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october 21 - 27, 2013

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EDUCATION EDITION 2013

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Raise the Age NY Campaign Calls on Gov. Cuomo to Treat Youth Like Youth
By Delani Weaver New York and North Carolina are the only two states in the nation that still charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for crimes. An estimated 50,000 16and 17-year-olds are arrested in New York each year, whether for a felony or misdemeanor, and once theyre arrested they are prosecuted as adults. If they are found guilty and sentenced, theyre sent to adult correctional facilities. A press conference was held Wednesday morning at the Center for Youth on Monroe Ave., where several city of Rochester supporters of the Raise the Age NY campaign called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other legislators to change the age of children who are charged as adults to 18 when a crime is committed. The Childrens Defense Fund of New York is leading the efforts. There were several speakers at the event, including The Childrens Agendas president and chief child advocate Dr. Jeff Kaczorowski, Carlos Garcia, executive director of Partners in Restorative Initiatives, Colin OMalley, organizing director of Metro Justice, Melanie Hartzog, executive director of Childrens Defense Fund of New York, and George Moses, executive director of North East Area Development Inc. City Councilmember and executive director of the Center for Youth Elaine Spaull was also one of the speakers at the press conference, an event that was attended by over 50 supporters. We have been trying very hard to convince people across the state that New York is only one of two states across this country that still prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, no matter what the crime, Spaull said. It could be shoplifting or it could be first time possession, it could be criminal mischief. Whatever it is, they would be prosecuted as adults and possibly, more than likely, if they did have to go to jail they would be in an adult facility. Approximately three out of every four arrests of juveniles, which account
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LOCAL

for 75.3 percent of arrests overall, are for misdemeanors. In the city of Rochester, 2,245 16- and 17-year-olds were arrested in 2010 alone, 88.1 percent for misdemeanors and nonviolent offenses. According to campaign advocates, placing young teenagers into adult facilities leads them to commit new and more serious crimes once they are released more often than those who are kept within the juvenile justice system. In the past twenty years, we have become afraid of our own children, believing that locking them up is the best response, said Spaull. Now, we realize that we have created a system that can change the course of a young persons life, reduce their options and set them on a path of further involvement with the criminal justice system that we certainly did not intend. Age-appropriate interventions will serve our youth and our community much better. The campaign is stressing to the governor and legislators that the adult legal system fails to provide children and teenagers with the effective interventions and services to which they are most responsive. Children placed in adult facilities are subject to being victims of violence and denied the treatment to redirect them, officials said. Studies show that youth in adult prisons are twice as likely to report being beaten by staff, and 50 percent more likely to be attacked with a weapon than children placed in youth facilities. Young people are also 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult facility than in a juvenile facility. The community here in Rochester and around the region recognizes that 16and 17-year-olds lack the cognitive and emotional maturity needed to legally purchase alcohol; vote; get married; or even get a tattoo, said Angelo Pinto, Raise the Age campaign manager at the Correctional Association of New York. Yet, our state allows these same young people to be questioned by the police without parental consent,
editorial staff
Lisa Dumas Delani Weaver

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incarcerated alongside adults in adult jails and prisons, and permanently stigmatized with the mark of a criminal conviction. It is time to do what works for both young people and public safety: Treat youth like youth, and raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York. Spaull said that Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley is in support of the call for change, but has some concerns. Shes apprehensive about the idea for young adults who are violent offenders, Spaul said. For example, if you have a 15-year-old like Michael Pilato, who started a fire on purpose, as an arsonist, and it killed three of his siblings and his father, shes not interested in having that person be treated as a child. So with non-violent offenses, shes totally in agreement. Were more focused on the age of the person rather than the crime, but we understand that a violent offense is quite different than a misdemeanor or a lower-level felony. The original intent of our criminal justice system was not solely to punish, but to transform and rehabilitate offenders while protecting the community from harm, Doorley said. Children entering that system, however, can be crippled by the experience, re-entering society scarred and alienated, posing a greater threat
Diane Watkins Mike Dulaney Davy Vara Ayesha Kreutz

to the community than they were prior to their original offense. Any proposed changes to current law will require the careful scrutiny of those of us involved in law enforcement as well as all New Yorkers, but I applaud the Childrens Defense Fund and my colleague Kathleen Rice for taking up this cause and beginning the discussion surrounding this important issue. Kyle Chambers is a formerlyincarcerated young man from Rochester who committed a crime, was charged as an adult and served time in an adult facility. Chambers recently graduated from the Center for Youths New Beginning school program, is employed and plans to attend college in the winter semester. As a 16-year-old, surrounded by grown men in a locked facility, with no way to defend myself, and knowing that these men could seriously hurt me, that was a nightmare and something you can never imagine, he stated. Even worse than you see on television. Serving time in an adult facility was a life-threatening experience. There was no justice. I didnt know myself when I got out. I was frightened and angry. If I had not found the Center for Youth, I would likely be incarcerated or dead now. Being incarcerated at the age of 16 almost ended my life.

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4 www.minorityreporter.net | october 21 -27 | 2013

New Contract Give Teachers and Schools More Flexibility


Rochester City School District teachers will be getting raises and schools will have more wiggle room for negotiations in the terms for special academic programs after a new twoyear contract was signed by the school board. We wanted to give schools the opportunity to tailor the school to the needs of the students without begging for permission, said Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski. This is more autonomy and more flexibility than schools have in other districts in America. The board voted Tuesday night, approving the contract 5-1. The contract will expire in June of 2015. There will be a 3.2 percent pay raise, according to the signed contract for the RCSDs 3,100 teachers, including standard step increases built into teachers contracts. The athletic coaches stipend will be raised by $500, making the pay equal to that of some suburban districts. In addition, contract provision changes can now be made by individual schools, excluding salary, benefits and due process rights which will allow them to change school leadership, add specialized programs or lengthen the school day. Urbanski said that could open the door for a teacher-led school, where the ultimate decision is made by the teachers rather than a principal making all the decisions for the teachers. The contract will have changes for the students as well. Early dismissals on Wednesdays will be eliminated, 300 hours of instruction time will be added to five schools, 200 hours will be added to 13 schools and two schools will have flexible scheduling. The number of hours for those two schools has not been determined. A full week of instruction time over the school year is the result of the additional class time. Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said the contract continues the stable, effective working relationship with teachers who are the front lines of our relentless focus on improving student achievement. Longtime board member Cynthia Elliott opposed the contract, stating that she believed the board shouldve taken more time to consider the contract for savings. I figured it was an opportunity to come up with a fresh contract and really look at the issues that are facing the district and that our parents are concerned with, Elliott said. This contract and contracts we have done in the past have given too much control to the union.

LOCAL

Parent Leadership Group and League of Women Voters Partner to Introduce Rochester School Board Candidates to Voters
By Delani Weaver Rochester City School District (RCSD) had the lowest graduation rate and the lowest state test scores than any other school district in the state. The upcoming school board election in November will one of the most important school board elections in recent years. The Greater Rochester Parent Leadership Training will be sponsoring a forum in partnership with The League of Women Voters to make sure that the Rochester community is well informed before casting their votes. The forum will be at the Downtown Presbyterian Church on Fitzhugh Street, October 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The candidates for school board will be present to inform the community about whats going on with the school district and address any questions or concerns attendees may have. Candidates will explain what a school board does, the roles and duties of each person involved and the solutions that they propose for the RCSD issues and shortcomings. Attendees will need to register by phone or email by October 20 and childcare will be available.

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LOCAL

Cant Get a Student Loan? Apply for a Grant


Grants - Undergraduate What is a grant? A grant is money given to students that does not have to be repaid. In order to be considered for grant money awarded by the federal government, you need to complete the FAFSA application each year. If you are interested in finding out more information about the FAFSA, such as how to apply and deadlines, please view the Applications and Deadlines page. Federal Grants Federal Pell Grant The foundation of Federal Student Aid, awarded to eligible undergraduate students working toward their first bachelors degree. Students eligibility is based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as it was calculated from information provided on the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students with lower EFCs have greater financial need. Thus, the neediest students are eligible for larger Federal Pell Grants. Conversely, as students EFCs increase, there is less financial need, and the award amount of the Federal Pell Grant decreases. The amount of the Federal Pell Grant may be prorated based on a students enrollment status (full-time, part-time, full academic year attendance or less). Unlike many other types of aid, students who are enrolled less than half-time may be eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award amount is $5,550 and the minimum award amount is $277. New York State Grants NYS Aid for Part-time Study (APTS) APTS is a grant program funded by New York State and is available to matriculated, part-time, undergraduate students who meet certain eligibility requirements. Generally, to be eligible to receive APTS a student must: Be working toward an undergraduate degree as a part-time student taking a minimum of three (3), but less than twelve (12) semester credit hours; Be a resident of New York State; Be either a US citizen, permanent resident alien, or refugee; Meet the income limits (taxable income less than $50,550 for a dependent student or an independent student with dependents. Taxable income less than $34,250 for an independent student without dependents); Not have exhausted Tuition Assistance Program eligibility; Have a tuition charge of at least $100 per year (after employee reimbursements and related grants); Not be in default of a Federal Direct Stafford Loan or Federal Family Education Loan; Must have a GPA of at least 2.0; and Submit all documentation by the published deadline. Applications for APTS are available in the financial

aid office and online during the month of August and are generally due six weeks into the semester for which you are applying. APTS is not available for the summer semester. NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) The TAP grant is processed by the Office of Student Accounts. To find out more information concerning the NYS TAP program or other types of New York State aid, please visit their website or reach them by telephone at (585) 395-2473. Information from The College at Brockport

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University of Rochester to build $50 million data science hub
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ The University of Rochester says it will spend $50 million on a new Institute for Data Science. The university in western New York announced plans Friday to construct a new building for the institute and hire up to 20 faculty experts in the field. University President Joel Seligman says data science is the top priority in the universitys five-year strategic plan adopted by the board of trustees last week. Data science combines analytic techniques with improving computer capabilities to extract useful information from the enormous amounts of data created every day. Henry Katz, chair of the computer science department, says Rochester researchers are already using data science to do things like predict the spread of infectious disease, track the popularity of political ideas and understand consumer preferences.

Extraordinary Academic Scholarships For US Students


These dollar amounts are for fall/ spring 2013 2014. The College at Brockport reserves the right to limit the number of scholarships awarded each year. Extraordinary Scholarship Eligibility Table Presidential Scholar-in-Residence Freshmen who have a high school average of 93 or higher, ranking in the top 20% of the class, and a 1200* or higher SAT or 26 ACT score are eligible for a grant providing partial room for four years, with a top value of $18,000. On-campus residency is required. Deans Scholar-in-Residence Incoming freshmen are eligible for this award, valued at $9,000 over four years, if they are in the top 25% of their class and have a 90 or higher average and 1100* or higher SAT or 24 ACT score. On-campus residency is required. Scholar Recognition Award for Out-ofState Students This award for freshman offers a scholarship valued at $4,000 per year for out-of-state students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement throughout their high school program. On-campus residency is required. Please note: Out-of-state students who are awarded the Scholar Recognition Award can also receive the above Presidential or Deans Scholarship as long as the student meets the academic requirements for one of those awards. *The SAT minimum requirement is based on the critical reading and math scores. The SAT writing score will

not be used as a determining factor for College at Brockport scholarship eligibility.

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COVER STORY

RCSD Youth Development Director Says 3300 Kids Out of School Every day is Unacceptable
Jerome Underwood Says 3000 Kids Out of School Every day is Unacceptable By Delani Weaver There are 30,000 students currently enrolled in the Rochester City School District (RCSD). Every day, there are thousands of students who dont go to school. Although that may not seem like huge issue when compared to 30,000 students, however, when you look at RCSDs terribly low exams scores and graduation rates, the question is how much does actually going to school and being in class account for these results, or lack thereof. Jerome Underwood, the districts senior director for Youth Development and Family Services is pushing an initiative to get kids in school and keep them in school. Its a big issue for us. Last year, we had an improvement last year in what we call average daily attendance. We went from, in 2011-2012, 87.7 percent average daily attendance to 89.4 percent. Thats where we ended the school year, last year. Now with a 30,000 student enrollment, if were at 89.4 percent, that leaves 11 percent not at school, thats where youll hear me say, theres 3000 kids who dont come to school every day. Its an astonishing number, its an unacceptable place to be. Underwood said there have been several studies showing how absenteeism can damage the probability of a student graduating on time or at all. The districts goal is to have average daily attendance at 95 percent. Its not reasonable thinking that everyones going to be there every day, Underwood. Sometimes we dont want kids at school because they are ill and they are contagious. Our goal is to have average daily attendance at 95 percent. Right now, we have several elementary schools above the 90 percent average. High school is in the 80s. Its a very challenging goal but were setting high expectations because we know that is one of the primary things thats going to aid and improve student achievement. Absenteeism is analyzed by two categories. Chronic absenteeism is described as a student missing 10 percent of school, excused or unexcused. Severe absenteeism is having missed 20 percent of school, excused or unexcused. This does not include holidays, severe weather days or district mandated school days off. Theres, on average, 180 school days. Missing 10 percent of that 180 days is 18 days. 10 months out of the school year, pretty much youve missed two days a month. Thats chronic absenteeism. If you miss 20 days of school, thats a month of school. If you miss ten percent of school or more, the odds of you graduating on time go down significantly. According to Underwoods research, in the 2012-2013 school year, over 14,000 students that missed 10 days or more, whether excused or unexcused. 7,000 students missed 20 days or more. Its very very hard to catch up. So theres a direct correlation between that and achievement. Thats why were trying to have every student in school, every day. We have to get the awareness out there. Underwood said these are not just high school students that account for these high numbers. Its across the board. We have significant numbers of our elementary school kids from kindergarten, first, second, third and fourth grade who are in that population. For me, if you in one of those grades I just mentioned, youre not being truant. Theres an adult issue, thats not allowing our students to come to school. Its a reach out to the parents. Our families, unfortunately, face some significant challenges as far as we know. There are issues that theyre facing that are rendering some, not all, but some of the adults in the home paralyzed. Domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, incarceration and homelessness are just a few of the reasons that account for why so many children are missing every day from school, according to Underwood. He and his team are trying to connect the families that are having problems with the agencies that are available to provide the help they need. The adults are facing these issues and it has a trickledown effect on the kids. If were getting evicted tomorrow and Im running around trying to figure out where were going to live, its a highly likely that my focus isnt going to be getting my children to school. So what were doing with our attendance initiative, we are working much closer with a lot of the agencies in Rochester. Agencies such as Rochester Housing Authority, Alternatives for Battered Women, United Way, Urban League, Action for a Better Community, Boys & Girls Club, Ibero and Big Brother, Big Sisters. Were going out knocking on doors looking for kids. When those doors open were hearing a number of things that are largely adult issues. What we want to do, we being the school district, we want to be able to refer our families to whichever agency their story aligns with so we can say listen, we want you to send little Jerome to school so he can continue to be educated, while simultaneously dealing with whatever the issue is. Underwood said its time to go beyond the schools and homes to get the word out that children need to be in school. Hes now reaching out to the local churches, urging them to have an Education Sunday. He said the conversation can be had anywhere, as long as its had. We need to spread that word. Its really not acceptable for so many of our children to not be in school. We want to do some outreach to our churches to have that conversation on the pulpit about attendance. Church leaders can express the importance of having kids in school every day. Its a difficult conversation sometimes because thats on us, the adults that live in this community. It could be at a barbershop or a nail shop. If you have children come in at 11 oclock in the morning, maybe you should encourage them to come back when school is done. It take a village to raise a child is the concept behind Underwoods efforts. He said the district cannot keep children coming to school every day on their own. It will take the district, parents, the community and the agencies. With social services, were encouraging them and they have agreed to have that conversation with families as they interact with them. For example, if I go to the Rochester Housing Authority, someone asks, how many kids do have in the school district? How is their attendance? Just have the conversation. The district conducts monthly attendance blitzes where staff and community volunteers visit different homes asking parents and guardians why their student isnt in school.

What's in your medicine cabinet?


Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Being informed is your best defense.
Dont share your prescriptions. Know the signs and symptoms of abuse. Properly conceal and dispose of old or unused medications. For dates and locations of pharmaceutical waste collection sites located near you, visit www.monroecounty.gov/hhw.

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To learn more or to schedule a presentation, contact NCADD-RA at (585) 719-3489.

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9 www.minorityreporter.net | october 21 - 27 | 2013

COVER STORY

Underwood said the focus is on elementary and middle schools that have the poorest attendance records. We, the school district are accountable for these students. Some of them have moved away, moved out of state, but they didnt tell us. In order for us to remove them from our records, so to speak, we have to have valid documentation of their enrollment in another school district. So the paperwork has to catch up. Im not saying that is the case for all of the missing students, but some. Im talking to principals about the absent students and the no show students (students who have been to school all year). Im asking, how many students arent in school, have you talked to their parents. Home visits are very important to try to get to the root cause of absenteeism. For chronic or severe absenteeism, Im asking, have you been to that house, have you been in that house? While elementary and middle schools absenteeism can be regarded as an adult issue, the same may or may not be true with highschoolers. Its never all of nothing because we know that for some of our high school students are taking care of themselves when mom or dad or guardian leaves home for work before the student leaves for school, so they sort of

Graph as of so far this year. Red = less than 90% Green = 90% - 92.9 % Yellow = 93% & above have some independence. In some instances, some of our students are making bad decisions, however not all of our students are making bad decisions, we know that. When asked whether or not suburban school districts have better attendance than RCSD, Underwood said yes. When asked why, he had this to say: I dont have specific numbers but unequivocally yes. The number of students that we have missing every day, is almost double the number of enrollment at East Rochester High School, East Rochester District. Were so large. But the number of the absenteeism that we is much higher and were convinced that the parental involvement and the socio-economic challenges that our families face are the two primary reasons why. Issues that most suburban school districts dont face. Underwood said the school district has daily data that gives principals and Underwood himself, the details of absenteeism, right down to the student that is absent. We have great data. Daily data that gives us a good idea of what our attendance is. But data is only good if you do something with it. We use this data to track our student enrollment and attendance. At the end of the day, we know that a good and proper education can change the outcome of someones life immensely. We know this. But they have to be in school for that to happen.

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STATE
Martin Luther King papers to be auctioned in NYC
NEW YORK (AP) _ Papers from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including a page from his ``I Have a Dream speech, were being auctioned in New York on Thursday. The papers were being sold by Maude Ballou, 88, who worked as Kings secretary from 1955 to 1960, through the New York office of Texas-based Heritage Auctions. Some of the more than 100 items are so unusual that its difficult to put a value on them, said Sandra Palomino, director of historical manuscripts for Heritage Auctions. ``Were really relying on letting the market decide what the value is going to be, Palomino said. The materials include a handwritten letter King sent to Ballou while touring India in 1959 to learn more about Mahatma Gandhis campaign of nonviolent resistance. Another item is a typed final page of Kings ``I Have a Dream speech, according to the auction house. The page was sent to Ballou on Jan. 31, 1968, weeks before King was assassinated, by Lillie Hunter, bookkeeper for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Kings estate sued the secretarys son, Howard Ballou, in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss., in 2011 in a bid to take possession of the items. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee dismissed the lawsuit in March, saying there was nothing to contradict Maude Ballous testimony that King gave her the material and that the statute of limitations had passed. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the decision based on the statute of limitations. Kings estate, operated as a private company by his children, is known

to fight for control of the King brand. Harry Belafonte sued the estate this week in Manhattan federal court over the fate of three documents he tried to sell at auction. Ballou, of Ridgeland, Miss., told The Associated Press last month that selling

her collection was bittersweet. She said a portion of the proceeds would be used to establish an education fund at Alabama State University.

New slate of NY education forums scheduled


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ New York Education Commissioner John King Jr. has announced a series of 12 forums on the new Common Core learning standards and other reforms. King announced the forums Friday. Hes faced criticism since an earlier decision to cancel a slate of PTAarranged appearances after one in Poughkeepsie last week devolved into a shouting match. King says future forums will include Board of Regents members and will be moderated by state legislators in school districts around the state. The first will be in Albany Oct. 24. Kings been criticized all week by parents, teachers and lawmakers for canceling the first forums. They were meant to address the states implementation of the more difficult learning standards and the states controversial decision to immediately use them as the basis for standardized tests.

NATIONAL
Financial Aid Required Applications
How do I apply? The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to determine eligibility for federal and state financial aid programs. You are encouraged to file your FAFSA electronically at www.fafsa.gov What is a PIN? The PIN is your identifier to let you access your personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems and serves as your electronic signature. w w w. p i n . e d . g o v / P I N We b A p p / pinindex.jsp When do I apply? The recommended deadline is March 15th for new or summer students and April 1st for returning students. Any supplemental forms requested by our office should be submitted by May 1. Student applicants meeting this deadline should have their financial aid package prior to the admissions deposit deadline or before summer school begins. Applications or forms filed after these deadlines will continue to be processed on a first-come, firstserved basis until funds are exhausted. New York State Application for the Tuition Assistance Program: If you are a New York state resident, you are eligible to file the TAP application if you listed a New York school on your FAFSA. The application link is available after you submit the FAFSA. If you miss the link, you may either go to the TAP on the Web or wait for the application to be mailed. The deadline for TAP is May 1 of the academic year for which aid is sought (Example: for 2009-2010, application deadline is May 1, 2010). Proof of high school graduation requirement: *Is required for all students wishing to receive federal or state financial aid. *A final high school transcript showing date of graduation or a copy of a Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED) must be sent to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as soon as possible to facilitate the financial aid process.

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12 www.minorityreporter.net | october 21 -27 | 2013

NATIONAL

Study: 15 percent of US youth out of school, work


By PHILIP ELLIOTT WASHINGTON (AP) Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday. Thats almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report. Other studies have shown that idle young adults are missing out on a window to build skills they will need later in life or use the knowledge they acquired in college. Without those experiences, they are less likely to command higher salaries and more likely to be an economic drain on their communities. This is not a group that we can write off. They just need a chance, said Mark Edwards, executive director of the coalition of businesses, advocacy groups, policy experts and nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing economic mobility. The tendency is to see them as lost souls and see them as unsavable. They are not. But changing the dynamic is not going to be easy. The coalition also finds that 49 states have seen an increase in the number of families living in poverty and 45 states have seen household median incomes fall in the last year. The dour report underscores the challenges young adults face now and foretell challenges they are likely to face as they get older. A young persons community is often closely tied to his or her success. The Opportunity Nation report tracked 16 factors Internet access, college graduation rates, income inequality and public safety among them and identified states that were doing well for its young people. Topping the list of supportive states are Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota. At the bottom? Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico. Their destiny is too often determined by their ZIP code, said Charlie Mangiardi, who works with Year Up, a nonprofit that trains young adults for careers and helps them find jobs. We have the supply. We dont have a lack of young people who need this opportunity, Mangiardi added. Just look at some of the nations largest cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, Calif., all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the Opportunity Nation report found. Often times they lack the social capital in life, Mangiardi said. Theres a whole pool of talent that is motivated, loyal and hardworking. They just cant get through an employers door, he added. Thats why Year Up spends a year working with high school graduates to teach them career skills such as computer programming or equipment repair they can use when the program ends. It also includes life coaching so they can learn skills such as time management. More than 4,500 young adults from urban areas have completed the program and 84 percent of them have found work. But its a far tougher time for other young people. In Mississippi and West Virginia, 1 in 5 young people are idle higher than their older neighbors. Mississippi has an overall unemployment rate of 8 percent, while West Virginia posts about 7 percent. Like most states, they saw their unemployment rate fall since 2011, but researchers caution that shift could come from fewer residents looking for work and from more who had simply given up their search for jobs. And its not as though the challenges emerge from nowhere. Quality early childhood programs help students from poor families overcome societal hurdles, and on-time high school graduation rates often follow quality schools other factors Opportunity Nation examined in its report. A lot of times we dont want to look at data because we dont want to be depressed, said Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa. But its an uncomfortable reality that needs to be addressed, he said. Using previous years reports from Opportunity Nation, Denson helped rally community organizations in his city to develop a pilot program to help students as young as 14 find summer work. When we got the index, it really allowed us to use it as a rallying point for all of the community-based organizations we work with to say, Look, this is what the world sees when they look at Iowa, he said. Starting next summer, Des Moines students will be placed in paying jobs, part of a citywide collaboration to help its urban communities. It will help older adults, as well, because crime rates are expected to fall, he said. If theyre not in school or at work, Denson said, theyre not usually doing something positive.

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14 www.minorityreporter.net | october 21 -27 | 2013

OPINION/EDITORIAL
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of Minority Reporter.

Lessons to Learn
Over the past several weeks there had been talk of the approaching fiscal cliff that was looming over our economy. There had been talk back and forth, C. MICHAEL VAUGHN and people were blaming each other. And then, low and behold, our president and Congress came up with a worthless plan at the eleventh hour! I do hope that those following what was going on were not happy with the outcome. Because whether or not you believe in the side that says, Lets tax those who have earned their money legally the most, or the other side that says, Lets cut the tremendous amount of spending, our government has failed us. Why do I say they failed us? It is because they did not solve the problem. They just pushed the rock down the road for two more months so that they can come and use their rhetoric again, and get the country in an unnecessary uproar. What has happened in the governing of our nation is that people are afraid to do what is right. However, lets look at the lessons we can learn in what has been done and continues to be done. Unfortunately, the lesson to be learned from this president and this Congress is what not to do. Anyone who is running a home and/or raising children can look at our national leaders and see what not to do if they want to be successful. Our nation is being governed horribly by an inept president and an inept Congress. Good leaders dont blame everyone; good leaders try to make a difference and are willing to tackle hard problems. I am proud that we have a black president, but I would not tell any of my children to follow the example Barack Obama sets. He does not lead. And, in the last election, he showed that he has bought into the victim mentality that plagues our country. He kept blaming a man for his failures who had not been president for four years. That is no way to lead! Congress refuses to lead in that they do not put forward ideas that will help move our country forward. They squabble and talk down to each other while our nation and its welfare hang in the balance. In Congress, there are some of the most selfish people you may want to meet. They can only be described as selfish when they look out for their own interests instead of the interests of those they were elected to represent. What I would teach my children is to look at our president, look at our Congress, and do all they can to never allow power and special interests to compromise their core beliefs. I would tell them to never allow their personal interests to outweigh the interests of the people they are leading. I learned from an early age what self-sacrifice meant. My mom would put herself last in order to ensure that her children were taken care of and had what they needed. She did not dress in the finest clothes or drive the finest vehicle, she took care of those that were in her care first and then took care of herself later. That is the lesson that needs to be taught today. People have gotten so selfish; they do not care what happens to the other guy. They probably say to themselves, As long as I am taken care of; who cares about you? That is the mentality that our president and Congress have taken on for many years, and it shows a tremendous lack of leadership for the people of America. People would have much more respect for a politician that was willing to do what was right, even if it meant that he or she would not get re-elected. Getting re-elected is selfish; doing what is right is putting the people you represent first. So, the lesson to be learned from the lack of leadership we see from our president and Congress is, one should not be selfish in order to get the right things done. Do what is needed in order to solve the entire problem, do not try band aid approaches that have no true lasting value. Be willing to make the hard decisions, even if it means that you will not be well-liked. There are many lessons to learn, we just have to put the word not in front of what we see our national leaders doing. If you would like to contact me, please email me at mvaughn.seniorpastor@ newwineskin.org

STRAIGHTno chaser

Support for Drug Free Zones


Lets face some truth for a change. Many of our neighborhoods are plagued with street-level drug dealers who have taken over houses, blocks, corners and, GLORIA WINSTON AL-SARAG in some cases, whole streets. In my opinion, they are no more than home-grown terrorists, and many neighbors are at a loss when it comes to what can be done about them. Personally, I dont believe that eradicating drugs from our community is ever going to happen, totally. There is too much supply and demand. Drugs are not new; however, its the disrespectful uncaring and threatening way they are being sold that should not be tolerated. I think the so-called war on drugs is a farce, and only seems to target brown and black people. The so-called war tends to legitimize why so many brown and black men are incarcerated and away from their families and children. But, before someone gets it twisted and says Gloria supports drugs being in our community, let me set the record straight. I dont support drugs, or the people who sell that kind of death in our community; but I do understand why selling drugs becomes an option for those who have no education. They may have dropped out of school or spent enough time in prison to be convinced this way of life is acceptable. What I do support are people with solutions who are putting their feet in motion, not just their mouths. Recently, Councilman Adam McFadden, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, proposed legislation that has the potential to put a dent in the areas where drugs are sold in our community. As a community, we need to support his efforts. It is a good beginning. It is an indication that he is not just sitting on his hands or writing and speaking about the problem. He actually wrote legislation that can help remove these drug-dealing terrorists from our neighborhoods. Drugs are not new. Drugs have been around since the beginning of time. The thing that is new, however, is the blatant disrespect families and children have been shown by the perpetrators who think they have a right to change the lifestyles of those living near or in their market area. These terrorists instill fear, and many people are afraid to leave their homes at certain times of the day or night. Drug dealers have no problem increasing traffic, blocking traffic or threatening those who may eyeball them. So, the legislation Adam proposes is a good thing. But, what disturbs me greatly is how it has been received by naysayers; those critics who have more mouth than anything but do nothing to solve the problem. Some folks sit on their rusty, dusty behinds waiting for others to take action, just so they can tear it up. Some walk around pounding their chests, dressed in suits and ties, carrying briefcases; and they are impressed with their education and job titles, but do absolutely nothing to improve the community. I have always believed that people who dont know how to build anything are always tearing something down. That is not the case with my embattled surrogate son Adam McFadden. He has come far, is not afraid to get his hands Contd on next page

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15 www.minorityreporter.net | october 21 - 27 | 2013

OPINION/EDITORIAL
Media Literacy is one of the most crucial skills we can give our children to navigate the 21st Century. Few would argue that Carvin Eison traditional literacy reading, writing and arithmetic is important. But in todays world, our academic core curriculum must be augmented with digital literacy that teaches children the dual skills of how to decode and understand digital messaging, and how to produce digital messaging. We live much of our lives online. We pay bills, purchase tickets, secure reservations, play games, apply for jobs and gather information electronically through computers, cell phones and tablets. Information comes at us 24/7, 365 days a year. It is as important that our children know how to decipher the authentic and accurate from the false, and even dangerous messaging disseminated digitally as it is for them to read, write and do math. They must learn how to create their own electronic communications through blogs and vlogs, electronic newsletters, video, podcasts, apps, mp3s, games and more in order to understand how words, images and sound are combined to create powerful messaging. Its only through learning to create media that they will come to understand how these tools can be manipulatedfor persuasive positive messaging or - in the wrong hands for misinformation, manipulation and propaganda. In the classes I teach at the College at Brockport, when I challenge my students to tell me something they didnt learn from media, often, many are unable do so. The virtual world they are part of, and that will be even more prominent in their future, is often more interesting to them than their actual world. In the online world, they can control the variables and the outcomes that they lack control over in their own lives.

The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of Minority Reporter.

Augmenting Traditional Literacy with Media Literacy


So, if digital communications are now so ubiquitous, why are we not more actively leveraging the seductive power of these technologies to engage students in learning and thought? If play is such an essential component in developing creativity in children, why are we not harnessing learning through this form of play? Rather than prohibit the use of electronic devices, why not use media such as games and book apps in the schools to educate our youth in all forms of literacy? This is an area of education that must be studied further and taken more seriously. Through digital media, educators can create a universe that promotes and encourages expeditionary active learning. Any topic is ripe for this treatment, from traditional learning to topics as sensitive as those of morality and ethics. In a virtual universe, students have the opportunity to play out their problems and challenges online to better understand the consequences of their decisions. Could electronic applications be used in conflict diffusion and resolution in a school environment? This possibility merits further study. If our children are taught to be creators rather than only consumers of media so they understand its power, they will have more control over their own lives. They will understand how to utilize it to their own benefit and that of their community, rather than to be manipulated by it to the benefit of the unscrupulous. Rather than be fearful and suspicious of this new frontier, it is time to embrace and leverage media literacy for its rich educational promise. ----Carvin Eison is General Manager at RCTV and Associate Professor at SUNY College at Brockport where he teaches Television, Video, Film production and Media Literacy. Carvin Eison ceison@brockport.edu (585) 395-5767

Support for Drug Free Zones...from previous page


dirty, and is going father, unbeknownst to many in this community. At a recent luncheon where the mayor of Tuskegee, Ala. was keynote speaker, to the surprise of many in the audience, he paid homage to Adam by announcing his presidency with a national organization. Some of those who are ignorant are probable saying, So what? and no doubt not understanding the significance and/or the impact this could have on our community as a whole. When I asked Adam to tell me more about the organization, and the office he had been elected to, he wrote me the following (theres no sense in me re-inventing any wheels): Its the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, which is under the umbrella of the National League of Cities. The National League of Cities is the nations oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and works as an advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages by representing more than 218 million Americans. It provides a powerful network for information-sharing and for speaking on behalf of Americas cities in Washington, D.C., and all state capitals. NBC-LEO is an NLC constituency group that was founded in 1970. Its mission is to provide AfricanAmerican municipal officials and their colleagues with forums to share ideas; discussion groups to develop strategies for improving municipal governance; debates on policy issues; and programs that contribute to the success of Americas cities and towns. Through a citys membership to NLC, NBC-LEO offers its individual members opportunities to get involved in the overall work of NLC through several venues, such as serving on the NLC Board of Directors, Advisory Council, standing committees, policy/advocacy steering committees and task forces. When called upon by NLC, NBCLEO members take part in lobbying Congress to help obtain funding for municipal programs, oppose unfunded mandates and the pre-emption of local authority, or prevent burdensome regulations. We are considered to be the big brother organization to the Congressional Black Caucus because our charter was used to help form the CBC. Mayor Ford was saying NBC-LEO is a member of the National Policy Alliance, which is the organization that advises the president on issues as it pertains to our community. That means, as president, I get to sit with the president of the U.S. and talk issues over the next year, also help him push his agenda to our communities. We are really working to bring other countries with resources to the table in order to invest in our community. I am currently creating a relationship with four countries, which will bring investment directly to the black community (Rochester). What should be evident is the fact that Adam is not only solution-oriented, but has stepped quietly into the national arena, where additional resources to help our community also exist. He has come a mighty-long way, and should be embraced more so than criticized, especially by those who are clueless as to how he has managed to become so respected in communities beyond the confines of Rochester.

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