Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sixty years on

Dale Russakoff's "Schooled ... Cory Booker, Chris Christi and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark's schools. They got an education" in the current New Yorker arrived on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and it is remarkably depressing. Consider this:
The biggest concern was children’s safety, particularly in the South Ward, where murders had risen by seventy per cent in the past four years. The closest alternative to Hawthorne Avenue School, which was losing its fifth through eighth grades, was George Washington Carver, half a mile to the south. Jacqueline Edward and Denise Perry-Miller, who have children at Hawthorne, knew the dangers well. Gangs had tried to take over their homes, tearing out pipes, sinks, and boilers, and stealing their belongings, forcing both families temporarily into homeless shelters. Edward and Perry-Miller took me on a walk along the route to Carver. We crossed a busy thoroughfare over I-78, then turned onto Wolcott Terrace, a street with several boarded-up houses used by drug dealers.

Edward said, “I will not allow my daughter to make this walk. My twenty-eight-year-old started off in a gang, and we fought to get him out. My twenty-two-year-old has a lot of anger issues because Daddy wasn’t there. I just refuse to see another generation go that way.” Then, as if addressing Anderson, she asked, “Can you guarantee me my daughter’s safety? . . . Did you think this through with our children in mind or did you just do this to try to force us to leave because big business wants us out of here?” Anderson told me that she will address all safety issues, either with school buses or by accommodating middle-schoolers in their neighborhoods. Hawthorne parents said they had not heard this.
On the 60th anniversary, the talking heads are talking everywhere one looks. Most of them hit the same notes. Sixty years on, minority kids should have better schools. But I heard none of these geniuses mention anything about the gangs and the crime that make it almost impossible in places like Newark. The Dream Team of Booker, Christi, Zuckerberberg (and Zuckerberg's pledge $100 million and many others cited in the story) are seemingly inept against the biggest obstacle, kids afraid in school or on the way to and from. Nor was this addressed by Eric Holder in his latest commencement address.