Op/Ed By Howard Eagle
I hope that we are paying close attention to information that’s being reported (at a national level) about our hometown. For example, immediately following the 2016 Presidential Election, it was reported (compliments of former Rochester City School District Superintendent, Clifford Janey, Rochester Teachers Association President, Adam Urbanski, the latter of whom also happens to be a vice-president of American Federation of Teachers, and others) in The Atlantic magazine, a national publication, that: “At the local level, a growing number of school districts (including Rochester) are also promoting democratic values through socioeconomic and racial school integration of student bodies at the school and classroom levels.”
The truth of the matter is that the Rochester City School District, which is composed of an overwhelming majority of poor, black and brown students and families, is one of the most racially segregated school districts in the nation, and it is located in a county (Monroe County), which is one of the most racially segregated counties in the nation, which has 21 separate school districts (the overwhelming majority of which are completely lily-white – – – with white student/family populations of 90 percent or higher, and in some cases, nearly 100 percent white).
In addition, Monroe County is located in one of the most racially segregated regions of the nation, i.e., Western New York.
Thus, if, as asserted in the article, “Integrated learning environments underline the democratic message that in America, everyone is equal,” then children and people of Monroe County (in the main) must necessarily be receiving a “message that in America, everyone is [NOT] equal.”
Of course, this scenario is not limited to Western New York, but is generally true for the entire state, as well as, much of the thoroughly-racist, white supremacist-based, U.S. Nation.
According to information in the article: “By contrast, when American schoolchildren are educated in what are effectively apartheid schools—divided by race and class—the democratic message of equal political rights and heritage is severely undermined.”
Well, “apartheid schools — divided by race and class,” don’t get much worse than those in Rochester, Monroe County, and throughout New York state — period.
The Atlantic article also contains a number of other outstandingly-blatant, contradictory, if not hypocritical statements.
Two classic examples are below:
1) “The failure of schools to model democracy for students is critical, as the Rochester teachers’ union leader Adam Urbanski has noted, because ‘You cannot teach what you do not model.’ ”
Well, well, well — since the overwhelming majority of predominantly white, socially, economically, politically, and culturally-disconnected (from the overwhelming majority of students, families, and communities that they supposedly serve) suburbanite, Rochester City School District teachers, including Urbanski himself (who likes to boast that he lives in Rochester, but certainly did NOT raise his children in Rochester, and certainly did NOT send them to Rochester schools), definitely do NOT model anti-racist attitudes, belief-systems, actions – nor in-depth knowledge of the historical existence, significance, ongoing manifestations, and/or functioning of individual, institutional, and structural racism (relative to the historical, race-based, dual urban/suburban, public education system) — then they certainly do not; cannot teach it.
As a matter of fact, whether they are conscious of it or not, the overwhelming majority of them generally operate in manners that perpetuate and maintain the entrenched, racist, status-quo.
I am absolutely certain that not many understand this reality as well, or better than former Rochester Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Clifford Janey.
2) “The explicit civics curriculum has been downplayed in recent years — educators have emphasized the importance of serving the needs of the private marketplace rather than of preparing citizens for American democracy. On one level, this approach made some sense: As the country celebrated two centuries of continuous democratic rule, the paramount threat seemed to be economic competition from abroad, not threats to democracy at home.”
“…the country celebrated two centuries of continuous democratic rule…” WHAT?
That would take us back to 1816. So, if the “country celebrated two centuries of continuous democratic rule” (1816 – 2016), then what were the following all about: the Abolitionist Movement; indigenous resistance to mass, physical and cultural displacement and genocide; Women Rights Movement; the Dred Scott Decision; the U.S. Civil War; the Reconstruction period; Plessy v. Ferguson; Brown v. Board of Education; the Modern U.S. Civil Rights Movement; the Black Power Movement; Black Lives Matter?
“Two centuries of [so-called] continuous democratic rule?”