Let’s have some family talk about the one thing your revolution gets wrong all day long: education.

My social justice siblings, you’ve got nothing but pipe dreams and polemics in your arsenal for saving the eight million black children whose brains are being systemically diminished in the public school classrooms you worship so hard as if they invented vegan barbeque.

You tell our people their best prospect is to dedicate themselves to the preservation of schools that have harmed them for decades. That pitch is emotional, seemingly earnest, and straight up suicidal.

I’ll need you to stop.

More than a century and a half since black people emerged from America’s dirtiest era of inhumanity, with literacy as their top objective, doesn’t it bother your soul that we – a nation full of money and supposed expertise – have zero States where more than 20% of black children are proficient in reading?

Instead of focusing on that you join the Upper Westside crunchy mamas who see our children as broken and frame our kids as damn near unteachable.

Like them, you too believe unacceptable rates of student proficiency stem from everything outside of the classroom and nothing within it.

That’s wrong.

In fact, what happens in the classroom matters and you should stop ignoring the teaching problem, curriculum problem, and school leadership problem that is holding our kids hostage.

None of it is fixed by your obsessive defense of a system that fails to teach our children the most basic skills; a hurtful system that on top of everything else still beats black children in 2018?

Why is it those problems only matter to you when they happen in non-unionized charter schools?

That’s more than suspicious, don’t you think?

You have a plan, though.

If only we vote the right way and fight for “full-funding” we’ll part the red seas of educational failure and walk our children to the public education promised land where all races and classes perform equally.

Forgive me, but that’s stupid.

No one has ever succeeded in being a community leader and unintelligent at the same time.

Please don’t try so hard to be the first.

Which brings us to your real problem: your entire education agenda was handed to you on the back of a napkin (and on the first page of a grant agreement) by the good people behind Netroots and “Our Revolution”. [actually their revolution]

I see you.

I see your militant sounding demands for a better education that were cut and pasted from the market-tested campaign materials created by the American Federation of Teachers.

They have you out here singing about plutocrats who want to “privatize” our schools – as if the black intellect is public property and black children should be wards of the same state that is killing them in the streets, over-punishing them in the courts, over-incarcerating them in prisons, disenfranchising them at the polls, and feminizing their poverty in welfare systems – when, in fact, the hands of Big Labor, Annenberg, the Tides Foundation, Ford, Open Society and their network of white-led overseeing organizations have their hands so far up you bottom that they can tickle your tonsils.

Call me for receipts. I have many.

I refuse to play this game of who is more grassroots. As a father, I fight for better opportunities than we have available now. That’s why I’m here.

I want an alternative future for black children that’s better than my past. I want newly built black counter-institutions, new education systems, new schools (built on history and our record of self-determination), and new educational practices.

So, spare me the anti-reform taunts and the phony black power fist you raise for the cameras and the sweatshop dishiki (made in China); and your social media profiles wrapped in #solidarity drag (only to mask the fact that many of your pampered asses come from San Francisco or Massachusetts or some similar political location, and your sole connection to “the struggle” and “the work” is a black history course you nearly failed while at a predominantly white institution).

After 20-odd-years in nonprofit work, I could tell you a lot about grant funding, and how it could be better, and how hard it is to do good work without it.

[Full disclosure, I’ve been funded by some of the same people you. I refuse to share your delusions about their moral hygiene].

Consider taking a break from lobbing stones about “dark money” [a term you should see as problematicfor obvious reasons] from the upstairs of a glass house that’s fully mortgaged to organizations that practice all the top-down power you say other funders do.

Your funders meet in private, develop agendas, decide which nonprofits they’ll fund and for what issues, and then you show up in our communities with the issues as they’ve been handed down from your monetary Moses.

Do you really believe your Organizing Industrial Complex funding comes from a gloriously pure well of unpolluted dollars that spring naturally from a free-range artisan non-capitalistic garden?

You’re old enough to know better.

When you come for school reform advocates as if our work is disqualified by the virtue of being funded by people with big money, you’re either a hypocrite, a liar, or a professional crisis actor.

Sometimes you’re all three because you’re the anti-reform cliche we know so well: the private school alum with kids in charter or magnet schools who flood our Twitter timelines with links to articles about the horrors of school choice.

You don’t like my money, I don’t like yours, and in the end that doesn’t matter. What matters is our end goal.

Yours is to limit black children to the traditional district schools of yesterday.

I’m looking for every avenue our students and families can use to migrate out of that captivity and into safe harbor.

If one of us is a puppet I’d bet it’s the one telling black people to stay put in schools with a documented record of hurting us.

It’s not the one who tells black people we can and must do so much better.

Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Post, a media project of the Results in Education Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.


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