The Racial Achievement Gap as Perpetual Money Machine
September 12, 2014, 02:54 PM
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You may wonder why local news media across the country typically treat The Gap in school achievement test scores as some sort of scandalous local phenomenon that must be rectified by redoubling efforts. One reason is because local “community organizers” see The Gap as easy money. For example, Alejandra Matos reports in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Minneapolis schools seek to end contract with achievement gap group Article by: ALEJANDRA MATOS , Star Tribune Updated: September 11, 2014 – 11:42 PM District says consulting group not hitting its goals. Minneapolis public school officials plan to stop payment on a $375,000 contract with an organization that they say has not fulfilled its pledge of working with students and parents in the North Side’s most struggling schools. The group, Community Standards Initiative (CSI), “has yet to meet its goals and … is not on track to meet its obligations,” said Stan Alleyne, a school district spokesman. “We will not pay them additional funds if they are unable to fulfill the terms of the contract.” School officials awarded the contract in May, without competitive bid, to CSI, a nonprofit organization run by community activists Al Flowers and Clarence Hightower. They got the contract after strong lobbying by DFL [Democratic Farm Labor Party — the Minnesota wing of the national Democrats] state Sens. Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden, who serves as deputy majority leader in the Senate. One source said Hayden and Champion threatened to withhold state aid if Minneapolis school officials did not approve the contract. Alleyne confirmed “we had members of the [local legislative] delegation that reached out to us, urging us to support the work of CSI.” Hayden said Thursday the idea that he and Champion bullied or threatened the school district is “inappropriate language to use.” The district’s decision has created a clash with an organization run by two of the North Side’s most well-known and politically connected community activists. … CSI formed to address the district’s vast achievement gap for black students. Hightower is the registered leader of the organization, which he runs through his church. The organization has no website, office or phone number. In the community, Flowers has been the public face of the organization. He is currently embroiled in an issue with the city after alleging misconduct during his arrest in July when police were checking on his daughter for violating the terms of her electronic home-monitoring.
Some interesting background on Mr. Flowers from Judith Yates Borger in the MinnPost:
Flowers has pressed legal action against the city six times since 2004. His sister, Alisa Clemons, has been involved in eight employment administrative hearings against the Minneapolis Police Department and two lawsuits in the last 10 years. The city paid her a total of $737,500 to settle both suits. … To date, the Flowers side of the lawsuit ledger is in the black for $3. The city’s side is in the red for $194,003 [for legal fees], and counting. … His sister, Alisa Clemons, believes the same. Clemons, a former Minneapolis police sergeant, filed her first suit in 1997. She was fired after the city accused her of sending hate mail to herself and other African-American police officers. When an arbitrator ruled that there wasn’t reasonable proof that she wrote the letters, she was reinstated in her job, with back pay. She sued and the city paid her $400,000 to settle. Her second suit charged the city with racial discrimination. Clemons says her superiors wrote her up for minor infractions that would not have been noticed had they been committed by a white officer, such as parking her car improperly. She said she was ordered to scrub riot helmets and called “Buckwheat.” She said the other officers wouldn’t back her up on police calls. She settled in 2001 when the city offered her $337,500 to resign. Clemons also filed suit in connection with her brother’s 2004 action after he was thrown out of the NAACP meeting.
This was when the NAACP called the cops to throw Flowers out of their meeting.
U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle dismissed her claim that police used excessive force when she came to Flowers’ aid. A jury later found Clemons not guilty of obstructing justice. Total cost to the city in defending against her charges? $24,761, plus her $737,500 in settlements.