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Right And Wrong In Public Education
11/19/2014 4:53:21 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Okay, so let me try it again. Last week I tried to write about the basics of right and wrong. We often view things from various perspectives, but I feel most stuff just comes down to what’s right and what’s wrong. I don’t know how well I expressed that thought last week, so here we go again. I’ve been exceedingly blessed to have been born unto good parents who made sure I was raised in a good environment. Sure, there’s been a lot of crap in my life - most of it I went out and found, being the inquisitive soul I am.

My parents constantly impressed upon me knowing the difference between right and wrong. They were actively involved in my education. We were poor people in the segregated America of the 1950s and 1960s. I didn’t know we were poor. There was no SNAP (food stamps), but we always had enough to eat. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but got most of the things we needed.

One of the things I got was an extremely good education. Public schools were segregated. By the time I came around the federal Supreme Court schools desegregation order had been implemented to a minimal extent. Still public schools were segregated.

I went to new schools - East Bay Elementary, Mary Ford, Columbus Street Elementary and C.A. Brown High. None got the same quality resources white schools received, but they all had some helluba teachers and administrators. I’ll put my segregated public schools education of the 1960s up against anyone’s anywhere. Those teachers loved me, nurtured me and cut my behind. Most of all they taught me to think, as my old high school principal David Mack Jr. always says.

I remember once asking my English teacher, Miss Naomi C. Williams, what she thought of my work as a news reporter. “N.C.” said she’d never given it much thought because she was confident I had been taught how to think. Ya’ll, I ain’t that smart. It’s just that somebody taught me how to think.

So I don’t find it real hard to figure out right and wrong. I’ve also figured out we make choices between the two based on a variety of factors. Doesn’t mean we don’t know the difference.

Now Charleston County School District, in the coming months, will be hiring a new schools superintendent. I’m hoping the people who will make that decision will do the right thing. I doubt it. But as ole Jesse Jackson might say, “Keep hope alive”.

I didn’t go to the recent Charleston NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet. The tickets were $100 apiece. Now ya’ll know that ain’t right, but Dot Scott an’nem gotta do what they gotta do. I did however, read a news report on the keynote speaker’s address.

Rev. William Barber, President of the North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches was the speaker. I’ve never met the man, but I’m most impressed with him. I’ve been meaning to interview the guy.

Reportedly Barber talked about right and wrong in his address. He asked if its right for states like South Carolina to deny thousands of its poorest residents unfettered access to quality health care or high quality education. As I get older, I’m more and more faced with the reality of needing quality health care.

I recently saw a news report about the increased cost of some generic drug that previously cost about $12 which now costs about $300. The cost of producing the drug did not increase, the competition for its sales declined motivating the makers to up the ante because they now have less competition. Now that ain’t right.

Also, Barber reportedly talked about America’s most recent Reconstruction. It’s something I’ve also thought about. After the Reconstruction following the Civil War, white backlash imposed harsh Jim Crow laws and violence that forced Blacks back into servitude and second class citizenship. Barber says the same thing’s happening now since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Black folks are planning crab cracks and cruise ship trips while other folks are planning our disenfranchisement.

In Charleston County, our effort to perpetuate the Reconstruction of the 1960s should include a demand that Charleston County School Board hires a schools superintendent who will move us from the segregated unequal dual school system that has characterized our schools since 1870.

My grandmother attended inferior Black schools. I’ll be damned if I want my grandchildren to attend inferior Black schools. And don’t think because your kids attend school with white kids, they aren’t getting an inferior education.

The conversation must begin now. We must not wait until some other folks conduct their search to find another schools superintendent who will maintain the status quo that currently exists in Charleston County public education. We can make them decide between right and wrong by using our dollars and sense. As my Uncle Teddy used to say, we just have to plan our work, then work our plan.

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