CHICAGO––During a charter school’s network-wide professional development held in Chicago, IL on February 3, 2017, a white teacher named Laura Kessinger exposed herself as an enemy of African children. She strutted to the microphone wearing a shirt that read “Where was ‘All Lives Matter’ between 1916 and 1968?” to deliver what was supposed to be an uplifting speech about the power of tenacity and self-reflection.
She recounted how, during her early days of teaching for the Chicago Public School system, she taught a self-contained class for students trapped in the “special education” program. Once a week, she claimed, another student joined her class to receive extra services. In front of hundreds of educators, she admitted to having hated this student, and described the myriad ways she denied him his right to an education. Her offenses ranged from ignoring the student and allowing him to leave the classroom without permission, sometimes for the entire period, to refusing to call on him in class to let him engage with his peers in a meaningful way.
Kessinger admitted to having forgotten about this student until another student called her one day to inform her that the object of her abuse, Laquan McDonald, had been shot by Chicago police. Laquan McDonald’s murder took place on October 20, 2014 on the south side of Chicago. He was shot 16 times by pig, Jason Van Dyke, who, as of February 3, 2017, is still attempting to get away with his actions by filing to reduce his charges (Chicago Tribune).
After her revelation, Kessinger turned the story around to place herself at the center of the young martyr’s story. After hearing the news, she reflected on how her ghastly and abusive practices could have brought him to that situation. She lamented that she missed her opportunity to truly connect with, and possibly prevent the murder of one of her students. Her plea for solidarity was disgusting and disrespectful to the memory of an African martyr.
CPS is a microcosm of the U.S. education system
Schools in Chicago, and across the U.S., continue to provide subpar educations while implementing abusive tactics toward Africans caught in a system over which they have no control. After white colonizers move their children away from inner-city school systems, they rob the students from African working class families of resources and funds needed to support our education. African students in the city are left to fight over scraps.
According to a study published in April 2016 from the U.S. government accountability office (GAO), “[f]rom school years 2000-01 to 2013-14 (the most recent data available), the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had high percentages of poor and Black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent, according to GAO’s analysis of data from the Department of Education (Education). These schools were the most racially and economically concentrated: 75 to 100 percent of the students were Black or Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—a commonly used indicator of poverty. GAO’s analysis of Education data also found that compared with other schools, these schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science, and college preparatory courses and had disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in 9th grade, suspended, or expelled.”
The study went on to reveal that “one state devoted funding to magnet schools while the district’s traditional schools declined in quality [and] some magnets with openings could not accept minority students because doing so would interfere with the ratio of minority to non-minority students that the district was trying to achieve.” (GAO)
This draining of funds by the white ruling class means that working class students’ schools hire inexperienced teachers and administrators in order to satisfy dwindling budgets. Educators are often fired after reaching a proficiency level requiring a pay raise. After-school opportunities, fine arts and music programs, college-preparatory opportunities and social workers are virtually nonexistent in these schools. Armed police and security officer presence, unsurprisingly, continues to increase drastically every school year.
We cannot allow colonizer teachers to experiment on African children!
Laura Kessinger’s attitude towards education is not unique. White teachers, especially those with no experience, find themselves in front of classrooms filled with African children every year. Many of them share Kessinger’s practice of ignoring students they do not want to teach. Worse, they enter the profession with a white savior complex, convinced those students they do not even want to teach are lucky to have them.
Before accepting a pay raise and moving to the suburbs to educate white kids, where only teachers with experience get contracts, white, mostly female teachers ensure their teaching techniques are perfected by trying out new and unproven methods on African children.
We must fight to end the colonial education of our children! For every Laquan, there is a Ms. Kissinger who should have been stopped before she was allowed to further colonize the minds of young Africans caught in a school system that sends them directly to prison after robbing them of their educations.
We must have black community control of the education system! Join the Chicago branch of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) and fight for black community control of the schools. Let’s ensure that our children receive the knowledge they deserve.
Visit InPDUM.org or call 312.889.3290 to join the newly re-established Chicago Chapter!