Bibb County (Ga) School System: A Reminder of Why Pre-1954 America Existed

PK Note: Before reading this piece, you must educate yourself on Macon, Georgia. It’s a city where the behavior of Black people ended such community building traditions as Trick or Treating and Easter Egg Hunts; it’s a city where Black dysfunction – Blacks are 66 % of the population – have helped drive away capital (and white people), ensuring that it ranks as one of the brokest in America

Breakdown of Bibb County School System (home of Macon, Georgia — where Trick or Treating and Easter Egg Hunts have been cancelled

May 17, 1954 is the date the United States Supreme Court decided that school segregation was unconstitutional. It was a date that fundamentally changed the United States and education in America.

And it is Bibb County in Georgia (home to Macon — where Trick or Treating has been cancelled because of violence in Black neighborhoods) where we see one of the primary reasons why segregation was ever necessary.

One thing we are never taught in school is why school segregation was necessary prior to its overturning in 1954: obviously some events or a multitude of diverse events must have been required for such a policy of segregation to be the law of the land when it came to education.

Perhaps Bibb County school system offers a candid, intimate look into why our forefathers deemed the segregation of children to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment was important. Mind you, out of 153,000+ people, the county is 50 percent white and 47 percent Black.

However, of 24,345 students enrolled in the Bibb County school system in 2008, 73.5 percent were Black and 21 percent were white. The future – save for white kids in public schools – of Bibb County doesn’t look so bright (the average ACT score of a Bibb County student was 17.7 in 2009; for the state of Georgia, it was 20.7; for the United States, it was a 21 — out of 36).

But why again might we have once had segregated schools in America? Well, the answer is quite simple [Bibb school fights, weapons reported tallies differ widely, The Telegraph, 9-18-2012]:               

The latest version of a Bibb County school safety report contains statistics on fights and weapons in schools that vary widely from those that the school system reported to the state Department of Education. There are few differences between the two versions of the report, the latest of which school board members received Monday.  

The new report included data and analysis on school fights, as well as guns and knives found on campus. The new report also recommends that the school district either withdraw from — or significantly amend — a student discipline agreement involving the school system, law enforcement agencies and other organizations that would divert some student misdemeanors from Bibb County Juvenile Court. 

That modifies a recommendation made in a previous report by Safe Havens International, hired to evaluate safety in Bibb County’s public schools. Both reports indicate that crimes have been underreported in the district and that the data available is considered unreliable, in part because staff members interviewed said they have felt pressured not to report disciplinary episodes. 

Both reports also include recommendations about making schools, parking lots and other areas safer, among other findings. A line graph in the new report shows that there were about 2,300 fights during the 2010-11 school year and about 2,400 fights during the 2011-12 school year. It was difficult to get an exact number because the measurements in the graphic — and several others — were not precise. 

 The report pointed out that even though there were more fights year to year, the increase was probably higher than the data showed. “Even though we see ample indication that under reporting of incidents has occurred during the past school year, the number of fights in the District overall still increased slightly,” the report stated. 

“This indicates that it is likely that a more significant increase in the number of fights has taken place this year.” The previous Safe Havens report indicated that analysts could not get data on fights and weapons from the school system at first. “Even though we repeatedly requested, we were not provided with information about fights and the number of weapons confiscated from students,” that report stated. The Telegraph called the school system with questions Tuesday, but was told that officials were in meetings and that it would be Wednesday before they could field questions. 

Board members contacted Tuesday said they had not yet been able to look over the new report. In the same two-year time period, another line graph in the latest report notes that incidents of knives at schools dropped from about 80 to about 50. School officials confiscated 10 guns from students during the 2010-11 school year, compared to 13 guns during the 2011-12 year. The report notes that the number of knives cases was unlikely to drop while there were more fights and guns in schools. 

 “Though we received the requested incident data late in the process, we did have time to perform limited analysis of the data. The data indicates that the District does have significant risk when it comes to the high number of fights at (its) elementary, middle and high schools in combination with a relatively high level of weapons incidents.” There were, however, discrepancies between the data in the Safe Havens report and data reported to the state on similar incidents.  

 During the 2011-12 school year, the Bibb County school system reported to the state that there were 1,761 fights in its schools, an increase from 1,628 fights during the 2010-11 school year. In terms of weapons, there were 43 knives, nine rifles, 26 cases of “other weapons” and one “other firearm” in Bibb schools during the 2011-12 school year reported to the state. The previous year, 51 knives, eight rifles, 47 “other weapons” and one “other firearm” were reported to the state. 

Bibb County, far left; State of Georgia, middle; Georgia County Avg, far right

Never mind the data, cheer up!: Think how many recruits for Southeastern Conference (SEC) football and basketball teams are in this school system. Who knows how much violence is actually transpiring in the 73 percent Black Bibb County school system, save the white parents who have pulled their children out to attend private schools where the only violence is in the pages of history books.

It should be noted that Macon is the home of Jack Ellis, the first Black mayor of the city (elected in the late 1990s). He was responsible for much of the white flight from the city, though he was championed as the man who would “heal” the racial division within the Macon [Divisive Georgia mayor nears end of tenure Macon’s first black mayor reached out to Chavez, used taxes to go to Africa, AP, 9-25-2007]:

Jack Ellis was elected Macon’s first black mayor amid high hopes he would bring the city together. Instead he has divided it with one move after another — trips to Africa at taxpayer expense, his conversion to Islam, his reaching out to Venezuela’s anti-American president.

He has also survived recall efforts, constant bickering with the City Council and repeated federal grand jury investigations into public spending.

Now, with just months to go before Ellis leaves office, some civic leaders in this city of 95,000 can only look back and wonder what might have been.

“People were really excited when he was first elected eight years ago. As a community, we felt it was time, and he got a lot of the vote across all demographics,” said Nancy White, a first-term city councilwoman who is white. “But a lot of people feel like he let the city down. There’s a lot of disappointment. It could have been so much better.”

In fact, the divisiveness has prompted the mayor’s apparent successor, fellow Democrat Robert Reichert, a white lawyer who is the choice of the Macon businessestablishment, to run on a platform of reconciliation.

A towering 61-year-old with a booming voice and salt-and-pepper hair, Ellis is unapologetic about his record.

“I have a certain power that’s granted,” he said. “I don’t abuse it, but I use it. That’s what power is for — to be used.”

Surprise electoral victory 

One of 13 children born to a poor sharecropper, Ellis grew up outside Macon with three siblings crammed into one room. He served in Vietnam with the Army, worked on Jesse Jackson’s presidential run in 1988, then made a name for himself with a local-access TV show that pushed for the expansion of Macon’s bus system and came out against a proposal to give city land to a club with no black members.

He got elected mayor in 1999 on his second try with significant white support in this city, where 66 percent of the residents are black and one in three lives below the poverty level. His victory against the establishment’s favorite came as a surprise to many.

He soon won accolades for his efforts to stabilize the city’s worst neighborhoods. He obtained a $21 million federal grant to rebuild a rundown district near downtown, an ambitious project he kicked off by wrecking his mother’s old home first.

It’s not just Atlanta that is headed toward collapse; it’s the entire state of Georgia. But it is the Bibb County school system and the violence within the walls of the elementary, middle and high schools (remember, 73 percent of the enrolled students are Black) that can’t be cataloged properly – or isn’t reported – which helps serve as a simple “nudge” to those incredulous as to why we once had school segregation in America.



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