This evening my mother suggested that I take a look at an Op-Ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled, “Raze Dekalb’s education ghetto.” It’s written by one William Blackwood. Mr. Blackwood is voicing his displeasure at the environment of his school in south DeKalb county, GA, my mother indicated.
Well, upon reading Mr. Blackwood’s “expose,” I would categorize his observations as a scathing indictment on a school system, county, and culture. Conveniently, Mr. Blackwood lets the reader know that his homebase is in the city of Decatur. For those who aren’t aware, the city of Decatur has been regentrified to the point of being a eutopia.
Poor Mr. Blackwood bikes from his lovely Decatur perch to the bowels of south DeKalb Hades. Here is an excerpt of his chronicles:
Disassimilation and disintegration are having a big impact on the high-school population of hyper-segregated south DeKalb county. Many young people from this area will have difficulty acclimating themselves into the mainstream. Many will find it hard to develop and maintain a sense of cohesive belonging within the larger cultural whole. A critical factor in this disturbing sociological dynamic is the public school system itself.
My school employs five assistant principals who make high salaries that, in the private sector, would be inconceivable for comparably educated individuals. Yet, they neither teach classes nor interact significantly with students. They also embody a cumbersome and inconsequential discipline system whose hallmark is the repeated failure to respond effectively to transgressions that, elsewhere, would beget serious action.
The bloated assistant-principal caste characterizes a system that employs more non-teaching personnel than it does teachers. This dysfunctional jobs-creation program is complicit in the invidious perpetuation of the hugely disenfranchising notion that black students are to be taught in a special way.
A teacher is supposed to appeal to “multiple intelligences” in a manner that will produce a “differentiated” classroom. I have been told to do “raps” with students and to appeal to their “kinesthetic intelligence.” Collaborative “group work” is proffered as a means of classroom management and instruction.
While Mr. Blackwood makes some decent points, his delivery is awash in self-glorification. It seems that he seeks to dazzle the reader with such large words as to render them helpless at making up their own mind. Also, what’s his point? Does he seek to improve the current situation or is he just the messenger? There is something terribly wrong with a teacher who feels more comfortable ranting to the AJC rather than taking precise measures within his school system’s guidelines. It’s almost Benedict Arnoldish to me.
Way to go, Mr. Blackwood! For all of your “concern,” you’ve played right into the hands of the malfactors. The tone of your opinion conveyed no empathy or plan of action in terms of making wrongs-right. You simply point fingers and then indicate that you live in Decatur city. As such, it’s not really your problem. That’s the take-away.
On this 25th anniversary of the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, one can only marvel at the sense of timing of the AJC posting that Op-Ed piece. It’s almost as if a subliminal barometer fell lower and lower while reading Mr. Blackwood’s opinion.
Well, thank goodness that Dr. King wasn’t an elitist or someone who whined about helping a people in a great need of help. Although from a middle-class background, Dr. King understood the factors which caused so many African-Americans to fare far lower on the socio-economic strata. He chose to do something, help somebody. In choosing that, he helped all of us.
The scathing indictment offered by Mr. Blackwood is a self-indulgent venting session. As a teacher, he should’ve aired his personal grievances, thoughts, and a plan of action within the system. Especially, since he is currently working there.? What are the students, faculty, and administration to think now?
The problems of south DeKalb county are the problems of the country, which are the problems of the home. There are so many things to address, choosing to atttack by targeting one area is definitely not the answer.
Let’s all do our part by edifying, not destroying…
Jones, My Opinion
Take a look at the ajc.com comment page, taken from Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog about this topic.