Countdown Day 48 –

I will be proof reading and editing this tomorrow morning.

I knew just how I wanted to begin this post when I got up at 5AM, eighteen hours ago. I’ve been so busy that its 11:04PM and there is no way I can put it all together and edit it into respectable shape before midnight. In fact I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake and was ready to crash at 8 but it was just too darned early. I have one last project to complete my new office. I ordered a couple of wall display shelves from Ikea and they arrived today. I decided I would stay awake by putting them together and by reinforcing my sheetrock wall with two by fours to hang them. To do that I had to crawl in a hot tight little space and spent two hours there cutting and fitting the lumber in. Any competent carpenter would have done it in twenty minutes. Claudia came up not knowing what I was up to and found me stripped down to my tighty whities covered with sawdust. She could only see my bare legs through the two foot tall door I squeezed through. She couldn’t stop laughing. Asking her if she was laughing with me or at me only spurred her on.

This is hardly the image I left my readers with at the end of yesterday’s post but I am a strong believer in the power of the ridiculous to help us keep things in perspective.

Jane Hoffman who lost her bid for the School Board in the 2nd District but has kept up a steady stream of friendly email to me despite my twitting her campaign for starting out with the Mayor’s race had a strong reaction to the Story about Dr. Dixon’s roommate. She wrote me:

I liked your blog entry…I was surprised by your in depth portion about Mr. Dixon. interesting. I was the only white on an all Black campus at North Carolina Central U. Dixon is bragging about 1 Black friend.

Until I moved to Minnesota I was in the heart of integration in Topeka, Kansas. In second grade I sent to the playground while all the children from the nearby all black grade school were ushered into Loman Hill Elementary. By sixth grade I was a minority white kid in class , here in the back row, although just barely. Then I moved to North Mankato, Minnesota. The first neighbor kid I met found out I had gone to schools with colored children (that being the nomenclature of 1963) and told me a joke he thought was very funny. The punch like involved a black boy wanting to dress up as a fudgcicle for Halloween which he accomplished by stripping naked and sticking a broom handle up his arse. I was too polite back then to tell my new neighbor it was a crappy joke.

By my junior year my family integrated Mankato High School for the very first time when we hosted a foreign student from Ethiopia. My Mother called Mankato a “lily white town.”

I followed events in Topeka after moving to Minnesota. One of my neighbors was a teacher who people called a “white nigger” because he championed civil rights. Another was a race skeptic who grudgingly worked with the new black principal some years after I left town. It was his daughter that I wrote about who as a five year old shocked me by saying she didn’t want to go to school with no niggers.

To say I felt nothing but contempt for Dr. Dixon’s fraudulent professions of concern for minorities is putting it mildly.

I mentioned before that the District sold the Red Plan to the State claiming it would help desegregate our schools. This was actually important for the sales pitch because the lion’s share of the financing that permitted the District to proceed with the building plan without a referendum permitted it to be done without a referendum for the purpose of desegregating the schools.

I was not the only person who cried foul about this misuse of this law. Its author, Representative Mike Jaros put that exception in the law and considered the Red Plan a complete abuse of the District authority. You may remember that I ran against Mike Jaros twice in the 1970’s and he kicked my butt. Nonetheless I have always liked Mike and knew he had a heart of gold. Its ironic that we have become allies since the Red Plan. I have also pointed out how I called Mike up to have a cup of coffee before I ran against him and he graciously accepted my invitation. We had a lovely conversation. By the way I’m still waiting for a couple of School Board candidates to accept my invitation to get together. Their avoidance of me gives me pause. I’d hate to think they are preparing to take over the roles of the current board members who are either stepping down in disgrace or who wish to continue the feuds of the last ugly year.

Today Duluth is the nation’s leader in the achievement gap between white and minority children. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that the fans of the Red Plan never write to the paper to remind us what a benefit it has proven to be. Although I note that a lot of them make it clear that the Red Plan is over with and we need to move forward. I just have no confidence in the current school board majority to care any more about minority children than the ferocious supporters of the Red Plan did.

Which reminds me one person who is light years ahead of any of the other candidates on this subject is Alanna Oswald who wrote a plan for the District on helping minority families a number of years ago. Its been ignored ever since of course.

She was one of the few candidates for the school board who has been attending meetings over the summer and she was at all three meetings this week from beginning to end. She made an observation about our ACT test results that I hadn’t noticed. She pointed out that while all the juniors took the test that was not true of the Senior class. Only college bound students who were willing to pay the $75 to take the test took it. There is little doubt that our scores for the seniors would have been much lower if every twelfth grader had taken the test. That would have been a critical data point for us to have discussed. We would have if Alanna had been on the Board.

Its almost midnight. I’ll post this now but edit it in the morning.

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