Friday, March 08, 2013

JJ Gets A Reprieve

I wrote about your favorite blogger joining in the efforts to save my high school alma mater Jesse H. Jones from a consolidation neither we or the peeps at Ross S. Sterling wanted

It's one of those times where I get to practice what I preach on these pages in terms of working intersectionally and also make the point to those folks who know I'm a trans activist that I'm also paying attention to what happens in the African-American community.

I attended Monday's board agenda meeting in which Superintendent Terry Grier mischaracterized and pissed off us Jones alumni that afternoon.   He called the passionate way we tore into the board and documented the troubling pattern of closing schools in predominately Black neighborhoods and immediately turning them into charter schools during the February 26 meeting at JJ as 'racism'.

I called his azz out along several of my Falcon alums along with Sterling alum Larry McKinzie in an interview with a Houston Chronicle reporter shortly after I walked out of the board agenda meeting because I was still majorly pissed off and decided to remove myself from the room.

Larry and I were the only ones quoted in the article that ran in Thursday's edition of the Chronicle

Note to Superintendent Grier.  Racism=prejudice plus systemic power, not an epithet you sling when the uppity Black people correctly call you out on your double talk and bull feces.

I signed up to speak at the board meeting along with 23 other people signed up to speak on the proposed Jones-Sterling merger.   There were 26 signed up to speak on the merger of Cullen and Ryan middle schools which was also opposed by people in the Third Ward neighborhood where it sits.

There was an entire section of the HISD boardroom auditorium reserved for those of us signed up to speak that evening, and we were also cut from our normal three minutes to two because of the number of speakers.

I told my mom that there would be fireworks at this meeting and she might wish to watch it on public access and I was on target in that assessment.  I also noted along with many of us sitting there the conspicuous absence of Superintendent Terry Grier and the board member representing our area in Paula Harris 

After getting through the initial board business,  we got to the two issues Items E-1 and E-2 on the board agenda that were causing the drama.   

After getting through the twenty plus speakers who passionately pointed out why Ryan and Cullen needed to stay as separate schools, the board voted 5-3 to merge them to the disgust of the Ryan folks in the audience.

Then it was time to discuss Item E-2, the consolidation of Jones and Sterling.  As I and the other 22 speakers passionately made our case for either a NO vote or a tabling of the issue the tension continued to rise.  Then came the motion to table it and the unanimous 8-0 vote to do just that   Considering we were just finding out about this proposal only last week, it was an amazing result.

All we accomplished was buying ourselves some time.   It's up to us to come up with recommendations for programs that will attract neighborhood kids back to both campuses and  entice others from different parts of the city to go there.

And for those of you wondering why I got involved besides the fact it was my high school alma mater, as the proud child of a retired teacher education issues are important to me.  

It was African-American Texas legislators during Reconstruction that passed the laws to set up the public education system in our state. That obligates me and other African-American Texans to fight for better Houston and Texas public schools as a legacy for future generations just as they were thinking about our generation when they set it up back in the 19th century.  

So Jones Family and Raider Nation, we have work to do.  

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