Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
Even though McKenna did prevail, I'm feeling the very same kind of frustration as Hutchinson. Dr. McKenna should have won by a landslide, not only because of his depth of experience and national renown as an educator compared to the profound inexperience of Alex Johnson, but just as importantly, due to the political threat that Johnson/Ridley-Thomas’ supporters pose to the Black and minority community.
So watching the community’s response to this election and their complete state of clueless ignorance regarding what was at stake was not only frustrating, but horrifying to watch. It reminded me of the fear and frustration that I felt when my kids were teens and I couldn't get them to see the potential threats and stumbling blocks to their well being in their path that was so crystal clear to me as an adult. So I'm in complete agreement with Ofari Hutchinson on the ramifications of how close this election turned out to be. It is absolutely horrifying that these demagogues got so many votes - and what’s just as horrifying is their respectable showing may encourage them to try to run again next year.
That’s why it’s so important for Black journalists to begin to recognize the fact that, as Black journalists, we can’t allow ourselves the luxury of pretending to be detached when confronted with the blatant nonsense that has become so common in the mainstream media today. We have a unique and special mission. We are also educators, so in addition to reporting objective facts, we also have a responsibility to the Black community to help connect the dots - and to report the possible ramifications of what the facts reveal - for a community that is so distracted by the simple struggle to survive that many don’t have the time to sit around and analyze the motivations and ever-changing machinations of political predators for themselves.
As Black journalists our job is every bit as important as Dr. McKenna’s. It’s George McKenna’s job to educate our children; it’s our job to educate their parents. Dr. McKenna is an educator, not a politician, so his sole focus is on educating our young people. Thus, he has neither the time nor inclination to have to contend with the constant maneuverings of power-hungry political predators as well. That job falls to us. That’s why the press is referred to as the fourth estate. Government cannot function effectively unless we keep the people informed.
So between now and next year's general election, we’ve got to give the people a crash course in power politics, demographics, and political manipulation, because that’s what the charter school movement is all about. National demographics now threaten the power of those who control this country. The minority community is growing at a rate that will soon make us the majority, so the powers that be can no longer depend on racism alone to maintain their power base. That’s why all of a sudden they are so interested in the education of our children. Their very survival depends on their obstructing minority voters, corrupting our politicians, clergy, and community leaders, and gaining control over the minds of our children.
As a case in point, Tavis Smiley is a graphic example of how our community leaders are being used to manipulate the Black community. What happen to the "Poverty Tours" now that President Obama has been reelected? And why did Tavis Smiley and Cornel West come up missing during the Black Friday demonstrations against Wal-Mart, never even issuing a statement of support? And speaking of Cornel West, why has he seemingly severed ties with Tavis Smiley? Previously he and Smiley were connected at the hip, but when was the last time you’ve seen them together in the past year? West didn’t even show up or issue a statement of congratulations when Smiley purchased his $30,000 star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame (and then claimed he didn’t know how he was chosen for the honor). The Black press should be all over these issues, because they speak directly to how social manipulators are using the greed and egos of many Black leaders to manipulate an under-informed Black community.
Now, charter schools are being presented to a desperate and frustrated community as an opportunity for the minority community to obtain a better education for their children - and just like Tavis Smiley was used to rope in victims of the Wells Fargo "Ghetto Scam," and is currently fronting for Wal-Mart - Alex Johnson and Mark Ridley-Thomas are being used to front for these groups. Their pitch sounds good on the surface, but demagoguery always does. But as journalists, we’ve got to get the people to understand that the bottom line behind charter schools is to eliminate the public’s control over the education of our children - or essentially, to hand the minds of our children over to conservative mind-twisters. Charter schools will also reinstate segregation into our educational system in a routine and legally justifiable way as a matter of course.
In addition, charter schools are also a slippery slope. Once the charter school industry gets a lock on our educational system, down the line they will start to charge fees, and that will lead to a society where education will only be available to those who can afford it. They've all but completed that mission at the college and university level.
Alex Johnson’s undergraduate degree wasn’t in education, it was in political science, and he’s been all over the board in an attempt to promote his political ambitions every since. And Mark Ridley-Thomas is clearly on a fierce mission to increase his political power within the state. When Thomas was a city councilman and I was a union rep for the National Association of Letter Carriers, he came to one of our meetings trying to form an alliance with our branch - and not during an election period; he was just doing a drive-by, trying to gather and consolidate his political power. That's what caused me to begin to watch him initially. As I sat there listening to his inarticulations, I asked myself, what mutual interest could a city councilman and a national union possibly have other than Ridley-Thomas’ attempt to gather and consolidate political power?
Thus, the Johnson/Thomas alliance has absolutely nothing to do with education, or, what’s in the best interest of our children. It’s about the consolidation of power, and feathering their own nests. Their passion isn’t limited to a seat on the LAUSD. They want ANY office, and we have to explain that to the people. We also have to get the people to understand that politicians of Thomas’ ilk will do anything in their power - including forging an alliance with the Devil - to obtain ANY office.
So if we ever intend to become a healthy, viable, and prosperous community, it is incumbent upon us to immediately recognize such people and do everything we can to insure that they’re never allowed to obtain - or if already elected - maintain, political office. Because it was undoubtedly self-serving Black people just like these who sold us into slavery in the first place.
Walmart vs. Teachers
Teachers and parents are fighting back.
Teachers like Paul Kennedy are telling the Waltons to stop meddling with the future of our children. Kennedy, a Philadelphia teacher, knows all too well how the Waltons do business. When his brother worked as a Walmart manager, he watched how the company hurt its employees. Then after eight years with one school and set of students, he was forced to transfer when he and all of his peers were fired after the Walton family helped push for his school to be replaced by a private charter school.
Click here to stand with parents and teachers like Paul in telling the Walton heirs to keep their hands off our schools.
We know that poverty is one of the largest single factors influencing whether a kid succeeds in school. As owners of the largest private employer in America, the Waltons have the opportunity to single-handedly help countless students by raising hundreds of thousands of moms and dads out of poverty. Instead, they’re lobbying to close the schools that serve those families, while continuing to pay most of their workers poverty wages.
Tell the Waltons, we say no to Walmart-style classrooms: http://action.changewalmart.
Making Change at Walmart
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
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