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New NAACP President Derrick Johnson Speaks on Education and Moratorium on Charter Schools

By Charlene Muhammad, California Black Media

 

Equitable education is a top priority for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which re-emphasized its call for a moratorium on charter school expansion during its California Hawaii 30th Annual State Convention at the LAX Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles October 26 to October 29.

The NAACP contends that charter schools divert already-limited funds from public schools, without the same levels of oversight, civil rights protections, and transparency.  It wants stronger oversight in governance and practice in the system.

In California, of the 175,000 Black students who took the math test for 2017, six percent exceeded state standards, 13 percent met standards, 25 percent ‘nearly’ met standards, and 56 percent did not, according to the California Department of Education.

In English/Language Arts, 44 percent of the 175,000 Blacks tested did not meet state standards, while 25 percent nearly passed, 22 percent passed, and 9 percent exceeded them.

During an invitation-only stakeholders meeting on Oct. 26, CBM sought new NAACP President Derrick Johnson’s thoughts on calling for a moratorium on charter schools, when some families are finding success in these schools.

While not all traditional schools are failing, Black children are suffering greatly in traditional schools, not just from a lack of education, but from criminalization through various disciplinary measures (such as random backpack searches, suspensions, and expulsions), CBM noted.

“The NAACP will continue to advocate for quality education for our children.  We began to notice a trend with charter schools.  We’re clear that anytime you put a profit motive behind the delivery of education there are individuals who would put profit above people,” Johnson replied.

As a result, he said the organization’s position is clear.  It is calling for a moratorium on charter schools, because of the privatization of schools and the lack of transparency in their operations.

Particularly, Johnson said, the NAACP is looking at the impact of how charters operate across the country, which varies under state laws.

“You have scenarios like in Detroit, where the authorizing board, you have 16 of them.  There is no standardization.  There is no transparency in their governance.  And in some cases, we found that schools would open up, receive resources, and close, and parents are left holding the bag,” Johnson stated.

He said that level of instability is found in the majority of Black, Latino and poor neighborhoods.

Johnson said there might be some best practices across the country with charter schools, and the NAACP knows there is not a perfect system with public schools.

That said, it has long advocated for quality education in the public school sector, but the 15-year emergence of the privatization of education is also a problem, he stated.

“We will not be consistent with our mission if we didn’t speak out as strongly against what’s taking place in the privatization process of delivering education in the same vein that we have historically spoken out against the lack of quality in the public setting. That’s why we’ve taken the position that we’ve taken,” Johnson stated.

Rev. K.W. Tulloss, president of the National Action Network Los Angeles Chapter agrees with the NAACP that equity in the overall funding of students per pupil is a worthy fight.

 

Though his own children attend a charter school, Tulloss advocates for a cap, because he feels the Black community is too flooded with the sites.  He said he is also against a two-tier system that pits charter vs. traditional, because every child matters.

“I don’t particularly agree with the NAACP stance in trying to point out the discrepancies of charter schools, because, when you do that, you talk about my children who attend charter schools.  As a parent, I chose charter schools, because there’s not a one-size-fits-all system,” Tulloss said.

“My child, I feel, is doing a great job in a charter school, Watts Learning Center, which is 70 percent African American students there,” he added.

On the political front, CBM also asked Johnson how he thinks the NAACP’s switch from a 501(c)(3) non-partisan status to a 501(c)(4), allowing it to lobby or campaign politically, may impact its ability to not fall prey to the highest bidder.

He replied the NAACP is a membership-based advocacy organization, with strength in its local units across the country.

They are already 501(c)(4), which means very few restrictions on policies, positions, how they inform the community, and political advocacy around certain measures, Johnson said.

“The NAACP also has an internal policy that we don’t endorse political parties or individual candidates,” he said.   But the national office has been restricted and limited on the type of support it could give to state conferences on certain ballot positions.

“In order for us to have consistency, we’re creating a (c)(4) so we’ll have better alignment with our local units as they advocate for public policy, but we will retain our (c)(3) at the same time,” Johnson concluded.

Congresswoman Wilson Is a Long Time African Affairs Expert

1200px-Frederica_Wilson_official_House_portraitBy Joseph Hammond , Urban News Service

Most Americans had not heard of Rep. Frederika Wilson until she accused President Trump of making insensitive remarks in a condolence call to the widow of an American soldier killed in Niger.

But her connection to the military’s often secretive work in work in Niger came as little surprise to intelligence officers who know the Florida Congresswoman as a long-time supporter of U.S. counter-terrorism missions in Africa. Since her election to the House in 2010, Wilson has become one of the staunchest advocates for U.S. support in the fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram.

In an exclusive interview with the Urban News Service days before the attack in Niger, she said she is especially concerned about the threats Boko Haram and other terrorist groups could pose to America’s homeland.  “What you are going to see is little black boys in communities that Boko Haram will [target by] sending people in to change the trajectory of what’s happening in our inner cities and they too will become terrorists,” she said.

African security has long been an issue for the congresswoman. Wilson was part of the first congressional delegation to go into another African country, Nigeria, after Boko Haram abducted 276 girls in 2014 from a school in the town of Chibok, stirring international outrage and inspiring the social media hashtag #bringbackourgirls. Boko Haram has released many of the girls, but 113 remain missing.

In a Facebook posting following the death of four Americans soldiers in Niger at the hands of Islamic terrorist on Oct. 3., Wilson framed their losses as part of a larger struggle against Boko Haram and Da’esh (ISIS) in Africa. She also noted that she had sponsored a successful piece of legislation which directs the United States to aid Nigeria and its neighboring countries, including Niger, in developing a five-year strategy to fight Boko Haram.

Although that legislation did not call for a direct role for American troops. She has outlined financial moves and controversial arms sales as moves the Trump administration could take to help Nigeria.

“We have money in our banks that was confiscated from Nigeria – its dirty money and it’s now up to us to return the money to the Nigerian government so they can use the money to help international displaced people,” she said. “There are thousands of them who have been rooted from their homes because of Boko Haram.”

Like insurgencies around the world, Boko Haram’s ability to launch raids in one country and seek safety in another has made the group especially difficult to confront. Wilson stressed that U.S. must make sure “that the Multinational Joint Task Forces that we put in place is working with Chad, Niger and Nigeria and make sure it’s working and make sure they can cross boundary lines to chase Boko Haram.”

The congresswoman has also supported the controversial sale of warplanes to Nigeria a stance that contrasted sharply with some in her own party.

Nigeria has long sought to purchase a dozen Super Tucano A-29 aircraft for its use in its campaign against Boko Haram. The propeller plane is produced by Brazil and the United States and is designed for counter-insurgency operations and aerial reconnaissance.

The Obama administration initially approved a sale of the aircraft to Nigeria, but put it hold in January after the Nigerian air force mistakenly bombed a refugee camp along the Nigerian-Cameroonian frontier that killed 115 people and 100 people injured.  The Trump administration approved the sale this summer.

The sale has proved controversy for other reasons. Two Senators Corey Booker (D- New Jersey) and Rand Paul of Kentucky (R-Nigeria) have also opposed over the concerns regarding the Nigerian government’s violent treatment of its Shia Muslim minority.

“We are concerned that the decision to proceed with this sale will empower the government to backtrack even further on its commitments to human rights, accountability, and upholding international humanitarian law,” the two senators wrote in a joint letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in June.

Asked about her sale of the warplanes Wilson put the issue in the context of the corruption in the former administration of President “Goodluck” Jonathan Taylor. He was defeated in 2015 elections by the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military strongman who has made defeating Boko Haram a priority. Wilson expressed confidence that Bukhari had addressed corruption and other concerns that had plagued the sale in the past. 

“It takes a while for them to get the planes and it will take a while for Nigerian soldiers to be properly trained,” she said, [but} we should see that very soon in Nigeria.”

 Bukhari is potentially open to military assistance from the U.S., which then President Taylor halted in 2014. Nigeria, however, was not listed on a list of countries where U.S. forces are deployed in a letter the Trump Administration sent to congress this summer.

 

Under Bukhari, the Nigerian military in concert with its regional allies has put Boko Haram on the defensive in Nigeria. Boko Haram first emerged in 2002 amongst disaffected members of the Kanuri tribe.  Ironically the place where Boko Haram may have its best chance to regain the initiative is in Niger.

The recent withdrawal of Chadian forces from Niger could mean that Boko Haram could potentially form a tactical alliance.  Niger is the only country in Africa where Boko Haram, Da’esh and Al-Qaeda have all launched attacks.

It remains unclear if members of Al-Qaeda, Da’esh (ISIS), or another terrorist group operating in Niger were responsible for the attack.

A Pentagon statement linked the attack to Al-Qaeda. As of press-time, no terrorist group has taken responsibility for the deadly October 4th attack.

 

 

What It Do With the LUE: The Next Plus Size/BBW Queen

By Lue Dowdy

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