Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tearing down the Wall!

My colleague in this fight to "properly" form a unitary public school system has placed her head on the block to get the job done. By filing an intervention in the Dandridge vs JPPS desegregation lawsuit Mrs. Nicole Edler is attempting to expose the true objectives and motivations of the school board and in particular their attorneys. She and supporters like myself want to expose the board's activities to all Jefferson Parish parents and guardians who are either uninformed, complacent, unconcerned or tired of fighting.

A unitary school system means the school board (and presumably the people who vote for them) would have more control to improve education for our children so it is simply obscene and antagonistic for Patin (school board attorney #1) to suggest she just wishes to hold up the process and get her white child in a school that's majority white. The fact that she is white is essential because under these circumstances Black students attending on the opposite side of the river from their residence may be eligible for a transfer (particularly from the Westbank to Eastbank) since Black students in any of these Magnet schools are underrepresented. I would likely have been dismissed as having no right to intervene, being Black (if you didn't know).

Like her I am interested in the true rationale for denying cross river access. Despite the judge's orders (AND his "Cease and Desist") the school board is now disguising their rebelliousness by using preferential admissions according to residency and not test scores to segregate the parish. I just want them to clearly explain how desegregation will be achieved by segregating the parish by the river! Substituting one dual system for another duel system seems counter productive and sets a bad precedent. We want to hear it from the "horses' mouths" and not be shut out by attorney client privileged.

These activities the school board insists on encouraging stands in stark contrast to the Jefferson Economic Development Commission's optimistic objectives with its slogan "Jefferson: Opportunity Lives Here". The attorney's make this slogan sound too much like a similarly ironic slogan, "Arbeit Macht Frei"!

Will my child have opportunities in Jefferson Parish?...I really can't tell!

Monday, February 9, 2009

WTF, Attorney's are draggin' this on to get paid by YOU!!

"Upon the entry of an order by the court " declaring that west bank magnet schools offer substantially equal educational opportunities as magnet schools situated on the east side of the Mississippi River, no student domiciled on the west bank of the river shall be permitted to enroll in an east bank magnet school and no student domiciled on the east bank of the river shall be permitted to enroll in a west bank magnet school..." Judge Engelhardt

"Upon the entry of an order by the court..." Can this be any clearer!!

Question: Will my student be denied access NOW to a magnet on the opposite side of the river from his residency?

"According to our attorneys, all new qualified East Bank magnet applicants receive 1st priority (to Eastbank schools). Westbank students will only be considered after all available spaces have been filled by qualified Eastbank students." Rosalind Mathes

"the document speaks for itself" Charles Patin

So this is what the "document" says, Patin!!

"The Court made it abundantly clear that the January 29th Order did not declare the magnet schools to be unitary, but was a step towards the eventual declaration of such status. In fact,
the Court requested, and the parties agreed to, the deletion of language in the original West Bank Magnet Plan that confined magnet students to the side of the river upon which they reside, see Rec. Doc. 190,
and noted that deletion at the fairness hearing. The Court has consistently noted that it did not favor any proposal to “close the river,” and repeated that fact at the hearing. Finally, in response to a question from a parent, the Court explicitly declared from the bench that a student need not live on the West Bank to attend a West Bank magnet school, and vice verse." Judge Engelhardt

"Despite assertions to the contrary made by attorneys last week, the Jefferson Parish public school system cannot use the Mississippi River as a dividing line when assigning students to its magnet schools, according to an order released last week by the federal judge overseeing the district's desegregation lawsuit." Jenny Hurwitz, TP

At this point Federal Government oversight is the most sensible thing to maintain. This school board is not ready to handle the responsibilities of a desegregated system!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You've Got to be Kidding me!!!

According to recent events the School Board has rescinded the component of the consent order requiring guardian and parental residency on the same side of the river as the attending Magnet school. Instead they are choosing to add a residency restriction when reviewing applications from Jefferson Parish residents that live on the opposite bank from the school. This, in my opinion is the SAME THING. Does the parish want to have Magnet schools or do they want great schools in every district that attract great teachers with parents and students that want to learn? They are doing a wonderful job building out the parish with new high achieving schools. Don’t let them soil their efforts by casting arbitrary residency restrictions that serve no purpose. Westbank children will go to westbank Magnet schools if they have the choice and the schools are GOOD. Same for eastbank. Applying this residency restriction is simply "fudging" their bet that they will serve these “separate but equal” schools described as being ”substantially equal” on both sides of the river once declared unitary.

We have always view the division of the parish by the river as segregation. This new tactic is simply an example of the stubbornness of authority worn too long by the same people and of the institutional racism that permeates much of our society. If overt denial is not possible then covert denial is the last resort. This is the constant fear of Black people and the disenfranchised. I am sadden for this turn of events but am please to see it come to light right now rather than 2.5 to 3 years from now when the school board’s “authority network” has the final say in decisions. We may get to change the make-up of the board over time but history bears out those chances as nil.

History also bears the fact that people's drive and enthusiasm wane and the weight of the mass will have to be born by just a few. Mrs. Elder is doing a remarkable job keeping abreast of the Boards activities, informing parents and maintaining a home as she sinks her teeth deeper into the school board's shenanigans. She like myself will do what is best for our children after all of this is over but I hope the example she has set in staying the course will not be lost on parents after us. I’m afraid however that history also bears witness to this as well.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Let's Be Heard!!!

I've created a Poll that I would like for you to participate in. The issues surrounding the JPSS consent order has taken a turn for the worst. Attorney's are not cooperating with the Judges rulings (believe it or not) so we would like to bring this to a conclusion. Here is a snippet of the Judges orders:

..."Any party or representative of a party who makes representations of assertions contrary to that which is set forth herein, or contrary to the record in these proceedings, or contrary to the transcripts of the fairness hearing of January 29th, 2009, will CEASE and DESIST from such representation."...

The complete actual order may be downloaded here.

The goal is to get the public schools on the road to unitary status, place the school board in a position to make decisions to support our school system and at the same time maintain the integrity of the parish on both the East and West sides of the Mississippi River.

Please click "Participate" then indicate your preference in the table that will appear. You may remain anonymous or you may give your name. Keep your eyes on this site for updates and actions if you are not already on Mrs. Edler's email list...

Never mind, the fervor is over. Thank you Jenny!