A response to
The Big Big Picture (City Pages letter-to-the-editor)
Big Big Picture argues that "Until the community is fixed, our urban schools cannot be fixed."
"...The culprit wears
many faces: low-income jobs, inadequate housing, starchy diets, lack of affordable healthcare, and the recycling of poverty's
mountain of problems. Until the community is fixed, our urban schools cannot be fixed. Administrators and hard working staff
are burdened, yes, burdened, with a very difficult task that includes changing things and people that they alone cannot change..."
Mann responds] We cannot wait for racial discrimination to end in the community before taking steps to end it in the Minneapolis
Public Schools. We cannot wait any longer for action to change a situation where white students are greatly over-represented,
and students of color greatly under-represented, in regular education programs with low teacher turnover rates and the lion's
share of the district's more experienced teachers.
How do you expect African Americans to ever obtain access to jobs
and housing on the same basis as whites in the community when they are denied access to education on the same basis as whites
in the public schools?
The clique that runs the Minneapolis Public Schools has a great deal of influence upon the endorsement
of school board candidates by the DFL, and it doesn't want to acknowledge, much less eliminate institutional racism. Let's
consider a passage from the preamble of the collective bargaining agreement between the Minneapolis School District and the
"Teachers acknowledge their need to learn, but many are overwhelmed by the monumental task of providing
support to children who are so in need of stability, food, and nurturing...Teachers want and need continual professional development
but also need the system to recognize and support their heroic efforts to educate children from a dysfunctionalcommunity"
is not a word in the preamble of the teachers' contract about systemic problems like high teacher turnover and a high concentration
of inexperienced teachers in school programs where low income and nonwhite students are heavily concentrated.
book first published in 1933, The Mis-Education of the Negro, Carter Woodson wrote,
As another has well said, to handicap
a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the
worst sort of lynching. It kills one's aspirations and dooms him to vagabondage and crime. It is strange, then, that the friends
of truth and the promoters of freedom have not
risen up against the present propaganda in the schools and crushed it.
This crusade is more important than the anti-lynching movement, because there would be no lynching if it did not start in
the school room. Why not exploit, enslave, or exterminate a class that everybody is taught to regard as inferior?