Ron Clark and other educators: Duty to speak out in police shootings

A man holds a sign in front of a mural of Alton Sterling while attorneys, not pictured, speak in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, La., Thursday, July 7, 2016. Sterling, 37, was shot and killed outside the convenience store by Baton Rouge police, where he was selling CDs. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The back-to-back police shootings of Philando Castile, 32, in St. Paul, Minn., and Alton Sterling, 37, in Baton Rouge are prompting responses from the education community, including APS school board member and former APS teacher Matt WestmorelandNational Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García and Ron Clark, co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.

Shot dead in a routine traffic stop Wednesday, Castile was an employee  of Saint Paul Public Schools, which issued this statement today

Saint Paul Public Schools and its staff grieve the tragic death of a former student and current employee, Philando Castile. He graduated from Central High School in 2001 and had worked for Saint Paul Public Schools since he was 19-years-old, beginning in 2002, in the Nutrition Services Department.

Mr. Castile was promoted to a supervisory position two years ago and was currently working in one of our schools during the summer term.

Colleagues describe him as a team player who maintained great relationships with staff and students alike. He had a cheerful disposition and his colleagues enjoyed working with him. He was quick to greet former co-workers with a smile and hug.

One co-worker said, “Kids loved him. He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.'”

He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview and said his goal was to one day “sit on the other side of this table.” Those who worked with him daily said he will be greatly missed.

“I am deeply sorry for his family and for their loss. He’s worked in SPPS for many years and he graduated from our district, so he was one of our own,” said SPPS Superintendent Valeria Silva.

Grief counselors will be available for staff and students as needed or requested.

The Saint Paul Public Schools family extends its deepest sympathy to Mr. Castile’s family and loved ones.

Here is Lily Eskelsen García’s statement:

Black lives matter. Today we mourn for the lost lives of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Their senseless and tragic deaths have shocked the conscience of our nation. We are working with our state affiliates in Louisiana and Minnesota to offer support to the families and communities affected by this tragedy.

For the sake of our children, our communities, and future generations to come, we must sharpen our resolve to end this vicious cycle of racial violence. We must stand united in defense of racial and social justice, and work to end intolerance in our society. This action must happen in our schools, communities, among our parents, educators, and with our youth.

Our students will immediately feel the emotional impact of the police shootings of Sterling and Castile. They’ve seen the horrific videos on social media. Their trust in law-and-order institutions is broken. Feeling frightened and confused, they will ask questions. Powerless about what they see and read, they will turn to adults to seek answers. As educators, it is our responsibility to our students and our communities to stand up and speak up when confronted with injustice and institutional racism wherever we see it.

At the same time, we also need to make sure that those who perpetrated the fatal shootings of these men are held accountable. We applaud the U.S. Department of Justice for agreeing to look into the police killing of Sterling. We urge the department to also look into the police shooting of Castile. There cannot be a path to peace unless justice is served.

Here is Ron Clark’s Facebook statement:

My heart breaks when I think how the beautiful and strong students I work with are basically one bullet away from becoming a ‪#‎hashtag.

I see racism through a different view; I’m a white man who watches my students as they are treated with caution, disdain and misunderstanding. Views of who they are formed instantly by their appearance, and brilliant young children are often frowned upon as being thugs. I tell my students to say “yes sir” and to smile when dealing with the police and that everything will be okay, but I am losing faith in my own advice.

I can tell you all, white privilege is real because I experience it both in noticing how I am treated and how those who don’t look like me are mistreated. When only white people are in the room some people feel comfortable to make horrible and stupid comments, and the biggest problem is that they aren’t even aware of their ignorance. We, as white people, have to be leaders in this movement to end the racism and misunderstandings. If only African-Americans speak, I promise you, people only hear the “angry black people who are being ridiculous.” It takes white people to have the courage to speak up when you hear racism and let others know it’s not acceptable. The cops out there who are racist have had their thoughts fed into them by family members and friends who were also raised to have those thoughts. People aren’t born racist; their community makes them racist.

We, as part of the community, have a duty to stand up and speak out. We all must stand against ignorance and let our voices and options be heard before those we love become ‪#‎hashtags as well.

Posts like this by African-Americans are seen in the eyes of many as angry rants. Posts like this from white people will be looked at differently. It is our obligation to stand up.

Where are the white people at?

Don’t be silent.

Here are APS school board member Matt Westmoreland’s comments: 

I keep thinking about Aiden. And how I have to do more.

I met Aiden earlier this summer. His boisterous personality is one that may occasionally exhaust his mother and frustrate his teachers, but it immediately endeared him to me.

I keep thinking about Aiden this week. He is six, so he doesn’t know about the horrific shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights.

But Aiden is six. And one day he will be 12 like Tamir Rice. Then 17 like Trayvon Martin. Then 18 like Michael Brown. Then 25 like Freddie Gray. Then 32 like Philando Castile. Then 33 like Walter Scott. Then 37 like Alton Sterling. Then 43 like Eric Garner.

I keep thinking about Aiden. And Lamarcus. And Deuce. And those young men I taught at Carver who became like younger brothers– Dreundre. Antavious. James. Jaqavious. Antone. Marquavius. Dorian.

I think about the world they live in. It’s a world that affords me immense privilege because of my race, class and gender. I think it’s important to recognize that– and to say it out loud. Because it’s voices like mine, and folks who like me, that need to say more and do more.

Today we rightfully grieve the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. But we also need to talk about an education system where quality varies by zip code, a justice system where punishments vary based on the color of your skin, an income gap that grows wider each year. It’s all of those things, collectively, that rip apart families, devastate communities, and silence voices

Two years ago, after the shooting of Michael Brown and as I struggled with the world my Carver kids and their peers were growing up in, I turned to a quote from Mike Johnston about “truth and hope.” Seems we’ve had a far heavier dose of the former recently.

This morning, I came across new words from Mike after the shootings this week:

“Somewhere we have internalized the corrosive lesson that different types of Americans deserve different degrees of life, liberty and happiness. That is not the country we promised to build. If we are to change the America our kids grow up in, we must unlearn that lesson, and we must unlearn it now. And those who benefit most from that current belief must be the ones to lead the unlearning. And that means us.”

I keep thinking about Aiden. And how we have to do more.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

26 comments
GrandaddyJerry
GrandaddyJerry

Shouldn't we have a duty to stand up and speak out for the murder of those Dallas Police officers as well!

trifecta_
trifecta_

By constantly inciting racial grievances, often for partisan political purposes, leading Democrats and liberal newspaper columnists made widows of those Dallas police officers' wives.

Shame on you all.

taylor48
taylor48

@trifecta_ Please point out the exact statements in the previous article that called for violence against any police officer.  Exact quotes, or you're just lying.  Because I haven't heard ANYONE from the President to "liberal newspaper columnists" call for violence.  Now, former Republican congressmen are a whole other story. . .

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

The shooter(s) in Dallas were similar to ISIS members and other terrorists throughout the world.  This is a spiritual crisis in our world.  That is the heart of this problem.  It existed in the 1960s and it exists today.  Irrational acts by individuals are reflective of a greater psychological and psyche need in all of us, not just a few.


We are on the edge in this world and we must explore the deepest reasons for why that is true.


Here is a start for anyone who is interested:

--------------------------------------------

From “Love and Will,” pp. 21 – 27, by author and psychoanalyst Rollo May: “Both artist and neurotic speak and live from the subconscious and unconscious depths of their society. Art and neurosis both have a predictive function. Since art is communication springing from unconscious levels, it presents only in those members of the society who, by virtue of their own sensitized consciousness, live on the frontier of their society – live, as it were, with one foot in the future. The arts anticipate the future social and technological development by a generation when the change is more superficial, or by centuries when the change, as the discovery of mathematics, is profound. . . The neurotic and the artist – since both live out the unconscious of the race – reveal to us what is going to emerge endemically in the society later on.


Our patients predict the culture by living out consciously what the masses of people are able to keep unconscious for the time being. The person with psychological problems bears the burdens of the conflicts of the times in his blood, and is fated to predict in his actions and struggles the issues which will later erupt on all sides in the society.”

----------------------------------------------------


The sickness in our world, as reflective in mass murderers throughout the world, is caused by not loving our enemies as ourselves.  So simple, yet so very hard to achieve. We are all children of God, crippled perhaps, but we must look within, not without, to heal, as a nation and as a planet.


We must stop blaming, and start helping and start healing with greater insight.


https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/critique-of-the-1986-argentine-film-man-facing-southeast/

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Five police officers gunned down by "snipers" in Dallas, TX.  

Since the Michael Brown incident, the so-called "news" media has been presenting the "black lives matter" propaganda on a non-stop basis.  While they didn't pull the trigger, they (news media) have inflamed the passions of the dullards and pinned a bullseye on the men and women in police uniform who risk their lives everyday to maintain some semblance of order in this chaotic society.

The end result of this will be that fewer and fewer qualified individuals will be willing to pin on badge and place their lives in jeopardy which will further embolden the criminal element.  We have already witnessed this effect in Baltimore, where the police force has decreased by 6% and less enforcement is conducted in the black community hell holes.  Predictably, the murder rate has increased 63% from the pre-Freddie Gray days. 

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Lee_cpa2,

The dog whistle of Missouri and Chicago hasn't inflamed anything.

Milo
Milo

Live in the Hood? Need a cop? Good luck with that. 

taylor48
taylor48

@Lee_CPA2 Did you take responsibility for Dylann Roof's actions last June?  If not, why does every black person need to be responsible for Micah Johnson?

Mandella88
Mandella88

Looking forward to Ron Clark's statement on the police officers killed in Dallas tonight....

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Let's see, in the Sterling incident, police are called because a man matching Sterling's description pointed a gun at someone.  Police arrive and wind up in a struggle with Sterling on the ground.  One officer is heard saying "He's got a gun"  Sterling is shot.

And now, blacks and the politically correct lemmings are crying about "black lives matter'.  Give me a break.

Blacks should be thanking their lucky stars there are men and women willing to pin on a badge and venture into the hell holes called "black communities".  I guarantee you that the men and women in blue are a much better option than the next alternative, which is guardsmen in fatigues and carrying M-16's, the true "assault weapons".


On the other hand, this article is a reminder of the politically correct indoctrination that passes for "education" nowadays.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Lee_CPA2

More info on this Sterling joker that the so-called "news" media will try to hide....

"Sterling was a registered sex offender.  He was convicted in 2000 of carnal knowledge of a juvenile and was released from prison in 2004. Details of that case were not immediately available. Sterling also had convictions for aggravated battery, criminal damage to property, unauthorized entry and domestic abuse battery,"


Sounds like Sterling was part of the problem of the black community, not someone they should be hoisting onto a pedestal.

John Williams4670
John Williams4670

Ron Clark article was as soul moving as Jesse Williams speech was. These men spoke truth and heart about the state of America. The media floods us with crimes that are committed by a few. So if your social group is made up of only people who look like you; and you have been conditioned to think all black people are criminals. Then you will excuse the actions and murder of these white male police officers.

insideview
insideview

Until you are black in America, shut up

Starik
Starik

@John Williams4670 No, but try to look at these situations from the police point of view. Most of their contacts on the job are with the minority of blacks who do commit crimes.

John Williams4670
John Williams4670

Female and black police officers defused situations every day without emptying their guns into a black person body. People get so upset if a dog is abused; but so easily excused the killing of black men, women and children. Such killing will never ever happen to anyone who is white. This is an American problem, not just a black people problem.

Starik
Starik

@John Williams4670 Exactly, an American problem of police misconduct - like the two black City Marshals who killed the 11 year old white boy in Louisiana, and are properly charged with murder.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I didn't just love my well behaved kids when I taught school.  I loved all of them.  I tried to understand reasons behind the poor behavior of some.


Well to know: Not all have been equally blessed when they come into this world.  Judge not, but help all one can.  That is simply wisdom.

Starik
Starik

Possibly we should wait until this incident is investigated?  Michael Brown? Trayvon Martin? After investigation, things changed.

bu22
bu22

@Starik BLM just kills their credibility when they go on and on about scumbags like Michael Brown.  You would think they would have some leader with brains who would use someone more legitimate as a poster child.  There have been some.  Physically resisting arrest when you have a gun in your pocket doesn't generate a lot of sympathy either.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Earlier today on Jay Bookman's blog, I wrote, "My heart aches for the black people in America with all of the exposure to so many black lives being killed by police, today, especially."


Yes, we must all speak out.  What good is an education, if we cannot, at least, do that with our lives?


I will try to do more.  I am sharing this link to one of my earlier written posts on my blog which will show the way for all of us to be able to expand our moral imaginations, with empathy for others, if only we will care enough to become that kind of person.  Here are my thoughts:


https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/finding-ones-inner-spirit/

Ashley Langford
Ashley Langford

We must stand up for social and racial justice. Our American brothers and sisters are hurting and we need to mourn with them and stand up for them.