Collateral Damage: Black Males Will Have To Wait: Legacy Is More Important Than Kids.


A teacher, a parent and a sullen student were talking in the main office. The teacher was showing the “late” book to the parent, the student was late almost every day to the first period Global Studies Regents prep class. The parent, in work clothes was telling his son that if he was late to his job he would lose pay. The student couldn’t care less, “Yah, yah, yah, can I leave now?”
This black male was more interested in Dead Prez’s They School lyrics or Boston Celtic star Paul Pierce making gang signs to an opponent.
The Afro-American male is an endangered species. As Bob Herbert writes about the joblessness rates for black male dropouts.
For dropouts, the rates of joblessness are staggering. For black males who left high school without a diploma, the real jobless rate at various times over the past few years has ranged from 59 percent to a breathtaking 72 percent.
And joblessness leads to staggering incarceration rates, in spite of more than a decade of a burgeoning economy.
Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990’s and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20’s who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30’s, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.
What has the Klein administration done to address this crisis?
Joel Klein will be speaking next week at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, he hails his accomplishments as
During Klein’s tenure, the district has started dozens of small high schools, worked aggressively to remove ineffective teachers, created an autonomy zone for high-performing schools, reworked problematic collective bargaining provisions to promote teacher performance pay, instituted an A through F grading system for every school, encouraged the formation of charter schools, and overhauled the department’s human resources and information technology systems.
He appears prouder of fighting teachers and their union than helping a disappearing species, black males.
The chancellor’s stock speech avers, “Education is a Civil right” and sees his administration as the continuation of Brown v. Board of Education … he hallucinates.
As a litigator he sees every struggle as a monumental take no prisoners battle … he fought Microsoft, won a Pyrrhic victory, and fled. He sees the teachers union as the next Microsoft, the giant to be slain. His public relations acolytes keep secret files on critics, who he sees as enemies. Every press release spins the achievements of Tweed, no matter the reality. Union activists who criticize a principal are sent to the gulag – the star chamber is back!
The Klein administration invented a budget cut war: creating a crisis to impose his will on the school system. For the next two weeks parents, school advocates, teachers, their union and elected officials will jousting over the same old issue: should a chancellor have unrestrained powers to do as he pleases? no checks and balances? The battle is being fought in the thinks tanks, on the blogs, and, in the streets.
The crisis of the disappearing black male teenager will just have to wait.

2 responses to “Collateral Damage: Black Males Will Have To Wait: Legacy Is More Important Than Kids.

  1. avram barlowe

    “Ed” — Good piece as always. The body of your work is on this site is invaluable — as a historical record, as an organizing tool, and as an inspirational voice of truth speaking to power.

    Right on and thanks.


  2. Phyllis C. Murray


    By Phyllis C. Murray

    “Commencement at Morehouse College is a time of tradition and celebration –
    but perhaps more so this year. Amid lamentations about the dearth of black men
    in higher education, Morehouse graduated its largest class ever – nearly 600
    educated African American men. No other institution in the world can match this
    impressive number.” Morehouse College 2006

    What has created this success story? How does this academic institution continue its legacy of excellence for over one hundred years? And how is this institution able to produce such impressive alumni as: Martin Luther King, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Lerone Bennett, Shelton “Spike” Lee, Dr. David Satcher, Maynard Jackson, Attorney Tyrone Means, Julian Bond, and James Nabrit from ever strata of society.

    Perhaps the difference is that someone had a dream for each one of these men before they could dream. That someone might have been a teacher. And once the student reached Morehouse, “From the first day on campus, he was told he was destined for greatness and could achieve no less.” Errin Hehmen AP

    There are teachers today, who like pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1950), have “invested in a human soul “knowing that “it could be a diamond in the rough.” Because true educators know that diamonds, like our students, come in every hue.

    Michael Lomax, UNCF believes in the myriad possibilities of making miracles happen in classrooms. Also when he said: “There is this beacon out there that says if you create a challenging, demanding, yet nurturing and supportive environment, if you show these young men the possibilities and you discipline them to realize those possibilities, you can turn these statistics about black men around.” It is obvious that the “bigotry of low expectations” and “benign neglect” have no place in our classrooms or nation.

    Surely, there are programs which earnestly address the Plight of the African American Male in Education: Programs which provide residents with a stone of hope toward removing the growing mountain of despair which plagues our nation. These programs provide our nation with the process for change indeed worthy of much praise and emulation. And that new trend: an infusion of exemplary programs which are already in place within Westchester High Schools which work daily, toward ameliorating an insidious problem which left unchecked negatively impacts society.

    The Woodlands Individualized Senior Experience; Ossinings’ High Hopes Expectations College Track; Byram Hills’ Intel Science Program; and Mount Vernon High School’s Business Club, are proof positive that there are already solutions to the heightening dropout rate among African American Males in Westchester public schools. These programs should be replicated nationwide.

    Peter Goodman, UFT . cites the following : “A Report issued by the Education Trust, (Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality, a major research institution, a vers “…research shows … that good teachers can have an enormous impact on student achievement.”

    Yes, we know good teachers do have an enormous impact on student achievement. The teachers are the keepers of the dreams. And that fact is exactly what educators have known all along as they strive to teach often against the ever rising insurmountable odds. And, there are many success stories in New York City as students reach their goals and realize the dreams that they can now call their own.

    Yes, “…teachers are the single most important factor in how much students learn ….” Education Trust So we say:

    “Bring me all of your dreams,
    you dreamers,
    Bring me all your heart melodies,
    that I may wrap them in a blue cloud cloth,
    Away from the too rough fingers of the world. Langston Hughes “The Dream Keeper”

    Phyllis C. Murray,


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