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Call To Action: What Are Black Parents To Do To Get A Good Quality Education For Their Children?

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It is my understanding that in February, the Sacramento County Office of Education made a decision on behalf of over 33,000 African American students that are failing under their jurisdiction by granting the authority to Fortune Charter Schools to educate a portion of these students. In doing so they are admitting that they are committed to finding alternative ways to ensure that this population is getting what taxpayers are paying for which is a good quality education. I want to commend the board for recognizing a problem and taking action to correct this nagging problem, that is also a similar problem around the state.

Now it is also my understanding the California Teachers Association (CTA) is threatening to sue the county board for approving Fortune School's charter school petition. To counter, the elected board is considering a proposal to tax the charter school petitioners (a non-profit organization and 120 parents, all taxpayers) in the event that the board has to defend its own decision to improve the quality of education for a segment of their student population they are currently obviously failing. This, in my opinion, is placing the parents in a position of having to foot the bill for a system that is failing their children and when they seek a proven alternative like Fortune Charters Schools they are saying pay for that too.

To borrow a statement from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) recently "Evidence Matters". Let us take a look at some of the evidence as it relates to African American students in Sacramento County. We have 33,988 or 14.3% of the students seeking an education while we have only 420 or 3.6% teachers in the classroom that look like them out of a teaching staff of 11,743. We have 36.9%, over a third of Black students, dropping out of school each and every year under the current system as compared to 17.1% for white students dropping out. The appropriate question for the board is, what have the parents of these Black students been paying for?

I do not know why the CTA would want to sue the board for trying to secure a good education for African Americans, unless it is getting more money for teachers. To that I say more power to them but not at the expense of Black children. Many educators believe students have too many excuses -- "the dog ate my homework...the lights were turned off...I was hungry...my mom was sick" and the list goes on. While no one accepts the children's excuses, we often accept the excuses our adult educators give as to why they are failing our kids - " We need more money...we can't discipline incompetent staff...the kids just aren't smart enough...their parents don't care,"and that list goes on. Teachers and managers want us to accept their excuses as validation for not educating Black students. On the farm that I grew up on in North Carolina, we were taught what was good for the goose was also good for the gander.

I say the decision to approve Fortune Charter School is a good one for African American students and would welcome the opportunity to tell our story of how our education system in Sacramento County treats Blacks in a court of law. I want our public to know where and who gets the money and who is not currently getting educated.

I served twelve years on the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education and know how pressure is applied from employee and management groups but the board is elected to do what is right for parents, students, and the taxpayers. I was also a union member of the United Steel Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers so I am not against unions but for kids.

While I do not know the legality of the board to be able to pass off the liability of their decision to approve Fortune Schools, it baffles me because they are acting on the behalf of students, taxpayers and the public, while the CTA is acting out of a selfish position of its members and the detriment of African American students.

I think the board's decision to approve Fortune School was a good one based on the early test results of the students in Hardy Brown College Prep in San Bernardino. I am also cautious of most charter school operators because some are out to make some money at the expense of children and naive board members. I caution the board to be careful but do not be intimated by groups and people wanting to take you to court. You know why you are seeking to provide these African American students with the best possible education so they can become productive citizens in our society, maybe even president. So my question to the board is what are Black parents to do to get a quality education for their children?

Thank you for your consideration not to pass this proposal.

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