Two South Carolina law students were awarded scholarships Thursday, November 1 by the Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), the union representing 1,400 federal administrative law judges at the Social Security Administration during the AALJ’s annual meeting in Charleston.
“As judges for a public agency which serves tens of millions of Americans, we’re delighted to honor outstanding law students like Kerry Shipman and Clarissa Guerrero,” said AALJ President Marilyn Zahm. “Their accomplishments in public interest law, so early in their careers, shows an outstanding commitment to the highest ideals of our profession.”
Ms. Guerrero, who is pursuing a joint degree in law and social work at the University of South Carolina (USC), is a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children in South Carolina. She is also co-president of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program Board and has served as a law clerk at the South Carolina Center for Father and Families. She is recognized by her teachers and fellow students as “a voice for the underrepresented, the misunderstood and the disenfranchised.”
Mr. Shipman, a law student at Charleston School of Law, has worked as an intern at the Mecklenburg County District Court and Charleston Pro Bono Legal services, and as a law clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina and at the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is presently a judicial extern for North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael R. Morgan.
Mr. Shipman has pursued his legal career in the face of considerable personal challenges following the death of his mother from colon cancer at the age of 46, as described in the Charleston Post and Courier. He is presently the legal guardian for his younger brother, a freshman in high school
AALJ members award a scholarship each year at the organization’s annual Educational Conference, recognizing law students with demonstrated experience or interest in pursuing a career in public interest law. The scholarships are made possible by donations from AALJ members and a contribution from LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
The city of Phoenix Youth and Education Office is currently seeking passionate and committed individuals interested in advising the Mayor, City Council and city management on how to enhance educational strategies and positive youth development approaches within city programs and the community.
The Youth and Education Commission is comprised of no more than 17 members from local businesses, youth-serving organizations, secondary/postsecondary institutions and the Arizona Department of Education. The goals of the commission include:
Creating and strengthening partnerships and communication between the city and secondary/postsecondary institutions.
Assisting in establishing policies, developing educational initiatives, and securing resources for school readiness, high school transition to postsecondary education and career readiness.
Providing quality educational television programming targeted to educators, youth and learners of all ages.
The Youth and Education Office is also seeking youth from each council district to be part of the commission to assist in advising the city on opportunities and challenges related to youth.
Commissioners meet a minimum of once per quarter. For more information or to complete an application, visit phoenix.gov/education.
Marking 26 years of scholarship support for high school students, the Marie Jenkins Jones Incentive Award (MJJIA) announces five award recipients for 2018. Receiving scholarships of $500 each are Kayla Bennett, Ajani Brooks, Quinara Lawson, Zataya Rivenbark and Jamesia St. Louis, all recent graduates of Baptist Hill Middle High School. These outstanding young ladies have excelled in their high school studies and will be pursuing higher education this fall semester.
“My siblings and I are thrilled about this year’s scholarship recipients,” says Andrea C.J. Casey, MJJIA Board Chairperson and daughter of the late Mrs. Marie Jenkins Jones. “Because of matching gift donations and increased support from local businesses, former students, and the community, we were able to help even more students this year,” explains Casey.
MJJIA is a federally recognized 501(c)3 organization that helps deserving graduating seniors at Baptist Hill Middle High School advance their education at a vocational school, trade school, college or university of their choice.
Over the years, this scholarship has awarded tens of thousands of dollars to students assisting with books, school supplies or any other needs they may have toward their educational goals.
Mrs. Marie Jenkins Jones educated students of Charleston County for over forty years. She had a passion for teaching, love for her students and a devotion to the community. In 1992, she retired from Baptist Hill High School after decades of teaching in District 23. Her children established the scholarship to honor their mother’s legacy and to support students in furthering their education. “MJJIA wants to grant more scholarships in 2019, so we ask churches, organizations and the community to spread the word and encourage students to apply,” said Casey.
For more information about the MJJIA, to make a tax deductible donation, or to apply for the 2019 scholarship, please visit www.MJJIncentiveAward.org or contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) 2018 National Leadership Awards Reception provided what one might expect when California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green, and South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn make up one-third of the recipients.
“We are here to recognize our brothers and sisters who are truly national leaders and who stand for freedom, justice and equality not when its popular, but when it’s not so popular to be freedom fighters,” said NNPA President/CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
In her typical fiery but still eloquent way, Waters spoke passionately about she and other Democrats’ mission to impeach President Donald Trump—though, like all of the recipients, she never mentioned the president by name only referring to him as ‘Number 45.’
“My friend Jesse Jackson said if you fight, you can win. If you don’t fight, you will never know if you can win,” said Waters, who also took time to heap praise upon NNPA National Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell, the publisher of the Crusader newspapers in Gary, Indiana and Chicago.
For those who insist that Vice President Mike Pence might turn out as a worse Commander in Chief than Trump, Waters scoffed: “I say knock off the first, and go after the second,” she said, as the sold-out crowd inside the grand ballroom of the Marriott Marquis roared its approval of her fiery award acceptance speech.
Green, the veteran civil rights advocate who’s serving his seventh term in Congress, picked up where Waters left off. “I promise that I have not given up on impeachment,” Green said. “We have a president who is not only unfit for the presidency, but a man who is unfit for any office in the United States of America.”
Clyburn, who arrived in Congress in 1993 and is the third-ranking Democrat, followed his colleagues and helped to drive home their impeachment argument. “I learned early what it means to challenge the system. I learned from my dad what it means to have the power of the almighty vote,” Clyburn said. “If the [midterm] election goes the way it seems like it is, you will have the best years of your lives going forward.”
Waters, Green and Clyburn were among the nine national leaders and activists honored by the NNPA on Friday, Sept. 14. A trade organization representing America’s more than 220 African American-owned newspapers—with more than 22 million weekly subscribers, the NNPA began the Leadership Awards in 2014. The awards honor individuals who are national leaders in their specific fields and whose actions have helped to improve the quality of life for African Americans and others.
The producers of the NNPA Leadership Awards Reception decided that the best time to host such an awards reception would be during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, a weeklong event that’s held each September.
The CBC ALC week is the largest annual gathering of its kind in the United States, featuring 15,000 to 20,000 African American leaders and influencers.
The underlying combined objective of the CBC ALC and the NNPA National Leadership Awards Reception is to network, collaborate and strategize collectively for the advancement and empowerment of Black America.
Counted among the sponsors and supporters of the NNPA Leadership Awards Reception were General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Pfizer Rare Disease, RAI Reynolds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AT&T, Southwest Airlines, Northrop Grumman, Volkswagen, Wells Fargo, AARP, Aetna, Koch Industries, Comcast, Ascension Health, Comcast, and Compassion & Choices.
Awardees included National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, Capstone Development Founder Norman K. Jenkins, E-Commerce Leader Arsha Jones, Dr. Wally Smith, Television Personality Kellee Edwards and legendary poll worker Laura Wooten.
At 97, Wooten is the longest continuously serving poll worker in America. Immediately upon graduating from Princeton High School in 1939, Wooten was recruited to work the polls by her great uncle, Anderson Mitnaul, who was running for Justice of the Peace. More than seven decades later, Wooten is still working the polls and her 79-year streak remains intact.
“Voting is important,” Wooten told the audience who saluted her with a prolonged standing ovation. “We need to engage young people to get out to vote. I hope we can do better this year. On November 6, get out and vote,” she said.
The much anticipated opening of Charleston Accelerated Academy became a reality September 4 as approximately 120 students embarked on a course toward a diploma and high school graduation. Charleston Accelerated Academy is a unique S.C. Public Charter School helping young adults overcome real-life challenges to earn their district or state-issued high school diploma. The school opened at the Septima Clark Academy site, 1929 Grimball Rd, on James Island in Charleston. Ribbon-cutting and open house ceremonies were held September 5.
The school serves students ages 16-21 through non-traditional approaches that incorporate web-based curriculum and technology, individualized learning plans, hands-on life and career coaching and flexible hours and scheduling. Charleston Accelerated Academy (CAA) is unique in many ways, but most importantly, it offers educational opportunities which previously have not been provided through ‘outside the box’ approaches to instruction for young adults. Its mission is to provide a comprehensive education to at-risk students which leads to students’ attainment of a diploma, acceptance to college or pursuit of a career, and culminates in each student having a positive impact in their community.
To accomplish that mission CAA provides what research shows students need to be successful: engaging courses, technologically advanced educational tools, personalized curriculum, and regular interaction with caring adults. CAA offers the tools needed to help students overcome personal barriers to attendance and engagement that include services which allow graduate candidates the flexibility to work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, individualized learning plans which are tailored for each graduate candidate’s individual schedule and focus on the next step with hands-on life & career coaching.
Realizing that no one-size-fits-all, CAA offers a variety of supports to help graduate candidates find the path that’s best for them whether that is college, the military or a career. Highly qualified paraprofessionals and certified teachers work with candidates in small groups or in one-on-one settings creating opportunities to develop substantial relationships. The facility is staffed with two vans that will allow candidates to schedule transportation to and from its James Island site. And public bus passes are offered that can help candidates not only get to school, but also to work or other areas around the community.
Food services are available. CAA is partnered with the school district to provide food services daily. CAA understands that many of our candidates are caretakers to families of their own and allows candidates to bring their children to the site. CAA does not take custodianship of the children, and at all times, the parent is the guardian of their child, however this allows candidates flexibility in their scheduling.
As importantly, CAA has connections with local businesses and services to help candidates including churches and faith-based organizations, Trident Technical College and area Chamber of Commerces – networks that support candidates beyond the facility. CAA is Acceleration Academies’ first location in South Carolina, and the seventh location nationwide. Over 4,500 high school-aged students in Charleston County are currently not enrolled in traditional high schools due to a variety of factors such as needing to work to support themselves or their families, a lack of transportation or resources, or family caretaker obligations.
“The Academy’s goal is to make Charleston County a no-dropout community,” said Tom Ducker, Charleston Acceleration Academy Board Member. “CAA’s uniquely personalized and engaging education model is designed to provide the social, emotional and academic supports needed to re-engage high-risk and at-risk youth with their education and set them on the path towards graduation, careers and college,” said Charleston County School Supt. Dr. Gerrita Postlewait.
CAA board Chair Nadine Deif added, “We encourage businesses, community/church leaders, law enforcement and parents to encourage students to seek our help. Our job is to help the youth become high school graduates and find a career path that’s right for them. The individuality of each student is respected and encouraged.”
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.
According to new research, one-third of community college students enrolled in remedial coursework don’t even need them.
The Community College Research Center (CCRC) and social policy researcher MDRC recently released a research guide, “Toward Better College Course Placement,” revealing standard placement tests, such as the College Board’s ACCUPLACER, are actually “misdirecting” student placements.
This is important to note as a disparate number of African American students are placed in remedial courses. A 2016 report by the American Center for Progress placed the rate at 56 percent of African American students versus 35 percent of Whites. Another report, by inewsource/Hechinger Report, shows African American students are five times as likely to end up in the lowest level of remedial English coursework.
Under-placement creates additional barriers for students who are now required to pay for coursework with no credit. A 2016 report by the Education Reform Now showed that remedial coursework cost first-year students and their families nearly $1.5 billion a year in out-of-pocket expenses — expenses that don’t go towards their degrees.
In addition, many students never make it out of the remedial pipeline, having to take up to four non-credit-earning courses before putting a dent in their college requirements.
To address such under-placements, the CCRC and MDRC launched the pilot Multiple Measures Assessment (MMA) project in the fall of 2016, exploring alternative assessment options to determine whether students have been “misdirected” to remedial reading, math and English coursework. Their research guide follows the project’s partnership with 10 Minnesota and Wisconsin community colleges to design and pilot the new placement systems.
“Developmental education requires student time and expense, it may discourage some potential college students.”
By the summer of 2017, the organizations found that, while 60 percent of students are required to take developmental (remedial) education courses, one in three could be considered for traditional courses if testing is combined with other assessment tools, such as ACT Engage or the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory.
“There is strong empirical evidence that high school grade point average (GPA) is one of the best predictors of college success,” the researchers wrote. The report also noted that, while not as strong a predictor, non-cognitive measures, such as attendance, participation and problem-solving skills, should also be considered as influences.
“Improving placement testing by integrating a multiple measures approach seeks to place students at a level at which they can succeed without diverting them into unnecessary courses that delay or even derail their progress,” said Gordon L. Berlin, MDRC president.
The guide notes the project’s goal is to redirect students who could fare well. “Students who need developmental education to succeed in college-level courses should be placed into developmental courses,” wrote researchers.
The report also acknowledges “practitioners may be hesitant to change their current practices, skeptical about the measures used, or unsure where to start.” It outlines several recommendations and examples to encourage college administrators to consider alternative placement options.
“Because developmental education requires student time and expense, it may discourage some potential college students. It is important to ensure that those who could succeed in college-level courses get the opportunity to take them upon entry into college,” concluded the report. “The use of an MMA placement strategy should increase the chances that students will be optimally placed, which should then increase their chances of future success.”
Minnesota is already on-board to adapt new changes. The state legislature passed legislation in 2017 requiring the Minnesota State Board of Trustees (MSBT) to reform developmental education offerings at system campuses. The MSBT is required to implement system-wide multiple measures placement guidelines by the start of the 2020- 2021 academic year.
Some changes have already been implemented, including updates to the ACCUPLACER exam to provide a weighted score that could potentially boost student scores just below the college-level cut score along with ACCUPLACER exam waivers for students whose ACT, SAT, or Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores demonstrate college readiness.
The project’s next phase is to conduct a “randomized controlled trial of multiple measures assessment in five of the pilot colleges” to determine coursework completion rates of students moved to college-level courses. The MMA project is also now exploring new placement assessments at colleges within the State University of New York system.
MURFREESBORO, TN — MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee kicked off the new academic year Thursday, Aug. 23, by applauding the university’s faculty and staff for continued progress in student retention and graduation while emphasizing the need to develop new strategies in an ever-evolving higher education landscape.
Now in his 18th year leading the Blue Raider campus, McPhee addressed a capacity crowd of faculty and staff inside Tucker Theatre during his annual State of the University remarks as part of the traditional Fall Faculty Meeting in advance of classes beginning Monday for fall semester.
“The calling to make a difference in the lives of others — the passion that drew each member of our academic community to fulfill careers in teaching, research, service, and providing mentorship — is the ultimate goal of our institution,” he said.
Another highlight of the gathering was the presentation of the MTSU Foundation’s Career Achievement Award, this year going to Judith Iriarte-Gross, a professor of chemistry at MTSU since 1996 who is nationally known for her advocacy for girls and women in the sciences.
Iriarte-Gross is director of the Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center at MTSU and the founder and director of Tennessee’s first Expanding Your Horizons girls’ STEM education workshop. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
In assessing the university’s overall progress during his hourlong remarks, McPhee noted that MTSU continues making progress through its Quest for Student Success initiative to improve retention and graduation rates, accountability and affordability while “striving to become the public university that more students and parents look to for a top-rate education.”
He cited the increase in full-time freshman retention rate from 69 percent in Fall 2013, when the university first began its student success initiatives, to 76.8 percent in Fall 2017. MTSU’s efforts have become a national model, he said, with media outlets such as The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education taking note.
He commended University Provost Mark Byrnes and Vice Provost Rick Sluder for leading the retention efforts and touted a list of other achievements from across the university — from funded research to accelerated graduate programs and from athletic successes to ongoing support for student veterans.
“Our proven ability to educate graduates with the least amount of taxpayer dollars per-student is something in which we can, and should, take great pride,” he said.
McPhee also announced Thursday that the MTSU Board of Trustees earlier this summer approved his recommendation for a 1.5 percent across-the-board salary increase for employees while also approving the use of $3.7 million in state and university funds for partially implementing a compensation plan to make MTSU salaries more competitive over time.
Other address highlights:
MTSU’s new 91,000-square-foot Academic Classroom Building will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, including much-needed classroom, office and lab spaces for the Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Social Work departments. The $36 million project is expected to be completed in Summer 2020.
Renovations at Peck Hall are nearing completion and include new ceiling and lighting for the breezeways, new lighting for the corridors, refinishing of the flooring on the second and third levels, and new furnishings for the courtyard areas.
The long-running Middle Tennessee Boulevard widening project is expected to be finished in December.
Parking Services will have new facility located on City View Drive on the southeastern edge of campus, with completion expected by the end of 2019.
Alumni and supporters donated more than $12.7 million in gifts in the last fiscal year, which exceeded the previous year.
Discussions continue regarding the potential transfer of the Valparaiso University’s law school to MTSU. Such a transfer would result in an estimated gift value of $35 million to $40 million.
McPhee concluded his remarks by noting that he would be meeting with senior administrators and deans in the coming months to develop strategies for the next five years “that will differentiate MTSU from our peers and competitors.” (Read the full text of his remarks at http://ow.ly/XbcX30lwRHc)
Career Achievement Award winner
MTSU chemistry professor and nationally recognized STEM education advocate Judith Iriarte-Gross, center, proudly accepts the 2018 MTSU Foundation Career Achievement Award Thursday, Aug. 23, from MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, and MTSU Foundation President Ron Nichols, right, at the university’s Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. Iriarte-Gross, who’s taught at MTSU since 1996 and is director of the Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center at MTSU and the founder and director of Tennessee’s first Expanding Your Horizons girls’ science, technology, engineering and math education workshop. The Career Achievement Award is presented annually to a professor at MTSU and is considered the pinnacle of recognition for the university’s faculty. Iriarte-Gross also is a fellow of both the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two of the country’s premier scientific professional societies, among her many honors. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
In accepting the Career Achievement Award, Iriarte-Gross noted the importance that federal programs such as TRiO and Upward Bound played in helping a young, first-generation college student from a single-parent home enter higher education and pursue the sciences with the encouragement of teachers and mentors.
Iriarte-Gross also is a fellow of both the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two of the country’s premier scientific professional societies, among her many honors.
“I tell my students today, listen to your teachers because they see something in you that you might not see,” she said.
When she and husband Charles moved to Murfreesboro in 1996, Iriarte-Gross recalled that she noticed the absence of an EYH program for young girls anywhere in Tennessee. She went to work launching one on the Blue Raider campus that will host its 22nd edition in October and has since been joined by five other EYH programs across the state.
“We are changing the future STEM workforce for Tennessee by showing girls that they can do anything,” she said.
The Career Achievement Award is presented annually to a professor at MTSU and is considered the pinnacle of recognition for the university’s faculty. It is given at the Fall Faculty Meeting as part of the MTSU Foundation Awards, which include a variety of awards recognizing outstanding faculty members. Find the full list of winners at www.mtsunews.com.
Emmett Louis “Bobo” Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955). He was a fourteen year old African-American from Chicago, Illinois who went to stay for the summer with his uncle, Moses Wright in Money, Mississippi.
By: Lynette Monroe (NNPA Newswire Guest Columnist)
August 28th, marked the day, 63 years ago, when Emmett Till was savagely beaten and lynched in Mississippi. It is the same day, 8 years later, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech. Ten years ago, on that day, then candidate Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. On August 28th of this year, Florida elected its first Black gubernatorial candidate, Democrat Andrew Gillum.
Despite the horror of Emmett Till’s murder in 1955, August 28thhas marked a date of victory and progress for Blacks in America. Many of these victories were obtained by Blacks showing up to the polls.
However, these change-making triumphs were — and often still are — met with retaliation from those that benefit most from the status quo. Therefore, we must remain vigilant in securing unprecedented Black voter participation in the 2018 elections by exercising our constitutional right to vote — a right the current administration has failed to protect.
During the White House’s first press briefing following President Trump’s visit to Helsinki, April Ryan questioned Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about voter suppression and election meddling. The White House failed to state a clear position.
It is up to each of us as Americans to decide whether or not the United States will protect from foreign and domestic adversaries. Ensuring that our right, as citizens, to vote in free and fair elections is secure. However, history reminds us that the U.S. has a poor record of protecting those rights for all of its citizens — especially when those citizens are African Americans.
Fortunately, forewarned is forearmed. Our opponents have not changed their tactics. The enemies of justice have always known this fact that education is inextricably tied to freedom: Our right to read is as fundamental as our right to vote.
Brown vs. the Board of Education, the famous Supreme Court decision which declared school segregation unconstitutional, was rendered in 1954. In 1956, just two years after Brown, Look magazine published the confessions of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, the men acquitted for the brutal murder of Emmett Till. In the article, Milam indicated that school integration and voting rights were motives for his violent behavior.
“As long as I live and can do anything about it,” Milam said, “Niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids.”
While the tactics and techniques employed are no longer as violent and blatant as Milam and Bryant’s, the intent to suppress Black votes and simultaneously limit access to an equitable education continues into the 21stcentury.
In 2012, measured against the population, the percentage of Black voter participation surpassed that of Whites. In 2013, just one year later, the Supreme Court voted to void section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing nine, mostly southern and historically discriminatory states, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. Immediately, Texas re-enacted a previously blocked voter identification law and began making plans for redistricting.
In 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. ESSA is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and is designed to ensure access to high-quality education for all children regardless of the color of their skin, geographic location, or socioeconomic status. A major distinction between this law and earlier reauthorizations is that it grants each state the power to develop the academic standards and evidenced-based interventions that best fit the needs of their population.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s right to purge voting rollsif voters have failed to participate in recent elections and fail to respond to a notice from election officials. Nationwide initiatives to clear inactive voters from the rolls are thinly veiled attempts to reduce “widespread voter fraud,” enacted by several Republican-controlled legislatures, despite overwhelming datathat establishes that voter fraud I essentially non-existent.
Opponents of justice realize that access to education enhances the prospect that citizens will exercise our voting rights. The ethical lapses and physical violence that often arise as a result of progress in these areas is no coincidence. To combat voter suppression, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), in partnership with other civil rights groups, has launched a campaign to drive 5 million additional Black voters to the polls.
In his remarks to the attendees of the NAACP’s convention in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA President and CEO, remarked that much of what is happening in Washington, D.C. today, “is in reaction to our going to the polls and voting. Voter suppression is taking place because weare voting.”
Lynette Monroe is the program assistant for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign and a master’s student at Howard University. Her research areas are public policy and national development. Follow Lynette on Twitter @_monroedoctrine.
After the unveil of explosive reportswhereU.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, openly considered allowing schools to use federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) funding, to purchase firearms and provide firearm training to educators, members of theLeadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (TLC) have stepped in with an open letterto the same administrator—in protest.
Comprised of over 200 national organizations working together to promote and protect civil and human rights of all people, the open TLC letter was released on Sep. 17, demanding that “the department immediately publicly clarify, that ESSA funds could not be used for weapons.”
“On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights… we write to share our significant concern regarding the Department’s reported contemplation of the use of Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants provided to states under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for purchasing firearms and firearms training for school staff,” the letter stated.
Questioning the department’s intent, the letter further went on to the explore the risks of increased violence that this option could potentially cause.
“The Department’s consideration of this use for the funding is inconsistent with both congressional intent and evidence-based educational practices, working against ESSA’s purpose to ‘provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close achievement gaps.’ Having more firearms in schools would expose children and school staff to a greater risk of gun violence and make everyone in schools less safe,” the letter continued.
Inher letter to Congress, DeVos stated that she would not take “any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff,” however, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and a member of TLC, reflected that an ‘option’ such as this, should have never even been presented.
“This is whole idea is just lousy and makes no sense,” Morial said. “ESSA money should be used to by books and give disadvantaged youth a chance at better education. African Americans already face large amounts of gun violence outside of school, so to even propose such an idea is an added insult to injury.”
“School should be a safe haven for students and there is not one scant of evidence that shows children are safer around guns. The National Urban League does not want or support this,” Morial continued.
“We simply cannot afford to use federal education dollars that are intended for teaching and learning to pay for weapons that will compromise our schools and communities,” New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia wrote.
In a report done by CNN, Black Americans (particularly males), were shown to be more likely to die and to be involved with gun violence over their White counterparts, a startling statistic that the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), an legal organization devoted to fighting for racial justice,fears might spill into the classroom, should states actively pursue such an option.
“We need the department of education to immediately and publicly clarify, that ESSA funds cannot be used for weapons,” Nicole Dooley, a LDF general counsel member said. “The only thing that this option will do is place more students at risk, especially African Americans, who experience implicit bias daily. The purpose of ESSA is to improve educational opportunities, not to create more dangerous practices.”