Public school innovator Fluker sees political action as way to fix systems

Fluke Fluker’s group Village Nation is an effort to humanize public schools for the benefit of black students.

Q: You mentioned the prison-industrial complex. What about what could be called the schooling-industrial complex — how might this complex, if it exists, be an impediment to the liberation of the many students who are in it?

Fluke Fluker: Well, the school system — the failing school system as it exists feeds the prison-industrial system, and feeds it very well. *** One out of three black boys end up in prison. Money is being made off of them. A lot of prisons have incorporated, basically labor — free labor — to supply to corporate America, rather than having corporate America going out, overseas, to other countries, they are doing it in house, and that way they save the money for the shipping of the product because it’s done right here in America. It gets stamped made in America.

Q: Is there some way Americans and people in the audience tonight could look at the fact that we have a state-run education that is government controlled that is feeding another state-run government-controlled institution? Is there a way you can break the lock of the first one upon the people you are addressing in your talks?

I think that the lock is broken first by people being aware that there is a lock in the first place and being aware of the correlation between the two complexes, the two systems, and how one feeds the other. Once they are aware this is there, then through the power of voting, the power of demonstrating, and the power of — an understand that we live in democracy, that we have the ability to change things as a people. So, as people become more and more aware of it, become educated about it, understand the tactics and and methods that need to be used to create this ship, to create this change, I think we can do that.

Q And so, in your mind, it is is voting and the active participation of citizens with government that brings about the changes you propose?

Absolutely. That’s one of the methods of using. It’s a peaceful method. It is one of the methods of doing. If our representatives are not hearing us that way, then we need to think of other ways to make them hear it, in a peaceful, orderly type of way. That is the beauty of living in a democracy.

Q: Is your idea something that works within the system, or is it really somehow out of the system?

It’s outside the current system?

Q How so?

I don’t care who the conductor is — It’s like being on a train. If you change conductors it doesn’t matter. The track has already been laid. And so the idea is to derail the train or relay the tracks in a direction that is more healthier for all of us as citizens.

Q Is there a free market way to relay the tracks, or must the relaying the tracks always be within the paradigm and control of the police, the government, the taxpayer and their representatives. Is there any solution outside of the state?

I think because the problem is more than statewide, the solution might need to be done on a national level. Because the problem is not just in the state of Tennessee. The problem is throughout this country. I think the educational system in our country has become antiquated. I believe it needs to be revamped, not tweaked, but total reorg — totally revamped. It was built on a system of farmers, on that type of calendar, and for us globally to be able to compete we need to look at some of the educational systems that are out there, with countries that have far surpassed us as Americans.

Q So in your mind, there is no way outside the state, the state and government paradigm. It has to be within that. There is no way for the genius of the black man that you described tonight can be unleashed, so that private solutions can be found?

Absolutely it can be unleashed. **** Let the people’s will be heard, and be fulfilled.

Q You don’t view public education as another plantation that has kept the black man in his place and regulated all his activities?

I believe ignorance has done that, and public education plays into that ignorance, and that we must supplement what it is that the kids are learning in schools with our own understandings of who we are as a people. The responsibility is, listen, the responsibility is on all of us. It’s on government, it’s on us as individual parents, it’s on principals, it’s on teachers, and it’s on the students themselves. So the responsibility of dealing with this issue, which is a very complex issue, is on all of the above stakeholders. You have a little box that says all of the above? That’s the one you want to check.

Q You said we need to think outside the box. Are you doing that?

Absolutely I am thinking outside the box. Absolutely. Because thinking inside the box has done nothing to create the [test score] numbers that we’ve seen.

Q What do you think about the state of education 20 years from now — 30 years from now?

Hm. Good question. It’s got to go one way or another. It’s at pretty much rock bottom right now. So, it’s pretty much only one way it can go from here is up. There’s a lot of movement that’s going on. You’ve got to understand that education is that last of the financial frontiers in this country. You have the military. You have health care. And education is the next big big multitrillion dollar thing, and so people are making moves. You see a lot of the billionaires in this country that are making moves, to begin to get a foothold in that.

Q: Are you suggesting that nationalization or federalization of the states’ educational enterprises would be a good thing and desirable downstream?

Not necessarily. It could work either way. But not necessarily. ****

Q So local control and county control are the salvation of the issue, and not federalization of nationalization from Washington?

Correct. I think it starts there. And then it moves into something in which the federal government can aid and assist in that process.

Q How much confidence do you have in the “aid and assist” of the federal government which always has innumerable strings, attachments, duties, and so on, with it?

Not a whole of confidence, but I think with the right type of pressure and leverage that we can make some things happen. At the end of the day we show results. We’re showing results that the government claims that they want. There it is. You got laws that have been set, like No Child Left Behind. In many cases laws like No Child Left Behind has left kids with no behinds. I am always leery about anybody or anything, whether it be government agency or a corporation, that wants to invest in the future, but have strings attached. Strings attached have never been good for black folks.