I believe in the value of public education and the need for educators, parents, taxpayers and renters to have an organized voice representing the needs of the student, the classroom, the school and the district. I also believe in inclusion and that no teacher is deplorable and every student must count. But I also believe that diversity without equity is window-dressing, so that while we fight for inclusion, we also must fight for the resources to make that inclusion meaningful to students of every color, ethnicity, language or gender. It is our job to make the learning experience rewarding and joyful for all students.
Fighting racism is not enough, we have to end the race system for the fake science that is. And we must not dilute it with false equivalencies or diminish its remedies to a mere civil right. My hope was that someone would run to represent the primacy of the fight against racism in all we do. Hence, at the cajoling of fellow teachers, administrators and neighbors, I decided to toss my hat in the ring to give voice to these issues. In my opinion, local legend Dr. Mahmoud El-Kati should be an advisor to the District given its problems and his historic work. His pro-human position is exactly what we need at this time, now reflected in the work of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi.
You see, anyone who is familiar with the staff and students at Anwatin, Bryn Mawr, Jefferson, Kenwood, Whittier and FAIR as well as Emerson Immersion and Stadium View School in the Hennepin JDC knows that these ideas are right on the money! I know, because I've worked in each of these schools. These kids deserve the very best education our city can offer them! And the schools throughout the 4th represent the range of humanity we have in our City and form a tremendous opportunity for us to create world class educational opportunities for our future-bound scholars.
I was raised in an integrated neighborhood and have been marching since the sixties. The notion of privilege repulsed me and sought people who felt the same way. My ex- wife, daughter and 3 grandchildren are black. We saw privilege from both sides and learned how to spot it, stop it, or call it out. I’ve learned “the only thing worse than a bad guy who’s a bully is someone who calls themselves a good guy who’s a bully.” It doesn’t matter how they identify; we have enough of these types. We don’t need people fighting for equal access to privilege; we need to put an end to the system of privilege.
During the '60s when we rallied against war and racism and marched to free political prisoners, we published an underground newspaper in high school that was banned statewide and made the front page because we quoted Bobby Seale using a cuss word. In college in the '70s, I edited a newspaper with a circulation of 25k and ran a promotion to find out who was burning crosses near campus by awarding valuable prizes to entrants. Amazingly, we got tons of entries, including one from one of the culprits, and found the perps despite the skeptics! There is no crime in fighting racism using incentives! A teachable moment for University of Massachusetts administration!
Only by including the whole community and bringing together our beloved ADOS families, descendants of European settlers, Somali, Ethiopian, Latino and Hmong immigrants with the cooperation of Native stewards of this land can we build the broadest possible support to make change. We have to reach out to our community and include parents, neighborhood-associations, cultural-clubs, unions, NGOs and clergy of every denomination so we can rescue our schools from slashing budget cuts on one side and the corporate privatizers on the other. Cultivating active press relations, we also have to take care in the staging and timing of issues so as to gain commitments on things we can agree on first. When you think about it, District personnel and teacher's union representatives are not really “enemies,” only proxies for different interests and can accomplish a lot if the parties are clever enough to negotiate like professionals and engage teach other under the parent's supervision.
We need to improve our new teacher on-boarding process to better prepare our teachers for the urban classroom. We also need to do a better job of attracting and recruiting black educators. Raising the comfort level and offering support to new teachers is not enough; we need to rethink what we consider to be equity in the system and allow them to be central, not adjunct to our plans. Meanwhile, too many urban educators are busy recruiting allies of their own in the classroom rather than striving to be allies of all the students in their classes. This is on both sides of the political aisle, the agenda of stress.
I am in my 6th decade and have devoted a lifetime of research, study and action toward understanding what makes our culture and society tick, what motivates our children and the steps we need to make to make it fair and equitable for our students and teachers. I started humbly, as a machinist and organizer but soon spent 35 years building and turning around technology companies and helping young people develop their careers as they helped me fulfill my mission. Together we launched the desktop mapping market, the CD-ROM revolution, 3D laser scanning industry, CAD document management systems and traffic control technologies that changed society, won awards and positioned my young charges for greatness. Along the way, I built non-profits to enhance the social value of my success.
My legacy continues as an anti-racist fighter. And as we are constantly reminded, we have to force attention to these issues, not wait on our political friends to remember us. Anticipating our current times, I applied years of experience toward developing the Professional Development curriculum, Defusing the Race Bomb: Our Role as Educators, showing educators which wires to cut and which ones to avoid while defusing this ticking race bomb so we don’t get blown up. Not many people get how the present system may grant relief for affected "racial" groups but awarded only as it simultaneously strengthens the race system, ultimately increasing the sense of otherness children face; the trap we must escape. Years of study and service have helped me grasp, apply and reproduce techniques to build the self-perceptual framework of children, in the classroom and out, to increase student self-esteem, confidence and performance. I am deeply committed to ending the race system as the key to fighting racism. Deny identity parity for white-supremacists! Race never appears plural! De-otherize all students now! They are all equally worthy of our love! The mission of a legacy! The legacy of a lifetime!