Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to the crowd at New Birth Baptist Church last night at the meeting of the Miami-Dade Chapter of NAN. The topic was the school bond referendum on the upcoming November ballot.
Before the superintendent spoke, the agenda included Marcus A. Bright who spoke on Education for a Better America and Gary T. Hartfield of the Miami-Dade County Department of Elections. Bishop Victor T. Curry, President of NAN and pastor of New Birth, shared with the audience that he was criticized for having the Superintendent speak at the NAN meeting.
Carvalho took the mic and let it be known he was no stranger to New Birth nor to the “urban core”. It was obvious that he gets black folks deep-seated distrust of the school district to be fair to the people in the urban core. He started his presentation talking about broken promises of the past. Obviously, he has also felt the heat from some folks in the community because he likened his position in this school bond issue to that of President Obama. He said the real mark of injustice is to blame someone for something he didn’t do.
The Superintendent spoke about the transformative power of education and how desperately many public schools need to be upgraded. He also disputed some statements that have been made about school construction in the black community by pointing out several schools that were rebuilt or renovated: North Miami Sr.; Miami Jackson; Miami Northwestern; Miami Central; Miami Carol City and Booker T. Washington. The only predominantly black high school that has not been renovated or rebuilt is Miami Norland. He also addressed black businesses benefitting from the jobs created through this referendum.
The average homeowner will pay less than $10 per year if this referendum is approved. If it’s not approved, it’s very likely some schools will be closed due to safety reasons.
Superintendent Carvalho knows how to connect with the audience and he was effective based on the heads nodding in agreement. There are concerns in the black community that these latest promises will be broken if he leaves for another position and the District’s new leadership is not as supportive as he.
Therein lies the crux of the problem with the schools in the black community. We must accept responsibility for not holding the School Board, the Superintendent, legislators and others accountable for the condition of our schools and the quality of education our children receive.
We allowed our schools to deteriorate. We may not like to hear that. We may even want to start finger pointing and blaming others but we’re all in this together. It is neither in our children’s best interest nor the best interest of the community at large when we remain passive and apathetic about education issues while we raise holy hell about athletics. It shouldn’t matter who the superintendent is or who is on the school board; we should expect the best for all of our children, regardless of the zip code they live in.