I can’t wait for the opening night of Marvel’s Black Panther, which, if black folks have anything to do with it, will be the event movie of the year.
For half a century I’ve waited to see a black superhero that wasn’t a sidekick or a diversity consolation prize. My time is almost here, but until February 16th, the day I have pre-purchased tickets for my family, I’ll have to settle for lesser heroes.
And, that’s where Black Lightning comes in.
This addition to CW’s portfolio of comic revivals came to my attention by accident on YouTube TV. By my low standards for TV, it’s a true winner.
But there’s one thing I didn’t catch until just now. In this YouTube review of the show (below) we discover that not only is Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) a school principal by day (I knew that), but he’s a principal at a charter school.
Wow. Didn’t see that coming.
PIerce is my second television sign of the mainstreaming of charters. The first was in The Foster’s, a show about a San Francisco lesbian couple that adopts foster children and puts them in Anchor Beach Charter School where one of the moms works. I love the show, but whenever it makes statements about the school being a charter it’s silly. There should be a laugh track. (like the episode where Jude was almost expelled for not passing a standardized test).
Back to Black Lightning.
It’s dope. The world needs more thoughtful and broad representation of black people the way Lightning portrays us.
Most people of good will would agree, but the addition of a charter school in the story causes trouble. It hit a nerve with Steven Singer, a hype man for the Badass Teachers Association (a group of bad teachers who’ve found common cause in defending bad teachers).
He’s pissed. He wants to know why the CW felt the need to make Garfield High a charter school?
Why, CW!? Why put your hero at the head of a charter school?
In the original DC comic book on which this television series is based, Pierce is a principal at Garfield High School in the fictional city of Metropolis.
When the writers moved the setting to New Orleans and made the hero a charter school principal, they were making purposeful changes to the mythology.
What does it add to the series with the inclusion of this extra detail?
Yes, Jefferson Pierce is African American. It’s about time we have more black superheroes. Marvel did an amazing job with its Netflix show based on Luke Cage, a character also created by writer Tony Isabella.
Listen, Pierce is black, which is good, but he’s one of those blacks, the kind who fail to drink from the white progressive well.
That’s a bad black. Dare we say uppity?
Now, that Luke Cage, he’s better. He doesn’t offend teachers’ unions. He just dodges bullets, fights black politicians, and bumps fuzzies with Rosario Dawson.
Good boy. Heel.
Here comes Singer’s real trump card:
But charter schools are not uniquely black. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a moratorium on charter school expansion just last year. The national civil rights organization has been publicly critical of charter schools’ impact on children of color since 2010.
Sorry Steve, that dog don’t hunt.
In a state of aw-hell-no-ish-ness all she could say was “Wow. Okay.”
Singer plays the role of Damon here. He explains to us what black is and what it is not.
The 700,000 black children in charter schools, not black.
The fact that charters have more black principals than government schools, not black.
Black parents who prefer charter schools over government schools, nope, they’re not black.
The countless black families sitting on waiting lists like Willy Wonka waiting to get their golden ticket, not black either.
Who does Singer consider really black? The NAACP.
Now, if Singer wants to know what black civil rights groups think he should look to the UNCF and the Urban League. They’ve been black since jump. Both of those organizations have not joined the anti-school-choice moratorium that was written by white teachers’ unions for their various afroplastic grantees.
What’s So ‘Black’ About Charter Schools?
Does anyone ever really ask the parent who chooses charter schools why they do it? Does anyone care or is it all a political battle between interests groups who all want to claim ownership of the voiceless, but they want to do it without listening to the voiceless?
A study in the Journal of Negro Education from 2012 called “The Black Charter School Effect” researched reasons for a higher rate of black families choosing charters and found there is something situationally unique about black parents’ motivation.
Results indicate that the main reason parents withdrew their children from the local traditional public school was to improve the quality of education their students were receiving. Parents defined “quality of education” as smaller class sizes, better teachers, teacher familiarity, a sense of belonging, one-on-one attention, and supportive staff. Parents were more influenced by a better-disciplined schooling environment than by better academic achievement.
Charter schools that serve large proportions of Black students have very distinct characteristics. These schools tend to vary tremendously from the cultures and practices of traditional public schools, and in many cases, have achieved success. There were five commonalities among the literature that constitute the characteristics of these schools: (a) a defined mission statement that emphasizes academic performance, (b) a culture of high expectations, (c) a college-going atmosphere, (d) a focus on standardized tests and the use of regular internal evaluations, and (e) longer school days and extended academic years.
Getting an education for our kids shouldn’t require Black Panther-like acrobatics where we lie about our address or apply for multiple scholarships, or dance for the magnet school enrollment committees, or beg principals to sequester our kids into special programs away from the general population.
But it does require that level of effort.
There is something uniquely white about ignoring the reasons black families look for advantages, options, alternatives, and pathways out of their redlining into government schools.
I hope Singer will do less whining about fictional superheroes, and more explaining of his real-world white obstructionism to black education.
- How ‘Blade’ and ‘Spawn’ Paved The Way for Black Panther
- How Black Panther Blends Politics, Culture, and Technology Unlike Any Other Superhero Film
- Angry Alt-Right Trolls Target Black Panther, But It Isn’t Working
- Ten Black Superheros You Should Know More About
- Black Superheros Matter: Why A ‘Black Panther’ Movie Is Revolutionary
I don’t care if KIPP changes their slogan if they still get results
Good People, some of y’all keep asking me about the internal work the KIPP charter school network is doing to interrogate itself for racial justice concerns, which begins with them changing their well-known slogan”Work Hard, Be Nice.”
I’ve resisted commenting because I think it’s a phony problem.
But, since questions continue to come my way, here a few thoughts:
1. KIPP can change their slogan to whatever they think helps them meet their organizational objective. You don’t have to like it. Stay in you lane.
2. People from the Right love any facile news peg that allows them to belabor the case that “woke” is going too far. I’m sympathetic to their complaint, but notice they have ZERO to say about it when white supremacy goes too far…..ever. It’s way too convenient and I’m tired of that. To them I say: woke isn’t doing nearly the damage to our country and out culture that your president, your party, and you are doing. Clean your own toilet before inspecting others’.
3. So-called “Ed Reform” is full of self-important individuals with axes to grind for one reason or other. Sometimes it’s just straight up competition, sometimes it’s malignant jealousy, sometimes its egotism because they didn’t get a grant or one of their AMAZING criticisms wasn’t heard, or whatever. To them I say, focus on your own house people and shut up about what others are doing.
4. On the liberal side, there are school/reform leaders who blow with the wind and will swing to something like racial justice theology as a shrewd value-signaling move to save their position within the field. Their perfection of woke-speak is a shield meant to position them as “allies” against white supremacy even as they enjoy every privilege and benefit of it.
5. I don’t give a damn if KIPP changes their slogan from “Work Hard, Be Nice” to “Eat Healthy, Drink Water,” or “Say Nice Things To People,” or “Don’t Take Crap From People On The Internet” – just as long as they keep teaching kids to beat the odds in the classroom. As of this point I haven’t heard a single them from them that tells me they aren’t going to keep focusing intently on teaching, learning, and outcomes.
6. And, finally, no – telling kids to “Work Hard, Be Nice” is not telling them to be complicit or be a slave or be compliant to white masters. That is almost as stupid as saying changing the slogan it teaching kids that merit doesn’t matter. Both claims are so damn stupid I can’t imagine educated people aren’t embarrassed to make them.
In the end, I hope everyone can focus on education, focus on results, and focus on the opponents of our field.
Please people: pop open a can of Mind Your Damn Business and drink heavily.
Sydney Johnson: California charter schools support their families during a tough time
If you listen to critics you’ll believe charter schools are the enemy of public education. If you look at how many of them are serving their students and families during the coronavirus pandemic, you might see a different story.
Private schools and some charters have found the transition to “distance learning” relatively easy, but public school districts have struggled to ensure students have functioning technology, internet access, and teachers trained to teach online.
Even worse, less than half of school districts have written plans to address pandemics even as experts have been warning of one coming for years. (Isn’t it delicious for public school cultists that Bill Gates is one of those who sounded the alarm about a coming pandemic, and he’s now putting his considerable resources toward expediting the search for a COVID-19 vaccine?).
Sydney Johnson tells the story of how *some* charter schools in California have acted quickly to meet the needs of families (even beyond their educational needs):
For schools like Fuerza, shifting to online classrooms was a relatively quick endeavor because the TK-5 charter school already had technology in place. At home, ensuring a supportive learning environment for students is more of a challenge. Fuerza and a handful of other charter schools across the state are responding by connecting families to resources they need so students can participate in class at home, from internet discounts to legal support.
In the switch to distance learning, many California schools have struggled to purchase devices for students, get teachers up to speed with online teaching and contact parents of students who aren’t participating in distance learning. But at Rocketship and some other charter schools, students were already completing digital assignments daily and teachers were routinely reaching out to parents through texts and home visits.
During the first week of distance learning, Anguiano’s oldest son Abraham, who is in fourth grade, was unable to turn on the laptop provided by his school, and the family didn’t have an extra working computer to give him. The next day, Anguiano had a new charger for her son’s laptop and was ready to go after replying to the morning text message, notifying staff that the device wasn’t working.
Most days, Anguiano said her kids have what they need. But the transition to distance learning has been difficult for the whole family. On top of managing two kids and her own office work, which is now mostly remote, her husband, along with thousands of other workers throughout California, was recently laid off from his construction job.
To help families with similar struggles, Rocketship, a charter management organization with 13 schools in California, initiated a new program at each campus called the Care Corps, a team of staff who reach out to every family every day during the shelter-in-place order to ask if they need support.
“Some say, ‘I’m an essential worker and I’m concerned that I will bring something home to my family,” said Christina Vasquez, the business operations manager at Rocketship Fuerza. “Sometimes they just need someone outside of the home to talk to.”
Why aren’t teachers freaking out about Biden and Bernie’s education task force?
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, put together an advisory council to help his state “reimagine” public education. Fearing Cuomo and his partner, the Gates Foundation, will produce a plan that creates accountability and expectations in their public school pension farm, the NYC teacher types pounced.
“There’s no current classroom teacher on this list of advisors” they whined.
For the record, here is Cuomo’s list of advisors:
- Kaweeda Adams, Superintendent, Albany City School District
- Jaime Alicea, Superintendent, Syracuse City School District
- Jody Gottfried Arnhold, Founder, Dance Educator Laboratory (DEL) 92Y
- Melodie Baker, Director of Education, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
- Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director, New York State PTA
- Meg Benke, Provost, SUNY Empire State College
- Jackie Burbridge, Parent, Suffolk County
- Katie Campos, Partner, Strategic Collective
- Anthony Collins, President, Clarkson University
- Stephanie Conklin, Master Teacher, South Colonie Central School District
- George Dermody, CEO, The Children’s Home of Wyoming Conference
- Karol Mason, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
- Austin Ostro, President, SUNY Student Assembly
- Martin Palermo, Master Teacher, William Floyd School District
- Roger Ramsammy, President, Hudson Valley Community College
- Seema Rivera, President, Guilderland Central School District School Board
- Shannon Tahoe, Interim Commissioner, New York State Education Department
- Dennis Walcott, Former Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
- Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
As you can see, teachers, parents, students, higher education, nonprofits, superintendents, and other education officials are represented.
Now, contrast that with the farcical “unity” education task force assembled by current and failed presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Per Vox Media, here’s their list:
- Heather Gautney, task force co-chair and Sanders policy adviser
- Alejandro Adler, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University
- Hirokazu Yoshikawa, New York University professor
- Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), task force co-chair and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
- Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association
- Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers
- Maggie Thompson, executive director of Generation Progress
- Christie Vilsack, literacy advocate
Hmmm. This feels a little paltry.
Let’s start with the fact that Sanders seems to continue his trend of giving zero effs about honest Black representation or truly addressing K-12 education’s pedagogical and social issues beyond what political neosocialist agenda setters tell him works best.
Looking at his picks tells me his post-racial disaster socialism once again proves him an unserious candidate for any post responsible for educational progress.
Now, Mr. Biden, what gives?
Together, these picks reveal why the Democrats’ education agenda is useless to America’s most marginalized students:
Their list includes:
- No school leaders who are successfully educating children deemed “hard-to-teach” by an out-of-touch education establishment;
- No classroom teachers with a track record of success;
- No parents of color desperate for improved educational options;
- No one with direct pedagogical insights into what will improve education for those who are poorly served in today’s public schools;
In short, both Biden and Bernie, when given the chance to show how genuine their interest is in educational improvement, fail the test by stacking the deck with political advisors in place of accomplished educators.
The funny thing is, none of the Badass Miseducators so abundant in social media grievance groups have come for Biden and Bernie, even as they have indignant seizures about the fact that Cuomo dare work with Bill Gates for his “reimagine” counsel in New York.
I guess that’s the surest sigh it’s all politics folks.
If you care about fixing education so it works equally well for everyone, there’s nothing to see here.
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