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White Power Structure Grabs Control Of Jackson Schools

Above photo: Protesters, including Ari Schwartz, center, gather outside Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C., where Betsy DeVos paid her second visit as Education secretary. (Maria Danilova / AP)

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Jackson, MS – The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or worse.

The parents and citizens of Jackson, Mississippi, organized to save their public schools from state takeover. They think that black people should have the same democratic rights as white people.

But the past is never really past.

The state stepped in to seize control and ousted the superintendent.

Fortuitously, Betsy DeVos just have Mississippi millions of dollars to open charter schools.

Sure looks like a conspiracy by mean-spirited whites people to dis-empower black people.

Are there educational geniuses at the State Department of Education? No, they will bring in the white charter operators to take over, as they did in Tennessee. And failed.

Donna Ladd, a columnist in Jackson, Mississippi, says there is no question. It is a conspiracy.

“The disrespect said it all, really. After the Mississippi Board of Education came back into the hearing room in the old Central High School, it not only declared an “emergency” in Jackson Public Schools, setting a “takeover” into motion, but it went a nasty step further.

“The board insulted the hard-working interim JPS superintendent, Frederick Murray, who was present, by announcing that Dr. Margie Pulley would become the new superintendent. Huh. It’s one thing to argue, rightfully or wrongfully, that the State of Mississippi can run our largest urban district better than locals can. It’s another to take a spiteful swing at the administrator in the room who is trying to fix the problems.

“That’s jackassery.

“But the State displayed that tone throughout the kangaroo court designed to wink-wink give the district a proper hearing. It claimed JPS hadn’t done enough to fix problems (that occurred under prior leadership) due to an audit that just came out Aug. 31, a couple weeks before, so they had to hurry before the fixes were in.

“It was the second such circus Jackson has faced in the past two years. The first was Rankin County white Republicans’ push to take over our airport because, you know, they want it—and its revenue potential.

“The predictability of all this takeover hoohaa isn’t lost on anyone who comprehends Mississippi’s history of racial dynamics, white flight and victim-blaming. The state has a long history of white folk running when too many people of color move too close and start owning and running stuff and enrolling kids in “our” schools.

“Don’t forget that Central High School, as well as others like Murrah, were jewels in the crown of white Jackson back before forced integration—in a time when white conservatives abundantly funded public schools and extracurricular activities with tax money for their own. But when the black kids came, suddenly they were bad ole “government schools,” as some old-time Central and Murrah grads call them now.

“The worst part fully hit me on a recent Delta road trip as I stood before the old Delta Democrat-Times offices in the once-thriving downtown Greenville, now across the street from a casino entrance with a whole lot more black people than white evident in the area near it. The old office where Hodding Carter Jr. won his Pulitzer for changing his segregationist views and challenging racists is abandoned with cracked windows and a historic marker.

“They flee and burn it all down behind them,” I told Todd angrily in the car. What I meant was the tragedy not just of so many white people rejecting a fully integrated life for their families, but how they then try to legislatively and politically ruin what’s left. They not only take their tax money, but they pass laws trying to keep public dollars from flowing to where they’re needed, including now-poor schools, and try to redirect it to institutions they control.

“It’s like they leave and never look back except to say (a) we don’t care how bad our actions make it and (b) if you manage to build it into something anyway, we’re going to come back and take it again, teeheehee.

“Now, if you don’t agree with that recounting of local history, feel free to start proving me wrong by staying put and investing time and resources in diverse communities rather than running to a cow pasture or a flood plain and trying to build your own white-run paradise. Until it gets too diverse, of course, and you load up the U-Haul to move further into rural Mississippi and start all over again, leaving dead malls and crumbling schools in your wake.”

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