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No More Back to School Jitters

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By Jordan Brown

Every year it happens. When kids go to a new school or even the same school, they get very nervous. This happens to me too. I get butterflies in my stomach and just plain scared when I walk on the campus. This year, I’m entering high school at Pacific High School in San Bernardino. I’d like to avoid the “back to school jitters” this year. Here are some helpful tips to avoid the butterflies and calm down.

Confidence is Key: Confidence is my trick to look like I’m not nervous. Stand up straight, put a smile on, and don’t look at the ground. If you do this, people will see you as inviting and you can make friends quicker and easier. Also, if you have friends going to your school, walk with them in school so you won’t have to be alone. When you look like you’re open to talk, people will talk to you and when you have friends, you won’t be nervous anymore because you’re not “a loner.” Be Prepared: Get yourself back into school habits. Get up early in the morning and make breakfast it helps keep your mind fresh for a stress free day. Get your clothes out the night before and anything else you need. Continue doing this routinely or to get used to your new schedule.

Don’t be Late: I know you want to take those last days and get as much rest as you can, but it doesn’t help if your late the first day of school. Teachers will appreciate you being there on time so class can flow easily. To be on time, schedule your mornings. If you take the bus set it by the time you need to be at the bus stop. If you walk, walk to school a few times before school starts and time yourself so you know how long it takes you. If you take a car, find out what time school starts and how long it takes you to get there.

So now that you have some tips to ease those butterflies, you can start to pay attention to your learning. I’m going to use these tips to help me on my first day and you should too!

Make Sure Your Business Is Prepared for the Summer Heat

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As a business owner, I know that, with the high energy demand of summer, finding ways to manage my business’ energy use and costs is more important than ever. I’m hoping for a mild summer, but preparing now for heat waves that could come our way, especially since state officials are saying that we may have limited power supplies in Southern California. It's important that we all do our part to maintain service reliability and stay informed, and I’m doing that by taking a few key steps with my business:

I’m going to make a few simple modifications to my operations, such as reducing lighting levels, turning off unneeded equipment not in use and shutting down unused rooms and facilities. I’ll also raise cooling thermostat settings to 78oF and pre-cool work areas or cycle air conditioning and ventilation.

I’m going to pay attention to when the state issues Flex Alerts, which are urgent calls to save energy. When that happens, I know it’s critical that I conserve immediately.

I’m also checking out www.SCE.com/energytips to learn more about how to make smart energy choices, such as Business Energy Advisor, a free and easy-to-use online energy assessment tool that provides an in-depth analysis of my facility’s energy use and shows where my energy dollars are going, and since my Edison SmartConnect meter was enabled, My Account, which helps me make smarter energy choices by monitoring and managing my business’ electricity usage online. This summer, I’m committed to making smarter energy-saving choices that can help my community and my bottom line.

Sponsored by Southern California Edison.

Blacks, Latinos Strongest Supporters of Financial Reform

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By Charlene Crowell

NNPA Columnist

Blacks and Latinos support financial reform more than any other group, according to a new poll released by Lake Research Partners. When consumers were asked if Wall Street caused the financial crisis, eight out of 10 African-Americans agreed. Sixty-five percent of Latinos agreed, compared to an overall rate of 64 percent. The telephone poll, conducted in July by Lake Research Partners, was jointly commissioned by the Center for Responsible Living (CRL), AARP, and Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and the National Council of La Raza. Considering that communities of color have lost the most financial ground during the greatest recession since that of the 1930s, racial and ethnic differences in responding to the poll are not surprising. In general, people of color tend invest more in their personal residences than in stocks or bonds. Unfortunately, many times our communities are also the unfortunate targets of predatory lenders offering a range of high-cost products that often leave consumers in worse financial shape than before. For example, in a recent guest commentary in The Hill, Congresswoman Maxine Waters [D-Calif.] said, “Many of us on Capitol Hill who feel strongly about the need for reform have been struggling with the sometimes-subtle, sometimes-overt, but always tenacious, attempts to undermine financial reform over the last two years. And because we’re sensitive to making sure that the law we passed works in practice, even some allies of financial reform are often too quick to believe the industry when they cry wolf about the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank.” Similarly, Jose A. Garcia, policy fellow, Wealth-Building Policy Project, National Council of La Raza, stated: “Latino voters, regardless of party affiliation, overwhelmingly support consumer protections as a means to ending decades of costly and deceptive credit that has disproportionally affected Latino families and the economic security of the Latino community.” The 2010 Dodd‐Frank Wall Street Reform law was enacted in the wake of the economic meltdown to overhaul of the financial regulatory system. The law created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which consolidates the consumer finance protection authority previously scattered among seven different agencies into a single entity whose mission is to protect consumers from deceptive practices by banks, credit card companies and other institutions. Consumers of color polled favor a strong CFPB and also called for the Bureau to:

Require clearer explanations of lending rates, terms and fees; Oversee non-bank lenders; Write tough rules matched by Bureau enforcement; Create a searchable database where consumers can report unfair practices and/or view complaints and Protect military service members who have been deployed from mortgage and foreclosures.

In the aftermath of devastating financial losses, followed by a string of lawsuit settlements against many of the nation’s largest banks to resolve charges of discriminatory lending practices and lack of maintenance of foreclosed homes, many people of color are not just hoping for – but expecting redress.

Mike Calhoun, CRL president said, “Everyday Americans know what’s good for their pocketbooks, their families, and our economy – that’s why a large, bipartisan majority is calling for financial reforms to take effect. Let’s hope policymakers hear them loud and clear.” AARP Executive Vice President , Nancy LeaMond, said, “During the financial crisis, too many older Americans lost their savings due to the failure of an outdated and compromised financial regulatory system. That’s why most Americans say they want clear, accurate information so they can make the best financial decisions for their families, and a watchdog that will protect them from financial abuse.

Additional information on poll results is available at: http://rspnsb.li/P4tU0D. Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at:Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Upperclassmen Help

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By Jordan Brown

Summer for me this year was all about getting ready for high school. I went to cheer practice, got my school schedule, and went to many events. One thing that was really valuable for me this summer was talking to upperclassmen. They taught me resources and tips that I need to “survive” the school year. I’m going to share with you some of the tips they shared with me.

In movies, they always say not to mess with or talk to upperclassmen, but in reality they can be a great source of wisdom because they’ve been through it all. I’ve talked with many upperclassmen from different high schools this summer and they all tell me one tip in particular, join clubs and sports. I recommend you do this because it keeps you out of trouble, colleges love it, and you can have twenty or more friends with the same interest as you.

Another thing upperclassmen say is to keep up with your grades. During high school there are so many different things going on, between sports, friends, and events. You can do all that but you need to focus on your grades most importantly. You come to high school to learn that’s why you’re in class all day, so use your resources wisely. Get a schedule together and put everything in your agenda. Keeping up with your classes is key because your grades are important.

Friends are important in your high school life. They help you get around easier that’s why you need to choose good ones. Joining a sport or club helps with this one, if you really don’t care for the kids in your classes, the kids in your club more than likely will share some of your same interest. Your friends can also help you study if you found them in your classes even if not, they can help.

This year you can succeed. Just remember to eat breakfast in the morning to relieve stress, get help when you need it, and make friends with upperclassmen. Don’t be afraid to make friends, just be you.

Mitt Romney and Affirmative Action

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By Stephanie Jones

NNPA Columnist

Much was made of what Mitt Romney said and didn’t say during his recent speech to the NAACP’s annual convention in Houston. His boo-evoking swipe at “Obamacare” got most of the coverage, while his failure to address voter ID laws was also widely noted.

But another omission got little play, even though it is a topic of great importance to that audience in particular and the nation as a whole: Affirmative Action. Romney’s avoidance of the topic in his NAACP speech is not surprising because he has rarely mentioned it during his public life. On the few occasions he has spoken about it, he’s done so in vague language. For example, in 2008, he said, “I do support encouraging inclusiveness and diversity, and I encourage the disclosure of the numbers of women and minorities in top positions of companies and government – not to impose a quota but to shine light on the situation.” Not exactly a profile in courage comment, but his tepid expression of support does leave some room for hope.

In an earlier, saner time, support for affirmative action would have been a no-brainer for Romney for two reasons. First, he is a businessman, an established and respected member of a group that tends to support affirmative action. Having learned first-hand that making diversity an integral part of our educational system and workforce strengthens our society while improving their bottom line, many business leaders have joined with the civil rights community to fight off efforts to dismantle affirmative action.

Second, Romney’s own life experiences should help him appreciate a fundamental goal of affirmative action: to expand opportunities to talented, deserving people who might otherwise not have the chance to succeed and thrive. Although he never lacked for opportunity, Romney took full advantage of the oldest form of affirmative action we have in this country – the kind enjoyed without shame or apology by wealthy, well-connected White men. In fact, he was able to launch the very enterprise that he now claims makes him qualified to sit in the Oval Office – Bain Capital – because someone took a chance on him.

“We put Mitt in charge,” Patrick Graham, Romney’s mentor at Bain & Co., recently told the Washington Post. “He’s an outstanding guy. He’s a leader. He didn’t have any financial expertise, by the way. But we just wanted to give him a bigger challenge.”

Unfortunately, Romney doesn’t seem to have reached back to extend such opportunities to minorities and women in his business and government career. For example, he was accused of running a “White boys club” after it was revealed during his 1994 Senate campaign that Bain Capital had no Black or Latino employees. And, just six months after becoming governor of Massachusetts in 2003, Romney quietly gutted the state’s longstanding affirmative action program in what the former deputy director of the state affirmative action office called “a cloaked and unilateral move that eradicated years and years of civil rights advances and history.”

Romney needs to reconcile this record with his stated support for diversity and inclusion. And, given his record, he should explain just how affirmative action would fare in a Romney administration. Does he understand that, although we’ve made progress, the American playing field is still not level and that government and the private sector must continue to take affirmative steps to foster the diversity and inclusiveness he claims to seek? Would he actively support and enforce opportunities for minorities and women like his fellow business leaders have called on previous administrations to do?

Or, would he appoint judges like Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who professes support for racial diversity but bizarrely insists that it’s unconstitutional to consider race when trying to achieve it? Would a Romney presidency give us more Supreme Court justices like the Clarence Thomas, who owes virtually every professional success in his life to affirmative action but is now hell-bent on wiping it out for everyone else?

These are important questions that must be answered; Romney is now the standard bearer of a party overrun by ideologues who – loudly and in increasingly nasty and divisive language – slam diversity and inclusiveness as insidious attempts to catapult unqualified minorities and women past deserving but victimized White men. Romney’s continued silence in the midst of such wrongheaded and cynical accusations could lead some to believe that he agrees with them – especially given how little he has actually done to diversify his own space when he had the chance. Mitt Romney says he supports diversity and inclusiveness. It’s time for him to tell us just how he would bring them to pass in today’s America.

Stephanie Jones is a former journalist, attorney, law professor, Capitol Hill staffer and executive director of the National Urban League Policy Institute. She is president and CEO of Stephanie Jones Strategies, which specialize in diversity, strategic planning andcommunication.

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