In a classic radio interview (at the end of this article) on AM 1470, the hosts, Jamie Markley and Scott Robbins sought intently to assert that my recent commentary at the Peoria School Board meeting wasn't appropriate and even "harmful" to the community. Here's what I said:
"You're not the sheriff, CHANGE 150,"..."We will not runand we will not allow you to publicly lynch a Black woman in office. Yeah, that's right. You heard what I said. We won't allow you to lynch her or allow you to lynch any one who is helping our children. Yes, 'Wow' is the story," ..."If you don't like me, then you really won't like me because we are galvanizing to make our voices heard and voices known."
They asked if I wanted to take any of that back. To which I continue to state NO.
Further, they asked if I was remorseful for suggesting that the group 'change 150' were racists, by the use of the word "lynch". First, did I call them racists? At first blush, if one were to link the concept of "lynching" to historical racism and the attempt to use that methodology to shame, disgrace, dishonor, and ultimately place fear in the minds and hearts of others, the answer is yes. As I stated what has been done to and said about Dr. Lathan and some School Board members is nothing short of a 2014 modern media lynching. This is a long standard and common practice within Peoria. Both former Supt. Dr. Kay Royster, who "they" also refused to call Dr. at some point, and former Peoria Mayoral candidate General Parker have seriously found that out in modern times.
The problem is that a certain faction of individuals, within this group, use historically racist methodology to promote their message which includes, disgrace, dishonor, shame disrespect and fear and intimidation of others. Further, it is clear, that the group's most vocal proponents perpetuates false information and misrepresentations under the guise of "change" to promote their position.
The Mis-Use Of The Media: 1470 Hosts "Pretend" To Be Confused
I may have been talking fast, but I wasn't talking that fast. From the beginning this presentation was one of bias. One of the most absurd things was the radio hosts attempt to seem oblivious to the connection between District 150 employees and citizen supporters of and within this group.
This is not a mere parents or citizens group. They claim to represent many different factions within the community. Here is an excerpt from their website which makes who they are and who supports them very clear:
"We are also a group of concerned parents, civic and religious organizations and political leaders who have come together to bring focus to the myopic leadership practices of current District 150 Superintendent, Grenita Lathan."
Then there is also this groups funding issue:
"Many of our donations have been in small amounts and come from teachers and staff who work within District 150."
So at the very least, change 150 is a "non profit" organization. let's stop there for a minute....Since they are (or were) endorsing a School Board candidate for election, could they be a Illinois Political Action Committee For Education? If this group is a political action group, do they have an obligation to release their donor information? They say NO for the protection of their donors, and that may well may be so, but why aren't the critics asking for additional information regarding this and why Sue Wolstenholm actually dropped out of the race? The reasons could be on the up and up, but it could have also been in effort to avoid the IPACE designation and any resultant donor disclosure requirements. That should be examined.
Nevertheless, aside from change and endorsing candidates for School Board who have "dropped out" of the race, their primary intent is to remove Dr. Lathan from office. We know however, that there are several disgruntled District 150 employees not only and merely "donating" to the cause, as is their right, but actively spreading and promoting the vitriol of this group. Jeff Adkins Dutro, the Peoria Federation of Teachers Union leader, and District 150 EMPLOYEE, is most certainly promoting this group. Various employees, without refrain from him, are emailing and continuing to email other employees asking them to ascribe to this group's statements and petitions. The only purpose of these actions is to give this group greater credibility under the guise of "bringing positive change to the district" and district employees.
Even though employees already have a union to redress issues of employment and employer/employee relationship issues, it is abundantly clear that this group has taken it further by fueling their dissatisfaction with leadership at street level confusing the issues and lines of policy, process, regulation and employment relationships. This is a very deceitful process and approach, and one which I believe that this group will ultimately pay for in the end.
With that said, as I stated, I clearly did not believe that every member of the particular group is racist. Some are promoting their opinion, which is ultimately good for the community and as I have said before, everyone should have the right to voice their opinion. However some others, to whom those people are tied, have twisted themselves so tightly, until the voice of reason is hardly distinguishable from the voices of irrationality and hatred.
In my interview, I concluded by saying, "if the shoe fit" basically stating that if they or certain individuals and members were "racists" they should own it, and they should. Racism in the North has always followed this beneath the surface, "how dare you say that" pattern. Every Black person I know, and I have known them ALL my life, that has lived in both the South and the North, will readily say the same thing. The pattern of hidden, undercover and non-overt racism is a Northern(ly) inspired negative cultural value.
Those who are not racists, know that they are not racist and should not own any suggestion to the contrary and certainly shouldn't be offended, but those who are, are exposed not only by their actions, but what they stand by, allow and by virtue of their silence endorse.
No One Likes To Be Called A Racist
In most cases, even those who are racists, don't like to be called racists because the term is filled with many negative connotations. Many individuals who deny that they are racists, have a disconnect in understanding just exactly how, they are racist and which actions are easily and readily interpreted as racist by those looking on.
What sticks out like a sore thumb is that this group, was inspired by "change" in part because they feel that the removal of a White Principal from his long time position at Charter Oak School, due to testing irregularities (not merely mishandled paperwork, but changing of answers which led to changing scores) was too much, and ultimately the straw that broke the camel's back. It was this event and removal of a "good man" (who has purged himself of it all through a voluntarily requested UNPAID leave of absence) made them come out of silence as to the demand to remove the Superintendent.
For them, it is a righteous fight to help deliver the employees from the "fear and intimidation" of the Supt. and her policies. What is interesting is that in the process this group has done nothing but:
- Continue to bully and demand their way at public meetings
- Heckle opponents of their position &
- Use tactics of fear and intimidation in demanding that their issues be acted upon
These are the very things that they accuse the Supt. of. Inspired by the utter disrespect displayed by this group, another certain faction has even thrown blue ribbons in front of the Supt's home in night-time drive-bys. To understand this, one need to understand that Charter Oak was named a 2012 Blue Ribbon School by the US secretary of Education Arnie Duncan. So certainly, this deplorable, and sick and twisted act is a message to the Supt.
This tactic, and things such as this, are all too reminiscent of the burning crosses that the KKK placed in the yards of Black people and those that supported Black rights in the pre-civil rights era. The instillation of fear and intimidation and shame was the purpose. Could this be some type of modern equivalent? I think so, it is certainly not coincidental. Then, there are threats towards various Board members which have caused some to secure personal security and body guards. All of this, because some disagree with Board members that the citizens elected and who are doing the job and following regulations.
If these are not the actions and endorsements of people seeking CHANGE within or associated with this group, then how is it, that the instances of threats and intimidation align themselves so closely with the rise of this group and their demands?
A small amount of critical thinking is enough to raise the question of why there is such a strong push to remove this Superintendent and why such a vehement hatred is being sent out by this group, if not in print, certainly in it's actions or at the very least, by those who claim to be associated with it?
If this is really about the "progress" of our district, then allow me to ask, why Change:
- Balanced budgets. Balanced in the BLACK the last 4 years even with the State holding money.
- Greater and more extensive teacher training to reach students in the seats.
- The Acquisition of current textbooks to better facilitate modern education.
- Technology necessary to make the learning experience relevant.
- Updated and modernized school facilities and environments.
- Teachers who now are accountable not only to their bosses, but also to parents.
- An atmosphere of accountability throughout the entire education system.
- Vocational & Technical Training to serve the needs of students who want to immediately be a productive part of society after school is over.
- Open communication, participation and dialogue through Parent Universities, and the Parent/Teacher Advisory Committee.
- Environments where the considerations of our children are placed first and foremost.
- Opportunities of employment for a diverse population of Peoria citizens.
What Changes has this group proposed outside of changes in the Superintendency? How do their efforts make the children in the seats have a better and more positive learning experience throughout the district? How will their efforts better the educational progress and services rendered to this nearly 65% Black and minority school district?
You will not hear the answer to those questions from this group. All you will hear is that THEY want change. In reality, they want to take over because someone "close" to them has "suffered". That someone is a nice, good, White guy, and that's ALL they need to know...forget all else...CHANGE!
I KNOW better. The cash cow of this district has been cut off and and those that know this and were used to taking advantage of overtime payments, checks in addition to salary, and overall cronyism has ceased!
Unfortunately for some of them motivating the complaints, cronyism, has ceased at the hands of a Black woman, and no matter how she has personally achieved, she is their nemesis, and is due no respect. This group shows a display of utter disrespect towards the leader of a group of children (the students) who who also identify with her. But for them, their blatantly disrespectful actions towards her, in spite of all the good changes that have been made without one word of encouragement from them, is of no consideration. Only their desire for "change" should be heard according to them.
Pastor Harvey Burnett
Radio Interview, or attempted radio "lynching"?
HERE: Cindy Dollman Director of Development for the Peoria County Regional Board of Education said following proper protocol all comes back to the school’s top administrator. She said it’s typically up to the school to catch any possible mistakes or irregularities when analyzing its data. “The principal is in charge of making sure everything in the building is following state law, federal law, that all guidelines being followed within that building.”.
Special & Comical Note:
In attempt to justify himself and his approach in demeaning Dr. Lathan and to diffuse my statements, (I suppose), Former Teachers Union leader Terry Knapp said the following:
"We're all Black!"
He went on to state that the only people who were really White were albinos. I can't tell whether his statements were a justification towards "lynching" as if "lynching" is purely something for Blacks, or something that only Blacks can or ever will experience, or an effort to spark some "identity" or commonality among all people. He went on to continue to demean the Supt. and the Board. All I can ask him, and others that believe him, WHAT'S ON YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE? and DID YOU PUT THAT ON YOUR LAST JOB APPLICATION? I would like to know how that worked out...