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A Critique of the D&C’s Latest Brainchild and the Potential for Mess-Making

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Op/Ed By Howard Eagle –

 

howard newWell, well, well – Gannet’s Democrat and Chronicle is at it again.

Apparently, someone in the top echelons of their near-monopolistic, international conglomerate has decided that “it’s time to educate” – just as it was decided a few years back – that it was time to assemble a “diverse” group of locals to address institutional and structural racism via the former, so-called Unite Rochester initiative (https://www.democratandchronicle.com/topic/642e327c-0acb-45bd-9887-722ef70c1fb8/unite-rochester/).

Of course, neither thing happened, i.e., as it relates to critically important variables such as race, socioeconomic class, culture, age, disabilities, philosophies, etc… – there was no truly diverse, and definitely not sustained assemblage.

Nor was there any significant, concrete, measurable, permanent change or impact regarding the tripartite beast and illness of individual, institutional and structural racism (http://minorityreporter.net/the-tripartite-beast-and-illness-of-individual-institutional-and-structural-racism/).

Already, there are ‘red flags’ and ‘alarms’ going off relative to the new journalistic-brainchild.

One of the most blatant examples is the fact that – even though someone has decided that it’s finally “time to educate” in the decrepit Rochester City School District – not a single one of the persons who have been mentioned as leaders of the latest fix-it-project is a Rochester City School District parent, nor educator.

That’s a big problem.

Additionally, it has been mentioned that the D&C education-pundits have  “a growing number of partners.”

Well, we need to know who those partners are (specifically by name).

Some of us believe that they are the usual suspects, i.e., the old, left-over “Unite Rochester” crew.

If this is in fact true – it represents a serious, fundamental flaw in the process.

That is to say, it’s one thing to TALK about a so-called “community-driven approach” (https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communities/time-to-educate/conversation/2018/06/06/rochester-ny-worst-school-district-solutions-column-julie-philipp/672592002/), but when one’s definition of “community” is so narrow that it includes (almost exclusively) – middle and upper class ‘scholars, experts,’  and ‘representatives’ – as clearly demonstrated and evidenced so many times in the past, including the former, so-called “Unite Rochester” project – then the ‘prescription’ represents a circular, going-nowhere-fast, tail-wagging-the-dog-type formula.

Since the tripartite beast and illness of individual, institutional, and structural racism is a fundamental part of the old, old, ongoing systemic crisis of massive failure in the Rochester City School District, which (in accordance with race-based information contained in the barrage of coverage over the past few days) – D&C education-pundits certainly seem to be in agreement with (https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communities/time-to-educate/stories/2018/06/06/rochester-ny-rcsd-city-schools-history-racial-segregation/642138002/ ) – then how in the world is it logical and/or possible that their “growing number of partners” does not include Rochester’s premiere, clearly, most active, most knowledgeable and most informed anti-racist-education-collective in Monroe County – that’s correct (indisputably) – the Take It Down Planning Committee, Faith Community Alliance, Movement for Anti-racist Ministry and Action Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/tidpc/).

Also, I imagine it must necessarily represent quite an affront to Ms. Makita Saloane, and others serving on the Rochester City School District’s Parent Advisory Council (https://www.facebook.com/groups/RCSDparentcouncil/), to read that the D&C education-pundits “especially want to hear from parents and students, and will make sure [their] voices are as prominent as those belonging to  many other stakeholders in our education system,” and then to see Buffalo, NY parent Sam Radford interviewed (front and center) on the D&C’s Opinion Page (under the headline: Rochester’s parents must lead the crusade to fix a failed school district’)  – WHAT?

(https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communities/time-to-educate/conversation/2018/06/09/time-educate-rochester-parents-fix-school-district-editorial/685953002/ ) ???

Don’t get me wrong – many of us know Sam, and we are familiar with the good work that he is doing in Buffalo.

But, after all, he lives and works in Buffalo — not Rochester.

I will say (in my humble, but staunch view) – as it relates to INDEPENDENCE and ACTION – as opposed to apolitical parties in the park – Rochester City School District’s Parent Advisory Council would do well to take a page straight out of Sam Radford’s and the Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Council’s playbook – beginning with dropping the ineffective title and role as “advisers,” and becoming equal partners.

A major problem with “advisory” status is that those in charge can take or leave your advice.

In the case of the Rochester City School District, there is no doubt which of the two choices almost always rises to the top.

Another major flaw in all of this is the very problematic idea of “a network of education reporters who are identifying solutions across the country.”

We understand the claim that the reporters “are receiving special training,” but special training in what (specifically), and by whom?

Being an “education reporter,” even with so-called “special training” – is not the same as being an educator, and definitely does not guarantee that one knows what (specifically) he or she should be seeking or examining relative to producing viable, concrete, measurable solutions to the old, old, overwhelmingly, predominantly poor, Black and brown urban  education crisis.

Clearly, the education-pundits run the risk of ending up (as in the past) being mess-makers: http://minorityreporter.net/snake-oil-solutions-critique-of-novice-mess-makers-and-those-who-know-better/.

As they themselves noted – “the Democrat and Chronicle has been just as ineffective as the rest of our community in making a significant difference in the lives of these [overwhelmingly, predominantly poor, Black, and brown] children [and even though their] executive editor and vice president of news, Karen Magnuson is [reportedly] directing [them] to push even harder” – this still does not automatically, nor necessarily translate into them knowing (specifically) how and/or who “to push.”

The Take It Down Planning Committee, Faith Community Alliance, Movement for Anti-racist Ministry and Action Coalition’s advice is that (in attempts to ensure genuine, authentic expertise – in “unprecedented” manners – they must include – as equal partners – all along the way – from beginning to end) as many people from primary communities, i.e., those most directly and most negatively impacted, as possible.

In fact, we are unequivocally convinced that this represents THE vital missing ingredient regarding past, miserably-failed efforts, and is critical to success.

The D&C’s education-pundits are correct about one thing, i.e., it is way beyond “time to educate,” but they must also understand that they are NOT qualified to lead.

In the final analysis — they ought to ASK US how they might be able to best utilize their massive resources and power to help address the old, old, historic, predominantly Black and brown, urban education crisis, which is not unique to Rochester, or New York State, but exists now, and always has existed throughout the history of this thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based nation-state (in every direction – North, East, South, and West) – period.

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