Wednesday, February 28, 2007

President of Black America

One of the problems with our black leadership is that they do not demonstrate any foresight into the future. They have grown to be a reactionary force; a group that is swift in its response to the Katrina of the day. Black America needs leadership that possesses the ability to not only lead within the moment, but also anticipate issues that will arise in the future. I am that leader. I have listened to the constituents, engaged them in conversation concerning the future of black America, and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

One concern that has been brought up is the issue of our education system. It is no secret that our public schools have deteriorated across America, but because black America relies on public schooling so much, its deterioration is potentially devastating to our people. A defeatist attitude permeates through our urban school administrators that truly baffles me. How can you look into the eyes of our young people and not see potential in them? How is it possible for an administrator to not give those children the tools to succeed? The lack of action, motivation, and enthusiasm is paramount to criminal activity if you ask me…

The answer to this problem may lie within school vouchers. I find it incomprehensible that many of our poor families are forced to send their children to schools that are under funded and possess inadequate lesson plans that are taught by less-than enthusiastic teachers. Tax-payer dollars should be spent on quality education, and we should not force people to use their hard-earned money to pay for what passes for a quality education. Under my plan, families would be able to use their tax dollars to send their children to schools of their choosing. It seems unfair to force children to attend schools that employ teachers that don’t care about them. Let’s give parents the option to send their children where they think the best education is available.

Some may argue that a school voucher system turns its back on the public school system, a system that has been the bedrock of America. My answer to that lies within this simple question: so what? This system has not led to favorable outcomes for black America, and maybe it is time that we look to other options. At the very least, we deserve the opportunity to choose where our children learn.

At the same time, I don’t believe that the public school system is beyond repair. However, it will take some time to change the culture within our public schools. That is why I believe vouchers are necessary at this time: today’s children can not and should not have to wait for tomorrow’s improvements. As we do intensive and extensive work on our public schools for the future, let’s do what we can to educate our children now.

As we work to improve our public schools, we have to focus on holding entire school administrations accountable. It is necessary that we understand that every individual that makes a decision concerning our children – from school superintendents to teachers to janitors – have to do their job correctly in order for students to succeed. We have to revolutionize public schools – make sure that salaries are tied to performance. Employee paychecks should mirror student success. Anything less lets these individuals off the hook, and the education of our children – and the stability of our future – is too important for us to relinquish responsibility.

Public school education is just one of the many realities that hold our people back from a prosperous future. This issue is far too complex for me to believe that I have all of the answers. I am in this struggle with you, and as President of Black America, I want your input.

Are vouchers the way to go?


Brother Lightness said...

So you're the President of Black America? Ninja, I didn't vote for ya!

Seriously though: "We have to revolutionize public schools – make sure that salaries are tied to performance. Employee paychecks should mirror student success."

Such would require the destruction/revolution of teacher's unions and tenure in public schools. Good luck abolishing that security net.

Brother Spotless said...

Indeed, the teacher unions do have a sweet deal, and motivating them would require time.

My feeling concerning these teachers may not be popular, but it has to be said: I don't think most of them give a damn about our children, so I wouldn't mind replacing them with eager young teachers who are willing to have their salaries tied to performance. I wouldn't mind paying these individuals more than current teachers make for high performances, but public school tenure has got to go...

And I didn't get elected to this post; I simply filled the void within black America. No other black "leader" was willing to answer the tough questions, nor have I seen a willingness or ability to plan for our future. Since no one was there, I didn't need to do anything but fill the void...

Brother Smartness said...

Geez bruh!

Seems like the last season of the Wire really got to you.

"I don't think most of them give a damn about our children, so I wouldn't mind replacing them"

The tone of that sounds a little too much like our revered black preacher.

In any event, I think a bigger issue than performance is whether we are equipping children with the type of education that will benefit them holisitically. Having teachers that can get kids to pass regents exams/standardized tests is great, but I'm afraid it isn't enough.

Brother Smartness said...

And seeing that picture in the post, by the way, really makes me want to see what you would look like with an afro.

Brother Spotless said...

Those pics will never see the light of day outside my mother's home...

You are correct, Smartness: a holistic education is much needed if we want truly intelligent children and a prosperous future. From what I've seen, many current teachers focus nearly all of their attention on motivating their students to pass standardized tests, which strikes me as ironic because many of our children are not passing these exams. That tells me that the teachers are inadequete.

young alumna said...

I think your argument is shortsighted in that you are looking purely at the outcome and not at the root causes. Yes, many many teachers "teach to the test." to the detriment of learning. Indeed, I know that I always saw the state exams as a waste of time, and I never remembered lessons by rote memorization as I have through discussion and analysis, which created rich meaning.

The reason that many talented teachers, even the young ones who come out of Williams and go on to Teach for America (TFA) or do similar programs like become a NYC/DC Teaching Fellow, teach to the test is because of ill-conceived legislation like No Child Left Behind, or like merit pay statues in Texas or the proposed ones in California where teachers are measured specifically on what percentage of their students pass. This leaves very little room for creativity, and learning.

A friend of mine who was posted in a state with merit pay observed that teachers felt pressured to not only teach to the test but also to help students cheat. She did not do this, but worked incredibly hard to raise her students performance from 30% passage to 70% passage, which her principal still didn't find sufficient. Indeed, she worked herself into a car accident and a month of mono. She had been specially recognized by her program within the state, and after a few years of teaching, decided that she wanted out of the classroom. Although she continues to work on education policy, it's a huge loss for the children of that under-performing district.

So I wouldn't argue with you that all the teachers are adequate, but neither are they given the tools or support to succeed. I will say that for what they do, teachers are dreadfully underpaid and poorly respected. In Asia, there is a societal respect for teachers at all levels. Here, we look down on or Williams brothers and sisters who decide to go into teaching: "You went to Williams, why would you want to teach?" As if the public wouldn't be better served by having teachers who went to great schools.

Merit pay does not have to be a horrible policy, but it has to do with implementation and buy-in at all levels. For an example of cooperative merit pay, see Denver: