A+ R A-

News Wire

Freedom Summer Schools Spur Student Growth

E-mail Print PDF

By Marian Wright Edelman
NNPA Columnist

When Kyla was in the third grade, she failed the state-required end-of-grade tests at her Charlotte, N.C. elementary school. Her grandmother was worried that summer school wouldn’t be fun, but then she heard about the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program, and she knew Kyla would love the program and learn at the same time. Kyla’s principal agreed that she could participate in the CDF Freedom Schools® program on the condition that Kyla retake her tests in the middle of the summer. When she did, she passed with the highest possible score. Kyla gave her CDF Freedom Schools experience the credit, especially the way the program is designed to foster a love of reading: “The stories we read in Freedom School, I could relate to, and we got to keep our books at the end of each week so I could read them again at home.” Kyla wasn’t alone—an evaluation of Freedom Schools run by HYPERLINK "http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/R?i=RQ4Y0vlU3rYQyTWMeRFuGw"Freedom School Partners in Charlotte found summer learning loss staunched for 90 percent of the children served and 65 percent of the children showed gains in reading, sometimes by one or even two grade levels. And Kyla’s success didn’t stop. She returned year after year to the Freedom Schools summer program, and when she “graduated” at the end of eighth grade began training for a Junior Servant Leader Intern position that allows high school student volunteers to spend their summers with Freedom Schools serving as classroom helpers. Kyla will return as a second year Junior Servant Leader Intern this summer.

Francisco had his own transformation: when he began the Freedom Schools summer program he was a very shy fifth grader who wouldn’t read aloud, was reluctant to talk, and would barely raise his eyes to speak his name. But the Freedom Schools instilled a new sense of confidence in him along with a love for books, and by the end of the summer he was volunteering to read aloud. Pauline, one of the adult volunteers at a church-sponsored Freedom Schools site, was Francisco’s school lunch buddy during the year and was thrilled by the difference the program was making for her young friend. Francisco and his mother began attending the church and Pauline and other congregation members who had seen him blossom over the summer were able to continue supporting Francisco after the summer ended. By Christmas, something wonderful happened that would hardly have seemed possible just a few months earlier: Francisco was chosen to play Joseph at the church’s Christmas Eve pageant. He proudly delivered his lines over a wireless microphone at the service in both English and Spanish for the whole congregation to hear and applaud. Kyla and Francisco are just two of the thousands of children for whom Freedom Schools has made an enormous difference. The program provides summer and after-school enrichment that helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. Children are taught using a model integrated curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health, and mental health. More than 90,000 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience since 1995. Now almost 12,000 children are about to have their own Freedom Schools summer at 177 sites across the country.

CDF Freedom Schools sites are safe and restorative learning spaces where children are surrounded by caring adults and college students from their community who share their enthusiasm for learning and reading and are committed to serving them as authentic mentors. Each day begins with “Harambee!” a 30-minute activity to celebrate and affirm every participant’s value and prepare for the work and learning ahead. Throughout the summer children read high quality books and are engaged in learning activities that match their developmental needs and interests. The program is free, giving parents access to high quality child care, and children receive two nutritious meals and a healthy snack each day in the summer and nutritious snacks during the after-school program.

CDF Freedom Schools partner with public schools, community-based organizations, faith congregations, colleges and universities, cities, and juvenile detention centers to operate program sites and make these rich experiences possible. The scholars are encouraged to dream about college, set goals for themselves, and cultivate positive attitudes and high expectations; and for many of them, including Kyla and Francisco, the program is a life-changing experience. To learn how to bring one to your area, come to HYPERLINK "http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/R?i=zHoPX2CTesEV9qRy-i6waw"CDF’s national conference in Cincinnati, Ohio this summer, visit local CDF Freedom Schools sites in session, and prepare to start a program that will serve the Kylas and Franciscos in your community.

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.

Great Summer Book

E-mail Print PDF

By Jordan Brown

Looking for a great read this summer from teens to adults? Check out the number one New York Times Bestseller, “Water For Elephants.” “Water for Elephants” is a novel that displays a love triangle between the main characters. Author Sara Gruen, has a wonderful way of making the depression “less depressing”; the novel is fun and mysterious. It catches your interest from page one.

The main character 93-year-old Jacob Janowaski has continuous flashbacks from his nursing home to when he was working in the circus. He is talking to his nurse, Rosemary about his life’s experiences. In his flashbacks, he is 23-years-old. A tragic dilemma in his family forces Jacob to leave his University and make heavy decisions. In “Water for Elephants”, Sara Gruen pulls you into the world of Jacob Janowaski.

This book was turned into a movie in 2011 with actors Robert Patterson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz starring in this People’s Choice Award winning movie. The movie is a “spot-on” presentation of the book. You won’t be disappointed. So when you’re in need of a great book or movie to enjoy and appreciate, look for Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants.”

Time to Stop "Stop and Frisk"


E-mail Print PDF

By Marian Wright Edelman

This Father's Day, June 17th, the Children's Defense Fund-New York and I will be joining George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Children's Defense Fund national board member, Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, other advocates, elected officials, union leaders, and citizens to mount a silent march down Fifth Avenue to protest the New York City Police Department's harsh stop and frisk policy. George Gresham said: "Stop and frisk poses a real danger to our children and communities. The NYPD's stop and frisk policy has led to rampant racial profiling and the people of New York City must not stand for it. For the safety of all our children, we must speak out against this unjust policy. This is an issue for all people of color and all people of conscience."

The explosion in the numbers of people being stopped and frisked by New York City police officers over the last decade is a result of the "zero tolerance" policing begun in the city in the 1990s which cracked down on minor crimes on the premise that this would help prevent larger crimes. Crime rates did fall, but they also fell during the same period in many other American cities that weren't adopting the same police tactics--leaving many experts doubting whether zero tolerance policies could take much of the credit. However, many do give the stop and frisk policies credit for an epidemic of unlawful police searches in New York City that have violated the Fourth Amendment rights of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens, primarily Black and Latino men. In May a lawsuit accusing the NYPD of using race as the basis for stop and frisk searches was granted class-action status.

As the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) explains, "The NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department's own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known . . . An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that more than 4 million innocent New Yorkers were subjected to police stops and street interrogations from 2004 through 2011, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD's own reports."

The New York Civil Liberties Union points out that one of the justifications behind the rise in street interrogations is to get guns off the street--a laudable goal. But no gun was retrieved in 99.9 percent of stops. While Black and Latino young men ages 14-24 make up only 4.7 percent of the city's population, they made up 41.6 percent of the stops by police in 2011. The number of stops of young Black men actually exceeded the total number of young Black men in the entire city population. Not only are Black and Latino New Yorkers much more likely to be frisked by the police than Whites, they are also less likely than Whites to be found with a weapon and far more likely to have police force used against them. The New York Civil Liberties Union also points out that the NYPD is continuing to engage in this pattern and practice of targeting Blacks and Latinos. Of the 203,500 New Yorkers stopped in the first three months of 2012, 108,097 were Black (54 percent) and 69,043 were Latino (33 percent). And 181,457 of the people stopped--89 percent--were found to be totally innocent.

These kinds of policies are making the streets more scary for our children and young people. They represent the kind of racial profiling and mistrust that is fueling the national Cradle to Prison PipelineTM crisis that leaves a Black boy born in 2001 with a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy with a one in six chance of the same fate. It's time to raise our collective voices and say enough is enough. The silent Father's Day March will be a chance for people of all backgrounds to come, stand and walk silently down New York's Fifth Avenue together to convey to New York City leaders that it is time to stop these unlawful searches and to stop treating hundreds of thousands of our young people of color like criminals when they have done nothing wrong. Please join us.

If you want to learn more about how policies like these across our nation are contributing to the nation's Cradle to Prison Pipeline and mass incarceration crises and how you can take action in your community if you share these concerns, join me at HYPERLINK "http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/R?i=CYBiiz2xGh1r00vzSIKi1A"CDF's national conference in Cincinnati, Ohio July 22-25 and come to the Juvenile Justice and Mass Incarceration HYPERLINK "http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/R?i=oDMzYeiOjjyL0WDrYOTLAw"Plenary Sessions and Workshops. Sessions like "Ending the New Apartheid: The Cradle to Prison Pipeline and Mass Incarceration" and "Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline: Successful State and Community Efforts" will help us all see and understand how we can stop it and racial profiling and put our children into a pipeline to college and productive work rather than jail.

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 HYPERLINK "http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/R?i=BleMnMwV3Ljz4h26TuGIGA"www.childrensdefense.org.

Juneteenth Then and Now: Country Village Celebrates the Holiday

E-mail Print PDF

By Lena Adebowale

From its inception until today’s modern movement, each Juneteenth celebration serves as an opportunity to reflect on memories of that great day in June1865. The festivities and food are intended to bring all people together and create a sense of community that transcends racial and social barriers. The BidWhist Club of Country Village invites the public to come join in the fun, food, games and entertainment on Saturday June 16, 2012; from 12:00 pm until 6:00 pm; at 10250 Country Cub Drive, Jurupa Valley, CA 91752 as they celebrate Juneteenth.

America is a multicultural, multi-ethnic nation striving to build communities where all people are respected equally, without regard to the color of their skin or the texture of their hair. Although we have not reached that goal yet, I believe it is the dream, desire, and prayer of the masses that one day we will. Until then we will continue to celebrate the progress that has been made. Juneteenth is a celebration of that progress. On paper it “officially” marked the end of a war that was based solely on servitude and lack of any and all freedoms.

Freedom is the power to act, speak, or think without restraints. On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation announced the end of slavery, and thereby proclaimed freedom for all African American’s in the United States. Unfortunately, Lincoln’s new Executive Order had little effect on rebellious states like Texas. It wasn’t until two and a half year’s later, on June 19, 1865, that Union troops were led into Galveston Texas by Major General Gordon Granger. Granger and his regiment overpowered the shrewd tactician, General Lee and overcame the resistance. General Granger’s first order of business was to read General Order Number 3 which began with these prolific words: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This momentous event would later become recognized as “Juneteenth”. The term was coined by blending June and nineteenth, the historic month and day of General Granger’s arrival and announcement in Texas.

Over the years, Juneteenth has grown with more participation and has become the oldest known holiday commemorating the end of slavery. As of June 2011, 41 states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or state holiday observance. Junteenth celebrations also include a variety of activities that highlight American heritage, such as the playing of cards for the adults, numerous out door games for the children, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions or park parties.

Model railway supplier becomes president of Orange Empire Railway Museum     

E-mail Print PDF

George Huckaby Jr., a model electric railway supplier and retired aerospace and aircraft engineer from Los Angeles, was recently appointed President/CEO of the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California.

The appointment of this former San Bernardino resident comes at a time when the 1,600-member museum is expanding its educational outreach through the construction of a Southern California railway history library and a permanent exhibit on the Harvey Girls, a pioneering women's work force in the Western railroad.

Huckaby says his and the board's priorities are fundraising for the museum capital and restoration projects and improving volunteer facilities. Four hundred volunteers punch tickets, run excursions, staff events and preserve and restore the rolling stock at the 56-year-old, non profit museum. "Volunteers are the heart of the organization," Huckaby says.

At 250 cars, spanning Southern California and Western railway history, the museum owns, restores, maintains and operates one of the largest collections of rolling stock in the country. 

"The promotion of rail history to younger generations and bringing newcomers into the pastime of preservation are important parts of our mission," Huckaby says.

Huckaby and the Board of Directors are looking at ways to extend the Orange Empire Railway Museum's track to reach the Perris Depot, which the 100-acre, museum owns. Once complete, visitors can take public transit to the museum from Perris, which is expected to be tied in to the planned Metrolink extension from Riverside.  Huckaby, who founded the Southern California Traction Club and is owner/CEO of Custom Traxx, has volunteered as a rail operator at the Orange Empire Railway Museum since 1972. He joined the board a year ago, and now succeeds Riverside attorney Tom Jacobson, who was President/CEO since the 1980s. Jacobson continues as Board Chairman and heads Day Out With Thomas (the Tank Engine), the museum's largest festival fundraiser which draws 30,000 to the rail museum for five days every November.  For more information, contact the Orange Empire Railway Museum at HYPERLINK "tel:%28951%29%20943-3020"(951) 943-3020 or email at HYPERLINK "mailto:info@oerm.org"info@oerm.org

Page 191 of 372

BVN National News Wire