The Director’s Corner
Janice E. Hale, Ph.D.
Professor of Early Childhood Education
Founding Director of ISAAC
Wayne State University
Let me begin by tendering my profuse gratitude to our new editorial staff of African American Learners, journal of ISAAC:
Editors-in-Chief Dr. Marisha Humphries, Associate Professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago;
Dr. Erika D. Taylor, Senior Research Analyst, Center for Great Public Schools at the National Education Association in Washington, D.C.;
Associate Editors Dr. Julius L. Davis, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland; and
Dr. Mack T. Hines, III, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
We have expanded our staff to include two associate editors who will assist us in compiling analytics and indexing in the leading directories. I congratulate them on the publication of the first issue under their watch. I also encourage our readers to cite the articles that appear in our journal in your publications. Your citations will increase the visibility of our journal and disseminate our scholarship throughout the academy.
My comments in the current column will be devoted to encouraging our readers to submit manuscripts for our upcoming Special Issue on Reparations. The deadline for manuscripts is July 15, 2016. The issue will appear in the spring of 2017. Let me take this opportunity to thank the editor of the special issue, Dr. Jomo Mutegi, Director of the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (UCASE), Associate Professor of Science Education, School of Education Indiana University, IUPUI, for accepting this responsibility. I encourage each of you to support the special issue with high quality manuscripts. You can review the Call for Papers by clicking the following link: http://africana-children-issac.org/pdf/issac_reparations_call_for_papers_7_14.pdf.
The AAL special issue on reparations presents an opportunity for us to do some interdisciplinary thinking and reading. An interdisciplinary perspective is essential to our work of changing the mantra of this society as those who have oppressed our people offer their remedies and feel justified in wringing the leadership for our movement from our hands.
Let me call your attention to a newspaper column Henderson, 2016). He makes the point that:
Slavery’s moral scourge was not confined to the idea of free labor and the wealth it built.
After 1808, when Congress banned the import of slaves, the domestic slave trading industry boomed, as slaves were bred and sold as capital assets whose value far outstripped the cash crops they were farming.
In their meticulously researched book, “The American Slave Coast,” authors Ned and Constance Sublette estimate the capital value of American slaves at near $4 billion in 1860 dollars, or more than $100 billion in 2010 currency. That was more than 20 times the value of all cash crops in the South and nearly 18 times all the gold in circulation in the early U.S. economy.
The more than 3 million slaves who toiled mostly in the American South were there not just to produce things of value without compensation. They were money themselves — produced and traded to build wealth (p. 1).
Henderson doesn’t call for reparations, but he makes an interesting connection between Harriett Tubman being placed on the $20 bill, money and slavery. Incidentally, I am currently reading The American Slave Coast. I encourage you to do so. It is beyond excellent. I had never thought of the distinction between those who profited from the importation of slaves (South Carolinians) and those who profited from the breeding and supplying of slaves to new slave states (Virginians – led by Thomas Jefferson). This book expands our understanding of the economic conflict among southerners. The book also sheds light on the fact that the value of slaves constituted the southern economy because any commodities they were able to sell hinged on the free labor provided by slaves. Not only is the exploitation of slaves delineated, they clearly document the economic returns to this society through that exploitation. When you consider the immense social problems we are struggling with as a result of slavery, there is an irrefutable case for reparations.
Korte (2016) points out that:
To make room for Tubman on the front of the $20 bill, Jackson will be moved to the back where he'll be incorporated into the existing image of the White House. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that image could depict the statue of Jackson riding horseback in Lafayette Square across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.
Jackson, a democratic populist who opposed the national banking system, has seen his stock fall in recent years because he owned slaves and persecuted Native Americans (p. 1).
Dr. V.P. Franklin, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and Education at the University of California Riverside. He is also Editor of the Journal of African American History and a Founding Sponsor of ISAAC. Dr. Franklin is a principal of the International movement for reparations to peoples of the African Diaspora. He brought to my attention an article (Taylor, 2016) that reports grass roots movements by white middle class parents as well as a groundswell of African American parents who are protesting the administration of standardized tests to their children. Dr. Franklin is engaging the leadership of Black Lives Matter and the Detroit Chapter of the National Black Child Development Institute in seeking reparations from those who are profiting from the administration of standardized tests to African American children.
In the article (Taylor, 2016), Dr. Warren Simmons, Senior fellow for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, commented:
…test scores can’t offer policy makers much guidance in the absence of qualitative assessments – of the curriculum, of teacher training, of the support a school is receiving from the district and state.
Student testing is like using a thermometer to try to diagnose what kind of cancer an individual has.
That is why there is growing test fatigue in low-income communities. Test scores can reveal that something is wrong at a school, but not what is wrong or how it can be fixed (p. 5).
Dalton Conley, a Senior Fellow of ISAAC was the keynote speaker at the ISAAC Public Policy Lecture Series in 2010 and likewise at the CORD conference in 2015. The research upon which his book, Conley (1999) is based received the 1997 American Sociological Association Award for Best Dissertation.
He makes the point that there are two positions that could possibly guide public policy in rectifying racial inequality. The first was inherited from the French Revolution: equality of opportunity. A second type of equality would be: equality of condition.
Equality of opportunity, he states is a less threatening type of equality to the white majority in this country. It fits with the ideology of capitalism, in that there would be a place for all at the starting gate. Because of beliefs of white superiority and the advantages enjoyed by whites prior to World War II, whites didn’t think they had much to lose by allowing blacks into the economic game.
Equality of opportunity drove the political support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, an overt phase of racial oppression ended, but was replaced by economic subordination.
Conley documents that the real measure of black progress should not be whether equal money is allocated for the upward mobility of black children. The real measure is the allocation of resources and creation of strategies that uplift the economic condition of the masses of African American people.
A case in point is to examine the language that is used by Haycock and Arellano (2016), white women who are CEO of the Education Trust and Executive Director of the Education Trust-Midwest, respectively. The Education Trust has been funded by the major American foundations to construct strategies for closing the achievement gap that affects African American children. The title of their commentary says it all – equal funding, higher standards. On the face of it, that sounds politically correct. They highlight the fact that in the state of Michigan affluent school districts receive $664 more per child than the state’s lowest income/poverty districts. Their goal is equal funding. This sidesteps the fact that equality of condition cannot be achieved with “equal” funding.
They correctly refute the arguments of those who say that money doesn’t matter. However, there is ambiguity in their call for higher standards. They advocate for inviting business leaders to play a pivotal role in pushing for data-driven solutions and the implementation of research-based best practices.
This writer has pointed out elsewhere, (Hale 2017, in press) that an equally important pathway that must be developed is the cultivation of a vision for how to achieve educational excellence for African American children until that equity of resources can be achieved. Discussions of equity of outcomes often center upon scores on standardized tests. The George W. Bush, No Child Left Behind Program was not a leadership program. It was a punishment program. School districts were not provided guidance in crafting meaningful solutions. They were just told how they would be punished if they didn’t find one. The punishments associated with this program included teacher layoffs, firing of principals and reconstitution of schools. The big stick stimulated cheating in the administration of standardized tests; sweeping low performing students into alternative programs to mask failure to meet Annual Yearly Progress and other defensive strategies. What concerns us here is that the hysteria associated with the avoidance of punishment has consumed the attention of school administrators and caused them to steer attention away from creative solutions that center upon the activity between the teacher and child in the classroom setting.
The leadership provided by Arne Duncan when he was the U.S. Secretary of Education was no better. His Race to the Top program provided rewards for high achieving school districts rather than providing direction for those who faced the biggest challenges and for those who were struggling. The model of school reform outlined in Learning While Black (Hale 2001) calls for understanding the manner in which educational outcomes are achieved for white middle-class children and incorporating some of those systemic features (with adjustments) into the cultural configuration of schools that serve African American children.
Public schools that serve inner-city children have not produced positive educational outcomes because there is no system of instructional accountability that operates for parents who have not themselves had the benefits of advanced education. The middle-income African Americans who have the information about cutting-edge educational practices have moved to suburban and private schools and have taken their advocacy with them, leaving lower income African American children and families to fend for themselves. One question is if the Detroit Public Schools can produce a Cass Tech and a Renaissance High School, (two of the best public schools in the state of Michigan), why can’t that standard of excellence be extended to every school?
We know how to train good teachers. What we have not addressed is how to erect support systems and supervisory strategies so that the teachers are motivated to do what they have been trained to do. Moreover, how do we get teachers to teach children effectively when the teachers have little stake in the achievement of the children they are teaching? We make teacher training the focus of school reform, but the real issue is teacher supervision. Is the principal providing instructional leadership for the teachers in her building? This issue is, or should be on the cutting edge of school reform. The most important element in education is the activity between the teacher and the child. If the parent does not have the skills to supervise the services rendered to the child, it becomes the responsibility of the highest-ranking professional in the building to ensure that every child is taught effectively.
The mission of the Research Component of ISAAC is to strengthen the educational intelligentsia in the African American community. We must support scholars who create constructivist research and paradigms. We must provide leadership in crafting the solutions that show results in the existential CONDITION of the masses of African children throughout the Diaspora. Convening scholars at our Bi-Annual Empirical Conference on African American Education (CORD) is the first step in the creation of that support system. Our journal, African American Learners is the second step. We solicit your support of each step we take along the way.
Conley, D. (1999). Being black, living in the red: Race, wealth, and social policy in America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hale, J.E. 2001. Learning while Black: Creating educational excellence for African American Children. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Hale, J.E... (2017). Creative Teaching: Key to Detroit School Reform. In Campbell, L.,
Newman, A., Safransky, S. & Stallman, T. (Editors). Detroit: A People’s Atlas. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. (In press)
Haycock, K. and Arellano, A. (2016). Improve education with equal funding, higher standards. Detroit Free Press. Sunday, May 29, 2016, p. 24A. http://on.freep.com/1TNg9o2
Henderson, S. (2016). Tubman on $20 bills shows connection between money, slavery. ite>Detroit Free Press Editorial Page 8:45 a.m. EDT April 24, 2016. http://on.freep.com/1SCbuEO
Korte, G. (2016). Anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman to replace Jackson on $20 bill USA TODAY 11:08 a.m. EDT April 21, 2016. http://usat.ly/1WdZgVi
Taylor, K. (2016). Race and the standardized testing wars. The New York Times. April 23, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/opinion/sunday/race-and-the-standardized-testing-wars.html?comments&_r=0