September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:"Have you found more money for education? is the question for politicians
Publication:Our Time Press
Blurb:Now that the education crisis among African-American youth deepens, it is useful to look at history and try to repeat the good parts. Though we have failing schools and young people with commercialized minds, parents know are making it plain to politicians across the city, that education is where the politicians must make their stand.
Body:Now that the education crisis among African-American youth deepens, it is useful to look at history and try to repeat the good parts. The first great mass movement for public education at the expense of the state, in the South, came from Negroes, writes W.E.B. DuBois in Black Reconstruction. It was only the other part of the laboring class, the black folk, who connected knowledge with power; who believed that education was the stepping-stone to wealth and respect, and that wealth without education, was crippled
.And it was this demand that was the effective force for the establishment of the public school in the South on a permanent basis, for all people and all classes.
Dr. DuBois goes on to describe the building of schools, school systems and colleges, institutions that lifted the race up out of slavery and through Reconstruction. These were institutions created and run by African-Americans. These were people who counted few blessings, but one of the things these newly freed Africans had on their side was relative solitude. In an environment of land, crops, livestock and family, children could read at night, sometimes aloud to parents, and had only human distractions from lessons. Things are different today.
The advertising industry in the United States is a $300 billion-dollar business. These billions of dollars spill all over our youth in a constant assault that is scientifically designed to attract their attention. They are joined by the billions spent on movies and videos, and music, the contents of which can be appalling.
These campaigns are constant and created by very smart people using sound, color, light and texture, and sex whenever they can, to promote products and buying habits that last a lifetime.
There is such a frenetic intensity to marketing today, it is a wonder that children have any mental time left at all to devote to quaint things such as reading, writing and arithmetic. So it is no surprise that in 2002, at a time when those struggling at the turn of the last century must have thought Africans would surely be scaling the heights of humanity, we have failing schools and young people with commercialized minds, redirected for corporate profit and political control.
This is not news to the parents, it is an ongoing part of their everyday struggle and they are making it plain to politicians across the city, that this is where the politician is to make their stand.
Assemblyman Roger Green, chair of the powerful Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caucus, says they are unbending on this issue and hes right. Here is where they work with the governor, the speaker, the mayor and the rest of the legislature, so that first the children are cared for, then they can finish up on their budgets.
And when the governor, senators or members of Congress appear at events and photo-ops, ask, Have you found more money for education? If the answer is no, ask What are you doing to get it? Make it uncomfortable for them. When they come by the church on Sunday morning, ask them, Have you found the money? Things sure look bad for you if you don't find that money. Don't be embarrassed, God knows they have it.
Tell them to find it in the prison budget, find it in the military budget, find it in making the tax code and enforcement fair, find it in ending corporate welfare, find it in foreign aid.
And while they're looking, let's tell Mayor Bloomberg if he wants to be remembered as the education mayor, hed ask Adelaide Sanford to be chancellor for education, appoint a crackerjack administrator, give them the resources they need and get this show on the road.