The Search for Solutions to School-to-Prison Pipeline

The Search for Solutions to School-to-Prison Pipeline

By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL 24th District) has a mission – pull young Black boys out of the school-to-prison pipeline. She hopes her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project is the ticket to providing diplomas and degrees instead of prison sentences.

Wilson had big help pushing her project during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, D.C.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was on the panel, as well as actor and activist Erika Alexander, “America To Me” director Steve James, Dr. Cedric Alexander, national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and George Ray III, current contestant on the “Grand Hustle” series on BET Networks.

The Excellence project started in Miami-Dade County when Wilson saw the young men her community rushed into the prison system, working in the drug trade or dropping out of school.

On a national level there were 1,506,800 people in prison at the end of 2016, according to the Department of Justice. There were 487,300 Black prisoners, or 41.3 percent. This is in comparison to 39 percent White prisoners.

When it comes to school drop outs, the number of Black boys who drop out between the ages of 16-24 has dropped nationally to 6.2 percent. But that number is still higher that the national average and White students’ 6.1 percent and 5.2 percent respectively, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In 1993, when Wilson started her program, it almost immediately caught national attention. Several sitting presidents and vice-presidents, including Barack Obama have supported the project. The initiative provides leadership and mentoring to young Black boys during a critical time in their lives.

The panel dissected many of the issues that impact a child’s trajectory to the school to prison system.  Dr. Alexander spoke about police officers using more discretion and thinking of the larger community when arresting people.

“The law is what the law is,” Dr. Alexander said, who heads up the National Organization of Black law Enforcement Executives. “But what we can ask them  [police officers] to do is use some judgement. Do you really want to hurt someone over an infraction? We as police officers have to have discretion.”

“I think what we are beginning to see as we’re training officers to have better relationships, we find some, not all, but some are mindful of the fact that there is a larger community watching you.”

Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III, who is mayor of Miami Gardens, Florida, said citizens need to be mindful of how much they want police involved with their students at schools.

“We can’t over police our schools,” Gilbert said. “We can’t use police at schools as conduct supervisors. Understand if you ask a police officer to come to our schools and they witness a crime that kid is going to jail.”

Gilbert further cautioned, “We have to be careful of the part we are playing in this narrative.”

For George Ray, III who currently stars on “The Grand Hustle” series, Congresswoman Wilson intervened at the right time in his life. “She’s my fairy godmother,” Ray said to the packed crowd. The business professor spoke of facing 15 years in prison at 15 years old. The congresswoman happened upon his life and “instead of peddling drugs I had someone peddling hope.”

“She took me everywhere with her, she kept me so busy I couldn’t get in trouble if I tried,” Ray said of his relationship with Wilson.

Currently, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project services 105 schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools (37 Elementary, 35 Middle/K-8, and 33 Senior High), according to the organization.

COMMENTARY: You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Give Back to HBCUs

COMMENTARY: You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Give Back to HBCUs

By Harry L. Williams

Earlier this year, a man named Jack Weldon Patrick passed away in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. A long-time lawyer, Patrick was remembered as a family man, an advocate for social justice, and a respected community leader.

One day a check arrived by mail for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in memory of Jack Weldon Patrick. A few days later, another one arrived, and a few weeks later, another check. Individual donations kept coming to support the work of TMCF and our publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in honor of Jack. His obituary read, “in lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial donations in Jack’s name to causes he cared deeply about.” One of those causes was TMCF.

So many of us outside of TMCF headquarters and Menomonee may have never known Jack as a stalwart of access and opportunity for students attending Black colleges. Many of us aren’t even aware that Jack was part of the reason why in 2016, private giving and contracts earned by HBCUs increased for a second straight year, posting a four-year high of $320 million. But we do know he was a living embodiment of the famous quote by Nelson Henderson: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

While philanthropic anonymity is honorable, philanthropic leadership helps organizations like TMCF reach new supporters, encouraging new donor circles to give. Showcasing the faces and stories of those who give is an important tool in cultivating similar donors, encouraging a culture of giving around our campuses. This is a critical strategy that grows an organization’s base of support every year. For non-profit organizations, individual giving is the largest type of charitable gift – four times the amount as the next largest category in 2015, according to Giving USA.

Organizations like TMCF thrive due to the generosity of individuals who believe in our work and want to expand our impact, through monthly and annual donations, as well as the legacy gift. TMCF combines these individuals’ gifts with foundation grants and partnerships with major corporations and government agencies to provide the funds that allow us to transform lives. It takes a philanthropic village to develop young minds, and we are humbled to be good stewards of the resources that our donors and partners entrust to us.

TMCF, its 47 member-schools and the nearly 300,000 students attending them each year, want to play a role in redefining HBCU philanthropy and support. The data on finances and the number of degrees we produce in areas like STEM, education, social sciences and criminal justice already show just how productive HBCUs continue to be in graduating Black students. Seventy percent of our publicly-supported HBCUs attendees are first generation college students (like I was) and eligible for Pell Grants. In comparison, the national average is only 37 percent for all public schools. By providing this quality education, students transform their lives and prepare to enter economically sustainable careers. Now TMCF wants to illustrate that same culture within our giving networks.

Anyone believing in the power of education to transform lives should invest in HBCUs. This includes alumni who want to have a tangible way to support their schools. All people in our networks at work, at church, in our communities, fraternities and sororities, and other circles of activity are worthy of soliciting for support. Age, earnings and personality are not elements for disqualifying those who might be willing to give, or those who have the capacity to do so.

So today, we honor one man—Jack Weldon Patrick—and his commitment to HBCUs, and we thank his friends and family for their continued investment in the work of TMCF. We hope his example encourages others to consider impacting people’s lives by supporting our nation’s HBCUs.

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

By David Grosso, Special to The Afro

In May, many undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in the District of Columbia received their degrees. If they haven’t already, many are also waiting for  something else – a bill for their student loans.

Many District graduates and working professionals are grappling with student loan debt and it has become a barrier for the purchase of a home and automobile. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) is aware of this crisis and authored legislation “The Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Act of 2017“, that is designed to deal with exploding student debt.

Grosso is the chairman of the Committee on Education and held a hearing on this bill June 25. “Student loan debt is unavoidable for many people,” the Council member said. “When I was in school, I financed my education through work-study programs and other education partners.”

PRNewswire published a story in its June 26 edition that 10 percent of student loan borrowers in the District owe more than $100,000, the highest in the nation. The article said that 25 percent of the District’s population has an advanced degree (master’s and professional).

Grosso’s legislation would empower an office of the ombudsman to help borrowers and set guidelines for District residents to relieve their student loan debt. The bill has the support of D.C. Council members Trayon White (D-Ward 8), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).

Dr. Eddy Ameen, a District career psychologist, testified at the hearing that financial stress is a factor for students in the higher education realm. “While survey data can tell you how important it is, I receive frequent phone calls and visits from members that are riddled with debt,” he said. “That’s all they can do to succumb to it.”

Ameen said many of his patients wish they had alternatives to student loans for financing education and wish there was an active program that suited them to forgive their debt. He said the majority or nearly half of the people in his field have delayed saving for the future, retirement planning, buying a house, and having children because of student loan debt.

Ameen said he likes Grosso’s bill and encouraged him to, among other things, encourage student loan debt from federal institutions and not private concerns and requested that the bill include District public workers who graduated before 2016. He also said that while $75,000 is a great deal of money in other parts of the country, in the District it is almost an average salary and adjustments must be made to take that into account.

In addition, Ameen wants the public service loan forgiveness program to be more active in the District.

Shana Young, chief of staff for the District’s Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), told Grosso that establishing an ombudsman could be problematic because many District residents would have to be helped by this program and that could be overwhelming. “We appreciate the bill’s sponsors attempting to address student loan debt, which is a significant concern for many District residents,” Young said.

Grosso said the bill “is a work in progress” and offered his opinions. “Perhaps borrowers should be required to take financial literacy classes before they take on these loans,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

Steve Harvey Secures nearly $10k for D.C. Boys School

Steve Harvey Secures nearly $10k for D.C. Boys School

By Lenore T. Adkins, Special to the AFRO

Thanks to comedian-turned-talk show host Steve Harvey, an office superstore is donating a $5,000 gift card to a Washington, D.C. public charter school for Black and Latino boys that is opening this summer.

What’s more, North Star College Preparatory Academy for Boys’ appearance on the show prompted 50 people to donate $4,500 while it was still on, Rictor Craig, the school’s founding director of instruction told the AFRO.

The school will use the gift card from Office Depot for school supplies and printing needs. On the episode of the “Steve Harvey Show” that aired May 11, Harvey said the gift wouldstart the school off on the right foot.

“I like this man, I think what you’re doing is great,” Harvey told the school’s leadership team on his show. “… What you’re doing is essential and I congratulate you.”

The school’s five founders appeared on the show to explain the school’s mission and what they hope to achieve once it opens. Founded in 2018, the school, at 3701 Hayes Street NE, opens Aug. 20 with 85 fourth grade boys.

It’ll add a grade every year, ending with eighth grade. The school pays for the boys’ school supplies and uniforms and raises money for extras, like a planned eight-grade trip to Africa, Europe and South America to learn about the slave trade. The trip will follow a five-year unit focused on the Middle Passage.

“We have promised to provide school supplies and materials free of charge so that our students and their parents and teachers don’t have that as a distraction to their learning and their work,” Shawn Hardnett, the school’s founder and executive director told the AFRO via e-mail.  “…At North Star Academy for Boys, that won’t be a problem for parents. That $5,000 dollars from the Office Max/Depot from the Steve Harvey show will be used to support that.”

The school is housed within the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, for now, and founders are scouting a permanent location.

The school was launched after the founders polled African-American and Latino boys, observed public, private and parochial schools across America, talked to successful Black and Hispanic men and culled national research to figure how to open a school nurtures these boys and turns them into future leaders.

Hardnett said it all starts with having high expectations for these boys.

“The boys continued to say in various ways, ‘Love us, don’t be afraid of us. Build relationships with us and then have an expectation for us,’” Hardnett told Harvey. “People rise to the occasion. What they were saying is ‘Create an occasion for us to rise to and we’ll get there.’”

Craig echoed those sentiments.

“In order to build a school for Black and Brown boys, we have to build a school withBlack and Brown boys,” he told Harvey.

The post Steve Harvey Secures nearly $10k for D.C. Boys School appeared first on Afro.

Will Maryland HBCUs Receive Justice This Legislative Session?

Will Maryland HBCUs Receive Justice This Legislative Session?

by: Deborah Bailey Special to the AFRO

While Maryland HBCU Coalition plaintiffs are in formal settlement negotiations with the state, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBCM), is following through on a promise made at the start of the 2018 session to, “actively promote legislation to support HBCUs” in the halls of the Maryland General Assembly.

“We must use all of the Democratic tools available to us to bring justice to Maryland’s HBCUs and the communities served by them,” said Rev. Kobi Little, political action chair of the Maryland NAACP Conference.

“We only have to look at the State’s federal appeal of Judge Blake’s decision to see that we can’t afford to limit our approach to the court,” Little said.

A half-dozen pieces of legislation impacting the state’s four HBCUs are under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly his year, including the HBI Comparability Program, presented each year for the past decade by Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43).   Conway’s bill has not been voted out of committee yet, nor has its companion bill on the House of Delegates side, HB-450, whose primary sponsor is Del. Nick Mosby (D-40).

“At this stage of the legislative process, if a Senate or House bill has not reached the General Assembly floor, the bill is not “dead” but has a longer process to become law in the state of Maryland,” Little said.

Bills and amendments in support of HBCU’s proposed in the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly include:

  • HB450/SB252 –Blount-Rawlings-Britt HBI Comparability Program Establishing the Blount-Rawlings-Britt HBI Comparability Program to provide supplemental funding assistance to the State’s public 4-year historically Black institutions (HBIs) ensuring HBIs are comparable and competitive with other State 4-year public institutions of higher education. Primary sponsors: Senator Joan Carter Conway/Delegate Nick Mosby
  • HB1062/SB827 –Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Appointment of a Special Advisor – Development of a Remedial Plan (HBCU Equity Act of 2018).  Primary sponsors: Delegate Charles E. Sydnor/Senator Joan Carter Conway
  • HB1753/SB776 -HBCU Internship in Maryland Government Scholarship Program: Establishing the HBCU Internship in Maryland Government Scholarship Program to award scholarships to HBCU students so that they may explore State government career opportunities: Primary sponsors:  Delegate Cheryl Glenn/Senator Joanne C. Benson
  • HB1819/SB615 -Higher Education Cyber Warrior Diversity Program: Establishing the program at Baltimore City Community College, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Senate Amended language): Primary Sponsors: Delegate Michael A. Jackson/Senator Barbara Robinson
  • HB1665 – Income Tax Credit – up to $250,000 of income tax credits for certain donations to Endowments of Maryland Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Primary sponsor: Nick Mosby
  • HB1630 -Higher Education – James Proctor Scholarship Program – Established. Primary Sponsors: Delegate Joseph F. Vallario (passed House of Delegates with amendments on 3/12/2018)

“This is where constituents of my district  and Maryland residents across the state must become involved in the legislative process if they wish to see the change they want in the world,” said Mosby.

“Your presence here in Annapolis counts,” said Del. Charles E. Sydnor, III (D-44B), primary House of Delegates sponsor of the HBCU Equity Act of 2018 (HB 1062).

Sydnor said when Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion to have Judge Catherine Blake’s ruling in favor of HBCU plaintiffs set-aside, he knew legislation would be necessary to reinforce the ruling in the HBCU Equity lawsuit.

“To make Judge Blake’s ruling the law of the land, lawmakers need to see the people whom it matters to,” Sydnor said. ‘Testifying orally [at General Assembly hearings] means an awful lot to the General Assembly,” Sydnor told HBCU advocates.

MLBC Chair Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-45), urged citizens to contact their Delegates and Senators directly to support HBCU legislation.

The post Will Maryland HBCUs Receive Justice This Legislative Session? appeared first on Afro.

Who Knew What, When About D.C.’s Schools Ex-Chancellor?

Who Knew What, When About D.C.’s Schools Ex-Chancellor?

by: Micha Green Washington, D.C. AFRO Editor,

Antwan Wilson, former chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser knew about his daughter’s covert transfer to another high school, months before it became public knowledge and resulted in his forced February resignation.

Antwan Wilson, former chancellor of D.C.’s school system, is raising questions about who else knew about his actions. (Courtesy photo)

On Monday, March 5, Wilson, in his first interview since he was ousted on Feb. 20, told the Washington Post that he informed Bowser in late September that he was working with former Deputy Mayor, Jenifer Niles, who also resigned, to transfer his daughter out of Duke Ellington School of the Arts, after she experienced emotional health issues from being enrolled at the institution.  He claimed he told the mayor in early October his daughter had successfully transferred to Woodrow Wilson High School.

Despite Wilson’s claims, the mayor said on Monday, she was clueless about the ex-chancellor’s and former deputy mayor’s plans to transfer his daughter avoiding protocol.

“I in no way approved of a transfer or knew about an illegal transfer,” Bowser said.

While Bowser’s Communication Director, Anu Rangappa, corroborated that the mayor met with Wilson on Sept. 20 and Oct. 11, he said there was nothing about Wilson’s daughter written on the agenda for either meeting.

After his public apology and unsuccessful plea campaign to keep his position, Wilson initially quietly resigned post the mayor’s orders, and pulled his daughter from Wilson High.

Yet, after the rhetoric used by the mayor, calling Wilson and Niles’ actions, “inexplicable” and “indefensible”, and her claim of ignorance in the transfer, the former chancellor said he was let down by Bowser’s false narrative.

“I’ve seen that narrative, and I’ve been disappointed in it… Because it’s not accurate,” Wilson told the {Washington Post}.

“I went to my bosses and had a conversation and made no demands,” Wilson said.  The former chancellor even said they did not even request Wilson High School by name, but that his family “wanted options in DCPS and that was important to us.”

At-large Council member, David Grosso (I), who chairs the education committee, said it is time to uncover the truth about the transfer dispute.

“We will be looking to get to the bottom of this,” Grosso told the {Washington Post}.

The chair of the education committee said he will hold a hearing for all the political players in the scandal to testify under oath.

“I feel like it’s time for us to have a public conversation under oath, about what happened,” Grosso said.  If Niles, Wilson, and Bowser refuse to appear voluntarily, council committees, such as education, have the power to subpoena witnesses.

The post Who Knew What, When About D.C.’s Schools Ex-Chancellor? appeared first on Afro.

D.C. Councilmember Requests Deeper Probe on Heels of Graduation Crisis

D.C. Councilmember Requests Deeper Probe on Heels of Graduation Crisis

by: Lenore T. Adkins Special to the AFRO

The chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Education is pushing Mayor Muriel Bowser to broaden the scope of an investigation that uncovered a high school graduation scandal to include public and charter elementary and middle schools as well as charter high schools.

In a Feb. 21 letter, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) asked Bowser to direct the Office of the State Superintendent to retain Alvarez & Marsal or to hire another independent firm that would build on a December investigation that audited DCPS’ high school attendance and graduation policies.

“After holding two public hearings on graduation accountability and receiving compelling evidence that teachers throughout the city, across grade levels, and in both sectors of public education feel pressure to pass students, it appears that these issues may extend beyond high schools,” Grosso wrote in his letter to Bowser.

Alvarez & Marsal released a report in January that showed 34 percent of the DCPS class of 2017 received diplomas in violation of district attendance or grading policies. The ensuing fallout cost four DCPS officials their jobs and prompted system-wide policies and stopgaps to make sure students have truly earned their diplomas.

“Those results were extremely troubling, but they do not tell the whole story,” Grosso said in the letter. “A cross-sector, system-wide examination will provide a more accurate picture of whether or not our children are prepared for the next milestone in their academic career before advancing.”

Grosso has requested a response from Bowser by March 1.

The post D.C. Councilmember Requests Deeper Probe on Heels of Graduation Crisis appeared first on Afro.

D.C. Public School Lottery Fast Approaching

D.C. Public School Lottery Fast Approaching

The District of Columbia public school lottery deadline for pre-K through 8th grade students is fast approaching; just as new figures confirm that District public charter schools now educate 47 percent of all D.C. students enrolled in public schools. This vote of confidence in these unique public schools is a tribute to the diversity and strength of the educational programs they offer.

Tuition-free and open to all District-resident students, public charter schools are free to design and develop their school curriculum and culture, while being held accountable for improved student performance by the city’s Public Charter School Board.

D.C.’s school lottery, accessible online at, allows families to choose from the District’s public schools, charter and traditional, that are out-of-boundary—schools that are not the local option provided by D.C. Public Schools and for any pre-K program. Parents and guardians rank up to 12 choices, allowing them to express a preference for over-subscribed programs. Names are drawn at random until available spots are filled.

The lottery is backed up by practical support, including an education festival with different schools exhibiting and an email and telephone hotline with multiple language options. Free public transportation allows students to attend schools across the city without extra cost.

[/media-credit] Dr. Ramona Edelin is executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools.

While some schools are in such demand that there are waitlists, the lottery randomly fills places, but shortlists students who don’t make it into a chosen school—some 85 percent of students are awarded a place at one of their top three school choices.

Charters were introduced to the District to raise public school standards by increasing choice. While these unique public schools have led the way in raising standardized test scores and on-time high school graduation rates, they also have introduced themes and approaches that boost college and career readiness.  This has been particularly important in the District’s most underserved communities: charter students in D.C.’s Wards Seven and Eight are twice as likely to achieve state benchmarks for college and career preparedness than their peers enrolled in traditional public schools.

Thanks to an expansion in preschool pushed by public charter schools and the city-run school system, nearly all four year olds and most three year olds attend preschool.  Charters have the flexibility to tailor their programs to provide effective early education.

By allowing public charter schools to offer different paths to educate young scholars so that they may access the higher education and advanced career options that position them to succeed in life, best practices evolve from which all educators can learn. Families also are brought to the table because, as schools of choice, parents and guardians have a say in what works for their children. Public education dollars follow the student in the District, so charters have incentive to inspire confidence.

The District of Columbia model of school choice for all regardless of income has multiplied quality public school options—especially for the least advantaged. Today, three in four students exercise families’ rights to attend an out-of-boundary school rather than simply accepting their neighborhood school place.  And as the next generation of children is increasingly provided with the skills necessary to succeed, all of our communities can look forward to better opportunities and a more secure future.

Dr. Ramona Edelin is the executive director of the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools.

Baltimore’s Children Struggle in Toxic Environment

Baltimore’s Children Struggle in Toxic Environment

By Regi Taylor Special to the AFRO

AFRO — “Our society has treated the abuse, maltreatment, violence, and chaotic experiences of our children as an oddity that is adequately dealt with by emergency response systems… These services are needed and are worthy of support—but they are a dressing on a greater wound…   Later, in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood [affected persons will develop] behavioral, learning, social, criminal, and chronic health problems.” 

This is the assessment of Dr. Robert Anda, M.D., one of the principal investigators of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs), conducted by the Maryland State Council on Child Abuse & Neglect in its annual report presented to Governor Hogan and the state legislature in June 2017.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, “Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.  Research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), [which has] been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death.  As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.”

Regi Taylor (LinkedIn Photo)

This evaluation is nowhere more applicable than to children of Baltimore City, where there’s a strong case for an epidemic of ACEs.  Looked at through this prism the crises in education, delinquency, violence, crime and substance abuse come clearly into focus.  Reports last year that zero students at thirteen Baltimore high schools demonstrated math proficiency should be investigated for the likelihood that Adverse Childhood Experiences played a role in those results.

Many behaviors attributed to Baltimore youth mimic the symptoms displayed by military personnel returning from war zones, described as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  A case can be argued that the environment for too many of Baltimore’s children resembles a combat atmosphere. The unrelenting stressors encroaching these kids could be described as Contemporaneous Traumatic Stress Disorder, because it is felt 24/7 with no end in sight.

Low academic achievement, attendance and graduation rates, high delinquency, violence and incarceration rates, are not due to inherent susceptibility or natural predisposition of Baltimore’s children toward failure.  Not only do the city’s youth have their senses constantly bombarded with negative, painful, threatening stimuli from various sources inside and outside their homes, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are compounded when their savior of last resort, their government, is viewed as just another threat.

Like the children of Iraq and Afghanistan, who’ve lived through a generation of war, imagine the insecurity Baltimore’s children must feel living under a government, in the person of police, who, from their perception, torment and brutalize them, their families and community.  What are the emotions of kids who witness military-clad police with tactical weapons, gear and vehicles patrolling their neighborhoods in convoys, confronting their families and neighbors, and sometimes them directly, on top of the toxic social and cultural pressures stressing them daily?

For the children of Baltimore, epidemic rates of murder, assault, rape, gang activity, strong-arm police, child abuse, domestic abuse, substance abuse, overdose, illiteracy, extreme poverty, homelessness, malnutrition, undernourishment, lead poisoning, incarceration, inadequate heat, pest infestation and HIV, are not statistics.  It’s a day in the life.  Any wonder that test scores flop when more adversity than books are carried to school every day?

Regi Taylor is a native of West Baltimore and a writer.