A Column by Dr. John Y. Odom, PhD
Mike McCarthy Should Go
For 13 years, Wisconsin hasn’t progressed from being the worst state in the nation in which to be Black due to our high Black incarceration rates. Related to this reality, Wisconsin has
the widest academic achievement gap between its White and Black students. According to DPI, 90 percent of Madison’s Black students can’t do math or read proficiently. Dick and Jane
can read, but Jaylen and Shante are struggling.
As a result, the Dane County jail is continually full. Communities cower in fear of car thefts, home invasions and gun shots. City leaders have identified a group of usual suspects who
are blamed with or without cause. Among what these kids have in common, according to Judge Everett Mitchell, is assessment as Special Education students and a one-hour school
day in spite of the fact that students have expressed a preference for being in school over being on the streets.
During the recent election, the State NAACP sent a brief survey to all candidates for national and state offices, including the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the governorship
and for attorney general. The survey asked about each candidate’s position of the Black/White incarceration and achievement gaps. No candidate bothered to complete the survey. Ho
hum. Black failure is “baked in the cake” and not worthy discussing.
Meanwhile, charitable giving, noblesse oblige, generosity, and grants to address the problems are up: Dane County has more nonprofits per capita than any other county in the nation,
currently 6,676 nonprofit organizations valued at nearly $19,000,000,000; to say nothing of taxes allocated to solving social ills. Recently, I had a discussion with a store clerk in
Tennessee who was complaining about his property taxes. I asked him how much he pays, and he griped that his rate increased to $600 a year. I told him that he had better take a
seat before I talked any further…
Across the decades, elected and selected leaders have said the right things. “We’re committed!” “We will do better!” “We will make a difference!” Fast forward and so the needle hasn’t
moved, with a few positive projects lacking attention or replication.
Maybe 40 years ago, I attended a national conference for school administrators. A night speaker addressed the economics of education. I was not alone in wishing for a No-Doz or a
strychnine tablet. When the economist was done enlightening us, it was time for Q&A. So, I raised my hand to ask about economics and Black students. The economist perked up and
spoke from his heart. Back in the day, the only recordings were cassette tapes that could be purchased. I bought a tape and when I got home, I played and replayed the tape until I
captured what Martin Mayer said.
“This is a real demand and society is entitled to make this demand. We cannot put so many kids out — especially not so many Black kids and minority kids — out into the great world
unable to function, as we’ve been doing for the last twenty-five years. This thing must stop! I think it can be stopped. I don’t think we exploit the techniques we have. I don’t think we have
made sufficient demands upon people.
"We have been willing to quit on people much too early on and I think that we have had much too much (of a) feeling that if you can adjust people to the fact that they’re never going to be
competent, they’ll be happy and that’s all we’re here for.'
"The society is going to insist that a self-respecting educated community stop sending kids out of school who are not literate, who are not numerate, who don’t understand what it
means to do a day’s work. There are too many of those, and that’s going to have to stop!”
Elected and selected leaders deserve support, adequate resources and a reasonable amount of time. Then there comes a time when the pass-fail assessment must be made. And
when failure is the assessment, for the sakes of children and the nation, resumes of leaders must be released into the free marketplace, allowing them to make a fresh start
elsewhere, providing chances for new disruptive, paradigm shifting leadership here. It’s time to beat the 49th worst state in which to be Black. Lives are at stake.
Editor’s Note – Dr. John Y. Odom wrote this column before Mike McCarthy was fired on December 2, 2018.
I’m no big sports fan, but I’ve learned to support Wisconsin teams. Lately, the Packers have been disappointing. They have fallen below
expectations. They aren’t horrible, but they bob above and below the pass-fail line.
Sports reporters don’t hesitate to call Aaron Rodgers the best in the game. Still, the Packers haven’t won a Super Bowl in seven years nor have
they played in a Super Bowl since then. In the same time period, the New England Patriots have played in four Super Bowls and won two.
Mike McCarthy is a good coach and is, from all appearances, a good person. So, why should he leave? Because it’s time. The Packers need
fresh and inspiring leadership to make a run for the championship while Rodgers still has a championship run in him.
From the curbside, the recent loss to Seattle (again!) represented fans’ frustrations. Blown leads, injuries, predictable plays, rookies replacing
traded blue-chippers and poor challenge flag management. Russell Wilson’s longest pass was bobbled and hit the ground, but McCarthy didn’t
challenge. Another ho-hum performance. No blow out, just another unnecessary loss.
As it is with football, so is it in other sectors. Major challenges loom. Lives hang in the balance, and the public sings of leaders with ho-hum
results “We’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Pace.”