Saturday, August 23, 2014

Passion for change: Erin Jones at TEDxForestRidgeSchool

I know Erin Jones well and she inspires me. This speech is authentic Erin, her journey is shared with all she meets because she thinks that everyone can be great. "It does not matter where you start, it matters where you finish."

I believe that and excellent education should not be measured by a test outcome, but how it created a student who can be their best self, bring into being a better world, and have the ability to be self assured and a self thinker, not a follower, a collaborator not an obstructionist. Being able to walk with others, bring them along and when needed accept wise guidance.

She would make a brilliant Superintendent of Public Instruction for WA State. I live in this state that has not yet had a leader who believes that we can produce the most brilliant students in the nation. Why should Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, and other employers have to import their workers because locally, our residents have not been given the rigorous high expectation they deserve. Teachers have been bogged down with systems that do not make sense to anyone and the outcomes divide us along race and economic lines. Left to their best thinking, teachers can teach a poor child how to read and to think and to learn. They did not enter their profession to support the newly created "failure industry."  People who should be benefiting from our technology industry that is in WA State, are filling up the client base of social service agencies, and non profits, students failed by adults thus become the economic security for other adults. This is not fair, nor ethical.

I have in my home a child whose mother for many reasons not been able to provide a permanent home.

They are highly mobile, but she is determined that this gifted child of hers will have a better life and it shows. Education, her natural gift for art and music, the discipline of practice in track, keeps her knowing nothing but achievement. We have a school system that keeps her labeled as homeless.  So, I have brought mother and child into my home which was an easy thing for me to do. I like Erin am determined, fixed on the vision of poor children not having to focus on where they started or linger on what detracts but stay focused on where they are going.

As adults we must work harder and smarter, leverage our talents and passions. Because I am a natural educator, I write and I read, I share information and I receive information.  So I wanted to share this TED Talk with the readers of my blog and hope that they hear something that Erin says that will inspire them in the ways that she inspires parents, students, teachers and education leadership.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Black Seattle Man Jailed - He Looked at A White Woman - Really.

On July 9, 2014, Mr. William Wingate, a 69 year old African American man, was arrested, made to walk through Seattle streets handcuffed and bent,  and jailed overnight because a white female Seattle Police Officer, says he looked at her, that he was carrying a golf club and swung it in the direction of her patrol car, she was driving, this action caused her to have "reasonable fear he would assault her and others."

This shameful act against Mr. Wingate occurred 59 years after the Emmet Till murder in Jim Crow Mississippi, the culture and practice of lynching Black men for something as innocuous as "looking" at a white woman remains in the actual or cellular, memory of the majority of African Americans. It is part of the trauma that lingers from slavery and Jim Crow.

When whites are told of Mr. Wingate being arrested, handcuffed and made to walk bent over, publicly disgraced, charged and jailed in the aftermath of what is reported in the crime report "she observed him look at her and aggressively swing his golf club in the direction of her patrol car." She being a white female police officer on duty, with a gun and in her patrol car, not sitting still but driving past him. He had never seen her before or even then.  The sign post he was suppose to have hit is metal, we all know the sound that an aggressive swing of a metal club would have made. All within a far range would have noticed, but no one did. She found no one to corroborate her story that this man was a threat to her safety and that of others.

Yet she says that this "reasonably caused her to fear he would assault her." She says his act was aggressive and his club hit the stop sign (post). There is no damage to vehicle or post. And no other person at that crosswalk reported as that "he struck fear in them." Yes that is the language used in this official police report. There is nothing reasonable about any of this.

Her fear, her actions, those of the assisting officers, making him walk handcuffed to the Precinct, the overnight jailing, none of it is reasonable. Mr. Wingate is 69 years old, he has been walking with either a cane or his beloved golf club a gift from one of his best friends, he has a 30 year military career, followed by a career as a Metro Bus Driver without incident, has good relationship with police officers professionally and personally. Why not he thought he had beat the odds that so many Black men do not, never arrested, never jailed.  He walks to beat the odds of heart failure and strokes that so many Black men do not beat. But he has lost that challenge. And we thank God, she did not shoot him in response to her "reasonable fear" he would assault her and others with his golf club, that she says he was using as a weapon.  There were no 911 calls from the others she said should have reasonable fear of this older man, clean cut, waiting to legally cross the street, minding his business, enjoying his daily walk of at least 10 miles from Northgate to the Central District.

Unfortunately, and what whites who do not know African Americans and especially our men, being arrested for creating fear in a white woman because he looked at her, never goes away. And for me  writing this, and advocating for him, it brought rushing back the trauma of August 28, 1955 when a black boy was murdered following a false accusation that he looked at and whistled or said something to a white women in Mississippi. I lived in New Jersey, but that did not matter, the conversation of the adults in my family and the news made me know that this was a tragedy.

So this is August, 2014 and in Ferguson, MO a young black man about to embark on a good future, college, but is shot and killed by a police officer. The world watches in horror at the clashes between police and residents.  The President and his Attorney General responds.  Michael Brown did not beat the odds associated with being a black male in the USA. In St. Louis, another black man is dead because two police officers thought they were in danger, of being stabbed to death, through a bullet proof vest.

When hearing about Mr. Wingate there is a repeated refrain " He is lucky she did not shoot him, he could have been dead."  Though not shot or killed by this white women, though a trained officer, has a race bias so deep, this bias overshadowed, her "Unreasonable" fear of black men. She is the weapon that brings fear to Black men and the women who share their lives. She should not be carrying a gun if a look by a black man carrying and swinging a golf club brings the kind of fear she describes. It is almost impossible to hold a golf club and not swing it. She says it struck the stop sign. The sign is on the sidewalk, she was in her car in the street. He was not charged with damaging public property, because in the club making contact it never left a mark. So he did "aggressively swing the club."

She should have never followed him, and if in so much fear he was going to assault her, protocol is to call for assistance. If she had time to drive around the corner, and follow him, she had time to make the call. Be clear, she did not stop her car where he supposedly looked at her, he walked an entire block without incident, and she found no other besides her who thought he would assault them with the club. Being stopped by a police officer never works in the favor of a Black man, we all know this. Data and research informs us the odds of something good happening for a Black men stopped by a police officer are not the same as the odds for any other human being.

The responding officers should have not conspired with this officer who was not using her best training and judgement about this man. That did not work in his favor. Lt. Lam who approved the arrest and transport should have had superior judgement, he did not. That did not work in favor of a 69 year old black man without prior arrests. And the City Attorney could have not seen this as something worthy of his time and the Public Defender should have not advised him to sign away his peace of mind for the next two years. He did nothing to warrant this arrest.  And the judge could have not heard any of it. Nothing worked for him.

To their credit, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and his Assistant Craig Sims, they did return my call, they are doing an investigation, a thorough one. No outcome of that investigation yet. I will give them time to do their work. To the discredit of Seattle Police Commander, a request to meet with him about this has gone unanswered.

So if any will be truthful, we know that had Mr. Wingate been a 69 year old white male, standing on the corner, Ms. Whitlach would not have be in fear because he looked at her. He would not have been place behind bars, he would not have had to know the trauma of not beating the odds for Walking While Black in Seattle WA in 2014.

We should not wait until, another Black Man is shot this time in Seattle by a fearful Police Officer with a gun. If a look will bring the outcome that it brought for Mr. Wingate, we know that any act can bring about a shooting by this Police Officer who is trained to kill when there is a "reasonable" cause. What Officer Whitlach sees as reasonable should not be condoned by Seattle Police Chief Kathy O'Toole, herself a white woman, or by Mayor Ed Murray, or by any reasonable resident of Seattle.

I will not rest until he receives the justice that is promised him for being a law abiding and contributing citizen for 69 years. This may seem as it is nothing in light of the police shootings in MO. But should we only respond to the tragedy and not the underlying causes?  I am not a reactionary by training, as a former Legislator I am trained to see underlying causes, to make policies, to be pro active over re-active. And it matter not who does not stand with Mr. Wingate, I have and will continue acknowledging his trauma.  Those who have responded are not those I thought would, and then again, maybe I knew they would not.

This information comes from Seattle Police Offense Report 2014-222942 of July 9, 2014. And will verify the facts stated.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Parents for Student Success January 2014 Report to Community

January 25, 2014

We have been busy, organizing and accomplishing, and we are only three weeks into the Month.

Mayor Ed Murray Transition Advisory Committee
I, am honored to have been selected by Mayor Ed Murray to be one of 43 people to be his advisor during his first year in office.

We have a Mayor who has likewise organized and worked hard for equal rights and won the battle but the real victory of complete social and economic justice is still beyond us. He is not through and neither are we. African Americans and the LGBT populations must form a strong union if we are to bring Seattle into a model for greatness.

We can chart new courses for Seattle. We can make it a beacon of social and economic equality. And we can create the kind of alliances that will make it happen. But, it will not be easy. It requires, strategic planning, political will, and focused hard work toward the intended goal. That is my commitment to Mayor Murray during this year as an advisory and throughout the four years of his first term. Along the way we will evaluate, what is working, what is not, we will measure the growth of capacity and engagement. We will have high expectation for changes where needed for all. We will inform and be informed, find the brightest among us to guide the change. A kickoff to the new ways of our being engaged and respected is our coming together in collective action.

The African American African Gathering 

This was the first of what will be an annual event. TAAAG 2014, This first TAAAG was convened by Dawn Mason and Mohamad Sheik Mohamad to allow the newly elected Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray and other decision makers; Seattle Council Member Mike O'Brien, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, Seattle School Supt. Jose Banda, School Board President, Sharon Peaslee, SPD Chief Harry Bailey, and LGBT Commissioner NaaSira Adeeba, an opportunity to listen to the African American and African Diasporan population. The expected diversity of black Seattle residents attended and filled the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute theater. We were presented with innovative, and action oriented models for solutions to education, economic development, community development, accountability of human services, and technology access. 

This was an opportunity for us to hear a wonderful mix of age, issues and voices. A different coming together of our many brilliant African Americans was refreshing. Dr. Renee McCoy was the perfect moderator.  The Presenters; Elmer Dixon, Marcelas and Monique Owens, Erin Jones, Evelyn Allen, Wyking Garrett, Royal Alley-Barnes, Felix Nogoussou, Zithri Ahmed Saleem, Karen Toering, and Lola Peters.

There were several good outcomes, including; When what is being discussed is inclusive and respectful of us, we will be engaged, we must leverage our relationships, time and resources in strategic ways. Any who speak in the name of African Americans or receive funds in our name will be asked to inform us, build capacity with us, solve problems, not just manage them. The Mayor wants equity for African Americans, improved experiences and we agree to do our share of the work in a collective, self determined and strategic way to bring into being replicable models that are are transforming. 

We were quite pleased that Mayor Murray embraced Africatown Central District as the historical and cultural hub for African Americans in Seattle. The Mayor did not reject our plan to secure the surplussed Fire Station at 23rd and Jackson as an anchor for innovation, economic development Colaboratorium Center. 

There is follow up work to do that can engage all of us. All were invited to do that work, moving forward in ways different than those that have us educationally and economically stagnant in a technology fueled, economic growth region. We have our work to do and so do others who have to see inclusion to that makes Seattle diverse in reality, and as Mayor Murray said,  "not look like Western Europe."

Documented and Aired for Public ViewDocumenting the African American community for historical purposes is important to sustainable progress. We often repeat what does not work because we did not know that it doesn't work and then overlook great models, because again we did not know. With modern communication, self publishing, online research, and being in the the most technically literate region of the world, there is scant reason to not be informing and to be informed and knowledgeable. Zithri's presentation speaks to this and innovative models of shrinking the technical divide will be in our future. Our children will write, publish, and so will their parents. Texting is fine, but we will not be tricked into having 164 characters define our experiences or document our contributions. So, yes, please keep reading.

Seattle Channel 21,  taped the entire 2 hour event, and it will air several times:
There will be a test. And I am told that Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim has made it mandatory viewing for the Mayor's Administrative Staff. So if they have to know what we want, we must know. 

This is the link for the online version of the video by Seattle Channel 21. Or you can watch it on TV during these scheduled times.
Upcoming Broadcast Times:
  Wednesday, January 29, 2014 2:00 p.m.
  Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:00 a.m.
  Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:30 a.m.
  Friday, January 31, 2014 9:00 a.m.
  Friday, January 31, 2014 3:00 p.m.
  Saturday, February 01, 2014 2:00 a.m.
  Saturday, February 01, 2014 2:00 p.m.
  Sunday, February 02, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Seattle Police Chief, Dept of Justice and Police Search
Mayor Ed Murray introduced newly appointed Police Chief Harry Bailey. He says that he wonders why given the excellent local and national respect Harry, that it took him the First Gay Mayor to hire the First Black Police Chief. Chief Bailey came out of retirement to help Mayor Murray work with the Dept of Justice. An agreement has now been made President Barack Obama's DOJ to address biased policing based on race and other issues. This is an early win for African Americans and so many others with the Mayor Murray administration. Mayor Murray and Chief 
Bailey will put in place a Seattle Police Department that will attract the best candidates for the next Chief. Here is the schedule for community input to the process:

Here is the Community Workshop schedule:
6-8 p.m. 
6-8 p.m. 
6:30-8:30 p.m. 
West Seattle
12-2 p.m. 
South Seattle
6-8 p.m. 
North Seattle
6-8 p.m. 
6-8 p.m. 

Follow Through
The TAAAG 2014 planning team; Royal Alley-Barnes, Wyking Garrett, Lola Peters, Rahwa Habte, Anisa Hassan, and co-convenors. Dawn Mason and Mohamad Hassan will expand to include additional people for the Collective Action Strategy Team. 

Those who want to bring their energy and willingness to move in collective actin should let us know by sending contact to:


Education Priorities in the Legislature
Changing education for Seattle students and teachers, has its basis in the legislature. Education and economic self sufficiency and asset sharing are two toughest issues we have to turn around. Ed and I have worked on issues together in Olympia and our legislative experience and respect will allow us to work closely to bring better solutions for African Americans and other populations who experience an unshared economy. 

Following TAAAG, Parents for Student Success, the organizing I operate out of, arranged for 25 parents to go to Olympia and join up with Excellent Schools Now Coalition, to share  knowledge and support education legislative priorities that if enacted will elevate the education experiences and outcomes for African American students. Our students need higher expectations. They need to be on an education path that makes college and vocational education natural next steps after high school. Creating a 24 credit education creates a secondary education that is rigorous and rewarding. They will be able to learn skills that require hard work, and complex problem solving add science, and technology in ways that allows them to partake in the economic growth of this region that is based in science, math, technology and the arts. 

Parents for Student Success in partnership with ESN will host seminars that will help parents understand Common Core Standards (what a child should know at every grade level) and ways to support and manage their child's education.

Charter Schools - A Long and Hard Process but worth the effort

There are several charter schools proposals awaiting authorization by the WA Charter School Commission that have been proposed by other than privileged community groups and with large African American and African leadership and inclusion.  First Place, Coral Academy of Science, Excel, King County Academy, and SOAR, are the ones with which I am most familiar. The application process was tedious, exacting, and required team building and team work.  There are two African Americans on the WA Charter School Commission, Trish Millines Dziko, and Dr. Doreen Cato.  All 19 public charter applications are posted online for public review. Some are as many as 500 pages when including required attachments. 

January 30, The Commission authorized 7 public charters, including three with a strong African
American leadership and focus; First Place will be a K-5 school, located in the Africatown Central District neighborhood, Rainier Pro, in Highline, and SOAR will be in Tacoma, Hilltop. 

Dawn Mason, M.Ed
Consulting Director, Parents for Student Success
(c) 206.280.6992 (best)