Is Gay the New Black?

Is Gay the New Black?

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

June 27, 2013

Dearest Rachel…

It is me, Betsy. I am writing to say Congratulations to you and all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans.  It has been a great week for all our LBGT brethren. Sadly, it is a little less so for those whose complexion is Black or Brown.  What or who am I kidding? It has been an awful week for America as a whole.  Once again, we have done as we did since the day of our founding; we denied our brothers and sisters equal rights.  I hope you understand that while I too think anytime rights are afforded to an individual or group it is a good time, a time to celebrate, this week I cannot. Indeed, I do not see a day when I will reflect on this Court’s rulings and be ready, willing, and able to rejoice.

Affirmative Action lost.  The inalienable right to cast a ballot for your Representatives, gone!  It was not that either of these laws, in practice, ever brought about equality, but a girl can dream.  I had hope.  Now, I do not.  Today, my heart broken, I can only reflect on the old adage; if my brother is poor or in pain then so too am I.  John Donne spoke for me when he said “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I am unsure if you are with me Rachel.  I listened to your review of the week and felt confused.  Therefore I ask.  On Thursday, June 27, 2013, you spoke of the angst yourself. You recounted the woe millions of California voters expressed on election night 2008. First there was elation; the first Black man was elected President of the United States.   It seemed we had arrived. It was as you exclaimed. a “civil rights milestone.” People took to the streets and danced.  Corks were popped.  Confetti fell from sky-high windows.  Then, as more ballots were tallied, a dark realization set in.  In California, marriages once declared legal would not be going forward. As you stated, “That whiplash moment, that California, alone, experienced the night 
President Obama was first elected,” was devastating. Perhaps, the man in the video clip you played this Thursday evening said it best for the LBGT community.

“In 2008 when we elected the first African-American 
president, it was a glorious day, but later that night it was a horrible night when the returns for Prop 8 came in saying that we were going to be 
treated as second-class citizens, and we just could not fathom being 
treated like that anymore.”

Therein lies the difference Rachel, one of many that I see.  People of color can fathom being treated like scum.  Granted persons in the LBGT community can too.! That said, the two experiences are not one.  The color of our skin cannot be camouflaged. Sexual orientation is perhaps but a subtle “clue.”  In other words, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders come out of the closet.  Blacks and Browns are more likely to be invited into the [water] closet to clean the mess white persons’ leave behind.  Caucasians can be so cruel, as can those of a certain socio-economic “class.”  I guess anyone can be.

Thus, I ask; do we celebrate our own victories and ignore the victimization of others?  ‘Tis true, we can delight in one while decrying the other.  It is the imbalance I bemoan.  I too, as the millions of others did, expressed elation for the decisions that brought good fortune to the LBGT community. I also cried and cried tears of distress.  For me, the long history of struggles is barely equivalent.  I am forlorn and again befuddled as I reflect on your review of the week.

Oh Rachel, after the aforementioned clip you said,  “Now, this week, we are essentially having the mirror image of that [2008] moment, 
thanks to the Supreme Court. “  Really?  Seriously?  Rachel, for me, what occurred in this, the last week of June is not the image in reverse.  The decision on the Voting Rights Act is, as you also stated in the next sentence, “a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of American civil rights law.”  However, sadly, it has not elicited a similar response.  With the race related rulings we heard silence or worse; endorsement for the now “Supremely” sanctioned divide.

Conservatives did not object. Liberals barely said a word.  States shouted, but in glee.  Loss of Affirmative Action and Voting Rights?  ‘It is as though the country as one said, Oh well.’  Gay rights on the other hand brought out the best in people.  Beginning years ago, Dick Cheney, made it known that he supports gay marriage.  The Democratic elite such as the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “came out” with her own declarative statement.  Legislators within Grand Ole Party chimed in.  They too were there to support gay marriage.  The reactions to racism are not as strong as we think they might be.  I think of your own response Rachel and say “Wow!”

I was not surprised that white families, the wealthy and powerful did not take up the banner. Here in Florida, when the elderly and well-established citizens were purged from voting rolls few voices were heard.  Certainly States did not complain.  Eliminate the Black and Brown vote? That works well for Republican Governors.  Measures were and are already underway.   The “new prejudice”  persists and is supported. Black and Brown persons are not.  Their  second-class” citizenship is the accepted standard.  Their “forgiveness is just expected.”

Equality? First-Class citizenship?  Rarely. Barely. Quite the contrary.

Oh there are the few who appear to have “made it.”  We might cite President Obama, General Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, or, hmmm? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?  I wonder. Put any of these in casual clothes, without the accoutrement of an office and might they be stopped and frisked, arrested for Driving-While-Black, or conceivably denied their right to vote? Oh Rachel, for me there is a glaring difference between the fights for rights.

Do you remember the words of the Author, John Howard Griffin, a white man who only occupied a darker skin for a time? I do. “The Negro is treated not even as a second-class citizen but as a tenth-class one.” Granted, times have changed since Griffin penned his words in 1964. Then racism was overt. Today, it is covert and sanctioned by the Highest Court in the Land.   What is it they say Rachel, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”?  That is likely true for those who are born Black, Brown, or on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

Oh I heard the calls.  Beginning in 2008 white citizens proclaimed that we live in a post-racial society. Black Americans on the other hand knew we did not.  Indeed, in 2011 Researchers affirmed for those whose complexion is dark in color, life is hard. Only two years ago, Black Americans said that it is actually worse than it was a score earlier. As of this week, with the Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act, surely it is no better.  The Court’s action is a clear step backwards. In reality, it is a slap in the face or a whip lashing in the back.

Class and color affords access and is the genesis for our attitudes.  I recall the “Roots” of African-American History and the historical origins of homosexual expression.  The former was borne out of enslavement while the later was an outgrowth of greater freedom in society and the workplace.

Rachel, was it Janis Joplin who said it so well? “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose – Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free.”  I wonder; are we to presume that Blacks are now free? There is little left for them to lose. I reflect on self-identity.

You might recall the original Doll Experiment or the more recent 2009 repeat of the research.  The results were the same. In the “Doll Test,” four plastic, diaper-clad dolls, identical in every respect except for color determine racial perception and preferences amongst children.  Regardless of the decade, black children between the ages of three and seven, responded in-kind. Almost all of the children readily identified the race of the dolls. Even the young see color.  When asked which they preferred, the majority selected the white doll and attributed positive characteristics to it. Indeed, the consensus was Black dolls were “bad.”  White dolls are far better.  That is what we teach and affirm through Supreme Court rulings.  Sad; but true.

“Second-class citizenship.”  Children of color know it well, and likely, their children will too.

Bigotry is common, all too common, as are expressions of it.  Therein lie the similarities between the Gay Rights and Black Civil Rights Movements.   Nonetheless, the contrast is stark.   As millions noted, the realization of Gay Rights came quickly.  The Civil Rights Movement, on the other hand,  is riddled with detours, deterrents, disillusionment, and disinvestment. Discrimination never realizes deliverance.  After centuries of sanctioned enslavement, The Emancipation Proclamation, gave way to a failed Reconstruction and another ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson. the landmark Supreme Court decision that held that racial segregation was constitutional. We had the Brown versus Board of Education decision and The Great Society legislation.  Future rulings resulted in their ultimate demise.  The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson returned the dictum, white is again right.

We saw the Voting Rights Act come into being only to be threatened at every turn. Today, well that “right” is lost and Dick Cheney’s endorsement of the  “more civil union [sic]” is nowhere to be found. This essential democratic right is again, and again denied.  We might guess who might be coming to dinner, but we must know that even if it were the first Black American President, he may not be welcome.

Indeed Rachel as we celebrate the rights awarded to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender let us also ask ourselves what is the State of the Union? What if Barack Obama were born today?  Eighteen years from now will a young Barack have the opportunity to attend a college, and were he to run for President, would he himself be allowed to vote? What bell will toll in the next score, and will it toll for thee?

References and Resources…

Schools and Safety; What We Do When We Deny

School and Safety; What We Do When We Deny

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Look to the left. Look to the “right.” In respect to education each side is willing to talk about sensitive subjects. Granted the two sides differ in respect to the specifics and the solutions.  Nevertheless, either or each will dive deeply into a dialogue.  

In reference to the subject of Common Core, the Left and Right cannot get enough.  Many Republicans and Democrats want nothing to do with Federally imposed curriculum restrictions and requirements.  “Teacher Professionalism,” each embraces the topic, although again their values and views vary. But publicly state that Black and Brown persons do not feel safe in their neighborhoods and that this veracity has a profound effect on education and people will come after you!

The politically astute and apathetically proud alike, pounce when asked to ponder the problem of urban violence and its affect on parents and children in the community.  Cyber-bullying and bullying in general are constructs we can discuss.  But speak of the unspeakable and people will likely proclaim that you are being unjustly punitive, politically incorrect, or in short, you are a racist.   “Shhh” they say.  Let us not talk about that.  Other subjects, yes.  We can discuss those, but not how anxious an inner city resident feels when in their own home or community.  Instead, let us talk about Common Core, bad teachers, and great ones.  Those topics are fine; even favorites amongst the education elite. But how fragile life is for the Black and Brown persons who fear crime in their communities? Many say: let’s not go there – literally or metaphorically. The effects of crime on the psyches of children of color, and its impact on education, are rarely discussed.

Let’s not go there intellectually either, or at least not in any great depth. Skating along the surface will suffice.  Academics admittedly do not wish to tempt the fate that of the Moynihan Report [1965] on the Black family.  The mainstream too is timid.  On occasion, the Press will dip their toes in the waters of awareness.  Indeed, in recent months and in the last few years nationally Broadcasters gently touch that tender topic of “violence on our streets.” However, mostly these stories feature tales of mass carnage – the shootings in Tucson, Aurora, Milwaukee, and more recently Newtown, a white suburban Connecticut community, but none of these approach that dreaded third rail, violence in Black and Brown communities and its effect on education.  

Mentions of the circumstances that cause youth to use the term  Chi-raq when speaking of Chicago are scant and indiscriminate.   Even these, when discussed, rarely venture into the overlap evident in education.  Neighborhoods severely affected by violence are also the communities in which schools are forced to closed, poverty is high, hopes are low, and fear is ever-present.  

On one occasion recently, we were afforded a glimpse into what occurs in inner cities.  First Lady Michelle Obama paid homage to a teen who was struck down in the heart of the  Windy City. However, once again, the real issue was not on view.  Gun Violence supplanted the subject; frequently people of color, parents and their progeny, do not feel safe in their own urban homes.  And why would they?  Roadways are riddled with danger.  Playgrounds too can be quite perilous.  Incident after incident affirms what remains invisible from the masses.  The streets are not safe and too often, urban schools and surrounding areas are no sanctuary.

As she does at the end of every school day, Rakayia Thompson waited for her 12-year-old outside the Parkside Community Academy just before 3 p.m. last week.

“Next thing you know, gunshots,” she said.

As she stood outside with her 6-year-old son and her 7-year-old daughter, a flood of bullets suddenly came their way from East End Avenue, near 70th Street, next to the playground.

Panic followed the incident on Nov. 20, Thompson recalled. The stream of kids leaving the pre-kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school scattered in every direction.

“There were kids’ shoes everywhere,” said Angel White, who had been waiting for her three kids. “They ran out [of] their shoes.”

Thompson said kids were falling and busting their lips as they scrambled.

“They tried to shoot me!” her 5-year-old son interjected.

Real-life stories from Camden, Philadelphia. Detroit, Baltimore and St. Louis, rarely see the light of day and when they do the discussion is gun violence, not the root causes or the insidious effects of inner city violence.

Again, the public avoids the physicality that is the condition of our communities, and more importantly, emotionally we disconnect. Granted, we study the situation from afar and make recommendations. Experts engage in theoretical and methodological research.  Some study the fear urban residents feel, be it real or imagined. Scholars look at the individual’s sense of vulnerability.  Others examine social disorganization, (rate of marriage, racial heterogeneity,  familial disruption,  socioeconomic status,  and urbanization (core indicators of social disorganization)) and again, avoid the people.

The public favors assumptions.  Some prefer the numbers. Densely populated areas or drugs are to blame for violent behavior, although the statistics do not always bear this out.  Countless of our largest cities are relatively safe. An analytic examination reveals that disinvestment delivers the despair, despondency, and dread that at any moment, you too may be murdered.

Andrew Schiller, Neighborhood Scout’s founder noted that “in many cases, city centers, which benefit from development, an influx of people and more amenities, experience less crime than outskirts and even inner ring suburbs.”

Regardless of the look and separate from the literature, the consensus is the same; stay away from what frightens you. Gun shots. Children murdering children.  Crime on inner city streets, or the inner city itself, people believe these are the problem.  Indeed, a too constant refrain is  “It is those urban communities and the persons who reside within them who commit violent offenses and victimize their own.  Such statements preclude preventative policies. These serve as excuses for suburban and rural Americans who tend to think that people need to take care of their own.  

Oh, the more “sensitive” will say the reactionary rhetoric is not true.  Academics will defend the downtrodden. However, these individuals too take no real ownership. Poverty, the intellectuals will say, that is the problem; it is as simple as that.”  Simple? Safety and the reality that a bullet in the hallway or coming through the window will kill you or your child instantly  is not a simple subject.  Nor is it one that as a society we can rightly dismiss.

It is easy to place blame on a circumstance, or put the onus on the “other,” but perhaps there is more that can be done.  What might that be? Face our selves and our folly.  Ask yourself; will we ever dare do what is difficult; look at the ways in which we, or more significantly our silence contributes to crime in urban poor communities.  Could we acknowledge and accept that the greater paradox and bigger problem is that we do not even challenge our perceptions or see what is right there, in front of our faces.

The children cry. Parents plead; ‘see us!’  Feel our pain!  Understand that we fear crime in “our communities!”  Fifty-four [54] percent of Black adults see violence as a “very serious problem” in their communities.  Sixty-nine [69] percent believe it is fairly serious issue, one among many.  The presence of guns is a grave proposition, one that haunts adults of color each and ever day.  However, it is not the only issue that burdens our poorer and impoverished citizens. It is but the most obvious one, the one uppermost in the minds of persons who by circumstances are forced to question their mortality and it is also the one that is “safest” to discuss.

Fueling these concerns is the reality that for too many Black young children, there are too few safe harbors from these ills that plague their neighborhoods, schools, and for some, their homes. Children and adults alike identify neighborhood violence, drug-related violence, gun violence, and violence in schools as areas of significant concern.

When a young girl in Memphis was asked to name one thing that if changed would help her to achieve her goals for the future, she replied:  “To help me live through this dangerous world today so I can [grow up] to be a marine biologist.”  – Young person, age 11 to 14, Memphis, TN

The prevailing view among Black adults, caregivers and leaders is that today, the situation for people of color is worse than it was a score ago. Disenfranchisement and disinvestment have destroyed the fabric of their communities.   Guns only deliver a more deadly and frequently final blow.  The newer and insidious issues that have emerged in the last few decades,  have had a devastating effect on Black communities and the children growing up in them.  Economic isolation and unemployment.  Disproportionately high Black imprisonment rates, especially among Black young men, and then, of course, the older challenges exacerbate  the crisis’ that plagued Black communities. Violence.  Drugs and addiction.  Failing schools made more so by policies that presume failure before it is proven.  Negative cultural and media influences.  Fractured Black families and communities, which conceivably lead to a loss of moral values.  Teen pregnancy.

Adults, caregivers, and leaders look to the future and express guarded optimism.  Innumerable say they are hopeful, that is if they and the young survive.  According to Black Perspectives on Black Children Face and What Their Future Holds “Two-thirds of caregivers worry a great deal (45%) or quite a bit (20%) about their child or children they know being victimized and a large majority believe that many Black children will be victimized before reaching adulthood.

“I asked a 17-year-old the question you asked me: What do you see in 10 years?  How do you [see your life] in 10 or 15 years? And the bottom line was he said I don’t think I’m going to be living after four years.  Now that blew me away, because I knew the young man was serious.” Low-income caregiver, Washington, D.C.

The starkness of this thought and the reality that prompts such a dire reflection is all too common in disenfranchised communities. Yet, we do not discuss it. The subject is too delicate, or is it the thought that we might be criticized, as Patrick Moynihan was when he asked Americans to assess what their inaction and inattention condones.  Could we at least begin to have the conversations previously left behind?  In June of 2013, The Urban Institute chose to Revisit The Moynihan Report.   Might we?

Surely, silence and surface assessments have not served us, our children, or troubled communities well.  Indeed, Black and Brown people state that life in their communities is now worse.   Saying safety is not an issue for those who live in fear or that it is less significant than poverty as a whole is like saying my pangs of hunger have nothing to do with the reality that there is no food in my cupboard or money do buy fare.

Disinvestment, poverty and hopelessness are borne out of neglect.  Let us neglect no more.



References:…

Stop and Frisk the Research!

Stop and Frisk the Research!

By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think!   Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology.  If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children!  Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!

If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash.  Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost.  As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.

Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young.  When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously?  Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes?  Oh, it happens to white teens too.  When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization.  If you are a young adult of color, watch out.  Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.

.

I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers.  Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.

If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results.  The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation!  In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu.  Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high.  Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.

Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”

What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Yet, the beat goes on.  Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case.  The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences.  We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was.  Let us look at  Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.


5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:

Originally Published at API, Psychology Benefits Society June 13, 2013

by EFUA ANDOH

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its kids per capita than any other developed nation-and that we spend about $5 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to keep them locked up?

Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them?  No; they’re not.  It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.

This can change.

Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:

1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.

Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses.  In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense.  About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).

A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.

2. Incarceration doesn’t reduce future crime.

Juvenile incarceration doesn’t reduce re-offending, but rather increases it, especially among youth with less-serious delinquency histories.

That’s no surprise, considering that youth in juvenile correctional facilities are exposed to more serious offenders and to widespread physical and sexual violence in confinement.

3. Evidence-based alternatives work.

A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.

Youth who receive post-incarceration community-based supervision and services are also less likely to re-offend, and more likely to go to school and work.

For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.

4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.

It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year.  In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.

Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood.  That doesn’t help anyone.

5. The American people get it.

According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.

How can you act now to reform youth justice?

Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.

Stop and Frisk the Research!

Stop and Frisk the Research!

By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates

Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think!   Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology.  If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children!  Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!

If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash.  Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost.  As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.

Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young.  When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously?  Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes?  Oh, it happens to white teens too.  When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization.  If you are a young adult of color, watch out.  Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.

.

I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers.  Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.

If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results.  The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation!  In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu.  Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high.  Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.

Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”

What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Yet, the beat goes on.  Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case.  The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences.  We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was.  Let us look at  Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.


5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:

Originally Published at API, Psychology Benefits Society June 13, 2013

by EFUA ANDOH

By Kerry Bolger, PhD (Public Interest Government Relations Office)

Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its kids per capita than any other developed nation-and that we spend about $5 billion a year of taxpayers’ money to keep them locked up?

Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them?  No; they’re not.  It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.

This can change.

Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:

1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.

Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses.  In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense.  About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).

A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.

2. Incarceration doesn’t reduce future crime.

Juvenile incarceration doesn’t reduce re-offending, but rather increases it, especially among youth with less-serious delinquency histories.

That’s no surprise, considering that youth in juvenile correctional facilities are exposed to more serious offenders and to widespread physical and sexual violence in confinement.

3. Evidence-based alternatives work.

A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.

Youth who receive post-incarceration community-based supervision and services are also less likely to re-offend, and more likely to go to school and work.

For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.

4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.

It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year.  In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.

Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood.  That doesn’t help anyone.

5. The American people get it.

According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.

How can you act now to reform youth justice?

Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.

Gentrification. Segregation. Poverty. And Education

© copyight 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

In 2013 the issue of poverty is pronounced.  It is the cause of great debate and much conflict.  However, the conflict is mostly in interest, self-interest.  The one interest that receives far less if any attention at all is poverty and the extent of poverty. How to effectively end it is a question that few consider.  The conventional wisdom is there is a safety-net which will care for the impoverished. The reality is there are holes in the net.  Equally significant is the notion that we, as individuals, will never be among the poor.  Actually, one in two of us already are.

Perceptions explain why most Americans do not consider themselves poor.  The common belief held by 27% is the poor are lazy and I am not.  Forty-three percent of Americans surveyed said they believe people living in poverty can always find a job if they really want to work. At the same time, 38 percent of Americans have requested some type of help including food or financial assistance from a charity.  Thirteen [13] percent have spent a night on the streets or in a shelter.   Perceptions of Poverty counter reality. Nonetheless, these are notions we hold dear.

Mostly mired in self-survival, people, a large percentage of whom are the low-income working poor,have little time to attend to the poverty of others.  This affects our children and their education.  Not withstanding the desire, “low-income caregivers frequently do not know the names of their children’s teachers or friends. One study found that only 36 percent of low-income parents were involved in three or more school activities on a regular basis, compared with 59 percent of parents above the poverty line (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).”  Startling as it is, for calendar year 2011 the percentage of children (persons under 18) in poverty was 21.9 percent. The total number  that same year was 16.1 million.

This may be the truer silent and unseen majority.  When we do catch sight of the children, poor and wealthy alike, we perceive healthy, happy, bundles of joy.  Never do we imagine what we would not wish to believe exists, especially to the extent it does.

As Professor John Korsmo, PhD  observed in The Journal of Educational Controversy, Poverty and Class: Discussing the Undiscussible,  “Much like race, religiosity, sex, and a whole host of contrived privilege points in the U.S., poverty and class have remained for the most part don’t-go-there designations; topics that individuals, human service, and educational institutions often avoid openly discussing.”  Our intentional choice not to think about, talk about, or teach the subject of socio-economic privilege associated with class dilutes efforts to eliminate poverty and ultimately, our progress in doing so.  We do not associate with or support those who bear the brunt of income inequality.  Conveniently and again by choice, we drive down safer roads.

The vast majority of us sit in our cars, alone.  We travel on freeways, fast.  Were we to slow down we would still not see what exists behind what we call sound-walls.  We are sealed off and do not, cannot see the circumstances of the other, “those poor souls.”  The barriers we build both literally and figuratively are large and high; best of all for policymakers they hide the truth.  Black and Brown communities are ignored.  The only time we attend to what occurs in these neighborhoods is when we think to convert them. Take a blighted neighborhood, expel the residents, raze the roofs, and build beauty where blight once existed.  Where do we put the poor who once occupied the dilapidated homes?  That is a problem we will set aside, place behind a newer wall and never wonder about again.  Thus, is the situation today in Chicago 2013.

Excuses are made.  Officials invested in Charter Schools and gentrification projects say “Enrollment is down.  Schools are underutilized.”,  Neither claim can be substantiated without skewing the numbers.  Even some  High-performing schools are slated for closures; however only in already neglected Black and Brown communities.  Often children are being forced to travel long distances and cross gang-lines to attend a lower-performing receiving school.  Mostly, the young will walk. Transportation is costly and dollars for such a luxury are scant.   Parents and Principals at the “receiving schools” are perplexed and troubled. Classrooms currently in the “receiving schools” will become fuller,  basically overcrowded entities.  Bad as these concerns are, what is worst is the impending community effect of school closures.  Lifelines will be cut!

For Tzia, a third grader who is on the student council, afternoons at the neighborhood school on Chicago’s West Side are a variety show of ballet and martial arts, hip-hop and cooking class, tutoring and fund-raisers. Five days a week, sometimes past nightfall.

Much will be lost.  Mothers such as mother Shawanna Turner, 30, attended the school she now sends little Tzia to. Her family all graduated from this neighborhood school.  In the communities that face school closures, generations of families came together in their neighborhood learning centers.  Children found freedom and refuge, as did their parents in local public schools.  Events were planned in and executed around school activities. Neighborhood businesses in the surrounding area too were invested in these institutions. Children learned. Moms and Dads took classes too.  Extra-curricula activities expanded minds and supported strong bodies.  From the windows of these schools the winds blew and streets were safer because of the education little learners received.  Now, that solid anchor will be taken away.

Doors will be slammed shut. Windows shuttered. Building will be left to die or be demolished quickly.  We, those who do not wish to see or discuss what we do or what is done in our names will remain silent. That is the American way.  Do we drive by and shoot down all that supports a community?

Chicago is not alone. The difference in what occurs is only in scale.  Gentrification is the complement to segregation.  Segregation is the sister to poverty. Each shows up in our city schools.  Essentially, this is the story of school closures and the fight for education as a human and civil right.

Gentrification. Segregation. Poverty. Each cements the certainty that children of color will be underserved in society and underserved in our schools.  Education, which can be the cure, is hurt by each of these.  Lets us look at the numbers, and then seek out those sweet faces, our fellow Americans who flounder because of what we have done and are doing..

Perhaps, it is past time to tear down sound and sight walls.   Let us acknowledge the pervasive inequality and then, and always take action!  We might begin by thinking more thoroughly about school closings, the cause and effect.  Consider the circumstances in countless cities, Chicago, Philadelphia Detroit and New York…and your hometown. Is there a racial divide, a socioeconomic destabilization, and are children and education lost?

Perchance, if we ensure that education is a human and civil right we will establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, or we can settle or what is and stay silent.  Please ponder the following articles and statistics.  You may be surprised by what has been long blocked from view.


Poverty and segregation: birds of a feather

Posted by Steve Bogira on 06.08.12 at 04:01 PM

Ignoring the misery of the poor is easy because of our separateness.

“It’s incredible that we tolerate for a minute the reality of 6 million of us living on food stamps alone,” Laura Flanders observed last week in a Nation blog post. (Nationally, the average monthly individual food stamp benefit is $134.) “I suspect it’s because we’re experiencing a new kind of segregation,” Flanders wrote. “Somehow, neither policy makers nor opinion makers seem to know enough poor people well enough to feel them, living and breathing.”

Flanders is right that segregation is central to our apathy about poverty; it isn’t really six million of us subsisting on food stamps. But segregation isn’t new, nor is it limited to policy makers and opinion makers. It’s a way of life, in Chicago and many big cities. As we showed last year, most of our city’s African-Americans still live in 21 community areas whose aggregate population is a stunning 96 percent black. The vast majority of Chicago’s high-poverty census tracts are in these areas.

Then there’s our public school system. To look at the percentage of white kids in Chicago’s public schools you’d never know that the city is 45 percent white. The racial segregation of our schools is economic segregation as well: 87 percent of the students in the public schools are from low-income families. With such a concentration of poverty in classrooms, trying to solve the schools’ problems with a longer day or more rigorous testing is naive.

We’re also segregated, racially and economically, where most of us work. And our residential and economic separateness lead quite naturally to segregation when we eat out, and go to movies, plays, concerts, and ball games. White people often don’t even notice how pervasive segregation is, since, for the most part, we’re not the ones being harmed by it.

Becoming aware of how segregated we are won’t by itself change things. But it’s a necessary first step.

Chicago’s growing racial gap in child poverty

Posted by Steve Bogira on 10.04.12 at 10:23 AM

More than one in three Chicago children are living in poverty, according to newly published census data. But a closer look at those figures shows that “one in three” hides a striking inequality.

Fewer than one in 11 white kids here are living in poverty-compared with more than one in two black kids.

The news regarding white Chicago kids, in fact, is good: their poverty rate is significantly lower than the national rate for white kids. But for black, Asian, and Hispanic children, the poverty incidence is higher in Chicago than for their counterparts nationally:


  • Children 17 and younger. Data from American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance,/li>

    Moreover, the racial gap in child poverty in Chicago appears to be growing:

    PAUL JOHN HIGGINS

  • Children 17 and younger. Data from American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance
  • As the numbers show, child poverty has declined for Asians and gone up modestly for whites since 2000-while climbing significantly for blacks and Latinos.

    References and Resources….

    How America’s 2-Tiered Education System and Perceptions Perpetuate Inequality

    © copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

    Income inequality raises the ire of most liberals.  At the same time, while ostensibly unaware of the veracity, these self-proclaimed Progressives are thankful for the gifts that inequity brings. Caucasians customarily receive higher wages, better health care and health care coverage.  Indeed, a pinkish person is more likely to be hired and less likely to be fired.  In the area of education, the divide cannot be more evident, that is unless we ask white persons about their careers.  Most do not realize or wish to recognize what has been their truth for all of their lifetimes. White people are privileged people. To acknowledge what is and seems so natural is to admit that one’s equalitarian philosophies are not their practices.  

    The American story, or at least the one we tell ourselves is, if we work hard, beginning in school, we will achieve.  We merely need to complete our degree[s], find a job, and start a family. Every step of the way we build a foundation for a strong and stable future.  Life is good.   That is the myth that collectively, we believe.  In the United States, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. The question is considering the prevalence of poverty in America, is this true?  

    We need only look at the numbers,  and of course, our perceptions.

    Black and Brown people are disproportionally poor. Those whose skin is a golden-yellow hue also struggle, more or less so, dependent on the educational level attained and the Ancestral country of origin.  Fifty [50] nations, countless ethnicities within each are identified as Asian-Americans.   A monolith? Hardly.  Refugees, persons who immigrated to the States from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam often arrive as exiles evacuees, or political expatriates. These persons tend to be less educated, a significant percentage are low-wage earners.  Statistically, the number of Asian-Americans without a high school education far exceeds the numbers of whites without.

    “Specific ethnic groups, the Hmong, the Bangladeshi, have poverty rates that rival the African-American poverty rate.”   The Hmong value family and agriculture above education. Yet, the stereotype persists, perhaps chastened by the reality that Asian-Americans rather not draw attention to the discrimination they experience.  Setting that aside, with or without attentiveness our impressions, shape our reality, policies, and practices.  Let us consider who, what, how, when, and where an individual obtains entrance to a University.  Also, let us examine as The Atlantic did, How America’s 2-Tiered Education System Is Perpetuating Inequality,

    In the United States, more and more students turn to community colleges for an education.  Tuition costs are less, as are standards for admission.  Geographic proximity also makes a two-year degree more attractive.   Community colleges have been portals for the under-served.  The Administration understands this and encourages this entrance.  However, in recent years the rush to attend these institutions has waned.  

    The explanations are many.  Most notably, the cost of attending college, even a community college soared. “Economists predict the cost of attending state colleges will soar to $120,000 by 2015. Currently over $40 billion in student loan debt has forced many former students into financial bondage or even bankruptcy.”  The increased cost is not correlated with inflation.

    The most visible reason is tuition costs continues to rise.  Confluence and convenience became the reason. More than a score ago, we saw a dramatic change in the structure of student loans.  In 1992, the Federal Stafford Loan program was altered. “Uncle Sam opened the floodgates to government-backed student loans without parent income restrictions.”  Colleges rejoiced and met the news with open arms. The sudden injection of millions of additional aid dollars was seen as an opportunity to increase tuitions. The promotion of the Stafford Loan program as a low-costly option was a cause and an effect. The two together became the formula for hyperinflationary costs.  However, the tale of dollars and “sense” is but one chapter in an invisible and insidious reckoning.

    The  April 2012 Center for Higher Education report reveals another daunting reality.  Author and Researcher Dr. Gary Rhodes analyzed the changing climate. Rhodes observed a “complicated cascade effect.” The exploding cost of a college education coupled with enrollment limitations at four-year institutions resulted in a complex paradigm shift.  Today, more middle and upper class students choose community colleges. At the same time, these institutions, like all others, receive less public funding. Classes are filled to capacity. The combination of these dynamics leave less room for low-income and minority students.  Were students from any socioeconomic standing to apply for enrollment in the more prestigious Universities, other realities might lock them out.

    Accessibility.  Many universities have gone the way of online coursework, arguing, this method would break the barriers that divide the haves from the have-nots.  However, this move too magnified the gulf. For-profit education entrepreneurs and elite research universities maximized the potential for growth.  Personal gains were supplanted by capital gains.  The faculty at Amherst, in 2006, chose a different route.  The University decided to reserve the majority of its transfer slots for students coming from community college. In some ways, the choice represented potentially a more radical commitment to underprivileged students than online courses.

    Amherst president emeritus Anthony Marx states when speaking about four year colleges, many have restrictive transfer policies that heavily weight factors like SAT scores. This standard coupled with a lack of funding for community colleges exacerbated the consequences. Transfer policies are extremely selective, the circumstances are even more dire.  Inequity increases. . The Century Foundation report found that while 81.4 percent of students enter community college plan to transfer and complete a four-year degree, just 11.6 percent are able to do so within six years.

    Considering the small number who successfully transition, and that overwhelmingly community colleges serve low-income people and minorities, the higher education system remains two-tiered.  Scholars and notables have described the arrangement as “separate but equal.” “You basically cannot join the middle class without a postsecondary credential at this point,” said Eduardo Padrón, the president of Miami-Dade College, America’s largest community college. And how do people obtain a post-secondary degree? Dependant on you socioeconomic status, easily or not so easily.

    Community colleges which serve 44 percent of current college enrollees, are chronically underfunded, just as their students before and after enrollment are under-served. Most of the money that supports higher education flows to elite research universities, not to the community colleges or the state schools that educate large numbers of Americans.  The divide might be most evident in the value diverential.   The direct and indirect help Princeton receives, including tax breaks, is near $54,000 a year per student in federal subsidies. “The College of New Jersey, a public institution a mere 12 miles away, receives a total of about $1,600 a year per student in federal and state subsidies.”

    You decide.  Did a Princeton graduate go it alone?  Did his or her success come at great expense, and to whom?  Was the communicty college student given an equal chance? Just out of curiosity, who makes up the 38 percent of American minorities Princeton purports to be in the  undergraduate student body and what about the sixty [60] percent who receive financial aid?  Why might it be that 23 percent of Princeton students take out loans and the average debt at graduation is $5,225 while the average college student graduates with about $28,000 in personal debt?  Is there a two-tiered education system and does it perpetuate inequality?  Watch out for your answers.  You too might be influenced by invisible and insidious biases.

    References and Resources…


    Chicago Faces 49 School Closures. Parents Speak Out

    Chicago Faces 49 School Closures. Parents Speak Out



    The city of Chicago is among many urban areas facing school closures as a result of budget cuts and declining student population. This has parents concerned about their kids’ safety as they will have to travel farther to get to school.

    Kenwood Oakland parent Jeanette Taylor reminds us all of what school closures mean for her child, our children, and the city.  Many Moms and Dads fear as Ms Taylor does. If our youth go into neighborhoods not their own the threat of a lost education is great.  Indeed, the danger may be characterized as life or death.

    Save Our Children and Our Community Schools!

    Voting and Learning Denied. Education and Entitlement

    ©copyright 2013. Betsy L. Angert BeThink



    Is it fear of the darkness that dims our mind or is it the dim of our mind that is dark and damning?  No one can be sure; however we can see what occurs and ask why.  Why might Americans systematically deny rights to people of color? Why might the young, the most vulnerable among us, be victims of prey?  Indeed, why do we prejudge people at all and why is it that even the elderly cannot escape our diabolical doings?  The theories abound; answers escape us.  Nevertheless, the veracity is our truth. The right to learn and the right to vote are denied.

    We close their schools, deny them an equal and equitable education, and in 2013 we may ultimately rescind the voting rights of the few.  In January of this year, the Journey For Justice 2 Alliance met with officials in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss the topic, education policies that discriminate.  Today, on February 27, 2013, just down the lane from the Department of Education hearing, another inquiry was held.  The Supreme Court heard the case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  On the face of it, the argument may seem separate from the subject of school closures.  However, considering the consequences of what might be after a day of testimony,  Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices, there is reason for concern.  Will the cycle of recrimination continue? Will we curse the darkness that is our own?  

    Perhaps, we might seek the light? We saw it once and embraced it.  It exists and can again, if we just walk through the window of time.  Luminosity can be our guide. Let us consider a vital voice from the past, President, Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke in defense of the Voting Rights Act. He said…

    The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

    And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination.

    “Discrimination.”  It touches more than one race, color, or creed.  Age too in 2012 limited or eliminated the right to vote.  96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License. Va. senior citizens denied no-excuse absentee voting. Where you lived, whether you attended school far from home, or if you merely left whatever document requested at home, you could not cast a ballot.  The excuses used to negate voting rights are as they were in the 1960s, endless. Yet, Supreme Court Jurists affirm, “Justice is blind.”

    From the bench we were provided with a rare view, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia cannot see. Roberts reeled off statistics that suggested the provisions are no longer made sense. Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now is but a “perpetuation of racial entitlement. “Entitlement? Might we tell the parents of children who are today, denied access to equal and equitable education the time has past? Their offspring no longer have the rights afforded to the many, mostly white Americans?  Was learning given a limited contract? Is it now considered a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

    Voting and learning. Education and entitlement. Let us look at the evidence.  Complaint says Omaha voters denied ballots. Rick Scott Defends Voter Purge As Necessary ‘To Have Fair Elections’.   Republican Voter Suppression Campaign Rolls Back Early Voting.  The beat goes on.  

    Please ponder the veracity that not only are our Black and Brown children affected by punitive polices that allow for “phase-outs,” “collocations,” “turnaround,” and again, the devastating “school closures,” others too are impacted.  Consider the white suburban Mom and her children, School turnarounds prompt community backlash. Again ask yourself; do we fear the darkness or does the darkness, lack of knowledge with us, dim the mind.

    Do we deny light to those who wish to learn and live?  What have we denied ourselves or within us?  Let us, one and all learn!  Let us seek the light.  Today, let us consider what could occur if access to an education and, or the right to vote are denied. Might a child less prepared, less learned, due to the discriminatory actions in education policy be unable to prove he can read and write? Currently, literacy in America is in crisis. 11 Facts about Literacy in America

    • An estimated 30 million Americans over 16 years old cannot perform simple and everyday literacy activities.
    • 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school.
    • Only an estimated 13% of adult Americans can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.

    Consider today and what occurred decades ago. Please ask yourself, do we deny access to education and to voting rights. If we do, what will become of our children and our country?

    President Lyndon B. Johnson – We Shall Overcome



    I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

    At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man–a man of God–was killed.

    There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government–the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country–to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

    But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

    There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

    And we are met here tonight as Americans–not as Democrats or Republicans; we’re met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

    The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: “All men are created equal.” “Government by consent of the governed.” “Give me liberty or give me death.” And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.

    To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy. This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

    Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason, which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.

    Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

    And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books, and I have helped to put three of them there, can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

    We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views and to visit with my former colleagues.

    I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow, but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss the main proposals of this legislation. This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections, federal, state and local, which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.

    This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government, if the state officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote. Finally, this legislation will insure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting. I will welcome the suggestions from all the members of Congress–I have no doubt that I will get some–on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective.

    But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution. To those who seek to avoid action by their national government in their home communities, who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple: open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong–deadly wrong–to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

    There is no issue of state’s rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer. But the last time a President sent a civil rights bill to the Congress it contained a provision to protect voting rights in Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

    This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.

    And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me in working long hours and nights and weekends, if necessary, to pass this bill. And I don’t make that request lightly, for, from the window where I sit, with the problems of our country, I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

    But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

    And we shall overcome.

    As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed–more than 100 years–since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln–a great President of another party–signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

    A century has passed–more than 100 years–since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

    And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all–all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

    And these enemies too–poverty, disease and ignorance–we shall overcome.

    Now let none of us in any section look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section or the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.

    This is one nation. What happens in Selma and Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists. As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.

    Men from every region fought for us across the world 20 years ago. And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices, the South made its contribution of honor and gallantry no less than any other region in the great republic.

    And in some instances, a great many of them, more. And I have not the slightest doubt that good men from everywhere in this country, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all Americans. For all of us owe this duty and I believe that all of us will respond to it.

    Your president makes that request of every American.

    The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

    And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right–not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

    There have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days come and go. But I pledge to you tonight that we intend to fight this battle where it should be fought–in the courts, and in the Congress, and the hearts of men. We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free speech does not carry with it–as has been said–the right to holler fire in a crowded theatre.

    We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.

    We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek–progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest–for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.

    In Selma tonight–and we had a good day there–as in every city we are working for a just and peaceful settlement. We must all remember after this speech I’m making tonight, after the police and the F.B.I. and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation must still live and work together.

    And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community. This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence as the history of the South itself shows. It is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibility in recent days–last Tuesday and again today.

    The bill I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races, because all Americans just must have the right to vote, and we are going to give them that right.

    All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race, and they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.

    But I would like to caution you and remind you that to exercise these privileges takes much more than just legal rights. It requires a trained mind and a healthy body. It requires a decent home and the chance to find a job and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty.

    Of course people cannot contribute to the nation if they are never taught to read or write; if their bodies are stunted from hunger; if their sickness goes untended; if their life is spent in hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.

    So we want to open the gates to opportunity. But we’re also going to give all our people, black and white, the help that they need to walk through those gates. My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn’t speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.

    I often walked home late in the afternoon after the classes were finished wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that I might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

    I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance.

    And I’ll let you in on a secret–I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

    This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

    I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

    And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker and the Senator from Montana, the Majority Leader, the Senator from Illinois, the Minority Leader, Mr. McCullock and other members of both parties, I came here tonight, not as President Roosevelt came down one time in person to veto a bonus bill; not as President Truman came down one time to urge passage of a railroad bill, but I came down here to ask you to share this task with me. And to share it with the people that we both work for.

    I want this to be the Congress–Republicans and Democrats alike–which did all these things for all these people. Beyond this great chamber–out yonder–in fifty states are the people that we serve. Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen? We all can guess, from our own lives, how difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness, how many problems each little family has. They look most of all to themselves for their future, but I think that they also look to each of us.

    Above the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States it says in latin, “God has favored our undertaking.” God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will. But I cannot help but believe that He truly understands and that He really favors the undertaking that we begin here tonight.

    President Lyndon B. Johnson – March 15, 1965

    References and Resources…

    Hurricane Sandy and What Heals Hurts


    Hurricane Sandy and What Heals Hurts

    By Betsy L. Angert

    Human beings are a fascinating bunch.  We gather information through observation, and the reading of facts, figures, and formulas.  We draw inferences and deduce. Granted conversations too play a role in what we conclude; however, mostly humans rely on the readable. What we cannot see is thought less significant.  Take Hurricane Sandy for example.

    Meteorologists saw the signs.  Citizens, who merely glanced at the papers understood what was visible in print; Sharp Warnings as Hurricane Churns In. People began to do as people do when warned of an impending storm. They prepare for the worse.  Individuals and families evacuated the area.  Transit Authorities shutdown the system.  Cities and counties hunkered down.

    Now, after the tempest took its toll, young ones do as the adults had done.  An eight-grader’s account looks at what appears on the surface. As do most, she too attends to material concerns.  Rarely, do we know what else to do. Society and school curriculums that reflect a standardized surface reality do not give us the critical thinking tools needed to assist persons who have experienced an emotional trauma.  Today, we have one. We have Psychological First Aid.  This relief is not as a “kit” filled with bandages, cotton balls and antiseptic; nor is a box full of funds or quick-fix tricks. No, this Aid is much like cake you bake or the casserole you might make for family or friends in distress.  Either is a gift of love.  Each opens the door for conversations that reveal feelings.  So what is this Aid?

    It is  The Save Our Schools Hurricane Sandy Student and Teacher Support Fund. Oh sure, you say, another charity, another request for cash. How can dollars provide psychological  support? Currency and coins cannot. In truth, food and water do not feed a soul. Bricks and mortar also are inadequate; even blood does not heal our emotional hurts.  So again you ask, why contribute to this Fund?  What makes it different? It’s the ingredients.

    This cake or casserole to be presented will be made with the finest blend “The Core Actions.” The essence of the mixture. Ah, take a whiff, or dip your fork in and taste what the eyes cannot see.

    • Contact and Engagement
    • Safety and Comfort
    • Stabilization
    • Information Gathering: Current Needs and Concerns
    • Practical Assistance
    • Connection with Social Supports
    • Information on Coping
    • Linkage with Collaborative Services

    How is that possible? Let us look at the cook.    Save Our Schools,  a grassroots, people-powered, non-profit organization has organized and effort that focuses on the emotional needs of students, Teachers, and School Support Staffs.  SOS will work to support  several New York and New Jersey schools, in dire need.  Provisions, while material, will offer opportunities to open doors that evoke fruitful and emotional discussions. Gifts that invite children to play bequeath the freedom necessary for caring conversations.  

    Only through these dialogues do we “see” into the soul to more than merely addressing the visible wounds. A box of crayons, paper, and a Trained Counselor, these are the ingredients that, when stirred together bake a beautiful cake. The frosting is Contact and Engagement.  We advocate that Teachers are provided the space to become the first element in a Psychological First Aid Box. With a moratorium on the administration and use of high stakes standardized testing for teacher and student evaluation emotional relief can begin.  Chitchat and chatter, is the small talk that makes possible the sense of Safety and Comfort, which is another essential  factor.   The food that evokes thoughtful dialogues. The Save Our Schools Students and Teachers Fund will offer these.

    Fictional books and academic texts too will be among the gifts we give. The Practical Assistance piece of the cake.  The Practical  also speaks to the Stabilization necessary.  By being there, within schools and communities, as union locals, area Parent Teacher Associations and other education allied advocacy organizations will do more than  throw money at an unsightly broken wall.  From within, we will Gather Information, as well as address Current Needs and Concerns.  We will establish a Connection to Social supports while providing psychological and emotional Information, Support that grows coping muscles.  We will also build Collaborative relationships.  We would like to build one with you.  

    If you choose, please contribute to the cake, casserole, or The Save Our Schools Hurricane Sandy Student and Teacher Support Fund.  We thank you!

    Resources and References…

    copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org

    SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education


    SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education

    By Betsy L. Angert

    Save Our Schools [SOS] is an organization devoted to fair and equitable education for all. We work to preserve and transform public education.  We are a venue for active, people-powered, grassroots education innovation.  In cyberspace and in communities throughout this country we advance solutions that bring learning back to our children, education back to public school classrooms, and policy decisions back to the students, teachers, and parents.

    SOS is dedicated to finding a better, more balanced, path for education reform in this country.  In that spirit, we propose The Equitable Education Policy Path.  We establish that public education must be an American priority. Education is a basic civil and human right.  Every child has the right to attend a high quality public school.

    “America’s future will be determined by the home and the school.

    The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”

    -Jane Addams [Public Philosopher, Sociologist, Author]

    Our initiative was born out of an overwhelming awareness that today, and for the last several decades, students and teachers have been increasingly reduced to data-points.  Humans are no longer given the opportunity to learn for more than the mere moments required to memorize facts and formulas for a battery of tests.  

    Schools have been “restructured.”  Bureaucratic business models have been adopted, imposed, and anointed as “Real Education Reforms.” As a Nation, we abandoned “The Great Society” program; which acknowledged that when a culture allows poverty to flourish, failure follows.  Instead of addressing what prevents true learning, Americans favored quick-fix agendas, such “No Child Left Behind.”

    Standardized lessons were put in place.  One-Size-Fits-All High-Stakes Testing policies were employed. Curricula, void of substance and sustenance, were fed to students whose bellies were empty.  Standards are now the norm in our schools.  Test scores are deemed a sign of success or reflect a dearth of achievement.

    For decades now, students who perform poorly on examinations are punished, as are their teachers.  Today, these same learners, educators, and institutions are told, starved as you are, it is time To Race To The Top!

    Do policymakers not realize that without food or funds to sustain them, massive breakdowns are inevitable?  There is ample evidence.

    Young bodies need attention if they are to grow healthy, happy, and strong. Food first. Motion and Emotional Stability too. Each nourishes a soul.  Test scores?  Anecdotal and empirical research reveals, these bring about little learning and increase the level of stress.

    Clinicians acknowledge the long and short-term effects of tests and/or distress.

    Equal access to excellent and equitably funded schools, superior, well-trained teachers, and curricula that offers opportunities for critical and creative thought, will begin to grow our children’s minds.  Play too is a phenomenal educator.  Children learn when they see facts within meaningful contexts, invent their own ideas and problems, explore, solve problems, and share their solutions.

    Presidents, Philanthropists, and the policymakers, each of whom embraces Corporate Education Reforms, which establish business-efficiency-models, miss the obvious – performance measures the pressure to perform do not further education.  

    The Obama Administration, through Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reported in 2011, 82 percent of American schools are failing. The Center on Education Policy studied the numbers and asserts the claim is “overstated.” In 2011 their estimate shows 48 percent are failing.  This is up from the 39% percent calculated in 2010.  That number too was the highest recorded since George W. Bush established No Child Left Behind.

    Fortunately, there is agreement. The law is broken.  Waivers are issued. However, the one aspect of the NCLB policy and the more punitive Race To the Top that remains strong and stable is the over-reliance on high-stakes testing.  That is the problem.  High-stakes testing serves no one well, that is with the exception of publisher profiteers.  

    The young and their elders do not learn quickly.  Solutions too take time and energy.  The thought that we might eradicate the achievement gap or poverty in a week of exams is anachronistic.  Still, there is reason to believe we can we can rebuild the American education system. Let us renew our belief in the commonweal.  Let us again advance democratic principles in education policy and practices.  It is time for true change.

    It is in this spirit that Save Our Schools puts forth, the People’s Education objective.  Through sound people-centered policies and actions such as Seminars, Webinars, Town Hall Meetings, Rallies, Protests, and Marches Save Our Schools works tirelessly to effectuate change.  We address the issues of import in education.  Topics include and are not limited to, Early Childhood Education, Curriculum [Creation and Use of Curricula,] Accountability and Authentic Assessments, Racial and Socioeconomic Integration, Student Voices, Equitable Funding, Parent and Community Involvement, and Labor.


    REBUILD THE AMERICAN DREM THROUGH EDUCATION


     1. INVEST IN AMERICA’S CHILDREN..  Preserve and transform public education. Keep public education strong. Hire, not fire teachers.  Rebuild our crumbling classrooms.


     2. INVEST IN PUBLIC EDUCATION..  We must provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. A high-quality education system, from preschool to vocational training and affordable higher education, is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now.


       3. FUND SCHOOLS EQUITABLY..  We must invest in American innovation. American needs to provide the funds to pay for quality resources and teachers regardless of the socio-economic status of a community.  Twenty-First Century technologies need to be made available to impoverished children, as well as the wealthy and those of middle-means. We must provide our children with the latest and greatest tools, and ensure that education is inspirational. Imaginative minds crave a challenge.


       4. OFFER PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE..   Education is the foundation that establishes a safe and stable society.  Unemployment rates among Americans who never went to college are double those who have a postsecondary education.   By 2018, an estimated 63 percent of all new U.S. jobs will require workers with an education beyond high school. Let us adequately and equally prepare our young, and establish affordable institutions of higher learning.


     5. ENSURE EQUAL EDUCATION FOR AL  Keep our schools equal. Current court decisions strengthen the deleterious divide. We must ensure that physical, mental, and emotional challenges do not hinder access to quality education.  Non-English language speakers and children whose second language is English cannot be shut out from our schools. Funding inequities must be remediated


     6. PROVIDE AGE APPROPRIATE  EDUCATION..  Learning is a process. Children develop in time when challenged to explore constructs that are meaningful to them.  Increasingly, 3 to 5 year olds are required to perform academically at a level once deemed appropriate for 1st – 3rd graders. The result is our young experience more rote “learning,” less direct play and hands-on experiences that lay the foundations for later academic success.


       7. RETURN TO FAIRER/BALANCED, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT. End, high-stakes testing used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools. Adopt Authentic Assessments, Portfolio Reviews, Student Journals and Interviews.  Abandon the quick-fix, one-size-fits-agendas of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top that have established failure as the norm in our schools.


       8. PUT THE PUBLIC BACK IN THE LEAD. The people make all our schools better. Parents and students are profoundly aware of what aids learning. Teachers, trained experts in education, are there in the classroom and are in-tune. Rely on the people; they will rebuild the education dream.


       9.  STRENGTHEN DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION FOR ALL.  We need equal education – a system in which money doesn’t buy policy, a curriculum plan, or secure a contract for services rendered to public schools. We must ban anonymous political influence, posed as philanthropy, and end the corporate endowments that misshape education.  The doors in D.C. cannot be open to entrepreneurs and closed to the people. Immigrants and their children want to join in our democracy. The challenged child and children of lesser means cannot be scorned in a democratic country.  Each deserves his or her right to dream. . http://owl.li/eCZ6a

    Together, we must rebuild our education dream and reinvest in our young and their schooling. We have a civil and human rights crisis, not an education crisis, and we must begin to solve it now.

    Please Join Save Our Schools [SOS]! Help us work to preserve and transform public education. Let us end policies that promote separate and unequal, and for all time ensure that public education is not influenced by or operated as a for-profit industry. Let us restore  pedagogical principles and prescribe practices that return learning to our classrooms.  Let us not fail our youth, while labeling them “failures.”  It is time to honor humans and the Whole Child.   Now, and in the future, let us Rebuild the American Dream Through Equal, Equitable, and Excellent Education For All.

    “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively
    and to think critically. Intelligence plus character –

    that is the goal of true education.

    ~ Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 March on Washington

    Betsy L. Angert is an Educator, Author, and an active learner. She advocates for Empathy and Education and Save Our Schools.