FOUNTAIN: Black economic virtue flows one way: out of our community
By John Fountain
October 29, 2017
In African-American neighborhoods, I see a vast sea of neon-lit liquor stores often owned and operated by people who are not black - people who sell us the booze and tobacco we consume to our own cruel demise.
I see so-called beauty supply stores filled with lucrative Indian Remy hair weave mountains that contribute to our vain attempt to try to morph ourselves into a Eurocentric standard of beauty. All the while, shop clerks watch us like rude prison guards on the yard, from the time we enter the doors until we exit, as if we might steal something.
Some speak to each other in their native tongue in our presence, smirk or snicker. And you get the sense they are talking about you.
Inside nail shops, technicians wear masks while cleaning, filing and polishing the nails of patrons who inhale the fumes that rush forth like a consuming whirlwind upon entering its doors.
Across the ghetto and also the black suburban landscape, I see gas stations and convenience stores where bulletproof glass partitions separate "them" from "us" and where we slip our cash into an impersonal metal tray. I see restaurants where foreign immigrants sell us greasy fried chicken and fish, or pizza.
I see the rise of non-African-American beauty salons that "specialize" in black women's hair. Cellphone and urban hip-hop clothing stores run by people outside our community but who see our consumerism as a gold mine.
It is clear in my mind that they don't really care about us. They do not live in our neighborhoods. Nor attend our houses of worship.
And yet, they covet our green dollars - with an estimated buying power of at least $1 trillion among the collective of black America, according to a 2013 Nielsen report.
I can hear it now: "John Fountain is a racist." Yeah, whatever. ... How? Because I write what I see? Because my heart aches over the perpetual plunder of my people and the erosion of our neighborhoods while economic carpetbaggers fill their coffers and go back home?
What should I feel, say, when I sense, taste, the disdain that people of other ethnic groups have for black folks while at the same time making their living on the backs of black folks?
I also wonder whether we would be allowed to set up liquor and tobacco stores or require the exchange of currency and goods through glass partitions and metal trays. Whether it would be OK for us to refer to middle-age male customers as "bud," "boss" and "dude" instead of "sir."
What I wonder most is why we won't demand more for ourselves.
Chief of Staff John Kelly fits right in with the weirdness going on in the White House. During an interview with the provocative Laura Ingraham Monday night, Kelly praised Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, as an "honorable man."
First of all, there was no honor in slavery - period. Worst yet, Lee wasn't only a slaveholder, he was history's biggest defender of the institution. When Kelly was asked about a Virginia church's decision to remove plaques honoring Lee and George Washington, he could have punted.
Instead, Kelly went whole hog. "I think we make a mistake though, as a society and certainly as individuals, when we take what is accepted today as right and wrong and go back and 100, 200 or 300 years...It shows you a lack of appreciation for history and what history is," Kelly said.
I can't imagine him saying that about the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler.
But Kelly didn't see a problem heaping praise on Lee. "He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it's different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand."
I expect such absurd statements to come from Tiki-toting white nationalists who have come out of the shadows since Trump took over the White House. "White House Chief of Staff John Kelly needs a history lesson. The Civil War was not a disagreement between 'men and women of good faith on both sides.' It was a struggle for the soul of this country. Thankfully, the right side won the war and slavery is no longer the law of the land," said the Congressional Black Caucus in a written statement.
In 1850, Lee argued that slavery is a "greater evil to the white man than to the black race." "The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially and physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race [and] I hope will prepare and lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known [and] ordered by a wise Merciful Providence," he wrote in a letter dated Dec. 27, 1856.
It was an immoral argument then, and an even more immoral one today.
Unfortunately, Old Heads Killing Progress
By Correspondent: C. Dwayne West
November 1, 2017
These are some of the saddest and most disappointing Works of Words that I've ever had to assemble. I knew this day would come when I had to acknowledge what many have told me but I refused to accept.....because I believed, actually, I've witnessed bits and pieces of what I'm gonna reluctantly share with you, but I assumed it was a few individuals who've lost their way over the years and have never returned mentally to themselves.
The first time I was privy to see old heads in actions was during Chicago's Mayoral election in 2014. I saw my respected elders choose sides that were not the right side, in my opinion. It's their choice to decide who to support and why, but don't try and persuade the hood to follow your lead, and support who you tell us is the best candidate.
It was awful. Friends became enemies, wives and husbands have never realigned themselves, and young ambitious wanna be leaders were misled. Therefore, their judgment and wishful thinking about their elders have been damaged. It was a bad time. It brought out the real colors in most folks. I still feel the burn from that particular election.
Now here we are again, the next Illinois Governor will be selected in 2018, followed by the mayoral election in 2019. But I'm gonna stay on the current Governor's race and the other political operatives looking for victories in the March primary leading into the general election in November 2018. Let me accurately express how what I've seen so far has been sickening. And it's not the lack of voter participation that's predicted. It's not the lack of qualified candidates that we most times see.
It's about my elders who for some reason have this notion that they know what's best for their community. We, in my generation and the generation behind mine acknowledge their fight, or as I've learned, their disguise of a fight for colored people. Some have been like the spook who sat by the door, but all the time trying to remain the only spook and not bringing back the goods from behind the door. It's quite sad to see.
And this current Governor's race has demonstrated to me and others that it's the old head gatekeepers holding back not only my generation from progressing but the entire black community from building real growth.
What I've seen and heard over the past months---and going back to 2014--is so unfortunate. Because these old heads are killing black progress! And believe it or not, they know it! Until the next edition.....Peace and One Love.
Don't Let Your Projects Die When Grant Funding Runs Out
By Victoria Flint
Oct 25, 2017
Many teachers across the country are working tirelessly to personalize learning for their students. Their efforts are often part of initiatives that are funded by grants which vary in size, length, applicant type, application process and evidence required to demonstrate success.
There is one thing that all of these grants have in common: they run out. And when they do, it can derail programs that are working.
At Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, which serves students in one of the fastest-growing regions of Alaska, we use grant funding to support a number of initiatives. Over the years, we've learned some tough lessons. We've seen programs lose momentum and vanish, devices break and practitioners lose their jobs because funding expired.
In what seems like never-ending times of financial crunch, practicing financially scrappy habits has become the norm for all of us. Our school district is encouraging teachers to be scrappy and sustainable when it comes to seeking alternative approaches to keeping successful programs afloat.
We're also constantly thinking about what issues we should consider when applying for a grant, to ensure that the work can be maintained after the initial funding runs out. Here are five questions we always ask ourselves when we're deciding whether to pursue a grant opportunity.
Our district has applied for a variety of grant types in the past, including large state-level grants, funding from nonprofit organizations, and funding from private companies. Some grants are specific to a particular student population, such as English Language Learners or students who receive free and reduced lunch; others support the entire student body. In addition to the grants we've applied for as a district, we also see individual schools and teachers apply for smaller funding opportunities through crowd-funding platforms such as Donors Choose.
These grants serve a number of efforts such as improved WiFi, increased devices, new curricular programs and new staff roles. Our district has had the most experience learning about grants that support instructional tools and new jobs.
Grant-Funded Curricular Tools
Schools are starved for digital learning resources that are data-driven and support teachers in personalizing curriculum for their students. The market of viable tools is overwhelming and it's continuously growing as current research expands-but the tools are often expensive.
What Happens When Grants Run Dry?
So what does it look like when grant money runs out? In the worst-case scenario, a program dies, good people lose their jobs and the kids lose out. But sometimes the impact is less dramatic-devices start to break down one at a time, or a teacher needs to drop a lesson because there aren't enough materials for the whole class.
Classroom expenses can become black holes when it comes to materials, supplies, technology, and books; there is no escape from the ongoing costs involved with creating and maintaining engaging, organized, modern environments for learning. Many dedicated teachers take on these expenses themselves-but that isn't a sustainable solution.
Does Paying Kids to Do Well in School Actually Work?
Photo provided by The Black Star Project
By Arianna Prothero
October 17, 2017
Adults have long used rewards-or let's face it, bribes- to prod children into doing what they want. But it wasn't until the last decade that economists started looking earnestly at how educators could leverage incentives, such as gift cards, scholarship money, and in some cases cold hard cash, to motivate students to go to school and perform better on tests.
Much of that interest was driven by the higher demands for accountability that were ushered in by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001 and since replaced by Congress. With at least a decade of research now behind us, here's what's been learned about using incentives in education and how schools are deploying these ideas today.
What counts as an incentive?
Technically, anything that motivates a student to do something is an incentive. That could be as simple as putting a sticker on an aced quiz or rewarding perfect attendance with a new bike.
Researchers, however, typically focus on how financial incentives affect student behavior, and even that of teachers and parents.
What has the research on incentives in education found?
"This is something that every incentive paper starts with: the research is mixed," said Lucrecia Santibañez, an associate professor at Claremont Graduate University's School of Educational Studies.
That's true both in the U.S. and internationally, she said. How well an incentive program works depends on its design.
One of the primary architects of this work is Roland Fryer, an economist at Harvard University. In a series of experiments through the mid-2000s, he paid out more than $6 million to more than 18,000 low-income students in Chicago, Dallas, New York City, and the District of Columbia to try to improve their test performance.
The major takeaway from Fryer's research is that inducements are more likely to work if a program incentivizes things students feel they can control. In technical terms, that means rewarding inputs instead of outputs, said Jeffrey Livingston, an associate professor of economics at Bentley University.
Why are incentives controversial?
Incentives have backfired for some schools. In 2015, a New Jersey district came under fire from some parents when it announced plans to award gift cards to students for showing up to take the state's new standardized tests. The aim was to increase participation rates in the PARCC exams, at a time when parents across the country were protesting the standardized tests by refusing to have their children participate.
"If your goal is to instill a love of learning, paying students to read books doesn't really do that," he said. "It doesn't reflect a view of teaching and learning that most educators support. They don't want it to be transactional."
How are schools using incentives?
Incentives vary as much as the schools that use them-from modest to massive. The Union R-XI school district in central Missouri offered as much as $100 to students to entice perfect attendance at its summer school program. Tennessee's Shelby County district has offered Memphis Grizzlies tickets to students with good attendance. Success Academy, a charter school network, has offered small prizes, including Nerf guns, to encourage good behavior. While the research may be mixed, some school officials say they are seeing success with their incentive programs.
Raising Kathryn: Based on the True Story of a Single Father Raising His Daughter
"It was quiet now that Vanessa's funeral was over and everyone had gone back to their regular routines. I was afraid, unsure of what do, of what might happen. If something did happen, what would I do? I didn't know! I doubted my ability to do this; I had never been this confused and nervous in my life. I asked, "God what am I supposed to do?"
I started to question my faith. Why did God do this to us? Was he mad at me for something I had done years ago? And now was the time for me to answer for my sins? I didn't know, I didn't understand. I just wanted all this to be a bad dream, but it wasn't; it was real. Baby Kathryn and I were on our own."
H.K Fitzgerald was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of The District of Columbia and The Washington Bible College and Capitol Seminary. He is a former Washington, D.C. firefighter and construction consultant.
H.K. wrote the monthly news letter for a small Chicago charter school network, and he now volunteers as a high school track team parent and youth mentor.
His inspiration for writing this book was the untimely death of his wife when his daughter was a nine month old infant. He is currently working on becoming a motivational speaker, and he enjoys encouraging fathers and single fathers to stay involved in their children's daily lives and to develop healthy father daughter/son relationships. H.K. is the proud single father of a very bright, academically and athletically successful teenage daughter.
We are now recruiting people aged 55-85 to participate in a study about how the Mediterranean Diet and weight loss impacts brain function. Program begins January 2018 at Washington Park on the South Side of Chicago, (773) 893-0842