GSO Mayor Johnson sounds off on youth, schools


The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I’ve met Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson only a couple of times, and this was going back a few years ago while she was still on the City Council. At the time, I really didn’t formulate an opinion other than she seemed to be a nice lady.

When she was voted in recently as the first black mayor of North Carolina’s third largest city, I was hoping it would signal an era of change and transition, not withstanding “Mitch-Gate” and the mountain of corruption currently plaguing City Hall.

So you can imagine my sense of confusion when I opened up the N&R Monday and saw this article. Now, everyone lately has something to say about the state of Guilford County’s youth, especially our youth of color…about how we need more programs, this program, that program, that other program.

The confusing part were these series of quotes:

“Many of our youth start out with dreams of the future… then life happens,” she said. One, positive adult in that child’s life can change that, she said.


After the speech Johnson answered questions provided by the audience. Many of the queries focused on concerns about the school system, ranging from her opinion on what the new superintendent should do once hired to how the city can curb violence at Dudley and Smith high schools.


Johnson noted the City Council has little direct impact on schools issues but did weigh in, saying the police department is making more of an effort to work with groups at Dudley and Smith.


Johnson said she would like to see the new superintendent implement sensitivity and racism awareness training and again urged parents, churches and other civic groups to help by getting involved.

“I think we all bear some responsibility,” she said.


Sensitivity and racism awareness training…I’m sorry, I thought we’ve all been healed already, this is 2008. What Mayor Johnson doesn’t know is that…sshhhhh…this training already exists, through the so-called GCS Diversity Office. I said so-called, because we did a pretty good report on the GCS Diversity Office back in the fall and uncovered some troubling information.

SSHHHHH…don’t tell Mayor Johnson this either, but the previous “anti-racism training” GCS had accused white teachers of being racist by nature, and that GCS Board member Deena Hayes was, in fact, a “trainer” with one of the agencies conducting these workshops.

Probably what Johnson should have said…was this:

“…the new Superintendent should have rather thick skin because he/she is coming into a county where the color of one’s skin continues to be a stronger focus than the content of one’s character.”

Programs are good…stronger parenting is better.

To close, Johnson cited a need for “economic opportunity” for today’s youth.

You know what, Madam Mayor, our citizens NEED jobs! From our high school-aged kids, to our college-age young people, and even young professionals in their 30s like me…we need jobs, good jobs; not $9 an hour part-time service jobs…we need companies to come in, set up shop and put our citizens to work. And it’s sad that our so-called “economic development professionals” continue to be blind-sided at the continuing brain-drain that’s literally sucking the intellectual wind out of Guilford County.

Getting off the soap box…



I thought about this a little more…and the more I think about it, the more I’m troubled at one other quote she used above.  Johnson said: “Many of our youth start out with dreams of the future… then life happens,” she said.

What does the mayor mean by that?

Yes, life happens…but that can be a good thing, it doesn’t have to be bad. Just because many of our youth are differently-advantaged, does that mean they don’t have a chance to succeed in life? No…absolutely not.

But I fear she may be using victimization here. I could be wrong, but the context is puzzling.

E.C. )


4 Responses

  1. Excellent post EC. I agree with all but would preface it all by saying our youth first need to learn to read. Our schools are failing them in this most simple subject area. You cannot get a job, not even a $9/hour job, if you can’t read. Good Lord who would have thought it but our schools can’t even do that. Sensitivity training is laughable unless you’re talking about how to be sensitive to the needs of the illiterate.

  2. “To close, Johnson cited a need for “economic opportunity” for today’s youth.”

    The last time that I looked, economic opportunity was closed linked with your level of education. So, Ms. Mayor might do well to strongly encourage youth to stay in school, learn, and graduate.

    Beth, you are right, you need to be able to read to get a good job, and you also need to know basic math.

  3. ““Many of our youth start out with dreams of the future… then life happens,” she said.”

    That really is a bizarre way to put it – fatalism and victimization is no way to go.

  4. More of the same

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