Monthly Archives: May 2013

The CDF’s Beat the Odds Scholarship and Leadership Award Program

Here’s another inspiring story about what Marian Wright Edelman’s Children’s Defense Fund is achieving. It’s Beat the Odds Scholarship and Leadership Award program shows that an impoverished background is not a function of intelligence or capability. It shows that when given opportunity, everyone can not only be productive but brilliant contributors to society. It is only our unwillingness to change beliefs and economic systems holding people down that stand in the way.

Thank you for being present Children’s Defense Fund.

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Amma

I have been amazed for the greater part of the day about what Mata Amritanandamayi has brought about for countless children and adults around the world, especially in India and Kenya. What she has achieved is so inspiring and beautiful that it is disconcerting to my westernized mind yet stimulating to my soul.

I will let you explore for yourself. Be amazed:

Amma’s Multifaceted Empire Built On Hugs

About Amma

Her University: Amrita University

Her Global Charities: Empowering Women Among Many Other Projects

Amrita SREE (Self Reliance Education & Employment)

Positive energy. Do good. Love.

 

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Another Ray of Light from Alicia: Blackberry Scholars Program

aaa alicia1-600x450

This blog post is a few weeks late but the deadline is still a few weeks away. If you know someone who would be interested, please share this information with them so that they can apply by June 26th.

The Blackberry Scholars Program

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On Emancipation

a slave3-sfSpan

I enjoyed the following article as it provoked a great deal of thought on my parenting skills. The abstract idea of children’s emancipation brought a smile to my lips which was quickly followed by widened eyes and quickened breathing as I tried to imagine the practical results in my case… 🙂

Will Smith on Parenting

What I especially found thought provoking were the following sentences from the author, Brande Victorian, “I’ve most definitely witnessed the property dynamic among parent-child relationships but I’m not completely sure it’s a concept specific to African Americans or a result of enslavement. Plenty of parents, black, white, red, and yellow, seem to take an ‘I brought you into this world and I can take you out if you don’t fulfill the obligations laid out for you’ approach to parenting simply because of the authority dynamic and the idea of giving life to someone and having control over how they live it as a result.”

When I read those words, the images of my own corporal punishment sessions as well as those I had seen the results of and/or heard of from friends and family members immediately flitted through my mind. Those violent and horrific disciplinary sessions did much more harm than good in my case and have directly and easily enabled me to break that vicious cycle with my own child. He has never received nor will he ever be the recipient of corporal punishment from me or anyone who knows us.

I, honestly, do not see the difference between a slave masters whip or other punishment instruments and a parent’s open hand, switch from a tree, knotted or unknotted belt, feet or fists. There is no difference. So, if any of you are out there playing the role of slave master, stop. Stop. They are not your property.

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As the Gap Widens…

FILE - In this April 13, 2009 file photo, a "No trespassing" sign is seen at the edge of a homeless camp in Sacramento, Calif.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

FILE – In this April 13, 2009 file photo, a “No trespassing” sign is seen at the edge of a homeless camp in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

When the Federal Reserve Governor, Sarah Bloom, says “that income inequality and government cutbacks may slow economic growth for years” she is not just saying this is a “growth” recession. It is an admission that income inequality should be a major long-term concern for our fiscal policy makers. This is not an easy or light-hearted admission from the Federal Reserve whose policies are founded upon our historical and traditional capitalistic policies and beliefs. Along with her recommendation that the Fed study the relationship between income and wealth inequality and how it impacts monetary policy, this is a warning: Inequality May Hurt Economic Growth. As a case in point, the following article illustrates just how pervasive the inequality gap is becoming: Suburban Poverty Soaring

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which has long been critical of our blindness to the need for change here in the United States has recently issued the following report: OECD 2013 Report: Inequality and Poverty. This article from the Huffington Post summarizes the report: Wealth Gap Widens in Rich Countries.

As the wealth gap widens among the races here in the U.S., Racial Wealth Gap Widened, the problems associated with an economy built around war and divisiveness become increasingly evident, Israel Poverty Rate Highest in Developed World, and we are not that far ahead (please see slideshow). I am far from surprised at Israel’s performance in the OECD study. I see the results as a function of the principles and mechanisms its economy is built upon which has led to a highly militarized economy…an economy that must constantly seek legitimacy for its existence. I do not believe that Israel’s need to sow discord in the region is solely based upon it’s fear of attack or a desire to seek legitimacy through military means but rather on it’s need to feed its expansive military industrial complex (traditional as well as R & D projects) that not only needs fiscal support but a large supply of soldiers (irrespective of conscription).

Educational, racial, social & economic inequality…social division…weaponization & militarism…are some of the main pillars of poverty.

 

 

 

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The State of Public and Higher Education

a student loans

School Closures Pit Race and Poverty Against Budgets

The closing of traditional public schools throughout our nation and mainly in large urban centers means that children will either be bussed to “nearby” schools, gain admission to charter schools or be bussed to suburban schools as has already happened here with the Kansas City school district. More times than not, as I have learned through people who live in and or work in areas where schools have been closed, children from the very same neighborhood attend different schools which is further decimating the community fabric of shared experiences, trust and local empowerment.

Instead, we are opting to put public mass education into the hands of charter schools and whichever entities that manage them instead of ensuring high-quality public education for all. With studies analyzing the (in-)effectiveness of charter schools, the need for “lottery-based” – thus exclusionary- admissions methods to gain entry into these schools and the reliance on Educational Management Organizations (EMOs) & other for-profit institutions to organize charter school education, how can we possibly expect that our children will receive the education that they need and deserve?

Here are a few links to the most comprehensive study conducted to date on charter school vs. traditional public school performances (a new study will be released by Stanford some time this year). The results are not satisfying and further compound my belief that our educational resources must be directed at strengthening traditional public schools:

2009 Study: Charter School Performance in 16 States – Executive Summary

Debate on the accuracy of this study:

CREDO – Hoxby Debate on Charter School Performance

We are fooling ourselves if we believe charter schools can replace traditional public school education. In fact, we are turning elementary and secondary education into the next “cash cow” or, rather, industrial complex…which leads me to higher education.

There is not much I can write that U.S. American’s do not already know about our higher educational system as regards the costs involved. But perhaps the following articles will serve as a reminder of and lend a fresh perspective on how backwards our system has become:

Elizabeth Warren’s Student Loan Petition Garners More Than 250,000 Signatures

Here’s why: Student Loan Policy Generates $51 Billion Profit

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Our Teachers: 1st Responders and Last Defenders

 

a teachers embrace

Little Dog and Big Dog

This picture is raw. It is pure. It is not a depiction from a movie. It shows the unfiltered and palpable depth of caring, concern, compassion and love that we are capable of and should show and share with one another with or without a disaster as a backdrop. This is humanity at its best in the worst of times.

When I first saw this picture I was under the impression that the man pictured was his teacher due to this posting on the NBC 12 Facebook page:

A teacher in Moore, Oklahoma finds one of the students in his class, that he thought he’d lost in today’s tornado.  Curt Autry NBC 12 How to help the tornado victims: http://bit.ly/13I0ywJ

As it turns out they are neighbors and have nicknamed each other Big Dog and Little Dog, respectively.

The person who enabled this deeply moving moment to be captured was Little Dog’s teacher. The fact that s/he is not pictured here makes the situation even more poignant as their contribution and heroism is unheralded which is indicative to the nature of their work. The 1st responders to our children who are of school age are our teachers. They have been on the frontline of a social, cultural, religious, political and economic war that has decimated their ranks, stolen their pride, burned them out and lowered their esteem which is painfully reflected in their salaries, their prospects and how they are treated.

Time and time again, we have seen or heard of teachers who have not only dedicated their time and resources to helping their most vulnerable and needy students as shown in A Place at the Table, but they put their lives on the line as the last defenders against gunmen and natural disasters as demonstrated at Sandy Hook Elementary and in Moore, Oklahoma. And Little Dog’s teacher, who was his last defender against a force for which there is no match, has given him, Big Dog and us the opportunity to see mankind at its best.

To Little Dog’s teacher and school staff at Plaza Towers Elementary School as well as all schools in Moore, Oklahoma and throughout the nation: Thank you so very much whoever you are.

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