Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here we go us Albert!

Regarding the consent order, if the judge has authored parts then we can call it quits and think about working together for a better Jefferson School System.

In 2002, data freely available at, among Louisiana Public Schools, Rudolph Matas was the only elementary school in Jefferson Parish ranked within the top 50 schools in Louisiana at number 14....the next was Airline Park at 64. Among the middle schools, Alfred Bonnabel was ranked at number 3, no other in the top 100, and Grace King High School was ranked at 25 with Bonnabel following at 51. Our comparable district, Orleans, at least did rank two schools better than Jefferson at the middle and high school levels. Each school accept Bonnabel are, according to the JPSS's standards, racially identifiable white.

Why do I point this out? Well, Jefferson Parish is arguably one of the most metropolitan, progressive and economically sound leaders (AA- credit rating) within the State of Louisiana yet we can not educate our children to qualify to be among the top twenty ranks of Bossier, St. Landry, Lafayette, East Baton Rouge, St. Tammany, Calcasieu, Caddo, Catahoula, Rapides, Tangipahoa, LaSalle, Vermilion and Ouachita Parishes. Some places of which I have no idea of their location, save for googlemaps.

Ok...see my point yet?...Let me spell it out.

To the JPSS, their lawyers, the parents (both for and against this "Final" consent order), by-standers, anyone thinking of moving to Louisiana...listen-up. We have a moral responsibility to educate our children and a fiscal responsibility to provide taxpayers with the best their (our) money can provide. The system may have to be turned on its head for this to happen.

If our schools rank among the bottom 150 in the state then salaries and benefits should also rank accordingly. If our teachers are clamoring to get into the best schools then maybe as a matter of course they should spend 3-5 years contributing and being accountable for improving some of our worst schools qualification to advance to the better schools. If our administrators on the board and elsewhere wish to make a name for themselves leading metropolitan school districts then they should shadow board members of more academically advanced districts to experience the interaction between these members and their community. They will probably experience more patience and cooperation and less name call. If parents expect their schools to mold their children into great thinkers then parents need to be involved in the molding process at home (and at the school). If you find your conditions less than ideal for educating your child then your involvement must be greater than ideal. As for the lawyers, I have a quote from Albert Einstein: "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” It's their job...they could care less about any outcome but their win/lost statistics.

I was told when I was younger another of Einstein's familiar saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results". Necessary change is painful. It often requires sacrifice, overcoming fear and being unpopular. These are some of the challenges to change that face our leadership. If our leaders wishes not to rise to these challenges then failure will follow as it has for so many others in our community and we all "consent" to change nothing.

To the kids, listen to Albert:

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sqeaky Wheel...Carroll for District 1.1!

It was never said that this old adage could backfire. We got the grease but I think the JPSB used most of it to oil up the shaft they've decided to give to the "commuting" parents of the Westbank. We all know that few parents, except out of necessity, are fussin' and fightin' to go to schools on the Westbank as oppose to those on the Eastbank of Jefferson Parish. The very reason many of us Westbankers go to the the Eastbank is because of our jobs and for the better public schools in this part of the parish. Why has there not been parity in the parish's school infrastructure to begin with? Was it the lack of need, the lack of population (and/or quality) of students/teachers, our JPSB representation, money? Only recently has the JPSB offered good alternatives on the Westbank...and now just a couple of years out of the gate we will be forced to get out of the Eastbank schools and send out our children to schools just being built, untried and untested which are (we are being told) at best adequate or becoming better with time. Many have already been there and done that with their children's education in the balance. They don't want to do it again.

Hear this!, segregation has consequences, and those consequences will not go away overnight! This is why the races still fight. There will never be equity until it becomes the responsibility of the individual, that is, self imposed equality. As long as there is a Power that stands and declares "It will be thus and so..." equality will never be reached. The objective of the Powerful is to have it and keep it so everyone else is made equitable, but the Powerful. The Magnet Schools have provided the means since the early 70s to enable parents who deliberately, although in some cases reluctantly, understand the landscape of our country and want to provide their children the opportunity they themselves may not have be successful in an integrated world. There are many races that MUST be tolerated at the very least but must be invited in the best sense to participate in our lives and livelihood. The pristine whitewashed halls of the elite "majority" are no longer attractive to corporations, industries, small businesses and advertisers. To the degree that SINCERE interaction with different people is made, a measure of success and longevity can be expected in business.

In other words back in the "good ole days"..."white was right" but today white might put you $120,000.00 in the hole and demand more money with nothing to show but empty promises. But hey, why should I care...I've been to the private schools...they would be happy to have me again...only this time with our Govenor's voucher in my hand.

On another note, the board plans to work with parents in November to ensure equal playing fields on the East and Westbanks. We have been working our tails off already. Has our board acknowledged any of our input so far? You tell me?

Finally, if we are to have a "Bimodal School System" then I strongly urge parents to consider fighting for a "Bimodal School Board"! I'm running for District 1.1!


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If it is not clear to you let me draw you a map...

Justice Henry Brown wrote that the law "separate but equal" did not "stamp the colored race with a badge of inferiority" and that any such suggestion is "solely because the colored race chooses to place that construct on it." If you segregate the west and east banks are we on the Westbank constructing a perception that the Westbank is being treated as inferior or is our perception real? I think Judge Engelhardt was as clear in his “Order of Clarification of Judgment” as Justice Brown was wrong in his assertion that the colored race was responsible for its own inequities and oppression.

In the guise of doing what is right the JPSB is not only perpetuating the same misguidance as Justice Brown but is unwittingly catering to the same deep seeded notion that black students and white students should remain separate. Why do I say this, well the Westbank percent ratio is 70:30 and the Eastbank is 44:55, Black to White students, respectively (according to the school boards suspicious numbers).

There is no suggestion here by the board that black children and white children should remain separate, but closing the Eastbank to the Westbank are slightly different spots that can be found on the same animal.

Dubois and Carver expressed opposing opinions about the disposition of the races. The first believe that complete and total integration of black and white races insured the equal and fair treatment of all individuals within society. The latter believe that separating the races ensured the preservation of culture and dignity within the powerless while allowing work to continue to bridge the gaps between the races, independently. The answer is between these extremes. Mandates and laws should not determine were our students go to school. To create a just society much like a marriage…there must be mutual and willing agreement and action. If only one group exercises all its the power and advantage without compromise, were is the justice … where is the society?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lets complete this process and depart friends!

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING APRIL 9th and 16th 2008, at 5 PM presumably, Bonnabel High School..come out!

"Shock and awe"

My initial reaction to the letter I received in early March regarding the disposition of my child entering her 4th grade year in September 2008..."shocked and awed!" I was in shock because as a private school graduate and now the parent of private school children, to get SENT to another school was usually the result of uncontrollable violence or insolence on the part of the child (or parent) on school property. I could not recall my daughter ever being violent so I thought well maybe it was me. During my inquiry folks assured me it was nothing I did but that a inexplicable decision to remove Westbank students to schools on the Westbank was passed down from the powers on high and so I'd better make plans to make adjustments for the Fall.

Thinking there was nothing I could do just like the guilty parent of private school children I thought to myself how can I fix this for my daughter. She has to know this was not her fault. Yes, she wanted to go to the private school her brother went to from 2nd to 8th grade with the pool and farm and cool field trips but we just couldn't afford that any more. Then it accured to me...I'm in a school that should not be doing this. Her grades were good, her behavior impeccable so why did she have to go?...because she lived on the wrong side of the tracks or river in this case. That can't be right. It wasn't right and should never be. So I learned I was not alone in that feeling and we sought together to find out why some thought it was OK.

Civil rights are important. When they are violated then there are consequences. The school board is realizing those consequences where it their back pockets. Those of us under their jurisdiction also suffer those consequences as their back pockets are also our back pockets when it comes to the educational environment of our children. We are eager and willing to join the board in repentance for the sins of our fathers so we all may be forgiven and so we all can move on. This is all we have asked and continue to ask in our many colorful ways.

Remember we were in "shock and awe" as were some of our children. We are use to sitting back watching our children flourish in a private school's educational program raising an eyebrow over a grade or two every once in a while with never a concern about discipline. Well, now the intellect, competitiveness and drive that have made our children who they are have been awakened in the parents who have just realized that we are not in private school anymore and now have to pay with our attention, pay with our voices and pay with our pens (or posts) instead of paying with cash to make sure our children get their money's worth.

We intend not to be "shocked and awed" again...except when our children excel!