Thursday, March 12, 2015

#HCSvsDOJ Desegregation Hearing: "Much Ado about Nothing" #hscboe

Huntsville City Schools March 11, 1963 -March 11, 2015  (Huntsville Times file)
Let's recap:
Eight months ago Federal Judge Madeline Haikala dropped her hammer on the Huntsville City Schools rezoning plan.
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.
She also dropped her hammer on the Justice Department, but only to say they were being far too lax.
 "From the record, it appears that years of relative calm and inactivity have lulled the government into a habit of checking in only when the district proposes actions that require the government's review. The government should be more proactive. Based on the current record, the Court does not know when inequities in educational programs arose in the district; however, standardized test scores from 10 years ago demonstrate disparate results among racially identifiable schools. Had the government been keeping an eye on that sort of information, it could have brought it to the Court's attention more quickly and enabled the Court and the district to address the issue in a timely fashion. "
In short, Haikala held: "On the record before it, the Court cannot find conclusively that the Board does not operate a dual system."

Fast forward to March 11, 2015 exactly,  52 years to the day after black families first sued to end segregated schooling in Huntsville and a hearing about  granting Huntsville City Schools the rare opportunity to have court approved segregation disguised as a "pathway to unitary status", enabled by the Department of Justice.
City Councilman Richard Showers has written a federal judge to complain that the plan to improve racial equity in Huntsville does little to end the racially isolated classrooms on opposite ends of the city.
"It seems the District was successful in pleading their case that it was in the best interest of the schools in North Huntsville to remain as they are and continue the same 'feeder' pattern," wrote Showers. "Failing schools feeding into failing schools."
After months of  secret mediation The United States Department of Justice basically approved Wardynski’s rezoning plan that he developed and implemented entirely without public input.

Huntsville City Schools will agree to anything as long as they can legally operate a dual school system.  In an effort to stop expelling black students the district agreed to rewrite the Student Code of Conduct, implement a Restorative Justice Strategies, develop a Positive School Climate Program, and appoint a Desegregation Advisory Committee.  All of this by a superintendent and school board who who view African American students as natural born gang members, and adopts polices that treat them that way.

All of the above slogans, I mean programs, sound nice but here's the real deal.  African American students will be forced to attend failing schools, illegally renamed after two black astronauts located less than half a mile from an active rock quarryMajority to Minority Transfers,  and access to Magnet Schools will be granted to the fortunate few.  The Alternative School is still privatized.

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.
In short, the proposed Consent Order equals Segregation then. Segregation now.  Segregation forever?

For 50 years the legacy of discrimination has been allowed to  exist under the watchful eyes of those who didn't want integration then, and who don't want integration now.  Let's face it, it's all about money, and whose children will have equal access to the public dollars that fund public education.  I challenge these people to start being part of the solution. Everything we do as is first and foremost for our children, not what is best for a political agenda.

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