Friday, August 13, 2010

Huntsville, Alabama: The Dichotomy of American Life Personified Here

Apologies are due for no post yesterday. A return to # (numbered) posts is forthcoming, but a quick observation while awaiting a connecting flight from lovely Huntsville, Alabama.

Roughly a decade (plus or minus a few years) ago I attended space camp in Huntsville, viewing Mercury, Saturn and Apollo-class rockets/spaceships that once heralded mankind's march into space.

The drive and determination that once propelled America to the moon is on display in Huntsville, though it is sadly behind transparent glass in museums, viewed by mere tourists in awe of all that was once achieved. Smiling back at the visitors who flock to Huntsville to partake in Space Camp are pictures of men who had the right stuff.

Those who currently reside in Huntsville could be said to have the wrong stuff.

Resting in eerie silence while contemporary Americans parade past the paraphernalia of Pre-Obama America (in all its pomp and circumstance, these relics of a space race when the hope was for man to land on the moon and then progress onward), these mementos of a past whose inhabitants once dreamed of a greater future are a constant and debilitating reminder of all that is lost.

Visiting Huntsville and the space museums there is akin to visiting a mausoleum, as the realization that giants once walked this earth is on constant display, yet the sad reminder that no such visions of grandeur for a dynamic future inhabit this country anymore and the current crop of men/women who lead us today allows one to understand the somber experience they undertake by visiting this city.

Now the goals of America are in line with rebuilding Haiti, maintaining the hegemony of Black Run America (BRA) and paying tribute to Black people who enjoy the excess of tax payers' largess. A desire to penetrate space has been put on hold in an all-out effort to bridge the gap and better relations with the Muslim world.

Huntsville is a town that has a highly-educated population and is home to a number of major NASA programs (though no evidence is available to show that NASA's primary mission under Mein Obama is being vigorously pursued):

Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison county in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County.[4] The city extends west into neighboring Limestone county. Its population was 158,216 as of the 2000 census, while in 2009, the estimated population grew to 179,653. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was estimated at 406,316.[3] Huntsville is the largest city in the four-county Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, which in 2008 had a total population of 545,770.

John Hunt first settled in the location in 1805. It was named Twickenham after Alexander Pope's English home at the request of LeRoy Pope.[5] However, the town was renamed "Huntsville" on November 25, 1811 after its first settler. It has grown across nearby hills and along the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, to become a major city, including NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list...

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 158,216 people, 66,742 households, and 41,713 families residing in the city. The population density was 909.0 people per square mile (351.0/km²). There were 73,670 housing units at an average density of 423.3/sq mi (163.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.47% White, 30.21% Black or African American, 0.54% Native American, 2.22% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.04% of the population.
A Web site dedicated to showcasing the problems of the Black community can be found here, and with this information you will know that the 30 percent of the population they represent is one that adds precious little to the overall community. The sons and daughters of this burgeoning Black population fail to perform at the same standards of those son and daughters of the men who lead NASA:

A dual school system is re-emerging in Huntsville, marked by race, separated by geography and sorted by income.

For the first time, blacks account for 43 percent of the students in Huntsville. That's an increase of four percentage points in five years. But what sounds like a high-water mark for integration is just the opposite.

Despite rising numbers, black students here increasingly attend school among themselves. In 1997, Huntsville had five schools where more than 90 percent of the students were black. There are 10 such schools now.

The racial divide is similar among teachers, principals, even janitors and lunch ladies.

Across the nation, studies show that public schools are rapidly separating by race. The U.S. Supreme Court has backed away from desegregation efforts. Busing is ending. Magnet schools are fading. Whites move to isolated suburbs. Private schools are booming.

Academics call it resegregation...

In Huntsville, some administrators have long watched what is quietly called the "tipping point." The notion dates back more than 20 years, when no high school and few elementary schools here were majority black.

The idea is that when a school crosses the 50 percent threshold - the tipping point - white students won't return.

Today, about half the city schools have more black students than white. Schools in the center of Huntsville are changing.

In the last five years, five Huntsville schools have shifted to majority black.

Huntsville's white flight started in the 1970s, when northwest Huntsville was mostly white and the school system had 35,000 students. Forced busing among four northwest elementary schools launched the migration.

"City fathers were shortsighted," said Ann Fee, former president of the city school board. "They sacrificed (the northwest). People just moved."

By 1980, forced busing had ended, and Johnson High remained majority white. But a shift was under way. Homeowners flocked to south Huntsville. A decade later, Interstate 565 would speed the migration to Madison and finally the rural reaches of Madison County.

By 1995, Johnson had just 120 white students.

Butler High and Lee High were still majority white, but that soon changed. Since 1997, Butler has shifted from 54 percent black to 65 percent. Lee, though bolstered by a magnet program, has shifted from 51 percent black to 59 percent.

Dr. Harry Smith, principal at Lee, says he has the city's most diverse school. Van Barnes, principal at Butler, makes the same claim.

But in the last five years, whites have been leaving those two schools, too. And Butler is about to lose a racially mixed group of 200 suburban and military students to a school the city is building on its western edge.

"I'm worried about Butler," said school board member Topper Birney. "I continue to worry about that."

Snapshot: Transferring out

Separate schools look like Davis Hills Middle, and they look like Challenger Middle.

Davis Hills in north Huntsville had 502 students last year, 97 percent of them black. Challenger in south Huntsville had 649 students, 6 percent of them black.

Davis Hills suspended 263 students in the first semester last year, while Challenger suspended 28.

Davis Hills had 69 unauthorized absences. Challenger had one. Davis Hills listed 363 cases of students defying a teacher. Challenger listed 47.

Davis Hills reported 75 fights. Challenger reported one.

During a typical day last year at Davis Hills, 92 percent of students came to school. At Challenger last year, attendance ran at 95 percent.

In Huntsville, students in the racial majority are allowed to transfer to a school where they join the racial minority. Last year, 15 students used a race-based transfer to leave Davis Hills. Six chose to travel across the city to Challenger Middle. A second set of 31 students left Davis Hills for the special course work at Williams Technology Middle.

At Challenger, only one student transferred out last year. None chose Williams Middle.

Geography: Madison hideout

A Huntsville Times analysis of Alabama high schools and high school programs shows a slight drift toward the extremes throughout the state.

Of 386 high school programs in Alabama with 25 or more students, Harvard would label 31 as apartheid. That means 99 to 100 percent black. That's three more apartheid schools than the state had in 1998, the earliest figures available through the state Department of Education.

There are also 74 high schools that are 99 to 100 percent white. That's up from 60 four years ago.

Some rural areas remain well integrated. That's because many small school systems offer only one choice for high school.

"Once you begin to build more than one high school in a city, that's the beginning of the problem," said Dr. Wayne Flynt, a professor at Auburn University and noted state historian.

In places such as the Black Belt, whites use private schools to avoid majority-black public schools. In some segregated regions, the state would have to bus students from other counties to desegregate the schools, said Dr. Mary Jane Caylor, who represents North Alabama on the state school board. That won't happen.

"No matter the race of a person, people want their children to go to a school in the community in which they live," she said.

In Huntsville, parents have proven they will flee forced attempts.

Forty years ago, when financial ties to Washington, D.C., drove Huntsville to stay off the front of The New York Times during civil rights protests, there was nowhere else for white parents to go, Flynt said.

"'Now there are lots of places for whites to hide," he said. "Now if you want to hide from blacks, city problems, crime, whatever bothers you, now you can move to Madison."

Geography: Aging Out

Only 30 percent of Huntsville residents are black, yet the school system is 43 percent black.

In part, that's because white residents here are growing older, while black residents have younger families.

According to the 2000 Census, the four areas of town with the most children are each majority black. In five neighborhoods, more than a third of the residents are seniors. Each of these neighborhoods is largely white.

Educators call this "aging out," meaning that kids have grown and moved away. This could explain some of the growth in minority percentages within the school system, but not all of it.

Sadly, Huntsville's schools that have large percentages of Black students provide scant evidence that these scholars have the academic aptitude for one day becoming engineers capable of constructing future space craft. They can't even read the construction manual to put together toy rocket ships:

Perhaps the biggest surprise on Monday among local systems was in Harvest, where Sparkman High School failed in several categories.

Fewer than 82 percent of African-American students and students from poor families were able to pass a basic reading test there. Sparkman was cited for the third year in a row for a low graduation rate, and also cited for low test scores among special education students.

Meanwhile, at Butler High in Huntsville, fewer than about four out of five juniors were able to pass the reading portion of the graduation exam.

"This is a test for minimum standards, the minimum requirements," said Dr. Cathy McNeal, who oversees testing for city schools. "Everybody who gets a driver's license must pass that test; this is the same kind of test. It's the minimum you have to know."

Two elementary schools in north Huntsville also had the same problem. Martin Luther King Jr. and West Mastin Lake both failed to see enough students read on grade level. Students at West Mastin Lake also struggled with math.

But most of the local warning labels on Monday were for low scores among special education students. Those students, by definition, have special needs when it comes to learning.

Testing and labeling used to be clear and easily understood. Alabama's "academic alert" label of the late 1990s meant a school had posted average test scores well below the national average. No longer do warning labels relate to national averages.

"It really sends a very bad and confusing message to people," said Dr. Mary Jane Caylor of the state school board. "I could talk until I'm blue in the face and say we've shown improvements in math and reading. But you've got some federal criteria you've got to be judged by."
Perhaps no video personifies Huntsville and the future of America represented among the shadows of replicas of rockets that once propelled man into space then the video of one Antoine Dodson. Of course, our good friends at NPR couldn't help but apologize for Mr. (or is it Miss?) Dodson's behavior.

The future is so bright...


Don't tread on me... said...

I'd just like to know what supreme idiot(s) came to the brilliant conclusion that white culture and black culture could ever meld and be as one? It's like night and day. Yes I know it's the PTB along with DWLs, but they too are but a dog and pony show trotted out before the (mostly) mouth breathing masses. Some more sports/hollywood fluff/new suv/flatscreen tv sedation sir? Good.

rahm said...

I wonder what von Braun would think if he saw what Huntsville has become?

Anonymous said...

"Don't tread on me... said... Some more sports/hollywood fluff/new suv/flatscreen tv sedation sir?"

Throw in a 12-pack of light beer, NFL Sunday ticket, and some pay-per-view porn with that and most white guys will be just fine with it.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what von Braun would think if he saw what Huntsville has become?

Would probably make him want to renew his Nazi Party membership.

Blue Eyed Devil. said...

One of the best entries yet SBPDL. It should shed plenty of light on why whites leave predominantly black schools. With a percentage of students that high who can't pass a basic reading test, you know they could care less one way or the other about school. It's not a generalization or stereotype. Just simple fact.

Blacks or DWL's who stumble upon this site have to be dismayed because nothing they can say or do will change the minds of the white people who come here that are already cleansed of any white guilt. It would be nice to explain it all away as a bunch of racists ranting about this and that but that doesn't always fit and they know it. I'd be willing to bet most here have seen all the gimmicks and parlor tricks utilized by the liberal left and race card throwers ad nauseum. None of it resonates anymore. We see it for what it is.

If you have seven or eight kids out of wedlock or with no viable support structure. That doesn't make you downtrodden. It makes you a dumbass. If you need a $150 dollar pair of sneakers while you kids are starving, your priorties might just be a tad bit askew. Individuals are responsible for their actions. If your actions send a clear message that your not responsible.....expect to be called on it.

dirtydog1776 said...

I taught for several years in a school that was basically all white until several black families moved into town. The three black children in the school caused more disruption to the learning process and trouble than all the other 600 students combined. Their parents were always blaming the teachers as being "liars" and "picking on my poor baby for no reason at all." The Principal did little to discipline the troublemakers because of their race and they were "disadvantaged." My children went to all white schools and were not held back by the low expectations of the black culture.

Anonymous said...

I actually went to 4th grade in Huntsville, and my elementary school had a fantastic gifted student program, of which I was a part. They basically took us smart kids out of regular class 2 days a week for special instruction.

Years later, I went to a very racially diverse high school in Houston and once again was part of the honors classes. If you want to see in school segregation, just go to the honors classes of any diverse high school. My incoming freshman class had nearly 700 students, of which roughly 90 were honors students. The school was probably 40% white, 25% black, 20% Latino and 15% Asian. In all 4 years of HS I had maybe 3 blacks and 2 Latinos in my classes, which were about 80/20 White/Asian.

There used to be parades to motivate the black kids to study for this really easy test called TAAS, which is basically a remedial 8th grade level math and English test required by the state of Texas in order to graduate high school. (2x + 6 = 10 solve for X)

If I didn't play football, I'd have never known any blacks at my school.

Douglas Burnett said...

I graduated from Sparkman High School in 1990 Honor?aAdvanced Classes in a Senior Class that rouglhly had 2oo students and maybe 50 of the studfents were black they only had 4 students in Advanced Classes. Now the stats and numbers have totally changed but I clearly remember having a White Advanced English Teacher tell me that I was limiting myself by choosing to go to a Historically Black College, Fisk University. I remember the day Ray Swaim told me to go home and change clothes because I wore a Malcolm X Jersey to school, I remember having to stand up and fight because we were told that we could not wear African Based Medallions to School, but we would watch White students and teacher make a mockery out of us without anything being said, for instance Chris Cook could come to school for days on end with a Sarcastic Buckwheat for Presiden Jersey on making a mockery of black people but I was considered radical because I wore A Malcolm X Jersey that said "By Any Means Neccessary...Now the African-American Dollar plays a huge role in the County Schoool System but we still allow it to be controlled by racist people....Will that ever stop???? I can not wait to get back home.