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Letter to the Editor

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Dear Editor, The purpose of the Fontana Teachers Association is to represent the interests of teachers and the students they serve. Thousands trust the FTA leadership to negotiate fair and equitable wages and working conditions. In Fontana, more than two thousand teachers contribute 1% of their wages annually towards this mission. These funds support many activities at both the state and local level, but the bottom line is that every penny should be devoted to responding to the issues and concerns of teachers.

Teachers are on the front lines with our students daily, and FTA must ensure that their hard earned dollars are used to improve teaching and learning. FTA should be their voice!

There are numerous concerns of teachers that remain to be addressed if we are to achieve the promise of educating every child. First, we must ensure that teachers possess all of the resources and training needed to deliver high quality instruction that is differentiated for each student’s specific needs.

According to one of the current board’s goals, we must also make sure that every resource is strategically allocated. The current board and superintendent would have us believe that the state is entirely responsible for the need to layoff teachers and slash their salaries. Yet, there is observable waste, inequity, and greed that can and must be addressed at the local level.

There are closets, rooms and even rented bins full of unused material while some teachers’ requests for even the most basic resources are denied! The superintendent generously reduced her own salary by the same five days as every other employee, but her salary is ten times or more the salary of the lowest paid person serving our children. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the salary of the top level administrators, and redistribute some of their largesse back into the classrooms.

Sadly, FTA has endorsed the three incumbents in the current school board election. The very people who have tolerated unfairness and inequity, who have chosen to support fiscal decisions that have lead us into the current dangerous financial situation. Visit any school and ask teachers how often they have actually seen a board member at their site other than to attend a social event. Question teachers about whether they believe working conditions and resources are fair and equitable.

There are serious issues to be addressed in the areas of equitable distribution of resources, fair treatment of employees and class size.

Until the wide disparities between and within our local schools are adequately addressed, our children’s dreams cannot truly be achieved. Education is at a critical crossroads in Fontana, and it is time for this community to take bold action in choosing our school leaders. A close look at the results achieved by the current board mandates that we take action for change this November. None of the incumbents has demonstrated the leadership demanded. Hopefully, the United Steelworkers will make wiser decisions when choosing candidates to endorse. Make your vote count. Vote for leadership with integrity on the Fontana School Board!!!

Sophia Green, Candidate for the Fontana Unified School Board.

Republicans Pledge: 'A Trick Bag For America'

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The Republican Party has spent most of the past two years as the "Party of No," opposing nearly every policy proposed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress --a strategy that has worked politically, according to polls that say this November's election could sweep Republicans back into the majority in the House and possibly the Senate. But until last week, the Republican Party had offered no agenda of its own--so party leaders finally produced one: the lofty-sounding "Pledge to America."

Sadly but predictably, this Pledge is nothing more than a promise to return to the failed policies that created the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and threw millions of Americans out of work--with most of the pain doled out to those at the bottom of the ladder.

Those who yearn for a return to George W. Bush's philosophy will cheer the Pledge's promises of tax cuts for the rich and lax regulation of Wall Street. They will applaud the Republican call to repeal universal health insurance and to hand the Social Security Trust Fund over to Wall Street.

But for African-Americans, this retrograde Pledge is a recipe for disaster.

Our communities were hit hard by the Great Recession, and the economic crisis continues. African-American unemployment now stands at 16.3%. Working families are struggling to pay the rent and keep food on the table. And the situation is critical for our youngest generation: among African-Americans ages 16 to 19, the unemployment rate is 26.2% -- and that doesn't include those with low-paying part-time jobs or those who have given up looking.

For these youth, the American Dream is turning into a nightmare.

President Obama and this Democratic Congress led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn (the highest- ranking African American in Congress) inherited this dire recession from Bush and the Republicans, and they've directed help toward those who need it most -- despite stiff opposition from Republicans in Congress. If the “Party of No” had gotten its way, the Great Recession could have been worse than the Great Depression – an economic hurricane instead of a bad storm.

They opposed the Recovery Act. They opposed healthcare reform. They opposed ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. They even opposed 7 of the 8 tax cuts Congress has passed to help small business owners.

We don't need to imagine what would have happened if Republicans ran Congress. We know their record – and now we can read their Pledge: to restore the immoral policies of Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush II: tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and benefit cuts for everyone else and of course, nothing special for Blacks.

It is unconscionable that at a time of our nation’s highest unemployment in more than 60 years, the Republicans propose a $4 trillion tax cut for the rich. They're trotting out the same tired argument they've recycled for 30 years: cut taxes for billionaires, and some of their wealth will trickle down to the rest of us. Meanwhile, the Republicans promise to repeal President Obama's Recovery Act, which cut taxes for 110 million families who don't happen to be rich.

We already know the harmful impact of trickle-down economics – nothing ever trickles down for Blacks, minorities and the poor. Under Presidents Reagan and Bush, the economic divide widened to historic proportions due to huge tax cuts for millionaires while workers' wages stagnated.

President Clinton made a dent in pervasive inequality by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and investing in education, healthcare, jobs and tax breaks for working families.

While turning the budget deficit into a surplus those policies were good for all America. But President George W. Bush pulled a 180 degree turnaround, cutting taxes for the richest of the rich, letting Wall Street run wild, and slashing federal aid to working families. The result: rising inequality, the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, a cataclysmic financial crisis and net loss of eight million jobs.

That's what the Republicans pledge to repeat.

One of the starkest contrasts between the Democrats and Republicans can be seen when it comes to healthcare. Today, one in five African-Americans is without health insurance. They can't afford doctor's bills if they get sick, and an emergency room visit or hospital stay can wipe out their life's savings. But we have reason to hope that this shameful situation will be eliminated in a few short years. Thanks to the landmark Healthcare Reform Law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama this year – unless the Republicans regain control of Congress. That is why we Blacks have to vote and get our neighbors, friends and community to vote. NNPA and our 200 Black publishers are asking our leaders to help us in rallying our base: churches, sororities, fraternities, Black students, community clubs, Black radio, community organizers, Black social media experts and all progressive people of goodwill.

That's right: with the U.S. finally on the brink of joining other developed nations that guarantee healthcare to all their citizens, the Republicans want to repeal universal health insurance, snatching healthcare away from tens of millions of people. The Republicans' Pledge makes it crystal clear what's at stake in November. We can't sit home on Election Day and let the Republican Party turn back the clock on our country and on Black people definitely. I pledge, on behalf of 200 Black newspapers in this country, to do what we can to stop them!

You can mark my words:If they take back the House (of Representatives), they will launch an investigation on President Obama that will make the investigation on President Clinton look like child’s play.

They will make his next two years untenable and miserable, leading up to 2012.

We will also lose two of our most visionary leaders of the 21st century in Speaker Pelosi and Majority Whip Clyburn. We can’t let that happen!

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. is Chairman of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA).

Katrina V – A City Rebuilding Itself

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(NNPA) Last month, I joined the people of my beloved hometown of New Orleans in commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a natural and manmade disaster of biblical proportions that claimed 1800 lives and caused more than $100 billion in damages. Katrina V, as this year's remembrance has been called, is a tale of two cities. According to a new report from Brookings and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, "Despite sustaining three shocks in the last five years [Katrina, the economic downturn, and the Gulf oil spill], greater New Orleans is rebounding and, in some ways, doing so better than before."

There is no doubt that due to the extraordinary resilience of New Orleans citizens, coupled with sustained assistance from a steady stream of volunteers, and a more effective response from all levels of government, large parts of the city are coming back. Signs of hope include the allocation last week of $1.8 billion in federal funds for New Orleans schools damaged during Katrina, notable improvements in the levee system, and a sweeping overhaul of the New Orleans police department whose actions after Katrina earned it the label as one of the worst and most corrupt in the nation.

This is especially painful for me because my successor Ray Nagin's inept leadership completely dismantled the remarkable police reform that took place when I served as Mayor of New Orleans from 1994-2002. In an 8 year period of reform crime dropped by 60% and corruption was snuffed out. This will hopefully begin to change due to the renewed confidence in government that will come with the election in February of a capable new mayor, Mitch Landrieu. But in places like Pontchatrain Park, where I grew up and in the Lower Ninth Ward, which suffered the worst damage from the storm, progress has come much too slowly, and much more needs to be done.

I saw some of these disparities first-hand last Sunday during my attendance at a rally and memorial for the people of the Lower Ninth who lost their lives during the storm.

While the high spirit of the community remains unbroken, there is no doubt that the pace of the neighborhood's recovery is lagging behind.

By most accounts only one-fifth of the Lower Ninth's 20,000 residents have returned since 2005. There is evidence that inequities in reconstruction funding along with arduous bureaucratic hurdles and the exclusion of many of the neigborhood's surviving and displaced residents in recovery planning has resulted in large patches of the community still languishing in shambles. So, even as we celebrate New Orleans' remarkable resilience, this is no time for "irrational exuberance."

As I told the crowd at the rally, "Until the Lower Ninth is back, New Orleans is not back."

It is remarkable that a hard-hit neighborhood like the Lower Ninth Ward is still standing today. There were calls by some after Katrina for it to be abandoned and never rebuilt.

But the people there and throughout New Orleans have never given up hope. That is what struck me most about my visit back home last week.

While New Orleans is grateful for more help from the government and the continued goodwill of a nation, its citizens are no longer standing on rooftops of despair waiting to be rescued.

In the spirit that is New Orleans, the city is rebuilding itself.

President Barack H. Obama's Strong Leadership

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By Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA Columnist –

Be careful on what you pray for, because God will answer your prayers. Millions of African Americans and others prayed for a President of the United States who would lead America in a more just and fair direction both domestically and internationally. Many believed two years ago that the world would never witness a Black man and woman in the White House.

Unless we are too quick to forget, prior to November 2008, the U.S. economy, world image, and national social divisions were all in pretty bad shape after eight years of failed leadership from President George W. Bush. Today as we approach the mid-term 2010 elections across the United States, it is very important for us not to lose our memory or sense of perspective.

This is also certainly not the time to become complacent or to take the importance of voting for granted.

Yes, the vast majority of African Americans are proud of the leadership and progress that has already been accomplished by President Barack H. Obama. Once again, the vital role of the Black Press reemerges on the national scene.

Most of the established media in the U.S. thrives off of cynicism and negative media coverage. We believe in objective reporting and constructive criticism. Yet, the problem is there appears to be more subjective criticism of President Obama than is warranted after only two years in office.

We pause, therefore, to salute the excellent and thorough broadcast of the Tom Joyner Morning Show that featured President Obama live on Friday, September 10, 2010. Joyner’s skilled interview of the President exemplified the best of the Black Press tradition of providing timely and crucial information to the African American and other communities who demand more objective truth in the media. Most of all, what was clear from that broadcast was the outstanding leadership of President Obama on a number of key issues critical to improving the quality of life of African Americans.

The leadership of a president is not to be judged solely by media coverage or by sheer popularity. Presidential leadership should be judged by how well a president leads the nation forward, not backward.

In 2010, even with the persistent economic and unemployment challenges, the U.S. under Obama’s leadership has moved in a forward, progressive manner in terms of foreign and domestic policies.

It goes without saying that we understand that the President of the United States has the responsibility to act and lead in behalf of all the people of the U.S. One of the reasons why we attest to President Obama’s strength as a national and world leader is that while he has held the office with high dignity and integrity, and has well represented all of the people in the U.S., he has not forgotten about the Black American community in terms of public policies, budget allocations, and other governmental actions.

During the Tom Joyner Morning Show interview, President Obama in summary stated, “What we’ve been trying to do is build a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity in our communities… Now, what we hve done over the course of two years is laid the foundation. Put in place some key reforms… I mentioned health care reform. That’s going to mean millions of African Americans and Hispanics and people of every stripe across the country who did not have health care… now are going to have health care. Number two in terms of one of the keys that we’ve always talked about in terms of job growth - long term - is education. We have done more to reform education in our communities in the last two years than had been done in the previous 20 years, and that’s at every level K-12...

But it goes all the way up to higher education, where HBCUs are getting $850 million dollars over the next 10 years… So, no we’re not where we need to be. But at least we’re moving forward, and what we can’t start doing is moving backwards.”

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is a national civil rights leader, Senior Advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and President of the Education Online Services Corporation.

Why We Are Marching on October 2nd

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The past two years have been marked by major progress despite massive challenges, and a worrying resurgence of far-right activity, urging massive resistance to our momentum. We must keep pushing forward. We have come too far to let ourselves be turned back now.

Together with our allies in the civil and human rights community, the NAACP and our allies have advanced an agenda that has successfully increased rights for women at work, expanded healthcare coverage to tens of millions of Americans, cut the sentencing disparity between crack and powder by more than 80 percent, saved more that 150,000 teacher's jobs, and created more than 3 million more jobs throughout the economy.

At the same time, we know 8 million American jobs have been lost and not replaced, more than 2.5 million Americans have lost their homes and 5 million are at high risk of losing their homes, schools are closing at unprecedented rates, and Americans continue to be imprisoned at an alarming rate. In each case, people of color are generally worse off, and black Americans are bearing an especially high portion of the burden.

Despite having such evidence of what we can accomplish together, we have seen voter participation rates plummet--from Shelby County, Tennessee to Alameda County, California.

This has been especially true amongst Black Americans.

Simultaneously, far-right extremists have found their way back into the nation's political discourse and helped reenergize a retrograde agenda that includes attacks on every pillar of our civil rights protections from the Voting Rights Act to the Civil Rights Act to the 14th Amendment itself.

Now is the time to get everyone off the sidelines and back on to the battlefield.

We must be bold and aggressive in turning this situation around and we cannot remain quiet in the face of such clear and imminent danger. Our faith tradition teaches us to run and not get weary, walk and not faint.

We have made great progress and many strides, but we must press forward because our work is not simply for us-but for the future of our children and their children.

The history of the NAACP and our allies has always called on us, in the face of disparity, injustice, and rising hate to build big diverse coalitions that dream bold dreams and win big victories. Mobilization is our core value.

Building big coalitions to fundamentally push America forward has always been our guiding principle.

We did it when we fought the rampart lynching of the south, when we desegregated the military, when we dismantled Jim Crow, passed the Voting Rights Act, and when we made health care reform a reality for 32 million Americans. All of these victories were won because we worked to build large and diverse coalitions, and dared to dream big victories. Today is no different.

This is why we are building a broad coalition of ONE NATION Working Together.

A coalition that will work to bring America together and put America back to work-for its most precious resource- it's people.

Alaska will be there. Alabama will be there. New York will be there.

North Carolina will be there. Texas will be there. California will be there. And we need you and your members there in unprecedented numbers too.

This effort is unifying the civil and human rights community, student activists, faith communities, immigration activists, small business leaders, and labor activists behind a common agenda for increasing opportunity in America, by:

--Increasing job creation --

Defending and enforcing civil rights protections, including ending racial profiling --Increasing support for public education from pre-K to post-college

--Increasing access to credit for small businesses and bankruptcy protection for homeowners --

Ensuring every worker has a voice on the job --And fixing our nation's broken immigration system.

Fighting for educational equality, equal protection under the law, good jobs, economic empowerment and labor rights all are central core values of our work in the past, present, and will continue to be the cornerstone surely in the future.

Bringing attention to dispariites is a key mandate of our constitution.

This why we must mobilize. This is why we must hold on to victories and press forward with hope.

This mobilization on 10-2-10 will wake up our communities; make visible our unity, resolve, and majority; re-energize every activist who joins us; and change the national discourse in ways that will remind our neighbors that the 2010 election matters.

This mobilization will set the stage for turning out our neighbors on 11-2-10.

It will pay dividends in expanding and empowering our base of volunteers for voter mobilization.

This mobilization will make real progress possible beyond 2010. It will ensure our agenda is empowered in the next Congress (as it was in this one) by allies who came together and made their demands known BEFORE the election.

This mobilization will celebrate our victories, celebrate the power of collective unity to promote change and call on our friends and allies from across this great nation to fight with us until our agenda is fully in line with reality---one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for ALL.

We and our allies are STILL the majority of voters in this country.

The forces of hope that ushered in change has not disappeared, it has simply gone back to the couch. So let us wake our neighbors up, turn our neighbors out to the polls, and keep making real progress happen for our communities and all Americans.

One Nation. One Dream. One Nation Working Together For All Americans.

For information on how to get on the bus with us go to NAACP.org or onenationworkingtogether.org

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