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Decisive Actions Lead To Results

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On March 9, 2010, the state announced the names of schools ranked in the lowest five percent for academic achievement in the state. These schools will require substantial changes to their school year, governance, and funding. Among the schools named, 11 are a part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

Our community should know San Bernardino City Schools had already taken decisive actions at all of the schools on this new state list, prior to the creation of the list. In fact, most of the schools listed have made great progress in the last two to three years due to these decisive actions. We have aggressively added new leadership at most of these schools as well as provided additional training and material for teachers. We have provided teacher and administrator coaches and academic specialists, restructured academic offerings, and replaced weak programs with strong ones. The results have been positive and in some cases even spectacular!

District wide, our test scores have shown great gains over the course of the last six years. Six years ago 85 percent of the schools in San Bernardino were scoring in the 500 point range or lower in the Academic Performance Index (API). Today, almost 50 percent of our schools score in the 700-900 point ranges.

We have the highest scoring middle school at Richardson PREP HI. Middle College High School is among the highest scoring high schools in the county. We have almost doubled our career path programs for high school students. Our dropout rate is showing the steepest decline in the county, and our innovative programs and student interventions have earned the District numerous awards both at the state and national levels. All of this was accomplished in spite of declining enrollment, a weak economy, and the largest budget cuts to public schools since the Great Depression.

We believe that the state should take a new approach to support our local efforts, including funding sources that can be counted on from year to year and includes greater flexibility on how the funds can be used. Greater partnerships must be created between districts, businesses and city offices in order to maximize our resources and services for local families struggling with major economic and social obstacles that are unique to our community.

Education must be everyone’s priority because our children represent the future vitality of the community in which we live. Parents must become active partners and our teachers and administrators must not be villanized every time a new state program is rolled out.

It is important that we act decisively and quickly to address our latest challenges, and this is precisely what San Bernardino City Schools has done and will continue to do. We do expect that all of our schools will continue to improve as measured by the state’s measurement systems.

But, more importantly, we expect that our schools will be a great place for children to learn.

Dr. Arturo Delgado is Superintendent of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, the seventh largest in California, serving more than 53,000 students in the San Bernardino and Highland communities.

Keeping Taxes Local is Good Policy

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We had an opportunity to keep tax dollars generated in South Mead Valley, Wagon Wheel, Good Hope, Meadowbrook, and Warm Springs, in those communities, and thanks to the support of the residents and property owners, we did it!

Working with the leaders in these areas who sit on the Perris Valley Municipal Advisory Council and after holding numerous meetings in all five communities over the past 15 months, we had a good idea of what the resident’s wants and needs are, as well as services they asked us to provide with their tax dollars.

We will begin redirecting those tax dollars in June 2011, for public safety facilities, public health services, road paving, flood prevention and draining improvements, parks, community centers, and housing rehabilitation programs. These improvements to the community won’t happen overnight, but we will do this the old fashioned way, by saving those tax dollars for use on these improvements over time. During this 15 month process we also heard from the community about what they did not want.

They love the rural lifestyle, peace, tranquility, and solitude that these communities offer their residents and we all agree that should be preserved. We won’t be adding street lights which residents are concerned might impact Mount Palomar Observatory. We will not have wholesale plans to add sidewalks, street lights, and traffic signals either. This process is ongoing and we will work with the residents and property owners over the weeks, months, and years ahead to determine what they want first and when we do it. Make no mistake, not everyone is going to be happy but you have my word to listen and make the decisions based on what you have to say and what is in the best interest of the people who live there. Keeping tax dollars generated in a local community is not a new concept.

My colleagues and I on the Board of Supervisors have transformed our districts using local tax dollars in the communities that produced them. By using similar programs across the county we have added new services. These new facilities have included: fire stations, libraries, child care centers, senior centers and parks; repaired roads, and built new ones. We have also added youth activity centers, family resource centers, and even boxing clubs. Along the way we have installed new sewer lines, water lines, protected your drinking water, and improved access to medical care through health and dental clinics. These funds have been used to clean up our communities and illegal dumping sites and removed unsightly and unwanted graffiti.

Keeping tax dollars in the community in which they are generated is good public policy. So is seeking the advice of the people I have the honor and privilege to represent.

Supervisor Marion Ashley represents District 5. He is chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

HBO's Lily White World War

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(NNPA) - Cable television’s largest movie channel, HBO, has proudly shown two fictitious (they want you to believe it is a documentary) classics about World War II. Band of Brothers dealt with the European Theater and now Pacific is portraying the battles of the Pacific from a very racist point of view. Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of African Americans gave their blood, sweat and tears to this noble challenge these shows are void of any Black participation.

That is just one big lie! A lie that is racist to the core and we must call them out. They are trying to rewrite history to the detriment of Black legacy and pride and that is more than sinful. It is a crime.

The fact is that from the first day, Pearl Harbor, to the very end we were there in all theaters and during every major battle. Yes, just like in all other major wars the United States could not have prevailed in World War II if it weren’t for the efforts of Black military participants.

Recently, HBO showed a segment of Pacific dealing with the Battle of Guadalcanal. Funny, they showed no Blacks. My two uncles, Joseph and Isaiah Brown were there and they had many stories to tell about it. I have a copy of a letter my Uncle Joe wrote to my grandmother from his fox hole. It is so sentimental and I cherish it so much. He would also tell me about his days in Melbourne, Australia which the HBO segment showed.

He remembered the great breakfast of T-bone steak, eggs and a side plate of biscuits all for just nine cents. In route to the Solomon Islands my Uncle Ike (Isaiah) was thrown off his ship during a storm. They barely rescued him and his buddies.

My father-in-law, Charles DeBow, was one of the original four Tuskegee Airmen. He knocked out tanks in North Africa, Nazi artillery in Italy and radar sites in France in preparation of the Invasion of Normandy. They want us to think that the Tuskegee Airmen only ran protection for our bombers. Dad flew a P-38 dive bomber and flew missions almost daily. I am so proud to have his blood flowing through the veins of my sons.

One of my mentors, the late Arthur A. Fletcher, crossed Normandy Beach. There were over 40,000 Blacks who crossed during the Normandy Invasion unlike what Steven Spielberg and HBO want you to believe. While performing guard duty one night in Northern France, Art was shot through his spleen. He would proudly show me the twelve inch scar to prove it.

His racist superiors would not put him in for a Purple Heart because they claim that since the bullet went completely through him they had no proof if it were a Nazi bullet or just a bullet from one of those red neck 3rd Army bigots trying to shoot them a N------.

Another mentor of mine, the late Leroy Toombs, served in a submarine in the Pacific. Our Pacific submarines decimated Japanese supply lines and Leroy loved to talk about their exploits.

One morning they sunk three ships within twenty minutes, probably a record. They had so many prisoners they couldn’t take any more. Thus, they had to surface and shoot all survivors as they could divulge their coordinates to the Japanese Navy. Yes, war is hell.

The late Congressman Parren J. Mitchell, another mentor of mine, had his World War II stories also. Parren was a bona fide hero. One day he deliberately fell on a live German grenade during a battle in Italy in order to save three other soldiers. Well, they gave him his Purple Heart, unlike Art, but he really deserved a Medal of Honor. There are thousands of these stories about our brave African-Americans who served their country so well even thought they had to return to a Jim Crow society. They were strong and proud. Even though they were discriminated against as they wore their uniforms with battle decorations they remained strong.

So brilliant was the service of our tank battalions, paratroopers, airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines. It was like we do on basketball courts and football fields today. These heroes paved the road that General Colin Powell and others would follow. I am a proud veteran but not a minute will pass that I don’t forget the great Blacks who came before my time and created this great legacy. This is why I am so upset at HBO. These portrayals of World War II are big, racist lies and they are trying to do a very dastardly thing – rewrite history to the detriment of a whole race. We need to organize and have them removed from television.

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

Don't Let the Corporations Steal Our Voice

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By James Rucker, NNPA Guest Commentary –

Throughout the Black struggle for justice and equality, few things have meant more than the ability to speak out and to speak forcefully.

Whether it was David Walker’s Appeal for action against the horrors of slavery published in 1829, the cause of Cinque and the Amistad slave ship revolt in 1841, the words of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the oratory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or the fiery rhetoric of Malcolm X—the power to speak, to challenge, to rally, to defend, and to define have been crucial for us as a people.

Today, the battle to have our voices heard isn’t about access to a newspaper, a TV show or a radio program. Through the “open” Internet, modern technology has opened the door for Black America to speak truth to power in direct and unfiltered ways. We can speak loudly enough on the Internet that our points of view make their way into traditional media outlets – our participation in the marketplace of ideas can’t be ignored. That’s what I mean by an “open Internet”: our voices can compete on a level playing field with the biggest corporations, and we don’t need a lot of money to do it. This is the reason the Internet is so diverse, and it’s why thousands of Black blogs, online businesses, and news sites have flourished in recent years.

But our newfound voice is now in jeopardy.

In an effort to make even more money, corporations that provide highspeed Internet service (such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon) are trying to fundamentally change the way the Internet works by acting as gatekeepers over what you see or do online. The fight is over “net neutrality,” a principle that has guided the Internet since it began, and which means that Internet service providers can’t decide which websites load fast, slow, or not at all. Sounds simple and logical right? After all, why would you want At&T to be able to block, filter, or slow down what you or anyone else puts online? Well, these corporations see it differently.

They are fighting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the right to create a new system where they can charge large fees to speed up some websites, while leaving those who can’t afford to pay in the slow lane. For these companies, the ability to discriminate online would amount to billions of dollars of new revenue. But such a system would end the Internet as we know it — giving wealthier voices online a much bigger megaphone than poorer voices. It would mean an Internet with far less potential for our communities.

Sadly, these corporations have enlisted trusted civil rights groups like the NAACP, National Urban League, and others — groups to whom they’ve donated millions of dollars — to oppose or question net neutrality policies. These groups argue that net neutrality could limit minority access to the Internet. They say that unless we allow Internet service providers to make bigger profits by acting as gatekeepers online, they won’t make high-speed Internet access more affordable in underserved communities. In other words, if Comcast — whose broadband Internet business is already earning 80 percent profit margins — can increase its profits under a system without net neutrality, then it will all of a sudden invest in expanding Internet access in our communities.

The argument is bogus, and the FCC knows it. Businesses invest where they can maximize their profits, period.

Internet service providers are already making huge profits, and if they believed that investing in low-income communities made good business sense, they would already be doing it. The idea that making even more money is suddenly going to make them care about our communities is ridiculous.

Expanding high-speed Internet access in poor and minority communities is an important goal and we must fight to make sure it becomes a reality. But there are no reliable data or plausible arguments that suggest preserving net neutrality is at odds with this goal. Still, civil rights groups are creating the false impression that our communities stand firmly against net neutrality policies, giving cover to the broadband providers, and making it difficult for the FCC to protect the open Internet against corporate attempts to control it.

Network neutrality is a civil rights issue for the 21st century, and like the last great civil rights generation, we have a choice to make. We can stand up to the corporations that want to control the means by which we organize and speak truth to power, or we can allow the Internet to go the way of television, radio, and print media — where we have virtually no control over the production and distribution of ideas, and where our voices are ghettoized and limited. I’m hoping that we make the former choice, and I appeal to you to join me in making it a reality. You can help by writing the Federal Communications Commission and telling them that you support net neutrality, or by visiting our website at www.colorofchange.org/opennet.

James Rucker is co-founder of ColorOfChange.org, an online citizens' lobby, and he serves as its executive director.

Hardy Brown: What's On My Mind

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Dear Hardy:

I write to express my surprise at the piece entitled “Joe Baca: What’s On Your Agenda?” which appeared recently in the Black Voice News. Through the year long debate on healthcare, I have consistently been supportive of President Obama and served as a strong advocate in Congress for reform that lowers costs, increases coverage to more Americans, and ends denial of coverage for Americans with preexisting medical conditions.

Any assertions to the contrary are simply not true.

As you may remember, when the current healthcare debate first began in earnest last summer, early on I expressed my support for the inclusion of a public option in any substantial health reform bill. In fact, I hosted a health forum right here in the 43rd District, at which I expressed my views on health reform and heard valuable feedback from the community. In November of 2009, I was proud to stand with the President and other supporters of insurance reform to pass the Affordable Healthcare for America Act – healthcare legislation that included a public option on state run insurance exchanges. If you doubt the sincerity of my support for this legislation, I urge you to view the Congressional Record online at www.congress.gov. If you do view these records, you will find that I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives numerous times in support of healthcare reform in the last few weeks leading up to the vote on the Affordable Healthcare for America Act. The online video of these floor speeches can also be found at http://www.c-span-video.org/videoLibrary/congress.php.

As the debate continued in to 2010, President Obama released his final healthcare proposal on February 22. While some of my colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus initially remained neutral on this proposal, I immediately made my voice clear as a strong supporter of the President’s plan. Just as in 2009, I expressed my support of healthcare reform early and often. In the months leading up to the final vote on the historic legislation, I spoke on the House floor on seven different occasions in support of healthcare reform. Again, I urge you to research my words in the Congressional Record at www.congress.gov; and view the video of my floor speeches at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/congress.php.

Make no mistake, outside of my vote against the Iraq war; I consider my vote cast in support of healthcare reform late on the evening of March 21 to be the single most important vote in my time in Congress.

I am well aware of the positive impact this historic healthcare reform will have on our communities in the Inland Empire.

In my Congressional District alone this reform will give health coverage to 119,000 people who previously lacked any insurance, and improve coverage for 362,000 residents who currently have insurance. It will also give tax credits and other assistance to up to 146,000 families and 10,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage. And by creating state-run small business health option exchanges, increases the number of quality, affordable coverage options to business owners and employees.

Thanks to the President’s leadership and my vote in Congress 22,600 of my constituents with pre-existing conditions will now obtain coverage, over 1,500 Inland families will now be protected from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs, and staring in September of this year, over 75,000 students and young adults in my District will now be able to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans, and be guaranteed insurance security until at least the age of 26. And healthcare reform provides important benefits to America’s seniors, extending Medicare’s solvency and fixing the ‘donut hole’, so 5,200 seniors in my District will never again have to choose between putting food on the table or buying medicine.

Hardy, given our personal history together, I am confused as to why you would doubt my support for healthcare reform? Affordable health care is a basic civil right for all Americans. I have worked closely with you to bring greater awareness to PLS, through the introduction of legislation that passed the House of Representatives calling for February to be known as PLS awareness month. I have always stood with those who suffer from preexisting conditions, whether it is PLS, cancer, diabetes, or any other illness, and fought for fair treatment and affordable coverage from insurance companies. And I have always stood with those whose civil rights are in jeopardy. In Congress, I continue to serve as an advocate for African American, Hispanic, and Native American farmers in their fight for justice against the discriminations of the USDA.

In the days and weeks leading up to the final contentious vote on healthcare reform, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sent important reminders to its supporters, urging them to contact Members of Congress. I am certain this is the communication you received that you reference in your editorial piece. I am disappointed that you would use one such blanket reminder as a reason to write an attack piece that blatantly misrepresents my position on healthcare. If you had simply stopped to ask me my position, call my office, or done even the most basic level of research - whether through the Congressional Record, the other media outlets here in the Inland Empire, or through my own website (www.house.gov/baca) - it would have been obvious to you that I have stood with President Obama from the very beginning on this critical issue.

As for my agenda moving forward: I will continue to support President Obama, and work in Congress to improve our communities by creating more new jobs, improving our struggling schools, better regulating our financial markets, increasing opportunities for affordable housing, improving nutrition in America’s schools, fighting against childhood obesity, and reforming America’s broken immigration system. Again, if you ever have future questions on any of my legislative positions, I urge you to please ask me, feel free to call my office at 202-225-6161, before you print something that simply isn’t true.

JOE BACA, Congressman
43rd Congressional District

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