They Kicked her off the Plantation Part IV- The Jada Williams Story- Do we need a Modern-Day Underground Railroad to Save Children from Failing Schools, or Will the Schools be Willing to Reform?
By Mack Rights
I’m writing this to tamp down some of the things that are going on that will only serve to make the situation worse. This is not about a little girl calling her teachers racist. This is about a little girl who wrote an essay about one of the more famous slaves in America who turned into an intellectual and a statesman because his slave master’s wife taught him to read. It’s about a little black girl who is getting persecuted for her suggestion that her people should learn to read and break the metaphorical chains of slavery that the government educational system keeps them in. And it’s about a school system that is persecuting her for pointing out its failures. Those that run the system make too much money to let it go. That’s what this is about. It’s not about trying to say “white teachers” are racist.
Those that are out there rabble rousing with that suggestion do not speak on behalf of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, on behalf of the Rochester Parents United or on behalf of Jada and her mother Carla. Jada wants to be educated and wants the school system to stop treating her like an oil exec in room full of tree huggers.
We’re hearing rumors that the school system’s ordering more sensitivity training for the teachers. That’s not necessary. The teachers are already so sensitive that they’re afraid to even try to control the classrooms. We need to help adjust the system so that the teachers can be more effective at controlling the classrooms. So I’m about to offer a few ideas.
Buffalo Business First recently ranked the schools in upstate New York for 2011 academic performance. Scroll to the bottom of the list, and at 431 of 431 school systems outside of New York City, the Rochester City School District ranks dead last. It is right below the three other major city school districts of Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse.
So I think it’s safe to say that we can take for granted that whatever the educators running this school system are doing is pretty much wrong. Who runs the system? The teacher’s union, and guess what, they’re not in need of more money.
Let’s look at the relative per-pupil spending. In the NY rural schools they’re spending around $15,000 to $19,000 per pupil, but in the bigger city schools, they’re spending closer to $25,000 per pupil. None of these numbers are in stone of course- simply because the school systems refuse to be fully transparent with their numbers. If the taxpayers really looked at what they were spending, they’d never vote to pass another budget again. Luckily for the Rochester City School District, voters don’t get the opportunity to vote down a budget. The budget is dictated to them by the same people who run the worst school district in upstate New York. It’s a good racket if you’re in on it.
On top of that, the rural schools might get a $100,000 a year in federal funds, but some estimate that the Buffalo City School District (ranked 3rd worst in upstate New York) is receiving north of $200 million dollars in federal funds. While they refuse to admit that on the record and they refuse to admit that this is in addition to the near $25,000 per pupil, one has to ask, where is that money going? Some estimate that, with those extra federal funds, the per-pupil spending is closer to $40,000 in the big cities.
That would be more than twice the amount in a smaller rural school, and closer to 4 times the amount spent per pupil in a private school. Academic performance doesn’t lie. The children in rural schools and private schools are performing much better academically. But, they that control the system will argue that the city schools are filled with too many minorities- a somewhat politically incorrect suggestion that minority students can’t learn as well as white students in rural schools. That’s nonsense. Black and Hispanic students in rural schools and in private schools perform much better than those in the city schools. That’s an inarguable fact that drives the flight of students from those city school systems.
So we can throw our hands up and say, “The city school systems are bad because all the smart kids get out,” or we can try to figure out a way to fix the problem. It’s definitely not that the city school systems aren’t getting enough money. The real problem is that the money isn’t getting to the kids. Let me repeat that. The money isn’t getting to the kids.
It is siphoned off by the bureaucracy- the teachers union, the school board, the city council, the mayor’s office and any other group of parasites that gets paid way too much for the shoddy work they do for the city school district. What do all of these people have in common? They’re Democrats. There’s not one Republican on the school board or on the city council.
Here’s the scoop. The teachers union pension system is bankrupting the system. The monies that go into the system are being funneled to pay huge pension obligations and the health costs of retired teachers, and these monies are not benefiting the kids. At the same time, this pension system is so insolvent, in every level of government, that our governments are essentially insolvent as well. People are living longer, health care costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation, and there aren’t enough workers in the system to support the necessary outflows to pay the previously negotiated obligations.
That means that the teachers working now are not going to get all the things they’ve been promised. I know, I know, the union will protect you, blah blah blah. They might for a while, but the house of cards is going to fall at some point, and if you’re still working, that point will come in your lifetime.
So if you’re a teacher trying to figure out what you’ve got to do to protect your own solvency, you have to realize that eventually, the teachers union will lose to the fury of the taxpayer who can no longer afford the demands. In other words, the cuts are going to come, and they might just be huge. Teachers will have their pay and benefits cut, or many teachers will be gone. It is a part of reality.
With that in mind, teachers need to start answering these questions. What is special about me? What do I offer the school district that can’t be replaced by some green education-school kid who will work without the promise of a pension? What do I add to the system that helps these kids overcome the circumstances of being in the worst school system in upstate New York? If they were to fire a bunch of teachers, why would I still have a job?
If you, as a teacher, don’t have a good answer to those questions, I ask you to work with us in getting answers to those questions. We are the parents that subject our children to a system that we all know needs improvement. Like I’ve said, this Jada situation is not about racism. It’s about improving an educational system so that intelligent little girls like Jada don’t read Frederick Douglass’ autobiography and feel like they’re in a modern form of slavery.
Let me be blunt, the folks that run the teachers unions are greedy, morally corrupted buffoons that don’t care a whit about the children. In my posting on the Democrat and Chronicle story about the lesbian sex-offending gym teacher that the Rochester City School District can’t fire because the union won’t let them, I write, “Because it’s just about impossible to fire a protected teacher, she has been on a paid vacation for years. The teachers union argues that she deserves another chance… to be close to naked underage girls in the girls’ locker room.” The money that goes to her is not in any way going to the children, but at least the teachers union and the Democrat Party get their cut. This is the same morally challenged teachers union that is refusing to give Jada and her mother the answers they request.
So teachers have to take sides here. Do they stick with the teachers union and share the moral consequence that goes with selling your soul for a pension that will probably not be there? Seriously, who in the world thinks that Social Security will be there 20 years from now without cuts? Do people actually think the pension system is in better shape than Social Security, which is already paying out more than it is taking in? Or do they do the right thing and side with the parents that want to get their children educated? The teachers union loves to blame the parents for the poor performance of students, but I’m here to introduce them to parents that want to help.
First and foremost, we need to find ways in which the teachers can regain control of the classrooms. Right now, because of liability and the litigiousness of society, teachers are afraid to do anything in the classroom. Kids know that, and they use that knowledge to control the classroom. In the old days, parents made sure that children knew that they had to listen to teachers. But because lawyers will sue in a second, parents will side with children, and teachers work in fear. Their only lifeline too many times is the teachers union, and those that run the union are skimming billions and billions of education dollars. I’m talking big Billions, and a lot of it goes right to the Democrat Party, the same party that runs the educational system so poorly that most kids don’t graduate, and of the ones that do, many are functionally illiterate. The unions make sure no one is held accountable for actual results. Like I said, good racket, if you don’t care about your soul.
So parents need a way to be able to sign a waiver so that they can allow teachers to retake control of the classroom. If that means that some will sign because they feel that it will create a better educational environment, while others will not, so be it. Create a two-tiered educational system right within the district. From the Jada story, we already know that they have schools where they put kids they really can’t control- meaning it’s already two-tiered to some extent.
Let the parents choose where they want their kids. Let them sign a waiver to be in a classroom where the teacher is the authority figure. Let the parents who won’t sign that form allow their children to remain in the classrooms run by the savages who know they have all the power over the teachers. Sure, they won’t learn anything, but at least the kids with parents who’ve signed the waiver will. That’s better than what we have now, and this in no way takes teachers from the control of the unions.
Sure, I’d love to have the charter schools run by teachers who aren’t unionized, but the union would burn them down before they opened. So, let’s work within the system if we have to. Like I said, eventually, the system is going to collapse like GM did before the government bailout. Until that happens though, at least some children might learn to read. And don’t expect the government to be able to bailout the educational system. Its deficit is bigger than most countries’ GDP.
Now, I accept that the government school system isn’t going to bring back corporal punishment. It’s run by liberals, and they’ve all had their brains shrunk by Dr. Spock (not from Star Trek). He was the doctor who said we shouldn’t spank kids back in the 50’s and 60’s. Yeah, that worked out, didn’t it?
Needless to say, there has to be a consequence for disobedience. Life without consequences is why the Democrats on the Rochester School Board voted to give condoms to children as young as 12 in the Rochester City School systems- so that children can have sex without consequences. Living a life without consequence is like living a life where you are your own god. That’s a life where the difference between right and wrong is determined by whether you get away with it. Murder isn’t wrong if you get away with it. It’s only wrong if you get caught. That’s where that kind of life leads. Do parents really wish to have their children educated in that kind of moral-free environment?
As it is now, that is what children learn early in the Rochester City School District. There are no consequences, even when you get caught. Suspension is just another word for vacation day of video games and worse. This is what has to end.
One then has to ask, why are so many children so uncontrollable in class? Many are just children with too much energy, and without the fear of consequences for their lack of willingness to sit and listen, they will repeatedly give into their need to move their bodies. They’re children. They need to expend energy. This is a fact that we must accept.
Because we don’t account for this fact by trying to alleviate their needs to move constantly, many of these children are given ADHD drugs, but that’s not always the right answer. Sometimes the answer is that the kid just has too much energy. Just because you’re a tired-old grumpypuss, doesn’t mean they are. Part of the reason for this extra energy might be that our society is much more sedentary than it used to be. In the old days, children worked on farms before school. Or they just worked or played outside after school. Now, children sit around playing video games, instead of expending their energy interacting with the world.
Lack of exercise can create brain chemistry problems that are too often taken care of with ADHD drugs and anti-depressants. When exercising, the child’s heart is pumping oxygenated blood into the brain, and this actually works better than those psychotropic drugs prescribed to adjust the brain chemistry. Not only does it not involve adding chemicals to the body, it serves as an excuse to get the child in better physical condition. And then, without all the extra energy making them want to move and fidget in class, these children find it easier to sit still and focus on what the teacher is saying. The body fuels the mind.
You can learn more about this at Kidsrunning.com. Or read Harvard Professor John Ratey’s newer book Spark- The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. I saw him speak at a Harvard conference on brain chemistry several years back while he was doing research for this book. And if you want to read about the results of a school system that uses exercise to fuel learning successfully, plug “Naperville school system exercise” into the search engine of your choice. To get a quick overview, here’s an ABCnews story about Naperville titled “Bikes, Balls in Class: How Phys Ed Transformed One School.”
Instead of giving seemingly uncontrollable children a “time-out,” we need to give them a “time-in.” Don’t make them sit there with even less stimulus. Make them do jumping jacks in the back room, or maybe pushups, sit-ups, or have them ride an exercise bike. Or if this is a school-wide program, send them to the gym instead of to the office. Make them run laps. The worst thing that will happen is that they’ll break a sweat, stink for the day and not want to do that again. But, the good parts outweigh the bad parts. That child will be healthier and more able to focus and sit still.
I know there are teachers out there who feel torn between their loyalty to the teachers union and their idealistic mission to have a positive effect on children. We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation want to know you and want to work with you. And if you’re a white teacher afraid that the Jada story is about racism, please don’t worry about that. This is about getting beyond race and doing something good for the children. We’re not going to hold it against you that you’re a part of the union or a Democrat. We’re not stupid. We know you have no choice- about being in a union. But parents in Rochester need and want to be a part of the education of their children. The Rochester Parent’s Union is filled with folks that want to work with you. And we have a division of childhood advocacy.
But there seems to be a failure to communicate. Our hands are tied, and the school system doesn’t want to talk to us. They want control and the money that goes along with that control. No child left behind should not mean that no child gets ahead. We are the 21st Century Abolitionists. If we can’t save the public school system, we’ll have to create a modern-day underground railroad to save children from this government-mandated intellectual devastation. If, as a teacher, you’re in favor of a system that feels no shame whatsoever about its failure to teach children to read, don’t contact us. But if you want to be able to actually make a difference in children’s lives, please do contact us. Become a 21st Century Abolitionist.
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