Gus John pays tribute to Gerry German

May 3, 2012 in Blog

It is with deep, deep sadness that I inform you of Gerry German‘s passing.  He died at 03.00 this morning of a heart attack at home.  I am sure that, like me, you will be shocked at the suddenness of his death.

Gerry was a life-long campaigner for children’s education rights and an unwavering supporter of all our struggles.  Having been a former headteacher and Principal Education Officer at the Community Relations Commission/Commission for Race Equality, he helped to establish the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources and 13 years ago invited me and a couple others to join him in setting up the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN).

Over those 13 years, CEN has dealt with an average of 1,000 school exclusion cases per year, providing advocacy to school students and their parents and representing them at School Governors Disciplinary Committees and at Independent Appeals Panels.  Each year, we have taken some deserving cases to Judicial Review and won most of them.  Gerry remained the main case worker for CEN and its unpaid Director until yesterday.  I am currently Chair of CEN for the second time, having been its Founding Chair.On Monday 30 April, Gerry introduced and made the closing remarks at a session at Lambeth Town Hall:  The Power of Love  -  Spiritual Leader Dadi Janki (age 96) of the Brahma Kumaris in Conversation with Professor Gus John.

He was 84.

We give thanks for his extraordinary life and his giving and compassionate spirit.

Peace and Hope!

A tribute on Facebook

Picture (homepage):

Yellow Blooms” by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton (Flickr)

The state we’re in 10 years after the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

April 21, 2009 in Blog

In February 1999 Sir William Macpherson reported to the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, on the inquiry he led into matters arising from the murder of Stephen Lawrence almost six years earlier.  The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, as Macpherson preferred us to call it, was widely seen as a watershed in race relations in Britain.

That was mainly because government, the media and the chattering classes had not been listening to the evidence and to the shrill demands of generations of black people regarding police abuse of their powers, the racism in British policing that was systemic and not just the aberrations of the few ‘rotten apples’ that, so we are told, are to be found in every police force as in other institutions in society; racism that led to preconceived ideas about black witnesses and to the deeply flawed operational decisions that flowed from them. Read the rest of this entry →

Black and ethnic minority leaders and managers of learning communities

January 26, 2009 in Gus talks, Speeches

The following keynote address was delivered on January 26th, 2009. 

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

 Inauguration address, 20 January 2009

I have chosen to give this title to this talk because I genuinely believe:

  1. that black teachers and school managers are among the most competent, hard working and committed facilitators that there are;
  1. that among serving black school managers there are people with the highest qualifications and the highest standards of professionalism;
  1. that among the qualifications you bring is the experience of being, and having been, BME consumers of education services, some excellent, some good, some ‘so so’ and some desperately in need of urgent improvement;
  1. that experience has led you to want and to demand more for black children and for all children, and therefore you abhor mediocrity and have the highest expectations of yourself, in order to match the equally high expectations you have of them;
  1. that you owe it to yourself and to one another to attend to your own personal and professional development, individually and collectively, so that you continue to build and sustain a culture of ‘quality’, irrespective of what anyone else around you does;
  1. that given the way the groups to which you belong in the wider community continue to experience the society and its institutions, especially schooling and the labour market, as aspiring managers you have what Rosemary Campbell calls “a moral purpose” to ensure that in your professional role you are making a difference;

In the time remaining, I will try and expand on each of these, though not in any particular order. Read the rest of this entry →