Tag Archives: Education

New Documentary on Rosenwald Schools

The history of black education in America is difficult to separate from the legacy of the Rosenwald Schools. Julius Rosenwald, who rose to be President of Sears and Roebucks, charity built nearly 5,000 schools in the segregated South for black children. Black parents paid a “double tax” to get the schools built and operated in the 14 states of the South, as on top of their normal state and local taxes, they had to raise and donate about 14% of the cost of the school – which I will detail in the second article below.

Julius Rosenwald, center, started the Rosenwald Fund to help build schools in the segregated South. “Rosenwald” is a new documentary by filmmaker Aviva Kempner.

Rosenwald’s generosity captured in new film

In age that exalts politicians and entertainers who can’t stop telling us how wonderful they are, it is refreshing to honor a man who accomplished a lot without wanting his name on all of it.

Julius Rosenwald, who never finished high school but rose to become president and co-owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., didn’t want his name on the store that he led to worldwide success.

Rosenwald, who died in 1932, didn’t want his name on Chicago’s magnificent Museum of Science and Industry, although he funded and promoted it so much that many Chicagoans called it “the Rosenwald museum” anyway.

He didn’t want his name on his other edifices, including more than 5,000 schools that he helped fund for black schoolchildren across the segregated South.

Yet, alumni of those schools still call them “the Rosenwald schools.” I know. Some of those alumni are in my family.

I discovered that tidbit of family information in the way journalists often stumble across information about themselves while pursuing stories about somebody else.

I was being interviewed by Washington, D.C., filmmaker Aviva Kempner for her new documentary, “Rosenwald,” when she asked if any of my southern relatives, most of them in Alabama, attended Rosenwald schools. I didn’t know, I said, but it was possible. I have a lot of cousins.

I later asked my cousin Willie Howard, a whiz in the telecommunications industries, and he broke out in a big grin. “We all did,” he said.

Alumni more famous than my cousins include poet-author Maya Angelou, director George C. Wolfe, U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, all of whom are interviewed in the film.

Indeed, Kempner’s “Rosenwald,” now in select theaters, may well leave you convinced that former United States poet laureate Rita Dove, another Rosenwald school alum, was right when she called the Rosenwald Fund “the single most important funding agency for African-American culture in the 20th century.”

Besides underwriting the mostly rural grade schools, the Rosenwald Fund awarded fellowships to such rising stars as classical vocalist Marian Anderson, poet Langston Hughes, painter Jacob Lawrence, photographer Gordon Parks and writers James Baldwin, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison.

The most intriguing question, among the many that the film explores, is why Rosenwald, whose father immigrated from Germany in 1851 with $20 in his pocket, was so modest yet so generous.

As the late civil rights leader Julian Bond, whose father and uncle were Rosenwald fellows, puts it in the film, “He did not have to care about black people, but he did.”

The answer, Rosenwald’s biographers say, can be found in his faithfulness to the Jewish ideals of “tzedakah” (charity) and “tikkun olam” (repairing the world).

According to Stephanie Deutsch, author of the 2011 book “You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South,” Rosenwald said in one of his speeches that “We like to look down on the Russians because of the way they treat the Jews, and yet we turn around, and the way we treat our African-Americans is not much better.”

Rosenwald was also influenced by Booker T. Washington, conservative founder of the Tuskegee Institute, who suggested the funding of schools as the best investment for the future of black America.…More…


Rosenwald Schools

By: Dr. Alyce Miller, associate professor of history at John Tyler Community College and Dr. Brian J. Daugherity, assistant professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University

The Rosenwald school building program, in many ways the brainchild of Virginia-born and Hampton-educated Booker T. Washington, occurred during the period of segregation and Jim Crow across the American South. Segregated school systems were supposed to be, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), “separate and equal,” but in reality educational systems for African Americans in Virginia and the South were anything but. This made the funds provided by educational grant programs such as the Rosenwald Fund so significant.

Rosenwald schools were public schools that were built using matching grant funds. The Rosenwald Fund required matching funds from any combination of public and private sources. According to Julius Rosenwald Fund records (JRF), the JRF helped construct 367 schools, three teacher’s homes, and eleven school (industrial) shops in Virginia. Of the total cost of Rosenwald-associated buildings, grounds, and equipment in Virginia from 1917 through 1932, African Americans contributed 22%, white contributions totaled 1%, the Rosenwald Fund contributed 15%, and state and local government contributions equaled 62%. In the fifteen states in the South where the school building program operated, African Americans collectively contributed 17% of the funds, the Rosenwald Fund contributed 15% of the funds, private white contributions totaled 4% of the funds, and public funds made up the remaining 64% of the funds. Without the organization of local African American communities willing to pay what historian James D. Anderson referred to as the “double tax,” these schools would not have been built.

In late Fall 2015, VCU Special Collections will launch an online exhibit, Black Education in Goochland County: From Rosenwald Schools through Brown v. Board of Education, comprised of research and oral history interviews related to African American educational activism in Virginia and, specifically, Goochland County. The interviews and research were conducted by Dr. Alyce Miller, Dr. Brian Daugherity, and Cris Silvent, associate professor of art at John Tyler Community College.

The local activism surrounding Rosenwald schools continues today in movements throughout the Commonwealth to preserve the histories, and structures, of these schools. John Tyler Community College (and the Virginia Community College system) has been working on an initiative to increase student engagement and success using student and faculty involvement in Rosenwald school activities. The excitement and commitment surrounding this activism provides us with an opportunity to engage the younger generation in this history and in education in general. We have also partnered with Preservation Virginia (among others) to create a larger network of Rosenwald school information across the Commonwealth.

In today’s featured image, you can see the number of Rosenwald schools built in counties throughout Virginia. You can find more information on the number of schools built in each county in Virginia (and throughout the South) by accessing the Rosenwald Schools Database at Fisk University. This is available online here. Schools were not often named after Julius Rosenwald, at his own request.

This short documentary (not the one Paige discusses above) is about the restoration of the Russell School in North Carolina

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Black History


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Washington Supreme Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

About time someone figured this one out. Charter Schools should be answerable to the same rules and measuring stick as Public Schools. People my age have little belief that the purpose of the Charters is in any way to improve the education of black children.

Segregation Academies (Also called Charter Schools) were set up throughout the South to avoid integration by white parents. In the case of Prince Edward Schools in Virginia, the Public School System was shut down for 4 years, denying education to black students, while one of these Academies was set up.


State Supreme Court: Charter schools are unconstitutional

After nearly a year of deliberation, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 late Friday afternoon that charter schools are unconstitutional, creating chaos for hundreds of families whose children have already started classes.

The ruling — believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country — overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.

Eight new charter schools are opening in Washington this fall, in addition to one that opened in Seattle last year…

In the ruling, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards.

Therefore, “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” Madsen wrote.

Justice Mary E. Fairhurst agreed with the majority that charter schools aren’t common schools, but argued in a partial dissenting opinion that the state “can constitutionally support charter schools through the general fund.”

She was joined by Justices Steven C. González and Sheryl Gordon McCloud.

The ruling is a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.”

The Washington Education Association was joined by the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.

“The Supreme Court has affirmed what we’ve said all along — charter schools steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how these charter schools spend taxpayer funding,” said Kim Mead, president of the Washington Education Association.

“To tell you the truth, I cried. It’s been a long hard fight,” said Melissa Westbrook, an education blogger who chaired the campaign opposing the charter-school law in 2012.

Joshua Halsey, executive director of the state charter-school commission, criticized the court’s timing.

“The court had this case in front of them since last October and waiting until students were attending public charter schools to issue their ruling is unconscionable,” Halsey said. “We are most concerned about the almost 1,000 students and families attending charter schools and making sure they understand what this ruling means regarding their public-school educational options.”

The state Attorney General’s Office said attorneys are reviewing the decision, but had no comment Friday.

David Postman, communications director for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the governor’s office is reviewing the court’s decision and will consult with the Attorney General’s Office.

“But until we have a thorough analysis, we can’t say what that means for schools operating today,” Postman said.

Under the 2012 law, up to 40 new charter schools could have opened in Washington over a five-year period.

In December 2013, King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel struck down the part of the law that would have made charter schools eligible for state construction money, but essentially cleared the way for the state commission and the Spokane school district to authorize new schools. Spokane is the only school district with such authority.

All sides expected the case to reach the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last October.

Washington State Charter School Commission Chair Steve Sundquist said that commissioners anticipated a range of possible outcomes affecting funding, but didn’t draw up a plan to deal with a complete reversal.

“We were not expecting a ruling as deeply disappointing as this one,” Sundquist said.

He said the commission’s lawyer in the Attorney General’s Office will be meeting Saturday morning with other attorneys to discuss options.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Paul Lawrence, doesn’t think there’s much more legal work to do on the issue. But he acknowledged that much has to be sorted out regarding the nine charter schools that are already up and running.

“The bottom line is that the initiative is unconstitutional so the charter schools that were authorized under the charter-school initiative can’t be publicly funded,” Lawrence said. “If there’s any avenue, it’s going to be through some act of the Legislature.”


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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in The New Jim Crow, The Post-Racial Life


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Resegregation and Purposely Failing Schools for Black Kids -Pinellas County, Florida

This one is jaw dropping. A County in FLorida which intentionally voted to re-segregate schools, and then intentionally denied basic benefits to the newly created poor schools.

This one is the New Jim Crow.

This Florida School District Is Failing Black Students at a Shocking Rate. That’s Exactly What It Chose to Do.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Times published a report of its sobering yearlong investigation of the Pinellas County School District, which is home to five of the worst elementary schools in the state, despite the county’s relative affluence. The school crisis in Pinellas County—on Florida’s west coast on Tampa Bay—is a familiar story of court-ordered integration followed in short order by devastatingly thorough resegregation.

But what happened in Pinellas offers an even more dramatic cautionary tale, and not just because the changes have taken place so precipitously: Just eight years ago, the school district voted to ditch integration by ending busing and reinstituting a “neighborhood schools” policy that amounted to de facto segregation. In the years since, the five elementary schools spotlighted went from good to middle-of-the-road to homogenously awful. One school that had had an “A” rating is now the second worst elementary school in the entire state of Florida. Students are failing at eye-popping rates, with 8 out of 10 kids failed at reading, and 9 out of 10 in math. Altogether 95 percent of black students are failing reading or math at these schools, which the story memorably labels “failure factories.” See also this powerful graphic account of “Why Pinellas County is the worst place in Florida to be black and go to public school.”

So what went wrong? Is it simply that Pinellas County—in particular the southern part of its largest city, St. Petersburg, which has been predominantly black since the 1930s, when discriminatory housing policies ghettoized minorities there—is afflicted with an irreparably poor, damaged student population? Not at all, and that’s precisely why this story is so disgusting, and so important. As the piece points out, while “there are places in Florida where deep generational poverty, runaway crime and rampant drug use make educating children an extremely difficult task,” Pinellas County isn’t one of them.

Statewide, Pinellas County is right in the middle when it comes to poverty rates, median household income, college graduation rates, and single-parent homes. More from the Times:

Poverty doesn’t explain Pinellas’ problems. One hundred eighty-four elementary schools are as poor or poorer than Pinellas’ worst schools. All but seven outperformed the Pinellas schools in reading and math.

The rate of failure in the five elementary schools is unlike anything that occurs elsewhere in Florida.

The reporters make a very convincing case that the kids in Pinellas are failing not because, as the school board members would have it, they’re trapped in a “cycle of poverty” but because the school district is setting them up for failure with at best do-nothing and at worst malevolent policies.

When the board voted to resegregate in December 2007, it vowed to pour more resources into what would become overnight-majority-poor and -black schools: more counselors and social workers, beefed-up after-school and summer programs. It did none of these things. Funding was erratic, and unlike other districts with high-poverty schools that have made efforts to invest in minority students (a computer tracking program in Broward County, a teacher-incentive bonus of up to $20,000 in Duval County), the Pinellas County board just shrugged off the plummeting scores and skyrocketing reports of behavior problems, and actively ended any attempts at intervention. More than half of teachers in the five schools requested transfers out in 2014, and some classes had up to 12 different teachers in a single year. The teachers who stayed were often the most inept and inexperienced.

Even after community calls for change, the school board members continued to attribute the abysmal state of their county’s black schools to the “cycle of poverty,” absent any influence from them.  “This is a nationwide thing, not just us,” the piece quotes school board member Peggy O’Shea, who voted for resegregation in 2007 and continues to defend her stance today, as saying. You get a good sense of her sympathies when she goes on to say, “We only talk about it in black schools, but we resegregated white schools as well.”…



Posted by on August 18, 2015 in The New Jim Crow


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Who You Gonna Call? The White Squad!

This satire hits the nail on the head relative to white privilege in America. It is something along the lines of the Rent a Black Person satire a few years ago.

Can’t get ahead? Can’t even hail a cab? The New Jim Crow holding you back? Call the white squad!


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Charter Failure and Corruption

Another conservative failure – privatization of schools.

The Charter “Movement” never was about better education for kids – it is all about lining folks pockets and destroying politically influential teacher’s unions.

So…when is someone going to step in and stop this criminal farce?

The truth about charter schools: Padded cells, corruption, lousy instruction and worse results

Imagine your 5-year-old boy went to a school where he was occasionally thrown in a padded cell and detained alone for stretches as long as 20 minutes.

Or you sent your kid to an elementary school where the children are made to sit on a bare floorin the classroom for days before they can “earn” their desks.

Or your kid went to a school where she spent hours parked in a cubicle in front of a computerwith a poorly trained teacher who has to monitor more than 100 other students.

Maybe you don’t have children or send them to private school? So how do you feel when you find out the local school that you pay for with your taxes is operating a scam that diverted millions of dollars through fake Medicaid billing?

Or the school used your tax dollars as “grants” to start up other profit-making enterprises … orpay lavish salaries – $300,000, $400,000 or more – to its administrators … or support a movement linked to a reclusive Turkish cleric being investigated for bribery and corruption.

Welcome to the world of charter schools.

Are there wonderful charter schools doing great things for kids? Probably. Are all these cumulative anecdotes an unfair representation of the value that charter schools can bring to some communities? Maybe.

But neither of those questions matters because of what the charter school movement has come to represent in the landscape of American education.


Charter schools have been relentlessly marketed to the American populace as a silver bullet for “failed” public schools, especially in poor urban communities of African-American and Latino/a students.

Politicians in both parties speak glowingly of these schools – which, by the way, their children seem never to attend.

Opening charter schools has become the latest fad for celebrities including athletes and rap stars.

Huge nationwide chains – called education management organizations (EMOs) – now run many of these charters. A recent study by the National Education Policy Center found, “Students across 35 states and the District of Columbia now attend schools managed by these non-government entities.” These for-profit and nonprofit EMOs – such as K12 Inc., National Heritage Academies, Charter Schools USA and KIPP – now account for nearly half of the students educated by charter schools.

Substantial, well-funded nationwide organizations have rapidly developed to lobby for these schools. One such organization, the Alliance for School Choice, recently received a $6 million gift from the Walton Foundation, of Wal-Mart fame.

Slick marketing campaigns have been rolled out in communities across the country to tout the coming of new charters.

The actual academic results of these schools seems to hardly anyone, despite report after reportshowing that these schools tend to do poorly on state and national tests and fail at providing equitable education to underserved students.

Yet lobbying for more of these schools continues unabated with more money funneled into the campaigns of politicians who support charters and more efforts to press state lawmakers to lift any provisions currently in place to regulate how these schools operate and are held accountable to the public. Read the rest of this entry »


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How Conservatives Destroyed Education in the US

Conservatives and the privatization to failure in the schools…



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Educational Fraud..Voucher Programs Fail

The whole voucher thing in Louisiana reminds me of the new Mercedes commercial with Willem Dafoe…

Dafoe, playing the Devil in this case selling Gov Bobby Jindal on a shiny new Voucher program for his state instead of the cute entry level Mercedes.

But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails…


According to conservative hucksters, voucher programs are all about helping poor black kids in “failing” public school systems

Having watched this movie one to many times, when conservatives tell me they are “doing good for black folks”, whether such is presented by an actor I think is one of the 10 best male character leads active in hollywood right now or not…

I tend to cinch my belt, put a hand on my wallet to assure it’s still there, make sure Momma and the kiddies are in a safe place…

And flip off the safety on my Colt.

Vouchers have been a failure nationwide. And what the DOJ should be doing is looking at the folks who are setting this crap up as organized crime.

Vouchers don’t do much for students

Ever since the administration filed suit to freeze Louisiana’s school voucher program, high-ranking Republicans have pummeled President Barack Obama for trapping poor kids in failing public schools.

The entire House leadership sent a letter of protest. Majority Leader Eric Cantor blistered the president for denying poor kids “a way into a brighter future.” And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused him of “ripping low-income minority students out of good schools” that could “help them achieve their dreams.”

But behind the outrage is an inconvenient truth: Taxpayers across the U.S. will soon be spending $1 billion a year to help families pay private school tuition — and there’s little evidence that the investment yields academic gains.

In Milwaukee, just 13 percent of voucher students scored proficient in math and 11 percent made the bar in reading this spring. That’s worse on both counts than students in the city’s public schools. In Cleveland, voucher students in most grades performed worse than their peers in public schools in math, though they did better in reading.

In New Orleans, voucher students who struggle academically haven’t advanced to grade-level work any faster over the past two years than students in public schools, many of which are rated D or F, state data show.

And across Louisiana, many of the most popular private schools for voucher students posted miserable scores in math, reading, science and social studies this spring, with fewer than half their voucher students achieving even basic proficiency and fewer than 2 percent demonstrating mastery. Seven schools did so badly, state Superintendent John White barred them from accepting new voucher students — though the state agreed to keep paying tuition for the more than 200 voucher students already enrolled, if they chose to stay.

Nationwide, many schools participating in voucher programs infuse religion through their curriculum. Zack Kopplin, a student activist who favors rigorous science education, has found more than 300 voucher schools across the U.S. that teach the biblical story of creation as science; some also instruct children that the world is just several thousand years old and use textbooks describing the Loch Ness Monster as a living dinosaur. Parents at one such school in Louisiana received a newsletter calling secular scientists “sinful men.”

Asked whether he was confident that the private schools funded by vouchers are better than the public schools students would otherwise attend, Jindal told POLITICO that parents, not government officials, should make that decision. “We make no apologies for giving parents the option to determine the best educational path for their children,” he said. “President Obama has the means to send his children to the school of his choice. Parents in Louisiana should have the same opportunity.”

His rationale resonates widely these days.

Vouchers are booming in popularity; a record 245,000 students in 16 states plus D.C. are paying for private school with public subsidies, according to the Alliance for School Choice. Nine states added or broadened voucher programs this year and new initiatives are on the table in states including New Jersey and Tennessee.

By 2014, states will be spending $1 billion a year to send children to private schools through vouchers, tax credits and similar programs, according to Robert Enlow, president of the Friedman Foundation, an advocacy group for school choice.

“These programs are expanding, and they’re not going away,” said Kevin Chavous, executive counsel for the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group that just released an emotional campaign-style video promoting vouchers.

The expansions are stretching voucher programs far beyond the stated intent of rescuing poor families from failing public schools.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Domestic terrorism, The New Jim Crow


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