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Whatever It Takes: Waking Up Parkland and Broward

I’ve been with the group Harold Melville and the Blue Notes in my work.  And I had an article about that back in the day.  I’ve been connected with The Hip Hop Summit Youth Council and I’ve talked to LL Kool J and others. Remy Ma, the rap artist, attended a small event with Dr. Ben Chavis and me before Remy shot her friend in the stomach and ended up in jail.  Now I am talking to Broward County and Parkland.  Let’s make a better place for you and me in this world now.

Geoffrey Canada is well-known across America and an icon for his role in moving the Harlem Children’s Zone into charter school success.  I was briefly in touch with the Harlem Children’s Zone and I entered its premises one evening as I went to another event in Harlem.

I obtained the book about his story from one of the leading parent involvement leaders in the city of New York.  I did not wish to read the book, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Did I learn anything from it?  Not really.  But I learned certain facts that were true and for me it was predictable.  Now I endeavor to share that information with Parkland and the Broward School District (and perhaps many many others).

Before telling you more, I just received and read an opinion article written by Kyrrah Simon, a student at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas that all students should read.  I disagree with the part about stopping the video of a fight that took place in the high school.  We need documentation and I can tell her that in 1999 in Brooklyn came to me (and me only) to tell about how he knew about four murders on the street that started as arguments or fights in the classroom.  And at that time those murders went unresolved.  And the article called A fight at Stoneman Douglas gets blown way out of proportion.  Could it be that Simon overreacted as people do on Twitter?

And long before any of this in the 1970s, I could have been a victim in a school in the 1970s when two students brought in a gun to shoot me.  The school was just a regular school in Alphabet City on the Lower East Side of New York, a school where I grew up.

Simon is critical of her principal for calling home about the fight and I reached out to the principal for comment.  He had already been on my email list.  Was this the first fight that he called home about in four years?

Kyrrah Simon should keep up the writing and join the student council, attending meetings with the principal.  Student government is that important.

There are truly universal messages that have to be shared.  This nation was once plagued by the South’s “peculiar institution.”  And now in Broward, people are still acting “peculiar.”  There is all sort of racism going on, for sure.  We should never diminish a universal message.  One side says that the firing of Robert Runcie should take place, because of slow action and results and more and the other side says that it is racial.

If this matter were a federal case that is presented to the Supreme Court, there has to be proof that his firing was an act of racism.  Anything else hurts the harmony of community, particularly today with Twitter and more.

Geoffrey Canada

Remember the parent leader mentioned in this article?  She told me one day that she defends me, because I work with her and her parents.  And I replied to her, that is not right.  Defend me, I said, because I am right.  If I am wrong, why defend me at all?  I am not going to go along with any “peculiar” institution, ante-bellum or post-bellum.

Geoffrey Canada was working with parents and children that he helped before in the community and that was an advantage that community schools do not have.  When he started the charter school by lottery, he twisted or broke the rule to add those children.  He tried hard after that, providing a rounded education, but still not cracking the code for success on the state exams.

After reading a lot about Canada’s negative reactions to the testing scores, I knew that the principal was going to be fired and I knew what the solution was.  The solution was teaching to the test better (much better the way that I do) and now with technology that was not available all these years the teachers can reach the parents and students in the home each day to keep the children on track to pass the state tests.

Just a few years ago and close to my home, two-thirds of the students in Smithtown schools passed their state tests, but one-third did not pass.  I believe that a large part of that one-third could have passed with the measures that I presented in the last paragraph.  FACEBOOK live presentations that are saved to watch over and over by each school would be a great asset, just the way students watch the Kahn Academy to be successful.

The Battle of Parkland: Help is on the Way

Board member Rosalind Osgood told WFOR-TV, “When I got elected I had 12 ‘F’ schools in my district. Now, I don’t have any.”  And in looking at the past, how many of those schools had improved and were close to achieving a better mark as Dr. Osgood became a board member.

And with all the talk of the “school pipeline to prison” that must have taken place in Broward, what happened to those at-risk students that dropped out in the first years of the Runcie Administration?  There has to be a paper trail or statistical data on which students earned a G.E.D. What percentage of those students fell through the cracks?  And what was the N.A.A.C.P fighting for at that time?  And what has happened since those years?  All of this is about accountability and not race.

I found this at the last minute.  Broward had a graduation rate of 81 percent for 2016 to 2017.  And here is the latest information for 2017 to 2018.  The issue really is security, security, security. Improvements are expected of school districts and that has to be taken into account no matter who the superintendent is.

One final word. With all the success of students in schools (particularly African-American and Hispanic), in New York City there has been no improvement in the percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics attending the elite schools.  There is a war going on there.  The mayor wants to stop the testing as the key point and that either has led to or will lead to a lawsuit by Asians who feel that they have earned a right to the seats (this is all based on the way things have been done for more than 60 years.  I have tried to get people to concentrate on opening annexes of those schools in communities to increase the number of African-American and Hispanic students in those elite programs.

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Charter schools seem to not care about getting their students into those elite schools.  I believe that charter schools with the great influence of hedge funders or multi-billionaires have found ways to get the students into private schools.  But wouldn’t it be nice to find out just how well African-American and Hispanic students in charter schools would do on the same test for elite schools to see if they can compete effectively or not?  At the very least we would know that those students would have increased the low percentages and we would possibly learn more about this process to help others attain a better education.

Also I can share this with everyone.  College placement exams also show us that a huge percentage of students are not prepared.  The Suffolk County Community College in my county in New York used to teach an entire course to students who failed the placement exams.  Finally they learned somewhere somehow that they had to teach to the test the way that G.E.D. is taught.  I am here to help make the Broward community stronger and safer or safer and stronger.  I hope that everything is open to discussion.

And don’t you think that students and parents should start concentrating on college placement exam success at least a year before graduation?  And all of this could be done through Skype or FACEBOOK and not just by a letter from the superintendent.  When does the transition to something better start?


Martin Danenberg has been the teacher of the Consulate of El Salvador where word of his work reached the cabinet level in El Salvador. He has actively promoted education among the people of Guatemala and Honduras, two nations that support the idea of the United States embassy in Jerusalem. 



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