MPS crafts education-to-prison pipeline for Black students

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 12/1/2010

Bernadeia Johnson, T. Williams, Chris Stewart, Tom Madden, Carla Bates, Jill Davis, Lydia Lee and Peggy Flanagan: ONE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED is the number of Black students who have formally requested tutoring support from the Minneapolis Public Schools, but have been told to wait.

ONE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED is the number of Black students who have been put on a waiting list for the tutoring services MPS receives more than $5 million a year to provide. That’s $5 million MPS said it would use to meet demand for tutoring services in school year 2010-2011.

Ask the Federal Department of Corrections (DOC) how the institution forecasts prison beds, and they will tell you, if they can be honest, that predictions are made based in part on third-grade reading scores. If you can’t read by the third grade, the DOC is counting on you.

The people who will hold jobs in the DOC over the next 20 years should be sending thank-you notes to Superintendent Johnson and the Minneapolis Public School Board.

The village should send them something else: their last paycheck…and a Black Power Movement that from now on and forever forward denies MPS the right to gamble with ONE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED futures the village can’t afford to lose.

In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’”

Lissa Jones
Minneapolis