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Open Letter to the NAACP   |   Community Alert   |   Job Opening: $130,000 per year plus benefits   |   Crisis in the Minneapolis NAACP Branch
Job Opening: $130,000 per year plus benefits
Yes, that's $130,000 per year plus benefits for the director of two
proposed Parent Information Centers that will be run by the Minneapolis
Branch of the NAACP.

On March 25, 2003 the Minneapolis NAACP president, Albert Gallmon
signed an agreement with the state and received $152,000 for expenses
related to setting up two Parent Information Centers. The NAACP may
receive up to $381,000 for allowable expenses during a 6 month period
ending September 30, 2003.  

The "Revised Parent Information Centers Budget" for a 6 month period
ending September 30, 2003 includes $65,000 for a director, $47,000 for
counselor(s), $21,000 for an administrative assistant, plus $26,000 for
benefits.  

The money for the Parent Information Centers comes from the state, but
originates from a $2,650,000 federal grant to support Minnesota's Voluntary
School Choice Project.  The grant application, dated August 16, 2002 proposes
"...two new Family Information Centers, staffed with knowledgeable NAACP
personnel who will be able to offer comprehensive information on the school
choice options available at all urban, suburban, charter, and interdistrict schools
in the program..."

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

Although the proposed Parent Information Centers are supposed to promote
the "Choice is Yours Program" and other public school enrollment options
for students in poor performing schools in Minneapolis, this project should
not be confused with the establishment of Parent Information Centers that
was a provision of the original settlement of the NAACP's lawsuit against
the state of Minnesota (for failing to provide an adequate education for
students of color in the public school system).

There is no way that the NAACP could have agree to run the Parent
Information Centers proposed in the settlement of a lawsuit to which
the NAACP was a party (the plaintiff).  The NAACP has an obligation
to see that the state, the defendant, is doing what it agreed to do under
the settlement.  The conflict of interest would be rather obvious.

However, the Parent Information Centers were negotiated out of the
agreement to settle the lawsuit with the state.  Since the Parent
Information Centers are not formally part of the "choice is yours program,"
the NAACP can argue that it's relationship with the state as a service
provider in this instance is not improper or illegal.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE

Since its takeover in 1999 by a faction supported by the Democratic Party
and the Links (a social club for rich and almost-rich black people), the
Minneapolis NAACP branch has functioned like a club for social climbers,
not a civil rights organization.

Since June 1999 there has not been a K-12 Education Committee functioning
within the by-laws of the NAACP branch, except briefly in 2002 with Sandra
Miller serving as the committee chair.  Miller was elected to the Minneapolis
Board of Education in 1997 and opted to not stand for reelection in 2001
so that she could run for a seat on the city council (and lost).  Miller stood for
election to the Minneapolis Board of Education and recieved less than 1% of
the votes as a write-in candidate in 2002.  Miller resigned from the post of NAACP
branch k-12 education committee chair in the Fall of 2002, citing an apparent conflict of
interest due to her status as a candidate for the school board.

Traditionally, the NAACP has fought for changes in the law and public
policy to make all public schools good schools and eliminate the
academic achievement gap between black and white students.  And a lot of
progress was made toward those goals during the 1970's and early 80's.  
For example, on National Assessment of Educational Progress exams the
difference in average reading scores between black & white 13 year olds
declined by about 50% between 1971 & 1988. By the end of the 1990s this
test score gap had increased by about 75% from where it was at in 1988.
[The New Crisis (NAACP magazine), Sept/Oct 2001, "Long Division,"
p. 25-31, graph on page 28]

Now the NAACP is "partnering" with people who are responsible for
implementing policies that have produced a widening of the academic
achievement gap between whites and blacks since the late 1980s.
Instead of fighting to make all schools good, the NAACP is now
supporting "voluntary integration / school choice" programs that are
remarkably similar to those set up in the Deep South (Alabama,
Mississippi, etc.) during the 1960s.   

The Minneapolis NAACP branch leadership has been quite open
about its desire to develop a friendly, nonadversarial relationship
with the state and the Minneapolis School District. While a sitting
member of the Minneapolis Board of Education in 2002, Albert Gallmon was
elected to the position of 1st vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP
branch and became branch president upon the resignation of the
president-elect immediately after the elections.  And it should be noted
that at least one officer and member of the executive board, e.g., Sam
Richardson, the assistant treasurer of the Minneapolis NAACP branch,
was recently an employee of the Minnesota Department of Children
Families and Learning.  

The Minneapolis NAACP branch leadership has also been extremely
secretive in its dealings with the Minneapolis Board of Education and
the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning. For example,
in relation to the educational lawsuit, the NAACP was represented in
settlement negotiations with the state by a secret committee which
included Matt Little and Barbara Bearman, who were not members of
the NAACP at the time because they had been expelled from the
NAACP by its national executive board.

It is time to get the NAACP off the gravy train and back into the business
of opposing the victimization of black and poor people in the public school
system.  The NAACP should back out of the deal to put the Minneapolis
branch in charge of the Parent Information Centers and establish a K-12
education committee that functions as an advocate for students that the
NAACP claims to represent.

-Doug Mann, King Field & the new 8th ward
educationright.tripod.com