More than half a century ago, my parents and a wonderful teacher named Mr. Hollis Posey followed their hearts and championed my right to learn. As a result, I received the empowering education in our City’s public schools that would transform my life.
Although I am grateful that I received the “thorough and efficient public education” that is guaranteed to every child by Article VIII of Maryland’s constitution, I am deeply troubled that all of Maryland’s children are not receiving this most basic foundation for successful, productive lives.
A widely acknowledged study in 2016 found that Maryland’s public schools are under-funded by $2.9 billion each year.
In response, the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education [typically referred to as the Kirwan Commission] has determined that significantly more funding will be required to give every Maryland child a reasonable chance in life, especially children living in those communities with the deepest concentrations of poor families.
Both our values and our long-term self-interest demand that we speak truth to power about correcting this failure.
Far too many of Maryland’s children are being relegated to a future devoid of competence or hope. This is an unacceptable failing – and it’s up to us, as voters, to assure that those we elect in November are committed to providing our children’s public schools with the funding that they need and deserve.
Although public education is primarily a state and local (rather than a federal) responsibility, the President and Congress have an important role in funding the public education of economically disadvantaged students (Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) and students with disabilities (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
Currently, annual federal education funding for Title I and IDEA is significant (just under $16 billion and $12 billion, respectively). However, these appropriations have not kept up with the rising cost of educating our students, nor with the legitimate needs of states like Maryland for a more robust and realistic federal partnership.
The President and his Republican congressional allies have failed to adequately address this challenge. Democrats in Congress have had to fight just to avoid significant cuts in federal education funding.
As a result, our nation’s schools are no longer the envy of the world, a reality that threatens our long-term national security.
Maryland’s Democratic delegation to Washington understands that we must significantly expand federal education funding – but only by electing a Democratic majority to the next Congress can we make this commitment a reality.
Despite Governor Hogan’s assertions that Maryland is devoting more support to public education than ever before, the Kirwan Commission has acknowledged that far too many of our school children are being short-changed, especially in jurisdictions like Baltimore City.
On Election Day this year, we will decide whether Republican Larry Hogan or his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous, will make the education of our children his top priority and fulfill our constitutional duty.
As a Maryland voter, I am a strong supporter of Ben Jealous’ candidacy to become our next Governor. Maryland’s teachers, through their Education Association’s endorsement, are supporting him as well.
As a Past President of our national NAACP, Ben Jealous is painfully aware (as am I) that the percentage of Maryland public school students living in poverty has more than doubled since 1990 (from 22 percent to 45 percent). We understand that properly educating all of our students, as well as meeting the rising cost of special education, will require a substantial and sustained infusion of additional state funding.
Drawing upon the Kirwan Commission’s upcoming final report and recommendations, our next Governor and State Legislature will have the duty to revise Maryland’s school funding formula for the first time in nearly two decades. The Commission is expected to recommend increasing the base, per-pupil state funding from $6,860 to $10,880 for each school child.
These challenges, I believe, are why Mr. Jealous has publicly committed (1) to fully implement the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations during the upcoming 2019 legislative session; (2) to raise our teachers’ salaries by 29 percent; (3) to implement full-day, universal Pre-K; (4) and to more effectively target state education funding to those school districts with the largest concentrations of poverty.
On Election Day, our voters can also approve an amendment to Maryland’s constitution that will guarantee that public education’s share of the state’s casino revenues is fully committed to funding public education (Question 1). This guarantee will provide an additional $500 million in annual state funding for our schools, an important first step toward closing the current $2.9 billion funding gap.
Both Ben Jealous and Larry Hogan have declared that they support Question 1. However, Governor Hogan has yet to adequately explain why he diverted $1.4 billion of our State’s casino money from public education (as voters were originally promised it would be invested) to other purposes.
When I visit our children’s classrooms, I look into our students’ eager faces and know that we must act with a sense of urgency to adequately invest in their future. On Election Day, God willing, Maryland’s voters will commit our State to a better future for us all, one filled with confidence, competence and hope.
Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.
This post originally appeared in the AFRO. The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
Send letters to The Afro-American • 1531 S. Edgewood St. Baltimore, MD 21227
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) announced plans to conduct a groundbreaking survey that will gauge the awareness and impact of President Barack Obama’s education law—the Every Student Succeeds Act—in the Black community.
The NNPA is a trade group that represents more than 200 Black-owned media companies and newspapers in the United States, that reach an estimated 20 million readers in print and online, combined, every week.
In late 2016, the NNPA received a three-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) to develop a multi-media public awareness campaign focused on ESSA, improving educational outcomes for Black students and increasing parental engagement.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, thanked the Gates Foundation for collaborating with the Black Press to help raise public awareness about the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Dr. Chavis described the ESSA awareness research as a “proactive move.”
“Rather than let people outside of our community tell us what’s going on inside our community, this is an opportunity for the [Black Press]—the people who work and serve and live and thrive in the community—to do our own research.”
Dr. Chavis said that the data will help the NNPA and other community stakeholders gain insight into how to be more effective in raising public awareness around ESSA.
“This study will also give a stronger voice to parents, educators and caregivers in the Black community,” Dr. Chavis said.
The NNPA has a track record of success for measuring the pulse of the Black community. The trade group partnered with Howard University in Washington, D.C. for a national poll of Black voters ahead of the 2016 midterms and for a 2017 poll on sickle cell disease (SCD) in the Black community; the SCD poll was supported by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
During a press conference about the results of the NNPA/Pfizer SCD poll, Michael Goettler, the global president of Pfizer’s Rare Disease unit, said that the survey analysis provided a basis for Pfizer to seek more detailed assistance for SCD sufferers, who are disproportionately Black.
Dr. Chavis said that the success of the Black voter poll and the SCD poll not only opened doors for other research opportunities, but that it also showed that Black folks trust and rely on the Black Press.
During a 2017 interview with the NNPA Newswire, John King, the former U.S. Secretary of Education and current president and CEO of the Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization focused on closing opportunity and achievement gaps, said that the Black Press has a hugely important role in mobilizing Black parents around education and ESSA.
“It’s partly about telling the story about [exposing academic and opportunity gaps], but it’s also about changing the narrative,” King said. “Sometimes, we focus only on what isn’t going well, but there’s also a powerful story to tell about what is going well.”
Dr. Chavis said that the ESSA survey and the data that is collected should play significant roles in crafting those powerful stories.
The ESSA survey will be conducted online and target pre-selected markets in California including: Los Angeles and the surrounding regions (Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County); San Francisco; Oakland; San Jose; Sacramento; Stockton; Modesto; San Diego; Fresno; Visalia and Bakersfield.
NNPA member publications in California will help to promote and distribute the survey and the results will be shared broadly across the nation.
Dr. Reggie Weaver, the former president of the National Education Association (NEA), said that, all too often, parents are not engaged in the education of their children.
“Any way that information about ESSA can be coupled with getting parents to act on the things that are in the law is absolutely critical,” Weaver said. “What the NNPA is doing to educate and inform parents of their rights is important.”
Weaver said that parents can’t sit back and be spectators in the education of their children; they have to be active participants. That means getting involved in school board meetings, working with teachers and school administrators, and participating in surveys like the NNPA’s education poll.
Dr. Chavis said that the results from the NNPA’s education poll will not only be used to develop successful models for future public awareness campaigns, but the national exposure would also help to enhance the visibility and value of Black newspapers in California.
“This is a historic moment for the NNPA and we are encouraged that so many of our members will be able to participate,” Dr. Chavis said. “We are eagerly waiting for the study to commence and to get the results.”
Dr. Chavis continued: “This is just the beginning. The NNPA will continue to seek out culturally-relevant research opportunities in our on-going effort to improve the quality of life in the Black community.”
Learn more about the NNPA’s ESSA awareness poll at nnpa.org/essa.
Freddie Allen is the former Editor-in-Chief of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. You can follow Freddie on Twitter @freddieallenjr.
By Nate Davis (CEO and Board of Directors Chairman, K12 Inc.)
Our nation’s graduation rate is at an all-time high. The national figure shows 84 percent of young people, overall, graduating from high school within four years after first entering the 9th grade, a trend that has been on a consistent upswing since the 2010-2011 school year.
Still, despite much progress with that indicator, major gaps still exist. And there is great concern that the graduation rate hype not only masks those gaps, but distracts us from what must be our ultimate goal: ensuring all students earn a high school diploma and are college and career ready.
Even as overall graduation rates improve, Black and Hispanic students continue to lag behind that curve. Graduation rates for African American students are 76.4 percentage points—8 percentage points behind the national average—and Latino students are at 79.3 percent. Native American students fare even worse at just 72 percent graduation. Meanwhile, White and Asian students are anywhere from four to six points higher than the national average.
None of us can reasonably expect the closure of inequality gaps, if we’re simply satisfied with overall graduation rates while resigned to stubborn achievement gaps. Yet, it seems as if we’re in a phase whereby these disparities are being treated as normal—“the way it is”—as opposed to addressing a larger parity problem.
We have to ask ourselves: are we having a responsible and responsive conversation about high school graduation?
The most recent “Building a Grad Nation” report from America’s Promise Alliance says that, “Twenty-three states have Black-White graduation rate gaps larger than the national average, including five states—Wisconsin, Nevada, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio—where the gap is more than 20 percentage points…Twenty-four states have Hispanic/White graduation rate gaps that exceed the national average, and in two states – Minnesota and New York—the gap is more than 20 percentage points.”
The persistent normalcy of lower achievement among certain disadvantaged student populations is deeply troubling. Closing those gaps should be as important—if not more—than simply raising overall graduation rates.
At the same time, graduation rates can be used to unfairly malign schools that are serving underprivileged youth and, in fact, helping at-risk students earn a high school diploma. Alternative schools are singled out for having four-year cohort graduation rates that are generally lower than the national average, but left out of the conversation is how these schools are intentionally designed to serve credit-deficient transfer students and former dropouts at risk of never earning a diploma at all.
Measuring how well schools are graduating students is important, but it should be done right, and must not create disincentives for schools to serve credit-deficient students or dropouts looking for a second chance. After all, what is more important for these students: graduating or graduating “on-time”? It’s why graduation rate calculations should be reformed altogether so schools are held accountable for students’ annual progress toward graduation every year, not just in the fourth year of high school.
Sadly, the drive to meet on-time graduation has led to recent cases of manipulation and fraud, which, of course, is wrong, but it also misses the primary purposes of high school altogether: preparing students for higher education, careers, and the workforce. The linkage between these goals—graduation and college and career readiness—is crucial for broader national competitiveness. Graduating students is meaningless if they are not prepared.
The number of high school students heading into remedial courses in their first year of college are staggering, and the gaps between varying demographics are even more troubling. Nearly 60 percent of African American students are forced to enroll in non-credit remedial classes in college, according to the Center for American Progress, compared to 45 percent of Latino students and 35 percent of White students. This means that Black, first-year college students, already burdened the most by rising college costs and loan debt, are taking on a greater share of the $1.3 billion wasted on non-credit remedial courses.
There is no one silver bullet that will solve our nation’s graduation problem, but we can start by realigning graduation standards to the expectations of colleges, career training programs, industries and jobs, and developing competency-based, personalized learning paths for students unconstrained by four-year cohorts. And we must finally address funding gaps that exist for too many alternative schools working to eliminate achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
Addressing this complex challenge requires a mix of other solutions, too; improved learning models and instruction, greater support for our teachers, innovative technology, and increased services to disenfranchised students groups are just a few that we should be working on. But none of this can happen without educators, policymakers and business leaders willing to engage in honest and constructive conversations, and then pledging to act.
A rising graduation rate is worth celebrating, but let’s not become complacent.
Learn more about improving the educational outcomes for the students in your life at nnpa.org/essa.
Nate Davis is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors at K12 Inc., an online education provider for students in pre-K through 12th grade.
Shiny apples, carrot bags, pre-packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, full containers of applesauce, sealed cartons of raisons, and unopened milk cartons. That’s what paraprofessional Lorraine Von Hess would see students tossing into the trash every day as she supervised lunch at Davies Middle School in the Hamilton Township of Atlantic County, N.J.
A shocking amount of food meandered from lunch line, to tray, to trash. It was nearly enough to fill several 50-gallon cans, the educator says. In a county struggling with food insecurity, Von Ness refused to stand idly by. She began to investigate ways to fix a system that she says was clearly broken.
“I was appalled by the food waste at school,” Von Hess says. “We have two food pantries in our town overwhelmed with people in need.”
Showing Community Spirit
Seeing an abundance of food in one corner of her life and a severe need for food in another, Von Hess knew what to do.
First, she contacted the cafeteria food services manager who informed her that all food was funded by a state grant which required by law that students receive an item from each food group. Once food hit the tray, it could not return to the kitchen. The obvious destination for unwanted food? The cafeteria’s large gray trash cans.
Von Hess continued to search for information. She found no rule that said the unconsumed food couldn’t be earmarked for a destination beyond the cafeteria.
Pointing to the closure of nearby Atlantic City casinos between 2014 and 2016, Von Hess recalls how the closures rippled into households.
“They’re struggling to keep their homes and feed their families,” Von Hess points out.
Many of the area’s families depend on food pantries to survive. And donations help to fuel the survival of the food pantries. Von Hess, a member of the Hamilton Township Education Association, explained the donation idea to the food centers in her area. They loved it!
Next, she created a detailed proposal, and headed to a meeting of the district school administration bearing a detailed plan with a name created by her son: “No Food Left Behind.”
“Administrators were excited by the idea,” Von Hess says.
The program began at Davies in March 2015 and exceeded expectations. According to Von Hess, students were eager to donate unwanted food items.
Here’s how it works: Students drop unwanted food in boxes. After lunch, paraprofessionals sort the items into categories for delivery to food pantries the same day.
Over the summer of 2015, Von Hess collaborated with principals and paraprofessionals from neighboring schools to help them start their own programs. By that September, several schools were collecting food too.
“The food that we take to the pantries helps a lot,” says Von Hess. Collectively, the schools donate about 40 reusable grocery totes of food to area pantries per week. Von Hess says schools contact her often seeking advice about pioneering their own programs.
“That’s very rewarding,” she says.
“My role as a paraprofessional has helped me to see community problems,” says Von Hess who is proud that her school got the ball rolling with “people who did not hesitate to jump in to help.”
Thirty-two outstanding young people in grades 6 through 10, from the Big Bend area, assembled at Bethel Family Life Center at 406 Bronough St. in Tallahassee for a variety of challenging, but interesting projects.
The 2018 Summer STEM Camp was sponsored by BUC Technologies, LLC of Tallahassee. Major student sponsors were “Take Stock in Children Program”, Margo Thomas, Director and “Distinguished Young Gentlemen Program”, LaRhonda Larkins, Director.
STEM Camp Staff:
Mark Thompson, Instructor-retired NASA engineer, former middle school science teacher and current high school teacher for AP computer science.
Chris Weider, Instructor-middle/high school science teacher.
Rachelle Dierestil, Instructional Support and Activities Coordinator
The camp activities were divided into four rotating blocks of 90 minutes each. The activity blocks included science/engineering projects, science online modules and computer math games (Scratch and Sumdog), art/drama activities, and science lab lectures and experiments.
Science projects implemented during the four-block rotation by Mr. Thompson included the following:
Growing Crystals by creating two saturated solutions of water and dissolved chemicals.
Students learned about the different elements of the Solar System. They built models of the eight planets and Pluto. Finally, the students demonstrated their knowledge through quizzes to compete for the right to take a solar system model home.
Students discovered the three states of matter through hands-on chemistry activities. They learned about non-Newtonian fluids by mixing liquid polymer with a reagent to produce silly putty. They also made slimy ooze and glow ooze.
Campers engaged in a discovery of states of matter. The students learned about turning liquid to solid by making butter from heavy cream. They could eat the butter afterwards. Finally, they made ice cream from milk, learning about the properties of freezing point and how we can change the properties of a substance by adding salt.
Campers learned about gas pressures (Ideal Gas Law). We used acetic acid (vinegar) and baking soda to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. Students learned about the difference in density of different gasses by weighing the CO2 vs air.
STEM activities by Mr. James included the following:
Administer Pre-test covering middle and high school science facts (prize given for highest score by grade level)
Convene discussions about current NASA and space science news
Monitor “Scratch” (project building game) and “Sumdog” math game where campers can accumulate points (award given for highest points).
View relevant videos on STEM topics (prize given for best essay summary)
Creation of pictorial project boards for viewing on the last day by parents, visitors and stakeholders.
STEM activities implemented by Ms. Cotterell through the inclusion of the Arts:
Support activities where students would create an arts project from previous science and technology experiences that included one or more components of music, art and dramatization.
Administer post-camp activities until 5:30 p.m.
Science Labs implemented during the final rotation block by Mr. Weider included the following:
Dry Ice Lab and Experiment
Physical and Chemical Changes
Balloon Rocket Experiment and Competition
Extraction of DNA from Strawberries
Field Trips During Weeks 1 & 2:
Field trip to the FAMU Viticulture Center. Students learned about small fruit growing and extracted DNA from bananas and strawberries.
Applications are being accepted now through October 31, 2018, for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. This annual outside-the-classroom mentoring program is scheduled for March 21-24, 2019, at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida. The program helps 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, from across the United States jump-start their life goals and pursue their dreams.
Disney Dreamers Academy turns the entire magical setting of Walt Disney World into a vibrant classroom. Students participate in a series of sessions and workshops designed to help them imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries and learn how to put their goals into action. Disney Dreamers engage in a wide variety of experiences at Walt Disney World while working side by side with celebrities, community and industry leaders and Disney cast members.
For more than a decade, Disney Dreamers Academy has inspired young people from across the country by fueling their dreams and showing them a world of possibilities as they prepare for the future. Each year, students participate in hands-on, immersive career seminars in a wide range of disciplines found at Walt Disney World. Participants learn how to improve their communication skills, what it means to be a leader and networking strategies, among other skills. They are also inspired by celebrity speakers and other special guests who share their stories and provide insights on how to achieve their life goals.
The second decade of Disney Dreamers Academy is focused on challenging young people to relentlessly pursue their dreams through the “Be 100” campaign. This promotional push is inspired by the powerful impact Disney Dreamers Academy has made on graduates, who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, journalists and more. Some have started their own public relations firms, while others have worked with national political leaders.
Applicants must answer essay questions about their personal journeys and dreams for the future. Students are selected based on a combination of attributes, including strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams. A parent or guardian accompanies each student on the trip.
This four-day, all-expenses-paid experience at Walt Disney World will continue to help change the lives of young people in 2019. For more information or to apply, visit DisneyDreamersAcademy.com.
In an Aug. 6letter to the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, which formally revoked the Obama-era guidance in early July, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee, also demanded to know how the decision to revoke the guidance was reached. The two senators also asked for a list of complaints of discrimination based on race and ethnicity filed against K-12 and postsecondary institutions with the Education Department’s office for civil rights since the start of 2016.
In their joint letter withdrawing the guidance, the Trump Education and Justice Departments told schools that the Obama administration’s guidance advocated for “policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution” and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Read full article click here, may require ED Week subscription
Following on his generous $100,000 scholarship gift made in 2015 through UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) to four deserving college students, actor and comedian Kevin Hart has joined forces with UNCF and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to help 18 more KIPP students earn a college degree. Through a new UNCF scholarship program launched in partnership with Kevin Hart’s Help From The Hart Charity and KIPP Public Schools, the $600,000 scholarship will provide funding to support KIPP students from eight different cities who are attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
UNCF is the largest provider of college scholarships for students of color in the U.S., awarding more than $100 million in college scholarships annually to deserving students. The 18Help From The Hart Charity Scholarshiprecipients have been selected based on their academic and personal accomplishments and may receive substantive renewable awards based on need.
“The Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship will not only support students, but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and President Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”
“Education and knowledge are powerful,” said Hart. “I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs. This is just the beginning; trust me when I tell you there are a lot more kids who want to go to college who don’t have the money to make it happen.”
The 18 students receiving college scholarships are high school graduates who attended KIPP public charter schools in eight different communities: the Arkansas Delta, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. A recent survey of KIPP alumniacrossthe country showed that the KIPP graduates who attend HBCUs reported a stronger sense of belonging, better mental health, and were more likely to have a mentor than those attending non-HBCUs.
“Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the hard work of these 18 KIPP students recognized by Kevin Hart and UNCF through this generous scholarship program,” said John Fisher, chair of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Lomax has been a longtime KIPP supporter and friend and a tireless champion for young people. We are incredibly grateful to both UNCF and Kevin Hart for their partnership and support to help our students thrive in college and achieve their dreams.”
Hart’s gift to fund this new scholarship program puts him in line with many other renowned celebrities—like Lou Rawls, Ella Fitzgerald, Clifton Davis, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Beyoncé, Chris Rock, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis who, realizing the value of a quality education, have supported UNCF over the years. “Giving back to build better futures is the name of the game, and we hope that others like Kevin will understand why educational investments are so important, especially now, and step up to help more deserving students,” said Lomax.
Lomax also added, “Over the last decade, UNCF has been building a relationship with the KIPP public school network, and we are so excited that KIPP’s board of directors and Chairman John Fisher are behind this outstanding new venture. There are more than 1,300 KIPPsters currently enrolled at HBCUs, and together, we are bringing resources and shining a spotlight on these students who are doing all they can to get a college education. This unique partnership will help UNCF continue to bridge the gap from high school success to college achievement and enables UNCF to help more students get to and through college.”
School nurses are an essential component to the health and wellbeing of students, particularly those with acute and chronic health conditions.
“For many of these students, without nursing services, attendance would decrease or students would be unable to attend school,” says Louise Wilson, health services supervisor and a school nurse in the Beaver Dam Unified School District in Wisconsin.
Wilson recalls sitting at her desk recently when she received a call from a concerned mother questioning whether her four-year-old son, diagnosed with diabetes, would be cared for during the school day. The child had Type I Diabetes, a chronic health condition that requires constant monitoring and a level of medical knowledge most educators and school administrators do not possess.
“I knew this mother was overwhelmed,” says Wilson, a nurse for 37 years, the last 25 working at schools. “She herself was trying to learn how to manage and safeguard her child.”
In recent years, school nurses have transcended treating the traditional bumps, bruises, and scrapes, to become a central force in helping parents gain access to healthcare for their children.
For example, in some states, school nurses work in conjunction with private healthcare providers and parents to help manage students with chronic diabetes, asthma and other conditions. At many schools, nurses screen students for hearing and vision problems that could create a barrier to learning.
This writing addresses the Oklahoma University (OU) “house cleaning” by the new administration as it led to the exit of Mr. Jabar Shumate and talk of a fraternity house being re-opened to the Oklahoma University Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Fraternity after their involvement in a racist incident.
Mr. Jabar Shumate championed the underserved with integrity as our State Representative and State Senator in Tulsa, Ok. He was chosen to serve as OU Vice President focusing on diversity and inclusion in the aftermath of the OU Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Fraternity members being captured on video happily singing racist words “You can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me, there will never be a n*****S-A-E.”
Former Pres. Boren banned the fraternity for fostering a hostile environment and publicly stated, “They won’t be back as long as I am president.” The cleanly swept SAE fraternity house was repurposed to benefit the nurturing of an unbiased university community and housed Mr. Shumate’s office.
Mr. Shumate, a capable Black man, embodied and promoted positive diversity, including much needed insight and cultural intelligence on campus. Concerning are the circumstances of his recent departure. Mr. Shumate maintains OU officials told him to move his office out of the house while students were away, to avoid bad exposure, as the SAE fraternity would return to OU. Mr. Shumate voiced such a move would roll back progress. While OU officials refute this conversation, they report SAE is not coming back to the campus, the University Community Center staff and Mr. Shumate were booted out of the SAE house. After Pres. Boren retired, Mr. Shumate was demoted to associate vice president.
Add to this mix, Mr. Shumate’s yearly good job performance reports, now being overlapped by a new administration audit and surfacing reports of illegal car travel. Mr. Shumate says his job routinely required much travel and he was not provided the option of corrective measures before being forced out. Is this solely about car travel or about Mr. Shumate driving home the point that OU should not lay down the welcome mat to racism and a lack of diversity at Oklahoma University?
An agreeable resolution should be reached between Mr. Jabar Shumate and the OU administration. Oklahoma University should not be affiliated with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity as it created a hostile environment. Oklahoma University should be intentional in prioritizing culturally intelligent diversity and inclusion for generations to come.