Connect with us

Josh Moon

Opinion | The changing atmosphere at ASU

Josh Moon

Published

on

File Photo

On Thursday, Alabama State University officials and administrators will travel to Concordia College in Selma to help.

Concordia, the nearly-100-year-old historically black college that has served the western portion of Alabama, is closing its doors for good. It can no longer afford to stay open.

ASU has long been a sister school to Concordia, and as such it will welcome many of Concordia’s students who wish to complete their degrees. But ASU officials aren’t stopping there.

Advertisement

According to a press release from ASU, numerous school officials — including a rep from each of ASU’s different colleges and its financial aid department — will travel to Concordia to work with its students who would like to transition from Concordia to ASU.

It’s a great move for everyone involved.

And it’s a sign of the kind of leadership that ASU has sorely lacked in the past.

More than anything, bad press has killed ASU over the years. Some — maybe even most — of it has been the school’s own doing, as it skipped from one insane controversy to another.

But an even bigger problem has been the lack of imagination among the executive staff — the inability to consider grand ideas or to take the innovative approach.

That appears to be changing under new university president Quinton Ross.

For a school that so desperately needs to change its public image nothing could fit better than a president who will not just send regards and a press release to Concordia but will send a team; not just go to the State House to sway lawmakers into giving more, but will use his influence and connections to bring state lawmakers by the dozen to ASU to show them where their money is being spent; not just rely on the same methods of fundraising to offset the debt he’s inherited from past administrations, but will use government programs to restructure that debt.

This is the sort of change that makes a lasting difference for ASU.

Because let’s be honest: there are a whole bunch of people who want to see the place fail. Those people love to see stories in the local media of ASU officials bickering or screwing up or doing generally dumb things.

So they can point and laugh at the black college. (Or, if you’re a governor, so you can, with very little resistance, cripple a funding source for state Democrats.)

If you doubt this, let me ask you a question: What is the long term credit ratings for Auburn University or the University of Alabama? What about UAB? Troy? AUM?

Of course you don’t know.

But if you read any one of a half dozen news sources from around the state last week, you learned that ASU’s had recently been downgraded due to past debt and high board turnover. And in some places, you also learned that ASU’s long-term outlook had been labeled “stable,” which was quite the improvement.

Overall, the long-term outlook forecast was probably a bigger deal than the initial debt downgrade, but … why?

Why on earth do I know this information about ASU and not about any other university in the state?

Why does ASU get so much attention?

Simple: Because stories that paint ASU in an unfavorable light draw eyeballs (clicks, hits, engagement, viewers, etc.).

This is a simple fact. Trust me, I’ve seen the numbers.

The only way to change that reality is to introduce a new one.

Ross seems to understand that. Unlike past administrations, his doesn’t seem to be focused on the singular approach of complaining about bad news. Instead, they’re working to introduce their own narrative, provide their own news stories.

It’s an approach that other universities and companies use all the time. Because it’s effective and it’s fair.

And in ASU’s case, it’s reality-altering.

 

Continue Reading

Josh Moon

Opinion | Alabama remains a safe haven for hate

Josh Moon

Published

on

Stock Photo

In 1968, shortly after gunning down Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, James Earl Ray was running from police, who were, he believed, right on his tail. He was looking for an escape route — a place where people might not be too upset by his crime.

He turned his Mustang towards Alabama.

Ray believed Alabamians would be sympathetic towards him, that then-Gov. George Wallace — whose hateful segregationist rhetoric had inspired Ray in the first place — would protect him, even pardon him, for killing King.

Advertisement

Alabama was his safe haven.

This has been the perpetual image of Alabama for decades now.

A safe haven for racists.

And with good reason.

From our slavery roots, through Jim Crow, and George Wallace and anti-immigration bills and Roy Moore and Bull Connor and Jeff Sessions and all-white juries and breakaway school districts and separate but equal and the schoolhouse door, we have more than earned this reputation as a state filled with backwoods, good ol’ boys who hate anyone whose darker than khaki on a paint chart or rolls their R’s when speaking.

We’re the Hate Capital.

Over the last few years, as the KKK numbers dipped nationally, they grew in Alabama. Which helped the state place fourth in the number of hate groups — a number that also increased for Alabama as more hate groups moved in.

We’re like Boca for hate groups, apparently.

We draw in the hateful and ignorant. And we do it by refusing to change, refusing to correct the sins of the past, and instead we elect leaders who cater to those sins. Who tell us that it’s OK to cling tightly to ignorant ideals if label them “history.”

People like Kay Ivey.

A popular interim governor, Ivey has enjoyed widespread support thanks to her political strategy of staying out of sight. That might seem like a simple strategy, because it is, but the last guy couldn’t do it.

Instead of using that political capital to steer this sinking ship of a state towards a brighter, more inclusive future, Ivey, who once bragged that “no step is too high for a high stepper,” did what Alabama politicians seem to always do: take the easiest and lowest road.

On Tuesday, Ivey’s campaign released an ad with her essentially praising confederate memorials and blaming “out-of-state liberals” for attempting to get us to take some down. Ivey refers to the monuments as “history” and says it’s important that we understand it.

This explains quite a bit about the failings of Alabama’s school kids during testing. Instead of books, our students are traveling monument to monument to learn history. (I can’t wait until they get to the monuments for kamikaze pilots in Hawaii or the hijackers in New York.)

Apparently nuance is the step too high for the high stepper.

Because no one has advocated tearing down historical markers at sites where significant events occurred or even tearing down memorials for the men who died fighting for the South during the Civil War.

But there’s a difference between historical markers — this is where the nuance comes in — and grand statues honoring traitors, like the one outside of the capitol building depicting Jefferson Davis, who proclaimed after the war was over that he’d gladly do it all again. Or the one in Selma honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, a man so vile that he was a business outcast after the war for his part in a massacre of surrendered, black Union soldiers and who was a founding member of the KKK.

Leaving up signs that mark where slaves were bought and sold or where battles were fought or where soldiers were treated — that’s history. Those are the sort of sites and monuments that teach future generations, that make our history more understandable.

The idolizing of vile men, and the whitewashing of their awful deeds, through these monuments serves only one purpose: to push the idiotic notion that the Civil War was about anything other than slavery, that there was some noble goal for which the South fought, that we were right and the North was wrong and we don’t have to be ashamed of what we did and what we’ve continued to do.

So, people like Ivey pander to those who want to believe such garbage, because it is politically expedient. And those people believe because it’s “history” and their lawmakers and leaders say it’s OK.

And Alabama continues to be a safe haven for hate.

 

Continue Reading

Josh Moon

Opinion | How has Trump deceived you? Let’s count the ways

Josh Moon

Published

on

Over the weekend, the same Facebook post kept popping up on my feed.

It was, essentially, a long whine about how poorly Donald Trump has been treated by pretty much everyone since becoming president. And at the end, before sharing it to show support for dear leader, each person signed his or her name and listed their hometowns.

I was not shocked to find that most of the names were from Alabama.

Advertisement

Trump is essentially a poor man’s George Wallace — all of the hate, shadiness and ego, none of the craftiness and intelligence — so of course he plays well among this crowd. He hates non-white people, thinks we should hear the white nationalists’ side of things and made a public display of praying with the Alabama football team. We’re already looking for a stretch of interstate to name after the dope.

But if you’re looking for real world reasons to support the guy, well, that’s where the good people of Alabama lose me.

Trump doesn’t just lie all the time, he’s lied to you, Alabama voter, repeatedly. And not small lies. Big lies.

And YUGE failures.   

  • “I’m gonna say, ‘Mexico, this is not going to continue, you’re going to pay for that wall,’ and they will pay for the wall.”

— Donald Trump, Aug. 5, 2015

Guess what? Not only has just 20 miles of border wall been approved so far, you won’t believe who’s paying for it. Here’s a hint: It’s not Mexico, and it looks a lot like the person you see in the mirror.

  • “We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. You will be able to choose your own doctor again.”

— Donald Trump, July 22, 2016

You’ll be shocked to discover that Obamacare was not repealed. Also, there was no Trump health care plan that covered everyone for much less, as he also promised. The plan he did introduce — so awful that even Congressional Republicans didn’t have the heart to pass it — cost ten times as much and covered 20 million fewer people.

  • “We will bring back coal and get clean coal” to “put you (coal workers) back to work.”

— Donald Trump, July 28, 2016

Nope. Since Trump took office, coal jobs have continued to decline. You know, it’s almost as if it’s an outdated energy resource that’s being replaced by less costly, more efficient resources. Because that’s exactly what’s happening. Which is why the last president — you remember, the black guy you thought was the antichrist — tried to give you job training in those new technologies. Instead, you trusted the billionaire who literally thought “clean coal” meant scrubbing the black off. Good call.

  • “When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports or the factories moving overseas to Mexico, or to other countries for that matter, I know these problems can all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton. Only by me.”

— Donald Trump, June 22, 2016

We’re well over a year into this presidency now and Trump has just dumped out his “plan” for infrastructure — an utterly impossible dream that would be unworkable even if he hadn’t ballooned the annual deficit with his stupid tax cuts for the wealthy.

  • On day one of a Trump administration, the U.S. Treasury Department will designate China a currency manipulator.

— Donald Trump, Nov. 9, 2015 (Wall Street Journal)

China … still not labeled a currency manipulator on Day 475.

  • “We are getting rid of the carried interest loophole.”

— Donald Trump, Aug. 11, 2016

Narrator voice: He did not get rid of the carried interest loophole.

  • “I’m so much more into the middle class who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country. Everybody’s getting a tax cut, especially the middle class.”

— Donald Trump, May, 2016

Funny story: the tax plan will actually benefit the middle class the least, with the top 1 percent receiving 84 percent of the cuts by 2024 and 53 percent of Americans actually paying more.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Trump has been engulfed in scandal since his first day, when he started a stupid fight over his inauguration crowd size, and has slowly eroded any decency associated with the office of U.S. president. He’s been caught paying off a porn star, has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault, has spent more on golf vacations in one year than Obama did in three, has run through more White House staff than most presidents do in two terms and he’s employed some of the swampiest of swampy DC insiders.

And none of that even touches on the ongoing Mueller investigation, which has already led to four Trump associates being indicted and the raid of Trump’s lawyer’s office.

It’s an embarrassment that will cheapen the office of president for years to come. But these folks in Alabama — the same ones who wanted to impeach Obama because of this thing that happened in Benghazi that he was probably responsible for, because he was a secret Muslim terrorist sent by George Soros — are signing public declarations of support.

But then, I can only give you the facts. I can’t comprehend them for you.

Continue Reading

Josh Moon

Opinion | Why is the state takeover of Montgomery’s schools so shady?

Josh Moon

Published

on

There was much hand-wringing inside the Gordon Persons Building in downtown Montgomery on Wednesday, as interim state superintendent Ed Richardson and — for some reason not fully explained — Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange held a press conference to discuss the “dire state” of Montgomery’s public schools.

They might as well have been selling special skillets with non-stick surfaces.

It was that sort of press conference.

Advertisement

For an hour, they droned on and on about the pitiful state of Montgomery’s schools — a state that both of them have more than a small hand in, I’d like to point out — and how the evildoers at AEA — and when he mentioned AEA, Richardson put on a face most Americans reserve for ISIS — are just holding up real and true progress. The progress that he and Strange could make within Montgomery — by way of charter schools operated by people with no experience operating schools of any kind — if only the mean ol’ AEA would stand aside.

To drive home his point, Richardson mentioned numerous times an accreditation review that is due to happen at Montgomery Public Schools next year. It was supposed to happen this year, the interim superintendent said, but it was delayed.

Why was it delayed?

Richardson never really came right out and said it, but he strongly hinted that the delay came at the request of MPS personnel because they knew the review would be bad. Because, again — and Richardson can’t stress this enough — MPS is in terrible shape because of the board and teachers and principals.

Except that’s not why the review was delayed.

According to several sources with direct knowledge of the accreditation review process, the request to delay the MPS accreditation review was made by Dr. Reginald Eggleston, the man who was brought in by the Alabama State Department of Education to help lead the failed intervention into MPS, and he made it because his intervention team included so many non-certified teachers and administrators that he and others within MPS feared it might cost the district its accreditation.

Oddly, that wasn’t mentioned by Richardson or Strange.

They also didn’t mention that when the accreditation agency initially rejected the request for the delay that then-state superintendent Michael Sentance got involved and was able to get the review pushed back, according to those same sources.

Weird how that fell through the cracks.

But then, it doesn’t fit the narrative that Strange and Richardson are trying desperately to paint: that the downfall of MPS is related only to the failure of the school board and MPS leadership.  

Smart people know better.

I’ve explained until I’m blue in the face the racial, social and economic issues that have combined to cause harm to MPS, and it’s hard to imagine anyone who has spent a day in Montgomery disagreeing. To be fair, there’s also no doubt that part of the mix of problems is mismanagement by the various incarnations of the county board and the people that board has selected to run MPS.

But the current vilification of the board by Richardson and Strange is a straight up scam designed to carve out an easy pathway to smearing lipstick on this pig.

They’re dying to get charter schools in Montgomery.

So they can sell to white business owners the idea of schools operated by other white business owners. So, people will stop fleeing Montgomery in droves, and the city can pay off its massive debt.

But like every other solution to “fix” Montgomery’s schools, this one maintains one of the biggest problems: some kids will be left behind in poor, dysfunctional schools.

But they don’t care. Not really.

The goal is business. Not education.

Because if it were truly education, no education-minded superintendent in the world would stand in front of a camera and promise to cut 200-plus teachers and outsource 400 staffers because the reserve budget isn’t high enough.

But that’s what Richardson did on Wednesday, as he’s done in the past. Hell, MPS has operated with the same reserve shortfall for most of the last 10 years and no one called from ALSDE to even chat about it.

Now it’s worth cutting 200 teachers? Stop it.

Richardson needs his plan to go through, because his plan includes closing four schools — two of which can be used for charters and a third that can be sold to Pike Road, which employed Richardson as a consultant when the idea to buy that school first popped up.

And so, yeah, AEA sued on behalf of the board, because state law doesn’t give Richardson the right to just come in and start selling off school buildings. It also sued so the board could name a new superintendent and hire an attorney.

The reason Richardson is so angry with AEA is because they continue to be right. Each time they file a suit, the courts end up agreeing with them.

Which, along with all of the exaggerations and sky-is-falling scare tactics at Wednesday’s press conference, should probably raise a serious question: if you’re really trying to do the right thing, why are you being so shady?

 

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

Opinion | The changing atmosphere at ASU

by Josh Moon Read Time: 3 min
0