Monday, July 21, 2014

What if the City of Huntsville looked like the Huntsville City Schools system Monday through Friday?

univplace.JPG University Place students sit for 2012 kickoff of Mayor Tommy Battle's Book Club. (Huntsville Times file)

This is a follow up to What if Huntsville City Schools looked like downtown Huntsville on a Thursday night.
Yep, young, old, rich, poor, men,women, black/white/brown/red/yellow people of all religions, sexual orientation, and class, had equal access to spend their money at one of the most exciting Thursdays ever in downtown Huntsville.
It looked like One City, One Vision.   

Then I attended the school board work session, which was originally touted as an opportunity for citizens to comment on the desegregation case, and I thought, what if Huntsville City Schools looked like downtown Huntsville on a Thursday evening?  What if all children, regardless of their race, sex, or address, had equal access to the best public education their parents tax dollars could buy?


Today I ask: What if the City of Huntsville looked like the Huntsville City School system Monday through Friday?

What if we had separate exciting Thursdays in downtown Huntsville

What if we had separate shopping centers, movie theaters, swimming pools, clubs, hotels, bars and restaurants?

What if had separate public libraries, museums, swimming pools, and parks?

What if we had separate hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and emergency responders?

Oh wait,  been there, done that.

What if all children, regardless of their race, sex, or address, had equal access to the best public education their parents tax dollars could buy?

What a wonderful school district it would be......

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice.....can't fool me again"

Bored By Citizens' Comments
Caption this in the comment section.  Don't hold back

I must give credit where credit is due,  I was outfoxed (pun intended) by the Huntsville School Board of mis-education last ThursdayExpecting a large crowd, I arrived at the meeting early in order to get a seat with the intention of signing up to speak.  I falsely assumed since the sign up sheet was not in its usual place it was not part of the required protocol.  Regular readers are familiar with the boards new policy requiring citizens comments be written on 3x5 index cards (which were available) and censored/read by the Director of Community Engagement.  Little did I know, there was a sign up sheet before there wasn't a sign up sheet, which I'm sure was just a coincidence. :)  In the future I will call the board clerk and request my name be added to the list prior to the meeting.

Let's recap:
 For some reason, the Huntsville City School Board of Education wants the school district released from a court order to desegregate, even though the school district is segregated. The Department of Justice told them not to even think about being released from the federal court order.
The District’s 2007-2008 overall student enrollment was 43.1% black and 48.7% white. However, the majority of the District’s 47 schools were racially identifiable black or white due to the composition of their respective student bodies.
May 22, 2014:   Desegregation hearing begin,  Huntsville City Schools vs The United States Department of Justice  (links inserted for clarity and emphasis).
After four months of private teleconferences and motions, after 16 weeks of back-and-forth legal arguments, the Huntsville City Schools will finally face the U.S. Department of Justice in court. In public. In Huntsville. 
At issue: The racial implications of the rezoning of Huntsville City Schools.
May 22, 2014:  Huntsville v United States Day 2
Two days. Seven witness. Numerous citizen comments. The hearing is over. Now it's in the judge's hands.
June 30, 2014:  U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala cannot find conclusively the board doesn't operate a dual school system (imagine that?), and orders mediation. (Links inserted for emphasis and clarity)
U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala didn't approve the city's plan to redraw school zones.
And she didn't approve the Justice Department's plan.
Instead, she appointed Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott to oversee months of mediation between the two as they examine all aspects of racial disparities across Huntsville City Schools.
She also called for appointment of a Special Master to oversee the court's ongoing fact-finding in the case.
The judge's 107-page ruling, complete with dozens of attachments, questioned whether Huntsville school officials have acted in good faith in recent months and whether the city has done enough over the years to blame inequities on housing patterns.
July 2, 2014  Huntsville school board holds a press conference, I mean, special call meeting to discuss pending litigation in the desegregation case.
 Though the board room was filled with spectators, no one was allowed to speak since the meeting was a special called one. Citizens will be able to offer their input at the board's July 17 meeting.
 July 8, 2014:  The judge continues to push for transparency.
The federal judge overseeing Huntsville's desegregation dispute continues to favor transparency, and has called a hearing Thursday to let Huntsville argue why test scores and transfer records should not be made public.
Lawyers involved will gather before the federal judge at 1 p.m. on Friday for a procedural hearing in Birmingham.
The hearing marks the first step by the court since U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala issued a scathing opinion questioning past and current desegregation efforts in Huntsville City Schools. She ordered the board into six months of mediation with the U.S. Department of Justice.
July 8, 2014:  School board vice president Laurie McCaulley announces she will hold a community conversation, I mean workshop, entitled "Using the Green Factors: Visioning Huntsville City Schools in Unitary Status,"on July 12, 2014. (Links inserted for emphasis and clarity)
McCaulley said she is hosting the event to help establish a "template" of the community's wishes for Superintendent Casey Wardynski to refer to during negotiations with the Justice Department.
"Not everything suggested will be implemented, but it's an opportunity for the community to be heard," McCaulley said. "This is a Huntsville City dilemma. I want the citizens of Huntsville to solve it, because they have to live with it."
July 9, 2014:  A petition is initiated on asking the Huntsville school board to demand Superintendent Casey Wardynski's resignation.
In light of the blatant disregard Dr. Wardynski has for parents, students and citizens concerning transparency as evident in the comments made by Federal Judge Haikala: "The Court strongly suspects that the district has chosen not to share many of the reasons for the choices that it made as it shaped its student assignment plan."
In light of the hostile working environment that Dr. Wardynski has created which has resulted in at least 735 people choosing to leave employment with the district since August 2011;
In light of the declining standards of education that we are seeing in our finest schools as the district transitions to teaching nearly exclusively mathematics and English Language Arts;  We the undersigned respectfully request that the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education request the resignation of Dr. Casey Wardynski as superintendent effective immediately.
July 11, 2014:  Judge orders Huntsville student test scores, transfer data unsealed, accuses board member of hampering with mediation process.
"The suggestion that a board member would establish a template for mediation is problematic," Haikala said.
The judge went on to say that, in her June 30 opinion, she "took no pleasure" in pointing out inconsistencies between statements that district officials made, either in public or in court, and the official record of events.
"I don't want to have to keep engaging in those exercises," Haikala said. "The board has got to stop engaging in conversations that will hamper the court's efforts in this case."
July 13, 2104:  Laurie McCaulley pulls the plug on her workshop in good faith.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat,  HCS BOE vice president Laurie McCaulley's decision to cancel her community conversations masquerading as "a community workshop on desegregation", was not done in "good faith", but rather,  a firm judge who  saw through the ruse and  slammed the sham.

July 16, 2014:  The Judge sets the ground rules for mediation:
"The parties and the mediator may not disclose information regarding the process, except the terms of settlement, to the court or to third persons unless all parties agree," writes U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala. 
That means it could be a while until Huntsville hears anything about what will happen next. In her June 30 order sending Huntsville into mediation, Haikala suggested both sides might reach agreement by the end of the year. 
She explains: "Confidentiality is an important part of mediation because it allows parties to work efficiently and to share information with the mediator that may not be admissible in evidence in proceedings before the Court."

July 17, 2014:   After promising citizens could comments on the desegregation case at the July 17 work session, citizens weren't allowed to comment on the desegregation case because the judge.  RedEye roll
 The sale of two empty Huntsville school buildings, an update on the district's Summer Feeding Program and possible citizen input on the ongoing federal desegregation case were anticipated at tonight's school board meeting.
It is not clear how much, if any, discussion can take place on the desegregation issue, however, after the federal judge overseeing the case earlier this week ordered confidentiality in the mediation process.
Sigh....Here we go again.  Mediation hasn't even started and the usual suspects are up to their old tricks.   People need to be heard, but this can't be done without the usual critics,  and it's not like citizens can go to any school board meeting and expect to be heard, I mean, listened to.

Why the judge expects this superintendent, and this board, to behave any differently is a mystery to me. Giving them the cloak of confidentiality plays right into the hands of the retired military colonel, turned instructional leader, whose mission it is to maintain the status quo by what ever means necessary. (Links inserted for emphasis).
 Casey you have to break the mold and prove you're not afraid of minorities, democrats, liberals, aclu (sic) types and the entire entitlement crowd! Do that, and you'll be doing the job you were hired to do! Oh yeah, not to mention striking down all racial transfers. And that includes allowing not allowing whites to racially transfer either. If you don't like where your child goes to school, move to where they can be zoned into a school of your preference, that's what I had to do!

Even If We Win, We Lose
So after months and possibly years of litigation over the rezoning plan, what have we won?
The district will still be under the control of the DoJ except now the plan that the DoJ believed would best bring us unification has been rejected.
The DoJ still controls our destiny. Does fighting their plan (even assuming we’ve seen their plan) bring us closer to unification?
Nope. It doesn’t.
The Wardynski Plan is a fool’s errand. We did not have to file it. And the public has had zero input into the plan.
So, after potentially years of litigation and expense, we will have accomplished absolutely nothing, even if we win.
Nothing except the following:
  1. Wardynski has shored up support for himself in this town because he’s willing to fight the “evil” federal government.
  2. Wardynski has improved his name recognition on a national level.
  3. Wardynski has spent a ton of the district’s money that he should be spending on improving education at all of our schools. And of course,
  4. We’re still a segregated system.
This is, in the Bard’s wise words, much ado about nothing.
 Good luck with that mediation thingy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What if Huntsville City Schools looked like Downtown Huntsville on a Thursday Evening?
On my way to the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education work session last night I encountered droves of people headed towards downtown Huntsville 

This evening, the sidewalks and streets of downtown Huntsville were filled with thousands upon thousands of people out and about enjoying one of the biggest, most entertaining evenings the yet.
Several events including the Street Food Gathering, Greene Street Market, Thursday Night Bikes, Downtown Jam Session, Weeden House Museum Tour, the Downtown Arts Stroll and so much more came together to create "one of the most exciting Thursdays ever," according to Downtown Huntsville Inc. CEO Chad Emerson.
Yep, young, old, rich, poor, men,women, black/white/brown/red/yellow people of all religions, sexual orientation, and class, had equal access to spend their money at one of the most exciting Thursdays ever in downtown Huntsville.

It looked like One City, One Vision.   

Then I attended the school board work session, which was originally touted as an opportunity for citizens to comment on the desegregation case, and I thought, what if Huntsville City Schools looked like downtown Huntsville on a Thursday evening?  What if all children, regardless of their race, sex, or address, had equal access to the best public education their parents tax dollars could buy?

What a wonderful city it would be......


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stupid Stupid does....

Stupid Is......

With all the pressing issues facing the city of Huntsville, and the state of Alabama, there is a petition being circulated asking the city of Huntsville to pass an ordinance for a $25-$50 fine and community service to children and adults wearing "saggin pants" in public.

Before I type another word let me make if perfectly clear I think sagging pants are a sloppy fashion trend, and adds to the negative perception of black youth.  That said, what part of you can't legislate personal behavior don't you understand?  If you don't like sagging pants, don't wear sagging pants.   It's like telling a woman she can't choose to have an abortion.  It's like telling gay people they can't serve in the military.  It''s like telling women they can't wear pants to work.  It's like telling grown folks they can't gamble  in their own state, with their own damn money.  It's like telling Michelle Obama she can't show her arms.  It's like telling someone you can't drink alcohol on Sunday.  You get my drift?

The Declaration of Independence declares We the People are entitled to Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  If wearing sagging pants makes someone happy, so be it.  If they can't get a job because their pants are sagging that's on them.  If they can't run from danger because their pants fall down around their knees and trip them up, that's on them.  If an airline won't let them  board the plane with sagging pants, that's on them.  You feel me?

Note the race of the young men (?) in the picture above. This is a another way to target young black men, putting them at risk for subjective profiling, something they already face disproportionately.

.....As Stupid does

The Women's Business Center of North Alabama and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings hosted a seminar focusing on bringing your guns to work a year after Alabama began enforcing a law allowing concealed carry permit holders to keep firearms in their vehicles while on the job.  

No charges are expected to filed in the case of the downtown Huntsville shooting at the skate park that left one injured and children running for cover.  As the shooter said  "I think it's a pretty clear-cut case of self-defense,"  Oh, OK.

But let's talk about all the drugs, gun violence, and crime in north .......Huntsville.
Two career readiness seminars will be held soon in Huntsville to help job seekers find work at Remington Outdoor, Toyota and the Huntsville Police Department. Remington announced in February it will create 2,000 jobs over 10 years at its new gun plant in the former Chrysler building near Huntsville International Airport.
Expect more gun makers to follow.

RedEye tiptoeing away from the computer muttering  life is like a box of chocolates....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RedEye's Racist/Racism Rundown

Preview of what's coming to Alabama:  Videos: Bellhaven North Carolina Hospital closing may have cost a life.
Folks should be fighting the evil governors in their state to defend their healthcare rights. It gets to a point where the constituents will NEED to overcome their ignorance and use common sense when it comes to who is really serving their own best INTEREST.
Why "Take our country back" Is Only Racist When Republicans say it,
“Take back our country” actually is only racist when Republicans say it. As my friend Ed Morrissey pointed out not long ago, the phrase has been around for a very long time, and has been used by Democrats and Republicans alike. The difference is that, ever since the Southern Strategy, the Republican Party and the conservative movement have been devoted, in word and deed, to preserving a white status quo, Even people who don’t believe in Republican racism recognize this. The Republican Party is overwhelmingly white, and stands in opposition to an ever-more-diverse coalition that includes a significant minority of white people. As Hill said, when Republicans want to take the country back, they mean back to a time when white male supremacy was codified by law, and protected from on high.
37 Percent of Mississippi GOPers Would Back Confederates in Civil War. 
A new Public Policy Polling survey found that 37 percent of Republicans who voted in the Mississippi primary runoff election between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) said they would back the Confederate side if there was another Civil War.
Post racial my donkey.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Saving Face is not "Good Faith"

What a difference a lone African American School Board Member Makes

The spin is in.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat,  HCS BOE vice president Laurie McCaulley's decision to cancel her community conversations masquerading as "a community workshop on desegregation", was not done in "good faith", but rather,  a firm judge who saw through the ruse and  slammed the sham. 
"It was my intention to present the opportunity for citizen engagement in a forum that the public could embrace and the court would consider meaningful and transparent," McCaulley said. 
"As an elected official, I would never intentionally do anything that would jeopardize the integrity of the judicial process," she continued. "Therefore, in the spirit of good faith, the... work session will be canceled."
It is troubling when elected officials would rather lie than be honest with the public.  For example, McCaulley said it was her intention to present the opportunity for citizen engagement in a forum that the public could embrace, and the court would consider meaningful and transparent,  when they have a policy that violates the civil rights of citizens.
In their haste to revive a stale scandal  (redEYE roll) the media failed to report  the HCS BOE violated the civil rights of a constituent by not allowing them to question the BOE unless it was written down and filtered through a mime.  That's right, those who make the rules, get to break the rules.  Again.  But hey, look at that bright, shiny, object over there!
This same board member said the BOE was under a gag order when they weren't.
 The U.S. Department of Justice says that there was no need for months of secrecy surrounding plans to close Butler High and redraw zone lines across Huntsville. 
In fact, a federal attorney wrote that Washington never gagged the school board nor Superintendent Casey Wardynski, despite the board's recent claims.
This same Board of Education asked the court to exclude a  letter sent by Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison; an anonymous version of a form letter sent by several residents; and the letter signed by several ministers and politicians,  and,  to ignore citizens comments  at the desegregation hearing.
Huntsville school officials in March told the court that city was desegregated in the 1970s and 1980s, that people moved and that federal courts have held school boards are not accountable for where people choose to live.
The next round of legal briefs are due May 16.
In the meantime, the judge received three letters suggesting that the school system had ignored the black community in Huntsville when planning new zone lines. Black community leaders argued the new zone lines would increase racial segregation levels and that the city did not provide equal educational opportunities in all schools.
Huntsville business leaders offered an opposing point of view, contending that the black community had not been ignored and that the school system has taken several steps, such as providing all students with laptops, to equalize educational opportunities across town.
This same Board of Education  ignored a petition and a march, then violated their own policy and changed the name of J.O.Johnson High School to Mae Jemison High School.

So now we were are supposed to believe they weren't trying to circumvent the mediation process ordered by Judge Haikala?  How can  credibility be re established with people  we have come to know as patently dishonest?

 Huntsville City Schools needs more than a lecture on the state's open meetings law. Honesty and public trust should be part of that lesson.

It's time for them to go.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The InJustice of the century, one year later #J4TM

Embedded image permalink
#Trayvon Martin

Today marks the one year anniversary of the miscarriage of justice of the century,  when the 5 white and 1 Hispanic, all female jury,  acquitted George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin
 What we do know is that the Trayvon Martin case says a lot about the state of our politics at the moment.  It’s not very post-racial and, yes, it is very tense and polarized.  Certain elements in the political process, including decision makers from state legislatures to Capitol Hill, are holding the gun.  People of color are in the cross-hairs.  And the only thing we seem to be armed with these days is a high unemployment rate and a sense that the future is not looking as bright.
One year later, the jury is still anonymous.
 To date, little is known about the mainly faceless jurors who deliberated for more than 16 hours before rendering George Zimmerman's fate. Five white women and one black Hispanic woman were on the main panel; four alternate jurors, two men and two women, were also selected. Juror B29 told ABC she believed Zimmerman "got away with murder" but that she had to "grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence." Alternate juror E54 told WOFL he "supported the verdict." Juror B37, the first juror to speak, told CNN that Zimmerman was "justified in shooting Trayvon Martin" but that he "had good in his heart, he just went overboard." She initially planned to write a book about her experience but withdrew after major backlash against her comments.

One year later, violence against unarmed black people continues.
Spare us the invocations of "black-on-black crime." I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought insane. The most mendacious phrase in the American language is "black-on-black crime," which is uttered as though the same hands that drew red lines around the ghettoes of Chicago are not the same hands that drew red lines around the life of Jordan Davis, as though black people authored North Lawndale and policy does not exist. That which mandates the murder of our Hadiya Pendletons necessarily mandates the murder of Jordan Davis. I will not respect any difference. I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought crazy.
One year later, Rachel Jeantal blames herself for the jury's actions.
Immediately, I heard newscasters referring to her prior testimony, which I had watched on video, as combative and aggressive. And I felt my pressure start to rise.
These kinds of terms – combat, aggression, anger – stalk black women, especially black women who are dark-skinned and plus-sized like Rachel, at every turn seeking to discredit the validity of our experiences and render invisible our traumas. By painting Rachel Jeantel as the aggressor, as the one prone to telling lies and spreading untruths, it became easy for the white male defense attorney to treat this 19-year-old, working-class black girl, a witness to the murder of her friend, as hostile, as a threat, as the one who needed to be regulated and contained and put in her place.

One year later,  we still have Stand Your Ground Laws, as a matter of fact, Stand Your Ground  laws were  expanded in Florida.

One year later,  neither President Barack Obama, the media, or any racial incident has forced the nation to talk about race in any sort of serious way.
So yes, let's have a real discussion about race and racism.  I mean a real hope-to-die, get it all out in the open discussion.  It's times to drain the poison off, so that this nation can heal.  The whole world is watching.  I don't know about you people, but I don't plan to set my clock back, I plan to set it forward.

One year later, The Justice Department is still investigating the death of Trayvon Martin.

One year later and Trayvon Martin is till dead.

We are the ones that failed.
Truth first then justice.
We’re the ones that failed. Not us specifically, but the people who knew and understood the truth and common sense and had the format to speak out about it. We let another narrative take place so we can avoid calling what we are seeing what it really is.
"Trayvon belongs to all of  America and until you see him as your child too, we all remain in bondage."

Rest in Freedom Sweet Child, we will never forget you.