“Do Black Lives Really Matter….and to whom?

 

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Obviously, not to the APS defendants….

In a world of higher moral ground, all life should matter. But today, it seems there are some great disparities concerning life in general.

I live in Atlanta, the home of the Atlanta Public School Cheating Scandal. For decades, not just when these offenses were discovered, black children have been shuffled off from grade to grade. I know personally some of these teachers. Some come from my neighborhood. Some are better than others, and a few have dropped out of teaching. The battle to educate these children was an uphill battle on all fronts and life is short.

The most visible signs that Black lives matter seems only when Black people are shot and killed by white police. Then we see the outrage of people in the streets. But incidents of Black violence in these Black communities are constant and generally ignored, or something of that nature. I’ve read different stats about this, so you can pick your numbers: Between 93% to 99% of Black people are victims of their own race. But you don’t see demonstrations in these communities of Atlanta against this constant violence. You see the violence daily when you turn on your TV, and you are hit with a barrage of car jacking, home invasions, domestic violence, robberies, gang activities, murder, etc. Where are the preachers and so-called Black Leaders when this is going on? They are generally absent. You won’t get Al Sharpton down in the hood demonstrating against this violence. There isn’t enough national TV attention or money for these vultures to do so.

We have Black criminals who kill and when finally caught, are revealed to have 30 arrests and convictions. The jails and prisons are so filled that they either serve minor years for major offenses or they are sprung early enough to go out and do it all again. One grandmother has grandsons who are constantly (drug dealers) (from the age of 14) arrested, but for some reason, even with weapons charges, they are back out on the streets in days. One killed the young mother of his three children at her work place with three bullets in the head. He got ten years…..a cheap price for the value of a Black woman.

I have been in Atlanta for 46 years now. I have seen a couple of generations start school and leave. They leave illiterate. They don’t see that school has any value for their future. So they drop out at 12, 14, 16. Drug dealing and assorted crimes hold much more potential for their futures. They become predators at an early age.

And why? People can site many reasons, poverty, racism, disadvantages, neighborhoods, bad, underfunded schools, but it starts in the home, it starts with the influences in the community. It starts with the cultural standards. When a 16 year old can’t read a cereal box, look to what the parents can or can’t read. The breakdown of the Black family is generally cited. Perhaps this is the basis but you can’t force women to not have children and raise them by themselves. Raising a child or children with the ‘help’ of a father in the home is hard enough, but when a woman doesn’t have that support, it becomes overwhelming. I’ve seen this over and over in my years in Atlanta. Up close, too.

I put my only child in a local public school in the elementary years. That is before he was threatened with a knife in the neck by a group of 3rd graders. He had been seriously injured at 6 in kindergarten where his tooth was knocked out and his palate broken. He was picked up and flipped into the toilet by two boys, aged 9 and 11 in an after school program. That was when I was a good Quaker and thought I shouldn’t isolate my son from this ‘community’. I was stupid. These two boys were drug mules for the uncle and both were in foster care because of this. (This was revealed only before a judge later) My son could have easily died. We ended up homeschooling him for the rest of his school years and then he went into the Navy. He escaped the violence of Atlanta but the world is a violent place. He spent four years chasing Somali pirates in the Navy, but still thinks Atlanta is more dangerous than chasing armed Somali pirates.

The APS Cheating Scandal and the behavior of the defendants and their supporters are especially galling. I also believe this is the ‘seat’ of the corruption and a key aspect that leads to the violence within Black communities. Dozens were exposed, having parties to change the answers, breaking the heat seals on the tests to erase answers (and then sealing them up again with heated knife) to make it look like these children were progressing. There were a few teachers who did complain to Dr. Beverly Hall (superintendent) but she ignored them. Or they were forced out of their jobs. She was getting outrageous bonuses per year for the ‘results’ and it was a situation to ‘improve the progress’ for the teachers or lose their jobs. Hall died in March of breast cancer and never came to trial. She was the queen bee of the corruption of this horrendous scandal and she escaped. Green was the color that mattered to her and the trickle down.

However, the behavior of the defendants was shocking. The belabored and exhausted judge, (who many decades ago along with the dinosaurs) was a product of the Atlanta School System, asked them to apologize and admit their guilt for reduced sentences: surely they would realize the real victims were the thousands of black children who were harmed by the ‘push them through though they couldn’t read, write or spell’ teachers. But the vast majority of these so-called ‘educators’ refused to admit guilt. Though the evidence was there and the jurors convicted them of RICO and other criminal behavior, they refused to see that they were not the victims…..the children they robbed of an education were the real victims. This was lost on them. It didn’t seem to be on their radar. Nor on the radar of their lawyers or their supporters. The preachers and ‘community leaders’ only talked about these ‘righteous’ educators and that prison was no place for teachers. Huh.

And this sets up the behavior of criminality in the black communities. When youth are out of school, they have no focus for their future, except indulging in criminal behaviors. That is their future, until they end up in prison or are dead. And the havoc they wreck on their own communities and families pile up.

So, do Black Lives Really Matter? Not really to these Black ‘educators’. Even the Mayor bemoaned the ‘waste of talent’ of these educators in their convictions. Nothing from him about the waste of potential of these robbed children. It starts in the culture of denial and entrenches itself in all aspects.

Cheaters get a pass in the Atlanta Public School System. Not a crime.

They have destroyed the lives and futures of thousands of black children by their personal corruption and arrogance. It will be a long time before this scandal will be put behind Atlanta. Of course, their apologists are already mouthing the words: “We are moving beyond this now”.

The trust of the APS system is broken with the majority of those with morals and common sense. But the black children in these schools will never recoup what was robbed from them in the very beginning with the corruption of these ‘educators’ who don’t deserve that hallowed name.

I thank A. who started this conversation with me. She is a deeply compassionate intellectual, totally involved in our community who has a higher moral standard than many in Atlanta. I am grateful for her friendship.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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8 Responses to ““Do Black Lives Really Matter….and to whom?”

  1. czbz Says:

    This is a perspective that isn’t discussed very often, LadyNyo and I thank you for taking the time to write more in depth than a news story. I’m not that familiar with the situation but assumed there might be some racism in the teachers’ convictions since the penalties seemed extremely harsh in my northwestern corner of the USA. The politics behind educating our kids is such a hot button issue that the controversy could easily provide a smokescreen for financial scandals. This story has not been covered very much in my city so I appreciate your views and more information about the way teachers benefitted from cheating. I hadn’t even thought about “financial gains”.

    People get so hung up on the Ends Justifying the Means that it’s easy to see how they could excuse their behavior as justifiable. Not that it was ethical cuz you are exactly right about the children being the true victims. Excellent point.

    Like

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CZ…

    The penalties weren’t high at all if you consider the damage done to the thousands of children who suffered at the hands of these teachers who put money ahead of morals. They got what they wanted,…an appeal system. What is disgusting to me and so many others is that the supporters go the length to defend these so-called educators, but ignore the root issues within these black communities. The very same communities that suffer from the disdain and contempt of these black educators who should be first in line with compassion for these children they robbed of any decent future. But they are just a now noticed part of the problem.

    The only ends that justified the means was their self-enrichment on the backs of these 1000’s of children who were the most vulnerable in our communities. The judge spoke to this with passion: how many of these children that were passed on until they gave up are either in prison now or dead? Their lives are sacrificed to the greed and corruption of an educational system that dares not look for the truth. These lives can never be restored, resurrected, regardless what program is put in place to try to make amends to those damaged.

    Again, this situation of ‘pass them along’ has been going on for decades. When my son was in public school in the early 90’s this practice was well known and I was a substitute teacher. I saw first hand the issues. It was overwhelming. The issues were wide and broad and generally covered over because of political correctness and embarrassment by the local powers.

    No one benefits from such behavior, and if teachers can’t admit to cheating, come clean and be honest, what in Hell are they teaching our children? What examples are they setting.

    No, I thought about this issue for a while. It was only after consulting with my friend “A” here in my neighborhood that I had the energy to write this. She is Black and a straight shooter. She knows what is truthful and what is a bunch of lies and subterfuge. It is wonderful to have a friend of such caliber. It allows you to write things that aren’t exactly politically correct. So be it.

    Thank you for reading and your comment, CZ.

    Jane

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  3. czbz Says:

    Well, you’re right. Your article isn’t exactly PC but you have personal experience with the Atlanta educational system. I was shocked to read about your son, though. Now I better understand the homeschooling. Where do we start unraveling this mess?

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  4. ladynyo Says:

    Well, CZ….if you don’t strive for the truth as you experience life, you aren’t paying attention. PC stuff is part of the general problem. It’s an attempt to candycoat significant and unavoidable issues in society in general. A PC approach just buries the problems deeper. It might make people ‘feel’ better about themselves but it does nothing to solve tough questions. The truth is in there somewhere, like that proverbial pony.

    Where do we start unraveling this mess? I don’t know. And frankly, it’s not my job. Until Black parents and Black leadership look at the cold hard facts of the behavior of their communities (and their communities are not bordered off ….I live and have for 46 years in this community as do other whites and Asians) there will be no change in the general decline of this particular part of society. Inner city issues are more than I can handle. they’ve closed down many schools in Atlanta. Obviously there are serious issues. They need for real leadership to step up without the apologists hogging the limelight. These ‘educators’ are morally bankrupt if they can’t admit (as they were convicted) to what they did: they cheated, changed the answers to tests for years, robbed 1000s of children from a decent and proper education….because they thought 1) these children were either stupid or of no value….and 2) there was money to be made by their actions. Too bad Beverly Hall died before her trial. She knew what was going on, she ignored it, but she benefited from it financially. Quite a legacy for the children of Atlanta.

    Last night a Mennonite friend of many years called. She is a public nurse and knew exactly what I was writing about. We discussed this issue of ‘what do we do?” She said that now that she was in her 60’s she felt that life had to have more than these major issues to face: she wanted to do something creative with her life and to contribute something. She mentioned a Mennonite project of making single quilts….for distribution internationally. It sounded something that could scratch an itch. I got her to sign me up. LOL! I sew everything by hand, cause I don’t trust my machine…it’s old (my husband’s grandmothers) and it has copper wires sticking out the back…looks dangerous….so my quilts will be a slow process. Maybe that is exactly what I need for contemplation, meditation and service right now.

    Love, Jane

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  5. TR Says:

    I appreciate hearing another perspective on cheating by changing scores to push children through. This happens in Chicago as well and as you say, what about the children’s lives? Great question. It is a cycle and so complex that is hard to get at what is really happening and what is really needed to fix a system that reinforces behaviors that are not always taking the child’s education into account. I have friends who are teachers in inner city schools and it is an unhealthy environment and I can understand your decision to homeschool.

    There are signs that a child’s welfare isn’t at the front of our minds when it comes to personal gain. It happens on a micro scale, in the home and then on a larger scale, society and institutions that how does the cycle get broken when both don’t reinforce it?

    I learned a lot from hearing a different perspective and thank you for sharing it. xx

    Like

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR! I was about to write to you, to see if you were ok. Figured you were, and you were busy. But it’s good to reconnect with you ….always!

    Yep, it’s very sad that these thousands of children over many years suffered because of the greed of these teachers. And they continue to take no responsibility for what they did. All these lawyers, preachers, etc. are bombarding the public with “Save our Educators”, but some should have never been Educators. They are personal opportunists, easily swayed by the almighty dollar. It was systematic, and deplorable. Many of these children, with no real education are now either dead from the street/gangs/drugs, etc. or in prison; And that is the legacy of the APS Cheating Scandal.

    It’s shocking how much school is unhealthy. Gone are the times where the personal responsibility of parents and teachers weighed into the picture. And yes, homeschooling wasn’t the best but at the time, it was the only rational situation. IF we wanted our only child to survive. And after two serious injuries, it was clear that we were the only ones in the system who gave a damn.

    Thanks, TR……

    Hugs, Jane

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  7. TR Says:

    Yes, I will catch up with you soon! I’m behind on my e-mails. It really does take a village to raise a child. There is a shared responsibility for the welfare of children. In news and media, there is a sense of 100% blame. Blaming schools, parents continues the cycle of keeping the status quo. I sometimes feel like that even in my own recovery. Am I repeating the same cycle but it looks different so that no one, especially me, does NOT have to change. When you look throughout history of people really trying to implement change, they are beheaded, imprisoned, smeared. Imo, we have learned that trying to change means facing a lot of backlash.

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  8. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, you’re right…so it seems.

    I do believe that the first line of raising a child are the parents. As a former sub. teacher…I saw the issues first hand in my son’s school. Little boys were exposing themselves in third grade, and launching themselves across the desks to fight with other boys. What kind of atmosphere except chaos at home could these children learn this behavior? And when we wrote notes to the parents? We watched the boys (and girls) rip them up as they walked down the street. The parents either never were informed or didn’t care. I have seen parents assault teachers for issues that they as parents didn’t take any responsibility for. In my estimation, in many inner city neighborhoods…school is just a free child care situation. But, there are parents even in these areas who do care about their children, regardless the monkeys on their own backs: drugs, alcohol, abusive partners. it’s just so overwhelming and the same issues arise over and over.

    Liked by 1 person

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