by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Scholarship in Action
Tanya McDowell, the mother in Connecticut who was charged with larceny for allegedly stealing an education for her son, pleaded not guilty in court on April 27. McDowell faces up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine for sending her child to a school outside his district. The problem is that no one seems to know where McDowell was living because she is homeless.
McDowell’s son, AJ Paches, was sent by his mother to Brookside Elementary in Norwalk, Conn. He was a kindergartner, and Ms. McDowell wanted to ensure that her son had access to a high quality education.
The problem is that when school officials found out that AJ didn’t belong, they put him out. The school system that he was sent to, in nearby Bridgeport, Conn., has significant problems, where many of the schools are in danger of being taken over by the state.
“It’s a pretty good school and that’s all I want for my son is a great education,” McDowell told FoxCT. “I didn’t commit a crime by wanting the best education for my child.”
The city of Norwalk is standing firm against McDowell to see the prosecution to the end.
“This woman never claimed she was homeless, never told us she was homeless, was using an illegal address in a public housing complex, has a checkered past and despite all the protestation that she’s concerned about her son, if she had done things right, this would have never happened,” Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said.
At the site EqualEducationNow.com, we are fighting for Ms. McDowell. But our goal is not to presume that Ms. McDowell is perfect or that there weren’t extraneous circumstances around her arrest. Our point is simple: Mothers should not have to break the law in order to get their children access to an equal education. The idea that Mayor Moccia feels that it should be OK to banish Ms. McDowell’s son to an inadequately funded school is not only incredibly selfish, it is destructive and inhumane.
We will fight the prosecution of Ms. McDowell to the very end. I spoke with the national and state NAACP presidents yesterday, who expressed interest in having a national march in the state of Connecticut next month. Your Black World Coalition members sounded the alarm on Tanya’s case, and our coalition to fight for Ms. McDowell is growing daily. Now, nearly every civil rights leader in America has his/her eyes firmly placed on the state of Connecticut.
Since we started with Kelley Williams-Bolar in Ohio, our goal has been to protect our families from this open season on the freedom of Black mothers, and to help protect the Black family in the process. The mayor of Norwalk has no idea that he just got into a fight to the death. Quoting brother Malcolm, I must say that our families will be saved and protected by any means necessary, starting with Tanya McDowell.