Former Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Dr. Bernadeia Johnson and former Green Central Principal Lorraine Cruz were oftentimes misunderstood in regards to their vision for the education of all children, K-12. Our February 5, 2015 column (“Chaos once again at Green Central”) reported how leadership did not support their vision to find other ways to deal with youngsters other than the easy bureaucratic way of suspensions, especially K-3, even knowing such suspensions have extremely adverse effects on K-12 students, especially K-3.
Four months ago, I raised two questions (still awaiting answers) about Minneapolis’ high comfort level destroying those fighting for equal education: “Who will stop the violating of education opportunities for children of color? Who will see that their parents receive a fair and adequate seat at the school’s decision table?”
Despite the Federal Department of Education’s urging of finding positive ways to decrease disproportionate suspensions, so-called liberal Minneapolis leadership, Black and White, remains tragically silent. Rather than keep civil rights’ eye on the prize, leadership has attacked Dr. Johnson’s suspension policy decision, leading MPS back to harmful bureaucratic business as usual — not education, but increasing African American suspensions and expulsions, reviving “separate but equal.”
These acts of exclusion by White and Black leaders allows commitments to diversity, fairness and equal opportunity for all students in our schools to be ignored, depriving students of equal protection guaranteed by the 14th amendment. We must not forget the peril of turning our backs on these prophetic words from the 1940s and 1950s:
- Nellie Stone Johnson: Without education, no jobs; without jobs no housing (think Vikings stadium).
- Martin Luther King, Jr.: We are unqualified but qualifyable (think qualify through education and training).
- Kenneth Clark doll studies: Segregated Blacks in south but not integrated Blacks in north internalized being
- “Inferior,” “bad,” and “ugly” (think how “separate but equal” is “brutal and absurd”).
- Thurgood Marshall: Separate but equal in public education…[has a] detrimental effect on Negro children (think of how the profound insensitivity to injustice is the crucible if racial discrimination: separate as unequal).
- Chief Justice Warren: Only reason [for] segregation…is inferiority of Negroes (think: thus no segregation as Negroes are not inferior).
One of the most successful approaches to obstructing Black education and thwarting a community’s acquisition of a place at the table of equality of opportunity is to cut off their children from education and discourage their learning in order to prevent enhancing their skills and prevent developing an ambition to succeed. Worldwide those fostering exclusion commit a form of racial genocide, tremendously helped by institutional education homicide made to look like individual education suicide.
Increasing suspensions and accelerating expulsions attacks opportunities of African American children. Shame on Whites, but even more shame on us for allowing our kids’ exclusion. Shame on leadership’s silence and cowardliness in the face of the obstructed education journey for our K-12 students.
We, the sons and daughters of immigrant African slaves continue our 400 year long attempt to integrate into this exceptional country, to advance beyond new attempts to preserve plantations, cotton fields and Jim Crow. When we repeat devastating patterns of educational segregation, despite our self-description of being a liberal enclave, we allow the African American child to be an intentional target of racism and nullification in the name of public order and safety.
Black leadership today has slipped away from not only our heritage but our wisdom, as Black leadership joins the problems they used to fight, masquerading as clergy, nonprofits, government agencies, charities, in order to achieve elite status and elite pay for leadership at the cost of betraying our students’ present and the future.