A+ R A-

More Commentary

Fighting Cuts to Child Care

E-mail Print PDF

By Marian Wright Edelman, NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) New York City parent Yvonne works as a home care attendant to help support her three-year-old son Darnell. While Yvonne is working, Darnell is enrolled at Franklin Square Head Start, part of Union Settlement in East Harlem, where he receives quality child care and is thriving. Earlier this year Yvonne received a letter saying Darnell would be dropped from the program on September 2, 2011. Yvonne can’t afford a private preschool and she can’t leave Darnell home alone. Without other affordable options, when September comes Yvonne will have nowhere for Darnell to go while she works.

On New York’s Lower East Side, Macology’s father MacDonald drops her off at the Lillian Wald Pre-School every morning after his night shift and her mother picks her up in the evening on the way home from her job. MacDonald and his wife are enrolled in school and working to support their three children. Quality child care like the Lillian Ward Pre-School, where Macology gets to participate in dance, music, and gym, is essential to their family. If Macology loses her preschool place in September her parents don’t know what they will do.

Darnell, Macology, and their parents are among thousands of families in limbo in New York City since Mayor Bloomberg announced a draconian cut earlier this year of 17,000 child care slots effective September 2nd. These cuts would hurt many working families with children. The city had already cut 14,000 slots since 2006 and currently only serves 27 percent of the children eligible for child care subsidies. Cutting another 17,000 spaces would make this sizeable shortfall even worse. Thousands of nurses, cashiers, home health aides, and small business employees would be in a bind as families who work hard and pay taxes wouldn’t be able to go to work because they were losing their child care. So the Children’s Defense Fund-New York (CDF-NY) joined dozens of other organizations to form the Emergency Coalition to Save Children and released a report protesting the Mayor’s drastic cuts. In early May, Mayor Bloomberg released a revised budget proposal that restored $40 million of the original $91 million that had been cut in funding. While a positive first step, this budget will still result in at least 7,000 fewer low-income children having access to early childhood opportunities next year. In addition, the budget increased the cut to after-school programming, leaving almost 16,000 youths without after-school services.

New York City’s debate reflects what’s happening across the country as states and cities try to balance budgets by cutting child care services for working families. In 36 states and the District of Columbia, the annual cost of center-based child care for a four-year-old exceeds the annual in-state tuition at a public four-year college. As costs continue to rise and families continue to struggle in this fragile economy, it is time for state and local governments to expand rather than cut access to early learning opportunities for children making it harder for parents to afford and find appropriate care. As Mayra Delgado, another New York City parent of a three-year-old and a legal assistant in a law firm, put it: “If the city takes my son out of child care, I won’t be able to keep my job and support my family. In tough times, the child care that working families depend on should be the last thing the Mayor and City Council cut.” I agree.

Read the report “When There is No Care: The Impact on NYC Children, Families and Economy When the Mayor Eliminates Child Care for 17,000 Children” and join the coalition in standing up for children and families.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

Africa: Richest Natural Resources, Poorest People

E-mail Print PDF

It sounds depressing but there is a big silver lining to it. Once we organize the people and have them manage their God given resources, the sky will be the limit. Africa is blessed with a great future and the question is when will they, the people of this great continent, get organized and start managing this blessing. Of course slavery and colonialism were great distractions. Now, it is corruption and the lack of democracy and free trade. Sometimes it seems like a spinning wheel. Remember when President Clinton claimed Cote D'Voire to be an example of stability but now it is in total chaos.

Rwanda was the setting of genocide and appeared to be on the oblivion. Now, it is a very stable nation with a path to greatness. Such is the case of this continent. It is a spinning wheel where the Devil appears off and on and in very places. We, the children of Africa, need to form a winning strategy that will bring stability to the continent and nation by nation we overcome the evils of corruption, outside manipulation, and exploitation of the precious minerals.

First, we need a Strategic Plan for the emergence of Africa as a first world conglomerate of nations. This won’t come from the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, USAID, World Bank or even the African Union or other groups that profess to be in the best interest of the people of sub-Saharan Africa. Scrap all of them and start with a new entity independent and self-sufficient.

The first challenge is corruption. We could use the model of India which is also plagued with corruption. Yes, Asia, South America as well as Africa are plagued with full scale corruption. In India, the government official who receives corrupt payments will be fined double the amount of the money transferred. The person who gave him the proceeds will not be prosecuted, if he brings the evidence forward and assists in the evidence. This is making a difference. A nation cannot achieve economic empowerment without killing the corruption industry. It defies all potential progress and will leave a nation powerless in its quest for prosperity. The key here is a government that resolves to crack down on this hideous and immoral phenomenon.

Clearing out the corruption activity will pave the way for great improvement. Africa, it is blessed with rare metals, perhaps the largest in the world. Right now China controls 97% of all the precious metals in the world. They are manipulating the markets. An example is lithium light bulbs. They hold the lithium and General Electric wants to introduce the light bulbs to the world. China tells General Electric it will sell the lithium to them but the company will have to build the plant in China. Thus, the new light bulbs that will become a requirement for all of us will come exclusively from China. The sad thing is Africa has all the lithium we need but it is not excavated and processed for us. This is a great opportunity for our Motherland. To garner our natural resources and process them for the free markets – trillions upon trillions of dollars and jobs will flow and the nations of Africa will become centers of enterprise. Think of cell phones, computers, batteries, etc. the key precious metals are abundant in Africa but yet neither we nor anyone else has bothered to mine and harvest them.

There is enough African talent that has already graduated from the greatest universities of Europe and America and is ready to return to their respective nations to participate in new and thriving economies. All we need is good governance and democracy. Thus, we must be prudent and without leniency to those who transgress from good governance. The era of aid to Africa should come to an end. Aid and easy credit loans is a drug to our Sub-Saharan nations. Feasibility studies and strategic plans should be in place along with investment from nations with the expertise of helping change African nations into a self-sufficient “bread basket” with the best innovation in Agri-business and the harvesting of its own God given resources.

This land “burps” oil and has diamonds laying casually on the surface of its land. Platinum, coltan, gold, lithium, and other precious metals are abundant and they are the key to modern world technology. Africa, you have been blessed and the time for your to take advantage of that is now.

Let us stop any exploitation of Africa and prevent those who wish to take the resources without adequately compensating Africa for them. Africa is a diamond and it should not be taken as a piece of glass. It is time for strong African leaders to rise and face this madness. You own the “diamonds” but you let them treat you like “glass”. ENOUGH ALREADY!

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Letter to the Editor: An open letter to our community

E-mail Print PDF

We the undersigned faculty of California State University, San Bernardino, are reaching out to our fellow community members to inform them about the current threat to public higher education and how it will affect all of us living in the Inland Empire. We hope you will join us in defending a precious community resource that has delivered personal, social, and economic success to thousands of families during our 45 years of existence.

CSUSB has educated today's political and business leaders, nurses, teachers, civil servants, working professionals and countless others.

We fear, however, that current trends threaten our ability to continue to offer students access to a high-quality, affordable education that will position them for success in the job market and not leave them laden with enormous student loan debts.

Since 2002, student fees at Cal States have increased by over 260%. This is an unprecedented tax on those who can least afford it. The state must stop hiking student fees to offset funding cuts to the Cal State system. By raising student tuition, we are limiting the ability of our students and their families to afford a college education.

In addition to fees, student access to an education at CSUSB is directly linked to funding from the state. At CSUSB, chronic underfunding has already meant reductions in faculty jobs, overcrowded classes, fewer available courses, and delays in student time to graduation. Last year, for the first time in its history, Cal State denied admission to 40,000 eligible students state-wide. At CSUSB, 1,500 eligible students were turned away. The prospect of additional budget cuts this year is very real. If the governor's proposed tax extensions are not enacted, the Cal State system could suffer up to an additional $1 billion reduction in funding – this represents a quarter of the system’s budget! With a “cuts only” budget, we risk turning away thousands more from the CSU. Our elected leaders must find ways to see past partisan politics and do what’s best for our state’s future.

In these times of economic crisis people need more educational opportunities, not less. If we continue to diminish opportunities to attain a public higher education, the future result will be a more undereducated and underpaid labor force, resulting in poor economic performance for our region and the state. It would mean additional stress on our local economy, and less tax revenue for our cities while creating more need for public services, at a time when critical public services are also being drastically defunded.

For our part, California Faculty Association, the CSUSB faculty union, will do everything we can to ensure access to all those who wish to attend the university. This includes holding the CSU Chancellor accountable for decisions made in recent years to increase the numbers and salaries of top level administrators, as well as hire high-priced private consultants for pet projects, instead of prioritizing student instruction and services.

We need your help. California lawmakers must understand that higher education is not a cost but an economic benefit to our community.

Every dollar invested in CSUSB results in more than four dollars in economic activity generated by our graduates. In these hard times, cutting funding to CSUSB is bad economic policy.

Together we have the power to protect CSUSB for present and future generations of students and their families. We urge you to stand with us and help us defend our University! Please write or call your local representatives in state government and tell them that keeping CSUSB strong is essential to you, your children and future generations in our region. (Find your local legislator at:

http://www. legislature.ca.gov/portzipsearch.html)

If we work together, we can ensure that CSUSB continues to serve our community. We must join together to protect our region’s most valuable asset.

CSUSB Faculty

Tax, Tax, Tax – Now They Want Your Grocery Bags

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) Local and state governments are just like the federal government. They want to keep their largesse ways and not face the demand for austerity and good fiscal management. When times get tight they seek to get into your pockets via obscene taxation on any and everything they can find. There is no regard for the underserved or populations that can least afford damaging taxation for the sake of keeping massive governmental infrastructures.

Many cities and counties are slipping taxes on cell phones like they are luxury items. The truth is cell phones are security items, family management tool,s and access to the Internet. Black citizens use cell phones as their number one vehicle to the Internet. So, when they start slapping taxes on your child’s phone and you are on a limited fixed income or assistance it becomes terribly damaging. They are doing this with reckless abandon and that is why we are pushing for a federal bill that will declare cell phones interstate commerce and prohibit any further local taxes for at least 10 years.

Let’s say you purchase a download through the Internet. You live in Philadelphia and you buy it from a firm in Seattle, Washington. The server used in this transaction is located in St. Louis. What may happen is a triple tax on this transaction. You may pay Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sales tax, Seattle,Washington sales tax, and a St. Louis, Missouri sales tax all on one transaction. It is becoming crazy and somehow we must bring good management and governance in this new age of doing business.

Now comes taxing grocery bags. Washington, D.C. started this under the last mayor. My wife and I no longer shop in D.C. We shop in Montgomery County, Maryland. However, the Montgomery County Council has just decided to implement their own five-cent grocery bag tax. Shall we now cross the Potomac River into Virginia? Better yet, let’s start getting a handle on this one.

The stated goals of the tax are to raise revenue and curb the use of grocery bags. The bags, the county says, are an environmental hazard. Instead, county officials say they want to encourage Montgomery County shoppers to use reusable bags.

Unfortunately, the measure misses the mark. What bag taxes like these result in isn’t very “green” at all. And, what might be affordable for one of America’s most affluent counties certainly wouldn’t be affordable for working class communities, let alone the entire state.

Eliminating free grocery bags at the checkout means consumers must search for alternatives – presumably reusable plastic or cloth bags. Both options weigh more and take more energy to produce, contributing to greater emissions, not less.

As alternatives, plastic reusables and cloth bags must be used repeatedly over time before their environmental impacts are less than that of plastic. If they aren’t reused to that extent, we only succeed in introducing more waste into our landfills. To illustrate, it would take 7.5 years of using the same cloth bag (393 uses, assuming one grocery trip per week) before it’s a better option than a plastic bag reused three times, like to carry lunch and then line a garbage can.

And since so many people (nine out of ten according to market surveys) reuse plastic grocery bags, without them, consumers would naturally replace plastic grocery bags with other, heavier gauge plastics, for household uses. After Ireland implemented its bag tax, consumption of purchased plastic trash bags increased by 400 percent. So, if the goal is to promote less waste in our landfills and use fewer plastics, bans and taxes don’t achieve those outcomes.

Bag taxes also skirt the real issue of litter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says plastic grocery bags make up less than 0.5 percent of the litter stream. Junk food wrappers, cigarette butts and paper, all make up bigger portions of litter, but plastic bags make for an easy target because they are visible, white, and often can get blown around. In effect, getting rid of plastic bags is negligible in cleaning up litter. Addressing litter requires more than just banning a product, it requires a change in habits, more recycling, and greater education.

A tax on grocery bags is regressive. A growing number of Americans rely on government assistance for food, and taxes like this hurt these groups the most. In a time of rising gas prices, and with the rising cost of commodities driving up our grocery bills, the added financial burden at the check-out for a cause that has an arguable impact on improving the environment just doesn’t make sense.

Though well-intended, a bag tax does more harm than help. Non-recyclable reusables are no better for the environment. The worst part is that the tax ends up hurting those that can least afford it. Fight this increased taxation effort whenever and wherever it comes up.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Demanding the Best Education for Black Children

E-mail Print PDF

(NNPA) Now that the economy in the United States continues to improve each month, there is an open question that remains concerning the economic empowerment status of Black Americans in 2011. But there is a prior question that will have both short term and long range implications for the economic future of Black Americans. Unless we do more now to acquire the best education possible for our children, there will not be a significant economic recovery in the African American community. We have to be more aware and active to demand nothing less than the best for our children. There are just too many African American young people who are attending some of the least performing schools across America. Another school year is about to end and the national report card is not good.

There is a crisis in the public education system throughout the United States. Study after study, statistic after statistic, and analysis after analysis all point to the fact that there are too many schools that are failing Black children on a daily basis. We cannot and should not be complacent about this situation. Something corrective and transformative must be done and it must be done now. Black parents, in particular, need to be at the forefront of the rapidly increasing School Choice Movement. The mission of the Black Alliance for Educational Options is to increase access to high-quality educational options for Black children by actively supporting parental choice policies and programs that empower low-income and working-class families.

It is important to emphasize that “school choice” places parents in charge of their children’s education. Black parents should always have the choice of selecting the best schools for their children, public or private. Some affluent parents exercise school choice more readily because they have the financial means to do so. Parents who can afford it simply do not permit their children to attend a failed school. They often decide to move to a certain neighborhood because of the quality of a high-performance traditional public school or that neighborhood has a high-performance innovative public charter school. Other parents, those who can afford it, send their children to high-quality private schools. But for the vast majority of Black American parents who are marginal middle-class or low-come and working-class, they cannot afford to move to better neighborhoods or to pay for private school tuition, according to the National School Choice advocates who believe that all children should have the opportunity to go to better schools; private schools via opportunity scholarships (most commonly called school vouchers), special needs scholarship programs, and scholarship tax credit programs. While this book focuses on those three reforms in particular, advocates also believe that states should eliminate barriers preventing the growth of high-quality charter schools, virtual schools, online learning options, and home schooling.

Page 60 of 90

Quantcast

BVN National News Wire