Category: Top News Written by Minehaha Forman
Cobo Hall came alive Sunday evening as thousands of guests poured in to attend the Detroit Branch NAACP’s 57th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner. The organization was celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The keynote speaker was Attorney General Eric Holder.
“It’s a great day. We believe that we’ve done a great deal over the past 100 years but we cannot grow complacent. The fight is far from over,” said Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch NAACP president, also noting that democracy was the focus of the night.
“Democracy is under attack in Michigan and all over the country,” he said. “The NAACP is not in the back-bending business. We will never forget that Rosa Parks sat down so that we could all stand up.”
The annual event is the largest sit-down dinner in the world, drawing thousands of local and national leaders united in the fight for human rights.
During his keynote address, Holder reminded attendees that the fight for equality rages on.
“Without the NAACP, I would not be here,” said. “In 2012, the struggle has not ended. The reality is, certain aspects of the Trayvon Martin case are far from unique. This is unacceptable.”
The Detroit Branch NAACP honored leaders on both the local and national level for their tireless work for the cuase of social justic.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow received the annual Freedom and Justice Award for her coverage of social issues on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
“Michigan is a laboratory for those who believe we do not solve problems with the democratic process,” she said, referring to the emergency manager law instated last year. “The biggest story on voting rights is in Michigan.”
WDIV TV4 news anchor Rhonda Walker was recognized for her service to teen girls through the Rhonda Walker Foundation. She reminded the audience that the NAACP is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago, despite changing times.
“The NAACP has always been a very strong voice for us,” she said, adding that it is “ever present”
in the ongoing struggle for full equality. “The NAACP’s leadership in Detroit is strong and has vital relationships with those in leadership across the country.”
The theme of the evening was both celebratory as inspiring. With praise for the work already done, there was a loud call to action by many leaders.
Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI) called for a total reform of the U.S. legal system in the face of the mass incarceration of African Americans, particularly males. “The state of our people is not well,” he said. “We need to start a nonviolent revolution and change the legal system in our country.”
The outpouring of support from business, including major corporations, confirmed that the allies in the fright for freedom come from all sectors of the population.
Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, called the event “overwhelming” and said GM will continue to support people and communities through secure jobs and equal economic opportunities.
“The diversity of our workforce is the core of who we are,” Reuss said. “Moving forward, we are not recruiting from the same pools.”
President Barack Obama addressed the dinner guests via a recorded message, labeling the Detroit Branch NAACP a “beacon” for freedom and justice.
“The climb is steep, but Detroit can lead the way,” the president said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:20
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
Bernard Parker, the outspoken Wayne County Commissioner who has been criticized as well as praised for his stance in the ongoing scandal that has rocked Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and his administration, said he plans to leave the commission at the end of his term.
Parker is leaving in the midst of an intense federal investigation into the administration of Ficano, and at a time when opinions are divided regarding his role on the commission and how he moved from being a vocal critic of Ficano to supporting the county executive’s lightening rod pick for CEO of Detroit Metro Airport, Turkia Mullen, to now being critical of the administration.
But the man who has recently become the most visible political face against the Ficano administration, says it is just a matter of it being time to leave the county.
What does Parker plan to do?
The commissioner is going to run for a seat on the Detroit City Council. Council member Kwame Kenyatta announced last week that he will not seek another term when his tenure ends.
In an exclusive interview, Parker, said his decision to leave Wayne County is due to the impact of redistricting. His district has been expanded now to include portions of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods. And because his term doesn’t end until Dec. 31, Parker will not file for reelection May 15. The new district, according to Parker, now accounts for only 45 percent of Detroit.
“Because of the reapportionment, they changed the boundaries of my house where I live and it now extends to Harper Woods and Grosse Pointe and I really do not want to represent that area,” Parker said. “I want to represent the city of Detroit 100 percent, and I think the city needs experienced leadership as we go through this crisis.”
Given the investigation that Wayne County is facing, Parker admits that it is black eye on the overall county government, including the commission.
“Some people may see it negatively but I want to serve the city of Detroit. I don’t want to serve a suburban community,” Parker said. “My experience in the last 22 years on the commission I believe will aid the city as we move toward recovery.”
On Detroit’s consent agreement that allows for the appointment of a nine- member Financial Advisory Board, Parker said, “I have not seen all the details but I think there are some good things in there. I think the consent agreement was the better of the two evils. But I think the important thing is as we move with the agreement that we go back to independent cities with home rule.”
He took parting shots at Ficano saying he has “lost his ability to lead and for the good of the county he should step down. But I don’t think he is going to step down.”
He said there wasn’t enough support on the commission for a vote of no confidence on Ficano.
“If it was presented and did not pass it would send the wrong message,” Parker said.
When asked how could he be critical of Ficano after supporting Mullen for the airport job, Parker insisted the Airport Authority was misled.
“The bottom line is that we selected someone who misrepresented the facts,” Parker said. “After we began to uncover her background and poor leadership, that is when we took action and did what we did.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:18
Category: Top News Written by Dr. Carol Olander and Robert Weiner
For over four decades, the Food Stamp Program, which Congress renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008, has had bipartisan support as the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Even the far reaching welfare reform legislation of the mid 90’s left it intact.
However, the House-passed Republican budget drafted by Cong. Paul Ryan would cut it by 17% and turn the program into state block grants easily slashed further. As perhaps the legacy of his now-ended presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich denigrated the Food Stamp Program by tying President Obama to it as “the Food Stamp President.” Mitt Romney, while saying he is “not concerned about the very poor” because the “safety net” protects them, supports shifting food stamps to the states as a block grant and endorsed the House Republican bill cutting funding for 8 million of the 45 million participants. Cong. Darryl Issa (R-CA) chaired a House Government Reform Committee hearing March 8 entitled “Food Stamp Fraud as a Business Model” and released a video, “Food Stamp Fraud; Exposed.”
The only problem is that each of the allegations is overwhelmingly untrue. At the hearing, Committee Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Baltimore) countered Issa by pointing out, “The need for the program is at a historic high, and fraud is at an all-time low. The true purpose of this hearing may be to discredit the entire program, to justify draconian cuts.”
Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus and long-time advocate for the poor, contends, “Food stamps lift people from poverty, feed them, and give them an opportunity to work. When did those become bad?” he asks.
There are 427,626 food stamp recipients in Wayne County, 22 percent of the population, significantly higher than the national average 15%. Without the SNAP program many of these residents would be unable to survive. When it comes to being the “food stamp president,” MSNBC’s Alex Wagner said, “the President should wear it with pride.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi added that the title is “a badge of honor” for the President.
The truth is that those who hope to radically alter SNAP don’t understand the program or the effect making significant cuts would have on millions of desperate Americans. Their case is built on the following myths.
Myth #1: SNAP growth is out of control.
About one in seven Americans now receives SNAP benefits. This means tested program is designed to grow as the economy contracts and shrink with economic recovery. Participation tracks the prevalence of poverty. Historic trends show about a year’s lag between increased employment and SNAP participation declines.
During the January 16 Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Gingrich said, “More people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president.” However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, as reported by USA Today and elsewhere, the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million under President George W. Bush or 444,574 more than under Obama.
USDA reports total federal SNAP costs for 2010 and 2011 at $68.4 and $75.3 billion, respectively. No one argues that these are trivial expenses. The costs, however, are driven largely by the nation’s economic health. The Congressional Budget Office projects SNAP expenditures will decrease to pre-recession levels as the economy improves.
Bottom line: SNAP successfully responded to the severe recession and is already responding to our very gradual financial recovery.
Myth #2: SNAP adds to long term budget problems.
SNAP expenditures actually produce a general economic boost. Almost all benefits are spent within a month of receipt through more than 200,000 authorized food businesses. USDA estimates a multiplier effect of $1.79 for each new benefit dollar.
Bottom line: SNAP is a small factor in the country’s long term fiscal health and in fact adds to the U.S. economic health.
Myth # 3: The need for SNAP is exaggerated given other elements of the U.S. safety net.
National statistics for 2008 and 2009 show that despite an increase in the prevalence of poverty, the percent of households who experienced food insecurity held steady. This was possible because SNAP expanded to meet growing need and because benefit amounts were temporarily boosted by the 2009 Recovery Act. In contrast to unemployment insurance (UI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), SNAP is available to almost all families who meet the Program’s stringent financial requirements. Many who lose jobs, unfortunately, don’t qualify for UI. Those who do qualify face time-limited benefits.
Bottom line: SNAP lessens the hardship of poverty and unemployment.
Myth # 4: SNAP wastes taxpayer dollars through inefficient federal administration.
In 2010, SNAP costs for federal administration were less than 1 percent of total federal SNAP spending. Even after adding the federal share of state administrative expenses, 95 percent of federal spending went directly to low-income participants in the form of benefits.
Bottom line: SNAP dollars go overwhelmingly to participating families.
Conservatives continue to attack food stamps, but SNAP is working. A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that “The food stamp program…reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent” in one year, 2009, alone.
Would those who would cut or end the program send the 46 million food recipients to the streets to fend in trash barrels, as happened before the New Deal?
Dr. Carol Olander was Director of SNAP Research and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and a top official there for 31 years. Robert Weiner was a spokesman in the Clinton White House, spokesman for the U.S. House Government Operations Committee under Chairman John Conyers, and Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee under Chairman Claude Pepper, He wrote the epilogue to Bankole Thompson’s seminal book, Obama and Christian Loyalty. Richard Mann, executive assistant at Robert Weiner Associates and a Roosevelt University Journalism M.S. recipient, assisted in this article.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 02:46
Category: News Briefs Written by Rick Wills
Last Updated on Monday, 07 May 2012 11:52
Category: Top News Written by Cornelius Fortune
Take note, true believers: “The Avengers” will assault your senses in the best possible way. It does what few big Hollywood movies ever manage to do – take you on a pure journey of unadulterated, unfiltered escapism. For two and a half hours, you're transported, whisked away, catapulted, and flung headlong into a Marvel Universe writ terribly large, the cinematic equivalent of an extrasensory marathon, miles long, and yes, from start to finish, “The Avengers” hardly slows down.
While there are plenty of lighter moments (lots, in fact), make no mistake, for every explosion, every car overturned, no one is ever safe; not even our heroes. Once you realize anything can happen (within reason of course, given this is the first of what they hope will be many sequels) you've thoroughly entered new territory, a landscape well past the post-postmodern superhero tale. Meaning, a good superhero movie in 2012 isn't merely about how cool the effects are. Thanks to Christopher Nolan's “The Dark Knight,” superhero movies can (and typically do) aspire to high art.
“The Avengers” is a high wire act with a whole lot of moving parts, some sleight of hand, and the best ensemble cast to grace the silver screen since George Clooney and his co-stars gave us the dazzling remake of “Ocean's 11.”
Not surprisingly, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) is the heart of this movie, so fans of the “Iron Man” franchise needn't feel they should sit this one out, given all the other superheroes crowding the movie. Tony Stark forms the center, and has all the snarkiest lines, but soon as it starts to feel like an “Iron Man” sequel, the team dynamics kick in and everyone gets their turn to shine.
Let's keep it simple, shall we? Thor's brother, Loki, manages to steal a unique power source (called the Tesseract) that can yield an unlimited amount of energy. Willing to share this power with a war mongering intergalactic species, he starts a turn of events that will bring war to the planet Earth, and thus, force our heroes, the Avengers, to get cohesive (or a form of cohesion); least the world go boom, or something along those explosive lines. And, you know, the enslavement of humanity is way up on the red-danger scale, too.
If you loved any of the previous Marvel Studios films (“Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America,” and “Thor”), you're going to love “The Avengers,” albeit seeing those other films isn't exactly a requirement. Think of it as an extra credit assignment – if you've seen those movies, you will be vastly rewarded. Like Batman, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark doesn't play well with others, and neither do any of the other characters in the movie. That's what's brilliant about it.
Samuel L. Jackson finally ditches those end credit cameo appearances, to flesh out the character of Nick Fury, who is responsible for bringing the team together. This is a more subdued Jackson. A perfect fit for this outing.
Writer/director Joss Whedon (“Serenity,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) does what he does best: witty dialogue, females who kick butt, great action sequences, the death of a key character (whoops, was that a spoiler?), a rousing speech, which precedes the major all or nothing battle. It's not that Whedon’s a one-trick pony, but like Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, and others, he’s a stylist.
Believe the hype, and don't you dare call it hyperbole, because it doesn't get any better than this. “The Avengers” is a balanced symphony, bursting forth with surprising dynamics, from very loud, to the deathly quiet. It's hard to find a single false note reverberating through the film. In fact, it’s organized chaos at its purest.
Last Updated on Friday, 04 May 2012 11:58
Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
In conjunction with the Millennium Momentum Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education,The White House Young America Series is a set of regional forums held across the country this spring.
They are designed to connect Obama Administration officials with young community, civic, non-profit and business leaders to discuss issues critical to young Americans and identify solutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The forum at UDM is part of a multi-city series designed to bridge the President’s vision with the needs of young people by connecting them with the local and national resources and networks they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Other cities in the series scheduled include, but are not limited to: New Orleans, LA; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Seattle, WA; Denver, CO; Charlottesville, VA; Durham, NC; Syracuse, NY; Omaha, NE and more.
May 22, 2012
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
UDM McNichols Campus
Student Center, Fountain Lounge
Map & Directions
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 16:28
Category: Top News Written by Cornelius Fortune
Hail to the king of pop-culture
He’s a pop culture icon. That voice is recognizable from clear across the room, especially that special rhythm he achieves when adding a few, to quote Mr. Spock, “colorful metaphors.”
He’s a bad mother…(hush your mouth) But I’m talking about Shaft, er, Samuel L. Jackson. He’s gone from being one of the most recognizable supporting actors, to commanding his own starring film roles (“Shaft”), voice over work (“Afro Samurai,” “The Boondocks”), to most recently, the character Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who will figure quite prominently in “The Avengers” movie.
Jackson is so bad, they had to change the color of Fury because of the potency of the Jackson legacy. The Marvel comic “The Ultimates” was launched in 2002, written by Mark Millar (the creator of “Kick-Ass” and “Wanted”) and drawn by Bryan Hitch. This was post 911, so the idea was to modernize Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s “The Avengers” for the New Millennium. Naturally, they succeeded, and the comic though suffering from delays in shipping at times, excited the fans, and Nick Fury was given Samuel L. Jackson’s likeness.
Take a moment to consider this.
In Millar’s “Wanted,” the two main characters had the likeness of Eminem and Halle Berry. Clearly, this casting didn’t stick for the film starring Angelina Jolie, but Sam Jackson took to the eye patch at the end of the first “Iron Man” movie, and this started the ball rolling for the Marvel Comics Universe to become a Marvel Comics Cinema Universe. Fury, as originally conceived by Lee and Kirby was basically a super spy, World War II action hero, who by the way, was white. A ‘60s staple, he was updated to fit our times.
George Lucas has gone on record as saying there are three lightsaber colors in his universe, green and blue (for the good guys) and red (for the Sith baddies). Period. Then along comes Mr. Samuel L. Jackson and Lucas, from some cavernous Jedi cave (or that spooling collection of “Star Wars” revisions) says, “Okay, you can have a purple lightsaber.” Not a direct quote, mind you, but bottom line, what Mr. Jackson wants, Mr. Jackson gets.
And that’s the Sam Jackson paradox: just as he moves dangerously close to self-parody (“Snakes on a Plane” is a fine example), he shifts to something completely unexpected. Case in point, his role as Martin Luther King Jr. with Angela Bassett (as Coretta Scott King) in the Broadway play “The Mountaintop.” And now, he’s doing the rounds for Apple with a new iPhone 4S commercial (sadly, no stylized bleeping).
He’s come a long way from Gator, the crack head, in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” and now he’s going beyond the “Star Wars” universe to the Marvel Universe.
I really can’t wait to see Samuel L. Jackson doing Samuel L. Jackson portraying Nick Fury, in a feature film co-starring, yet again, Samuel L. Jackson.
Even the man’s name, screams pop culture.
Read Cornelius Fortune’s “The Avengers” movie review online at www.michronicleonline.com on Friday, May 4.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 16:13
Category: News Briefs Written by Michael Cottman
Seven months before Election Day, the Obama campaign is seriously searching for Black staffers to work in its predominantly white Chicago headquarters and field offices across the country.
In an e-mail labeled “Urgent,” Stefanie Brown, director of the campaign’s African-American voter outreach initiative, recently appealed to the Black community for help.
“The Obama for America campaign is in the process of really staffing up in states around the country, and I need your help to find qualified, African-American candidates for some of these positions,” Brown wrote to supporters last month, according to POLITICO.
Brown’s e-mail comes as a photo of the Obama campaign surfaced that showed dozens of White staffers in the Chicago office and not one African-American in the room.
The push by the Obama campaign to hire more Black staffers took on greater significance this week as President Barack Obama traveled to three colleges speaking to students about reducing college loan interest rates while also courting young voters.
When I visited the Obama campaign headquarters six months ago, I watched a room-full of enthusiastic young white staffers sitting under large cardboard signs of most American states, working the phones and rallying Democrats from coast to coast. I also saw several senior Black staffers typing furiously on their laptops, analyzing polling data, and talking about innovative ways to increase Black voter turnout.
But the question that continued to echo in my mind was this: Why aren’t there more African-American young people working for the campaign when President Barack Obama is in the White House? It’s a legitimate issue, especially since Obama campaign manager Jim Messina says racial diversity is an important component of the 2012 election-year crusade.
Jones’ “urgent” e-mail to the Black community was noteworthy because, for the first time, civil rights activists learned that assembling Black staffers is now a pressing issue for the Obama campaign.
With a new poll that shows Obama taking a slim lead over Republican Mitt Romney — 49 to 42 percent — Obama’s aides say every vote in November is important and voter turnout is critical.
Speaking privately, several influential Black Democrats in Washington, D.C., have expressed frustration with the Obama campaign’s lack of African-American staffers, with one Black professional saying “the campaign is three years too late” with its Black recruitment efforts.
So what’s the problem?
With the economy slowly recovering, many young African-Americans are looking for paid jobs and cannot afford to volunteer for months at a time while many young Whites have parents who subsidize their public service projects. In addition, unlike some Black households, many young White volunteers come from families that have long histories of working with political campaigns.
For the Obama campaign, the key to hiring more Black staffers is tapping into civil rights organizations that have spent years cultivating young Black professionals and preparing them for political and civic-minded careers.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 13:08
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
State’s largest community college credited for fiscal management, transparency
Despite the downturn of Michigan’s economy, a national bond rating agency is shining a bright spot on Michigan’s largest community college that serves over 70,000 students.
Strong budgetary and fiscal management practices were key drivers in a Fitch Ratings upgrade of Wayne County Community College District bond ratings from A to A+. The credit ratings agency on Friday said that despite the challenges associated with the local and county economy, the District’s fiscal management has provided the District with the financial flexibility it needs to continue its mission and capital improvement plan.
The District is the largest urban community college in Michigan, and saw enrollment grow to more than 72,000 from 32,530 credit and non-credit students during the past decade, including a nearly 9 percent spike since 2008 as the recession brought many displaced workers to the District seeking retraining for new jobs.
The District has expanded its workforce development programs to more than 110 and has added two- to six-month certificate programs to expedite learning for job seekers. The District also has under way a $42 million expansion of its Northwest Campus, including the addition of a new academic building, an addition to its general arts building and ten acres of site improvements. That expansion will expand the campus’ capacity to serve an additional 9,000 students per semester.
“We approach our mission to create pathways to better lives for all of our students with the seriousness and intentionality that it deserves,” said WCCCD Chancellor Dr. Curtis L. Ivery. “Ensuring we have a strong financial foundation with which to operate is vital to that mission.
“We’re proud that Fitch is recognizing the discipline and thoughtfulness with which we’ve approached our financial operations, and the transparency with which we operate. We’re also thrilled to continue to expand our offerings and improve our campuses to fulfill our mission to our students and the many communities we serve.”
The District in 2010 launched its District Design Initiative to ensure a stable balance between student success and financial sustainability. That program provided a roadmap for the District to implement conservative budgeting practices with expense reductions and increased administrative efficiencies while still expanding its offerings to students. The District additionally maintains full financial transparency.
“The importance of having a strong, world-class educational institution to offer a real doorway to better careers, new skills and higher education is more important than ever,” Ivery said. “We’re determined to make sure that we can leave that door open to all who approach it by continuing to be great stewards of our financial house.”
Additional information about the upgrade may be found at www.fitchratings.com.
About WCCCD: WCCCD, the largest urban community college in Michigan, is a multi-campus district with five campus locations, University Center and the Michigan Institute for Public Safety Education (MIPSE), serving 32 cities and townships, spanning more than 500 square miles. WCCCD is committed to the continued development of new programs, hosting community-based training sessions, improving student facilities and services. For more information visit: www.wcccd.edu.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 11:04
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
As Detroit’s leaders debate the financial crisis of one of America’s largest urban centers, and what that means for the next generation, they should be paying attention to some real evidence-based transformation taking place not at city hall or in the corridors of power, but rather in a program called Math Corps.
It is not a program that is seeking to be in the limelight or wanting to grab the latest educational headline, but one that is knee-deep in the trenches helping to change the lives of students coming from debilitating backgrounds and broken homes.
Math Corps, a combined academic enrichment and mentoring program at Wayne State University envisioned by Dr. Steve Kahn with Leonard Boehm in 1992, has since become some sort of a Damascus experience for every child from Detroit Public Schools in grade 6-12 enrolled in the program.
The educational and lifetime opportunities that the program provides for tomorrow’s leaders, that includes its flagship six-week intensive summer program that serves 400 students, were explained to me during a recent encounter with the teachers and students of Math Corps.
“It’s never been about math. It was always about a greater thing to help the children of Detroit,” said Professor Kahn. “What I‘ve come to learn in 20 years is very powerful. There is a human tragedy in this city. Most of the kids that come to us are missing parents, at least one.”
The challenge to help shape the lives of children who are disadvantaged because of their background is a calling for Kahn.
“Math Corps has developed a powerful philosophy where the students can thrive in a culture built around kindness and support for each other, and the courage and willingness to do the right thing,” Kahn said. “It’s about intervention. urgency and transforming lives.”
The mission of the program is clear: the unwavering belief that all children have a unique and special greatness within them, and that through hard work and a commitment to excellence and with the support of a caring family or community, that greatness can be realized.
Nicole Plummer, one of the students in the program majoring in math and secondary education, was clear about how she views society and why Math Corps meant so much to her .
“Our system is failing us. We need more people out there to say to a child ‘I believe in you. I know you have greatness,’” Plummer said in an uncompromising voice that cries out for the attention of those in government and leadership.
Plummer’s remarks point to a deeper problem in our community and the extent to which students feel encouraged to work harder in a conducive environment. Her colleague, Darryl Gardner, who has been with the program for more than a decade and whose brother is now an air traffic controller, came up through Math Corps and took it further.
“The needs of children are been put aside for the needs of adults,” Gardner said, noting that the program has been their most rewarding experience in education.
But Gardner hopes those in charge of the distribution of resources to make Detroit an education city look at their program as a model. Because they are, in fact, a testimony to how lives can be transformed not by bureaucratic measures but by a model that emphasizes every child’s particular greatness.
Sajeda Ahmed, a biology major, agrees.
“What Math Corps does is put the individual back in education. What we have learned is invaluable,” Ahmed said.
Plummer said because of how her life has changed as a result of the program, “my friends are now in Math Corps because I started taking back home in my neighborhood what I learned.”
Arthur Bowman, who is majoring in physics and has become a mentor to Math Corps students, said, “The program has instituted in me the need to bring other people along. They gave me my humanity back and I have the need to give back.”
Bowman said the many different reforms taking place in education do not necessarily serve students well. He cited many instances where he is mentoring children in the program who are not only coming from deeply wounded homes, but also from experiences that stand to tear their souls apart.
He said while politics is deciding on many fronts the future of education for Detroit kids, whether it is the appointment of an emergency manager or local elected officials, there are kids literary on the edge every day and who need a serious mentorship and appreciation for their potential.
“What we need is emergency ideological management,” to address kids in crisis coming to school, Bowman said.
Meagan Spencer, whose major is in nutrition and food science, said growing up in Detroit she has seen and experienced a lot and believes that what is often missing is the lack of passion and love that children face in the classroom.
“If the person who is teaching does not place value on you or have an interest in education, it is challenging,” Spencer said.
Richard Pineau, interim program coordinator, said that is why the program which features faculty and college students as mentors provides middle school kids with mature role models like big brothers and big sisters.
“We have to demonstrate that we care,” Pineau said. “We have a college student whose job is to open the door for the kids when they come in.”
Joseph Ratcliff, a graduate of the program and now a full-fledged teacher, said in dealing with students, “you have to actively show you care. We actually tell them that they are great. This has really been affirming.”
Students have who participated in the Math Corps for at least three summers have an average ACT math score of 21, significantly higher than Detroit’s average and on par with state and national averages.
And since 1995, estimates have placed the high school graduation rate for Math Corps students at over 90 percent with about 90 percent of those students going to college.
“My family would always tell me if you can just change one life, that’s enough,” Kahn said. “We need a systematic profound change in the city because these are our kids growing up.”
The Math Corps program reads like a triumph of the human spirit where our children are given hope in hopeless neighborhoods. Now, our leaders must respond because beneath the debates about financial crisis, this is one case of real change taking place.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 10:57
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