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    Robinson speaks against Kolwe, number of failing schools

    HAMMOND–Tangipahoa Parish School Board member Betty Robinson is highly critical of the superintendent of Tangipahoa Parish Schools Mark Kolwe and she questions the number of failing schools.
    “I have three failing schools in my district,” Robinson said. “Hammond Junior High, Woodland Park, and Westside Elementary, all these school having failing grades. It not the educational system; it is the Superintendent Mark Kolwe is to blame. He is not an educator.”
    Robinson said, “Another problem we have in the school system is that our children are being taught by uncertified teachers.”
    “Everytime a failing school gets a principal who turns around a school, the superintendent will transfer that principal. (For example) Terran Perry was turning around Hammond Junior High, a failing school,” she said.
    “The tax payers can change the school system, and remove the superintendent by attending school board meeting in record numbers and challenge how their tax dollars are spent,” she said.
    According to Robinson, the school board has hired a public relations firm to produce information about a proposed tax that will appear on the November ballot.
    “I cannot support a tax. I don’t trust them with the money, and the community doesn’t trust the system. If the tax passes, the majority of the money will go to Ponchatoula High,” she said. “We must vote against the tax.”
    Robinson said her trouble with the school board started on November 3, 2015, when she was sworn in. “I did not received new members’ orientation until 2016–14 months later,” she said.
    In a letter to The Drum, Robinson wrote:

    Dear Editor:
    The recent report ranking our city as being among the worst cities to raise a child hit hard. The reason is that this is a direct reflection of our educational system. Citizens need board members to be open and honest with them about the state of education.
    Likewise, board members need a superintendent who is courageous enough to be honest and open about these matters with us. We cannot go on pretending like everything is great when national reports state otherwise as this makes us appear uncivilized. I understand politics, but the well being of children and families is far too important to play politics. We simply cannot afford to do so. Doing so has caused the outcome seen nationally.
    Our parish it’s cities and towns are a jewel. However, a better job must be done with our schools.
    The superintendent of over a decade owes local mayors, business leaders, civic leaders and especially families answers as to why our system is in this current condition. And please, do not continue to place blame on money.
    People are tired of this excuse and have stated that they will invest when they can trust that their dollars will be effectively spent on improving educational outcomes for all children. Would you believe that one of the highest ranking school districts in our country actually spends less than we do per pupil? Go figure.
    It is about effectively prioritizing and managing what you have, and our data points out that prioritizing funds starting with what is in the very best interests of children has definitely not been an area of strength for our system’s leadership.
    An entire decade has passed, and this is the outcome. We must do better in assisting our parish’s cities and towns by doing our part in securing leadership that we know can improve system wide academic outcomes so that we all can reap the benefits of having a district filled with high ranking schools.
    Betty C. Robinson
    School Board Member
    Tangipahoa Parish District G

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    Historians celebrate, share Buffalo Soldiers’ Louisiana legacy

    Donning original Buffalo Soldiers uniforms, Ponchatoula historians Melvin McElwee and Bobby Marten took to the stage of Zion Outreach Center to tell eager listeners of the role Louisiana slaves and freed Blacks played in  the Civil War.

    They spoke to a large number of students on June 19.

    “I’m going to introduce you to another perspective of history, it very important to know where we came from. History is sometime positive and sometime negative,” McElwee said. “Louisiana has a rich history. We are talking about the Buffalo Soldiers.”

    McElwee, who is president of the Louisiana Native Guard Association, said, “The 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry was formed in New Orleans in the Greenville subsection of New Orleans where Audubon Park and Audubon Gulf Course is located today. The men of the Louisiana Native Guards came from New Orleans. Most free men of mixed race bloodline.

    On July 28, 1866, there was massacre in New Orleans at Mechanic Hall on Canal Street as a retaliation against the Civil War and against rights for Blacks.

    The Louisiana Native Guard was used to restore order and later used by the military to expand the Western Front. This laid the foundation for the birth of the Buffalo Soldiers.

    He said when the white officers left New Orleans, the Native Guard was left behind under the command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler. Butler burned New Orleans and marched toward a little important railroad town of Ponchatoula.

    The Union forces captured and burned Ponchatoula in March 1863 and the soldiers marched toward Camp Moore in Tangipahoa.

    Trooper McElwee answered more questions:

    Is the Louisiana Native Guard the same as the Buffalo Soldiers?

    Civil War veterans were among the first enlisted soldiers to be a part of the organization of the 9th (Horse) Cavalry Unit founded in Greenville, LA (At Audubon Parks golf course).

    How did they get the names LNG and BS?

    Louisiana Governor Thomas D. Moore, in which Camp Moore is named after in Tangipahoa, LA, issued a resolution to organize an African American unit during the Civil War.  The resolution was named “Defenders of the Native Land.” After the Civil War, the 9th (Horse) Cavalry along with 10th (Horse) cavalry were used by the Federal government to occupy lands in the west.  The Cheyenne Indians observed the Negro soldier’s coarse hair, calm demeanor, and agile fighting abilities and stated that they resembled the buffalo’s mane and protection instincts, thus naming the Negro Soldier, :Buffalo Soldier.”

    In Louisiana were more escaped slaves Buffalo Soldiers or free Blacks?

    The Civil War fighting efforts were comprised of both slaves and free Blacks.  The statistics of composition is unknown to me. Refer to The Louisiana Native Guards written by James G. Hollandsworth Jr., produced by Louisiana State University Press.

    Since the soldiers were allies of the Union, did this mean victory in burning Ponchatoula?

    It aided in the continuation of efforts to bring civil rights to white women, and the Negro race.  Victory has never been reached.  Racism still continues this day.

    Did Louisiana soldiers go on to enlist in the United States Colored Troops?

    The United States Colored Troops was the name given to the United States new effort to grow the number of colored units.  It was comprised of former slaves, and free people of color.

    Is the 9th and 10th Horse Calvary a division of the Louisiana Native Guard, the Union, or the Buffalo Soldiers?

    The Louisiana Native Guard is one of, if not the first, Negro unit of soldiers organized during the Civil War.  It was in existence before the 54th Massachusetts regiment.  General Benjamin Butler, a lawyer from Massachusetts, was responsible for waging arguments that aided the Union in enlisting slaves into the Union’s war effort. The Buffalo Soldiers were remnants of the Civil War effort, and beneficiaries of the newly formed United States.

    How was the chapter formed? 

    Trooper McElwee, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant, is also a member of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.  As president he is leading the Louisiana Native Guard Association’s request to become an official chapter of the 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.  The Louisiana Native Guard Association came into existence as non-profit in the State of Louisiana on July 22, 2016. The 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association has at least 41 active chapters across the United States.

    Does the chapter focus on the 9th and 10th Troop only?

    No.  The Louisiana Native Guard Association focuses on all elements of its role that aided in the development of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association. Each chapter compiles historical education for its particular area.

    Why is this group—and the history of the soldiers– valuable to our community a century later?

    The study of American History aids in understanding the relationships of the present day. Understanding is the principal thing.  With understanding comes tolerance for coexistence.

    How can the history and legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers be continued from a military standpoint?

    It has and will continue.  It is the United States Military that has lead the way in creating understanding. The mission has always b­een to create an understanding for coexistence.

    ONLINE:dccbuffalosoldiers.wix.com/9th-10th-bs

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Ponchatoula Samaritans to meet May 11

    Ready to aid community leaders, the Ponchatoula Samaritans have scheduled a May 11 meeting at the St. Joseph Ministries. The public is invited.

    Spearheaded by Nancy Bourgeois, the group helps churches, organizations, city and parish government, and interested residents stay informed about what is being done in the Ponchatoula area to meet the everyday needs of its citizens, especially in times of disaster.

    Organizers said this effort prevents duplication of services, and the information gleaned is shared among the groups, further aiding in the process of lending a hand-up to those in need.

    St. Joseph Ministries is located on the corner of West Pine and North Eighth. The lunch meetings are usually potluck. RSVP to Bourgeois at 985-507-1797.

    Submitted News by Kathryn J. Martin

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