A student at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, a K-12 private school in the Bronx, announced that he and his parents filed a lawsuit against the institution Monday, April 1, in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, with the demand that the Head of the School Jessica L. Bagby and other administrators resign or be terminated.
Students from Ethical Culture Fieldston School CONTRIBUTED
The last straw for senior Malakai Hart, it is alleged, was when a student blatantly used the ‘n’ word. When Hart confronted higher faculty about the issue, no steps of further discipline were taken. One of the attorneys at The Cochran Firm, which will serve on the behalf of Hart’s family in the lawsuit, claimed that multiple grievances had piled up to that point. Hart’s mother Robin and father Carl alleged racial discrimination, retaliation, aiding and abetting unlawful practices and negligent hiring, training and supervision.
“The school failed to address the student involved in the incident, to be able to show himself [on a video recording] among other students and refer to my client as a ‘ni*r’,” said Derek Sells, one of the three Cochran attorneys. “For that reason, he wanted to sue and did not want to deal with the administration anymore as he felt they had let him down. Now, he is going to the courts to try and rectify this situation.”
For Malakai Hart, this is not the first incident in which he has been discriminated against by other students. He has attended the school since kindergarten and has faced similar situations before.
Last year, Fieldston also was in court for a similar lawsuit, this time in which a 12-year-old student voiced racial discrimination allegations, but the school retaliated by making false allegations to Child Protective services. The case is still ongoing.
“We had received some complaints from parents about bringing false claims to administration about what happened to the students,” said Sells. “The school claimed that the parent sent the kid to school hungry so as a result, there was an investigation launched into that. There was a threat that the child may be taken away from his parents, but the investigation found that the claims were unfounded. The school then sent a school wide emailing that they were sorry and had said untrue things about the family.”
Last week, a large group of students held a sit-in at Fieldston to protest the treatment of African-American students. Hart did not participate in the sit-in although he was very supportive of the students who initiated it. Hart believed that taking it to court would be more significant than the talks due to the lack of progress in the past.
The newly issued lawsuit echoes incidences of the past and reflects the issues that Fieldston School has had before. Head of School Jessica Bagby recently distributed an email to parents of students acknowledging that there has been a “multi-year racial trauma” at the school.
The Ethical Culture Fieldston School issued a statement, in light of the recent charges that have been put against them.
“One day we’ll have a better understanding about why this particular lawyer finds it productive to file frivolous lawsuits against Fieldston, but for today we can say without reservation that this is meritless and does not reflect the truth about our school,” said Clio Boele, on the behalf of the school. “Jessica Bagby is not going anywhere and does not deserve to be blamed or scapegoated for whatever this family’s concerns may be.”
Sells listed the specific reasoning for the lawsuit and what the family is suing for, among the future they hope to engender through the case.
“We alleged that federal civil rights were violated, human civil rights were violated, the New York State human rights were violated among other causes of action,” said Sells. “We are also asking the court not only for damages to be awarded for what my client has suffered but also, we are asking the court to tell Fieldston to stop discriminating against African-American students there.”
By Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League
New Year’s resolutions are underway across the state of New York, and I’m one of those who are trying hard to keep the promises I made to myself. I’m focused on finding an exercise I like and can maintain, journaling more, and eliminating debt, but I am quickly learning that mapping out a clear plan with how to accomplish these will make my success much more likely. New York state officials are engaging in a similar exercise as they lay out our state’s priorities for 2019. As Governor Cuomo reflects on how our state is succeeding and where there is still room for growth, we must ensure that education and school improvement remain top priorities for New York.
In his recent budget address, the Governor made a commitment to support an education system that distributes funding based on schools’ needs and fairness. Further, he also took the first steps to follow through on that commitment by allocating increased aid for our highest-need schools in his 2019 budget. While this can be considered encouraging progress, these priorities must remain at the forefront of Governor Cuomo and his administration’s to-do list for the upcoming year for the success of our state and our students.
As President and CEO of the New York Urban League and a lifelong advocate for young people, I know that closing achievement gaps between our highest- and lowest-performing schools is one of the most pressing equity issues of our time. If we want to improve education outcomes and strengthen our state, we need to improve our schools and assure that every child has access to a high-quality education, no matter their zip code or the color of their skin. Especially as companies like Amazon bring more tech jobs to New York City, we must ensure that all schools promote skills like math, science, problem-solving, and innovation so that children across our city and state are qualified for such positions.
Under the most recent education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), our state has an opportunity to make the bold and innovative changes necessary to improve the trajectory of all New York students. A recent review of New York’s plan to improve low-performing schools by education experts and civil rights leaders found that New York has laid a strong foundation but can still improve the sustainability of its plan. Overall, New York’s plan focuses on equity in schools and ending segregation inequities. It also builds on proven, successful school improvement strategies and emphasizes school improvement at the local level, so that tools and techniques are tailored to local and diverse communities. However, while New York empowers local communities to lead turnaround efforts for low-performing schools, the state could take additional steps and use its authority to help ensure schools and districts make progress on their improvement goals.
As the Governor works with lawmakers on our state budget and embarks on 2019, I urge them all to put actions behind words and assure that our schools have sufficient support to increase equity and give every child a high-quality education. I also urge educators, parents, and community members to make your voices heard and advocate for the changes you want to see in your local school. We all play an important role in helping our students learn, and their success is our most important resolution for the new year.
Arva Rice is President and CEO of the New York Urban League.
Hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte is the national spokesperson for the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) Discover The Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program.
Her passion about education and her desire to create opportunities for HBCU students are two of the many reasons she partnered with the NNPA and Chevrolet, the program’s sponsor.
As she continues her great acts of philanthropy, MC Lyte said that music and journalism are much alike, as they are both used to tell stories.
MC Lyte became great friends with Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, through his work in hip-hop and civil rights.
When she got the call about the NNPA’s DTU program, she said that she was happy to help out; she said that representing the DTU program is a great fit.
When it comes to her philanthropic work that grew out of her music career, MC Lyte said that she always wanted to give back. That sense of altruism manifested early on in her music career with her hit single “I Cram to Understand U,” which included a strong anti-drug message, geared towards the Black community.
MC Lyte made it her responsibility to advocate for young people and to shed light on the deluge of heroin and crack cocaine that flooded her Brooklyn neighborhood in the 70’s and 80’s.
“I don’t think that I really do anything for me, per se,” MC Lyte said. “It’s about getting out there, [using] the MC Lyte name, to form partnerships with bigger entities and to gain access to resources and sharing those resources with the people who need them the most.”
Hip-hop pioneers like Salt-N-Pepa and Rakim inspired MC Lyte to partake in the music industry at such an early age. MC Lyte also vividly remembered how the Bronx-born, hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five helped to shape her storytelling rap style.
MC Lyte said that “The Message,” the Furious Five classic featuring Melly Mel, painted a picture of life in the Bronx that was very different from her life in Brooklyn, where she was born and raised. “The Message” influenced MC Lyte to gravitate towards the storytelling aspect of hip-hop. MC Lyte described “Lyte as a Rock,” her first album, as “a book of poems and short stories.”
“It was easy to get into a [creative] space and just write,” MC Lyte said. “My mother made me write an essay for whatever I wanted to do.”
MC Lyte said that young artists, who are pursuing careers in the entertainment business, should educate themselves about royalties, build a trustworthy team and seek legal advice when necessary.
“Never sign anything without counsel and always sign your own checks,” MC Lyte advised.
Reminiscing about her career in the music industry, if given the opportunity to change or do anything different, MC Lyte said that she would have said “yes” more often and been more open to trying new music genres and collaborating with unexpected artists.”
Although, MC Lyte is often credited as a pioneer in hip-hop culture, her passion to ignite change on a greater scale was alive from the very beginning. She was one of the first female rappers to speak out against sexism and misogyny in the industry. Her voice shook up the male-dominated hip-hop scene and helped pave the way for female MC’s that followed in her footsteps, like Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott.
Tyvan Burns (Norfolk State University), Diamond Durant (Morgan State University) and Denver Lark (North Carolina A&T University) are 2018 Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellows representing #TeamOptimistic. Check out more stories by #TeamOptimistic at nnpa.org/dtu.
The New School has launched the Digital Equity Laboratory, a project-based center that identifies and supports strategies to transform how technology is understood and used to drive racial, gender and economic equity and disrupt the use of technology to produce and reproduce inequity in our social, economic and civic life. It will focus on cross-sector strategies to expand broadband access to communities, particularly low-income communities of color, that have been systematically excluded, marginalized and targeted by many technology systems; ensure that smart-city innovations benefit those communities; and understand the equity implications of big data, algorithms and new edge technologies. The DEL will be housed at The New School’s Milano School.
“Technology is neutral, but people are not,” Maya Wiley, founder and co-director of the DEL, and Greta Byrum, co-director of the DEL, said in a statement. “With the fast pace of technological change to our job markets, how we communicate with one another and the data produced and collected about us, and how it is used, technology has great potential to drive social benefits democratically or deliver social, economic and civic devastation for some. We no longer have a digital divide. We have a technological chasm. The laboratory will provide a space for people of diverse disciplines to collaboratively develop approaches and strategies to protect democracy; increase the economic, social and civic health of our communities, particularly low-income communities of color; and support innovation that disrupts inequality, rather than reproducing it.”
ORLANDO, Fla. – Youth listened to inspirational speakers and got the chance to experience their future careers on second day of the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine on Friday.
The theme for the day was “Be 100: Great Risk. Great Reward.” Along with hearing inspirational speeches, Dreamers participated in hands-on workshops in various career fields around Walt Disney World.
The Dreamers attended the “Be 100 Breakfast” program in the morning where they learned valuable skills about networking and leadership.
Speakers during the day included former Disney Dreamers Academy alumnus and motivational speaker Princeton Parker and motivational speaker Jonathan Sprinkles.
[/media-credit] Motivational Speaker Jonathan Sprinkles speaks at the Disney Dreamers Academy
“We are starting a brand new decade of Disney Dreamers Academy and I believe we have a fresh new crop of special students who see more, they dream bigger,” Sprinkles said. “I believe we’re going to see some people get out here and change the world.”
Tracey D. Powell, Vice President of Deluxe Resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion, hosted programming during the day for parents.
In the afternoon the Dreamers participated in “Deep Dives” at Disney University and throughout the Disney Park. Dreamers were given a more personalized experience in small groups based on their career interests.
Sean Smith, 14, who is attending the Dreamers Academy from Basking Ridge New Jersey participated in a Deep Dive with engineers from Walt Disney World
“It’s really a lot of fun and I’ve met at of people,” he said. “The speakers were really inspiring and it changes you to hear their stories and makes you a better person. We’ve learned so much.”
[/media-credit] Sean Smith participating in a “Deep Dive” at the Disney Dreamers Academy
The day ended with a networking event where Dreamers were able to network with professionals including guest speakers and Disney executives and partners from
On Saturday, the Dreamers are splitting up into male and female groups to participate in sessions about image awareness.
Famed educator Dr. Steve Perry, Brandi and Karli Harvey, Dr. Alex Ellis and author Sonia Jackson Myles are also hosting presentations. There will also be a celebrity panel featuring former NFL player and businessman Emmitt Smith, singer Ne-Yo, Empire start Jussie Smollett and Ruth Carter, costume designer for the film Black Panther.
Dreamers will showcase what they learned and created during their “Deep Dives” in the evening.
AMSTERDAM NEWS — Newark Public Schools is back under the control of the city, ending nearly 25 years of state control. The formal transfer was made at a news conference at Science Park High School last week. New interim Superintendent A. Robert Gregory, Mayor Ras J. Baraka, members of the Newark Board of Education and students were in attendance.
The state took control of the school in 1995 after years of low high school graduation rates and low standardized test scores. Christopher Cerf was the state-appointed superintendent of NPS. He resigned when the city regained control.
“I know firsthand the important role Newark schools play in the lives of the thousands of young people who attend them,” Gregory said. “On their behalf, we must move forward with a continued sense of urgency. I look forward to working closely with the school board, our educators and the Newark community to ensure that we are doing everything we can to continue to improve outcomes for Newark students.”
In December, the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education approved the transition plan that allows for the Advisory Board to become the official Newark Board of Education Feb. 1. The plan provides the board the full authority and responsibilities afforded to local school boards and includes a detailed timeline and set of milestones to guide the district’s transition over a period of two years.
The search for a new superintendent will be headed by a seven-person committee made up of school board members and Newark stakeholders.
“This day has been in the making for some time and is long overdue,” said Marques Aquil Lewis, chairman of the Newark Board of Education. “The Board has worked very hard to make sure that the district is returned to local control. Now, all decisions rest with us and we are ready, willing and have the capacity to take Newark Public Schools to the next level.”
NPS serves approximately 36,000 students and is the largest and one of the oldest school systems in New Jersey. Nearly 90 percent of students are Black and Latino.
By Charlene Crowell, (Communications Deputy Director, Center for Responsible Lending)
AMSTERDAM NEWS — Mounting student debt is a nagging problem for most families these days. As the cost of higher education rises, borrowing to cover those costs often becomes a family concern across multiple generations including the student, parents, and even grandparents or other relatives.
Today’s 21st Century jobs usually demand higher education and specialized skills to earn one’s way into the middle class. In households where educational loans are inevitable, it becomes an important family decision to determine which institutions are actually worth the debt incurred. Equally important is the institution’s likelihood of its students graduating.
Higher education institutions that do not provide its students and graduates with requisite skills and knowledge become money pits that lead to deeper debt and likely loan defaults.
New research by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) analyzed student debt on a state-by-state basis. An interactive map of CRL’s findings reveal on a state basis each of the 50 states’ total undergraduate population, for-profit enrollment, and the top for-profit schools by enrollment for both four-year and two-year institutions.
Entitled “The State of For-Profit Colleges,” the report concludes that investing in a for-profit education is almost always a risky proposition. Undergraduate borrowing by state showed that the percentage of students that borrow from the federal government generally ranged between 40 to 60 percent for public colleges, compared to 50 to 80 percent at for-profit institutions.
Additionally, both public and private, not-for-profit institutions, on average, lead to better results at a lower cost of debt, better earnings following graduation, and the fewest loan defaults.
“In many cases, for-profit students are nontraditional students, making sacrifices and struggling to manage family and work obligations to make better lives for their families,” noted Robin Howarth, a CRL senior researcher. “For-profit colleges target them with aggressive marketing, persuading them to invest heavily in futures that will never come to pass.”
CRL also found that women and Blacks suffer disparate impacts, particularly at for-profit institutions, where they are disproportionately enrolled in most states.
For example, enrollment at Mississippi’s for-profit colleges was 78 percent female and nearly 66 percent Black. Other states with high Black enrollment at for-profits included Georgia (57 percent), Louisiana (55 percent), Maryland (58 percent) and North Carolina (54 percent).
Focus group interviews further substantiated these figures, and recounted poignant, real life experiences.
Brianna, a 31-year-old Black female completed a Medical Assistant (MA) certificate at the now-defunct Everest University. Once she completed her MA certificate and passed the certification test, she found she could only find a job in her field of study that paid $12 per hour, much less than the $35,000-$45,000 salary that Everest told her would be her starting salary as a medical assistant.
She was also left with $21,000 in student debt. As a result, she has struggled since matriculation with low credit scores and cramped housing conditions for herself and three children. For her, public schools, according to Brianna, are “better in the long run” due to their lower cost despite having more requirements for attendance.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) generate $14.8 billion in economic impact annually, according to a stunning new report by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
The landmark study titled, “HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said that public HBCUs account for $9.6 billion of that total economic impact, while private HBCUs account for $5.2 billion.
“The estimate includes direct spending by HBCUs on faculty, employees, academic programs and operations, and by students attending the institutions, as well as the follow-on effects of that spending,” the report said.
The combined economic impact is equivalent to a top 200 ranking on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations.
“The presence of an HBCU means a boost to economic activity, on and off—and even well beyond—campus. Stronger growth, stronger communities, more jobs and a more talented workforce,” UNCF authors wrote in the report.
According to the UNCF report, Howard University generates $1.5 billion in total economic impact and 9,591 jobs for its local and regional economies.
“Every dollar spent by Howard University and its students produces positive economic benefits, generating $1.58 in initial and subsequent spending for its local and regional economies.
The study, conducted by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business Selig Center for Economic Growth, found that Hampton University generated $270 million in total economic impact and 2,249 jobs for its local and regional economies.
“For each job created on campus, another 1.7 public- and private-sector jobs are created off campus because of Hampton University-related spending,” study said. “Looked at in a different way: Each $1 million initially spent by Hampton University and its students creates 11 jobs.”
While Morehouse College generated a total economic impact of $188 Million and 1,580 jobs. Spelman College accounted for $199 million in total economic impact and 1,625 Jobs.
North Carolina A&T State University generated $488 million in total economic impact and 4,325 jobs for its local and regional economies.
“It’s the first time that we’ve had a study conducted by such a professional institution to recognize the importance of HBCUs and particularly the impact on our community,” Miles College President Dr. George T. French, Jr., told the NNPA Newswire. “We’ve talked in general terms, but to quantify this is important so that our partners can understand the value of our institution. It’s a win-win for our region and for government partners who look to partner with us.”
The report revealed that the 1,634-student Alabama school generated $67 million for its local region. Each $1 million initially spent by Miles College and its students creates 16 jobs, according to the report.
“It’s eye-opening and, in addition to the 730 jobs created, there’s a 1-to-1 match for every full-time job at Miles, we create another job in our region,” French said. “So, we have about 377 employees on campus, but because of that, we’ve created 350 off-campus jobs.”
The benefits flow to Miles College’s graduates, who’ll enter the workforce with sharper skills and vastly enhanced earning prospects, according to the report.