By Tim Hughes
Matthew Simpson’s Nov. 1 Register Star response to Ed Wells’ opinion piece in the Register Star on Oct. 28 leads Simpson to claim Wells’ viewpoint is not debatable when it is most definitely debatable.
Simpson, a business specialist with the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, a fact he mentions in his response without mentioning what aspect of business is his specialty, dutifully falls in line with Wells’ endless finger pointing and amateur demagoguery.
I once asked a Register Star columnist why the newspaper gives free rein to Wells to spew his clumsy innuendo that Rockford has a race problem uniquely its own and was told that we must remember there is a black view to consider. There is no more a black view than there is a white view, and to the extent that I hear blacks express their views, it’s generally to the effect that Wells doesn’t speak for them!
The injustice of such hypocrisy is almost perfect and has done great damage to our community. A Chicago attorney working on the People Who Care lawsuit once told me that “Rockford schools didn’t discriminate against minority students any more or any less than any other school district. Somebody just decided to fire off a lawsuit about it.”
Now there’s something that, in my view, is not debatable! Reading the massive Plaintiff’s Proposed Finding of Facts in the People Who Care lawsuit, I was stunned to find claims that white teachers would start to cry when told by counselors that black parents wished to speak with them about their child’s progress. In the quarter of a century I spent at Wilson Middle School and Auburn High School, I never witnessed such a spectacle, and I don’t believe anyone else did, either.
In his Oct. 28 column, Wells warns that we shouldn’t treat young black males as Trash, then trashes them as, in his words, “knuckleheads.” If they’re knuckleheads in Wells’ opinion, what does he expect everyone else’s opinion to be of them? Simpson includes Wells’ description of young black males as knuckleheads in quoting him and asserts that the opinion is not debatable!
Stand on a school day morning at any bus stop and see those Wells and Simpson think are knuckleheads. Most wear name-brand clothes and headgear. They’re loaded down with iPads, iPods, smart phones, cell phones, soda pop and junk food snacks, but nowhere is a school book or notebook to be seen! Then, consider school board member Lisa Jackson, who said she will vigorously oppose any attempt to require students to wear school uniforms. The clothes these kids wear, the electronic gadgets they carry, and the junk food they consume in place of a nutritious breakfast are more important than the education they’re supposed to get. So what should be our investment when it comes to that?
Wells complains about graduation rates, but I don’t recall 50 percent across-the-board dropout rates in Rockford public schools prior to the People Who Care lawsuit settlement. I don’t recall a leading university labeling three of the four Rockford public schools as “diploma mills” until long after the lawsuit settlement.
Wells thinks businesses with “world markets” are certain to shun Rockford until it invests in its knuckleheads, but I think it is more likely they will shun Rockford out of fear of another round of far-reaching judicial taxation.
Tim Hughes is a former teacher in Rockford School District 205 who coached debate and taught English at Auburn High School for 20 years. At Auburn, he coached three debate teams to first-place national championships.
From the Nov. 16-22, 2011, issue