Category: Opinion Written by Ulish Carter
Recently the Pittsburgh School Board voted 7-1-1 to renew Superintendent Linda Lane’s contract for another three years. I think it was one of the best decisions they have made.
With the Pittsburgh school system and urban school systems as a whole throughout this country going through such crisis and showing a lack of high achievements, why keep her?
The first crisis was the decline in students in public schools leading to the need to close schools to keep the cost down. This is what John Thompson tried to do but at that time the board could not accept a Black man telling them what to do, and closing their schools down. But when Mark Roosevelt came in and said basically the same thing they listened, because they finally realized that it had to be done even though they didn’t like it. The biggest costs were up keeping schools, which were under populated, and not selling closed school buildings.
When Lane took over, the need was to trim or eliminate the deficit spending while finishing what Roosevelt started in school closings, and she did it. Even though she had to cut hundreds of teachers, go against the union, and close more schools; she was able to accomplish it all. The system is now down to where it should be in the number of schools, and working within its budget.
You ask, “what about education?” What about it? Nothing drastic could be done in education as long as those problems were there and now they’re gone. Now the media, School Board members, and Dr. Lane can concentrate on education without all the other distractions.
In the next three years we need to compare the Pittsburgh school systems to other urban school systems throughout the country in several areas:
1. Substantially decreasing the percentage of dropouts.
2. Equalizing the racial differences between Black students and Whites. Why aren’t Blacks performing equal to Whites in the same classrooms? This has to be solved.
3. Improving the performances of all students in reading and basic math.
4. Keeping spending at a level in which the budget stays balanced, which includes selling all properties not in use.
5. Implementing after school and mentoring programs across the board to improve not only the academic performances of the students but to expose them to more career fields.
6. Creating a relationship with private industry, non-profits, trade schools and higher education institutions throughout the region to make sure Pittsburgh Public School students are among the first in line when it comes to accepting them and preparing them for the future. Pittsburgh Promise is a great beginning but it needs to be expanded into including more students by getting more businesses contributing to it.
A system must be created that follows the child from pre-school through high school graduation, into college, trade school or military. Beginning to end. Our kids must be prepared for the world they are going to enter when they graduate. This means the school system working with the students, parents, private industry, politicians, trade schools and colleges. No child should be left behind. And no one can do it better than Public Schools. They are doing it at CAPA; they are doing it at Obama Academy, why not all the schools.
Even though I’m very glad to see what Charter Schools are doing and Private Schools are doing, they are still supplements, with nothing taking the place of the Public Schools for low and moderate-income families. If Public Schools are eliminated then there will be lots of kids left behind, who can’t get into these other schools. Many are being kicked out now and sent back to Public Schools. What about the kids whose parent either will not or cannot help them achieve in school?
One of Dr. Lane’s biggest challenges will be creating interest in kids who are coming to school hungry, kids coming from abusive homes, who come from parents or are being influenced by other kids who see education as being an Uncle Tom, or being White. We must show them successful Blacks who were not Uncle Toms, men like Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the many, many others who have put their lives on the line for the progress of Black people through education. They can be found just about everywhere in Pittsburgh. Being an Uncle Tom is really not getting an education. Getting an education gives you the power to determine what you want to be, where as NO education allows others to dictate to you what they want you to be. The doors are generally open for the educated and shut for the uneducated. Our ancestors fought so hard for the right to an education. Most Black colleges were founded by the belief that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. We can’t just give up.
Dr. Lane has a great opportunity to lead Pittsburgh to uncharted territories for an urban school system. And that is to be one of if not the best urban school system in the country, and to be able to compete with the suburban schools despite not having the resources they have or being at the educational level they are at in the beginning. I believe she sincerely wants this system to work, she understands the Black students and the obstacles in their way that they must overcome and her concern for students, teachers and parents will guide her. We don’t need to start all over with a new Superintendent; we need to grow with what we have. She has three years to grow Pittsburgh into one of the best school systems in the country and we all should be helping by working at this through Dr. Lane. If we feel she’s guiding in the wrong direction, or doing something wrong we need to point it out to her. In no way should we rubber stamp everything she does, but we owe her the opportunity to finish what she started. Hopefully we all will benefit from it, especially our children.
(Ulish Carter is managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 09:11
Category: Opinion Written by Marian Wright Edelman
(NNPA)—Why is the National Rifle Association so afraid of the truth? There are many misconceptions about guns and gun violence swirling around in Americans’ minds—and in many cases, this misinformation is no accident. For years the NRA has blocked the truth and actively fought against and prevented research in the causes and costs of gun violence because they don’t want Americans to know the truth about guns, how to prevent gun violence, and how to make themselves and their children safer. Why else would they have Congress pull gun injury prevention research funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health? Why have we put up so long with efforts to block all research on a huge public health threat that injures and kills tens of thousands of Americans every year?
As Drs. Arthur Kellermann and Frederick Rivara wrote an article titled, “Silencing the Science on Gun Research” in the February 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association. They wrote, “What can be done to reduce the number of US residents who die each year from firearms, currently more than 31,000 annually? The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997.”
Instead, they note that beginning in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress began mounting an all-out effort to eliminate any funding for research connected to gun injury prevention. And as Drs. Kellermann and Rivara explain, this continued refusal to fund any research isn’t just an academic matter. “Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31 percent. Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38 percent and 52 percent, respectively. This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions. Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research.”
Why is the NRA afraid of seeking the truth and having citizens make informed decisions about how best to ensure their and their children’s safety? Their concerted campaign to hide the truth and block research is finally facing new scrutiny and opposition. President Obama’s proposed gun safety package would end the freeze on gun injury prevention research although the amounts requested are inadequate. Ignorance is not bliss or sensible or sound policy, and in the case of our national gun violence epidemic, ignorance is actually fatal. We need to make decisions based on the truth and counter the NRA misinformation that has been infecting our nation.
It’s time to challenge and deflate NRA misinformation and recognize that it does not speak for most American gun owners or even the majority of its membership. For example, polling data shows that 85 percent of gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members support universal background checks—a policy position the NRA vehemently opposes.
The NRA argues that background checks don’t work. The reality is that criminal background checks do work and making them universal at the federal level would make them far more effective. Since its implementation in 1994, the Brady Law, which instituted a federal background check requirement for sales through licensed dealers, has denied 2.1 million applications to purchase a firearm. But its impact has been limited by the ability of criminals to access firearms through private sales, since only sales by federally licensed dealers require a background check; unlicensed dealers, including those at gun shows and on the Internet and other private sales do not. An analysis by Mayors Against Illegal Guns reveals that states that don’t require background checks for handgun sales at gun shows export guns used to commit crimes 2.5 times more often than states that do. As much as 40 percent of gun sales may be occurring through these private sales, a loophole that common sense and the vast majority of Americans demand we fix.
Another bit of misinformation from the NRA is that universal background checks will lead to a registry of gun owners. The Brady Law explicitly bans the creation of a gun owner registry, and under that law instant criminal background checks have been made on more than 100 million gun sales in the last decade without leading to the formation of a gun registry. Here again, misinformation has paralyzed effective gun safety protections. The vast majority of responsible gun owners support background checks because they know that the only people who will be negatively impacted are criminals and those who sell them firearms.
Please do your homework and decide for yourself. Educate yourself on what the NRA wants you to believe by reading the Children’s Defense Fund’s updated fact sheet “The Truth About Guns.” During this Easter recess, go to your members of Congress’ town hall meetings and let your members know that the time to be held hostage to the NRA lobby is over. Let’s break the NRA lock on the research door to learn and share the truth about the human, economic and public safety costs of gun violence in our nation. I believe the truth will set us free.
(Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:59
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Roxanne Jones
(CNN) -- I'm not mad at Tiger Woods, or Nike.
Those people who are up-in-arms that Woods has climbed back to his standing as the world's No. 1 golfer and that he is no longer asking for our forgiveness are hypocrites.
"Winning Takes Care of Everything," proclaims his most recent Nike ad, as a focused Tiger crouches in the background. When I first saw the ad, I thought: Wow, bold move by Nike. It's an in-your-face, unapologetic statement.
Back in 2009, when Woods took his public plunge into disgrace by cheating on his wife with a long list of silicone-enhanced beauties, we criticized him for being a fake. We said he'd lied not only to his wife but also to his adoring public, who apparently thought he was a near-God. We said he was the role model for our kids.
But I never thought it was Tiger's job to teach my son how to be a responsible, loving husband or father. That's a job for parents. Of course, I'm not excusing his behavior, but I am not his judge. His wife and family -- and Tiger himself -- really were the only ones hurt by his actions.
Well, now Tiger is being real. He's being honest with the public. We should be happy. He's finally speaking his mind so there can be no question of what type of man he is today. And I say, good for him.
And good for Nike for standing by him through what was in the end just a personal flaw. It's not like he's Lance Armstrong, who used enhancement drugs throughout his career and sabotaged an entire sport for years. Woods did not have to give back his championships because he cheated his sport, his fans or his sponsors.
Don't be mad at Tiger. It was never him we were disappointed in anyway. It was the cheating boyfriend or spouse who broke our hearts and split up our families. Be mad at the problems in your own personal life. Or, be mad at yourself. I know when I've screwed up, if I'm honest, the first person to be upset with is myself. Tiger has nothing to do with my life or relationships.
The Nike ad may be offensive to those who don't quite understand sports culture, or work in extremely competitive environments such as sales, or Wall Street, and even politics. But in those worlds, nothing could be truer than "winning takes care of everything." In those worlds you are only as good as your last big win.
How many times have we said to ourselves at work: "I can turn my career around with one success on my next project?" Or, "One win will make my bosses happy and all will be forgotten?" How many of us say to our kids who play sports: "Hang in there. All you need is one game-winning goal and that will change everything. Everyone will forget you haven't scored all season."
Winning does change things. Just think of Super Bowl Champion Ray Lewis, who the NFL calls one of the best men to ever play the game. Or former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who was a king for a decade, surviving numerous scandals until he was forced to resign amid NCAA rules sanctions. Tressel then went on to work for the NFL. Why? Because he knows how to win.
Does anyone think Joe Paterno would have lasted so long at Penn State among the allegations of child sex abuse if the football program was down-and-out? No, sadly, it was the winning and the big money that kept Paterno and others safe. Heck, even Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton reclaimed their status as kingmakers after personal disgraces.
We are a forgiving nation. For me, nothing is better than someone who can get back up and succeed after a bloody knockout. Tiger got back up. And I hope this time around he can relax, be himself and enjoy the game.
Editor's note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women's topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete," (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.
Last Updated on Sunday, 31 March 2013 22:12
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Julian Zelizer
PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) -- The changes that we are seeing in public attitudes about homosexuality are just the tip of the political iceberg.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 19:50
Category: Opinion Written by George E. Curry
(NNPA)—In five months, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In 1963, the March was jointly called by the Civil Rights Movement’s “Big Six”—A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, James Farmer and John Lewis.
At this point, it is unclear whether today’s leaders will come together and rally around the theme of jobs and justice as leaders did on August 28, 1963.
Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III are planning a march in Washington. Bernice King has announced a commemoration of the “I Have a Dream” speech at the King Center in Atlanta to observe the 50th anniversary. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King’s old organization, will be holding its annual convention in the nation’s capital the week of the anniversary and is considering holding an activity.
The foundation that raised more than $100 million to erect the MLK monument on the National Mall—and was forced by King’s children to drop the reference to Dr. King in its name—is still hoping it can participate in a joint celebration by all of the civil rights groups.
Interestingly, the Big Six managed to come together when the Black unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, compared to 3.2 percent for Whites. The unemployment rate for Blacks 20 and older in February was 12.7 percent—nearly double what it was at the time of the March on Washington.
Of course, any discussion about the preservation of Dr. King’s legacy invariably involves his three remaining children—Martin III, Bernice and Dexter. While appreciating the King family’s desire to protect intellectual property left to them by their father, including his “I Have a Dream” speech, I have been critical of their decision to charge what had been known as the Martin Luther King National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. a licensing fee of nearly $3 million to use his name, likeness and quotes in conjunction with a monument erected to him on the National Mall. I also upbraided them for, after making the decision to charge a licensing fee, refusing to extend the agreement, forcing the foundation to change its name (it is now The Memorial Foundation) and limit the scope of the monument-connected activities it had planned to advance Dr. King’s legacy.
Roland Martin and Joe Williams have an interesting article on rolandmartinreports.com about the controversy.
We had a heated discussion Sunday on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” about the King children’s interaction with Harry Johnson and the group that raised the money for King monument on the Mall, the first to honor an African-American. In response to my earlier column on the subject, Armstrong Williams wrote a column claiming I had slandered the King family and “For Mr. Curry to spread the falsehood that the King family is charging schools for the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is not only wrong, but embarrassing to these good people.”
After schooling Armstrong Sunday on the difference between “slander,” defamation that is spoken, and “libel,” which is written, I told him I couldn’t have possibly made that charge because I never used the word “school” anywhere in my column. He waited four months to reply and still didn’t get it right. To his credit, Armstrong acknowledged his error on-air and apologized.
During the program Sunday, Roland said he had spoken with Tricia Harris, a King representative, who said the money paid to the Kings was for corporations that exploited Dr. King’s image and they had not received money from the foundation for using quotes and the likeness of Dr. King.
I said, “She’s lying.”
Harris sent me a note taking exception to my comment and said, “It’s a great American tragedy when influential African-Americans attack the King family for protecting and benefiting from Dr. King’s work when he set it up that way.”
Actually, King, Inc. was created after Dr. King’s assassination. Therefore, he did not “set it up that way.” Second, the licensing agreement does in fact extract a fee from the mall foundation in exchange for using his likeness on materials and quotes at the memorial.
Let’s be clear: No one is objecting to the King siblings profiting from their father’s intellectual properties. The issue is, unlike the descendants of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, they are trying to personally profit from a national monument that honors their father and the struggle he led.
David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning King biographer, told Roland Martin and Joe Williams: “It’s not as if (King, Inc.) is using any of this income for charitable good deeds. We’ve seen none of that whatsoever. It appears to be simply self-enrichment for a small number of people.”
As great as he was, the March on Washington wasn’t about Dr. King. It was about jobs and freedom. Sadly, 50 years later, we need a similar march that unites our leaders around those same issues.
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the NNPA. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.)
Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2013 10:11
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!