Marion Wright Edelman, or how to Fix Your Own Truck

So I have lots of conservative friends.  Dyed in the wool Republicans who hunt and fish and love America and barbecue and Bear Bryant as much as they love their mamas.  The idea of accepting a handout to them is about as foreign as sushi.  They are self-sufficient to a fault.  They will fix their own truck even if they posses no mechanical aptitude.  Because it’s bad form for another man to be messing with your truck.

What does that have to do with Dr Edelman?  I doubt she has a truck.  But she does know something about self-sufficiency and that’s a value system that I understand, that my guys understand and that the South understands.  When there is a problem, she set out to fix it herself.  She didn’t rely on someone else.  She didn’t wait on Washington, or Chicago, to fix the problems.  She just created a solution.  Her, and about a million friends.

We have a problem in Huntsville.  A really big problem.  There are schools in the north and west side of the city. that have not been successful in 20 or 30 years.  Elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.  A school with a 45% graduation rate is like a cancer in the neighborhood.  Or like a neutron bomb.  Remember those?  They were nuclear bombs that would leave the structures mostly intact but destroy all life.  Failing schools are like that and the good people of Huntsville have allowed this situation to exist for years.  For decades.

So what would a good ole boy do about that?  They’d insist on a government program to come in and remedy the situation!  Of course they would!  We know they just want more Washington DC in their lives!

No.  No they wouldn’t.  They’d do it themselves.  They’d see the problem, decide on a solution and get to it.

That’s what we’re doing at Village of Promise.  We saw a problem (failing schools) and we acted.

But first, because we’ve actually been successful ourselves, we stopped and thought about it.  We traveled to New York and Atlanta and St Louis and everywhere in between.  We met national leaders and brought them to Huntsville to see our schools and tell us how they have affected change in their cities.  We brought education reformer Geoffrey Canada to Huntsville and learned how he’s changed Harlem. We’ve partnered with the City Schools and we work with them, inside the school buildings.  But we’re not willing to wait for someone to fix it for us.  As Geoffrey said “no one is coming to save your children”.  If they are to be saved from generational poverty, we will have to do it.

Dr Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund have taken this approach.  They work with government and schools every day, and they also overlay their own programs on top of the school’s programs to fill in the wide gaps that exist in the inconsistent fabric that is American public education.  That’s what Village of Promise is all about.  Finding the failing schools (did that), learning from the best in the field (doing that) and making a difference in our own neighborhoods, doing Whatever it Takes to pull the next generation out of the cycle.

With your help, Huntsville can avoid the fate of Montgomery’s public schools.  Of Mobile’s public schools and Memphis public schools and so many other cities around the south where everyone who can goes to private school and the public schools get what’s left.  That’s not the Rocket City.  That’s not the Huntsville I know.  How can you help? You can donate to your favorite politician who says they have the solution, or you can donate to Village of Promise where essentially all of your money goes into educational programing.

You can also sponsor a table at the next Village of Promise speaker event where Dr Edelman will tell us about the Children’s Defense Fund and it’s work, and about the Freedom Schools.  See www.villagepromise.com for details.  I know who reads this blog so I will be calling for your sponsorship.

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