You can't fix what you can't/won't face.
We disagree most strongly with John Hubbuch's position and his invitation to the Oak Park community to walk away from this particularly glaring reality haunting Oak Park and our country. Mr. Hubbuch's Wednesday Journal Viewpoints article, "Do we have the courage for this conversation?" [Aug. 22] provides an opportunity to consider additional implications.
His invitation to community stakeholders to withdraw from the minority student achievement gap situation after their so-called "very best efforts … to solve the problem," is a semi-opaque and anemic call to the community's lower self. How has he discerned "the very best effort" from the community? Has he conducted recent and relevant evaluations? Has he consulted quantitative or longitudinal data streams sufficient to warrant this call? What does he know about the individual stories of real people or the day-to-day narratives about the ongoing work in the community to support young people and families navigating elementary and high school experiences?
Had he done so, he probably would have been disinclined to make such blanketing, revealing and foolish statements. Why do white people continue to see this as a black issue? We don't get the feeling that Hubbuch is speaking to black people about discontinuing the efforts to close the gap — at least black people who think critically about it. So who is his audience?
We're concerned about, but not really surprised by, the number of people who really agree with him. Is this true? Do Oak Parkers want to argue that solving the achievement gap is a waste of time and money? Hubbuch seems to adopt the essence of a burgeoning cultural ideology that pits an idealized, normal, deserving community against one not-so-normative or deserving. Is this not a national issue as well?
His piece puts us in mind of other coded, short-sighted calls-to-arms fanning a growing flame of anxieties, grounded in the as-yet-unresolved issues about how black people will ultimately structure their way onto the American commons.
Why is it that our country seems able to mount sustained efforts to prosecute two wars; bail out criminal financial institutions; conceive, construct, launch and land billion-dollar engineering projects on Mars, among many other problematic achievements, but we can't seem to solve the problems of providing quality education for all of our children? This condition did not begin a few years ago — it's been years in the making. Had Hubbuch provided a bit more quality reporting in this opinion piece, he really could have contributed to the idea of a courageous conversation — one that could be characterized as authentic and life-giving.
Perhaps if he had taken the time to investigate his story, he would not have come off as a disgruntled middle-class white man, fearful that too much public funding is going to programs for problem-ridden black kids while the "intelligent" white and middle-class black kids are getting short shrift.
The stated "dysfunctional" causes of the situation — causes that go beyond financial considerations — are rooted in a history that is as complicated as the many new names created to define and describe this state of affairs. Perhaps Mr. Hubbuch should investigate the following categories before calling for such a predictably reactionary response: income gap, empowerment gap, loving relationship gap, equality gap, content delivery gap, quality instruction gap, access gap, performance gap, just to name a few.
In a time of economic downturn, it's fashionable to throw liberal ideals out of the window. Retreating from these issues does not reveal courage, but it just might reveal what kind of community we want to build.
George Bailey, Lee Pulliam, Deacon Wiley Samuels
Founding members, AMENS Mentoring Group
Answer Book 2017
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