Kafkaesque police capture boy & grill him for not saying his clock is a bomb

Ahmed and his clock
Photo composite courtesy wtvr.com
In a Kafka novel, a man is accused by the police of a crime that’s too top-secret for them to discuss or reveal which government department has brought charges against him – and that’s the whole novel. In a similar circumstance, 14 year old Ahmed Mohammed from Irving, Texas brings a home-made clock to school to show his engineering teacher and she accused him of making a bomb to threaten her. The police arrive to handcuff, arrest and then grill him for hours because Ahmed wouldn’t say that his clock was something other than a clock. Because it’s a clock.

Yes folks, this really happened to one of our country’s brilliant young students. But next, Pres. Obama saved Ahmed’s day with his Tweeted invitation to visit the White House. At his press conference on Sept 16 Ahmed said, “Yes!” he intends to accept the invitation. The New York Times reports:

“Cool clock, Ahmed,” President Obama said on Twitter. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” Mr. Obama’s staff invited Ahmed to the White House for Astronomy Night on Oct. 19, an event bringing together scientists, engineers, astronauts, teachers and students to spend a night stargazing from the South Lawn.

Ahmed’s response to America is sweet:

Ahmed also mentioned at his press conference that he’s still suspended, the police still have his property … he intends to transfer to a different school, but hasn’t picked one out yet and that he’s not willing to speak with the Irving Police Chief without his attorney. Smart young man 🙂 .. watch for yourself.

Some other interesting reports by The Dallas Morning News and PBS.

Updated 17 Sept to include news and video of the 9/16 press conference and the PBS article.

Are New Jersey gentrifiers taking us for a ride?

1934 school bus
1934 Chevrolet Schoolbus by DBerry2006 via Flickr
Believers in gentrification understand neither fairness, nor justice. Yet, since Christie signed bill A-355 into law in 2010, they’ve been provided with yet another powerful arrow in the arsenal of neighborhood destruction and running the vulnerable out of town. This is a racial issue in New Jersey, since our poor are mostly urban Blacks and Latinos.

Christie’s education voucher law allows public school students to attend schools in another district, with your tax dollars paying the receiving school’s tuition fees and the complete bill to, “provide and pay for students’ transportation to new schools up to 20 miles away.” Sounds a bit like specially chartered buses and other things extraordinarily expensive, doesn’t it? Wowza!

The Star Ledger reported, “It’s unclear who would bear the cost if a student sought admission to a school more than 20 miles from his or her home district.” Good question, though.

Thanks to David Berry for the great foto and to Elizabeth McGrady for sharing the article. I just asked the other day, what our state’s status is concerning school vouchers. Hoped for better news but at least, now I know where the battle line has been drawn.

Hah – every school year should start like this!

teacher flash mob singersFaithtap asks the right question! “What better way to kick off a new year than with the spread of joy and enthusiasm?” Flash mob of singing teachers does exactly that. And they sound good, too!

The Desmoines, Iowa flash district teachers performed ‘One More Day’ from the hit Broadway musical Les Miserables. Not all are music teachers.

US Colonel: slavery was the SINGLE reason for the Civil War (video)

North was agrarian tooColonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, sets the record state on the question of what the reason was for the United States Civil War. In this interesting short video Col. Seidule makes the case that the single reason was slavery. Does a good job with it, too.

Here are some highlights:

The buzz term “States’ Rights” was coined by Southern state residents and referred to the right they believed they possessed, to continue slavery.

Southern states claimed they needed slaves because their society was more agrarian than the North, but this wasn’t true. Seidule points out that the North not only paid their agriculture workers, who were, “free to come and as they pleased,” but they also produced much greater yields than Southern states did.

I’d like to point out that this historical fact pretty much lays to rest the modern-day argument that paying workers a living wage will destroy the economy.

social ladder

Seidule briefly touches on another important point, which may be the underlying reason that systemic racism became so deeply woven into the social fabric of American society. The ‘Peculiar Institution’ that justified slavery in Southern states, also became a bond of honor to which wealthy Southerners ascribed. It consisted of a social contract that a safety net for poor whites would always ensure sufficient social and financial support to prevent them from ever ending up at the same lowly rung of the socio-economic ladder as slaves (and by extension, any Southern people of color).

It seems entirely possible that white Americans’ sense of entitlement may have originated from precisely this social policy.

Graphics are from the video, which is a PragerUniversity production.

10 ways well-meaning white teachers bring racism into schools

cultural sensitivity components
Photo credit: uvm.edu
I’m blown away by this great list of 10 ways well-meaning white teachers bring racism into schools. Number 2 is my favorite:

2. Being ‘Race Neutral’ Rather than Culturally Responsive

In my work with teachers, I sometimes meet teachers who claim that they “don’t see Color,” both in naïve attempts to be “progressive” but also in an ill-advised attempt to avoid tracking students based on race/ethnicity.

But our students don’t need a “race neutral” approach to their education.

There is endless research about how students of all races need a culturally responsive education; it’s just that White students who have White teachers are far more likely to receive one.

Culturally responsive teaching is not just a box that we can check with simple changes to curriculum. Instead, it is a pedagogical shift that all teachers must work to cultivate over the course of a career, one that works its way into every aspect of how we teach.

Part of culturally responsive teaching also demands that we not simply focus on the races of our students but, instead, turn the lens on our own racial identity.

Race neutrality lends itself to defensiveness to the ways Whiteness and racism are problematic in our teaching.

Cultural responsiveness demands that we do the difficult work of exploring a different way of being White, one where we see our liberation as bound up with that of our students and their families.

What to Do Instead

Start by reading the amazing literature on culturally responsive teaching, looking to Geneva Gay, Beverly Daniel Tatum, and Gary Howard for starters…

Hat tip to Marcella Simadris for the great find!

Disturbing: Google is promoting hatred of Jews by skewing search results

Anti-semitic statisticsI was searching for a graphic depicting the fundamental unfairness of bashing Israel for defending itself against Arab attacks and increasing, global anti-semitism. But Google wouldn’t let me find any of those images: it just let me find images of Israelis unfairly attacking Arabs.

I don’t believe that the poor Arab, ugly Israel propaganda promoted by Big Media is the real truth underlying today’s Middle East conflict. But it’s quite apparent that this is what Google wants people to believe. By skewing search results to feed anti-Israel sentiment, Google is practicing fundamental unfairness and injustice. Shame on you, Google.

The rise in anti-semitic incidents around the world is just staggering. People have a compulsion to hate Jews whether we do good or bad works. But blind hatred is always wrong – and so is Google, for promoting it. Former fundamentalist Muslim Kasim Hafeez no longer hates Jews. In fact, he loves Jews and Israel.

Just for the record, I support the Obama administration’s Iran Deal – something that Israeli supporters are against – and believe the deal will reduce, rather than increase, Iran’s capacity to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

Thousands join mayor’s Occupy the City rally on Saturday to support Newark, youth & to stamp out violence

Mayor Baraka and CommonLed by Rapper-activist-actor Common joined Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the Newark Municipal Council and actor-rapper-activist Common, thousands of Newark residents united to “Occupy the City” on Saturday, August 8, meeting at a designated location in each of Newark’s five wards at 3:30 pm and marching to the City’s historic downtown “Four Corners” at Broad and Market Streets for a huge anti-violence and community support rally.

Building on the success and support from Newark residents during his “Occupy the Block events, Mayor Baraka hosted the “Occupy the City” event to unite residents against despair, violence, and crime in Newark and to promote love, hope and empowerment. “Occupy the Block” is a community engagement tool modeled after the historic “Occupy” movement, which advocates the social disruption of harmful or ineffective social constructs. Marchers wore purple t-shirts specially made for the occasion.

Marchers

The Mayor called upon residents to take action against violence in their neighborhoods by reporting incidents of crime to the police, organizing themselves and their neighbors as communities and providing hands-on nurturing and mentoring to children, beginning in their own homes and neighborhoods.

“We need peace in our community. We need it now. No more silence! Stop the violence,” the Mayor urged. “It’s not enough to be on Twitter and Facebook cursing people out. You have to get out into the street and stop blaming people. How many kids have you talked to? How many kids have you mentored? How many organizations have you joined? What are you doing? Have you gone into your schools? Have you joined the PTA? Have you gone to School Board meetings?”

Walking up Market St

“Our kids should not have Chinese-made assault rifles. It’s easier to get a Chinese-made assault rifle in our community than a decent loaf of bread. Our children should not lie on our streets, dying in pool of their own blood, from bullets from a foreign-made assault rifle. Our children should not have to lie on the floor to avoid the bullets. Our children deserve to live in a safe neighborhood and grow up to be surgeons and doctors and Supreme Court justices,” he asserted.

The Mayor also spoke directly to parents and guardians of children in attendance. “Do you talk to the child in your kitchen? Do you talk to the child in your living room? Do you talk to the child on your corner, wearing his pants down and a white t-shirt? You should be talking to him.

“These kids who are committing crimes are babies, 14 and 15 years old. They don’t pay taxes, they don’t vote, they don’t run this city, and they don’t bring jobs to community. They don’t decide who is the Superintendent of Schools or who the mayor is. So how are they in charge of your house, building, street, and block? You are the adults! You have to stand up straight.”

Mayor Baraka called upon parents to set examples by using culture as a positive force, noting that while many parents use social media to complain about conditions in Newark, their neglected children are misbehaving and listening to music that preaches violence and destruction.

Mayor Baraka speaks“Turn off that radio,” Mayor Baraka exhorted repeatedly. “They listen to songs that say ‘I got high last night’ and ‘murder, murder, murder.’ We need music that is positive. Teach your babies to sing positive songs at age 8, 9 and 10. We want them to sing at age 10, ‘I am beautiful on purpose and outstanding.’ Not, I’m going to shoot some dude on the corner. Put on songs that make babies love each other and make kids think they are big strong and powerful. Put on songs that say we can do anything we want to do and that we should love each other. If you don’t have one, I’ll give you my playlist. Listen to that in your house instead of complaining on Facebook about where are police at. They should be in your living room. Take responsibility. Culture is a weapon. It can be for us or against us. It is for us and kept us as a people from slave shouts to gospel, jazz to blues. The music that is going on is aiding in death and destruction of own children.”

The Mayor also addressed pain the community experiences as an underlying cause of violence. “We have to address the pain of hopelessness, poverty, unemployment, and death. We have to address the pain of destruction in community, of powerlessness and of inequality. We have to address the pain our kids feel – of having no money in pocket, having no clothes to wear to school for five days, and no food in the house when our kids get get home. We have to address the pain of having an older brother in jail or a youth being in jail at age 17 or having just got out of jail and not being able to get a job, or a driver’s license. We have to address the pain of being a crime victim. We have to address the pain of being 17 years old and can’t read.”

Mayor Baraka called on residents to organize outside their homes. “When we leave here, what are you going to do? We didn’t come here just to make you feel good. When you go home, become part of a block association. If you haven’t got one, start one. If you have one, join it. Start a block watch. Patrol your neighborhoods. We need people to question people who are on the block who don’t live there. If you live on the block and don’t know your neighbors, that’s a problem. Ring doorbells and introduce yourselves.”

The mayor also reminded attendees of the importance of speaking up, particularly when the criminals are known to community residents or are family members.

1000s rally

“People aren’t dropping these kids from helicopters or UFOs into neighborhoods. We know these kids. They’re related to you all. They are our sons and brothers. But instead of taking action, you hide them in your basement. You get them out of town. They cause havoc in the neighborhood in the neighborhood and you protect them. You don’t stop them. You don’t grab them up. You don’t tell on them. But then you’re on Twitter complaining about what the mayor should do when your son is out there creating havoc. You need to say something to hem. Pull them aside. Have a rally in your own living room and kitchen. Hold an ‘Occupy Your House’ rally,” he said.

“We have to open our mouths. No more silence. Tell. It’s over. When you tell, you’re not a snitch. It’s different. When you tell, you’re saying, ‘I’m not with you. I’m not part of what you’re doing. Being a snitch means ‘we’re together.’ Telling means you’re saying: ‘You don’t belong on my block – you’re causing problems in the community, I’m calling the police. We should all be telling. Then go to the next block, and make them tell, too.”

The Mayor also called upon state and federal agencies to replicate the Marshall Plan that rebuilt western Europe after World War II in America’s urban cities. “When we fought wars in other countries, we rebuilt their roads, gave money for police and built hospitals, schools, and the whole infrastructure. Our cities and infrastructure are crumbling. We need new schools, hospitals and roads. We need jobs. Not 100, or 1,000, but 5,000 and 10,000. We need this in Newark and every city in country. We need it now.

“We must end poverty. It is the number one enemy. It is the worst form of violence. It is killing us. That is why we are fighting. Violence is a public health issue. Violence is a disease that spreads everywhere. It kills people. We all know mothers who have lost children to prison and shootings. We must treat it as a disease. No more silence. Stop the violence. Say, ‘We are human beings. We don’t deserve to die on sidewalks at age 13 or 14 years old.'”

The rallying points and contact organizers for each ward were:

  • North Ward: Victoria Avenue and Cutler Street. Contact: Daniel Figueroa (201) 566- 6097
  • South Ward: Brunswick Street and Astor Street. Contact: Stacey Hillsman (973) 715-3629
  • East Ward: Pennington Court. Contact: Ligia DeFreitas (201) 566-3137
  • West Ward: 15th Street and 15th Avenue. Contact: Marques-Aquil Lewis (201) 566-5108
  • Central Ward: Central Avenue and 9th Street. Contact: Al’Tarik Onque (201) 463-6372

Many groups joined in led by city and community organizers and Municipal Council members led marchers from their wards to the rally. Chief of Staff Amiri Baraka, Jr. served as Master of Ceremonies.

Common speaks“From Chicago to Newark, we are one people. We must work to find peace within ourselves and to be at peace with each. Violence destroys the beauty inside of us and kills our communities. Let’s unite and do what is right,” Common told the crowd.

Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, co-founder and President of GrassROOTS Community Foundation and Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, served as the rally host. Speakers included Abyssinian Baptist Church pastor Reverend Perry Simmons; Nicole Paultre Bell, fiancée of police shooting victim Sean Bell; and representatives of clergy and community organizations.

Actor, director and Newark native John Amos“When I was growing up here and misbehaving, people would say, ‘Amos, if you keep doing that, you’ll wind up in Rahway State Prison,'” recounted Newark native and actor John Amos. “Well, I cleaned up my act, and I did wind up in Rahway, only I was making a movie with Sly Stallone! We need for our children to be able to achieve the same dreams – to be actors, lawyers, doctors or Supreme Court justices.”

During the rally, the Newark Fire Department provided information about their drive to recruit new firefighters, while the Mayor’s Read and Believe program gave out free children’s books.

Photo Credits: City of Newark Press Information Office

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Obama at Georgetown on breaking the cycle of poverty. Real talk.

Obama at Georgetown Poverty SummitAt the Georgetown University #PovertySummit President Obama made some very real comments, tying his own background to modern society’s challenges in the areas of education and social investment; access to jobs, internet, transportation; mentoring, youth, fatherhood, families and community:

I am a black man who grew up without a father, and I know the cost that I paid for that. And I also know that I have the capacity to break that cycle, and as a consequence I think that my daughters are better off … For me to have that conversation does not negate my conversation about the need for early childhood education, or the need for job training, or the need for investment in infrastructure or jobs in low-income communities…

But when I’m sitting there talking to these kids, and I’ve got a boy who says, you know what, how did you get over being mad at your dad, because I’ve got a father who beat my mom and now has left, and has left the state, and I’ve never seen him because he’s trying to avoid $83,000 in child support payments, and I want to love my dad, but I don’t know how to do that — I’m not going to have a conversation with him about macroeconomics. (Laughter and applause.)

I’m going to have a conversation with him about how I tried to understand what it is that my father had gone through, and how issues that were very specific to him created his difficulties in his relationships and his children so that I might be able to forgive him, and that I might then be able to come to terms with that.

And I don’t apologize for that conversation.

Amen, Mr. President.

Here’s the full transcript of President Obama’s remarks.

Who is Chris Cerf and why do the Feds want him kept away from Newark students?

NJEdDiagramChris Cerf planned to replace Cami Anderson as Newark Public Schools’ state-appointed superintendent, but following his attempted return to New Jersey schools the Feds are scrutinizing his record, and they aren’t pleased with him. Let’s take a look at who this man is:

Mark Weber writes

In many ways, Cerf is the prototypical education “reformer”: he never taught in a public school, never earned a degree in education, and never ran a school building. More accurately, perhaps, Cerf is the prototype of a new sort of reformer, one who leaves a groundswell of resistance in his wake.

What did Cerf accomplish in New Jersey in his years as Department of Education Commissioner?
For starters, Mark tells how Cerf created the apartheid school system that prevails in New Jersey today.

Segregated and apartheid schools are now a defining feature of New Jersey. A scathing report from the Institute on Education Law and Policy at Rutgers-Newark finds that many of New Jersey’s schools have moved beyond “segregated” status. They are, in effect, apartheid schools, where children of color have little or no interaction with white students. This intense segregation extends to poverty status as well … And we know that student poverty is heavily correlated to proficiency

NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer voiced concerns over Cerf leaving his DOE post last year to go work for a company that on Cerf’s watch won millions of dollars of New Jersey school contracts:

…we are deeply concerned that Commissioner Cerf is leaving his position to become CEO of Amplify Insight. In Cerf’s new position, he and his company will profit from selling assessment products and services to public schools struggling to adapt to exactly the kind of misguided mandates that Cerf’s Department of Education is currently imposing on New Jersey’s schools.

Bob Braun shares reasons why neither Christie nor his staff have fallen under legal scrutiny for the terrible things they’ve done to public education:

No competent investigatory agency has looked into Cerf’s private dealings before, while, and after he was commissioner. Christie controls the state attorney general’s office. The US Attorney’s office is now run by Paul Fishman, a Casper Milquetoast of a prosecutor when it comes to Christie. The US Department of Education still has six pending complaints sitting before it brought by Newark residents and officials. There is never any rush when the children of Newark are the ones who need help.

In the same shininingly clear exposition, Bob lays out what the crux of the problem with Cerf is.

Anderson and Cerf stole (quality public education) from the children of the city. The children did not get what was, by law, rightfully theirs … They decided on their own—in contravention of state and federal law, regulation, and policy – to give Anderson a free hand to do whatever she wanted to do to “help” the failing Newark schools. That meant hiring millions of dollars worth of consultants, including former associates of Anderson who had gone into the private sector. It meant closing schools and handing them over to privately operated charters—including one Cerf once served as a trustee. Firing good teachers. Hiring incompetent, inexperienced administrators…

Cerf and Anderson ran the Newark schools according to dictates of their own ambitions and ideology and they ran those schools into the ground.

…just a few days ago, the federal government accused Cerf of evading state and federal law and regulations in a way that enhanced the suffering of Newark’s children.

Which is the reason, Bob says, that the Feds want Cerf kept away from Newark students.

A big bonus in Bob’s article is that he explains the various programs set up to monitor and control New Jersey education and shows the relationship between them, in the clearest way I’ve seen yet. It’s been really hard to understand what the programs are and how they work. Bob’s breakdown into regional, state and federal designations along with a succinct explanation of what each program is intended to do, helps me understand much better.

Booker attempts to whitewash friend Cami’s black NPS record

Booker and CamiFormer Newark mayor Cory Booker, a close friend and former employer of Cami Anderson, did not resist the temptation to try to inject positive spin into Cami’s recent removal from Newark Public Schools. Anderson is the New Jersey appointed Newark Public Schools superintendent who just left Newark in the wake of widespread protests for all the damage she’s caused to the students and schools she was hired to serve and protect.

Asked about the politics surrounding Anderson vacating of the position, Booker said “I’m happy with her contributions, things we should all be appreciative of.”

Really – what are those contributions we should all appreciate, Sen. Booker? I’ve only heard bad things about this woman. Such as:

  • In May, thousands of Newark Public Schools students walked out of school and together with supporters, shut down Newark’s downtown streets for several hours in protest of all the damage Cami has done
  • Newark’s current Mayor Ras Baraka called for her removal on the same grounds
  • Cami and Chris Cerf spent millions of dollars on consultancies owned by their friends whose assessments of NPS produced no important outcomes
  • National attention for barring the 5 young children of the Tillman family from attending their neighborhood school and a local television story won the family a reprieve from an impossible situation. At the beginning of the 2014 school year, Cami assigned the children to 5 separate schools located in different corners of the city, each one far from home and refused to consider reassignment to make it easier for their parents to escort them to school. After the news report, Cami relented and put them together in a single school closer to home.

The Washington Post handily sums up the overall impact that New Jersey state control has had on NPS:

Christie has the right to decide who runs the Newark school system because it is under state control and has been since 1995. It hasn’t been improved since.

Christie’s dismal record on union/labor rights just got worse

Christie, sweeney, bookerChristie has assaulted vulnerable New Jersey residents and labor rights all the years of his governorship. Next City shares the low-down on what Christie’s gotten away with, and how he’s done it.

Take public education: having promised when he was campaigning to take care of New Jersey’s teachers, after getting into office Christie proceeded to systematically destroy public ed, along with teachers’ and students lives and the bloodshed is far from over. Newark and Camden have been among the communities hardest hit.

Christie has now taken his assault to an entirely new level by wrangling a court victory for his refusal to fund state pensions. It seems clear that Christie wants to make sure that union workers – whose organizations finance Democratic candidate’s campaigns – won’t have comfortable lives or enough money to wage battle.

New Jersey Law Journal writes:

A divided New Jersey Supreme Court ruled June 9 that Gov. Chris Christie is not bound by a 2011 pension reform law that he championed and trumpeted as a highlight of his administration … The ruling, authored by Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, is a clear win for Christie, who will not be required to repay nearly $2.5 billion that he diverted from the pension system the last two years in order to balance the state’s budgets.

So, who is fighting GOP darling Christie? Civil rights groups are taking a bold stand against him for education, worker’s rights and the environment, aren’t they? Well, not exactly. Justice is why it seemed to be such a stunning betrayal of what the NAACP stands for when the New Jersey NAACP President secretly invited Chris Christie to keynote at the 2015 convention luncheon. Some members were appalled, citing damage Christie has caused to people of color in the Garden State. Daniel Hardwick of Camden told the Star-Ledger:

He’s abolished our school district. He’s disenfranchised 77,000 people of color. We no longer can vote for our school board, like all the other cities … So, Chris Christie? As keynote speaker? Everything he’s done is completely contrary to what our organization has fought for.

Christie’s traveling companion the day of the convention lunch was none other than New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat. If you have asked yourself why Dems never take a stand against the harm Christie dishes out, the friendly relationship between these two gentlemen and between Dem Sen. Cory Booker and Christie, might be the answers you’ve been seeking. The friendship should cool now that Christie has shown the breadth of his considerable backside to Sweeney and union members over pension benefits … but will it? The GOP doesn’t rely on union votes to elect its candidates, but the Dems sure do. It seems high time for New Jersey’s Dem politicians to wake up and smell the coffee.

In a different article, New Jersey Law Journal’s Michael Booth shares Sweeney’s reaction to the NJ Supreme Court ruling (emphasis mine),

…Democrats who backed the (pension) reform law received criticism from the public-sector unions, who believed that their interests had been sacrificed for political gain.

But if immediate reaction to the ruling is any indication, Christie’s invitation to the Democratic leadership and the unions to resume pension reform talks might prove to be wishful thinking.

The cooperation of Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, was vital in reaching the 2011 agreement. But at a press conference held after the court’s ruling was released, he made it clear he was not open to further negotiations with Christie.

“I listen to the governor say come back to the table,” Sweeney said. “Who in their right mind would come back to a table and negotiate with someone that didn’t keep the first part of the deal?”

We can only pray that Sweeney’s state of mental health remains intact and that he has finally decided to advocate for the wellbeing and rights of the people who elected him.

Don’t be fooled – Christie’s still bent on destroying public ed & New Jersey

Christie IHOPIt’s more than laughable that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is suddenly trying to show the nation that he cares about public education and the teachers whose lives, finances and careers he’s been systematically destroying ever since taking office two elections ago. It should be next to impossible to show something that isn’t real, but we’re talking about a public relations genius who got elected in 2013 on the strength of mistruth whoppers, namely:

  1. Christie hugged Obama to make himself look like a moderate Republican ready to reach over the aisle to form an alliance with Democrats to care for the people of his state when tragedy struck.
  2. Christie acts like he cares about New Jersey residents hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.

The facts are that Christie has no love for the President. He hasn’t “done a good enough job distributing the (Sandy recovery funds) New Jersey has already received” and he refuses to release $500 million of federal recovery funds to applicants that have been qualified as eligible for help. Christie’s political grandstanding also arguably cost New Jersey schools hundreds of millions of dollars.

While on the subject of education: to whet your appetite, the Washington Post did a round-up in January 2014 of various ways Christie has been noticed doing harm to New Jersey teachers. If you want something really damning, turn to Jersey’s Jazzman’s The Screaming Hypocrisy of @GovChristie On Education.

Let’s not forget about his corporate tax giveaways, the Exxon-Mobil settlement he arranged that will rob New Jersey of $8.5B damages payments from the oil giant and Bridgegate. Even a master propaganda artist can’t put a positive spin on a record this bad. Want to see more? Check out this extensive list from One New Jersey of too many ways Christie has dismally failed the people of New Jersey.

Newark Students’ May 22 walkout and protest over 2000 strong

Newark 1505 student walkoutOn May 22 2015, over 2000 students and supporters shut downtown Newark NJ down for several hours to create visibility and bring awareness to the horrors Newark students have experienced at the hands of Chris Christie, Cory Booker and Cami Anderson, who jointly created a plan to break the back of public education in this city.

Anderson’s “One Newark” plan has young children from a single family barred from attending the school local to their home and instead, being sent far outside their neighborhood to 4 different schools in different corners of the city. Each child must take 2-3 bus rides and spend an hour of commuting time each way to reach school. Throughout the city, public school students are denied books and sanitary food; the principals and administrative staff of the city’s most successful schools are fired; and police charges were filed against a PTA president for hanging flyers announcing the PTA’s next meeting.

As the walkout and protest clearly show, a growing number of students and their supporters are completely fed up. In the words of my esteemed friend and public education advocate Johnnie Lattner, “Enough is enough.”

Here’s some news coverage of yesterday’s walkout, many links courtesy of Bashir Akinyele, host of All Politics Are Local, America’s #1 political Hip Hop radio show

Politico’s attempt to make fun of Baraka is an utter #fail

Ras BarakaMatt Bonamo tried pretty hard to discredit Ras Baraka in his March 19 Politico Magazine article. He failed, because Ras is good at being good – but not for lack of trying.

Ras with finger alongside noseFirst, look at the photo Mark chose as his lead: why is Baraka’s face contorted, and his finger laid alongside his nose? Only one logical answer: the photo is meant to be demeaning. In the article’s wrap-up, Bonamo quotes Ras using syntactically regional language. Again, why? Why list every one of Booker’s impressive educational credentials and then contrast that with a quote showing Baraka being loose with his grammar? Again, the reason is clear: Bonamo obviously meant to discredit Mayor Baraka.

Bonamo’s article also clearly shows he drank the ‘Newark school Reform’ Kool Aid and loved it. It’s too bad Bonamo did absolutely no background research on this topic. It’s not like truthful reporting about the so-called school reform scam is hard to find. Mark Zuckerberg’s much-touted-by-the-media’s $100 million gift was not to help Newark schools. It was to help bolster the charter schools incursion into Newark, which itself is meant to serve as a wedge to close public schools and sell off the buildings in which they are housed – valuable city assets – to education privatizers (aka charter school developers). Booker and Christie are the New Jersey ringleaders of this effort and Cami Anderson is a captain in their army of betrayal of the public trust.

The One Newark school reorganization plan that Cami kicked into high gear this school year was not intended to provide better education and better choices to Newark students. Its single goal is to create discomfort and chaos in the lives of the city’s indigenous residents whom are primarily black, Latino and poor, and to decrease education quality for the city’s students. But with Mayor Baraka’s support, Newark’s student heroes continue to protest valiantly and brilliantly against attacks that are morally reprehensible and socially irresponsible.

I guess they’ll win because heroes are hard to beat.

Newark students – heroes in spite of being deprived of books and food

Support Newark studentsThe Student Heroes of Newark is a phrase coined by Daniel Katz in a Huffington Post article on how Newark, New Jersey students are handling the challenges of being starved by the Christie Administration and Cami Anderson, Newark Schools superintendent for classroom books and even food.

One student explains that there may be four textbooks in a classroom of over 30 children. Another, that there isn’t enough food in the cafeteria for both lunch and breakfast: if the staff serve one meal, they run out of food for the other. Take a look for yourself at this 3 minute video – these young people are powerful advocates and know how to tell their story.

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