Archives for April 2011
by Rommel Brown
Under a new proposal, AT&T and T-Mobile USA – two of the largest wireless providers in the country – would merge, combining their infrastructure and services for customers of both companies.
The plan cannot move forward without the consent of the FCC, however, and we feel that based on the benefits to consumers – particularly in Milwaukee — federal regulators should approve the merger.
It is no secret that wireless technology plays a huge role in the lives of most Americans today, and that is especially true in urban areas, where more and more residents are forgoing landlines in favor of mobile devices.
That is why it is more important than ever for consumers to have access to quality wireless services, and particularly wireless broadband Internet access.
By combining their wireless infrastructure, the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile would improve services for customers of both companies.
In cities like Milwaukee, the strain placed on wireless networks due to the volume of calls and data usage is significant, and lowers the quality of service for everyone on the network.
But added infrastructure means better network density and thus more stable, reliable coverage.
In addition, the merger would eventually lead to expansion of 4G broadband – the next generation of wireless Internet service – to over 97 percent of the country, including right here in Milwaukee.
Without the merger, tens of thousands of consumers across Wisconsin would likely be unable to obtain these services.
High-speed mobile broadband is a crucial tool in expanding educational opportunities for students and – in particular – creating new jobs.
Access to a reliable wireless network and broadband Internet is a critical component for most companies today, and improving those services in Milwaukee will help make our city a more desirable location for businesses to relocate or expand.
With a struggling economy and many Milwaukee residents still out of work, we should embrace any opportunity to create new jobs in the city.
Ultimately, the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile would be beneficial for African Americans in Milwaukee through the improvement of current services and addition of new services, while simultaneously making our city more connected and more attractive to prospective businesses.
We encourage regulators in Washington to approve this merger.
I have admitted in previous columns that I have a heavy appreciation for electronics and various forms of technology. I read Engadget web magazine to stay current on what technologies are being created, distributed and reviewed.
The sheer scope of technology is amazing. It seems as though there is an “app” for anything and everything that you can imagine. If you can’t cook, just add the ingredients that you have and press send and you will receive suggestions and detailed preparation instructions.
I was in a pinch while teaching a GED math lesson on volume, capacity and weight so I downloaded an app that turned my touch screen into a scale! Who knew!
Recently, great attention was given to the fact that iPhone and iPad usages are tracked and the information regarding where the user has been is stored for over a year.
People began to log into the embedded file in their iPhones and iPads and saw everywhere they had been in the past twelve months or from their time of purchase.
The implications of this information being stored are far reaching. Apple is not alone. When you call to order pizza the information is stored which is why when you call again they already know where you live! When you swipe your “discount card” at the supermarket, that information is used to sell you even more groceries based on your spending patterns.
Many of you, like me, might not like this reality, but the truth of the matter is that we are ALL being tracked!
As intrusive as this tracking may feel, it forces me to remember that God has a better tracking system than Apple ever will. The grocery store and library only know me by my card and wouldn’t know if someone else was holding it; but God in His omniscience somehow manages to have numbered all of the hairs on my head.
Please do not confuse counting with numbering. It would be phenomenal enough if God simply knew how many individual strands of hair were on our head, but He is so awesome that when a hair falls out, He can say without hesitation, ‘That was hair number 2,342,098.”
God tracks everywhere you have been, everything you have touched, everything you have watched, and every life you have impacted – whether positively or negatively.
Since He is the “manufacturer” of your life and the holder of the “warranties”
(also known as promises) that He has listed in the Bible – He tracks you. He tracks how you handle your marriage and nurture your children.
He tracks how you work on your job and how faithful you are in attending your church services.
He is so detailed that He can cross-reference your attendance to your prayers. He is well aware that some people don’t show up to service until they need something. As soon as things begin to go well, they disappear until the next crisis.
He not only tracks our external whereabouts, God is also able to track the internal whereabouts of our hearts. He knows what we are thinking and feeling and He is more than able to do more than you can imagine.
This week, make a decision to live life realizing that the Almighty God who sits high yet looks low. God calls you to be more concerned about His tracking than Apples’.
What does He see when He looks back over your whereabouts this year, more importantly, what will He see from this point on?
Orange County, California GOP Central Committee member Marilyn Davenport’s email blast depicting President Obama and his family as monkeys was sick, vile, and disgusting. But that was not the worst part of it.
Even her witless, dunderhead defense of the photo as just a “joke,” was not the worst part of her slur either. The worst part was the reaction of GOP officials to it.
The local party chair, Scott Baugh, appropriately blasted it as “it drips with racism” and said that she should resign. He claimed, though, that the bylaws prevent him from expelling Davenport.
But he did not call for a change in the by-laws to make expulsion possible, or even indicate when or if he would move to censure Davenport.
To their credit, some former GOP state officials did call for her expulsion. But censure or expulsion, the record stands that no action of any kind has been taken against Davenport
The non-action paled in comparison to the reaction of other GOP officials who either downplayed it as “much ado about nothing” as Davenport branded it or defended her.
Davenport is not some loose screwed, raving Tea Party haranguer. She’s a member in good standing of the powerful and well-connected Orange County GOP party machine.
In Democrat leaning California, this is not insignificant. Orange County is one of the reddest of red counties in Southern California, and a traditional bastion of GOP conservatism and GOP votes. The Orange County GOP has and can still muster tens of thousands of votes for GOP local, state, congressional and presidential candidates. GOP presidential candidates have beat a steady path to the county for decades to secure votes and money.
Davenport for her part has adamantly said she won’t resign. She would not have dug her heels in on staying at her party post if she wasn’t confident that she had the backing of more than a few party members.
Those GOP Davenport cheerleaders aren’t just in Orange County. Other party officials essentially blew off the controversy as a non-issue. This strikes to the GOP’s continuing denial, subtle or flat out stoke of the racial fires.
Davenport underlined her despicable depiction of President Obama with the caption “”Now you know why no birth certificate.”
This is just the crude, stupid, version of what would be GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s been parroting with his media grabbing and Tea Party appealing crusade to bait President Obama on his birth certificate.
It’s worked because polls consistently show that a significant minority, possibly a majority, of GOP rank and filers cling to the false, discredited, and bogus belief that Obama is a fake American citizen.
Trump would not have gotten to first base with his birth certificate ploy if these millions didn’t give credence to it.
The controversy has had enough juice to even draw Obama into it. In a recent interview he made more than a veiled reference to it when he said “we’re not really worrying about conspiracy theories or birth certificates.”
Top GOP possible presidential contenders have either been mum on the issue, sent mixed messages about the issue, or as in the case of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, gave tacit credence to the fraudulent issue. Despite the media ridicule, Trump hasn’t backed away one inch from the issue.
In a pep rally speech to a swooning Tea Party throng in Boca Raton, Florida he again questioned Obama’s citizenship.
Trump’s slur didn’t dampen the applause or enthusiasm of the crowd. Nor has it dampened the enthusiasm for him from millions of others. In the latest national poll of the names of the potential GOP presidential candidates commonly bandied about, Trump obliterated the field. Second place vote getter former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was a distant second, garnering ten percent less of the straw vote than Trump.
A straw poll that at this stage of the presidential derby tells nothing about who the GOP voters, party regulars, and party money backers will ultimately decide on. It won’t be Trump. But that’s hardly the point. The fact that a political non-entity can work up the kind of mania and media attention that he has on the strength of virtually one issue, namely Obama’s birth, tells much about the crazed state of millions of GOP voters.
Davenport’s slanderous email depiction of Obama and family, her refusal to see anything wrong with it, and the foot-drag by GOP local and state officials in California to say or do anything about it speaks volumes for GOP leaders.
Trump, Davenport, and the Orange County GOP top brass are not bizarre aberrations. They publicly echo the sentiment of a wide swath of Americans about President Obama, and that sentiment has nothing to do with any political criticism of his policies or criticism of him on the issues. Davenport’s racial belligerence on Obama and the party’s official inaction about it is just prove again that the GOP blows every chance it gets to show that it’s Obama’s policies, and not his race, that is their only concern.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is associate editor of New America Media. He hosts a national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on blogtalkradio.com and wfax.com and Internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter.
Guest Commentary by Atty. Roy B. Evans
When we think of earthquakes and tsunamis, it’s impossible to not think about he recent acts of nature that devastated and wrecked havoc on the country of Japan and its people.
Thousands dead and missing. Billions of dollars in damage; and what looked for a while like a pending nuclear catastrophe. Shock, disbelief and fear of a future uncertain. We can only pray for their recovery and survival.
However, when I think about earthquakes I can think of no more powerful a earthquake than that which occurred on the night of November 4, 2008 in Washington D.C. with the democratic election of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.
A magnitude 9.9 earthquake shook the world that night amid shouts of “yes we can” and unbridled hope of a new day in America. A Black man, married to an intelligent Black woman, with Black children. Harvard educated, top of his class, a Constitutional scholar. A church going family man of god with a moral compass and idealistic vision of what America could be.
Many proclaimed it to be Americas “finest moment” and that “we have finally overcome” and still, some said it was proof of the American dream come true.
But, amid all of the jubilation, and before he could even utter “…so help me God,” I could not help but feel the tremors of the pending aftershocks that only an earthquake of this magnitude could cause. As I shared that wonderful euphoric moment with the world, I instinctively turned to my wife and said, “You know, I just can’t help feeling that this is just the beginning of the end. Now I bet that we will get to see the real America and I fear it will be the case of another Black man hanging from a tree.”
We were vacationing in South Carolina at the time and not everyone was as happy as we were that America had elected its first Black president.
It didn’t take long before the tremors and aftershocks began in earnest with, “He’ll take way our guns and trample on our Second Amendment rights.” (The very next day the news reported an unprecedented run on gun stores across the country, which even caused some stores to run out of ammunition.)
Since we were in Charleston, the birthplace of the Civil War, I wondered if Civil War II was about to begin?
In the days that followed the tremors and aftershocks continued and began to get louder. “He’s not one of ‘us.’ He’s a Muslim and grew up in Kenya and studied at a madrasa.” (Thus giving rise to the Birther Movement.)
“He’s a socialist and we need to take ‘our’ country back.” (Thus giving rise to the racist Tea Party movement.) This orchestrated right wing backlash, stoked by the racist far right media, created a “Black man did it” hysteria that even some black folks embraced. (“I ain’t Black. I’m just human.) More aftershocks came in the form of “Obamacare,” “death panels” and, can you say “RESIDENCY”?
Making it clear in their minds that they had a mandate and “we will not budge on tax breaks for the rich,” were even clearer signs of impending doom and destruction. The utter disrespect like, “You lie” and “hell no we won’t,” directed at the most powerful office in the free world was unprecedented.
And most insidious, the notion that, “…we have to take back ‘our’ country and run it based on ‘our’ interpretation of the intent of the founding fathers.”
(Remember Blacks were property with no civil rights back then and some of the founding fathers owned slaves and collectively benefited from a slavery that gave birth to the Constitutional notion that Blacks had no rights that a White man had to honor.–Plessy v. Ferguson)
At every turn tremors of hatred and the aftershocks of unadulterated and unbridled racism followed the President every step and provoked criticism of his every word. He tried hard to appease his enemies and be politically correct by repudiating and denouncing Rev. Jeremiah Wright and throwing people like Louis Butler and Louis Gates under the sacrificial bus.
He delivered on don’t ask, don’t tell corporate bailouts but failed to go after the thieves and criminals who profited from the economic rape of America in order to appease his critics. He tried hard to deliver but it still was not enough to stop the tsunami that was to come.
History should tell us that every great earthquake has a tsunami. We did not heed the warnings. Now the floodgates have broken open making way for a race based right wing political conspiracy and power grab by the rich and powerful elite who profit by continuing to stoke the fires of fear and discontent among the masses. If Barack Obama was the earthquake, Scott Walker was surely the tsunami.
A backlash of unapologetic racist rhetoric propelled by a right wing doctrine of class warfare became the hue and cry. Days of the Constitutional intent that rights apply to everyone and are specifically directed at protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority, may now be all but over.
Scott Walker did not start the tsunami but he, without care or shame, carried the right wing tidal wave of destruction to the doorsteps of the American people.
Citizens United sealed the deal and has become a major reason for America’s current political meltdown. No more rights for unions to bargain collectively for its workers.
Deliberate reinstatement of draconian Jim Crow era voter ID (Poll Tax) legislation became a priority. Send everybody back to Mexico immigration laws inflamed racist xenophobic passions.
No more middle class. Just tax cuts for the very rich and more poverty for the very poor. We have to realize that the aftershocks and tremors will continue and that our own tsunami has just begun.
Is this the beginning of another Civil War? the gun stores are sold out and there is no ammunition. So what will our weapons be?
Didn’t Malcolm try early on to tell us something about “the ballot or the bullet?” He tried to warn us of impending tsunami but, were we really listening?
I don’t proclaim to be a Constitutional scholar but, I do know that everything I do as an Attorney gets its basis from the fundamental objectives and intent embodied in the document itself. You should take time to read it.
That being said, I personally fear and see on the horizon greater aftershocks and the real possibility of a Constitutional nuclear meltdown in the face of an unprecedented right wing tsunami that will not stop until the Constitution itself is re-written to suit the elitist needs of the rich and powerful.
Thus Barack Obama has got to go in 2012 in order for more Supreme Court justices like Uncle Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia to be appointed. Remember, the majority rules.
The aim is to justify, deliberately sacrifice and roll back 150 years of civil rights and social justice struggles of this nation in order to preserve and protect the rights being established by and for a privileged few.
Regardless of your political view of what the President has or has not done, whether he has done enough or not done enough, history will in fact be the only measuring stick we can go by.
So even in our lifetime we may never know. But, if you think Barack Hussein Obama has not been good for America, regardless of whether you are on the left or the right, what then do you think history will say about us after Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump or Hally Barbour becomes the 45th President of the United States? The aftershocks will continue to haunt us and it’s sad to say that the tsunami has just begun.
–Roy B. Evans is a Milwaukee attorney and community advocate.
President Obama releases long form birth certificate
Compiled by MCJ Staff
The signed-and-sealed Certificate of Live Birth says the president was born at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on August 4, 1961.
Wednesday’s release wasn’t the first time Obama provided documents proving his legality to lead the United States of America. During his 2008 presidential campaign, he released a standard short form copy of his birth certificate, which contained fewer details.
President Obama said he requested copies of his original birth certificate from Hawaii officials this week in hopes of quieting the controversy and eliminating the distraction, which he says has overshadowed the real issue: the debate over competing deficit reduction plans by him and the House Republicans.
The president also noted that the release of his birth certificate was consuming more news attention than that of issues surrounding the economy, gas prices and the pending White House announcement of appointments of a new Defense secretary and CIA chief.
“We’ve got some enormous challenges out there,” the president said Wednesday during a news conference. “I’m confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems like we always have. …(But) we’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we are distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.”
Despite Wednesday’s release of his long form birth certificate, the president said some skeptics and naysayers will still be unsatisfied and try to keep the issue alive.
To that he says: “We do not have time for this kind of silliness; we’ve got better stuff to do; I’ve got better stuff to do.
“We’ve got big problems to solve and I’m confident that we can solve them. But we’re going to have to focus on them. Not on this.”
Compiled by MCJ Staff
Milwaukee County Supervisor Johnny L. Thomas called Gov. Scott Walker’s recent suspension of the state’s apprenticeship programs in government contracts a “big mistake” that sends a message to the nation that Wisconsin is “closed” for small businesses.
“Gov. Walker is missing the benefit of apprenticeship programs,” Thomas said in a statement Tuesday. “These programs are a key step in revitalizing our economy, providing individuals with valuable work experience and helping them develop marketable skills.”
In March, amidst the rancorous protests at the state capitol against the governor’s efforts to dismantle collective bargaining for the states union workers, Walker quietly signed Executive Order No. 18, which suspended an executive order signed by former Gov. Jim Doyle several years ago requiring minority and women apprentices on state construction projects.
Under Doyles order (Executive Order 108), employers awarded state construction contracts were required to participate in Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program.
Many minority workforce advocates saw the apprenticeship program as the only viable avenue to employment in the construction trades for minorities and women.
As an example, Thomas noted the Marquette Interchange project, where Doyle achieved 22 percent minority labor and 18 percent Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation.
“Gov. Walker is reversing this progress and stifling economic growth and job creation,” Thomas said. “Instead of being open for business, Wisconsin is closed to small businesses, which are an economic driver for a growing economy.”
Thomas said the apprenticeship programs play a key role in revitalizing the state’s economy, providing individuals with valuable work experience and helping them develop marketable skills.
“Walker’s order targets small businesses that provide job training and opportunities. This is counterproductive to job creation and economic growth.”
The supervisor pointed to the Business Journal’s and Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Central City Awards recognizing entrepreneurs who have positively impacted the central city.
“So why would Gov. Walker want to make it harder for small businesses to develop and grow? This bad policy will compound the unemployment situation in the state and the African American community.”
Melissa Goins is a Black woman in a field dominated by white men. And, she took an interesting route to get to where she is today. With a background in criminology, she somehow has managed to parlay the skills and techniques she learned as a corrections officer to launch a successful career as a real estate developer.
Goins believes that her career in criminology helps her in real estate because part of development, is a component of law enforcement. She said that there’s a social element where you develop areas to rid it of crime and as a native Milwaukeean, she’s not as easily intimidated to go where others may not have gone before. She also believes that because she’s from Milwaukee, she has an edge because she is able to work with the people who actually live in the community.
According to the Real Estate Executive Council, the $5 trillion commercial real estate industry employs 100,000 professionals. Of those, just 36 percent are women and less than 1 percent are African-American.
With an undergraduate degree from Marquette University, Goins got involved in the profession in 2005 through Marquette University’s Associates in Commercial Real Estate program, which recruits, trains and places minorities in commercial real estate careers. Her firm, Maures Development Group LLC, later partnered with Verona-based Horizon Development Group Inc. through a mentoring program for minority developers created by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
Goins is on a mission to revitalize the community she calls home and one of her proudest moments was the grand opening of her Teutonia Gardens and Handsome Plaza project.
Goins mission is no where near complete. The sky is the limit for her and Milwaukee will be all the better for her vision, leadership and determination as she goes where few Blacks have gone before her. She is a legend.
Clayborn Benson became an award-winning photojournalist at WTMJ-TV after graduating from West Division High School during a time in Milwaukee’s history when not only where there few Blacks on-camera, but only one other Black cameraman in the city.
Benson was always interested in taking pictures, first with a still camera and then with video cameras. A chance meeting with an employee at the WTMJ television station eventually led to a job offer. He started his career in TV news and sports in 1968, during a tumultuous time in Milwaukee’s history. During his career, Benson has covered virtually every major news story in, including Ernest Lacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Miller Park disaster, plane crashes and you name it.
During his tenure at WTMJ Benson earned a reputation as a particularly dogged professional when it came to getting the story through pictures. In fact, his tenacity sometimes found him in confrontations which led to his arrest and detention by Milwaukee police offers who didn’t think a news photographer should be where they didn’t want him to be.
Recently retired after more than 39 years, Benson was considered a veteran among local TV crews. And because he covered the stories with such empathy, he’s also been known to help victims of disasters or raise money for families who faced tragedies.
Benson isn’t just interested in covering current events, more than 20 years ago he founded the Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum, which operates as a community center and a place for residents to learn about Black history. Earning his degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee while working at the TV station, he was intrigued by history and believed that it was important to have a place that focused on local history of African-Americans in Wisconsin. The museum hosts a legendary Kwanzaa celebration every year.
Both behind the camera and in front of it, Benson is a pioneer who led the way to the current diversity in television news, and he considers himself and Milwaukee all the better for it.
For more than 15 years Vanessa Key worked quietly behind the scenes as an integral part of New Concept Self Development Center (NCSDC) to make a difference in the lives of people served by the agency.
She did so under the tutelage of the agency’s co-founder, now retired June Perry. Today Key heads the agency as its Chief Executive Officer.
Key started work at the agency in 1991 as a program supervisor, was promoted to Division Manager for the Division of Family Development in 1999, and has served as Special Assistant to the CEO, prior to being named its CEO.
Key has received three degrees from Milwaukee’s higher education institutions: a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an Associated Degree in Management from Milwaukee Area Technical College, and a Master’s of Science Degree in Management, from Cardinal Stritch University.
She also received a Graduate Certificate from the Institute Program for HIV Prevention Leadership Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Schools of Public Health, based in Atlanta.
Though Key’s schedule is hectic, it’s important for her to give back to the community.
She is an active member of her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho, she serves on the King Advisory Back-to-School committee, and on the executive committee of the Black Health Coalition, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee Teen Pregnancy Prevention Oversight Committee and she was the 2006 Recipient of the Black Excellence Award.
Key is committed to making a difference in this community and she does so with a steady, quiet hand every day, as she continues to lead one of Milwaukee’s oldest Black nonprofit organizations—New Concept Self Development Center.
In an exclusive interview for the Wisconsin Black Press, Benjamin Jealous, current president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sat down with Wendell J Harris, Chair of the Education Committee of the Wisconsin State NAACP Conference of Branches.
Jealous was in sessions and addressed the membership at the Freedom Fund Dinner during the NAACP Region #3 Advocacy Training on April 14-16, 2011 in Hammond, Indiana. Jealous expressed his first-hand appreciation for the involvement of Black Press in the civil rights movement.
Harris: President Jealous, thank you for this interview. The Conference is the perfect backdrop, so to speak, to our upcoming Education Summit in Wisconsin. The sessions reiterate that we are not isolated in our fights in Wisconsin; these topics are clearly affecting African Americans from all walks of life throughout our Region #3.
As you know, I chair the Education Committee for the Wisconsin NAACP State Conference of Branches.
The Committee has continued the tradition of an annual education forum to inform and solicit the support of our members on cutting-edge issues that affect our children and their ability to receive a quality education. In more recent years, we have found much success in accomplishing these goals through an Education Summit.
Again, this year the Wisconsin State Conference of Branches NAACP Education Committee is going to use that same format. In doing so, the Committee has narrowed the focus to what we believe are the more relevant topics for the Summit’s workshops, panel discussion and keynote speaker. We would be remiss if we did not discuss the NAACP’s position on issues like budget cuts, open access or choice, and even collective bargaining and their potential ramifications for the youth—particularly our African American youth, and other minorities.
As Chair, I have been given the privilege of requesting an interview with you to hear your position on these issues as they directly impact the equity and adequacy of our educational system. With that said, I will go right to our questions.
Wisconsin’s Budget Plan. Wisconsin has become ground zero with our Governor’s new budget plan.
Will you share with the Milwaukee Community the NAACP’s position?
Jealous: Nationally and in Wisconsin, the poor did not create the recession and we cannot balance these recession budgets on their backs. We have a responsibility to be sure that those with the least have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and to help in rebuilding our economy. State budgets should help to make that possible. We are seeing a trend from the U.S. House and throughout these State budgets—even in Wisconsin—where we seem to reward corporations in these tough times with even lower taxes and sometimes with proposals coming out of the U.S. House that seem to heap the responsibility for balancing the budget on the old and the infirmed. The attempts are misguided, misdirected and a mistake.
You can look no further than across the pond to England to see what happens when you take a reactionary approach to our budget woes. The result is that you end up short-circuiting the economy even further.
HARRIS: Education and Open Access. In Wisconsin, we have School Choice options for low-income families. We have long led the Nation in this option of Choice. Our Governor ‘s budget plans also call for Universal Choice—statewide—with no income caps. For instance, families with an annual income of $1 million would become eligible for the same dollar allotment for education as families with an annual income of $10,000. These public school dollars would then be used to send their children to private—not public—schools.
JEALOUS: In Wisconsin, are school vouchers called Choice? This form of voucher system ends up becoming a subsidy for the rich to pay for their kids going to private school. And it pulls money out of the system on which the rest of us rely.
Theoretically, there is a lot more to discuss and if the vouchers were large enough, a child could attend roughly any school that the family chooses.
But that is not what we see. For the most part, what happens with the voucher approach is that the vouchers are too small to open the doors of the more elite schools for all of our children and yet large enough to poke a serious hole in the school system’s budget.
At the end of the day, we at the NAACP are opposed to vouchers. What we believe is that every child should be allowed to go to a good school and that a public school should be a great school.
We believe that our nation should be intently focused on doing that which the countries that lead the World (and even the counties that lead within a given state) do well.
And the three key things that seem to characterize those types of school districts are 1) universal Pre-K Programs where every child is truly ready to read when he or she shows up to kindergarten.
Secondly, an independent school day that provides for creating more ways to learn. We have taken shop out of schools and closed down technical schools.
In do so, we ensure that out of the five main learning styles of children, we only focus on one—the auditory. That leaves us with a large number of children who show up for school and have no courses that speak to their individual learning style.
And thirdly, we need high quality teachers. Over half of the so-called achievement gap would disappear overnight if we had a fair distribution of high-quality teachers in this country.
HARRIS: Attacks on Collective Bargaining for Public Sector Employees. I am interested in hearing your views on the attacks against collective bargaining in Wisconsin, throughout our NAACP Region and across the Country.
JEALOUS: For many of us, when we look back there was a generation in the family when the parents had a fourth grade education and the child had a college education. What often happened in between was the parent became a member of a union. You can look back and whether it was a steel workers or autoworkers or public service employees union, what transitioned many of our people from the financial prisons of poverty and opened up the doors of higher education to our children was the union movement. Dr. King was very clear that when the union movement bleeds, the civil rights movement bleeds—because we are all one movement to open up the great dream of this Country to all families—including working families.
HARRIS: Voting Rights. The issues of voting rights and social security are also key issues for the NAACP. An education piece was introduced into the schools systems around the Country by the NAACP addressing the importance of social security. More recently, Wisconsin has entertained legislation to require voter identification as another mechanism to take away voting rights in Wisconsin. Do you have a comment that you would like to share on either issue?
JEALOUS: This is a cynical and misguided attempt to restrict access to the disenfranchised. No doubt those who are pushing the concept understand that they will exclude thousands (and eventually millions as this is pushed throughout the states simultaneously) of low-income voters— disproportionally Black and Brown. It is a fine example of the worse tradition of American democracy and absolutely in line with past sins like the poll tax, the jellybean test [a fictitious estimate of jelly beans in a jar was used to eliminate Blacks during voter registration], and so forth. We are fighting this problem in North Carolina, in Wisconsin, and we will fight it wherever it rears its head.
HARRIS: Restorative Justice and Our Youth. In Wisconsin, one of my responsibilities within the Milwaukee Public Schools District is to facilitate community restorative justice circles with the idea of finding ways to help young people restore themselves in the community. We use these opportunities to introduce them to tools that allow them to resolve conflicts among themselves and with the goal to reduce the suspension rate in our schools system. We know that if a child is not in school, he or she cannot learn.
JEALOUS: We are deeply concerned with the widespread overuse of suspensions and expulsions across the Country. We are inclined to support any serious alternative to these processes. To this end, we will support restorative justice processes, especially when the approach is that children become grown up in ways that allows them to learn to be a part of the solutions in their lives.
HARRIS: Thank you, again, so very much for this interview on behalf of the Wisconsin NAACP Education Committee Education Committee and the Black Press around the Country. For I know your appreciation for Black press.
JEALOUS: Yes, my past is heavily rooted in the work of the Black press. [Jealous is formerly the Managing Editor of the Jackson Advocate.] One that will always remain with me is the involvement of the Black Press in my efforts to stop a Mississippi governor from turning a historically black college into a prison. Those of us who really care about ensuring that all of our children have access to a great education, realize that the NAACP, the Black church, and the Black Press working together, can, should and have been a great force for all of our children.
The NAACP Regional Education Committee adopted the Wisconsin model to be implemented throughout the seven-state Region after being charged with developing an advocacy plan to gain support for public school districts in the respective states.