CHICAGO – Don’t tell D’Andray Jackson hope is lost; he’ll have none of it. His arms tucked inside a sweatshirt on a cool morning, D’Andray shrugs off the hard math that suggests he, as a young black male, isn’t supposed to make it. His school, Beidler Elementary on Chicago’s west side, ranked 1,531 out of 2,068 elementary schools statewide. It’s a poor showing, but with 26 percent of the students meeting state averages in reading and math – up from just 2.7 percent eight years ago – there have been gains. “I have a lot of hope,” said D’Andray, 15, an eighth-grader standing atop busted concrete early on a school day.
Not Just a Game: Power, Politics, & American Sports
Directed by Jeremy Earp
Written by Dave Zirin, Jeremy Earp and Chris Boulton Media Education Foundation
62 minutes. BETA/DVD/DVCAM; free online study guide, transcript, and other resources. This compelling documentary, based on Dave Zirin’s bestselling book “The People’s History of Sports in the United States”, asserts that sports are a cultural and political force that reflects and shapes our national identity – even though “we’ve been told that sports and politics don’t mix.” As the film’s passionate narrator, Zirin juxtaposes historical and recent images from his wide experience as sports editor of The Nation magazine and commentator on sports in print, radio, television and online. Ever since seeing a team mascot beat up a man in Arab clothing at a basketball game in Madison Square Garden just before the Gulf War in 1991, Zirin has built his career on “trying to understand that murky place where sports and politics collide,” he says. American sports have always shaped “cultural attitudes, norms and power arrangements.” Sports history reveals our struggles with these structures, which affect our “notions of who we are and how we see each other through gender, race, and class.”
Zirin gives tennis champion Billie Jean King enormous credit for fighting for women’s equality in sports and for gay liberation; he says homophobia still keeps gay male athletes in the closet.
FARMVILLE, Va. — Parents here are literally begging the Prince Edward County supervisors to increase property taxes next year to make up a $2 million shortfall in the public school budget and prevent teacher layoffs. But none of them are surprised that the supervisors have said no. Over the past 60 years, this county government has been notoriously cheap, especially when it comes to paying for public education. In fact, the supervisors’ opposition to higher property tax rates has proven to be the most enduring remnant of the old Jim Crow era.
297 pages. The “‘N word’ equivalent for white people is ‘the R word,’” says Marianne Modica in her Foreword to this young adult novel. People cringe when they are called “racist.” A professor at Valley Forge Christian College, Modica trains future teachers in multicultural education. Racism is expressed subtly today, she says, “in ways that are so much a part of our lives that we don’t notice them.”
Through the eyes of Rachel, a sheltered Italian-American high school junior in a Philadelphia suburb who befriends city youths of color, Modica’s novel explores cultural misperceptions among groups who are isolated from one another. It touches on inequalities in educational facilities and long-standing racial hatreds, on a personal and societal level.
Over the past two years, Patrick Welch has grown accustomed to prison life. The metro Atlanta native must wear a uniform every day. He frequently must step through metal detectors and be patted down by security officers who are checking for weapons and drugs. He can’t move about his living space freely. Common personal items – including cash – are considered “contraband” and therefore are banned.
When is a three-day suspension simply three days out of school, and when is it the first step into the school-to-prison pipeline? More and more, scholars and researchers are concluding that getting into trouble and having trouble learning are intertwined – most suspensions these days stem from relatively minor conduct infractions – but the experts haven’t decided whether the misbehavior or the trouble learning comes first. And they don’t know whether either or both contribute to black students being punished more frequently and more harshly than white students. U.S. Department of Education statistics show clear disparities: A survey by the department’s Office for Civil Rights found black students were three and a half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students during the 2009-10 school year. The survey covered public schools attended by 85 percent of all students in the United States.
There are now two different versions of African-American history. The first is the inspiring story of slaves who were given their freedom after the Civil War. The second is the tale of a harsher reality in which black Americans have moved from slavery through a series of lesser racial caste systems over the last 150 years. Many of America’s young black men are ensnared in the second story. The lives of these young men are controlled by what author Michelle Alexander describes as “the new Jim Crow.” The old Jim Crow was a series of laws that limited the freedom of black people after emancipation.
More than 220 years ago, the eyes of our emerging nation were focused on Philadelphia, as our Founding Fathers gathered there to try to create a more perfect union by crafting a new Constitution to replace the flawed Articles of Confederation. Today, those interested in the future of public education should keep their sights on the City of Brotherly Love again, as its leaders try to remake – some say dismantle – its public school system. What happens in Philadelphia may well determine the fate of urban public education elsewhere in the nation. Philadelphia’s woes are similar to those in other urban school districts. The district is in deep financial debt and plagued by violence in many of its schools, and it has too few students reading or doing math at proficiency levels and too many dropping out with no jobs to go to.
Richard Pryor and other famous African-Americans have tried to desensitize it, but the N-word still carries hate. When I listen to today’s music, the N-word flows continuously. Jay-Z, one of my favorite rappers, says he uses the word to undermine its power over African-Americans. But in my house, my mother has one rule: Don’t say a word you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr., even if you are trying to undermine its power. If my mother stood in the hallway at my school listening to my friends greet each other she would be shocked.
CHICAGO – Julie Anderson is 55, white and squarely in the middle class. “I’m not exactly liberal,” she said. But sometimes a person’s views shift when hard facts are laid bare before her. Anderson confronts such facts weekly, when she makes the six-hour, 350-mile drive from her home in Chicago to visit her son at Illinois’ Menard Correctional Center in Chester. For the past 17 years, he has been serving a sentence of life without parole for murder, most of it in lockdown.