Hannah-Jones: Beliefs are not enough

Nikole Hannah-Jones had a blunt message for the largely well-educated and politically liberal audience that she addressed Thursday night in Bloomington, Indiana. Go home, she said. Look in the mirror. Reflect on the decisions you make about your child’s schooling.

Ask if they serve the common good or if they benefit your child at the expense of other children.

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones

“To believe in equality is not enough,” she said. “Your beliefs don’t help a single child.”

Hannah-Jones, a New York Times Magazine writer and 2017 MacArthur genius award recipient, spoke to several hundred people in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in a lecture sponsored by several Indiana University organizations and the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

She promised at the start that her talk would not be “uplifting.” It wasn’t. It was about tearing down the illusions of people who think they can in good conscience enroll their children in mostly white, low-poverty schools and avert their eyes from segregation that harms poor children and children of color.

“It’s not good enough to have a Black Lives Matter sign in your yard if you make decisions about your child that harm other children,” she said.

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School ‘improvement’: a principal’s story

The New York Times had a heartbreaking story last week about the removal of a beloved, hard-working elementary school principal in Burlington, Vt. By all accounts, Joyce Irvine had done a fantastic job. But she was moved to a different job so the school district could qualify for $3 million in federal school-improvement grants, which require drastic measures to turn around low-performing schools.

Wheeler Elementary School, where Irvine was principal, has a 97 percent poverty rate, and about half of its students are foreign-born, many of them refugees from Africa who arrive speaking no English, according to the Times. It is being transformed to an arts magnet school, with the goal of attracting more middle-class students.

Aside from the refugee students, Wheeler sounds a lot like Bloomington’s Fairview Elementary School, where more than 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches Continue reading