Reed – The Reeds Public Relation Corporation
  • Laura Reed Martin – The Reeds Public Relation Corporation
  • Angela Reed Shellene – The Reeds Public Relation Corporation
  • John E. Richards – Richards & Valdez
  • Andres Ruzo – Link America
  • DeMetris Sampson, Esq.
  • Bob Stimson – President, Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce
  • Frances Valdez – Richards & Valdez
  • W. Kelvin Walker – 21st Century Group, LLC
  • Dr. Karry D. Wesley – Sr. Pastor, Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church
  • Jeff West – Jeff West Consulting
  • Hon. Royce West – Texas State Senator, District 23
  • Randall White – President, Elettore
  • Nuru Witherspoon – Kelley Witherspoon, LLC
  • Del Williams – General Counsel, Perot Systems Corp.
  • Fritzi Woods – Chairman & CEO, PrimeSource Foodservice Equipment, Inc.
  • Ruth Wyrick

Nature Sargent’s Tips from the Teacher: Return to Routine

I’m glad introduce another Dallas South contributor, Nature Sargent who will generally focus on education.  Nature is a DISD educator and is a product of DISD schools.  Welcome to the Fam!

Greetings Dallas South Family!  I am here to remind you that the idyllic days of summer are numbered and it is time to return our beautiful children to a schedule with school in mind.  Let’s call this my “Return to Routine” article.

As an educator for the past seven years with the Dallas Independent School District, I have noticed a disturbing pattern.  I call it the Post-Summer Slump.  Students return to school every fall, excited, but not necessarily ready for a new year.  I am here to help you avoid this phenomenon.

Let us first return the children to a sleeping pattern that is reasonable.  It is time to curb the late night habit.  It is time to awaken before 10.  This is best reversed incrementally; you have slightly more than a month to return them to schedule.

Begin by having them get in bed before ten.  When school starts they should be used to an eight thirty bedtime. Also, be sure to revisit some of the previous year’s skills.

A short break from the routine of timed, daily reading is healthy, indeed necessary.  However, if your child has not cracked a book this summer, go get a magazine.  There are magazines for children such as National Geographic Kids and Time for Kids.

Also, at the local teacher supply store, you can get skills review workbooks. Invest in one for math or science, these are traditionally weak subjects in the metroplex. Re-establish a routine for timed, daily pursuit of knowledge.  Get them in the habit of late afternoon study.  Homework is a part of the school routine and should be completed between three and five-thirty.

Also, make sure you start talking about expectations for the school year.  Do some goal setting.  Each year, parents and children should set several goals.  There should be at least two short term goals that vary with each grading period and at least one long term goal, such as perfect attendance or most library books read.

Revisit social topics such as making friends, bullying, and sharing.  Remind them of their rights and responsibilities as students and the privilege of an education. Verbalize your expectations for behavior and set enforceable consequences.  Make it clear where you stand on the importance of their education.

Finally, let us talk about school supplies.  I understand the challenge of having all the needed supplies on the first day of school and the concern there might be changes in the supply list that went home in June and a revised version you may receive in August.

However, pencils, a pencil sharpener, paper, crayons, spirals, backpacks, scissors, glue, and folders will get you through the first few weeks, easily!  All these items will be on sale in the next couple of weeks for less than a dollar at your local discount superstore.  Plan ahead!

Thanks for reading and please know how glad I am to offer these Tips from the Teacher.  Write to you soon.

Nature Sargent is a native of Dallas, Texas.  She graduated from Skyline High School, and attended Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, of which she is a graduate with a BS in Family Studies.  She holds an EC-4 certification in the State of Texas.

Paul Quinn’s accreditation loss is loss for the whole city

Paul Quinn College is not dead, but the grim reaper is walking out the door and headed in that direction.

While most of us were following the developments in the death of Michael Jackson, a local story has gotten somewhat lost in the mix. Paul Quinn lost its accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after two years on probation. During those two years, President Michael Sorrell has instituted a number of fresh approaches to try to save the school, but the Southern Association says it’s not enough.  Sorrell and Paul Quinn have appealed the decision.

Michael Davis of Dallas Progress makes a great point on why the accreditation is so important. “Because students at an unaccredited school can’t get financial aid” says Davis in a recent post about Paul Quinn.

I’ve got three questions for people reading this post.

#1 Do you care whether or not Paul Quinn is able to survive?

#2 If you answered yes, have you ever donated money (even $5) to Paul Quinn?

#3 If you answered yes, have you donated to P.Q. in the last year?

It all boils down to financial solvency. That goes for all of the black institutions that are struggling and in danger of fading away. I’m not suggesting throwing good money after bad. On the same hilltop in Southern Dallas, Bishop College was lost because they couldn’t pay the bills, and now the same thing could happen to Paul Quinn. But Sorrell has been a steadying force of the Purple and Gold, and the stability that’s been created is worth investing in.

The only overt sign of community support for Paul Quinn has been the Bishop 5 revival, which ran in the ’90s and made a brief comeback late last year. Without that type of support -from individuals and businesses- I fear that 3837 Simpson Stuart Road will become a black college memorial, a place dedicated to remembering the past instead of preparing students for the future. Paul Quinn will only go as far as the people of Dallas want it to.

Bruce Dixon: Chicago Teachers File Racial Discrimination Suit Against Obama Administration’s School “Turnaround” Plan

I was forwarded  this  entry by colleague Bruce Dixon out of Atlanta, managing editor of Black Agenda Report.  Dixon writes about  unrest in Chicago regarding  fired black teachers.   Here is a large portion of the entry, but please read Dixon’s article Chicago Teachers File Racial Discrimination Suit it its entirety.

BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

“The fired teachers are disproportionately African American, and the newly hired teachers are not.”

In May, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared the Obama administration’s intent to close and “turn around” 5,000 “underperforming” public schools in poorer neighborhoods across the country. Duncan’s last job was CEO of Chicago’s public schools where he shut down dozens of neighborhood schools, practically all in lower income areas, and dismissed thousands of committed and experienced teachers, the vast majority of them African American women.

When the Chicago Teachers Union made no effort to reach out to parents, students or their communities, refused to organize teachers to oppose the wave of school shutdowns and privatizations, teachers organized what they call CORE, the Coalition of Rank & File Educators. CORE has now filed suit against the Chicago Board of Education, charging that the mass dismissal of hundreds of mostly black veteran teachers and their replacement with uncertified and generally underqualified white teachers is racially discriminatory.

“We looked at the number of teachers who lost their jobs in these ‘school turnarounds,'” CORE research director Carol Caref told BAR, “and we looked at the number of African American teachers who were employed in those same schools or in the charter schools which replaced them and there was a huge discrepancy which couldn’t be accounted for by chance. The fired teachers are disproportionately African American, and the newly hired teachers are not.”

“Even if it’s inadvertently discriminatory, it’s still discriminatory because the majority of the teachers wiped out in these turnarounds are African American,” offered Chicago teacher Wanda Evans. The fired veteran teachers, CORE also maintains, are being replaced by a much younger, much whiter and much less experienced corps of instructors graduated from a handful of accelerated programs funded by Boeing, the Bill and Melinda Gates, Bradley, Walton Family, Rockerfeller and other foundations, and favored by City Hall and the Commercial Club. “The new teachers are paid half or less what experienced teachers with advanced degrees were making.”

“The fired veteran teachers are being replaced by a much younger, much whiter and much less experienced corps of instructors.”

During the ten years of corporate school-busting reform, Orr was broken up into four smaller schools, only one of which remains today. That was a military academy, whose director took his institution off campus so as to escape the stigma of the parent high school’s corporate-engineered “failure.” And as it happens, turning public high schools and even middle schools over to the military was another hallmark of the Duncan regime in Chicago.

Ruled for more than 40 of the last 55 years by two men named Richard Daley, Chicago has given the nation dubious education reforms before this. The New Orleans model, in which the entire public school workforce was fired at one stroke immediately after Katrina, and nearly all the city’s public schools replaced with charter schools was implemented by Arne Duncan’s predecessor at the Chicago Board of Education, Paul Vallas. Like Duncan, whose longest period of employment before the Chicago Public Schools was as a professional basketball player, Vallas was no educator either. Vallas was an accountant. And as in New Orleans, the closing of neighborhood public schools in Chicago and their wholesale replacement with charter and other special schools has destabilized vast residential areas of the city and greatly contributed to gentrification.

“In school ‘turnaround’ operations, every teacher, food service worker, building engineer and custodial staff person is fired and the slate wiped clean.”

CORE teachers pointed out that Chicago still has laws on the books enabling elected councils of parents to veto the contracts of principals and certain portions of individual school budgets. The turnaround policies allow authorities to strip these last vestiges of democratic control over educational outcomes from those who ought to be among the primary stakeholders — parents.

Effective teaching, as one CORE teacher put it, is a performance art. You need commitment, connection and experience to pull it off, not hysteria, insecurity, mass firings and more tests. Somebody, they say, needs to tell President Obama.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and based in Atlanta. He can be reached at