“Education is the most important task, because it prepares children to become future leaders.”
PROBLEMS FACING EDUCATORS in Education:
(This conduit called education carries everyone through life.)
I know you struggle with discipline in your students and a lack of respect for the teaching profession. I have been on the inside of education looking out. Now I am on the outside looking in. From a detached perspective, I offer another model for feminine leadership. A vision that reveals how women in education are being used by the corporate state and why it is imperative for the future that you become a participant in your own liberation.
Graduating from High School was a small endeavor, but I wanted more. So, I enrolled in college because unconsciously I knew it was the next thing to do. First in junior college then off to the university, still searching for meaning and a way to find a measure of peace. Sitting in a counseling class, I was caught in the grips of despair because the root of my problems had surfaced only to go underground again. It would be many years later before they would resurface again long enough for me to heal.
As I look back on my life I see how I was primed to be an educator. I was a child of the 60’s. I grew up in a time when being black was a source of pride. A child who believed in adults and the world she grew up in. I loved education and found success and a measure of ease. Unfortunately, I found myself trapped in the world of learning looking for meaning and purpose, finding no release so I continued this unending search until it guided me to find the meaning of my being.
Education discovered me. I embraced the idea that I was an educator. Stepping through the door as a teacher would be how I would relate to the world. Children would come to my class and be changed by learning. They would open themselves up to the wonders of discovery.
A few years later I attended an educational conference. The underlying theme was the idea that the educator was the central figure who would transform the world. I was excited and impelled to go back to my school. Later I fully embraced it as my mission to transform the world through my work with children. Little did I know that it was me who needed to change. I grew to understand the link between and society and school and where the transformation was to take place.
Value of the Educator
It is my belief that the educator is the single most important person in education. We are on the front lines, in the trenches, working diligently every day to educate children. It is an overwhelming responsibility to educate the next generation, but an awesome honor to the touch the life of a child. To ignite a spark and help a child navigate through life. To see the glow in her eyes when she learned to read when she has figured out a difficult math problem. To watch a flower open and bloom and the wonderful aroma and colors brighten the room.
Teaching was the next best thing to being a lifelong student. The very nature of education is growth. Graduating from college most think they have arrived at a place of successes. Unfortunately, we as educators must continue to grow. A possible reason why education is on the decline is that we as adults have stopped growing.
In all sunshine, there is a little dark. I soon become disillusioned as I saw through education. I was the teacher. Testing is what education was all about. I did not find the comraderies with teachers or principal at my school. I had to change my classroom many times, looking for a place to be a peace.
In the classroom, children constantly challenged me. Defiance was the order of the day. Students came to school unprepared to adapt to an alien culture they were thrust into.
During my ten years teaching in Kentucky I watched as new teachers, including myself, got lost in the shuffle to remake education. There were hostile school takeovers and lost respect for education that sent most teacher on a fast track to burn-out. I soon became disenchanted and no longer wanting to play the game. So, I decided that I needed to leave the very thing I had come to value.
The Status Quo
Female educators are the carriers of culture. We women pass on this unspoken code to children in our care. What are we passing on to children? A soul-less culture that wants to maintain the status quo. That idea has outlived its’ usefulness. Now on the decline, it has become a totalitarian rule and a source of violence that has lulled children into. How can we create a culture that empowers children and helps them find a measure of success?
I could no longer be in a place that was not progressing, so I abandoned my source of income and started to wander. I moved away from the very thing I had become passionate about. I lived as a substitute teacher and a tutor, but not a moment of rest did I find. So, I continued to flow with the current that was my life. But like a shadow education followed me.
Unbeknownst to me, it was like the glue holding my life was coming undone. If I let go of my identity as a teacher who would I be? I left education in 2001 and drifted aimlessly for over fifteen years trying to discover who I was.
Pulsating in the background of my life was the idea that there was a secret to life that I did not know. I dug to the core of the earth to find what it could be. While questioning everyone and everything to be sure. I discovered it is through education that the elite maintains their stronghold on children and the world.
Also during 2001, it was like the floodgates of my emotions that had been locked inside opened and released. All the anguish and disappointments I had experienced found its way on the empty page. The writing was how I began to make sense of my life.
For the next few years, I bounced around with a few part-time jobs. A tutor at the community center, as an in-home tutoring, all the while writing poetry, trying to heal the hurt and figure out my next move.
The Next Move
The next move was to Florida to help my daughter with her children. It was a good mix, I helped with the children and I had found something else to throw myself into. While in Florida I found the internet. First Facebook then as a WordPress Blogger. My next venture was a poet on the world wide web. As a Word-press blogger, I found the platform upon which I sent my words. Facebook allowed me to tinker with video and visual images that portrayed the wisdom that was revealed to me as I continued to immerse myself in this new world of learning. All measure of life I explored, from Spirituality to Mindfulness to understanding the power of Creative Visualization.
Finding the Wide-World Web
This new-found stream of information opened me to another life that I needed to see. Viewing my thoughts from a distance, I saw how they had me in a perpetual prison, trapped in my own reality. Slowly the thoughts were like clouds floating by as I began to evolve beyond my own thoughts and an identity that kept me a prisoner to them. I realized that my thoughts are but one perspective in a field of many. Once I started to allow my thoughts to be and not totally believe in them this lead me to the center of my meaning and showed me how to extract a small grain of truth that opened a door for me.
No Longer a Prisoner of Thought
As I stepped outside of my thoughts, I saw them as the thoughts of my culture, my father, my mother, those who lived in my immediate vicinity. I started to cling less and less to the persona that I called my personality. I was free to be. I could understand my life and which way I need to go.
Meditation and quiet contemplation moved me to the next evolutionary shift that we humans must make. It is the only thing that will push up forward from this stuck-on rewind mode of educational reform.
I had to turn around and look directly at my life and see that I could transform myself and meet the challenge before me. It has been my mission to transform education ever since I entered the arena in 1992.
After leaving my fulltime job as an educator in 2001I began to see the slow decline in Democracy that we see on a national level. This loss of purpose is directly related to the decline of the educational function of schools as a guiding light.
True Educational Reform
Education was once a sacred undertaking. A ceaseless process of producing humanistic individuals and creating culture and peace. It is the most precious art of life. Schools were the site of learning about life and practicing democracy. This is no longer clear.
For so long, there has been too much emphasis placed on the cognitive elements in learning, and none on the internal life of the child. Administrators and teachers take for granted the dual personal and social nature of children. This has led to a disconnected culture.
The twenty-first century demands a change from feeling disconnected to embracing the interconnectedness of life which leads to a radical shift in society.
The current purpose of education is a mechanism that serves national objectives, be they political, militaristic, economic or ideological, casing children into a uniform mold.
The uniforms in schools are a physical sign that young person are being co-opted and used by the state. The current leadership in education at the national level wants children to be uniform in their thinking and pledge to the American flag. It is a system that fosters obedient imperial subjects that are used by the state.
True educational reform has been pushed out and replaced by high-stakes testing controlled by the corporate state. This deliberate dumbing down of the educational system has created a population of citizens devoid of critical thinking skills. Any educational reform that does not have at its’ heart the personal development of the educator will prove to be futile. School’s meaning has reached an impasse.
Thus, the need for a New Standard of Womanhood/Educator
To be a real force for change in the twenty-first-century educators must wrestle free from being an instrument used by the corporate state. What is essential is that you adopt an empowerment leadership style that empowers children and helps them create value with their life.
You are the deciding factor in the evolution of educators. You can elevate the status of education to be the golden pillar of life, society, and the future by taking on the challenge. We, women, are trained to be leaders in the classroom. We are the ones who have a direct influence on the lives of children and the power to transform lives.
Each child comes to school with a world they were born into. She must be respected as an individual and not treated as an empty vessel to be filled with meaningless facts.
The truth of the matter is, schools are a mirror reflection of society. Training grounds for real life. Unfortunately, the lack of discipline and disrespect for women not only happens in schools but in society as well. Women now occupy approximately 83% of teachers at the elementary level. We can shift the perspective and bring respect back to the teaching profession.
Schools are important for young people. It is where they exercise social competence, which is directly related to success in school and later in life. It is in the classroom where democracy is experienced. Students learn to become global citizens and trust. It is the last frontier for some children to learn valuable skills needed in life.
You want to be a hero for your students. Teaching is your Super Power. The classroom is a place to stretch your leadership muscle and take a leading role in transforming the lives of the children in your care.
Changing of the Guard
This moment in history something is shifting, but we cannot really understand. It is the changing of the guards. The old system is falling away and losing its’ usefulness. There must be another system erected to take its’ place.
This is the time to build a partnership culture with your students. They bring to the classroom a history and a life up to that point. You must respect them and meet them where they are and bring them along.
You are the leader that will lead the evolution in the teacher-student relationship. It will happen in your classroom every day as you go about your day, teaching and interacting with students. It will be in the way you embrace students as an equal partner in learning and changing the world.
When you walk into the classroom you become the guide and the facilitator. You ensure the content is presented. Just step back after it is offered and watch the children come alive. Let them dance with the information and make it their own. Allow them to fail. Honor their choices and encourage risk-taking. Lastly, make the lesson engaging filled with adventure and excitement.
You are the hero for children. The direct intermediator between them and the world. You become a surrogate mother, teacher, and counselor. I know you did not sign on for this tremendous responsibility, but it has been thrust upon you. You are needed to be a buffer between them and the state.
EDUCATION BECOMES A PROCESS OF LIBERATING, EMPOWERING AND SOCIALIZING CHILDREN.
You are the
The one that Empowers
A Renewed Sense of Purpose
The last leg of my journey has brought me full circle to the source of learning, the system that educates children. Public education is the medium through which I now direct my life.
I no longer run away from this awesome task. But now I look at it and see that it is possible to remake education into a system that empowers educators and children. I propose a value creation education pedagogy lead by you. Where the aim of teaching is to awaken student’s interests. Bring forth the inner life of the child, which is filled with joy and motivation. A happiness that comes from learning rather than being told what to think.
As you begin to change how you think and act. You view education through a different paradigm. This changes the culture in the classroom and your school. It becomes a transformed system from domination to a partnership culture. Education then becomes a joint effort between teacher and student, who both develop and grow.
I want to inspire you to be courageous and an advocate for each child that sits in your classroom and look up to you as a role model.
In the twenty-first century, schools are social intuitions, a place to socialize children, instead of teaching them to play the game and continue the status quo which has lead us to this defining moment in history.
You create culture every day. In how you talk with children and other adults in your school. It is paramount that teachers respect children as individuals, and observe students as they try various approaches always based on feelings of deep empathy and compassion for them.
For so long we women have adopted the male model of leadership that has as its core, domination, and coercion to mold children’s behavior, consequently children rebel and cause classroom disruptions.
There is an alternative mode of leadership. It is Feminine Leadership that embraces the whole of the child and the classroom environment. You become instrumental in co-creating a culture where you enter the classroom with an openness and a leadership of empowerment that empowers children and help them cultivate a love of learning and citizenship which is practiced in the classroom. The classroom becomes the mini-society where each child is listened to and made to feel a valuable contributor to co-creating culture.
The Pursuit, Capture and Political Persecution of Angela Yvonne Davis.
READERS’ THEATER – MONOLOGUE
(20-25 minutes) Theatrical Re-Enactment of The Pursuit, Capture and Political Persecution of Angela Yvonne Davis
TITLE: Point of Departure
Producer: VFE Southern ROOTS Cultural Institute
Creative Consultant: Pamala G. Wiley
Writer: Pamala Wiley
Actress: Rochelle McKevie
Originally performed in Louisville, KY 2005
Scene One: Closing In
Back in New York I had been underground for approximately two months, convinced the day would come when many of us would have to live in secrecy. I hated this lifestyle. Staying in unfamiliar places with people I barely knew, going out at night wearing a wig and dark glasses. A glance in the mirror reflected back to me a figure that was unrecognizable.
It was October 13, 1970. A friend and I left Howard Johnson motel. We were going to see a movie. David Poindexter had dropped everything to help me. He and I had become comrades in this final hour. The situation was so desperate. I was tired and hopelessly preoccupied with eluding the police, wondering how much longer I could tolerate isolation, knowing that to contact anyone would be suicide.
Inside the motel, I was gripped by a nagging fear. Every straight-looking American man standing around confirmed my anxiety. I was positive that all these men were agents positioned in a formation that had been previously agreed upon preparing to attack.
I passed my open door. A frail man reached out and grabbed my arm. He said nothing. More agents poured out from behind him. Others streamed from a room across the hall. “Angela Davis?” Are you Angela Davis?” The questions were coming from all directions. I glared at them. During the 10 or 12 seconds, moving between the elevator and the point of confrontation, thoughts tore through my mind like a storm. They forced David into a room on the right and shoved me into another on the left. I turned and took one last look down the long dark passageway. The agents ripped the wig off my head, cuffed my hands behind my back and arrested me on the spot.
Scene Two: House of Detention
The system is poised against us politically, and economically. We live in a socially hostile world. We Black people must contend with this ill-treatment every day of our lives. The Soledad Brothers Case is what caused me to go underground and to be finally put on the FBI 10 Most Wanted List. I was attracted to this case because of the political views of George Jackson who was sentenced to prison for stealing seventy dollars and has been incarcerated over fifteen years.
January 13, 1969, eight white prisoners and seven blacks were “skin searched” for weapons and sent out to a special exercise in Soledad prison, Salinas, California. Within minutes a fight had broken out in the yard. What happened next is a controversial issue. Convict survivors claim the tower guards began to fire into the crowd precisely at the blacks without warning. Four shots were fired and three black prisons were killed. One white prisoner was wounded in the groin. Inmates claimed the guards would not let them assist the wounded.
The dead prisoners lay on the hard, cold pavement for approximately 20 minutes. Thus, one of the prisoners wounded in the leg bled to death. Three days later the Monterey Grand Jury made public their findings.
The guard’s actions were labeled justified. Less than a half-hour after the verdict was announced a guard was found beaten to death. However, he was not the one who committed the shootings. All the prisoners in the unit were put into isolation.
Six days later, three black convicts were accused. Fleta Drumgo, John Clutchette, and George Jackson. The prison system had no concrete evidence that they were guilty, but wanted to use them as an example because they had been previously identified as black militants by the prison authorities.
George was eighteen when he was sentenced from one year to life for stealing $70 from a gas station. He was brought to prison because he couldn’t adjust. All his life he did exactly what he wanted to do, which explains why he had to be jailed. He accepted a deal. He agreed to confess and spare the county court costs in return for a light county jail sentence.
While in prison he read about Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engel’s, and Mao. They redeemed him. He studied economics and military ideas and met Black Guerrillas, George “Big Jake” Lewis, and James Carr W.L. Nolen Torry Gibson and many others. They attempted to transform the black criminal mentality into a black revolutionary mentality. Thus, each of them was subjected to years of the most vicious reactionary violence by the state. Three of them were murdered.
George felt that capture and imprisonment were the closest thing to being dead. He spent years in prison, over half of them in solitary confinement. He faced a mandatory death sentence when he was convicted of the guards’ death.
He pleaded and reasoned and even threatened in a desperate effort to make is family understand his life and accept his commitment to total revolutionary change. He wrote to every family member because of a burning need to communicate.
His deepest concern was for his younger brother Jonathan. George poured out everything that he has ever learned about how to survive as a black man in a hostile and degrading society.
My involvement in the Soledad Brothers’ case increased. I traveled throughout California speaking on their behalf. The pressure at the University mounted. They wanted to fire me for being a communist and for my outspokenness.
On the day I delivered one of my more moving speeches in which I included Ronald Reagan himself with participating in and condoning a conspiracy to suppress all radical political activists, particularly those in prison did the Board of Regents make their final decision to fire me.
Tension mounted. People needed a way to shake off the cruelty of the jail and prison systems. For once they wanted something with which to fight the harsh system that had deceived, mistreated, jailed and imprisoned their brothers and sisters.
We organized a campaign to free the Soledad Brothers. All over the black community buttons were passed out, silk-screen posters made, wherever there were rallies, meetings, concerts or gatherings in the community, a committee of activist passed out literature.
Scene Three: Not My Education Monologue: Speech by A. Davis
The education is an instrument for entrenching Amerikan domination. It prepares the African child for the role of an underdog, a supplier of chief labor who will not identify himself/herself with the aspirations of the oppressed masses for national liberation of all black people.
It is a role of ensuring the privileged position of the Amerikans, insulating the African child from world events and confining him to lies and distortions that are prepared by the Amerikans to retard the intellectual ability of blacks.
The education he/she is given glorifies tribalism. The child is made to except the Amerikan as savior whose divine mission is to dominate the lives of black people and determine how, where and how long each one should live. Indeed, it is and education for servitude.*(Speech from Angela Y. Davis, Women Culture Politics; pp 189-190)
Scene Four: My Education Monologue:
A loud noise interrupted my sleep. I looked out the window, our neighbors the Deyaberts house was in flames. Bombings occurred so frequently we named our neighborhood Dynamite Hill. The whites lived on one side and us blacks on the other. More blacks moved in and the whites moved out. The Deyaberts dared to cross the color line. If we stayed on our side they said we’d be fine.
We moved into the neighborhood when I was about four. I knew something was different about the people across the street. I just didn’t know what. I’d speak to them they would just glare back. My environment became so violent. It filled me with hate. Mother and father wanted their eldest daughter to not be so consumed. They’d ease my distaste by telling me white people had an unnatural disgust towards the black race.
As more children moved into the neighborhood we would nourish our bruised egos by standing and shouting racial slurs at white people passing in cars. We would take off running and laugh at the expressions on their faces. We were the not so poor. Up until going to school. I thought everyone lived the way we did. Mother and a father both worked. Mother was a teacher and dad owned a service station. We moved into a mixed neighborhood. We had to rent the upstairs to help pay the mortgage.
Mother taught me to read and write before first grade, but what I learned in that first year impressed upon me the need to take care of my fellow human. I learned that just because you’re hungry doesn’t mean you’re going to get a good meal. And if you’re cold doesn’t mean you’ll get warm clothing, if sick is you guaranteed good medical care.
Us children attended Tuggle Elementary, the neighborhood school. An old cluster of wooden dilapidated houses that stood on the side of a grass-less hill. At the bottom was the playground covered with red clay. The school for white children was new, sitting on plush green ferns.
Tuggle was an all-black school, headed up by an all-white board. Their visits always set the teachers scrambling to be at their best. However the teachers commanded little respect from the board. Sometimes the board leader would flaunt his authority by looking us over like a herd of grazing cattle enclosed in the field.
At school, many children couldn’t afford a bag of chips for lunch. For days, I watched my classmates go hungry. I couldn’t be silent any longer. Dad usually brought home a bag of coins every night and lay them out on the kitchen shelf. Secretly one night I crept into the kitchen and took a few coins, I’m sure dad wouldn’t miss. I weighed my guilt over the need to help feed. I gave those children coins so they could buy a sack lunch.
Teachers would teach us about Negroes that the School Board did not see as a danger to their way of life. A favorite time was Negro history week. Special events were planned for assembly. Each child would be responsible for a project to present. This gave us a strong positive identification with our people and the history we grew to know.
We never learned about Nat Turner or Malcolm X those whom weren’t accepted by the Amerikan. A definite pattern of submission and silence set the stage for us to overlook the racist and oppressive ways we experienced growing up. Teachers taught us to live with this misery and to pull ourselves up using our own bootstraps. Be a doctor, be a teacher, it must be your individual effort.
Once a Black teacher fought back. A white man called him “Jessie” in front of his class. He replied, “in case you’ve forgotten, my name is Mr. Champion”. Days later he was fired for his act of refusal. Nothing in the world made me angrier than inaction and silent acceptance of the distressing ways whites treated blacks.
Scene Five: Heroes Emerge – Monologue:
Jonathan, George’s younger brother spent all is time and energy in the campaign to free his brothers. It had been 10 long years since Jonathan had seen his brother as a free man. George was proud of Jonathan and respected his loyalty. In George’s letters to Jonathan, he described the brutal treatment he and other prisoners received. Those letters heighten Jonathan’s involvemen to work more diligently to set the Soledad Brothers free.
August 7, 1970, our heroes emerged. Years of frustrations and decades of frame-ups had left Jonathan helpless and impotent. Jonathan decided to act. He single-handedly, with a satchel full of handguns, an assault rifle and a shotgun hidden in his raincoat entered the courtroom of judge Haley. Jonathan armed three convicts then shouted, “Free the Soledad Brothers, “free all political prisoner”. A gun was taped to the judge’s neck. The jurors, District Attorney and prosecutor were led out of the courtroom into an awaiting van.
Outside a guard fired the first shot, and then a barrage of gunshots tore into the van. When the smoke cleared all except one person had been killed or wounded. Judge Haley was dead. Jonathan at seventeen lay lifeless on the cold pavement. I couldn’t believe he was dead. The news made me angry. He was so full of life.I was charged with murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy. The guns used in the killings were traced back to me. The charges are all false, waged against me because of my revolutionary political views.
Scene six: Jail Life
Everything around me was unfamiliar. My cell had become the only thing recognizable in the darkness. Loud screams continued throughout the night. The cries so close I could feel the tears. Lying helpless, darkness lay on me like the bars that now imprison me.
I lived in this wasteland, housed with the sick, drugged and a woman who screamed into the night. She had lost all contact with reality. Her vile language filled the air. She used the most vulgar language and graphic description of some imagined black figure that she says was raping her. I am sure the guards placed her beside me to provoke me.
I would spend sixteen months in jail awaiting my trial alongside women in prison. They tried to isolate me, said my life would be in danger. But what I found were women who embraced and supported my cause.
The prosecutor tried to paint a picture of my case as a crime of passion, sighting women as emotional, overlooking the fact that George and myself were political prisoners put on trial because of our political view. August 21, 1971. I awoke with emptiness from behind bars in this thoughtless and disconnected place. A darkness that filled my every waking moment. I thought about George in San Quentin.
Margaret and Howard walked in. They had been instrumental in helping with my case. By the look on Margaret’s face I knew something was wrong. I had witnessed that look once before when bad news came of Jonathan’s death. Tears welled in the corner of Margaret’s eyes. She reached out for me. We held on. I was numb and unable to speak. Howard shouted, “They killed him, Angela, they shot George in the back.
Angela Yvonne Davis was acquitted of all charges. A year and a half later she formed the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which has chapters in twenty-one state including Louisville, Kentucky which is the only one still active.