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Anthony Obi Ogbo

The HISD Nightmare – Superintendent Mike Miles Must Go

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“Initially brought in to facilitate a solution, Miles is now seen as the problem —Anthony Ogbo

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Since assuming the role of Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District in June of 2023, Mike Miles has consistently been making headlines, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Despite his responsibilities in organizing, leading, directing, policy-making, and execution, Miles has failed to pass every test required to excel in his position. Month after month, he finds himself under fire, with the latest allegations accusing him of misusing Texas public school funding. An investigation by Spectrum News revealed that Miles allegedly funneled public school funds from the state to a Colorado Charter School. This scandal comes at a time when the district is facing a projected $450 million budget shortfall, leading to proposed position cuts, including teacher layoffs and benefit reductions.

In response to the accusations, Superintendent Miles defended his actions, claiming that such financial arrangements are common between charter schools and their management organizations. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has initiated a review of the matter. Meanwhile, State Democrat Ana Hernandez has called for Miles to be removed from his position and for a thorough investigation to be conducted.

The challenges facing Miles go beyond the current scandal, as he struggles to lead the largest school district in Texas and the eighth-largest in the United States. Teachers are feeling distressed and uncertain about their roles, parents are worried about their children’s future, and students are losing interest in their education. The situation at HISD is dire, and it is clear that a change in leadership may be necessary to restore trust and stability within the district.

Just last week, displeasure among parents worsened as some pushed back against layoffs while others protested recent budget cuts. Despite the opposition, Superintendent Miles remained steadfast in his proposal to lay off employees, although he did not disclose the exact number of individuals who would be affected. The board had previously approved a comprehensive list of positions, spanning nearly 20 pages, that were at risk of layoffs, including teachers, principals, and custodians. HISD leaders emphasized that the teacher cuts were based on performance rather than budget constraints.

Miles acknowledged that he was unable to provide specific figures regarding the number of teachers or principals facing job loss, but assured that this information would be available in the coming weeks. Several teachers reportedly received notices to attend a Zoom call to discuss their future employment with the district, although the purpose of this call was not clear.

The contentious relationship between Miles and the HISD community seemingly began when he assumed his position. In July 2023, just a month after taking office, Miles disclosed during a virtual forum that the district’s central office was reducing its staffing levels by over 2,300 positions. This reduction included the elimination of 1,675 vacant positions and the layoff of 672 employees. Miles attributed this decision to the central office’s excessive growth over the past decade, despite a significant decrease in student enrollment by 27,000 students.

In August 2023, The Houston Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit against Miles and the board, accusing them of violating Texas Education Code requirements in the development of teacher evaluations. The teacher’s union alleged that Miles had created an illegal evaluation system without input from teachers and other stakeholders. The lawsuit was later dropped after the board of managers decided to use the state’s appraisal system for teachers instead of Miles’ system.

One of the key issues with Miles is his failure to thoroughly analyze the HISD operational environment before proposing his solutions. This lack of understanding often results in his recommendations being disconnected from the reality of the situation. Without a comprehensive assessment of the unique challenges and intricacies within the district, his strategies failed to effectively address the underlying issues and even led to unintended consequences. Indeed, Miles did not take the time to gain a deep understanding of the complexities of HISD before implementing his changes.

In any school district, the primary stakeholders are the teachers, students, and parents. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that other stakeholders also play a vital role in the success of schools. These include administrators, support staff, community members, and local businesses. Each of these groups brings unique perspectives and resources to the table, all of which contribute to creating a positive learning environment for students. By fostering collaboration and valuing the input of all stakeholders, school districts can enhance their ability to meet the diverse needs of students and support them in achieving academic success. This approach stands in stark contrast to the leadership perspectives held by Miles, which do not prioritize such inclusive and cooperative practices.

Initially brought in to facilitate a solution, Miles is now seen as the problem. He was thought to be the key to resolving the issue at hand, given his expertise and experience, making him the obvious choice to lead the team. However, as time passed, it became evident that Miles was hindering progress rather than aiding it. His stubbornness, lack of communication, and unwillingness to consider alternative perspectives were causing tension within the group and impeding any real solutions from being reached. It was increasingly clear that Miles himself was the primary obstacle standing in the way of a resolution.

HISD would need to address this issue with TEA if they are ever going to move forward and achieve their goals. Removing Miles from his position would allow for a fresh start and a more collaborative approach to problem-solving, ultimately benefiting the students, teachers, and community as a whole. It is time for HISD to move forward without Miles at the helm.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Dr. Anthony Obi Ogbo, is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Donald Trump and Blacks – Oil and Water Don’t Mix

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“Political affiliation without genuine consideration of interests and benefits can result in a meaningless display of ignorance and recklessness —Anthony Ogbo

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Oil and water are known for their stark differences in chemical compositions and physical characteristics, making them the most opposing properties in nature. Oil, a non-polar substance, refuses to mix with water, a polar substance, due to its contrasting polarities. This results in the formation of distinct layers when the two are combined, showcasing their inability to easily blend together.

Similarly, the relationship between former President Donald Trump and Black people is just as incompatible as oil and water. However, in a surprising move last week, Trump launched a Black voter coalition group in a bid for a November comeback. The announcement was made at a community event in Detroit, with prominent Black Republicans such as Ben Carson and John James in attendance. Trump even mentioned Rep. Byron Donalds as a potential vice-presidential candidate, highlighting the support he has garnered among Black voters. Traditionally, the Black voting bloc has supported Democrats, but recent polls have shown openness to Trump.

Despite attempts to appeal to Black voters during his presidency, his actions and rhetoric consistently alienated and marginalized the Black community. From his refusal to condemn white supremacists to his implementation of policies that disproportionately harmed Black Americans, Trump’s presidency further widened the divide between himself and the Black community. His lack of empathy, understanding, and respect for the struggles faced by Black people only solidified the impossibility of any meaningful relationship between him and the Black community. Just like oil and water, their differences are too vast and irreconcilable.

The stark contrast between Black voters and Trump is not mere speculation, but rather a reflection of his actions. Trump’s lack of popularity within the Black community is rooted in his policies. For example, as president, he supported a healthcare repeal proposal that would have left 8.7 million people of color without Medicaid coverage by 2026. Additionally, he backed a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, a vital organization for nearly 1 million people of color who rely on its health services, including physicals, cancer screenings, and contraceptive care.

On January 27, 2017, he signed an executive order, the initial version of his Muslim ban, which discriminated against Muslims and banned refugees. Later that year, on May 12, his administration announced the abandonment of the Smart on Crime initiative, a program aimed at rehabilitating drug users and reducing the costs of incarcerating inmates.

Furthermore, the Trump administration halted the implementation of the Obama-era Employer Information Report, or EEO-1 form update, which would have collected pay data confidentially broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity. This data was crucial for federal enforcement agencies to uncover wage discrimination against women of color, who experience some of the largest wage gaps across all industries.

The upcoming November election has once again highlighted the importance of the Black vote as a significant stakeholder. Historically, the Black vote has been a powerful force in American politics, capable of influencing elections and shaping policy decisions. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the necessity to engage and mobilize Black voters, especially in key battleground states. The upcoming election is no exception, with issues such as racial justice, police reform, healthcare access, and economic inequality at the forefront of many Black voters’ minds.

As a crucial stakeholder in this election, the Black community holds the power to amplify their voices and demand change from elected officials. Voter suppression tactics are on the rise, and efforts to undermine mail-in voting are increasing. This underscores the importance for Black voters to be well-informed, actively engaged, and proactive in ensuring their voices are heard at the ballot box.

It is essential also, to recognize that African Americans have the right to not only align with any political party but also to make informed decisions about policies and politics. However, how these decisions are made is critical. Blindly supporting a political party goes against the fundamental purpose of politics. Political affiliation without genuine consideration of interests and benefits can result in a meaningless display of ignorance and recklessness.

Last, it is important to acknowledge that a relationship between Trump and the Black community is like oil and water – they do not mix. This highlights the need for Black voters to carefully consider their choices and ensure they align with their values and interests.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Dr. Anthony Obi Ogbo, is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

SCOTUS: U.S. Democracy on a Knife Edge

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In just two years, this court has rearranged America’s system and dragged it back to the 40s by systematically undoing major legislation.. —Anthony Ogbo

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President Joe Biden has been very outspoken about his thoughts that the Supreme Court dominated by rightwing justices, cannot be relied upon to uphold the rule of law. In June 2022 for instance, after this Court overturned Roe v. Wade, he said, “Make no mistake: This decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law. It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view.”

In a typical democratic process, the three arms of government play a crucial role in ensuring a balance of power and upholding the principles of justice, accountability, and transparency. These three branches – the executive, legislative, and judiciary – work together to ensure the smooth functioning of a democratic system.

However, the current political trends in the American system might suggest otherwise. SCOTUS, conservative to the bone marrow, appears to be the only overbearing arm in the system, indirectly changing the existing rules, and dictating or interpreting them to suit their radical interests.

The key recent rulings of this far-right Supreme Court have been trending. These rulings have a serious impact on various issues, ranging from civil rights to environmental regulations. Indeed, SCOTUS is overly focused on destructively conservative ideology and this has drastically affected the rights of marginalized communities, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Recent rulings so far are posing serious consequences for the lives and well-being of millions of Americans and could undermine the progress that has been made toward a more equitable and just society.

In just two years, this court has rearranged America’s system and dragged it back to the 40s by systematically undoing major legislation. For instance, in June 2022, in a historic and far-reaching decision, this court officially reversed Roe v. Wade, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for nearly a half-century, no longer exists.

Another surprising but historic decision came around June 2023 when this court effectively ended race-conscious admission programs at colleges and universities nationwide. In a decision divided along ideological lines, the six-justice conservative supermajority invalidated admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Now, most other colleges are following that precedent.

We can go all day recalling very daring policies bastardized by the conservative majority of this court. For instance, the striking down of President Biden’s groundbreaking plan to forgive some or all federal student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans; and a controversial ruling against the LGBTQ protections in favor of a Christian web designer in Colorado who refuses to create websites to celebrate same-sex weddings out of religious objections.

But their mission is not over. In just this week alone, this court agreed to hear an appeal brought by a man charged with offenses relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol in a case that could have a major impact on the criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump. That was not enough. It further handed the Texas Republicans a huge win when it ruled that the map in GOP-run Galveston County could be used, despite concerns that it was discriminatory against minority voters because it took away the only district dominated by Black and Latino voters.

The latest show of power by the Supreme Court has exposed the porosity of the democratic process. In addition, appointing politicians radicalized by dire social ideologies and party extremists to the Supreme Court raises questions about its objectivity and impartiality.

Here is a feasible remedy. While voters whine about immigration, abortion, gun control, etc., voters must take seriously the power of this court and its capacity to shape the future direction of the United States. Thus, curtailing their excesses requires a Democratic-led House and Senate to push through a more objective legislative agenda without objections. Giving the system another chance to induct more right extremists into this Court might be self-destructive.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Hunter Biden’s Path to Avoid Prosecution: Run for President

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He can equally argue that a presidential candidate in a forthcoming election must be exonerated from legal indictments to avoid “election interference” or “weaponization of the justice system” by the regime. —Anthony Ogbo

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In the realms of political governance, the power of setting precedence cannot be underestimated. When a precedent is created, it becomes a guiding principle or standard for future actions or decisions. It establishes a framework for how similar situations should be handled, and it holds individuals accountable for their actions. Whether in law, politics, or personal relationships, setting precedence can shape and influence future outcomes.

Since last year, the former president, Donald Trump has been at loggerheads with the law, playing hide-and-seek with the Justice Department over his surmounting legal predicament. The major contention was that a presidential candidate in a forthcoming election must be exonerated from legal indictments to avoid “election interference” or “weaponization of the justice system” by the regime.

Some media analysts and legal scholars with political interests have argued similarly, that the “candidate” Trump should be immune from charges over offenses he committed because he is a candidate.

A few days ago however, the Department of Justice filed new criminal charges against President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, accusing him of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes while spending millions of dollars on a lavish lifestyle. He faces up to 17 years in prison if convicted. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, defended his client accusing U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss, who is leading the probe, of political bias.

Since this announcement, President Biden’s Republican critics and the right-wing media communities have been celebrating. They have a reason to. For instance, this derisive federal indictment has provided a boost to House Republicans for their impeachment inquiry against President Biden – yet there was no mention of Biden in the indictment. So far, their efforts to prove serious wrongdoing on Biden’s part have come up blank.

But there is another dimension to Hunter’s case. As we know, Trump accumulated his legal woes before he quickly declared to run for President on November 15, 2022. He made it clear that no verdict or sentence would halt his campaign and bragged that he would carry on running for president from behind bars if he had to. And that if elected, he would use the power of his office to either quash any ongoing prosecutions or pardon himself for any convictions.

He posted personally identifiable information about court officials, including a photo of a judge’s daughter; warned ​​of “potential death and destruction” if he is charged; and vowed, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU.” Trump’s lawyers argue he is a political candidate exercising his First Amendment rights.

In Georgia, grand jurors’ names, addresses, and images were released online by Trump allies and a racist death threat against the judge presiding over the federal Jan. 6 case. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law published a display of Trump’s troubling pattern of attacking judges and the courts for rulings he disagrees with. In addition, Rolling Stone (July 2022) reported how Trump told his team, he needed to be president again to save himself from criminal probes.

Trump has intentionally derailed proceedings by frivolously requesting delays and unwarranted extensions on pre-trial issues. These are just strategies to aimlessly continue dragging these cases with unjustified delays.

But his antics so far are paying off. Besides the delay tactics, Trump and his cronies believe that his cases would be strategically dragged to the extremely right-leaning Supreme Court, where the judges he appointed could be of great help.

There are also congressional efforts to save Trump from his dilemma. Recall that on March 30, a grand jury in Manhattan indicted him on 34 counts of falsification of business records. Shockingly, the response of congressional Republicans created an ugly pattern of defense for Trump. Before the indictment, Republican congressional committee chairs threatened to subpoena confidential records from the investigation and withhold federal funding in retaliation for any indictment.

These are all dangerous precedents that can stall the democratic process and destroy the scepter that guides the rule of law. In a democracy, setting a precedence may not be a written law, but remains a fundamental aspect of the legal system. In other words, when a court decides on a particular case; congress undertakes an unusual process, or the system condones a certain tradition, it becomes a binding precedent that must be followed in similar cases in the future. This ensures consistency and predictability in the system.

The danger of all these trends is that a line of legal patterns has already been created, and more are on the way. In the meantime, Hunter Biden could take advantage of these privileges by simply declaring to run for election as an independent. He could follow Trump’s playbook and equally enjoy the privileges already set in the political and legal system.

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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