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Obama Administration Commits to School Diversity with “Stronger Together” Initiative

President Barack Obama signs an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama signs an executive order for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By Gina Chirichigno and Philip Tegeler
America’s Wire Writers Group

Addressing a crowded room of magnet school educators and supporters last week, Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King explained his personal commitment to school diversity and the importance of reducing racial isolation in schools.

“I was a kid who benefited from intentional school diversity, and I’m a parent who prioritizes that in how I think about the education of my children,” he said, describing his experiences at two intentionally diverse schools in New York City (P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain Junior High in Coney Island). “Teachers at those two schools saved my life,” he declared. “They are the reason I am standing here today.”

King’s children both attend diverse public schools in Montgomery County, MD, which, as he noted, has been working to implement intentional strategies to integrate both housing and education for decades. Now, he wants to encourage other communities to adopt that approach.

Thanks in large part to Secretary King, the Obama administration has now made a meaningful commitment to reducing racial and socioeconomic isolation in our nation’s schools, by proposing a $120 million request in the 2017 budget to fund the “Stronger Together” initiative. The new competitive funding program would offer planning and implementation grants for voluntary, community-developed socioeconomic integration plans. The proposed 2017 budget also includes an increase in funding for the Magnet Schools Assistance program, another school integration program.

The Stronger Together program would supply four implementation grants (averaging $25 million each) for up to five years to support communities currently implementing strategies to improve racial and socioeconomic diversity. Stronger Together would also award 10 one-year planning grants (averaging $2 million each) to help support activities such as: fostering family and community engagement; assessing economic stratification; evaluating the adequacy of transportation infrastructure; increasing capacity for data collection, etc.

As members of the National Coalition on School Diversity (www.school-diversity.org), we have been advocating for a clear, courageous investment in integration from the beginning of President Obama’s administration. Our country is long overdue for government-supported innovation in school integration. And, while Congress is unlikely to pass the 2017 budget in its current form, we are confident that the commitment to school diversity will remain in some form in the final budget.

Studies consistently show that school integration by race and socioeconomic status is strongly associated with a range of short and long term benefits for all racial groups. As a whole, however, our nation’s schools remain overwhelmingly isolated by race and class, even as our country becomes increasingly diverse. Such isolation is not benign; rather, it fuels a vicious cycle of structural educational inequity and, too, strips us of opportunities to build community across lines of difference.

Justice Thurgood Marshall’s observation that, “Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together,” is now supported by a strong research base demonstrating the benefits of racial integration—not just for student achievement, but also for reducing interracial prejudice and strengthening relations between racial groups. This research should encourage us all to take integration strategies more seriously.

We are particularly pleased to see such a strong emphasis on community engagement and involvement in the Stronger Together program—voluntary school integration efforts are most effective when communities come together to develop the political will to co-create and implement strategies that respond to their unique context. We can readily point to examples of remarkable community-led integration efforts in progress, in cities such as Hartford, CT; Richmond, VA; and New York, NY. But the lack of federal, state, local, and foundation support for this work makes it extremely challenging to initiate and sustain, even when there is strong interest. Programs like Stronger Together would help change that.

Stronger Together would afford communities across the country the opportunity to come together and co-create learning environments where, truly, every student can succeed. It is now up to people on the ground—educators, parents, students, and community leaders—to ensure that the administration’s newly-ignited commitment to school integration receives the funding we believe it deserves.


Gina Chirichigno is outreach coordinator for the National Coalition on School Diversity, www.school-diversity.org. You can reach her at gchirichigno@prrac.org.

Philip Tegeler is executive director of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, www.prrac.org. You can reach him at ptegeler@prrac.org.

America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Our stories can be republished free of charge by newspapers, websites and other media sources. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com.

“You Still Don’t Get It…!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

Nobody… gets away with Sin! [Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4]. It is a warning… And it is a warning to the sinner! “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” [Galatians 6:7]. You reap sin; you will reap the results of sin. Every sin has its price and payday is coming! Woe unto you… “For if [you] go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, for there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment…”[Hebrews 10:26-31]. I tell you, it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. God’s warning is clear. Repent of sin at once! Don’t wait until sin has battered, bruised, arrested, imprisoned, condemned, drove you to despair, and almost killed you before you get it. Sin is no joke! You play with fire, you will get burnt… Make no mistake about it! Living Sin means playing a game that you cannot win!

Listen, God did not save you to leave you defeated, beaten, and enslaved by the flesh. He saved you to set you free, to enable you to walk in the victory that He gives to all those who walk according to His Word and His Will. You don’t crucify the flesh by gratifying it. You cannot feed every lust that enters your mind and claim to be living a life that is pleasing to the Lord [Romans 13:14]. The flesh must be reckoned dead every day we live. For we are no longer slaves to sin, the flesh, nor the devil [Romans 6:14]! We have been made “new creatures” in Jesus Christ [2 Cor. 5:17]. We have been given the “divine nature” [2 Peter 2:4]. We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, who teaches us about the dangers of sin and about the blessings of holiness [John 16:13]. Study to show yourself approved!

Listen; as the Spirit continues to give utterance; there are some of you reading this who have been imprisoned by your sins. You have allowed certain actions and ways of living dominate you so long that you have lost your will and ability to fight against them. You are a prisoner in your own life and you hide in fear from actions YOU THINK you cannot control. If you want to be free, you must deal with your sin. You must confess it [Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9]. You must repent of it [Luke 13:5]. You must forsake it [Job 11:14]. If you don’t take control now, the devil will take over totally. He will continue to wreak havoc in your life, and everywhere he is allowed to. I want you to know that Jesus has delegated authority to use His Name to those who believe in Him. If you believe, then exercise that authority. Its authority, which if used, will insure that nothing shall by any means hurt you. It is a choice, and it is your choice!

With that being said, when you get tired of being tied; when you get tired of being battered and bruised; when you get tired of going in circles; doing it your way and getting nowhere; when you get tired of doing the wrong thing; I want you to know that Jesus is standing by. What a disaster it would be to come before Christ on Judgment Day and discover you are sentenced to Hell. It is a dangerous thing to be hardheaded. To know God and to choose to think, act, or behave outside of the Word, Will, and Way of God is very dangerous. Don’t do it! Look at the prodigal son – because of hardheadedness, he paid the fare – loss everything even his dignity. The children of Israel left Egypt and because of rebellion they wander 40 years- a whole generation died because they were hardheaded. Adam got kicked out of the Garden because he was hardheaded – he knew what God said, but he choose to listen to his wife. Don’t do it…. Detour off of the Road to Hell! Today I have set before you life and death… Choose life!

Have Lunch with Women’s Empowerment Author, T’ana Phelice

T'ana Pigs and PearlsSAN BERNARDINIO, CA- Love meeting new people? Do you love to eat and read? Do you need some inspiration in your life? The come out on Saturday, March 5 to the Denny’s at 702 E. Highland in San Bernardino for a day of inspiration with author T’ana Phelice. Come purchase and get your book signed, take photos, engage in empowering topics, watch a monologue performance, and of course network and grub! The following day, Sunday, March 6, T’ana will be a guest on Empire Talks Back with Wallace Allen at 10 a.m. You can tune in by calling 800-982-3197 (#100766589), logging onto www.kcaaradio.com, or tuning your dial to 1050 AM.