“Obama strengthens black schools” is the headline for Politico’s story today that includes the above video and links to the executive order. Since that order is a pdf, making the text an effort open, I have copied the full text of the executive order on a webpage with a link to the pdf. I do so hoping it will help get people to look at it with some care. Just because it is about black education, does not mean it is good for black education. My opinion is that this executive order further federalizes control of schools — particularly black schools. It is nannyism that holds back individual black kids by allegedly coming to their rescue because they are black.
My opinion here is qualified by having been there and seen it done:
My own public education was at segregated schools in Texas. In 2nd-4th grades I was enrolled in the white school at Bastrop — a small East Texas town which also had a school for Negroes and a school for Mexicans. El Paso, where I spent 5-12, had a small Negro population, whose children were sent by law to their own school. A Borderlands article gives this history: “Douglass School Served Black Community Well.” I graduated from El Paso’s Austin High School in May 1954, the month the US Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional. I remember my Mother’s concern at the time for the black kids, saying: “There won’t be the Negro football leagues any more, or a Negro girl winning beauty queen.” In the same vein, Borderlands includes this:
According to Arnold Williams, currently a biology teacher for the Socorro Independent School District, when Douglass closed, “Many students were upset at the fact they had to leave… They got used to the idea of being isolated from almost everything in society. They felt like a big part of their life was being shut out and a new door was opening.” Williams says some students were intimidated by society and the new surroundings, for Douglass had always been their home.
These things were thought and said a half a century ago. Today black beauty queens abound and many sports heroes are black guys. El Paso was to play a key role in ending sports segregation in 1966 — a story told by the recent movie Glory Road and which I blogged about when the movie was released.
In the present time, handschooling is a new big step to individualizing learning. The mobile a student uses does know or care about the race of its user. At the global online knowledge commons everybody studies from the same webpage, in an equality more pure than even the most visionary person could have hoped for in 1954.
My Mother was an individualist. I recall her teaching me in the setting of Bastrop that racial discrimination is simply wrong. The Bastrop setting in 1942-46 featured a white nannyism. We lived in a large and comfortable home near the edge of the center of town where only whites lived. Just a couple of blocks north of our house the small shacks where the Negroes lived began. I recall watching one day as the all-white volunteer Bastrop Fire Department rushed past our house. I looked on from the distance of our front yard as the white volunteers put out the fire that was burning one of the shacks, while the Negroes watched.
NEVER should we allow an African-American to be put in the position of those who were neither expected to nor knew how to put out the fire I saw in Bastrop. I may never get another reader for Handschooling.com, but I will say here: The Obama executive order yesterday is sending the federal government to put out presumed fires and thereby demeaning everyone involved in the HBCU. This move is akin to resuscitating Douglass School in 2010 and making it dependent on federal agencies. What follows is language from the executive order itself. I have left in cosmetic references to private sector inclusion, but clearly this is a federally controlled project with the central goal of nannying the historic black colleges and universities — of putting our their fires:
Here are excerpts from the federal nanny take-over provisions of the executive order:
(a) Establishment. . . . to be housed in the Department of Education
(b) The Initiative shall work with executive departments, agencies, and offices, the private sector, educational associations, philanthropic organizations, and other partners to increase the capacity of HBCUs [Historically black colleges and universities] to provide the highest-quality education to a greater number of students, and to take advantage of these institutions’ capabilities in serving the Nation’s needs through five core tasks:
(i) strengthening the capacity of HBCUs to participate in Federal programs;
(ii) fostering enduring private-sector initiatives and public-private partnerships while promoting specific areas and centers of academic research and programmatic excellence throughout all HBCUs;
(iii) improving the availability, dissemination, and quality of information concerning HBCUs to inform public policy and practice;
(iv) sharing administrative and programmatic practices within the HBCU community for the benefit of all; and
(v) exploring new ways of improving the relationship between the Federal Government and HBCUs.
. . .
(d) Federal Agency Plans. (1) Each executive department and agency designated by the Secretary of Education (Secretary) shall prepare an annual plan (agency plan) of its efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs through increased participation in appropriate Federal programs and initiatives. . . .
(i) establish how the department or agency intends to increase the capacity of HBCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative
agreements and to encourage HBCUs to participate in Federal programs;
(ii) identify Federal programs and initiatives in which HBCUs may be either underserved or underused as national resources, and improve HBCUs’ participation therein; and
(iii) encourage public-sector, private-sector, and community involvement in improving the overall capacity of HBCUs.