Political interest or race will be a choice the NAACP’s Philadelphia President will have to make when endorsing a candidate for mayor.
Mr. Rodney Muhammad, a Muslim Philadelphian who was recently elected to lead a local chapter of a civil rights organization rooted in the Christian faith and advancement of African-Americans, has a seemingly complex choice to make when putting his political clout behind a mayoral candidate.
In a City that tends to vote, live and socialize along color lines, Mr. Muhammad – a black man who will be expected to endorse one of the black candidates – has to choose: political-interest or race.
Concerned with the conditions and trajectory of the School District of Philadelphia and its students, Mr. Muhammad, President, Philadelphia NAACP, at City Hall gave voice to a polarizing political position: local control of Philadelphia schools, anchored with an elected school board.
The only candidate that supports Mr. Muhammad’s political interest is Mr. Nelson Diaz, a Latino man and former City solicitor who believes the mayor should be “the most responsible individual” when it comes to fixing public education in Philadelphia.
Mr. Diaz, who isn’t talked about much in communities populated predominantly by African-Americans, has committed to, if elected, working with the governor to abolish the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, the five member governing body of the School District of Philadelphia.
The problem with local control, as pointed out by the rest of the candidates for mayor, is that the large percentage of school funding provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may disappear if the state’s seat at the proverbial table is repealed.
And, whereas, Philadelphia, a city with a more a quarter of the population living in poverty, doesn’t have the tax base to afford distancing itself from the state, choosing not to support a locally elected school board is, to a degree, fiscally responsible.
But will that fact matter to Mr. Muhammad and the two Philadelphia City Council people he’s managed to collate with, one of whom, Ms. Jannie Blackwell, is responsible for the having the question about local control placed on May 19th’s ballot.
“We have to have more transparency; we have to have the ability to talk not only about funding, but about what happens in the classroom,” said Ms. Blackwell, who believes that local control will accomplish those objectives.
“Is it incumbent among parents, community leaders, and all the stakeholders to have oversight of public school Administration,” said Mr. Muhammad.
“Without this local governance, we feel we cannot both fight discouragement and apathy in our teachers who are our greatest resource. We cannot properly fight the school atmosphere of low expectations. We’ll be regulated to produce generations of under-achievers.”
Mr. Muhammad’s has a clear cut agenda, so will the NAACP Philadelphia President vote political-interest or race?
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