On August 21, 1831, Nat Turner, an enslaved American, led about 70 of his enslaved and free Black neighbors in a rebellion to awaken his white neighbors to the inherent brutality of slaveholding and the dangers it presented to their own safety. Turner and his friends traveled from house to house in their neighborhood in Southampton County, Virginia, freeing enslaved people and murdering about 60 of the white men, women, and children they encountered. Their goal, Turner later told an interviewer, was “to carry terror and devastation wherever we went.”
Thank you Dr. Richardson. I am reminded....
The supreme court decision of 1954 ruled that separate schools were inherently unequal and unconstitutional. Thus began the civil rights movement that swept across the nation throughout the sixties and seventies. When I graduated college in 1968 and began teaching in Nashville, Tennessee at East Nashville High School, the equal rights movement provided the setting for a personal voyage that has served me well throughout my life.
Growing up in an East Tennessee small town, I had very few chances to even see a black person. When we went to the movies in my small hometown, I knew that the balcony was where black people were allowed to watch the movie, but I never gave the situation much thought. I learned that black students were bussed to a school somewhere, not close to our town; I did not know where that was.
As I began teaching in Nashville, citizens daily clashed throughout the city and in the schools about issues of bussing and integration. That year, 1968, was the first year that East Nashville High School became integrated. As the local black high school was closed, practically overnight the East High student population became 40% black and 60% white.
Our faculty was comprised of teachers already on staff at East Nashville High School, teachers that were included from the original all black high school, and at least one young white teacher fresh out of college. Our black and white classroom teachers and administrators attended a number of in-service training programs about human relations relative the needs of cultural harmony and academic equality. Those were high energy and sometimes contentious training programs.
In the midst of the turmoil and challenges, I was fortunate to work with a young black student who epitomized a student level of high ideals and aspirations, talent, intellect, and positive attitude that we needed and called upon to help lead our young people to more harmonious co-existence. She was in a couple of my English classes, my speech classes, and the National Forensic League (NFL) club which I was assigned to coach. She was popular in the student body and won a number of class officer elections. I coached her through three years of NFL local, state, and national tournaments. Two years in a row she and I traveled to the national tournaments of the NFL. She was a national finalist one year and again in the next year she was a finalist and won third place in the national tournament at Stanford University.
It is therefore, an honor and a source of personal pride that I have witnessed her shining success as an actress, world-wide leader in human rights efforts, and most famously known for her television show, The Oprah Winfrey Show
Dr. Richardson, thank you for your historical look at public education and the corruption of those education efforts by Republicans willing to steal money meant for public good.
Integration in the cities of America, not just southern cities, but northern cities too, was met by either privatization of education (as in Louisiana where parents established Catholic private schools to avoid integration), or segregation, as occurred in 100% of all Northern Cities via suburbanization.
Surprisingly, public education remained, in my youth, available for ALL races in the rural areas of the United States. I grew up in rural East Texas. There was one school, Slocum, ISD, that served miles of territory. By 1965 (13 years before Boston integrated), when I was 5 and entered school, Black kids were able to attend my public school. At that time, those schools were still taught by women whose choices had been limited to: Marriage, Nursing, or Teaching.
So, the smartest women in Texas went into teaching. I, and my, my Black classmates (some of them), benefited so very, very much.
So, while education failed in the cities of America, both north and south, for black Americans and white Americans, in the rural areas, Black Americans had equal access to education.
However, because Black Americans did NOT have equal access to jobs, the Black students often dropped out of school by age 14 due to many factors, all poverty related.
In 1976 I obtained a job to read the water meters in all of Slocum water systems homes. This was a great job and paid $50 per month. I needed only my ancient car, a big glove to move the black widow spiders under the covers out of the way to see the meter, and a desire to spend two days a month driving all over creation.
I had map so I could find every home with water.
As I drove southeast from Slocum, toward the Neches River bottom, the map showed a small road leading to what I thought was home with one meter. I drove down a dirt road, for quite a ways, and came out at a clearing where I could see one water spigot rising from the ground next to a water meter with a black cover on it.
But, in addition to the one water meter, there was a semi-circle of shacks s around the one single spigot. There were two outhouses behind the shacks. As I stood there looking for dogs that might bite while I tried to read the meter, one of my Black classmates came of a shack and asked me: “Mike, what on earth are you doing here?”.
For me, this was an easy question: “I have to read this water meter”.
Then, I asked: “What are you doing here?” He seemed confused. “I live here Mike”.
I looked around again. In that look around, my own perceptions about everything changed and have continued to evolve since. I realized that ALL of the black kids that went to school in Slocum lived in this small semi-circle of shacks. This was 1976.
So, sure, Education was available to them. The bus picked them up if they attended. But, they had no running water in their homes. Later I came to understand the parents could only get menial jobs. None of them owned any land which sustained the rest of the school’s kids.
I wrote an essay in college about this and, although my instructor DID believe my story, and made me read it aloud to my all white classmates, some thought I made it up to get an A, which, I did. But, the story is true.
Since then I have always noticed that my workplace, as an engineer, has been almost always devoid of Black engineers. In fact, in my entire career (here in the north and the south), I have seen three Black engineers in my organizations. Out of hundreds I have met.
It seems to me that it is always 1976 in America. Or 1876. Or 1776.
Nothing changes............for Black folks.
"In 1971, when segregation academies were gaining ground, the achievement gap between white and Black 8th grade students in reading scores was 57 points. In 1988, the year of the nation’s highest level of school integration, that gap had fallen to 18 points. By 1992, it was back up to 30 points, and it has not dropped below 25 points since."
1988 was one year after I graduated from a GREAT high school, albeit one in a pretty prosperous community. My dad and I didn't have a lot of money, but we had the cheapest house in South Eugene and I got to go to a fantastic school system. I took music all the way through. If it hadn't been for the journalism program at South, I don't know where I would be now. I might not have graduated.
Everything has slipped since, including my son through the cracks of the current educational system. Even in WA, budgets are constricted and there are 34 kids in classrooms. There's no time for journalism or music, or for teachers to help a kid who might not be responding to the industrialization of our education system in the way society expects. This was all preordained by the policies of the right wing in the 70s and 80s. And 90s and 00s and 10s.
We have to insist the Beltway media stop coddling the right wing and call them out every time. We have to stop coddling it ourselves. As liberals, we default to understanding. But understanding in the real world means we have to see and react to the real threat before us. There is no middle ground here. The right wing has purposefully inflicted real pain and suffering on the most vulnerable in our society, from it's very genesis.
In my mind, that makes them terrorists. We should never negotiate with terrorists. We have to unite to politically defeat the enemy at every turn, and not just in presidential elections. They have spent decades turning our local governments into a joke. On purpose. So I didn't use the word enemy lightly. That's what they are. We've been in a vice for many years now, the poor and increasingly the middle class beaten into submission, begging for work and terrified that our shitty-paying jobs might disappear. Many of us not able to survive on one check, and others of us one check or health scare from financial ruin.
It was all part of the plan. Until we recognize that we're debating the terrorists who executed the plan, the spiral will continue picking up speed. Get angry.
I was surprised no mention was made about the colossal charter school flop we had here in Ohio. It was Betsy DeVoss' dream project and had been the talk of Republican's everywhere until it crashed and burned like the Hidendburg. Kasich and all the state's GOP former proponents couldn't distance themselves fast enough.
The GOP’s Biggest Charter School Experiment Just Imploded
How a washed-up lobbyist built a charter school empire and siphoned millions from public schools.
🙏 I have been so waiting for this. The threat to public education is real. It is cloaked in promoting “choice,charter and home school”. It is radical. It is an immoral. It is rooted in racism, inequality, and “power over” politics.
All Heather talked about this evening is alive and well in Texas. It is horrifying to read the text of the bills in the Texas House such as this one:
Texas House Bill 3979
The first part of this bill is about Social Studies teachers legally can’t teach current events without a lot of restrictions which is being interpreted by the League of Women Voters as not even being able to discuss the importance of voting. Need to ask the lawyers how this could be construed. The second part section (4) is the critical race theory stuff.
(h-3) For any social studies course in the required curriculum:
(1) a teacher may not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs;
(2) a teacher who chooses to discuss a topic described by Subdivision (1) shall, to the best of the teacher's ability, strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective;
(3) a school district, open-enrollment charter school, or teacher may not require, make part of a course, or award a grade or course credit, including extra credit, for a student's:
(A) political activism, lobbying, or efforts to persuade members of the legislative or executive branch at the federal, state, or local level to take specific actions by direct communication; or
(B) participation in any internship, practicum, or similar activity involving social or public policy advocacy; and
(4) a teacher, administrator, or other employee of a state agency, school district, or open-enrollment charter school may not:
(A) be required to engage in training, orientation, or therapy that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex;
(B) require or make part of a course the concept that:
(i) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
(ii) an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
(iii) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual's race;
(iv) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
(v) an individual's moral character, standing, or worth is necessarily determined by the individual's race or sex;
(vi) an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
(vii) an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's race or sex;
(viii) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race;
(ix) the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States; or
(x) with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality; and
(C) require an understanding of The 1619 Project.
(h-4) A state agency, school district, or open-enrollment charter school may not accept private funding for the purpose of developing a curriculum, purchasing or selecting curriculum materials, or providing teacher training or professional development for a course described by Subsection (h-3)(3).
(h-5) A school district or open-enrollment charter school may not implement, interpret, or enforce any rules or student code of conduct in a manner that would result in the punishment of a student for discussing, or have a chilling effect on student discussion of, the concepts described by Subsection (h-3)(4).
Nat Turner was.....uppity. (As was Emmet Till) Turner's little rebellion was a vivid demonstration of education leading to critical thinking leading to individual actions; actions that were not at all beneficial to the existing power structure.
Lesson learned and a pillar supporting every oligarchy and dictator since.
Thank you again, HCR, for using a lesson in American history to shine a light on events transpiring today.
On the evacuation of Afghanistan, I was heartened to hear about US helicopters going out to pick up American citizens, and people deserving SIVisas and bringing them back to the airport for transport out of the country. Also they are taking out Afghan refugees as well. This is much more the America I want America to be -- leaving no one behind
I've read two books on Nat Turner including 'Confessions'. He was an interesting fellow in that he was portrayed as a privileged 'house n*gger' and I think one of his jobs was to actually drive his master's daughter's buggy. In one of the books, some white man would come and 'visit' his mother at a certain time of day where he was told by his mom to go outside. He would go hide under the front porch and hear his mother argue and scuffle with the man - and then quiet. Later he would come from under the porch and rejoin his mother who tried to act as if nothing happened, but of course he knew better. This, along with the calling of god is portrayed as a catalyst for his later campaign of slaughter. News traveled slow in those days but it made a lasting impression. Nat Turner and other slaves' behaviors began to make owning slaves untenable. I taught at a private Quaker school where Turner was portrayed as a hero for freedom.
Education for POC and Whites is more important than ever because we still have people with a 'new' slave master mentality. One reason I say this , is because of all the particulars of the machinations that have been played out in Congress by Henry Hammond, R. Reagan, Devos and all. Because of you, I'm learning the particulars of how all this stuff works . We appreciate you HCR.
And now everyone will understand how Republicans view the pandemic as an “opportunity” to reek havoc, create chaos, despair and discord, our children un defended and made vulnerable to disease in much of our public school system, but mostly those in Red states.The results of sick kids at public schools will be used politically as a way to promote home school for the poor and vouchers for the dwindling middle class, and private charter schools for the wealthy. Which school above do you think will have plenty of Covid testing , mask wearing, enough spacing, and vaccine education and access?
I believe there is a big wrench in this diabolical thinking. As more kids get sick at public school more parents will vote Republicans out. Many religious evangelical private schools who have shunned science and vaccines will have catastrophic outbreaks.
As delta has an r knot closer to chicken pox and almost as high as measles, schools will need 90%+ vaccinations to keep kids safe and in person learning possible. Lower than 90% students and unvaccinated teachers is a disaster that is upon us. This fall is going to be darker than the fall of 1918 unless schools stay masked and all kids get masked.
NPR just had a report on the privatization of teacher certification training in Texas, now expanding into other states. A private company initiated the program, and is expanding rapidly into Republican controlled states.
Texas State representatives voted to approve this private training program against the recommendations of their State Ed Dept claiming Texas needed to certify teachers faster and in larger numbers. The certification requirements had been a degree from a accredited teaching college with passing a certification test which the state administered. The same as most states.
The Texas Ed Dept argued that teacher shortages were highest in predominantly minority and impoverished communities. The new private training program apparently certified teachers without teacher college degrees and little or no preparation to teach. The Texas Ed Dept reported after the new program got established that these new teachers turned over and left teaching at a significantly higher rate than conventionally educated and certified teachers, leaving the minority and impoverished communities in even worse condition. Still, the new private teacher certification company is expanding into other Republican states.
As you might imagine, there are many young and older Americans trying to find an occupation to make a living. Teaching is one of the most difficult occupations to prepare for, to match yourself to, to become sufficiently dedicated to, and to not burn out. The consequences of teaching is clearly among the most important to each child becoming an effective adult. There should be no shortcuts in educating, training and supporting our teachers, schools and students.
Very simply, if you can stop a people getting an education, you can control them more easily; a people thus can become either a cowering mass or a mob....both intent merely on survival and/or hurting their perceived enemies. Emotional calls to defend the nation, and other such propaganda missives always against the proverbial "other", incite amongst those so ill-informed an emotional response as they have no basis on which to make a logical, reasoned analysis of the situation. Many respond by seeking by all means to please the "masters" and thus share their priviledges........others rebel as they have managed to retain innate faculties and can use them to lead the people away from the dark and into the light.
Free public education is an ongoing threat. (to authoritarians)
Virginia's elite "positively feared learning among the general population." Here is Governor William Berkeley's infamous, reply in 1671, when asked about the state of schools in Virginia:
"I thank God," he declared, "there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these [for a ] hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government . God keep us from both."
Further ..."It might be noted that Virginia learning ways were not the product of slavery, or of rural poverty. They were fully developed before slaves appeared in large numbers, and when that colony was one of the richest in British America." "Albion's Seed", David Hackett Fischer, (1989), pp. 347 - 349.
Education has always been controlled by the oligarchs and still is.
Heather, this letter needs to be in every local newspaper from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I wonder if there is a way to petition our local news sources to publish her letters?? Does anyone in that business have any suggestions? Thank you again for another out of the freaking ballpark and across the railroad tracks letter. 🙏❤️
Having spent a career in the public sphere of education, I am struck by a certain irony in this historical perspective. All that effort to disenfranchise first slaves, and then any and all POC - all that money to fund private systems (more on this below) - all that effort to deliberately dumb down certain populations in our nation apparently has achieved some victory on that front, but has backfired to a massive degree when you consider those who are addicted to Fox, OANN, QAnon and other "fake news" outlets. That addicted following for the most part is white...and in my opinion, not very bright white at that. These are the folks who are refusing to become vaccinated and are dying Delta deaths. These are the folks who believed that on August 13, their wannabe king would be "reinstated." These are the folks who, armed with various and sundry weapons and decked out in Trump paraphernalia, stormed our capitol on January 6th. These are the REALLY dumbed down members of our society. If they even attended a school - public or private - they learned nothing about civics. I would guess that the most many of them achieved was a GED.
With that out of my craw, I'll turn to those private entities of which many, like Fox, OANN, and others, are funded by deep pocketed dark money, religious organizations, and others just out for a quick buck using tax payer dollars to pay for their "schools." How do I know this? Well, once upon a time, one aspect of my job was to review charter school applications for a sizeable chunk of the state of Texas. I was to review them, and if they were found to be anywhere in the ballpark of being a "school" (quotes used deliberately), I would approve them. Having been a principal and assistant superintendent, having a doctorate in educational leadership, having worked at the state level, I was not ignorant of what a "school" was and should be. So, reading applications that, in many cases, were written in PENCIL, were misspelled, had no clue about budgeting or any costs associated with running a staffed facility, and were otherwise merely shams and jokes, I was and continue to be appalled at the push to privatize our public school system. I have not one kind word for Betsy DeVos and others of her ilk. And as for the white flighters in the South, many of those public dollars went to "private" schools that were nothing more than religious institutions.
OK. I'm done with my rant. Sorry, friends! This Letter nicked me in the quick!
Aha! So if our educational system continues to be low priority in this country then it would seem to enable a future where the 1% could rule alongside the Republican minority... I'm way oversimplifying but can't help noticing that China over the decades has evolved as a country to be reckoned with, because education has been highly valued there. On the other hand, in this country it seems that people of color have a difficult time getting a higher education due to cost, time, and opportunity, so the cycle continues to this day.
On the topic of Nat Turner, on this day so many years ago what he incited and executed was horrifying. Two wrongs never make it right.
I hope you finally went to bed, Dr. Heather! 💜 Thank you for another illuminating history lesson.