By Beverly Gadson-Birch
The O’Jays had a very popular song back in 1973 titled “For the Love of Money.” It goes something like this: “Money, money, money, some folks have to have it and some folks really need it; some people do bad things with it; when, you ought to do good things with it.” Speaking of good things, Morehouse College seniors were surprised at graduation when black billionaire Robert F. Smith announced that he was paying off the entire class’ student loans. This is what you do with money. This is how you create solvency in future generations. You pay it forward to give others an opportunity, like someone gave you. What better return on your investment than to have 396 male graduates begin life debt free and gifting others, and others and others. Imagine what the graduates can do to jumpstart their careers and donate to future graduating classes? Rich folks just don’t get it! Poor folks do! It’s like having someone pull you out from under a ton of bricks. A tremendous weight has been lifted off you. You are grateful for life and is motivated, through the generous act of a stranger, to help others. Robert Smith’s generosity on graduation day, changed students’ lives and purpose. It’s the “good thing” the O’Jays sang about.
Let’s look at the “bad things” people do. A couple weeks ago, I shared with you how wealthy parents bought admission and special privileges for their children into Ivy League colleges and universities. This is called “white collar” crime. I can only speculate that they will get off with probation or a tap on the wrist. Money buys elections. Money buys positions. Money buys votes. Money buys contracts. Money buys people and turns them into “Uncle Toms and Aunt Thomasenas, puts a few dollars in their pockets, dresses them up and puts them in a fine ride so they can act important, sit in on meetings and report back.” Money, what is it good for?
In a recent meeting between National Action Network and Charleston and Berkeley Counties Solicitor’s Office, Elder James Johnson and Solicitor Scarlett Wilson talked about prosecuting “white collar” crime. Investigating white collar crime requires extensive investigation because shady transactions take place, money is hidden and must be traced back to its origin. And, with the number of outstanding cases awaiting trial, limited judges and attorneys, many white collar crime are not prosecuted. According to Elder Johnson, discussions ensued around a possible organization to supplement SLED’s initiatives in South Carolina. He was adamant that there cannot be a win-win solution until there is parity in prosecuting cases from the top down. Johnson said the meeting was a great first step forward to what could be a win-win solution for the entire community. Next to education, equal justice and prosecution of white-collar crime appear to be at the top of the list for the state chapter of National Action Network.
Superintendent Postlewait’s dismissal of NAN and the black community’s input into minority children’s education has led to further investigation into why. Why is it taking the district forever to correct the great divide between black and white students, black and white teachers, black and white schools and the list goes on and on? What is the district hiding? Members of NAN’s investigative team went to work to find out. The team discovered ties between the last school board election, Meeting Street Academy, Burns, Prestige Academy’s closing and billionaire Ben Navarro. What began as a routine investigation unearthed motive. It also uncovered white collar crime among Charleston’s aristocrats.
I wish I could applaud Academic Magnet’s #1 ranking as best school in the nation. The ranking is bittersweet. Follow the money and you will find success. I am a strong advocate of public education. I applaud students’ achievements—all students. They work hard, but the deck is stacked at Academic Magnet.
There can be nothing but success when you have crème de la crème reportedly lottery picked. Are students really lottery or hand picked? What is the district doing to encourage and recruit minority students? Judge for yourself! According to US News, Academic Magnet’s enrollment is 658 students and out of 658 student, 1% are American Indian/Alaskan Native; 8% Asian; 0.2% Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander; 5% Hispanic; 3% Black; 2% Two or more Races; and, 81% White. Think about what happens when average performing students are admitted to the school—students’ scores are impacted, graduation rate and school ranking fall below 100%. The district is not about to let that happen. And, since CCSD has failed to educate all students equitably, there is not a large pool of highly successful black students meeting their standards for admission or even on their mind for admission. Stay tuned next week. Follow the money!