By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — As the rallies for Trayvon Martin grow, as the media coverage surrounding the tragedy deepens and as the calls for justice get louder, we all must remember one thing: Revenge and justice are not the same thing.
The $10,000 bounty issued by the New Black Panther Party for the capture of Trayvon’s shooter, George Zimmerman, might feel justified given what we know of the shooting death. But it is not a call for justice.
It is a call for revenge.
When the group’s leader, Mikhail Muhammad, calls for “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” it is a call for revenge.
Muhammad’s words at a rally — “If the government won’t do the job, we’ll do it” — might feel empowering, might feel good. But that sentiment flies in the face of every call for justice that was made as well at that rally. Anyone who is considering taking Muhammad up on his offer, or even embarking on a solitary journey of revenge should, to quote the Chinese philosopher Confucius, “dig two graves.”
Nothing good can come from a bunch of vigilantes hunting down and possibly harming another vigilante, regardless of how noble the motivation for doing so may appear on the surface. As angry as I am, and as many of you are, what Muhammad is proposing can only make a bad situation worse. He needs to retract the bounty proposal immediately.
Enough violence, and images of violence, surround this tragedy already.
A “war” on stereotypes.
The “fight” against racism.
It feels as if we can’t even discuss the issue of race as it relates to the Martin case without using words that are linked to violence. Nothing about the world “war” connotes healing. Very little about a bounty suggests togetherness.
I’m not just splitting hairs over semantics. It is science that suggests the words we use shape the way we think. And what we think is the precursor to what we do. If we continue to allow words of conflict to define the conversation about race and racial profiling, then I fear we will move on from this tragedy having learned absolutely nothing, like so many times before.
I know many people think of Martin as a modern-day Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black kid from Chicago who was kidnapped and killed by a pair of racist white men in Mississippi in 1955. I tend to see Martin as the new Ryan White, the young man who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 at the age of 13. Before White’s story, the disease was in the public’s peripheral vision, truly discussed only by people who experienced its impact. But once a young, innocent face became associated with AIDS, the country’s attitude changed and we began addressing it more effectively.
Similarly, racial profiling was something only those directly affected would talk about. But the Martin tragedy has the potential to change that — if we let it.
Earlier this week, Will Cain and I were guests of Don Lemon’s on CNN and quickly found ourselves in a heated discussion about whether it was appropriate for President Barack Obama to comment on the tragedy. Over the next eight minutes, we fought and argued over issues of race and racial profiling. We continued the conversation once the TV segment was over. We talked on the way to the CNN makeup room. We talked as we left the building, crossed the street and had a beer.
My point is, we talked — not in an effort to fight but to understand each other. To build something. We’re hardly the perfect example of race relations. In fact, both of us are constantly told via Twitter, Facebook and other social media just how racist we are.
But we try to take each criticism with a grain of salt, understanding that at the end of the day, we’re just a couple of men, a couple of fathers who want the same thing: a better world for our kids.
And I tend to believe we’re not the only ones.
But we don’t get to that place through revenge, because revenge is cyclical and gets us nowhere. No, we get to that better world for our kids by walking the long linear line of justice, side by side, picking each other up when one falls, reaching a hand back when one gets tired, never forgetting that no matter how divergent our opinions might be from time to time, we’re in this thing together.
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
(CNN) — I believe it was the great American philosopher Kenny Rogers, who, while meditating on the nuances of Darwinism, gave the world this piece of advice:
“You got to know when to hold ‘em/Know when to fold ‘em/Know when to walk away/Know when to run.”
Any Democrat who might want to challenge a Republican-led effort to ban welfare recipients from spending federal aid in strip clubs and casinos needs to fold ‘em.
The House “strip club” bill just passed, 395 to 27, with only 26 Democrats and one Republican voting against it. But it’s not only a battle those 26 Democrats can’t win in the PR arena, it is a battle that completely undermines the narrative about Republicans not caring about the middle class. After all, how can the opponents genuinely criticize Republicans for trying to make cuts in aid while resisting a seemingly innocuous effort to avoid welfare fraud, a big concern for taxpayers?
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — or welfare — supplies cash to working poor families using what amounts to a debit card. Last year, about 1.8 million families received a few hundred federal dollars each month to help make ends meet. It’s meant to pay for necessities like food and rent. The average American can relate to that, because a lot of us have been there.
But media reports say that some of those cards were used in ATMs in strip clubs, liquor stores, Las Vegas casinos, even cruise ships — locations average Americans can also relate to, but not with taxpayers’ money involved.
Now, just because a few people are using these cards at strip club ATMs does not signal widespread fraud. In fact, less than half of 1% of benefits in California were withdrawn in casinos and strip clubs, and it’s impossible to tell where the money was spent, according to the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
But even still, who can be opposed to the government taking steps to discourage abuse, especially as the nation is wrestling with budget cut decisions? I certainly didn’t expect any Democrat to be against a government regulation, given the amount of criticism the party hurls at Republicans for deregulating everything.
Again: Welfare checks, strip clubs, casinos … seems like a no-brainer, right?
And yet Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, called the measure “another effort to berate those people who are in the lower class.”
Seriously Moore — fold ‘em.
Trying to massage this bill into a message about Republicans demonizing the poor doesn’t make liberals look like fighters for the little guy. It makes them look like free-wheeling hedonists; just another one of those times when some Democrats may be right in the small picture, but are totally missing the big one.
Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, said: “This is another example of setting policies based on attention-grabbing news stories with little connection to the underlying reality and that are designed to reinforce the ‘unworthy poor’ stereotype.”
Yes, this bill is a grandstanding exercise that does something close to nothing in terms of impacting the overall budget, or the very real problem with poverty.
But so what?
The flipside is that some Democrats look as if they don’t want to address welfare fraud while they fight welfare cuts, which, if you think about it, looks a lot worse. The Democrats against this bill should fold their hand, cut their losses and live to grandstand another day. And as long as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are each within an earshot of a microphone, the chances are pretty good that they’ll be plenty of disconnected GOP remarks regarding poor people to grandstand on for the months ahead.
Does Congress have better things to do?
But that doesn’t mean it should avoid doing the little things, and this is a little thing the Senate should pass when the bill arrives for a vote, along with testing welfare recipients and legislators for drugs.
But Democrats shouldn’t just take my word on in it. I encourage them to walk into any manufacturing plant in the Midwest and ask the workers how they feel about a portion of their tax dollars being spent on strippers by people on welfare.
Yeah, as I said, just fold ‘em.
Our favorite columnist is at it again – this time he’s taking on the TSA and the airport security procedures that are getting weirder and weirder every day…
I’ve included the article’s picture too. It’s just too good not to share.
TSA on lookout for big hair and snow globes
(CNN) — The sign at the airport was so ridiculous, I thought it was a joke.
“Please be advised, snow globes are not allowed through the security checkpoint,” it read.
That was followed by an image of a snow globe with a Christmas tree on the inside and one of those big red “not allowed” lines going through the middle. Underneath the picture read: “Your safety is our priority.”
Apparently, this ban has been around for a while, but I guess I was too busy taking my shoes and belt off to notice.
Over the years, Transportation Security Administration officials have taken away my deodorant, my toothpaste, even my nose hair trimmer in the name of safety. Now it seems as if they are going after Christmas — one snow globe at a time.
To be fair, I can see some reason for their caution.
After all, the liquid in a normal snow globe could be replaced with something dangerous. And at a time in which an al Qaeda operative is on trial for trying to blow up a plane by igniting explosives sewn inside his underwear, there doesn’t appear to be a limit as to how far our enemies will go to harm us.
But on the other, we’re so wildly inconsistent with airport safety protocol, how could someone look at a “No Snow Globe” sign and not laugh?
A couple of weeks ago, I had an agent ask to frisk my dreadlocks because the scanner read it as an “anomaly.” I argued, and the eventual compromise was having me whip my hair around like a Vegas showgirl until the guy with the rubber gloves was convinced I wasn’t carrying a bomb in my hair.
Then he groped me … just in case I had any dignity left.
My encounter was similar to the one experienced by a Dallas woman who last month had her Afro frisked by airport security in Atlanta. Billions of taxpayer dollars invested to make us safe, and the TSA is on the lookout for big hair.
If this were the ’80s, everybody would miss their flight.
Meanwhile, I see pilots and flight attendants walking through the metal detector, untouched, with their shoes on. Why bother making them walk through metal detectors at all if they’re not going to be fondled or checked for shoe bombs like the rest of us?
And if you can answer that, maybe you can explain why we are given plastic knives and forks to eat with in airport restaurants, but metal knives and forks are handed to us in first class?
Are terrorists only flying coach?
Are policy makers incapable of connecting the dots?
Or are these mindless exercises in place to mask the reality that we are not only incapable of completely safeguarding ourselves against another terrorist attack but that our government is too dysfunctional to even approve what can be done?
Did you know that one of the factors that led to more deaths on the morning of September 11 is that New York police and fire departments did not have a way to communicate with each other? Ten years later, there still isn’t a nationwide first responder network in place because of the bureaucracy in Washington.
Face it: The question isn’t whether we’ll be attacked again but when and how. Afro-frisking and snow globe-grabbing are just placebos given to an incurable patient.
But they do make us laugh.
And laughter’s a pretty good medicine in its own right.
Like the glass case in the Atlanta airport that displays items you can’t bring aboard, one of them a chainsaw, in case you were packing a chainsaw as your carry-on.
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glanced over at the emergency exit row and thought: If we’re forced to have a water landing, we’re all as good as dead.
That’s because I’ve seen skinny models who need help getting their carry-on into the overhead compartment manning the exit nearest to me. I’ve seen the barely mobile elderly sitting in the exit row.
Last week, the nation openly asked whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was too fat to be president.
I’m OK with him being president.
I wonder if people his size are normally fit enough to be sitting in the freaking exit row.
Given the physical requirements and inherent importance of an exit row seat, I would feel more comfortable if I knew the person sitting there could at least do a pushup and not just be collecting a reward for being a repeat customer.
These are the kind of systematic disconnects that just crack me up.
Flight attendants tell us to turn off all electronic devices under the guise they could interfere with the plane’s navigation system, meaning that if the terrorists really wanted to cause some damage, all they had to do was read their Kindle during takeoff.
But hey, at least we’re getting a handle on snow globes.
After I got done staring at the sign, I took a picture of it and posted it on my Facebook wall so my friends could also enjoy the laugh. And as the cynical comments came pouring in, I smiled, temporarily forgetting that I live in a world where shoes are a threat, afros can be dangerous, and someone tried to blow up a plane with their underwear.
Again, a great article by LZ Granderson. He offers a very interesting perspective and analysis of today’s culture — I don’t think there are many people in the public eye that would come out with an opinion piece like this. I think he knows this is a little bit risky, and he will probably get some criticism, but I think we need leaders like him who will speak out about the problems in our communities.
Rick Perry’s rock — not our problemBy LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — The number one song on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop charts this week is a romantic little ditty called “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay”.
In it, Big Sean refers to the object of his affection as “my bitch” while Kanye West boasts that his girl is cool because she performs oral sex while wearing shades.
Again, this is the most popular song on black radio right now.
So now I ask you: How do we begin to criticize what President Obama has or has not done for the black community when lyrics like these are acceptable?
How can we dismiss Herman Cain as a sell-out for calling black people “brainwashed” when the hottest song on the radio encourages men to treat women like receptacles?
How do we wave an angry finger at what Governor Rick Perry’s rock may or may not have said 20 years ago while something like “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay” is happening right in front of our faces, in real time?
Perry’s “Niggerhead” revelation is disturbing but if the controversy forces him out of the race tomorrow, life for black America would not be changed. Our unemployment rate would still be twice the national average, we’ll still be disproportionately living in poverty, we’ll still be lagging behind in education.
So despite the kind of 24-hour sexiness that usually accompanies an n-word scandal like this one, the truth is that it is not the real story. It never is.
The real story is if the black community doesn’t find a way to heal ourselves from these self-inflicted wounds, there won’t be much of a black community left for people like Perry to offend.
Just this summer there was a report published in the Annals of Epidemiology that concluded black men have a 50 percent chance to live longer in prison than out of it.
Nationwide cuts in K-12 education are expected to total over $4 billion this year and last, with low-income and minority students being impacted the most.
This fall there was a book released that flatly asks “Is Marriage for White People?”
The black community is in a crisis; being hit hard from a variety of cultural and socio-economic angles and we’re talking about rocks.
Each time a Perry or any other white person in the media finds themselves engulfed in an “n-word” controversy, instead of resting in our offense, the black community needs to view it as an opportunity to do some much needed soul searching about that word, and the disempowering mentality attached to it.
Talk about it in church.
In the beauty salon.
We have to move away from the bulk of our attention trying to determine if a white person is racist or not because news cycles move fast and we really need to stay focused on the real story. Trust me: next week somebody would have slept with someone they weren’t supposed to and we’ll forget all about Perry’s rock. But as a community, we’ll still be hurting ourselves.
Sure we can point to the Washington Post story as evidence that racism does in fact exist within the upper echelon of the GOP and that Cain–who has always openly criticized this notion–is a jackass.
But then what?
How does that move us forward?
Besides during the time in which the rock reportedly had the n-word painted on it, Perry was a Democrat, not a Republican– so was he a racist friend or is he now an inclusive foe? And how do we reconcile the rock with the bill he signed that helps children of undocumented immigrants pay for college?
You know, there once was another governor of Texas, Ann Richards, who, in criticizing her opponent–George W. Bush– said his problem was that he was born on third base but he thought he hit a triple. I would say the black community’s problem is that we’re standing at the plate but so many of us behave as if we still can’t get in the game. We’re waiting for our number to be called while pitch after pitch after pitch goes by.
Yes, systematic racism and the vortex of poverty have contributed mightily to what ails us today. But do we really need Obama to draw up a federal program that tells men to stick around and raise their kids?
Would a President Perry or dare I say President Cain somehow impede our ability to pull up our pants? Treat our women with respect?
It seems we never have a problem rejecting the hurtful things said about or done to us by others, but remain somewhat oblivious to how the hurtful things we say and do to each other contributes to our overall decay.
The news about the Perrys’ hunting ground serves as a reminder that we’re hardly in a post-racial society. But “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay” is the number one song in urban America right now.
I don’t see how the n-word painted on a rock 20 years ago hurts us worse than that.
Another great article from LZ Granderson, this time about social security.
FYI, bolding done by me… thought they were interesting comments.
Social Security — Are you kidding me?
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — I think I stopped trusting the U.S. government right after learning that for 40 years, instead of treating a small group of poor, uneducated people officials had identified as having syphilis, officials not only withheld the diagnosis from them, but the cure as well, just to see what would happen if the disease went untreated.
This was done even if what would happen was eventually death, which is why burial insurance was given to the unsuspecting victims as if the government was doing them a favor.
And this didn’t happen a very long time ago either.
In fact, the first wave of Gen Xers were out of diapers while the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was still going on.
Once you see how hard Uncle Sam sucker punches people he identifies as expendable, you learn to keep your guard up whenever he comes around.
It is for this reason that Social Security is nowhere in my retirement plans.
Call me crazy, but the idea of trusting the government to take care of me, to provide me with “security” when I’m old and frail is far more frightening than the thought of me trying to make it on my own.
I’m not yet 40, so theoretically I still have plenty of time to have my own plan in place. Yes, I’ve paid into Social Security. No, I don’t expect to benefit from it, at least not at the level those who are currently collecting are benefiting. And I don’t know anyone in any line of work my age or younger who does.
We are not as mad about this switcheroo as much as we are mad that the reform can keeps getting kicked down a road that’s getting shorter and shorter by a bunch of politicians who know better but are too afraid of losing voters who won’t be around when the money’s all gone anyway.
Anybody with a high school diploma and a calculator can see how entitlement programs are damaging the economy and that some sort of reform is necessary to ensure their long-term solvency. And yet during budget and debt ceiling talks, Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid responded as if the Republicans wanted to sell voters’ first-born babies into slavery.
On Monday, President Barack Obama introduced another plan without touching Social Security. The Democrats won’t even support the modest changes recommended by the president’s own debt commission, including phasing in a two-year increase in the retirement age over the next 65 years and raising the ceiling on payroll taxes. They keep mocking us with talk of protecting the middle class when in reality protecting the middle class would have been passing a budget and introducing entitlement reforms before the extras from “King of the Hill” got into Congress.
But just as GOP presidential candidates are saying whatever they can to appease their base (except for Jon Huntsman, which is why he is in last place), the Democrats are just as guilty of pandering to the home crowd, even if the desires of that crowd aren’t nearly as much to blame for the economic trouble the country finds itself in as the Bush tax cuts and relaxed Wall Street regulations.
It’s all a game, and election after election, we keep getting played.
Remember Obama didn’t say he and the members of Congress might not get paid if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised, but that Social Security and military checks may not go out. And he’s the one being accused of being a socialist. Can you imagine what the rhetoric of a good ol’ fashion free-market capitalist would sound like?
Here’s a hint: Rewatch the video from the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate last week in which Wolf Blitzer asked if society should let an injured 30-year-old man without health insurance die. Much was made about the cheers that could be heard coming from some of the crowd, but I was far more disturbed by the lack of chastising that came from the stage immediately after the cheers. You mean to tell me the possible next leader of the free world doesn’t have an instant rebuke to people who cheer at the mention of uninsured Americans dying?
And I’m supposed to trust that person to have my best interest at heart when I’m at my most vulnerable?
The Great Depression gave birth to Social Security.
The Greatest Generation fed it and made it strong.
Today the sheer number of the baby boomers is slowly strangling it to death.
And because politicians continue to use Social Security as one of its many chess pieces to manipulate people to vote a certain way, one day we’ll speak of it much in the same way we speak of dial-up Internet access. Only instead of laughing at how long it used to take to log on, we’ll be shaking our heads, reminiscing back to the time when government actually cared.
Except for me.
As I hinted earlier, my faith in government went out the door the moment I found out it was controlled by people.
Good article from LZ Granderson on CNN.com, yet again…
Huntsman, best candidate for a third party
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — As a voter, aren’t you tired of feeling as if you don’t really have a choice?
Primaries have an assortment of personalities to sort through early on, but at the end of the day, the general election often forces us into a this-or-that, the lesser-of-two-evils scenario.
Technically that scenario is still a choice, but I bet if you went to an all-you-can-eat buffet and they only served mashed potatoes and mashed potatoes with gravy, you would want your money back.
And when I look at some of the decisions President Obama has made, that’s exactly what I want, my money back.
But then I look at the field of Republican candidates and I just feel trapped, as our election process has become less about which candidate you prefer and more like which limb you want to cut off.
The only GOP candidate I find myself wanting to hear more from is Jon Huntsman, who, when I last checked, finished a hair below Lady Gaga and a handful of rocks in the latest Gallup poll.
“He’s a nice guy, but he’s out of his league,” said Bob List, a former Nevada governor and GOP strategist.
Is Huntsman a charismatic politician?
But wow — a former governor who oversaw the biggest tax cut in his state’s history, maintained a surplus in the budget, speaks fluent Chinese and is a talented enough musician to play on stage with REO Speedwagon is deemed “out of his league.” But Rick Perry, the dude who got a “D” in economics and brags about creating more minimum wage jobs, many without benefits, than any other governor is not?
I don’t know what kind of league List is talking about, but it sounds nuts to me.
It’s those kinds of insider statements that have me reminiscing about the free-wheeling Ross Perot.
True, the 1992 independent candidate didn’t win. He finished third behind winner Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. But man was he fun. He didn’t have to deal with the Lists in his party, and because of that, the nearly 20 million people who voted for him didn’t feel as trapped.
Think about it: Perot captured nearly 19% of the popular vote, more than 50% of them independents. This was at a time in which no one really paid attention to independent voters. But in 2008, independent voters were credited with being the difference makers, and today the big GOP question is whether a social conservative in the primary can appeal to moderates and independents in the general.
Huntsman’s showing a bit more personality now, and he is unveiling a jobs package ahead of Obama and Mitt Romney. But the reality is, it doesn’t matter. He effectively eliminated his chances of making conservatives swoon, and thus winning the GOP nomination, when he tweeted that he believes in evolution and global warming.
But in closing the GOP door, he opened the independent window. It would seem that if Huntsman is still serious about being the next president of the United States, then instead of trying to win over the social conservatives who never liked him anyway, he should reboot his campaign and run as an independent.
Let the Romneys and Perrys and Bachmanns slug it out and spend the next 16 months addressing voters who are not happy with Democrats or Republicans — which is likely to be a fairly high number considering only 39% of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing and just 13% of them like Congress.
One of the reasons why Obama continues to be in a virtual tie in the polls with Perry and Romney isn’t because his economic policies are stellar, but because a lot of voters are concerned about the theocracy and overall influence of the tea party Republicans who have proven to be a group of folks not very interested in compromise.
So even though independent voters may have questions about Obama’s ability to help the economy, and they may agree with some of the fiscal talking points of his opponents, when given the choice between him and, say, a candidate who wants to make abortions illegal, or discriminates against gays or Muslims, well he becomes a lot more appealing.
And that my friend, is the reason why the elections are technically a choice, but don’t feel like one.
When voters are forced between what they believe is right for the country and their civil rights or the civil rights of others they’re not really weighing legislative options, they’re deciding which limb to cut off.
At least for a moment Perot brought another option. Even if you felt he wouldn’t win, at least he didn’t spend his entire campaign regurgitating partisan talking points or trying to prove himself to be the most conservative or progressive option. I’m not saying he was the best person for the job — and as I recall, he said some crazy stuff too — but he was there.
Like Perot I don’t know if Huntsman is the best person for the job, but what I do know is compare his on-the-job performance with the rest of field, and you will see he is not out of his league.
He’s just playing for the wrong team.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.
Another great column by LZ Granderson on the CNN.com website:
Parents, time to panic about our kids’ education
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — At the 1988 Summer Olympics, the U.S. men’s basketball team finished with a bronze medal, its worst finish in 11 appearances and the first time it did not win gold since 1972.
We’re a sports-driven country, so of course, we panicked and soon thereafter the iconic Dream Team was formed.
Our best executives, coaches and players such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson all set their egos aside for the sole purpose of reclaiming our place as the best basketball nation in the world. And they did so in historic fashion, winning all of their games by an average of nearly 44 points en route to gold in 1992.
If only we were as panicked about our slipping global ranking on education.
In the span of one generation, we’ve fallen from first to ninth in the proportion of young people with college degrees, which I guess isn’t a total surprise considering newly released ACT scores revealed that only one high school graduate in four in the class of 2011 could meet the benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects.
Combine that with our global ranking of 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math, and it would seem our education standing is in far worse shape today than our basketball footing was in 1988.
But instead of our educational equivalent of a Jordan or Magic putting their egos aside for the sake of the country, we have teacher unions fighting politicians and poor districts facing even deeper cuts.
In other words, we’re closer to the Bad News Bears than any Dream Team when it comes to education.
In my state of Michigan, we have districts where less than 10% of the students tested were deemed proficient in math.
In the city where I live, less than 45% of the students passed reading.
What do we think is going to happen to our economy as the jobs of tomorrow become more technical and a large chunk of our work force can barely read?
I have one idea — Detroit.
The National Institute for Literacy found that nearly 47% of the Motor City’s adults are functionally illiterate. Not surprisingly, Detroit’s unemployment is near 12%, and the city is the country’s poorest metropolis according to the census.
And this correlation between academic achievement and poverty can be seen nationwide.
Four of our poorest states had four of the lowest ACT composite scores — Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Conversely four of our richest states had four of the highest test results — Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey.
Programs such as No Child Left Behind started in a good place but when school funding, bonuses and jobs hinge on scores, of course there’s going to be a temptation to cheat.
President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top tried to address some of NCLB’s problems but its success is tripped up by the poverty line as well.
In May Obama gave the commencement speech at RTTT winner Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee. Two months later, the city’s school board voted to delay starting school indefinitely because it didn’t have enough money to open doors. Memphis, like Detroit , is one of our poorest cities.
And this is not just an inner-city problem; not when 80% of the country is sharing less than 20% of the wealth. The less money people are making, the less tax revenue that’s available to help fund schools.
What we need is an aggressive, multipronged strategy geared toward closing the education gap between the rich and everyone else because everyone else — in the spirit of the Wall Street bailouts — is too big to fail.
Instead of dangling federal dollars like a carrot that some disadvantaged educators feel they must falsify test scores to obtain, how about the Education Department uses that money to work with some of the Wall Street companies we bailed out to establish paid internships for promising high school students? It would be better to use money from the Education Department to subsidize a tax break for professionals in careers such as engineering who tutor a certain number of hours a school year.
When U.S. basketball won bronze in 1988, you would’ve thought the world used the American flag to wipe mud off its shoe by the way we responded.
Yet our education system continues to slip in the world ranking, and I don’t see a Teachers-of-the Year Dream Team or a Super Committee made of top business leaders to help address this very real crisis.
When the world was less competitive, we could afford to let the rich send their kids to private school and allow the rest of us to scramble the best we could. But technology has made the world smaller and college admission and job hiring is more cutthroat. Today the education of our youth is no longer somebody else’s problem — because kids who lag behind grow into adults and a work force that lags behind. And an inferior work force competing against the best in the world is everybody’s problem.
So if less than gold wasn’t acceptable for us in basketball, why do we continue to accept less than bronze with our kids’ education?
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.