A Teachable Moment: How OU failed Transformation 101 by Maria Dixon

The Political Agitator response: I agree this should have been a teachable moment. However just because the way the situation has been handled I don’t think the conversation should stop there. I feel it is much more conversation that should take place with the schools lead. I strongly believe things must be dealt with in a certain fashion but when evidence is there to support the actions, then those whom are in authority must carry out the policies and procedures of the institution.

I am a college professor. It is an essential part of my identity. Yes, I research, publish (not as much as I should), and consult but nothing gives me greater joy than my interactions with my students. Teaching, particularly the motley crew of pre-adults known as the 18-21-year-old demographic, is the means of grace by which I offer myself to God and the world.

Pre-adults. That’s who and what they are. When they enter our classrooms, many of them have never formed an independent thought of their own. The tapes that play in their heads that inevitably shape their interactions are created by parents, teacher, churches, and yes, our culture. Their lives are a culmination of enrichment courses, parental demands and angst, and standardized tests designed to get them into the college. They are so programmed when they hit our doors that it takes almost 4 years for them to really start figuring out what kind of ice cream they really like. (Source: Read more)

Community needs to open dialogue in wake of tasteless photo – Rocky Mount Telegram

I find the following letter to the editor “Community needs to open dialogue in wake of tasteless photo” to be quite interesting.

First of all Ms. Ward says thanks the Rocky Mount Telegram for the article about the mess but maybe my ignant a . . missed something. I don’t recall reading anything in the Rocky Mount Telegram about the mess until the letter from the NAACP was submitted to them. So if I missed the article that Ms. Ward mentions, then somebody, anybody please send me the link.

I have not heard about a video that an adult posted in retaliation to the mess that these white girls has stirred up. Unlike some folks who wants to make it appear that the NAACP is stirring up mess, not so.

It is funny as hell to me that the letter submitted by Ms. Ward found it’s way to the Rocky Mount Telegram after the letter was submitted from the NAACP President Rev. Andre Knight/Rocky Mount City Councilman. Ms. Ward you say, “I commend the Nash Rocky Mount Schools’ administrators and Dr. Jackson, superintendent, for taking a proactive stance once this community event created a cosmic bowl of animosity at the school level. The incident occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend; it did not happen on any of the campuses of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.” Really?

Hell if Dr. Jackson wanted to be proactive he would have contacted the NAACP, myself and others in the community who would eventually find out about this mess and would address it. Dr. Jackson knows Rev. Andre Knight and he ought to have known damn well that when he heard about it and I heard it about it, that we would respond. I find it crazy as hell to think that Dr. Jackson and anyone who knew about this mess, would think that the NAACP was not going to address this. Hell I would have a problem if the NAACP did not address this mess because this mess is within the mission of the NAACP.

I found the following to be too damn ignant, “It is up to the community structures of families, churches, Scouting and civic-minded associations, and parents to seize this regrettable incident as a moment to teach our children that diversity, cultural differences and unity are what attract others to our community as a place one desires to live and raise families.” Well how in the hell could all of these structures seize this teachable moment when all of these structures didn’t have a damn clue about this mess until around a week ago.

I found the following to be too damn ignant, “I disagree with City Councilman Andre Knight, whose tone reflects that what these children did should become the burden and responsibility of the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools system. Teachers can’t do it all.” Oh now you have changed his title and addressing him as City Councilman when he addressed the mess as the NAACP President. Well! I strongly agree with my President because he is right on point. I don’t recall reading anywhere nor in my conversations with him that he has put the burden and responsibility on the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools system. Knight contacted Dr. Jackson and after he was not not satisfied, he took it to another level. Again that in case you are ignant to the mission of the NAACP, that is what we as members of the NAACP do, promote our mission. Nope teachers can’t do it all but the NAACP hold all folks accountable for their actions be they systems, organizations, parents, students and other. The concern of Rev. Andre Knight along with the NAACP members and all whom agree with us, we question is the school system following their own policies and procedures or do they have a different standard for children within the system especially black children.

I guess Ms. Ward attempt to have a teachable moment when she stated the following: “Also, there are lines of jurisdiction and demarcation between community events and school events. Legal issues involved might come under the category of one of the following: the Federal Hate Crime Law, Cyber Crime Statutes for North Carolina, the Civil Rights Act that protects all citizens, and parental jurisdiction accountability under the N.C. Division of Juvenile Justice. In addition, if there are local ordinances enforced by policing authorities, those may take precedence over the Nash Rocky Mount school board’s governing procedures, policies and codes of ethics for staff and students on school properties. A student’s actions beyond the boundaries of school are parents’ issues.”

The NAACP understands the lines of jurisdiction and demarcation between community events and school events. Rev. Andre Knight is not ignant to such either because I know him on a personal note. And on top of that the NAACP have numerous lawyers and other resources at our disposal. The NAACP understand that actions beyond the boundaries of the school are parent issues, however that is a half-truth because some of the school policies speak to students behavior on the school’s campus and off.

The following is very troubling to me coming from Ms. Ward and anyone who thinks like her about this mess. Ms. Ward said, “This incident provides the opportunity to teach parents and students about acceptance, tolerance, cultural diversity, racial biases and what discrimination in every form feels like – including for those students who are blind or have mental or physical disabilities. Our families and communities must teach our children that there is one aspect of superiority for everyone that emanates through acquired knowledge, skilled and precise abilities, coupled with a positive, open, tolerant mental attitude. It is frightening to know that the Internet assumes no responsibilities for what is posted to it, but we have an obligation to our children and communities to outwardly disdain any “hits” that demean the quality of life and equality for all people living in our area and the United States.”

So obviously the school system has not been proactive because if they had, then I don’t believe we would be having this conversation. If the real things in life such as the state of the affairs of what is going on in the real world as it pertains to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, gang activity and other were being shared with the students about it is not acceptable then the girls would have thought about what they done. But since there has not been a real discussion about the mess, one could question if the girls knew what they were doing but didn’t give a damn because of who they are.

Ms. Ward said, “An open dialogue is what is needed more than an open apology. With that said, Mr. Knight, the young man who made that degrading video owes an apology to everyone because he does not speak for me and probably not for most people regardless of race. I am assuming that out of his pain came a type of grief we don’t need to relive or recant.”

I beg the differ an open dialogue and an apology is needed equally. The students need to be able to talk open and freely about this versus now being told they can’t talk about it and to shut the hell up and sit down because the school system is handling it. To say that the girls should not apologize to their fellow students should be a teachable moment. How in the hell can the healing process begin without both? I can’t speak to the video Ms. Ward is talking about because I am unfamiliar with such.

We are dealing with two very important issues here. One we are dealing with students and two is we are dealing with a system. The students need to be taught by the system however the system need to be consistent in how they teach the children be it academically and/or distributing disciplinary actions.

When Dr. Jackson, the Nash-Rocky Mount School system, the students, the parents, the NAACP and the community have a dialogue and determine that we can move forward trusting and believing that all concerned feel that the students are being disciplined fairly, then and only then can this be a teachable moment. But for Dr. Jackson and the school system to respond after they have been questioned by a national organization the NAACP local branch whereby Rev. Andre Knight just happens to be the President, in my opinion is far from being proactive.

I am Curmilus Dancy II The Political Agitator a professional. I am 2nd vice president of the NAACP Rocky Mount branch and I have been an advocate for education since the early 90’s. I have received certificates of graduation for participating in the yearly (PESP) Parent Education Studies Program through the NC Justice and Community Development Center Education Leadership Institute at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill NC on June 14, 2002 and again on May 30, 2003 at the Holiday Inn Gateway Center in Rocky Mount NC. I have served in different capacities such as on the PTO, School Improvement Team, Edgecombe County Board of Education Advisory Committee, former NAACP Education Chair and past vice chair of the North Carolina Rural Education Working Group (NCREWG) where I am currently on the board of directors. I have attended school board meetings faithfully over the years so I am very much familiar with school policies and procedures.

Note: Maybe Ms. Ward is talking about the following, from the Rocky Mount Telegram “We can paint a better picture than that.” Again this came after the NAACP statement was submitted to the Rocky Mount Telegram. I totally agree we can paint a better picture and with open dialogue about this mess, the healing process can begin.