Sisters and Brothers in Education,
We all know the dire state of Black Education in every sector: preK-16, public and private. We all may not agree on how we got into this state of education emergency. We all, therefore, not agree on how we can stop this downward spiral. But we all can agree that we gotta do something NOW!
I suggest that we have an opportunity to start on that hard, bumpy spiraling road to victory with a set of unprecedented historical convergences: Obama becoming president of the US, the economic crisis, the environmental crisis and the national educational team assembled under Sister Prof. Linda Darling Hammond.
Obama's presidency has inspired millions of Blackfolk to come out of a decades long political slumber. Among these millions are millions of young Blacks 35 and under who are directly or indirectly inspired to see themselves in a more positive light. It may not be an immediate effect, but positive effect it will be. Hence, over the next few years, there will be great opportunities to recruit more Black men and women into the education field.
The economic and environmental crises are hiliting the need for the US to take bold economic steps in the field of public works on rebuilding the US infrastructure and new forms of producing energy. The fallout from the US auto industry will also bring new industry- but not as labor intensive as auto production. President-elect Obama has proposed a 2.5 million jobs producing economic stimultant that will require thousands of educators in all education levels.
In order for us Blackfolk not to repeat history and continue to be on the edges of major social and educational reform, we a need to put together a bold vision of we can be at the very center- and, at times, its leadership -of the educational developments needed to support this economic and environmental challenge.
It is in this context that I offer an outline for us to discuss and build upon to present to our Good Sister Prof Linda Darling Hammond and her transition team. She knows, like you and I, there are many great Black minds out here who have thought thru and implemented brilliant educational policies. I think in this historical moment (and that's all we have- a moment) we can find a way to maximally tap into those great Black minds and deliver a proposal from national united body of Black Educators to her transition team who would have no option but to incorporate all or major parts of our proposal into the nation's challenge to make education relevant to reversing the economic and environmental crises and to bring antiracist reform directly into US education policy.
What we should present to Prof. Linda Darling Hammond (and I'm sure you have many other proposals!);
• Repeal the NCLB Act
• Education is a Human Right. Have US policy abide by the International Declaration of Human Rights mandates around education
• Create an African American Education Commission/Dept/Working Group that would create and oversee policy relevant to the education goals and needs of people of African Descent in the US. It would be a distinguished group of scholars, education activists, students, public school teachers and administrators. This would be a permanent and fully funded group within the US Dept of Education (Obviously, this implies a Latino/Asian/Native American groupings as well- even tho Native Americans already have theirs)
• Mandate the teaching of Black History/Latino History a central curriculum core from PreK to 16
• Create a Black History/Latino History Teacher Training & Curriculum Development Department that links to Education schools (public and private)
• Institutionalize and fully fund the Urban Teacher Residency Effort over the woefully inadequate and racist Teacher for America program
• Create a national Urban Science & Technology Department that:
(a) institutionalizes the recruitment and retention of Blacks/Latinos from preK to 16 to join the teaching and/or industry sectors of science and technology
(b) brings skilled science and technology jobs and training to the Black and Latino neighborhoods
• Fully support the HCBUs with more federal funding and policies that guarantee their continued existence
• Guarantee that our HBCUs get First Call on all of the above efforts by having them represented at all levels of the National Program (the "Devil's in the Details" here)
Like I said, there are obviously a lot more national proposals we can and should add on. And there are a lot of complex details that need to be worked out. We have the Black Talent to do this. I am suggesting that we submit to Prof. Darling Hammond a proposal that has the necessary skeleton to be fleshed out within the US Dept of Education.
Our time is very short. We need to submit our proposal while the Transition Team is still working. This means we have about two or three weeks of deliberation to do among ourselves. Then, by the first week in January, have it in the hands of Prof. Darling Hammond with signatures of all those individuals and organizations who support this proposal.
No matter who is the next Secretary of Education, we need this proposal. Even more, OUR Children need to know that we progressive Black Educators came together, discussed, argued, united and created a powerful National Black Education Mandate for the First Black President.
I look forward to your critiques, queries, proposals, strategies and tactics.