Education Means Individual Achievement

Quads celebrate UK first as all simultaneously graduate with Masters degrees from same university

Fabulous foursome! (Left to right) Tolu, Toks, Temi and Tobi have walked away with degrees and City jobs

Neighborhoods, like the lives of people, can be transformed through the commitment of public and private resources in partnership.

Weinland Park
Full-court press to transform the struggling neighborhood near OSU
Sunday, November 7, 2010 02:56 AM
By Mark Ferenchik

Two symbols of the blight plaguing the Weinland Park neighborhood soon will be reduced to dust.

A pair of brick apartment buildings, long vacant and covered with graffiti, are scheduled to be demolished Nov. 15 and replaced with as many as 12 market-rate houses.

Those 12 will be part of 72 new or renovated homes expected to be finished by the end of 2011 in a multiphase effort to revive the neighborhood at Ohio State University’s doorstep.

But the project goes beyond the houses. For example, 24 residents are being trained to help build houses there, said neighborhood leader Joyce Hughes, who lives in the same N. 6th Street home where she grew up.

For all legal citizens, education is important in order for them to become productive consumers and taxpayers. People who are disadvantaged can achieve if they receive assistance. Government can fulfill that role but private efforts can do more good because bureaucracy does not interfere with progress, which can mean funding cuts. Private organizations can also adapt more quickly to changing conditions due to flexibility. .

There is no doubt that some of the urban poor can become productive citizens if opportunity is given through private or public means. Breaking the cycle of welfare dependency should be a goal of the philanthropic sector of society. Getting individuals and families off public assistance would increase the tax base, consumption, and decrease taxes over time. The first story frames the problem; the second story tells a solution.

Black, Hispanic students dwindle at elite Va. public school

By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 30, 2010; 6:49 PM

When the Black Students Association at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology threw a pizza party in September for new members, every African American freshman on campus showed up.

All four of them.

They amount to less than 1 percent of the Class of 2014 at the selective public school in Fairfax County, regarded as among the nation’s best. “It’s disappointing,” said Andrea Smith, the club’s faculty sponsor. “But you work with what you got.”

The count of Hispanic freshmen is not much higher: 13.

Years of efforts to raise black and Hispanic enrollment at the regional school have failed, officials acknowledge. The number of such students admitted has fallen since 2005.

There are two major reasons. Admissions decisions are generally made without regard to race or ethnicity, despite a policy meant to promote diversity. And initiatives to enlarge the pipeline of qualified black and Hispanic students in elementary and middle school have flopped.

“We need to do a better job of evening the playing field,” said Richard Moniuszko, deputy superintendent in Fairfax County. “But there’s a limit to what we can do, both legally and financially.”

Isis Castro, a former Fairfax County School Board member who is now on the Virginia Board of Education, said: “The programs that we implemented didn’t work, and the communities that we were trying to help didn’t have a real seat at the table.”

Demographic mix

TJ, as the school is known, draws top students from a region with a rich demographic mix: Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties, Fairfax City and Falls Church. (Alexandria does not participate.) Together, black and Hispanic students account for about a third of all public school enrollment in those locales. At TJ, they account for less than 4 percent.

Ninety percent of TJ’s 1,764 students are of Asian descent (the largest and fastest-growing group) or are non-Hispanic white (the second-largest). Nearly 6 percent are identified as multiracial.

Like other public schools with competitive admissions, TJ screens applicants through grades and test scores. A key requirement is that students take Algebra 1 by eighth grade. Many disadvantaged students don’t clear that threshold, which presents a national challenge for science and math instruction.

Fierce competition

Competition to get into TJ is fierce. Some private companies charge hundreds of dollars to prepare students for the school’s entrance exam, a two-hour test of math and verbal-reasoning skills. For those who get in, the payoff is clear. The school has an array of laboratories in fields such as biotechnology and microelectronics, and students follow a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum that culminates in a senior research project.

TJ churns out dozens of National Merit scholars and routinely sends graduates to top colleges. Last year, the school’s average SAT score was 2184 out of 2400. U.S. News & World Report ranks it the top high school in the country.

Yet for thousands of black and Hispanic middle school students in Northern Virginia, TJ is a long shot. The overall admissions rate is 15 percent. But it’s 2 percent for black students and 6 percent for Hispanic students.

“Sometimes in class I look around and think, ‘I know a lot of people who could be here, but they didn’t know about it, or they didn’t know how to prepare,’ ” said Alexandria Sutton, an African American junior at TJ. “At my middle school, it was not advertised at all.”

Ariel Copeland, a senior at TJ, remembers reading “Beloved,” the Toni Morrison novel about slavery, in junior English. Copeland, the only black student in the class, squirmed in her seat during discussions. “It was so awkward,” she said. “I could tell people were looking at me.”

After class, some students approached her to apologize for the nation’s history of slavery. “I was like, ‘You don’t have to apologize,’ ” she said.

History teacher Melissa Schoeplein said she sometimes gives lessons on race and poverty in a classroom without any black or Hispanic students. The lack of diversity, she said, means that students “are missing out on a critical part of their education.”

TJ’s black and Hispanic seniors, like their peers, are considering a range of selective universities. Richie Hernandez is thinking about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lucia Melgarejo is looking at Duke University. Copeland likes the College of William & Mary.

Wherever they land, they are virtually certain of two things.

“We know we’ll be ready for college,” Hernandez said.

“And we know college is almost definitely going to be more diverse,” Melgarejo said.

on trial

It wasn’t always this way. For more than a decade after its founding in 1985, the school actively sought to diversify its enrollment, even if that sometimes meant admitting students with lower test scores than others. In 1997, the school admitted 24 Hispanic students and 25 black students.

That year, several federal courts struck down school affirmative action programs, and attorneys advised Fairfax school officials to end any racial or ethnic preferences. The number of black and Hispanic freshmen plummeted.

In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down a race-based undergraduate admissions policy at the University of Michigan but narrowly upheld a policy at the University of Michigan Law School that allowed the consideration of race as part of a comprehensive examination of an applicant. The majority agreed that the law school had an interest in “the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

In response, Fairfax officials tweaked the TJ admissions policy in 2004 to allow race to be considered as a factor. The change drew an outcry from some parents, who said the policy discriminated against qualified white students. Even so, the admissions rates for black and Hispanic students have been falling.

Under the policy, applicants are screened first on admissions test scores and grades. Then admissions panels, mostly teachers and administrators from other area schools, consider subjective criteria such as essays and teacher recommendations. At that point, race and ethnicity can come into play. But generally they don’t.

“The numbers are unlikely to change under the current policy,” said Judy Howard, who was the school’s admissions director from 2004 until last spring. The county’s admissions protocols promote diversity broadly but don’t put particular emphasis on race.

“We thought we’d given committee members enough latitude to consider diversity as a factor,” Moniuszko said. “But the results say otherwise.”

National trend

Across the country, a number of selective regional schools like TJ “have backed off affirmative action in recent years,” said Letita Mason, a board member of the . “It’s not popular. It’s not something they want to tackle.”

In Montgomery County, the prestigious Science, Mathematics and Computer Science Magnet Program at Montgomery Blair High School does not consider race as a factor in admissions. About 8 percent of freshmen in the program are African American or Hispanic. But those two groups account for 46 percent of enrollment countywide.

In the District, the selective public School Without Walls also does not consider race in admissions. Black and Hispanic students account for 67 percent of enrollment at the school, compared with 91 percent in the city school system.

Fairfax school officials say that diversifying TJ requires more than making admissions criteria more flexible. It means helping black and Hispanic students keep up with their white and Asian American counterparts at an early age, especially in math and science.

Since 2000, a county program known as Young Scholars has tried to recruit elementary students who might one day attend TJ. More than half of the program’s 3,776 students between kindergarten and eighth grade are black or Hispanic. Next spring, the first 30 Young Scholars will graduate from high school. Only one will be a TJ graduate.

The school’s Parent Teacher Student Association also offers free test-preparation courses for minority students. But a few years ago, the Fairfax school system eliminated another program, known as Quest, which sought to spark interest in TJ by taking minority students to the campus several times a month for science and math programs.

For now, most TJ students come from a group of middle schools that serve neighborhoods that are mostly affluent and mostly white or Asian.

“I’ve always been known as ‘that smart black girl’ – at middle school and now at TJ,” said Adrienne Ivey, a junior. “It gets old.”

Project transforms West End women

By Krista Ramsey October 31, 2010

Three years ago, LuShonda Gibson’s world wasn’t much bigger than her West End apartment.

Then a local nonprofit focused on improving the lives of girls and women offered her a rare opportunity: Become part of research projects in the West End – and become one of the researchers conducting it.

Along with nine other neighborhood women, Gibson learned to lead focus groups, collect data, recruit respondents, analyze results and prepare public presentations.

She’s been to professional conferences in Boston and Chicago to explain how the research approach works. She’s designed and found funding for her own youth development program and leads a neighborhood walking group. Community members seek her out for advice on health care, parenting and education.

Local researchers not only get her input on community issues, but use it to shape programs in the West End.

“I’ve learned how sheltered, how isolated I had kept myself,” she says. “I always had a job but it was a dead-end job, and I always talked to the same group of people. I lived those years in my shell. Now I see the changes I can make.”

Officials at Harmony Garden in Norwood, the nonprofit that employs the women, say the approach – called community-based participatory research – not only empowers women, but provides the most useful and relevant data for researchers.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” says Kathy Burklow, director of research and education. “We bring our expertise to do the training and the research, but we know nothing about the community. The residents are the experts.”

Local law schools, hospitals and universities have contracted with the agency to use the women’s services.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center researchers used the team to evaluate a survey on sexually transmitted disease and advise them on getting respondents.

“They gave us a lot of feedback on why women would participate in the study, on the wording of the survey, on how to recruit women. They talked about attitudes of the men in the community and recruited a little focus group of men,” said Dr. Jill Huppert, associate professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Cincinnati Children’s.

The women have worked on projects on payday lending practices, senior citizens’ access to health care, children’s reading habits and sexual activity among teenage girls. They are paid from $8 to $11.50 per hour for their work.

Their success at getting West End residents involved in research projects is unparalleled, Harmony Garden leaders say.

“It used to take so long to collect information. Now at every single data collection event the women hold, we have to turn people away,” says Lisa Mills, executive director.

Mills says the women’s fresh take on social issues, and on how to make research more inclusive, has made them sought-after contributors at national conferences. When the team of women and Harmony Garden researchers presented at a Society for Social Issues in Psychology conference in Chicago last year, the audience had questions for the West End women, not the researchers.

The women themselves are somewhat awed at their new skills – and growing confidence.

“This work has helped me know how important it is to take care of myself and my kids,” says Tannika Phillips. “It made me get more involved in kids’ education, how important it is to go to college. And it’s changed how I look at life. I realize I have to have patience, and to ask questions.”

As the women’s confidence has grown so have their options.

Katrina Isham moved from living in the West End with her mother to her own apartment in Kentucky.

LuShonda Gibson took her first plane ride at age 34 and went through Americorps leadership training.

Sylena Williams used her contacts through Harmony Garden to consult with well-known pediatric surgeon Dr. Victor Garcia when her daughter was born with serious health problems.

Marquicia Jones-Woods, a property manager for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, originally recruited the women for the Harmony Garden team.

“The transformation is amazing,” she says. “These were women you couldn’t get to stand up in a room to say anything. Some hadn’t worked in years. They were receiving public assistance, food stamps. Basically they were on a road to nowhere. Then I watched the light go off for them – ‘This is not the life I want to live anymore.’”

Katrina Isham agrees.

“I used to think little,” she says. “Now that I’m working for Harmony Garden, I think big.”

Blacks struggle with 72 percent rate

The Associated Press
Sunday, November 7, 2010; 12:01 AM

HOUSTON — One recent day at Dr. Natalie Carroll’s OB-GYN practice, located inside a low-income apartment complex tucked between a gas station and a freeway, 12 pregnant black women come for consultations. Some bring their children or their mothers. Only one brings a husband.

Things move slowly here. Women sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the narrow waiting room, sometimes for more than an hour. Carroll does not rush her mothers in and out. She wants her babies born as healthy as possible, so Carroll spends time talking to the mothers about how they should care for themselves, what she expects them to do – and why they need to get married.

Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. This number is inseparable from the work of Carroll, an obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women.

“The girls don’t think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do,” Carroll says from behind the desk of her office, which has cushioned pink-and-green armchairs, bars on the windows, and a wooden “LOVE” carving between two African figurines. Diamonds circle Carroll’s ring finger.

As the issue of black unwed parenthood inches into public discourse, Carroll is among the few speaking boldly about it. And as a black woman who has brought thousands of babies into the world, who has sacrificed income to serve Houston’s poor, Carroll is among the few whom black women will actually listen to.

For black men who have considered homicide after watching another Tyler Perry movie

By Courtland Milloy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 8, 2010; 5:30 PM

Can anyone name a movie that came out recently starring a black man who wasn’t a sociopath?Someone who had a terrific screen presence, like a young Paul Robeson? And he portrayed a character who was complex and fully drawn? Did he respect black women, too?

Anybody see that movie? I didn’t. But surely it’s out there somewhere, right? An alternative to those Tyler Perry films portraying black men as Satan’s gift to black women? But where is it?

Free10 wrote:
Courtland and others:
1)This book/play was written 25 yrs ago. These problems were prevalnet then and have only gotten worse.
2)There are more black (non-mixed race) men in TV and film than there are black women.
3) Will Smith has played secret agents, scientists fighting apocalyptic zombies, and a troubled super hero who turned out to be an ANGEL (who was married to blond Charlize Theron. Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Common, Mos Def, and Ludacris and other black men- have played doctors, secrer agents, family men, and GOD! There have been at least 3 movies (TV and big screen) with black presidents!
4) We have a black man as President of the USA. Our 1st black Prez is the child of an Ivy league educated African man who fathered 3 sets of kids and “dumped” them all.
5) Waiting to Exhale (1995) and For Colored Girls are the only 2 films like this is the last 20+ years. but multiple times a year black men put out rap and hip hop albums that debase, racially slur,and denigrate black women. They often release videos that reflect the same (complete with light skinned and/or long haired women as “the best”.)
6)Black men are so successful on racially slurring black women, that more than a few whites have made racists remarked and claimed they were only repeating what black men say all the time.
7)AIDS, violence, abuse, and fatherless children in black America are only eclipsed by AIDS, violence, sexual abuse, and fatherless children in Africa. Yet the culture and gender dynamics of these 2 places are HUGELY different. They have one thing in common: black males behaving badly for reasons that can’t be explained or excused anymore.
11/8/2010 10:50:37 PM

This Raging Fire

Published: November 15, 2010

…Uncle Robert (my father always called him Jim — don’t ask) died many years ago, but he came to mind as I was going over the dismal information in a new report about the tragic conditions confronting a large portion of America’s black population, especially black males.

We know by now, of course, that the situation is grave. We know that more than a third of black children live in poverty; that more than 70 percent are born to unwed mothers; that by the time they reach their mid-30s, a majority of black men without a high school diploma has spent time in prison. We know all this, but no one seems to know how to turn things around. No one has been able to stop this steady plunge of young black Americans into a socioeconomic abyss.

Now comes a report from the Council of the Great City Schools that ought to grab the attention of anyone who cares about black youngsters, starting with those parents who have shortchanged their children on a scale so monstrous that it is difficult to fully grasp.

The report, titled “Call for Change,” begins by saying that “the nation’s young black males are in a state of crisis” and describes their condition as “a national catastrophe.” It tells us that black males remain far behind their schoolmates in academic achievement and that they drop out of school at nearly twice the rate of whites.

Black children — boys and girls — are three times more likely to live in single-parent households than white children and twice as likely to live in a home where no parent has full-time or year-round employment.

In 2008, black males were imprisoned at a rate six-and-a-half times higher than white males.

The terrible economic downturn has made it more difficult than ever to douse this raging fire that is consuming the life prospects of so many young blacks, and the growing sentiment in Washington is to do even less to help any Americans in need. It is inconceivable in this atmosphere that blacks themselves will not mobilize in a major way to save these young people. I see no other alternative.

The first and most important step would be a major effort to begin knitting the black family back together. There is no way to overstate the myriad risks faced by children whose parents have effectively abandoned them. It’s the family that protects the child against ignorance and physical harm, that offers emotional security and the foundation for a strong sense of self, that enables a child to believe — truly — that wonderful things are possible.

All of that is missing in the lives of too many black children.

I wouldn’t for a moment discount the terrible toll that racial and economic injustice have taken, decade after decade, on the lives of millions of black Americans. But that is no reason to abandon one’s children or give in to the continued onslaught of those who would do you ill. One has to fight on all fronts, as my Uncle Robert said.

Black men need to be in the home, providing for their children. The community at large — including the many who have done well, who have secured a place in the middle or upper classes — needs to coalesce to provide support and assistance to those still struggling.

…Black children can’t wait for Washington to get its act together. They don’t have time to wait for the economy to improve. They need mom and dad and the larger community to act now, to do the right thing without delay.

This is not a fight only for blacks. [emphasis added] All allies are welcome. But the cultural imperative lies overwhelmingly with the black community itself.

Teaching for America
Published: November 20, 2010

…All good ideas, but if we want better teachers we also need better parents — parents who turn off the TV and video games, make sure homework is completed, encourage reading and elevate learning as the most important life skill. The more we demand from teachers the more we have to demand from students and parents. That’s the Contract for America that will truly ensure our national security.

Education Means Individual Achievement

About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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