Dr. Matsemela Odom
Vice President, InPDUM
On August 3, Donald Trump called by tweet once again for the reopening of schools, downplaying the rising COVID-19 numbers in the U.S.
Trump’s lackey, Florida governor Ron DeSantis is committed to reopening Florida public schools, despite resistance from parents, teachers and staff.
It’s already been known that COVID-19 positive students pose a threat to parents and teachers. Yet, evidence shows that it is increasingly dangerous to children.
In Florida, about one out of three children tested for COVID-19 have received positive results. Africans comprise 57 percent of the children to have Kawasaki disease-like symptoms that cause severe inflammation of the blood vessels.
STAT news website has reported that while there was some evidence that elementary-aged children have lower probability in catching COVID-19 and of spreading the disease, that evidence is unreliable. This is because, since March at least, children have not had much interaction with other children with school either remote or out of session.
Politicians want this to be true because more children in school means more people at work, more people purchasing gasoline, snacks, clothes and many other things they need to give the economy a booster shot.
Teacher unions and other progressive organizations argue that the reopening of in-person instruction could be dangerous. In July, United Teachers Los Angeles demanded the closure of charter schools and the defunding of the police to direct that funding to education as a stipulation to reopening the schools.
In California, schools in the largest districts have opted to go to completely remote instruction at least for the fall and there are some indications that remote instruction will be extended to the spring. Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego are not reopening.
School districts in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas will also not be opening in August and September. All of these districts have sizable numbers of African, Latinx and Indigenous students.
Other places like New York, Chicago and New Orleans have opted for hybrid models. Many preschools and daycare centers have already reopened with smaller class sizes and other restrictions.
Following the first week of school reopenings, districts that have returned to face-to-face instruction are already seeing increased COVID-19 infections. On August 3, it was reported that 260 faculty and staff members in Gwinnett County, Georgia were not at work because they either tested positive or were in contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19.
Hannah Watters—a 15-year-old student at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia—posted a photo of a crowded school hallway on August 4 that went viral. It was subsequently reported that nine students and faculty have tested positive for COVID-19. Two hundred fifty students and teachers are now quarantined.
Despite that, Georgia Mayor Brian Kemp claims that school reopenings are going well.
However, African families will be the hardest hit. A seven-year-old African boy in Georgia has become the state’s youngest COVID-19 casualty.
Africans demand Black Community Control of Schools
The African community has responded to the contradictions of colonial education during the COVID-19 pandemic by demanding Black Community Control of Schools.
In the 1990s, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) fought to establish the Marcus Garvey Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was exposed that the desegregation of public schools in Pinellas County, Florida was yet another colonial tool.
Meanwhile, magnet schools were created in the African community to draw white North American children. African children were bussed long distances away to hostile white communities in a move that weakened the African community as it strengthened white power.
Studies showed that African youth in Pinellas County digressed in their learning. As Chimurenga Selembao noted in a recent podcast on The People’s War Radio Show, African students could have stayed home and done better than going to those schools.
In San Diego, California, International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) organizers have created Uhuru Shule Virtual Freedom School. Uhuru Shule is an African-centered virtual curriculum for parents abruptly forced into homeschooling and assisting their students who are dealing with remote education.
In California, public schools receive a bulk of their funding based on average daily attendance, not real estate value as it is often believed. This explains the role of truancy police who kidnap fugitive students who flee campuses.
However, as a result of the pandemic, schools received their continued funding in the spring based on attendance reports from February. Following the school closures, a student could be recorded as present if they had any sort of contact with the online instruction platforms, simply logging in or responding to an email sufficed.
Parents in Compton Unified School District reported little to no instruction from elementary faculty.
For the 2020-2021 academic year, it has been reported that schools will now receive their funds based on opening day enrollment, leaving no urgency for regular instruction.
This makes InPDUM San Diego’s Uhuru Shule Virtual Freedom School all the more important. Uhuru Shule is KiSwahili for “Freedom School.”
Uhuru Shule’s curriculum is still growing with new content being added daily. The virtual curriculum can be found at tinyurl.com/uhurushule.
It is designed as an eight-week program but people can take it at their own pace. There are three disciplines:
- History, Literature and Social Studies
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
- Physical Education
The curriculum contains video lectures, experiments, physical education videos and science cartoons from Tanzania.
The Uhuru Shule working group has also begun to hold bi-weekly story times on Saturday mornings. Uhuru Shule has met African working class families at their political door.
Uhuru Shule has brought many African families into political life. The learning modules are prefaced with points from InPDUM’s Revolutionary National Democratic Program.
The Uhuru Shule Director, Maisha Kudumu, is a representative on the Africans Charge Genocide Subcommittee and is helping to organize a working group on colonial education.
Africans Charge Genocide Campaign calls for school district protests
The Africans Charge Genocide Campaign is calling for national protests against school districts and county education departments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened the contradictions of colonial education, but these issues cannot be resolved through distance education. These contradictions can only be resolved when power is placed into the hands of the African working class.
Homeschooling has become a popular alternative. However, African families on cash-aid public assistance are not eligible for homeschooling. If an African parent pulls their students from public schools, children can be kidnapped by the foster care system.
Also, African students who are homeschooled often lack the socialization that African students receive in traditional school settings. The solution is to create homeschooling networks for African families.
Uhuru Movement organizers need to meet African families where they are. The bulk of African families are in the public school system so we need to advocate for African control of education. African parents, teachers and students should be turned into African Internationalists as part of this struggle.
This can be done through curriculum-based efforts led by InPDUM and Uhuru Shule or the Marcus Garvey Youth Program led by the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project.
The contradictions of colonial education is merely one more symptom of the larger pandemic, the colonialvirus. Black Power is the cure, and Black Community Control of Education is an expression of Black Power.
Learn more about Africans Charge Genocide and Uhuru Shule at inpdum.org
Access the Uhuru Shule Virtual Freedom School at tinyurl.com/uhurushule