by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
I received a letter from Reverend Cheryl Anthony, which follows below, in reference to the Frederick Douglass Academy in Brooklyn. I would be very interested in your recommendations for how to deal with this problem, you can feel free to respond to both of us. This is not just a New York – Brooklyn – problem – it’s a Black problem that is replicated throughout the US, Caribbean, Africa, South America – anywhere Black people are subjugated to whites and their racist policies. I would also like to interject that Frederick Douglass did not put things mildly or politely; he was front and center; he was a man of action. I should think that any institution that bears his name should not take that lightly, but follow the spirit and example Douglass set over 150 years ago.
My response is first, the letter from Rev. Anthony follows immediately after.
Dear Rev. Anthony (Cheryl):
Interesting how monitoring a situation is really a code word for not so benign neglect. It’s like walking behind a person who is critically ill and measuring him or her for a coffin, as opposed to offering the appropriate life saving intervention that might actually save his life.
The fact that books have not been delivered to the school speaks to the fact that there is deliberate neglect on the part of the Board of Ed which has a vested interest in seeing the school fail(they get more money for charter schools).
I would also venture to say that the founding principal of the school was probably forced out because of allegations of improprieties, brought about by the deliberate undermining of her efforts to provide a quality education.
Believe me, as an educator myself, I have no great fondness for the current public schools as they manifest in our communities. Many of teachers, as far as I can tell, have no vested interest in the success of our children, just the regularity of their paychecks.
Nor am I bowled over by the overabundance of resources lavished on so-called charter schools. Because, as with anything else, what has been given can also be taken away once they have strategically decimated the public schools in the community — eventually leaving us with no schools.
What frightens me is the parents. Our parents must be comatose! That’s the only reason I can see for their not raising cain (I was going to say holy hell, but didn’t want to offend my friends in the clergy) about the lack of resources in the schools.
Either our parents are comatose or they don’t love their children, and so don’t care whether they get a decent education or not — also a reason for their apparent inaction.
Or, worse than my other two conjectures, they must be extremely ignorant, and therefore not aware of the fact that their children not receiving appropriate educational resources will handicap them for life — making them illiterate, unemployable, and ripe for crime targets and stereotyping.
And perhaps the most tragic reason for the lack of action could be that the parents, and people of the community, feel that they are powerless against the system, and have given up making any effort whatsoever.
There are times I wish I had that proverbial two-by-four to be able to deliver the necessary whack upside our heads to wake us up from the somnambulism we find ourselves in. We watch the idiot box, we dress in the latest hoochie mama fashions, our kids are morbidly obese, our young males (and some of our hard-ankle females) are killing each other for the crappiest and most insipid reasons; and we look down our noses on those who try to help us help ourselves. Then we say it’s the fault of the white overseerstructure. While this may be true, we are the ones who are co-signing their actions through our lack of Blackbone.
At a recently held meeting of the Freedom Party at the Nazarene Church, one of the presenters mentioned that our great grand and grand parents didn’t have cell phones, computers, or televisions, but managed to provide us with better educations and better leadership than we have today. WE now have access to the most modern, up to date equipment, and are further behind than they ever were.
Yes, we must certainly let our voices be heard at the Board of Education, but I’m also for shaking us out of the lethargy, that complacency, complicity, and complaining, that has become the mantra for so many problems.
We must develop our own standards, a modus operandii, and consolidate our energies and efforts to provide our own education, write our own texts, and teach our own children, regardless of what they’re doing at the bored of education. (Isn’t that what the Jews, East Indians and Japanese are doing? Isn’t that why they are autonomous? Why they don’t fall prey to the economic ills that impact the rest of us?)
Isn’t what the phrase “God bless the child whose got his own means? Not just the physical/financial, but the applied faith and spiritual/intrinsic wealth that God gave us? It comes from within, both individually and collectively – not just lip service, or recitation of a few scriptures, but applications of those principles in the areas of our lives where we are experiencing lack, loss or limitation.
We have a litany of tales of woe about who hates us, who did what to us, and how it keeps happening over and over again; what we don’t do — or haven’t to date — is take that mess and turn it upside down and proactively do what we need to do to help each other and save ourselves. Our favorite retort is that “we don’t trust each other:” or “we don’t have enough time;” or talk about how the enemy is keeping us from doing it. But in the spirit of the underground railroad, we have to do it anyway. By stalth as well as out front and in the open. We have to take back our power, as the Urban League says, empower ourselves, and do the job for our selves.
I recently spoke at a meeting of the clergy at Antioch Baptist Church, and called for a consolidation of the churches to develop our own educational system, regardless of denomination, based on the educational principles and criteria of Carter G. Woodson, coupled with Leon Sullivan’s OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Centers), and other autonomous programs that have served Black people well.
I’ve not heard back from them, but the necessity is no less urgent. Even if it’s just a Saturday School, the way the Japanese and other groups have done to maintain standards of quality, we need to stop talking about it and do it. Let each church tithe 10% of their Sunday contributions to establish the school and hire the educators. We have enough brilliant people in Brooklyn – in New York City — to make it happen.
Why we still beg the people who hate us the most to provide us with services we should be providing for ourselves, I truly don’t understand. They definitely owe us big time, but I don’t think it wise to sit and hold our breath waiting for them to ante up — besides, I doubt very seriously that we would trust them if they did — we’ve been there before.
No, the time is now to let Mother Necessity give birth to the invention of a Black Board of Quality Education, and begin being the ones who we’ve been waiting for to save us.
Stay Blessed &
REV. DR. CHERYL ANTHONY’S LETTER:
From: DR CHERYL ANTHONY
Subject: Frederick Douglass Academy has NO Textbooks – Contact Chancellor
Date: Thursday, October 14, 2010, 10:11 PM
Below is the article from today’s paper. How can it be that Frederick Douglass Academy has no textbooks and resources and a new charter school is being dedicated tomorrow? This is very much an educational disparity. Contact the Board of Education by email or phone to express our outrage (be polite but direct). Peace and Blessings
I Choose 2 Change “Live the Choice…Love The Change!
Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anthony, Judah International Christian Center, Inc.
141 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11216-3978
718-771-0383 visit us on the web at: www.judahinternational.com
Five weeks into school year, Bed-Stuy school Frederick Douglass Academy still has no textbooks BY Ben Chapman DAILY NEWS WRITER Thursday, October 14th 2010, 4:00 AM
Students at a troubled Bedford-Stuyvesant school still don’t have textbooks or after-school programs five weeks into the new academic year, the Daily News has learned.
The Frederick Douglass Academy IV earned an “F” on the city’s progress report for falling test scores and a dismal learning environment last month – just one of eight schools across the city to earn the failing grade.
The school has also been thrown into turmoil in the last year over its leadership, losing two principals since September 2009.
Teachers and students at the Lafayette Ave. school said this year could be even worse.
“The school’s an absolute mess,” said a teacher who wouldn’t give his name because he feared retribution. “We need books and classroom materials and strong leadership. We have none.”
Many sixth-graders at the K-12 school lack reading, science and math books, forcing one teacher to use an overhead projector to deliver classroom lessons.
In other classes, students share textbooks and rely on online reading materials and photocopies instead of the real thing.
“It makes it harder to study when you don’t have the books,” a 10th-grader said. “Sometimes the Web doesn’t work or you can’t read the photocopies.”
Students also said they’re disappointed that the 508-student school has yet to offer any after-school clubs or sports.
“I know that times are tough, but it doesn’t cost much to run a chess club,” said senior Alamasi Ghullikie, 17, who lives in Bed-Stuy.
Teachers blamed turnover in the principal’s office for the school’s poor condition. Principal Marian Bowden, who founded the school in 2002, resigned last November after being cited by the state for maintaining inadequate facilities for special-ed students.
Bowden’s replacement, interim acting principal Claytisha Walden, resigned recently, said Chiara Coletti, chief spokeswoman for the principals union. Department of Education spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the city is monitoring the school closely.
“A grade of an F on its middle school Progress Report is serious cause for concern,” said Morgan.
Okay, so now it’s your turn to weigh in on this subject. I look forward to hearing from you. Whether or not you yourself have children, or yours are grown and gone, as my friend Sam Brown of Our Children’s Foundation says, “these are our children and nothing is too good for them.”
Stay Blessed &
ECLECTICALLY BLACKGloria Dulan-Wilson
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com