Book cover with black man in suit with pink tie looking ahead with hand by side of head as if thinking and some white pills to the right and the name Umar Johnson in red letters below

Dr. Umar Johnson returned to Columbus this past October. Dr. Johnson is a doctor of clinical psychology and certified school psychologist. In his book, Psycho-Academic Holocaust: The special education and ADHD wars against Black Boys, he brings to the surface what is really going on within the city school systems in America when it comes to the continued discrimination and separation of Black children.  


I feel that it is important that Dr. Johnson continue to tour America and bring his esteem, knowledge and experience to Americans, especially, Black Americans, so that they may be properly “schooled” on just how damaging it is for our children, all our children, to have someone as clearly unsympathetic as Elizabeth Prince DeVos, as the country’s Secretary of Education.  

Betsy DeVos is the epitome of the examples used by Dr. Johnson during his lecture and in his book to explain why Black Boys continue to be targeted, labeled and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She is a white woman teaching our black children. Due to lack of space, I can’t go into all the reasons and ways that Dr. Johnson has identified, regarding how the public educational system in America ensures that there will be a continued consistent flow of Black males to fill up the prison cells, so I will just focus on the financial gain that Betsy DeVos will gain by keeping the education school system in a “status quo” regiment.  

DeVos has an organization called the American Federation for Children, that is a 501(c)(4) arm of the 50l(c)(3) non-profit group the Alliance for School Choice. DeVos has an investment totaling $5 million to $25 million in the company, Neurocore, that markets experimental biofeedback procedures to help overcome attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. One of the reasons American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten, opposed the DeVos nomination was because “...her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth to dismantle public education in Michigan.”

DeVos has made millions from children being diagnosed with ADHD, Special Education classes and Charter Schools.

Kaiser Permanente Study found in 2013 that childhood diagnosis of ADHD increased dramatically over a nine-year period between 2001 and 2010. In their study of 850,000 ethnically diverse children, they found the rate of black children diagnosed with ADHD increased by 70 percent during that nine-year period. Professor of education and human development at Vanderbilt, Donna Ford, wrote in the New York Times in 2011 that “African-Americans are known for being movement-oriented, tactile and kinesthetic. This is considered normal and healthy in the African-American community but not necessarily so in schools.” Ford also feels “...I am convinced that the pervasiveness of this label (ADHD) is a product of prejudice and discrimination –intentional by some, and unintentional by others. Either way, too many black males are inaccurately labeled as having ADHD.”  

DeVos has put the well-fare, education and fair treatment of children with disabilities who attend public school in jeopardy. This is a teacher who has never taught in the public-school system and believes in private schools. This past October, DeVos rescinded 72 guidance documents outlining rights for disabled students that she deemed “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.” And it goes back to the money. Guidance documents outlining how schools could use federal money for special education was removed.  Who is monitoring and getting the money?  

ADHD is considered a disability. Black boys are being diagnosed at an increased rate yearly with ADHD. Once labeled, ADHD, the parents are put in the position of medicating their child for them to continue to receive a public education. Some students are put in Special Education classes. These classes and the guidelines for teaching the children have now been rescinded and are open to subjective whims of the educator, generally a white woman, and especially DeVos.

Monies are being diverted from the public-school system to private charter schools.  In his book, Dr. Johnson states that the “charter school movement took off in the early 1990’s as an effective strategy to divert monies away from public schools by giving them to groups and organizations who felt they could do much better with the same funding.” Charter schools don’t generally “charter” to the students in Special Education classes. Where does this leave the student? Where does it leave the parents? Especially the black student and their parents?  

One thing is clear, and Dr. Johnson stressed this fact in his Columbus lecture, the black parent had better educate themselves with the public education system, they should advocate for their child, they should know their rights to refuse to have their child labeled ADHD by the school system without an outside independent evaluation, paid for by the school, and to NEVER go to a meeting to discuss their child’s “possible” need for Special Education and medication ALONE. Know your child’s rights.



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