The previous blog by Jonathan Kozol is an excellent example of politicians meddling in an area in which they have no qualifications. Politicians residing in their ivory towers are dabbling in a complicated program using popular words like accountability to evade the real problems in education. This approach searches for someone to blame.
Kosol’s involvement in the education of the underclass was very inspiring as he came from a well to do family and graduated from Harvard and was a Rhodes Scholar. He talks mostly about education in large cities. “If you grow up in the South Bronx or in south-central Los Angeles or Pittsburg or Philadelphia, you quickly come to understand that you are set apart and there’s no will in society to bring you back into the mainstream. The kids have eyes and can see and they can hear. Nobody says we’re going to make them less separate and more equal.” He came to these conclusions when in 1964 he became a teacher in a low income, predominantly black elementary school.
Jonathan Kosol’s discovery wasn’t new to me as had spent 10 years in a predominantly black school and 10 years in a mixed low income community prior to Kosol’s experience. That experience and living before and during the depression has had much to do with my outlook on the world and the tribal society we have lived in since the start of time.
In the 1960s I spent a lot of time visiting the homes of students living in the Projects. The government closed an army camp from WW2 and converted each barrack into three 3 room apartments. I also spent time tutoring 2 pregnant girls in their last trimester and wanted to graduate with their class. Although not qualified in some of the subjects I obtained the teachers manuals and did a fair job. This also was a revelation of the hidden living conditions of an invisible group of humans.
These experiences plus my activist father instilled in me my concerns for those and others finding themselves ostracized from society. Even in the United States, where parity and equal opportunity are professed to be the backbone of society. I found the conditions these children lived under a disgrace to our country. These and other inhuman treatments of children are shameful. Many say; this isn’t a concern of the government. I am part of the government as in a republic the people we elect are just representing the people. The Negro didn’t migrate here voluntarily but brought here as slaves and we now have the obligation to integrate them and prepare them for an equal role in society. Children have no choice of who their parents are or the tribe they are assigned to.
It would be interesting to know how many of our politicians have spent much time in the homes and schools of these neighborhoods. Obama was a community organizer and I felt he would make some changes for these people, but has been silent. He, his wife and other politicians have photo shoots reading to a group of lower grade students which I find disgusting. Their visits are prearranged with cameras and secret service present. These visits would be more authentic reading, unannounced in a middle or high school class.
Not much will change for the hidden classes of society as a Japanese proverb that “We can stand the severest pain when someone else is suffering.” The economic system we live under is going to divide the middle class into an upstairs and downstairs class in a short time with the growth of the homeless.
Getting back to education, as long as we have segregation of the impoverished, government money could be better spent using a small stipend to hold classes for parents on creating a more educational environment in their homes. The parents I visited wanted their children to succeed in school, but needed help in their desire, but that’s too simple.
A 1937 poem by Abel Meeropol titled “Bitter Fruit” and first recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. A Bronx schoolteacher, Meeropol had written the poem after seeing the gruesome photograph of two lynched teenagers: Repeal of the Anti Lynching law was denied by congress during FDR’s Administration.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.