Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Racial Discussions Emerge from Local School Board Elections






Posted by: Noël Jones


Related to our local Region II school board race, whose primary ended yesterday, and interesting discussion on race emerged in the comments to my post. The candidates running were Frank Pintabone, Bill Timmann, and Ronnie DelBacco. To get the back-story on this
discussion and understand the references, I encourage everyone to read the transcript from the Region II candidates’ forum here.

DelBacco made a couple of gaffs in the forum, that drew criticism from some members of the audience, so discussion ensued in which DelBacco pretty much took the heat for his views, which primarily came out of an exchange between Pintabone and DelBacco about the question of why minority students in our district are performing far below white students.

I received an email from a supporter of DelBacco, with a photo of a black supporter carrying a DelBacco sign for the election. The suggestion being that if a black man will carry a campaign sign for a candidate, that candidate cannot possibly be racist, as if one person of color represents the views of all people of all races concerned with racism in our culture, and validates the innocence of a candidate.

I wrote a lengthy response last night, part of which I have pasted below. By the end of the night, Pintabone had won the Democratic nomination, and DelBacco had won the Republican nomination. This morning, Bill Timmann decided to post a comment and let everybody really know where he stands on racial issues, saying, "I would like to add one thought that I avoided during the debate, for fear that I might be labeled the same as Ron Delbacco."

For all those who like to say that issues of race are a thing of the past in America, here is yet another proof that the issues not only still exist, but are alive and kicking. The problem is, when we try to suppress something within us that is alive and kicking, it tends to cause us as a society to go through some pretty animated contortions to try to keep it under wraps. Racism is a topic that cannot be held effectively on a national level in the world of media spin and sound bites. The meaningful conversations happen here, in local communities, between regular people. That is why I am dedicating a post to this topic and opening it up for an earnest discussion. 

As a conversation like this can easily get dicey, I want to encourage everyone first of all, to at least take a moniker, if not posting your name to your comments, rather than posting as Anonymous, so that even if readers do not know who you are, they can at least follow your thoughts and voice in the conversation. So please think of a name to call yourself when you post. Secondly, I want to remind everyone that while I enthusiastically encourage you to disagree with me, and with each other, please avoid making lame insults that have no point, as I reserve the right to delete comments that are not actually contributing to the discussion. Here goes:

Being a writer, I have a great respect for the power of words, which is why honoring their definitions is so critical to productive dialogue. I think that part of the problem with having productive discussions about race in our country is that "racist" has morphed in meaning in our society into "bad person" instead of its actual meaning. The actual definition of racism (from Dictionary.com) is:

–noun
1.
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races  determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3.
hatred or intolerance of another race  or other races.

So then in Easton’s Region II election scenario:

1. believing that the children of one's race outperform children of another race statistically, not because of the results of white privilege, institutionalized racism in society or discriminatory practices in a school district, but because white parents are superior parents to black parents is, by definition, racism.

2. asserting that a lack of diversity in hiring in a community as diverse as Easton's, or the outright racial discrimination of our present administration (hence the 7 pending lawsuits) is not an important issue to focus on, therefore a offering tacit complicity with the status quo that tolerates and employs racism, is racism.

3. not wanting articles to be translated into Spanish for citizens whose first language is Spanish, not wanting people not fluent in Spanish to vote, etc. is also racism (actually, it is also a bit of xenophobia). Also, the comment that "obviously, my daughter is white," is troubling, as it suggests that someone frowns on interracial relationships--it has a similar ring to the old "not with my daughter," line that comes from a lot of white parents (often liberal) who brag about their children having friends of color in school, but then throw a holy fit if they want to date.

Also, this definition demonstrates why the term 'reverse racism' is an oxymoron--an invention of white people who don't like being the only ones accused of being “bad people,” and are privileged to think that no one has a right to get angry with the negative manifestations of growing up nonwhite in a white-dominated (as in the people who holding the vast majority of power in this country) society.

Hating racist white individuals, or the institutionalized racism of a white-dominated society, is not the same as thinking one's race is inherently superior to another's. The only semantic possibility for the term "reverse racism" with regard to black people that I can imagine, would be, for instance, black jazz musicians asserting that they naturally play better than white jazz musicians. But even for that analogy to work, all the record labels would need to be owned by black people, and denying white musicians the chance to record, which is not the case in our music industry. But a nonwhite person hating white people because he has endured racial slurs and discrimination throughout his life, is not "reverse racism." The phrase is a term white people made up as a means of exonerating themselves via accusing minorities of the racism that they are guilty of themselves, and it is an entitlement, a psychological projection onto another person, and a symptom of white privilege—feeling entitled to not be judged for racist behavior. It is saying, “you don’t have the right to judge or get mad at me. You are the bad person.”

A lot of liberals don't realize that they are racist as well, i.e., always wanting to rush to the aid of nonwhite people--to be the savior, the martyr--many social service nonprofits are based on this kind of racism because their very existence depends on the idea of the need of minorities for their particular brand of "help." Conservatives get fighting mad when they are called racists. Liberals? They cry. They go red in the face and their eyes bulge with righteous indignation. They go to great lengths to parade out every black person they've ever known to prove the injustice that has been done to them by even suggesting such a thing.

I think this is because a lot of conservatives kind of know that they have racist tendencies, they just don't want to be called out on it, because it makes them look bad in public (i.e, Timmann not wanting to be known for agreeing with DelBacco’s views until after the election). But liberals have it all buried so deep down and under wraps as to be completely steeped in denial, which is why instead of just snapping angry comments back at you, they will wreak an all-out shock-and-awe attack on you.

Beware the wrath of the self-proclaimed martyr! If our government wants to kill Qaddafi, they could honestly just drop some liberal self-proclaimed martyrs accused of racism on Qaddafi and be done with it. No one would make it out alive.

The reality is that racism is alive and well in our society, and most of us have ingested that toxin to various degrees during our developmental years. Any of us who are sincere about rooting out racism in our culture need to always be vigilant and willing to call ourselves on it when we slip, rather than cursing out anyone else who does.

"Racist" does not mean "bad person"--anyone who thinks they're being accused a being a bad person is going to fight the accusation tooth and nail, even if they know they are racist.

"Racist," among other things, is believing that your race outperforms another because it is inherently superior, and that no other social obstacles or variables weigh into the equation of performance.

And many people believe this. But very few people have the guts to be honest about being racist, because they know that they will be shunned by a lot of people--especially voters. You hardly ever hear anyone say, "Yep, I'm a racist--I think our kids get the highest scores because their minds are superior and our parenting skills are superior," and yet, that is precisely what they will describe as their position, just in more politically-correct inferences like "parental engagement" and "individualism."

A definition, is a definition. Please see the definition again. Most people defending themselves from accusations of racism believe that only #3 is the definition, but it is #1 and #2 that we wrestle with most consistently in our administration and school board, who together set policy, agree on who to hire,  and decide whether or not racial issues are important to consider with regard to student performance statistics.

And whether anyone in this school district that is reading this agrees with me or not, the fact remains that we have SEVEN pending lawsuits for racial discrimination by our administration, and these cases include depositions full racial slurs and other discriminatory practices. These people will likely all win settlements that we the taxpayers will have to pay for, all because we refuse to address diversity in hiring as a problem, and because our administrators don't know how to behave in the 21st Century, and our district has tolerated racist behavior that has gotten us into this mess. The bottom line is that insisting on holding on to backwards views and illegal behavior is costing us a LOT of money. For that reason alone, even racists should feel that this is an issue worth addressing in our district.

I welcome all comments from all perspectives, as long as they are not insulting and continue to make points that contribute something worthwhile to the discussion. Please either post your name and own your words, or pick a nickname to post with anonymously, so that readers can follow your thread in the conversation.

23 comments:

noel jones said...

One point I would like to add right away, is that where candidates stand on race is only one of many factors that voters will have to take into account in the November elections. We are in a fiscal crisis. DelBacco has talked about big cuts and Pintabone has yet to offer anything specific in terms of cuts and is very pro-union. So with an eye on November, voters will have to weigh which issues matter more when our district faces potential bankruptcy in a few years (and these two candidates are so diametrically opposed)--social issues or fiscal issues?

To further complicate this question, voters also need to ask themselves what saves the district more money? Deep budget cuts, or avoiding discrimination lawsuits? We currently have seven discrimination lawsuits pending...I honestly don't know what would save more, and would love to hear readers' thoughts on this...

If over 70% of the budget is contracted salary/benefits/pension that cannot be touched, and the budget is roughly $141 million, then the other 30% comes out to roughly $42.3 million that CAN be touched, and we are $12.9 million short. That means that if we were to simply try to cut non-contractual "waste" to balance the budget, we would be looking for roughly 1/4 of costs outside of teaching to cut, and that is a huge percent.

Does anyone know the total amount pending for all seven discrimination lawsuits, and how much money the district has spent and will spend fighting them? This would be a great "Right to Know" request...

These are not easy problems with easy solutions--we need to work this out as a community--I look forward to your thoughts...

noel jones said...

also, with two such diametrically opposed candidates, it might also be a situation ripe for a write-in campaign...

Frankie said...

Noel-
I like to first speak to Mr. Timmann. First off sir I NEVER said I came from a poor family. And where did sports (or what I learned from sports) get me you ask? College credits and I will finish with a degree in criminal justice, a great career as a LISENCED insurance broker in Property & Casualty, a good father a good friend and someone who has been giving back to my community for the past 11 yrs. Athletics gave me many tools that kept me out of gangs,out of jail and helped make me into a well rounded member of society. As for me being a teenaged father and a high school drop out (that happened when I was 17 & 18 yrs old) that all made me a better man today and helps me to give back to our children in our community ! And from your earlier statement you admitted hiding your true feelings to get votes, that shows you true character.

Garrett said...

"'Racist' does not mean 'bad person'--anyone who thinks they're being accused a [sic] being a bad person is going to fight the accusation tooth and nail, even if they know they are racist."

Such a statement is very troubling. In the eyes of society, “racist” does mean “bad person”. Let us return to reality where being dubbed a racist destroys an individual’s veracity.

Is a lack of response an admission of guilt? Does a well thought response lead us down the road of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”?

Those two questions are why accusations of even tinges of racism cannot be bandied around.

noel jones said...

Garrett--thanks for posting. I don't think we disagree--I was speaking about the dictionary definition of the term and what it should mean, but your point is precisely my point--that the word "racist" HAS morphed from its true meaning in our society to mean, simply, "bad person." So when some is accused, rather than having a moment of introspection to consider what has been observed with the intent of one who would like to eradicate racism from themselves wherever they discover it, instead, they simply fire back with a defense of their character in general, as if to say, "you are wrong! i am not a BAD PERSON!" and then they will proceed to toss out examples and arguments designed to bolster racist views.

for example, i had a contractor once that would go to great lengths to argue that he wasn't a racist. but any black male that walked by would get a shake of his head and some comment about drug dealers. whether they were students, or working adults, or a father with a child (or drug dealers) he was convinced they were all drug dealers. he'd argue that he wasn't a racist, and then immediately launch into a diatribe about hip hop, or affirmative action, or some horrible story about some low-lifes who cursed around his daughter, not even seeming to realize (or to care) how telling all this selective rationalization was. he was rationalizing his feelings of racism, while all the while insisting that he wasn't a racist. which is pretty much like saying "yes, i AM a racist, but don't call me a BAD PERSON."

and yes, i couldn't agree more about the importance of accusations of racism not being bandied about, because the term has become so sensitive and twisted from its true meaning that it doesn't lead to a productive discussion, and communities in America really need to start having productive honest discussions about racial issues, rather than just finger-pointing and calling people racists. it's a lot more productive to just address the logic of whatever comment has been made, or to, for instance, address the problem of a lack of diversity in the administration of a school district in a diverse community.

Anonymous said...

You say you want to know our thoughts, well mine are I'm glad you are not on the school board. You would be as bad as all of the current board. Your math and understanding of the budget isn't very good. We would need 30%, and not 1/4, of what you call "spending that CAN be touched". The difference between 30% and "roughly 1/4" would leave a deficit of roughly $2 million per year that we would have to deal with every year. This is using your numbers. Sounds like more incomplete math that doesn't add up. One more thing, my mortgage company likes to receive the payment I owe them every month, and my guess is the school district will need to continue to pay their debt too, so you need to consider the $16 million debt service that isn't going away. A minor detail. So the $42 million that CAN be touched has dropped to $26 million, and your "roughly 1/4" has grown to 49% of spending that CAN be touched. Even a little harder than you thought. Quality people that know what they are talking about are important. Don't underestimate that.

Crusader for Truth said...

When I went to school we learned a word called prejudice. Prejudice - hating others because of their race, religion, ethnic background or beliefs. Just because someone doesn't want Spanish translations of school materials doesn't make that person prejudiced. What about people who speak other languages say Japanese or Italian for example? If the school does not want to provide materials translated into those languages, does that constitute prejudice? If a person believes that how well children learn is not based on race but rather how children are raised, that doesn't make him prejudiced. I would contend that believing that how well children learn is based on their race is prejudice.

It is a shame that people are labeled prejudiced based on flawed assumptions. To me that is one of the worst forms of prejudice slamming them because they believe differently than you. This is something that makes honest debate over issues extremely difficult. How sad!.

Let's discuss real issues and stop slinging the terms like racism around willy nilly.

noel jones said...

Anon 10:36--there are many good reasons that i do what i do and do not run for the school board. math not being my strong suit is just one of them. so i will assume that you are complimenting me on having the wisdom to be a blogger rather than running for political office.

i stand corrected, it is closer to 30% than 25% of the noncontractual portion of the budget. beyond my being 5% off, i'm not sure what your point is, except that maybe you're trying to say that a candidate's attention to the budget and mathematical ability is more important than his take on issues of discrimination in the district. if so, fair enough.

noel jones said...

Crusader for Truth--actually, here is Dicitonary.com definition for "prejudice":

–noun
1.
an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2.
any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
3.
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

"I would contend that believing that how well children learn is based on their race is prejudice."

No one is suggesting that how well children learn is based on their race--when people point out statistics and say there is a problem that needs to be addressed, they are expressing a need to investigate societal problems in a community to find out why the scores are skewed, because intelligence (and lack of it) is strewn randomly across all races, and if all students' education were being nurtured in the same way, the scores would not be skewed. this brings us to the suggestion that parental engagement is the key factor, and yes, it is. but that is not the end of the question, it is the beginning. the question is what is going on in our society if larger numbers of minority students are not getting parenting that is engaged in the children's education? what are the various factors affecting minority families and students that are not affecting white families?

this is not a rhetorical question. this is a real question that we as a community need to figure out, to try to bring about results that are less skewed. Pintabone has been having a lot of meetings with community leaders and residents to try to figure this out because it really matters to him. and voters to whom this issue matters a lot are naturally going to be drawn to him as a candidate.

noel jones said...

oh, and Crusader for Truth and Garrett--thanks for posting with monikers!

Anonymous said...

NoBones2

This country has aborted efforts to address race, we must first start by wading through painful admissions of racial bias and struggle. We are a nation of ostriches with our heads in the proverbial sands, afraid and dissuaded by even mentioning this subject in a public forum . Look at what happens when someone mentions race , they are attacked or shunned.This must be a reminder that we cannot continue to ignore this challenge. Yet we refuse to acknowledge that, in today's society, racial attitudes are often complicated, multi-layered and conflicted. That’s why I love this blog and hopefully we can have an honest forum. The Delbacco’s of the world have been honest in their feelings, so it’s easy to read that “red neck” and thus easily avoid contact,, but Timmons admission to the same feelings of race is a much more dangerous. We called that” up south, meaning the same racist Antebellum philosophies and practices that are obvious in the south are hidden in the north like a consistent black Opp…and I mean Black Opp. hidden behind the scenes on an operational basis thrashing and destroying people of color along the way. I tend to avoid member of “BONES” but if you can’t see them it more difficult fight.


Unfortunately, our political cycles make it impossible for any of us to stay in a room long enough to reach any moment of clarity. At the barest suggestion of race, we line up, wagons guns at the ready and we start shooting. I feel racial inequality is perpetuated less by individuals than by structural racism and implicit bias. Structural inequality is everywhere: look at the grossly disproportionate numbers of minority students shunted into remedial and special education tracks; look at the stubborn segregation of some of our neighborhoods and schools; look at the lack of recreational and academic opportunities for minority kids in poor communities; look at the inferior medical treatment that people of color receive; and in the still appallingly small numbers of men and women of color in law firms, corporations and government. It is evident, too, in the history of blatant discrimination against black farmers practiced by the Agricultural Department.

But that does not render a guilty verdict on the many doctors, nurses, police officers, judges, teachers, lawyers, city planners, admission officers or others deemed prejudiced. Most are well-intentioned professionals who believe themselves to be free of racial bias. From their perspective, it is not easy to connect individual actions and decisions to wide range structural conditions and environments built up over decades and even centuries.

Implicit bias is a reality we must confront far more openly. A growing mass of compelling research reveals the unconscious racial stereotypes many of us harbor that affect our decisions. Such attitudes do not make us prejudiced; they make us human. I could go on but I don’t know if anyone’s listening so I’ll stop here..

Garrett said...

Is the issue at hand whether or not Mr. DelBacco is a racist? If that is the case, I do not believe that we must look any further than his statement:
"I refuse to accept the premise that these kids are failing because of race."

When taking that statement into consideration instead of merely leaving it out, the definition of the word racism:
"A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race"
is not met.

I do very much like that Mr. Pintabone is involving churches and community groups in a forum to talk about such issues as racism. It seems to me that progressivism has failed America's minority communities. These inequalities that have developed, or still persist, make up the impetus behind cries of racism as well as the root of bigoted remarks. Community efforts to restrengthen the basic building block of society and economics, the nuclear family, are absolutely necessary.

Why have we hit the doldrums in minority administrators and teachers? Is there a lack of candidates? If so why? Is it an institutional racism? Is it indivdual racism? Is it latent racism? Is racism even the cause?

We won't know answers to those questions until petty party politics are put aside and people can be comfortable enough to explain where their thought process is coming from without fear of having to tip-toe around.

Ronnie said...

Sorry folks, The entire first part of my response was lost when the page shut down during the posting operation. I'll try to re-write my comments which will preface the post that did transfer.
Ronnie

noel jones said...

NoBones2, Garrett--some good points are made here.

First of all, as NoBones2 pointed out, there is such a hypersensitivity and lack of trust between people in our communities that the second the topic is even brought up, everyone grabs their guns and starts shooting without even considering, with any genuine inquisitiveness, what has been suggested. This happens on all sides. There is a knee-jerk "he's-a-racist" shooting that goes on from the side of those intolerant of racism, and there is a knee-jerk "damn liberals" shooting that goes on from the side that is uncomfortable admitting that we need to address racial issues at all.

While it can feel good, and it's certainly a lot easier, to simply write someone off for their views, it's also lazy and detrimental, because as these conditions persist, the issues only deepen. We are not going to figure out the problem of the disparity in minority test scores in our community if we're not willing to put those judgments on hold and investigate the problem together.

Garrett--your point about progressives failing minorities is well-taken and actually coincides with my point in my post about latent liberal white racism manifested in the form of perpetuating minority NEED and validating the martyr/savior complex that keeps the heads of certain nonprofits comfortably paid and running around town in swanky circles getting patted on the back for their "service to the community," even though these programs have not begun to put a dent in the poverty problem in America--and certainly not in Easton. They don't want to show anyone how to sustain themselves or start their own businesses--how NOT to need--that would make their careers obsolete. they want a perpetual revolving door of NEED so that their agencies and their positions are are needed, the grants keep flowing in, and their salaries and status are justified.
(cont.)

noel jones said...

(cont.)
But I want to address your question about DelBacco--the answer is NO, this is not a post about DelBacco, and to bring it back around to finger-pointing at someone specific derails a much more important discussion, and does precisely what NoBones2 was suggesting. It's encouraging everyone to grab their guns again and start shooting, which is not what we're doing here.

But the phrase "I refuse to accept the premise that these kids are failing because of race," brings up a very important point, and that is that a statement like this is an exercise in obfuscation--the statement pretends to be one thing, while it seeks to accomplish something else. It is claiming to not support the idea children are failing "because of race," when it is actually suggesting precisely that premise, while at the same time trying to project blame for that premise on someone else.

when someone says something like "we need to solve the problem of why a disproportionate percentage of minority students are getting lower scores than white students in our district" and someone else responds with "i refuse to accept the premise that children are failing BECAUSE OF RACE" (sorry for the all-caps, there's no way to make italics here, so i don't mean to e-shout) what they are actually doing is SUGGESTING that either the students ARE failing because of race, or that no one should be addressing the issue at all.

and the general sentiment behind statements like that, is, we shouldn't be talking about this at all. which, unfortunately offers tacit complicity to the problem and demonstrates a lack of interest in trying to solve it.

and voters who care about this issue are going to vote for someone that they think will also take the issue seriously, rather than dismiss it. Pintabone takes this issue seriously, and DelBacco doesn't. He hasn't offered any ideas about how to solve it because he refuses to admit that it's a problem in the first place that school board members and administrators should worry about. Pintabone admits that it's a complicated problem and that he doesn't have the answers but is demonstrating that he cares about it by actively engaging with the community on this issue. DelBacco is more focused on fiscal issues, where Pintabone has not suggested any major changes to the budget--in fact, he expressed the desire to keep everything--arts, sports, all of it. So he is going to need to demonstrate before November where he sees the potential to make up the missing $12.9 million. Just saying "we need to be fiscally responsible" means nothing, if a candidate is not committing to what things in the budget he would be willing to cut.

Some voters will think that demonstrating an ability to solve budget issues is the most important factor in deciding who will be on the school board of a school district facing bankruptcy. Some voters will be more concerned with social issues like discrimination and the underperformance of minority students. Some voters, like myself, are just glad that I actually get to vote for Kerri Leonard-Ellison, who has already demonstrated that she is concerned with both.

So this is a good opportunity to point out that Ellison is a Republican, so not all fiscal conservatives have a hard time admitting that institutionalized discrimination exists and needs to be resolved. Plenty of people in this country are capable both of acknowledging both the need for fiscal responsibility and acknowledging the reality of racism in America. The two are not mutually exclusive.

noel jones said...

Ronnie--i highly recommend composing in Word and then cutting and pasting text into a comment, so as to not lose anything longer and more carefully composed--i hate that! (of course this is one of those bits of advice that i give all the time and have a hard time remembering to follow myself...)

noel jones said...

a reader emailed me this comment backchannel because she can't post a comment from where she is:

Carinne says:
Simply hearing DelBacco's "of course my kid is white" comment was enough to convince me he is not racially in touch with his community. Maybe he is a racist, maybe he is prejudice... I don't know, and I don't have the time or energy to figure it out. I do know that his one statement was enough to show me that he is out of touch with voters like me who would not assume white parents have white kids. It also makes me wonder if he might make other assumptions that would be harmful in serving the students, and the tax payers. I never want to take that kind of risk. It is a shame b/c DelBacco had some of the best answers to budget and spending questions. My wallet would vote for him. However, the board votes on many issues besides the budget- policy, legal matters, etc. My conscience can not vote for him when my gut says he may make a wrong assumption and/ or not share my values/ morals when it comes to respecting all people equally. When it comes down to it I will absolutely pay more to ensure that all students/ staff/ taxpayers are treated with equal respect. Go Pintabone!

cat said...

Noel -

Thank you for offering this important and, unfortunately, timeless subject. I've appreciated the discussion and look forward to more.

By the way, your outright endorsement of Kerri Leonard-Ellison, here on the "Neighbors of Easton", was refreshing. If only for a moment, you stepped out of your role as the impartial, fair and balanced moderator. And, your new conservative slip was showing. You wear it well.

Kerri has done an excellent job. We've been fortunate to have her represent us.

I think you are both the cat's meow.

Ronnie said...

Readers and Noel, I see that my part 2 post was removed, "for what reason" is the question. I was going to re-write the first part of my response but in light of the turn this conversation seems to be taking there is nothing I can say which will change the minds of those not willing to contact me personally. I am very willing to discuss any issue with anyone. Even Frank Pintabone and I had a short personal conversation with each other to clarify some mis-information at the onset of this campaign. I really wish the posters to this site would do the same. My email is
gr82hearfromyou@yahoo.com. I will respond personally but you must include your name and address.
I look forward to serious inquiries.
Ronnie

noel jones said...

Ronnie--I haven't deleted anything--if I had, it would show up as a deleted post, and furthermore, I was really looking forward to your post, so just know that if something got lost in the ether, it's a blogspot glitch and not me deleting you.

If any deletions are made, you will always see where entry stamp plus a message that either says "Deleted by Author" or "Deleted by Administrator". Deleted by Author, would be you, and Deleted by Adminsitrator, would be me. And as everyone can see, neither has occurred here.

This community conversation is very important to me and I am not about to delete anyone unless they are being outrageously bigoted and insulting and not contributing any new points to the dialogue.

I'm really sorry that your comments got lost. Frank emailed me backchannel to let me know that a comment of his got lost too--it must have just been a glitchy day for blogspot.

Again, I strongly encourage that on any longer comments, to compose them in Word first, so that they can't get lost. It's really frustrating when it happens--sorry about that! I look forward to your comments.

noel jones said...

Cat--thanks for posting. Full disclosure--I am an Independent registered as a (D) so that I can at least have the Power of One in the primary to decide who will be in the running. I was raised a (D) and so come from a liberal background, but I am also from Alaska, which means that I have always had unusual views for a (D), i.e., I am pro-gun rights (i just wish people had to prove that they could hit a target first). but have been investigating libertarian philosophies of late, some of which I find intriguing and attractive, other parts of which I just can't get on board with.

So you see, my invitation to both liberal and conservative comment is actually just a natural extension of my own compulsive inquisitiveness and desire to consider all kinds of points of views in discussion with regular people in my community. I think it's safe to say that at this point I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but I am NOT a centrist--I really think that centrism is taking this country down the drain. A good point is a good point, regardless what side it comes from. So if A and H are good points, then it makes no sense to me to compromise and enact policy D or E.

I always welcome opinion from both sides, and I try to let candidates tell their own stories and speak for themselves, but if I'm really impressed with a particular candidate, I will come out and endorse. I will also give it to local officials that I think are messing up--i.e., city councilman Warren publicly stating that public officials should be held to a higher standard when a police officer is caught drunk driving, but thinking he should stay on council when he gets caught for it.

I have no problem stating my opinion when I have one, and my opinions can be strong at times (i.e., fracking for natural gas contaminating our water being a BAD THING that we all, regardless of affiliations need to come together to stop before it destroys our way of life--i.e., being able to drink free clean water from our taps in our homes instead of buying water buffaloes each month to ration like people upstream on the Delaware from our are having to do).

So I think that I am a weird combination of being both open-minded and opinionated, which much of the time offers a balance that has attracted readers from both sides, but it's just natural and not due to any sort of mandate that I imagine--that is the liberty of being a blogger, rather than working for newspaper.

Thanks for the compliment--and for posting with a moniker!

noel jones said...

This is officially the Hot Topic of the Month on this blog--I just check the analytics and this post is #2, and beat out in pageviews only by the post on the candidates' forum that this post is based on.

Good discussion--lets keep it going. If our national leaders can't have a constructive dialogue in the media on a topic that matters this much, then we will get more done by having it on our own!

On this post in particular, it gives the candidates an opportunity to know how their constituents view this issue, and give voters a chance to get to know where their candidates stand.

noel jones said...

this topic is also being discussed in the Express-Times on line, in this article by Colin McEvoy:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2011/05/easton_area_school_district_di.html

The article covers a diversity forum held at Shiloh church today, and there was a specific focus on the EASD, and how the percentage of minority teachers is nowhere near matching the percentage of minority students, and also cites the same statistics on minority student performance that started this whole discussion at the Region II school board candidates forum.

The statistics are pretty startling. Anyone who doesn't think this is a problem is in denial.

This quote, from a 2008 graduate of EAHS is disturbing, considering it was so recent:

"Baron Vanderburg, who graduated in 2008, said he was the only black student in his advanced biology class, and that the teacher repeatedly asked him whether he was in the right class, even going so far as to check his schedule.
'I'm thinking, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, this is absurd,'" Vanderburg said. "Things like that, they stick with you. They hurt, and they stick with you.'"