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    Dyslexia screening provision included in new criminal justice reform bill

    Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate health and education committee, announced that his provision providing for the screening of inmates for dyslexia is included in the new version of the First Step Act (S. 3649), legislation endorsed by President Trump to reform America’s criminal justice system. Cassidy announced his support for the legislation two weeks ago.

    “Having treated patients in prisons, I learned that illiteracy often leads someone to turn to a life of crime. Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I’m pleased Chairman Grassley, Jared Kushner and the White House agreed to incorporate my proposal for screening inmates for dyslexia into this bill. It makes sense that if a someone learns to read, they’re less likely to end up in prison and more likely to be a productive member of society. And if someone ends up in prison, they’re more likely to get a job and keep it once they are released. In the end, I think this will save some people from the prison system, make our streets safer, and save taxpayers money.”

    A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.

    The First Step Act will formally define dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell.” The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate an evidence-based, low-cost, readily available dyslexia screening program into the new risk and needs assessment system, including by screening for dyslexia during the prisoner intake process and each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner. It also requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate dyslexia treatment programs into recidivism reduction programs.

    In October, Cassidy and his wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, coauthored a column about their family’s personal struggle to overcome dyslexia.

    In June, Cassidy met with Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner about prison reform, and Cassidy stressed the need to identify and address dyslexia in early education in order to prevent students from being consigned to a path of illiteracy, crime, and incarceration.

    Ameer Baraka

    Ameer Baraka

    In May 2016, Cassidy chaired a HELP Committee hearing on understanding dyslexia. The hearing featured actor Ameer Baraka, a New Orleans native who struggled with dyslexia as a student and turned to selling drugs. Barak discussed how he taught himself to read in prison on Fox News in April 2017.

    In February 2016, Cassidy’s READ Act was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to devote at least $2.5 million to dyslexia research every year.

    In 2015, Cassidy hosted world experts on dyslexia for a discussion at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and chaired HELP Committee field hearings on dyslexia and education in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    Each year, Cassidy introduces a resolution in the Senate designating October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

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    ‘Verbs, Vittles, and Vibes’ featured at SU event

    The Southern University Museum of Art, in partnership with the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., recently hosted “Verbs, Vittles, and Vibes: A tribute to the Black Arts Movement” on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the SU museum located in Martin L.Harvey Hall.

    The Black Arts Movement, led by poet Imamu Amiri Baraka, took place from 1965-1975 and impacted the poetry, music, art, and literature. Artists used the on-going political climate as a muse for their work. Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Haki Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez are notable names that contributed to the cause. Though started in the New York/ New Jersey area, it shifted to Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, and San Francisco, California.

    Guests enjoyed a reading of their favorite poems, light music, and refreshments.

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    Dr. Maurice Sholas inspires SU grads at fall commencement

    Nearly 500 graduates earned degrees from Southern University at its fall commencement, December 14. Led in by Traci Smith, chief student marshal, graduates convened to receive bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as commissions to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. The newest alumni heard from one of their own, Dr. Maurice Sholas, a physician and principal for Sholas Medical Consulting LLC.

    “You may look at today as a glorious ending, but it is a glorious beginning,” Sholas said to the graduates.

    The Baton Rouge native reflected on his family legacy of Southern alumni, beginning with his parents, who met each other at the university.

    “My first visit to Southern was while I was in my mother’s womb,” Sholas said. “My heart was set on Southern from the start in spite of naysayers — those who said I could go to a “good school” because I had good grades. Well, Southern University wasn’t just good to me. It was great.

    “I came here to see what is possible for people like us. I became a part of a community that cares for and cared about me.”

    Sholas said that Southern prepared him for life beyond the Bluff in a number of ways, including him going on to Harvard to earn his M.D. and Ph.D.

    “Southern gave me the confidence to stand with those from corners of the world I’d never heard of,” he said.

    Sholas told the graduates to not fret about tomorrow as they celebrated their achievements today.

    “You don’t have to know today (what’s next),” he said. “When I was sitting here, I had no idea what I would be doing for the next 20 years. While you sort it out, keep moving forward. Excellence defines us. Pride sustains us. Tradition guides us. We are Southern.”

    Sholas closed by reminding the graduates that Southern is a family-oriented organization that reaches well beyond the acres in the capital city.

    “Your SU tribe is a short phone call or text away,” he said. “And my service to you is not over after this message. What I know… what I have experienced is yours. We are Southern.”

    Former Louisiana Sen. Diana E. Bajoie received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university. The Southern University alumna who is a pioneer in state politics. In 1976, she was the only woman serving in the Louisiana House of Representatives; in 1991, she was the first black woman elected to the Louisiana Senate; and in 2004, she was the first woman elected as Senate President Pro Tempore.

    The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at https://bit.ly/2SLS59d. The Fall 2018 Commencement program can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2S0ByhV.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative selects 200 new students

    The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative has selected 200 local students to be part of the program’s fifth cohort, which will begin in January 2019. The students are predominantly from North Baton Rouge and are pursuing careers in electrical, pipefitting, millwright and welding crafts. Each student will receive free training and a National Center for Construction Education and Research Core, Level I, and Level II certification after completion of the program.

    The NBRITI program began in 2012 spearheaded by ExxonMobil in an effort to better connect community members to industry jobs. The training is based at Baton Rouge Community College’s Acadian Campus and provides no-cost training for high-demand crafts. For the past six years, several partners have supported the program and hired graduates including Baton Rouge Community College, ExxonMobil, Excel Group, Cajun Industries, ISC, Turner Industries, Performance Contractors, Jacobs Engineering, Pala Group, Triad, Brock Group, Geo Heat Exchangers, Stupp Corporation, GBRIA, Associated Builders and Contractors, Urban League of Louisiana, and Employ BR.

    “Our partnership is ensuring sustainable workforce educational opportunities in North Baton Rouge, as well as the entire region. ExxonMobil’s continued commitment to bring together business and industry, education institutions and the community is the model of corporate citizenship,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Steib.

    _G4A8249About 800 applicants for the fifth training class were screened by the Baton Rouge Community College and partner company representatives through a testing and interview process. Many attended the North Baton Rouge Career Fair in October to learn about opportunities in industry. The college will offer reduced-cost training opportunities for those students not accepted into the NBRITI program.

    “This training has the power to be transformative – not just for the graduates — but for their families as well. We will be hiring millwrights directly from this new class, and I pledge to continue to lead the initiative forward,” said ExxonMobil Refinery Manager Gloria Moncada. With the addition of a millwright track, this new class will triple in size compared to previous classes.

    A unique aspect of the program is a social skills component involving ongoing tutoring, financial literacy training, and resume and interview assistance. This involves additional support from organizations including the Urban League of Louisiana, BancorpSouth, and ExxonMobil YMCA Community Outreach Retiree Alliance.

    About 45 students of the current, fourth training class will graduate on Jan. 24, 2019, at a special ceremony at the Baton Rouge Community College Acadian Campus.

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    SU Ag Center now accepting meat pre-sale orders for 76th Annual Livestock Show

    The Southern University Livestock Show Office is currently accepting pre-orders for non-processed choice meats from various livestock.

    All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are now available for pre-order:

    · Whole beef $2,000
    · Half beef $1,000
    · Fourth beef $500
    · Whole pork $225
    · Whole lamb $200
    · Whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to picking up the meat from the slaughter house.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to do so during the show’s ‘Special Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

    The office will deliver the meat to either the Cutrer Slaughter House in Kentwood, 985.229.2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine, 225.687.4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    The 76th Annual State Livestock & Poultry Show will be held February 28 – March 2, 2019 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena, 14600 Scenic Hwy, in Baton Rouge.

    Southern University has held an annual Livestock Show since 1943 and has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for the state’s youth to showcase their animals, gain entrepreneurship skills and receive character and leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to participate in the show or how to purchase meat; visit http://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019 or contact the Livestock Show Office at 225.771.6208.

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    Grambling State approved to offer cybersecurity degree

    NNPA Newswire–Grambling State University has been approved to offer the state’s first Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors provided their approval and support for the university’s program, according to a news release. The next step in the process is approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

    Students will be eligible to begin enrolling in the program in fall 2019.

    “With the vision of your team and the support of this Board, we are confident Grambling is prepared to educate cybersecurity professionals the market is demanding,” said Board Chair Al Perkins. “These graduates will be equipped with highly sought-after skills to protect us as technology becomes more prevalent in our daily lives.”

    Grambling State faculty member, researcher and a member of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Yenumula B. Reddy, Ph.D., has been spearheading the new program’s development.

    “We are excited about the work of Dr. Reddy and his team,” said Grambling State President Rick Gallot. “Their continuous innovation in research and the classroom are paving the way for this program. We are excited for the impact their leadership and our system-level support will have on our state and economy.”

    The news comes on the heels of an October report issued by the University of Louisiana System that said Grambling State University has doubled its fiscal health score since FY 2016, increasing from a 1.30 to a 2.60 as of the most recent report.

    The fiscal health score, developed by the Louisiana Board of Regents, measures overall organizational health, factoring in important components including debt, revenue, and ability to operate.

    “It’s been a team-wide effort,” Gallot said. “As a part of our commitment to innovation, we’ve engaged new talent and alumni from across the U.S. who not only understand our charge but offer us expert perspectives and thought leadership.”

    Leading the University’s fiscal health initiatives team is Martin Lemelle Jr. the University’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim Vice-President of Finance. The initiative also includes team members who offer experience from higher education, Silicon Valley, and public accountancy.

    “We’re an example of what’s possible when we partner,” said Lemelle. “The key to our successes has been a university-wide combination of collaboration and commitment. We’ve seen innovative ideas from every area, from our controller’s office to our academic units.”

    The outputs of these collaborative teams are having a direct impact on the institution’s bottom-line. Some of those outputs include:

    $1.2 million in annual savings through participating in the Department of Education’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program;

    Overall expense reduction of more than $6 million;

    A 320 percent annual increase in grants from federal and state government initiatives; and

    Realizing new revenue opportunities that include an increase in third-party commissions and its “Look for the Label” program which focuses on increasing licensing royalties.

    “Grambling State University is experiencing a renaissance. Its vastly improved fiscal health is yet another indication of the effective leadership and hard work occurring at all levels of the institution,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said. “From its enrollment numbers to its operations, it’s exciting to see the rapid and significant advancement of this historic institution.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent

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    Dawn Mellion-Patin receives Iowa State’s 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award

    Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award by Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Patin has dedicated her career to educating and improving the lives of small farmers. In 2005, she developed the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Training Institute, an intensive leadership development program that guides small, minority, socially-disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers through the process of becoming competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.
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    Her work in the field of agriculture has also provided her with the opportunity to serve as a panel manager for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); chair of the Southern Region- Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leaders Committee; grant committee member for the USDA’s  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); 1890 representative on the National Extension Disaster Education Network Executive Committee and historian for the National Society of Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization.

    She has received the SU Ag Center’s Outstanding Specialist Award, Tuskegee University’s Distinguished Service Award, the Association of Extension Administrators Excellence in Extension Award and USDA NIFA Cooperative Extension System Outstanding Leadership Award.

    Patin earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences and a master’s degree in educational agriculture, both from Southern University, and a doctoral degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences Education from Iowa State University.

    The George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award was established in 2005. The award honors distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership by making significant, influential, or innovative contributions to society.

    Patin received the award during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony on October 26.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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    Ponchatoula Student Outreach celebrates second year

    The City of Ponchatoula again participated in the national “Lights On Afterschool” event with its “Family & Friends Night” at the Ponchatoula Community Center for a time of celebrating the growth and positive results of its own after-school program.
    Called “Ponchatoula Student Outreach,” the program’s motto is “From Afterschool to Bright Futures” and according to reports on improvement in behavior and grades, the future is looking much brighter for some who have needed that extra encouraging nudge.
    It was more like Thanksgiving with all the appreciation expressed by each speaker from the microphone as well as family members around the tables.
    Program Director May Stilley and Mayor Bob Zabbia kicked off the evening with warm welcomes and thanks to students, parents, and guardians, City Council members, principals, teachers, volunteers and sponsors who have been generous in time and means to help the City make it all possible. School board members Mike Whitlow and Rose Dominguez were in attendance and acknowledged.
    Stilley also paid special tribute to the school bus drivers who do not charge extra to bring the students from their respective schools to the Community Center for their classes and to Transportation Coordinator, Tessa Hills. At one table, Key Club members from Ponchatoula High School were recognized for their volunteering to help give one-on-one help.
    After a meal, guest speaker Superintendent of Tangipahoa Parish School System, Melissa Stilley, continued in the same positive manner, offering her gratitude for the way the people of Ponchatoula have responded in so many ways to the student outreach. She said, “This is evidence of what partnership is all about,” adding her wish for every community to have an after-school program.
    Starting the program in time for the 2017 school year required a lot of preparatory work by Human Resources Director, Lisa Jones, and May Stilley, aiding Mayor Zabbia in realizing a dream come true and supported by him and the City Council.
    This school year, first and second grades were added bringing the total enrollment to 50 students and it is stressed this is not a babysitting program. Classroom teachers recommend the students that would profit most from the extra help. Ponchatoula Student Outreach teachers are available to meet with parents and guardians when picking up their children after classes.
    Staff for 2018-19 are 1st and 2nd grades: Daphne Griffin and Charlotte Gordon; 3rd and 4th: Kimberly James and Elisha Perry; and 7th and 8th: Windy Haist and Jennifer Daigle.
    Classroom assistants are Shirley Creel, Cathy Colkmire, Annette Tullier, Leigh Burnthorne, Jenea Magee, and Kacey Martin.
    The advisory board is comprised of members from each school participating. They are Amber Gardner, Tucker Elementary; Tamaria Whittington, D.C. Reeves; Rosalyn Heider and Melissa Ryan, Martha Vinyard; Mary Beth Crovetto, Ponchatoula Junior High; and Shelly Ernst and Danette Ragusa, St. Joseph School.
    The program uses community resources for youth to see and connect with positive role models.
    For those interested in being a sponsor, mentor or volunteer to invest in the long-term future success of the students and the community as a result, call her at 985-401-2210.

    By Kathryn J. Martin

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    MLK III joins Urban Specialists, leaders in celebrating BR’s reduced violence

    On Sunday, October 14, 2018 a historic ceremony for the City of Baton Rouge will take place as community leaders, a host of celebrities and the entire community come together for a special CourseCon Baton Rouge “Thank You Baton Rouge” event. This first of its kind experience for the Louisiana city will take place at 6 p.m. at the Raising Cane’s River Center. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend, including students from Southern University, Louisiana State and other nearby universities, who will be brought in on chartered buses sponsored by Urban Specialists and Raising Cane’s. CourseCon Baton Rouge is free and open to the public who register at http://urbanspecialists.org/3c.

    CourseCon Baton Rouge will bring together to some of the most prominent activists, cultural influencers, corporate executives and celebrities to have a real conversation about Baton Rouge’s urban community, renewal opportunities and eradicating violence and poverty in neighborhoods. CourseCon Baton Rouge will also be an opportunity to thank and celebrate the citizens of Baton Rouge and strides that have been made in the area, particularly since Urban Specialists opened an office there and partnered with city leaders and law enforcement officials.

    CourseCon Baton Rouge will also be historic as the hearse that carried prominent civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr’s body, will be unveiled for the first time since his death more than 50 years ago. Todd Graves, owner and founder of Raising Cane’s, bought the hearse from the original owner and through its unveiling, wants to remind young people what Martin Luther King, Jr contributed to society. “It’s important that the next generation really understands how the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world,” said Graves. “These kids did not get a chance to hear MLK during his lifetime, so I am hoping they will be able to appreciate him through this tribute to honor his life.” Dr. King’s son and namesake, Martin Luther King III, will be in attendance to speak and help pay tribute to his father with the dedication of the hearse.

    Featured panelists and speakers for CourseCon Baton Rouge include, Omar Jahwar, CEO and founder of Urban Specialists; Todd Graves, CEO and founder of Raising Cane’s; Murphy J. Paul Jr., Chief of Police, Baton Rouge; Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge; LaMont Cole, Baton Rouge City Council Member – District 7; Clay Young, marketing executive, radio show host and community activist; Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, former gang leader turned community advocate; Pastor Errol Dominique, senior pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church; James Gilmore, Ph.D., city leader and former top aide to Baton Rouge Mayor; NFL Hall of Famer, Deion SandersCortez Bryant, COO, Young Money Entertainment and Co-CEO of The Blue Print Group; Antong Lucky, director of national invasion with Urban Specialists and former leader of the infamous Bloods gang in Dallas, Texas; and Andricka Williams, widow of Alton Sterling, who was killed in 2016 in a controversial shooting by two Baton Rouge police officers.
    The moderated forum, in partnership with Urban Specialists, Raising Cane’s and the City of Baton Rouge will provide an opportunity for residents, civic stakeholders and key influencers to gather for a civil discourse. The intention of CourseCon Baton Rouge is to facilitate an in-depth conversation about shared interests, ways to promote thriving communities and stop senseless violence. Omar Jahwar is just the right person to lead this critical conversation as he is widely known all over the world for his results-driven approach to ending violence and bringing about positive change in urban areas of high crime and poverty. In Dallas, Jahwar adopted sixteen streets in one of the most crime-ridden, impoverished neighborhoods in Dallas and through his leadership, there is a 58% decrease in crime in that area. He also adopted high schools in those neighborhoods and they have seen a 72% reduction in violent incidents in just one school year.

    “We are excited to bring this conversation to Baton Rouge,” said Omar Jahwar. “We opened an office in Baton Rouge in early 2018 and have already seen significant results. We have a proven method that has worked in other urban areas and look forward to continuing to implement those strategies to further decrease violence in Baton Rouge.”

    Omar Jahwar is an expert in urban culture and the leading voice around the country for eradicating senseless violence. His efforts to revive urban culture began over twenty years ago as the first state-appointed gang specialist in Texas. In this role, he negotiated peace terms between incarcerated rival gang members. He also brought over 400 gang members together and negotiated the first peace treaty between the infamous Blood and Crip gangs in Dallas.

    Urban Specialists is taking CourseCon around the country to help activate change in urban neighborhoods.

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  • Black enrollment, faculty at public universities worse in La.

    Black citizens are underrepresented as undergraduates and on the faculties of America’s four-year public universities, according to a new report card by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center.

    Nowhere is the problem worse than in Louisiana. The report found that traditional-age (18-24) Black students are under-enrolled at three-fourths of public universities compared to their population in that state, and that graduation rates for Black students continue to lag behind other students. States were given an overall “equity index” grade based on how well Black students and faculty were represented public institutions. Louisiana’s was the lowest.

    According to Inside Higher Ed’s interview with Shaun Harper, the center’s executive director, said many institutions are “failing Black students.” “I think that this makes painstakingly clear that the failure is systemic. That it’s not just a handful of institutions,” he said, adding that blame around Black students’ shortcomings is often placed on the students, not universities.

    By The Louisiana Budget Project

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    School board selects Kenyetta Nelson-Smith to lead

    The seven-member East Baton Rouge Parish School Board unanimously selected Kenyetta Nelson-Smith Ph.D., as vice-president of the board following the resignation of Rep. Connie Bernard last month. Nelson-Smith has represented District 3 in North Baton Rouge since 2011. She is the assistant professor/program leader of child development at Southern University and an assistant specialist of community and economic development with the Ag Center. She will hold the vice president position through Nov. 6 when she seeks re-election.

     

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    COMMENTARY: Teachers need more community, parental support

    The latest data from the Center for American Progress shows that the average salary for an attorney is more than two times that of elementary and middle school educators. The Washington Post reported last week that nearly 1 in 10 hosts who rent out their apartments, homes and spaces on Airbnb are teachers. Low salaries, compared with other college graduates, may inhibit highly-effective professionals from pursuing a career in education; specifically for people of color who currently make up just seven percent of public school teachers.

    I come from a family of educators. My mother, both of my grandmothers, and one of my sisters were teachers. However, the family tradition of educating children ended after me. None of my daughters, nieces, or nephews decided to pursue a career in education. Data comprised from surveys completed during the NNPA’s National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting echoed this sentiment. When asked what they believed is needed to close the academic achievement gap, respondents selected community participation and funding over the acquisition of highly-effective teachers.

    Many reasons have led to frustrations with teaching in the United States. Work-to-pay ratio, a lack of resources, and an increased focus on standardized testing has made it increasingly difficult for teachers to be highly-effective.

    This year, teacher strikes broke out in several states concerning school funding and teacher pay. Teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia left the classroom for the state house to protest the lack of resources in the profession. NPR reported in April that teachers have begun to seek support outside of the educational bureaucracy; forming “supply shops” where teachers can swap educational materials for free or at a dramatically reduced cost.

    A first-year teacher who attended the National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting in Norfolk, VA, said that she stepped into the role of teaching, initially excited, but found by the end of the year she was extremely drained physically and emotionally. “I stepped into the role, mid-year, with no lesson plan. What can be done to keep teachers teaching and encourage new teachers coming into the program? I really want to teach, but there is very little support.”

    Highly-effective teachers require competitive pay, professional support, and access to innovative resources. President Barack Obama signed the current national education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 with educators in mind. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA also ends the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores which should reduce the pressure teachers feel to teach to the test. The Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program provides grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures. ESSA became effective this 2018-2019 school year.

    With data compiled from 26 school districts, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) found that on average there were small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students, hiring patterns and teacher transfer patterns were consistent, with only minor differences, between high- and low-income students, and that in 3 of the 26 chosen districts there was meaningful inequity in access to effective teachers in math. Data showed that access to highly-effective teachers was relatively equal across the board. Yet, inequities in educational outcomes between low-income students and students from wealthier families persist throughout the United States.

    As a new teacher, the constant challenge for me was parental engagement. A working parent’s schedule often left little time during school hours to participate in their child’s education and those who were free during school hours, failed to realize the importance of their presence and participation. Today, meaningful parental engagement remains a challenge for educators.

    So, this is a call to action for all parents. Let’s listen to teachers. They are calling for more support and increased pay. Let’s attend to school meetings to find out how to provide them additional support. Let’s attend city and the state meetings to advocate for competitive pay. Let’s vote for leaders who support the academic advancement of our children through access to additional resources.

    By Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D.

     

    Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D., is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. She is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow her @elizabethprimas.

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    School’s in, drivers need to be vigilant

    The start of a new school year in Louisiana also means drivers need to be vigilant through school zones and around school buses.

    School zone times vary around the state but generally are in effect anytime from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fines for speeding through a school zone can be steep, especially if the driver also is talking, listening or texting on a cell phone.
    “In addition to a fine of up to several hundred dollars for speeding through a school zone, a driver using a cell phone in a school zone also can be fined up to $500,” said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “A driver who engages in multiple violations of cell phone usage in a school zone can further risk a fine of up to $1,000 and be exposed to a driver’s license suspension as well. If a driver is involved in a crash in a school zone while using a cell phone, fines can be doubled.
    “The idea behind stiff fines is to keep our school zones safe, and sometimes it takes a high penalty to make that point,” Freeman noted.
    Freeman also urged drivers to understand the laws regarding when a driver must stop for a bus that is flashing red lights, which indicates it is loading or unloading children.
    • On a two-lane road, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a three-lane road with a center turning lane, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a four-lane road with no median or other physical barrier between the lanes, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a divided highway with a grass median or other physical barrier, vehicles moving in the same direction as the bus must stop; oncoming traffic should proceed with caution.
    • On a highway that has a center turning lane with two travel lanes on each side, vehicles moving in the same direction as the bus must stop; oncoming traffic should proceed with caution.
    The chart above, courtesy of the state Department of Transportation and Development and Louisiana State Police, is a handy reminder of the school bus laws.
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    Historic Tangipahoa Parish Training School–nation’s first vocational school for Blacks–to be auctioned

    KENTWOOD, La–The Tangipahoa Parish desegregation lawsuit, filed over 51 years ago in the federal courts in New Orleans, has still not been resolved.

    In 1911, the Tangipahoa Parish Training School opened as the first Black training school in the nation. Vocational and industrial education offered students specialized training. The school provided teacher training so that the graduated could staff the Black schools in rural towns throughout the South. The training school was the beginning of secondary public education for Black in South.

    Professor Armstead Mitchell Strange was born in 1884 in Waterproof, Louisiana. He earned his college degree from Alcorn College, where he finished in 1902. Strange came to Tangipahoa Parish via Collins, Mississippi. He came to Kentwood, LA in 1910. Strange joined several local white businesses, and donated money to establish Kentwood Industrial School for Blacks. He raised the money, purchased land, and erected the building, one of which was named for him. The scholastic year 1911-12, marked the beginning of the Training School Movement as far the Slater Fund is concerned. Professor A.M. Strange wrote to Dr. James H. Dillard, general agent for the John F. Slater Fund (a philanthropic fund for the advancement of Negro education), soliciting aid for a Black school that would be located in Kentwood, Louisiana. Professor Strange established Kentwood’s first training school for Blacks.

    O.W. Diillon

    O.W. Diillon

    In 1917, Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon came to Kentwood to take charge of the one-room, one-teacher, two months a year school. That year Dillon received $1,000 from the Brooks Scanlon Lumber Co. and the Natalbany Lumber Co. in order to hire three other teachers and extend the school term to a full nine months for 200 students. In 1919 the school board appropriated $1,000 to construct a two-story, five-classroom building at the school. Another $1,200 was spent to purchase 85 acres adjoining the school.

    Professor Dillon appealed to the local board to buy a machine, and to make cement blocks. After securing the machine he implored Black people in the area to supply labor. They made 40,000 cement blocks, one at a time and erected a building for educating area children.

    According to the genealogy research of Leonard Smith III and local historian Antoinette Harrell, Professor Strange was one of seventeen children born to Tillman and Millie Hunter Strange. His brother Tillman moved to Chicago and became a physician. Professor Strange started other schools and colleges in the South. He helped many young Black students get their education.

    Harrell’s research revealed that the greatest gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performed at the school in the ’60s. Many of the students who attended the school were the children of sharecroppers and farmers who wanted their children to get an education. Having the school auction would create a massive void in the community.

    Deon Johnson, executive director of O.W. Dillon Preservation Organization, attended every meeting to address this situation with the Tangipahoa Parish School Board and hasn’t had much success. “How could they auction off our legacy?” He asked. “Our ancestor worked with the sweat, tears, and blood to build this school,” said Deon.

    Basketball star LeBron James opened the free “I Promise” school in Akon, Ohio. The school offers free uniforms, transportations, access to a food pantry for their family. Professor Strange and Professor Dillon did the same thing in Kentwood. They solicited the support of the community who gave their resources and labor to build the oldest Training School for Blacks in the Nation.

    “Today the school is up for auction and has caused a great deal of pain and heartaches for the African American community,” said  Johnson. “A lot of sweat and hard work built this school,” he said. “Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon and men of the community made the very bricks and mortar to build the school. Please help us to keep this historic school and preserve our legacy.”

    ONLINE: owdillonpreservation.org

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    Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed to deliver LSU Fall Commencement keynote address, Aug. 3

    LSU alumna and Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed will deliver the keynote address at LSU’s summer commencement ceremony on Friday, Aug. 3, in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

    Reed, who received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university, was named the Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education in April. Prior to being named commissioner, Reed served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. She also served in President Barack Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

    “We are proud to welcome alumna Kim Hunter Reed back to campus to speak at commencement, and back to Louisiana to serve as the Commissioner of Higher Education at the Board of Regents,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Kim has a deep love for and commitment to higher education, and we have no doubt that she will both inspire and motivate our graduates with her message.”

    A Lake Charles native, Reed chaired Louisiana’s higher education transition team in 2015 and served as the state’s policy director. Reed also served as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Louisiana Board of Regents and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System.

    Reed received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from LSU. She has received numerous honors, including LSU Alumna of the Year, Public Administration Institute; and Mom of the Year, Jack and Jill of America, Baton Rouge Chapter. She has been featured in Daughters of Men, a national publication highlighting outstanding African American women and their fathers.

    “I am honored to celebrate the accomplishments of these new LSU graduates at my alma mater, a place that was so integral to my success,” Reed said. “There is nothing more rewarding than joining families and faculty at commencement as we applaud our students hard work and focus on increased talent development in Louisiana.”

    Commencement will begin with the procession at 8:45 a.m., with the graduation ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. There will be no separate diploma ceremonies for August commencement.

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    SU Land-Grant Campus to host Back-to-School Summit, August 3

    Students in 6th – 12th grade are invited to participate in the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’ Back-to-School Summit,  August 3, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    The free event, which is themed “Youth Empowerment and Community Stewardship: Cultivating the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders: Plant, Grow, Nurture, Harvest, Sustain,” in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    The summit will feature comedian Tony King, social media sensation Raynell “Supa” Steward and educational workshops on the topics of:

    • Youth Empowerment & Community Stewardship
    • Active Shooter Preparedness
    • DIY Bike Repairs
    • Social Media Safety
    • LYFE
    • No Smoke
    • Exploring Careers in Ag
    • Eating “Gods” Way
    • $mart Snacks
    • Safe Sitter

    Youth will also have an opportunity to visit several vendor booths during the Summit.

    City of Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniels will serve as the keynote speaker for the summit.

    In 2014, the Baton Rouge native created the Jewel J. Newman Community Center (JJNCC) Advisory Board. Under Banks-Daniels leadership, the JJNCC has increased its funding from the City-Parish and has made several building and playground upgrades.

    The center has also been awarded several grants that have been used to improve the quality of life for her constituents.

    Banks-Daniels earned a Master’s degree in Education, Leadership and Counseling and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, both from Southern University. She is also a graduate of the Southern University Laboratory School.

    Youth groups interested in attending the Back-to-School Summit must pre-register by emailing the name of the child(ren), their age(s), parent(s) name, mailing address, phone number and email address to: suagyouthdevelopment@gmail.com.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

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    EVENT: Library schedules August activities for all ages

    The following FREE East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout August. The asterisks indicate which programs require pre-registration.

    Children’s End of Summer Reading Party

    It’s time to par-tay! Kids ages 3-11 are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 1, to celebrate the end of summer with games, spacewalk, a funny clown, prizes and delicious refreshments for everyone! The party will last about one hour. Registration is required for groups. For more information and to register, call the Main Library Children’s Room at (225) 231-3760.

    Teen Summer Film Camp Premiere

    New Orleans Video Access Center in Baton Rouge (NOVACBR) partnered with your Library during a FREE filmmaking summer camps for teens in grades 6-12! During the camp, students learned the basics of video production including design, storyboarding, production, post-production, effects and more, through the hands-on process of creating a music video under the guidance of an experienced local filmmaker. Final projects from each camp will premiere at the Main Library at Goodwood in the Large Meeting Room at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 2. Family and friends are invited to attend!

     

    Teen End of Summer Reading Parties

    Come enjoy games, prizes, snacks and more when you celebrate the end of summer with other teens at the Library! For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Check out the remaining schedule below.

    • Noon Wednesday, August 1, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 1, River Center Branch
    • 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, Zachary Branch

     

    Decluttering is Mind Over Matter with Sarah Cooper

    Local designer and personal organizer Sarah Cooper will be at the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11, to offer a FREE seminar for adults on decluttering any space! She’ll share her insights for living a clutter-free life in a uniquely informative presentation that will cover topics like why people clutter their space, and an understanding of the obstacles that hinder getting organized. With robust experience founded in design, Cooper has worked to help people downsize, up-size or simply remodel and repurpose any space. If you’re looking for real tools to help you better organize your home or work spaces don’t miss this interesting and engaging workshop!

     

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250

    A Porcupine Named Fluffy Story/Craft

    Join other kids ages 3-6 at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 4, for a reading of A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester. After the story, we’ll make a paper plate porcupine craft.

     

    Welcome to Teens!

    Hey teens in grades 6-12! Come to the Teen Room at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 22, and 2 p.m. Saturday, August 25, to see what the Library has just for you. Parents of teens also are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

     

    Epic Graphics Book Club

    Do you like to read comic books or graphic novels, and dislike reading chunky books without pictures? If you said yes, you’ll want to come hang out with other adults ages 18 and older at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 28, for an Epic Graphics Book Club meeting! During our first gathering, we’ll discuss favorite comic book titles, scavenge the Library’s bookshelves and Digital Library for fun graphic novels to read, and then announce a comic book for everyone to read and discuss as a group at the next meeting.

     

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450

    *Two ACT Practice Exam Sessions for Teens

    Gearing up for college entry? Start strong by completing a FREE simulated practice exam for the American College Test (ACT®) through the Library’s Learning Express resource. Teens are invited to the Carver Branch at 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 7, to experience this full-length practice test and find out what you can expect when you take the official exam. A second session will begin at 1:30 p.m. the same day. The practice covers each of the four categories that appear on the official exam including English, math, reading and science, as well as the same question types, format and time-allotted. Registration is required and limited to eight participants per session.

     

    Home & Personal Safety Informational Session

    Adults and teens ages 16 and up can come to the Carver Branch at 2 p.m. Thursday, August 9, for a FREE home and personal safety informational session led by deputies of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Come learn how to keep our communities safer!

     

    Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy., (225) 924-9385

    *Back to School Time Story/Activity

    Children ages 3-7 can get ready for school at the Fairwood Branch! Come to the Library at 4 p.m. Thursday, August 2, to hear readings of What George Forgot by Kathy Wolff and Kindergarten is Cool by Linda E. Marshall. After the story, we’ll take turns completing four activities including fun with shapes, puzzles and more! All children must be accompanied by an adult.

     

    Summertime: The ‘Write’ Time!

    Calling all writers! Join other adults at the Fairwood Branch at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 25, to link up with other writers in the area, get inspired and learn how to craft the perfect page turner.

     

    Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 274-4450

    *Crumb Snatchers with Author Brandi Worley

    Adults, teens and lovers of a good story about the underdog will want to head over to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 18, for a FREE book talk and podcast with Brandi Worley, author of the Crumb Snatchers series. The LIVE podcast will be hosted by the Blerd-ish podcast duo Keith Cooper and Mark Wallace. Audience silence will be required during the live podcast recording. A question-and-answer period will follow. For more information about author Brandi Worley or the Crumb Snatchers series, visit the website at http://crumbsnatchersbooks.com/.

     

    *Multicultural Flag Drawing

    Have you ever wanted to learn about the world’s flags? Here’s your chance! Come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 25, to hang out with other kids ages 4-6 and hear facts and history about other places in the world from Flags of the World by Sylvie Bednar. We’ll also take a look at the wordless book Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi, and try to draw some flags of our own.

     

    Jones Creek Regional Branch Library, 6222 Jones Creek Rd., (225) 756-1150

    *Eggplant, Eggplant, Where Are You?

    Adults can join us at the Jones Creek Regional Branch at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11, for a FREE cooking demonstration featuring a variety of eggplant dishes with author and former cooking show host Loretta Duplantis. Attendees also will have the chance to enjoy samples. Door prizes will be awarded!

     

    Kaleidoscope of Quilts: Public Participation Day

    The Sassi Strippers Quilt Guild will be at the Jones Creek Regional Branch from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, August 18, for the Kaleidoscope of Quilts public participation day for all ages! There will be quilting demonstrations, children’s activities, stuffing teddy bears for the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and balloting for favorite quilts. The Guild also will have their quilts on display throughout the branch during August.

     

    Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., (225) 231-3750

    *How to Play Magic: The Gathering

    Lovers of make-believe and method gaming can join other adults and teens ages 14 and up at the Main Library at Goodwood at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 11, for a beginner’s introduction to Magic: The Gathering, a card game that combines strategy and fantasy. We will review the basic rules and play practice hands to help players familiarize themselves with the types of cards and gameplay. This event is geared towards those who are new to the game or need a refresher, and participants will receive a starter deck to learn with, instructions and a box to store decks in.

     

    Tales from the Archives

    Archivist Melissa Eastin will present three stories from Baton Rouge’s past at the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 15. The presentation for adults will cover Baton Rouge’s first and only female sheriff, the touching story of “Sonny Boy”, a care taker who became part of an elderly couple’s family when they needed him most, plus a look into the life of petty criminal Dewey Key, who could never seem to get his life on the right track!

     

    *Job Search Letters 

    You know how to write a résumé, but what about all the other letters involved in a job search? What kind of cover letter will get hiring managers’ attention? What needs to be contained in a thank-you letter after an interview? How can you reach out to a friend and ask for help with your job search? These questions and more will be answered in a FREE seminar for adults in Room 102 at the Main Library at Goodwood at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 22. Certified Professional Résumé Writer Lynnette Lee of the Career Center will lead the presentation. Registration is required. To register, visit https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

     

    *Dependable Strengths: How to Find & Grow the Best within You 

    If you are ready to take your job, career or life in a new and more fulfilling direction, we want to help! Adults are invited to Room 102 at the Main Library at Goodwood from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, August 25, for a FREE workshop that will aim to help you identify your own unique potential for excellence. Certified facilitator Mike Cragin will teach you ways to discover your strengths and offer help with making a plan to develop them. Registration is required. For more information, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733. To register, go online to www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

     

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550

    Teen Film Club: Marvel Movie Day

    Get ready to take a trip to the African kingdom of Wakanda when you watch this year’s highest-grossing film from Marvel! Teens are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 6, to see this exciting story unfold. After T’Challa, the king of Wakanda rises to the throne, his claim is soon challenged by a ruthless stranger. Enjoy thematic activities while and refeshments while you watch! Refreshments will be served.

     

    After School Anime

    Anime lovers unite! Come to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 20, to vote for and watch your favorite anime shows on the Library’s Crunchyroll account. Snacks will be served!

     

    Zachary Branch Library, 1900 Church St., (225) 658-1850

    *The Kissing Hand Story/Craft

    Children ages 4-6 are invited to the Zachary Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 8, to hear a reading of The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Later, each child will cut out their handprints and decorate them with hearts and other craft items. All supplies will be provided.

     

    *Read to Nola: Therapy Dog Reading Buddy

    Handler Tina Morgan and therapy dog Nola will be at the Zachary Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, August 18, to listen to children read. Dogs are great listeners, don’t interrupt and are fun to be around! Register to meet and read to Nola by calling the Children’s Room at (225) 658-1860.

     


    For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.
     For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750

     

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Virginia College Back to School Event, August 2

    Virginia College in Baton Rouge will host a Back to School Event for the community Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus located at 9501 Cortana Place. The event is free and open to the public and will feature refreshments and candy for kids, a spelling bee, photobooth, campus tours, a scavenger hunt, backpack and school supply giveaways while supplies last and more. Additionally, attendees 18 and older can enter to win gift cards and other prizes.

    The event will also allow attendees to explore programs offered through Virginia College, including: Business Administration, Culinary Arts, Medical Assistant, Medical Office Specialist, Network Support Technician, Network and System Administration, Electrical Technician, HVAC-R Technician, Pastry Arts, Pharmacy Technician and Surgical Technology.

    WHAT: Virginia College Back to School Event
    WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    WHERE: Virginia College in Baton Rouge – 9501 Cortana Place, Baton Rouge, LA 70815
    PHONE: (225) 236-3900

    “With the start of a new school year comes a great deal of excitement and anticipation, promise and possibility,” says Campus President Joe Dalto. “No matter your age or stage of life, we want to celebrate education and the aspirations of all members of our community. We invite everyone to come by our Back to School Event and say hello, and for those interested in pursuing a new career, talk with a member of our staff about the fast and focused career training we offer at our campus.”

    The event is part of Virginia College parent company Education Corporation of America’s national Back to School Events being held at 62 other Virginia College, Brightwood Career Institute and Brightwood College locations throughout 17 states.

    ONLINE: vc.edu/batonrouge.

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    First Louisiana charter school for children with autism opens August 16

    The Emerge School for Autism will welcome its first class of students on August 16, 2018, as the first tuition-free school for children with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Louisiana.

    The school’s mission is to educate students with ASD using therapeutically focused evidence-based strategies grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Universal Design for Learning enabling children to reach their full potential and transform their lives.

    The highly integrative curriculum will be tailored to each child’s individual needs and provide special education instruction using ABA, speech-language, and occupational therapy to children to prepare them for future education settings with a functional communication system, improved independence, self-help skills, and essential learner readiness skills. Socio-emotional learning will enhance the academic performance of the students and their ability to integrate into society or back to their home school. Data-driven decision-making will be an integral part of The Emerge School, as the team will collect data daily, and analyze data weekly for each student.

    Since its inception in 1960, The Emerge Center, an independent 501c3, has undergone a natural, organizational evolution into the educational realm in response to community needs. The Emerge Kindergarten began in 2014 and provided academic instruction in alignment with Louisiana Student Standards and was composed of a combination of therapies, including speech-language, occupational, and applied behavior analysis to students ages five to six years of age. It was a BESE-approved, tuition-based program following a traditional school year calendar.

    When Emerge students began transitioning out of the center’s program and into traditional schools settings, students who had been successful within Emerge programs became significantly challenged by new environments, which lacked educational and therapeutic tools they needed to achieve success. In 2016, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled findings from a study of Autism Spectrum Disorder resources in the Capital Region, in which they found that educational opportunities for children with autism are limited by the small number of private and public school classroom resources, as schools largely often opted out of offering curricula featuring applied behavior analysis.

    In 2017, the Board of Directors and executive leadership of The Emerge Center completed a three-year Strategic Plan to position the non-profit organization for sustainable growth in its services for children with autism and communication challenges. By implementing the strategic plan, Emerge expanded its educational offerings with the creation of The Emerge School for Autism.

    Beginning with twenty children in kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year, The Emerge School plans to serve children ages five to eleven and grow to serve up to 120 students over time. In its first year, the school will operate out of two existing classrooms at The Emerge Center, with plans to identify a larger space to accommodate more students in the future.

    Leigh Bozard is the principal of The Emerge School for Autism.

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    COMMUNITY EVENTS: Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair, August 4

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, 8am – 1pm at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    There will be a Faith Walk to begin the event at 8am.

    The Health Fair will promote preventive health care services, to bring about awareness to the services that are available and to assist people in making improved health decisions for their family. The fair will also provide healthful information and practices to the Scotlandville Community.

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair will include on site examinations, educational information, blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations, mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultation; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultations; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers. There will be drawings for gift cards and door prizes.

    The Baton Rouge Community is invited to attend.

    Submitted by Mada McDonald

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    Southern University alumni ‘come home’ for biennial conference, July 19-22

    The Southern University Alumni Federation will host its biennial conference July 19-22 in Baton Rouge. The Federation, which includes thousands of members across the nation and aboard, is hosting several events that celebrate tradition, innovation and achievement.

    “This year’s conference is packed with substantive and timely speakers and panel discussions related to Southern University and the surrounding community,” said Preston Castille, Federation president. “We will focus greatly on the University’s new Imagine 20,000 initiative to grow student enrollment, improve our infrastructure, and expand Southern’s footprint in Baton Rouge. We also look forward to showcasing some of the capital city’s fantastic attractions.”

    Activities include campus tours, professional development workshops, the inaugural “40 Under 40” awards ceremony, and the “Circle of Achievement” gala featuring national media personality Roland Martin. Among speakers and facilitators for the three-day conference are Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Board of Regents commissioner.

    ONLINE: www.sualumni.org

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    Southern University System Board approves student fee increases across campuses

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors has approved an increase in student fees. The average increase of 4.95 percent affects Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport and the Southern University Law Center.

    “The Southern University System’s core mission is to provide an accessible, affordable and dynamic educational experience to all students,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president on July 5. “While we recently celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a standstill budget — not to be confused with full funding —  for higher education, this budget does not take into account mandated costs and the formula put forth by the state Board of Regents. Without an increase, which is our last resort, the System’s ability to advance its scope and mission would be severely compromised.”

    Belton cited the more than $40 million decline in state funding the Southern University System has experienced over the past 10 years. The per-semester fee increases for full-time students result from House Bill 113 (Act 293) of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session. Each campus will allocate not less than 5 percent of the revenues realized from these fees to need-based financial assistance to students of eligible to receive a Pell Grant. Fees at the flagship Baton Rouge campus will increase by $217 for undergraduate students and $250 for graduate students; at New Orleans $169 for undergraduate students and $209 for graduate students; at Shreveport $100; and $393 at the Law Center. 

    The additional funds generated from this increase will be used to assist with situations such as offsetting the cost of unfunded mandates, operational costs and the 2018-2019 budget reduction resulting from formula implementation. The System encourages those in need of financial assistance to examine and apply for scholarships and grants through the Southern University System Foundation.

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    Embattled School Board Member Mike Whitlow will not seek a second term

    Mike Whitlow came under fire a few months ago from the Tangipahoa Black community after he posted a story on his Facebook page that included a screen shot of a hangman’s noose.

    Whitlow posted this on Facebook,”It has been a pleasure serving the citizens of District F on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. I want thank my constituents for the confidence placed in me to help improve our school system to ensure our children’s future. I will serve out my current term which ends on Dec. 31 of this year and will not seek reelection on Nov. 6. My plan is to fully retire to spend more quality time with my wife, family and friends.”

    Fellow School Board Member Tom Tolar posted,”I want to thank Mike Whitlow for his service on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. He has endured more than his share of hatred, but he has never stopped working to improve our schools..This is a hard job, and it takes a toll on you. As the only board member north of Amite, I feel the pressure to advocate for our local schools. I will continue to fight with all my might to represent our local schools and I look forward to seeing what is in store for us under our new superintendents leadership. We work for you!!”

    School Board Vice-President Sandra Simmons posted, “It is sad to see you leave but l understand you wanting to spend more time with your loved ones. You have served faithfully, wisely and sincerely.”

    The election for all 9 school board members is set for November 6. Candidates will qualify in a few weeks on July 18-20.

    Read more »
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    Changes coming for 5 Hammond, Independence schools

    A revised student assignment plan is expected to go into effect for students in the Hammond and Independence schools, just in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

    The Tangipahoa Parish School Board on Wednesday filed a joint motion with plaintiff’s counsel, at the recommendation of Court Compliance Officer Donald Massey, in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore federal desegregation lawsuit to modify the student assignment plan which went into effect with the start of the 2016-17 school year. Although the federal court document system does not indicate any judicial action has been recorded beyond the filing of the motion, the school system appears to be preparing a “Plan A” and “Plan B” for the five schools that will be impacted by these changes, which will start this August.

    Proposed to “address and resolve certain issues in the Hammond attendance zone,” the newly-modified student assignment plan will also “combine” the current Independence Magnet and Independence Leadership Academy school zones into a single attendance zone, reinstating the traditional grade configurations at those schools. Independence Leadership Academy would house pre-K through 4th grade students while Independence Magnet will enroll students in grades 5-8. The modified plan would allow Independence Magnet to remain a communications magnet school.

    If the newest version of the modified plan is approved by Judge Ivan Lemelle, there would be significantly more changes in store for three Hammond schools (Woodland Park Magnet, Greenville Park Leadership Academy, and Hammond Eastside Magnet) starting this upcoming 2018-19 school year:

    *New principals would be assigned at the Greenville Park and Woodland Park schools. By federal court order, those principals would likely be laterally-transferred from other TPSS schools or from the Central Office itself, and the individuals selected would be required to hold proper administration certificates, have previous experience as school principals, and “have a proven record of effectiveness in all areas of school administration.” The new appointees will be compensated according to the district salary schedule but granted a $10,000 annual stipend above and beyond their compensation package to be paid “semi-annually for as long as the principal remains at GPLA or WPM.”

    *Woodland Park and Greenville Park will change their grade configurations. For the 2018-19 school year, Greenville Park will remain a pre-K to 8th grade campus, but Woodland Park will serve students in grades pre-K to 6 only. 7th and 8th grade students who were previously assigned to the Woodland Park zone will automatically transfer to Hammond Eastside for the upcoming school year.

    *School choice transfers will be offered for Woodland Park 7th and 8th graders who do not want to go to Hammond Eastside. Woodland Park parents who do not want to send their 7th or 8th grader to Hammond Eastside will be able to utilize a “school choice transfer” to send their students to Greenville Park, but they must file a transfer application before July 19, 2018, to make that happen. Any Woodland Park 7th or 8th grade student who does not have a school option transfer application on file by July 19 will be sent to Hammond Eastside for the 2018-19 school year.

    *Reconstituted faculties: In 2018-19, the new leadership teams at Woodland Park and Greenville Park will “be given the opportunity to select their administrative teams and will be allowed first pick in filling any uncertified positions with certified teachers who wish to transfer from other schools or from the list of newly certified teacher applicants.” The faculty and leadership teams at these two schools will receive a $3,000 stipend on top of their compensation package, and that stipend will remain in effect, paid semi-annually, for as long as those teachers remain at the schools.

    *Woodland Park and Greenville Park will remain magnet schools, but the schools will receive additional funding for student activities. Woodland Park continues as a communications magnet school and Greenville Park will remain a STEM school. Greenville Park will continue to implement Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) with the current payout formula remaining in place.The district will offer additional instructional resources for both schools, including an extra $25,000 added to their school activity funds for this year and an additional $15,000 for school activity funds in future years.

    *Other enhancements for 2018-19 school year:
    -Greenville Park and Woodland Park will also begin offering Spanish effective this upcoming school year and will continue to do so moving forward.
    -Greenville Park will also receive support from the district’s science resource teacher at least once a week to work with science teachers and their STEM specialist to improve the school’s implementation of STEM.
    -Starting in October, 2018, Central Office staff will begin meeting monthly with the leadership of Woodland Park and Greenville Park to discuss progress at their schools, address additional resources that may be necessary, and to tweak any potential modifications to the student assignment plan that may be included for the 2019-2020 school year.

    *Priority admissions: With regard to early childhood education, African American students from the Woodland Park attendance zone and specifically students in the Magazine Street, M.C. Moore Street, and Martin Luther King Street areas of Hammond will also be given priority admission for up to one-third of the total early childhood program enrollment in Hammond Eastside’s pre-K program. The court order specifies “pre-K classes at Hammond Eastside Magnet School shall be racially diverse.”

    Moving into 2019-2020, the plan calls for even greater improvements in the Hammond school district:
    *Reconstituted schools: In 2019-20, Woodland Park and Greenville Park students will be assigned to the same school zone. Students in grades pre-K to 3 will attend Woodland Park while students in grades 4-8 will attend Greenville Park. Woodland Park 7th students who transferred to Hammond Eastside for 2018-19 will have the option to remain at Hammond Eastside for their 8th grade year or transfer to Greenville Park.

    In addition to these changes at the five elementary schools, the modified plan calls for enhanced professional development for all teachers, and that training will offer emphasis on cultural diversity and equity. The first phase of professional development will be completed before May 1, 2019, with follow-up and ongoing professional development offered to all system employees. Phase two will include all teachers and support staff, with a goal of completing that training no later than December of 2019. At that point, cultural diversity training and equity training will be offered annually to all TPSS employees.

    Action 17 News

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  • SU System Board meets June 22

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors will hold its regular meeting Friday, June 22 at 9 a.m., in the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work Auditorium on the campus of Southern University New Orleans (6400 Press Dr.).

    The agenda and other documents can be found at:http://www.sus.edu/page/su-board-current-month-packet.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    DrumCall: Our history is not something can just be cast aside.

    Black history, our history, matters. Yet the College Board, the massive non-profit that administers Advanced Placement (AP) classes, is in the process of removing Black and Brown history from their AP World History course – a course taken by millions of students every year.1

    Under new changes announced by the College Board, the AP World History course will no longer cover material prior to 1450—approximately the beginning of European colonialism. This alteration effectively erases the pre-colonial history of people of color from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. Instead of being one of the few opportunities for students across the country to learn about diverse histories and perspectives, the course will now reinforce the false centrality of white European colonialism in history.

    Our history is not something can just be cast aside. But because of mounting pressure from students and teachers across the country to challenge the College Board’s decision we have a chance to make sure that it is not. The College Board has stated they are willing to reexamine their decision, but have not committed to any concrete changes, so we need to push for a full reinstatement of this content and a commitment to promote Black and Brown histories throughout their AP courses.

    Save Black history. Tell the College Board to keep Black history in their courses.

    These changes to the AP World History course matter. We live in a country where the people in power tell Black and Brown students every day that their history and their lives don’t matter.2 A just history curriculum may be the only place where these students are exposed to histories beyond that of white Europeans.

    In the past couple of years we’ve seen sustained efforts to erase Black and Brown histories from school curriculum. In Texas, the state school board pushed to downplay slavery as a cause of the Civil War and minimize the racial segregation of the Jim Crow era. Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill got caught calling African slaves “immigrants” and “workers.”3 Earlier this year, it was revealed that a far-right Koch Brothers backed group is offering free curriculum to budget strapped teachers, offering a revisionist version of slavery that paints it as a necessary evil to further freedom and democracy.4 And just this week, Michigan announced a proposed curriculum change that would eliminate references to the NAACP, scale down the importance of the civil rights movement and eliminate mentions of gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and climate change.5

    Our history is under constant attack, but because the College Board’s AP World History course is taught in thousands of schools to millions of students every year, the College Board plays a powerful role in setting de facto curriculum standards for all high school students. With this power, the College Board has the responsibility to ensure that students everywhere are exposed to histories beyond that of colonial Europeans and understand that the histories of Black and Brown people did not start when European colonists arrived in their lands.

    Demand the College Board keep Black and Brown histories in their AP World History course.

    What’s particularly cruel about the College Board’s decision to cut Black and Brown history from their AP course curriculum is that they are using it as an opportunity to push teachers to pay for their new and expensive “pre-AP courses” by offering to put the Black and Brown histories they removed into that course instead. But unlike the free curriculum for AP courses, pre-AP courses cost schools thousands of dollars a year effectively putting this content out of reach for most students.6

    All too often, the rich pre-colonial history of Africa, Asia, Americas and the Middle East is either erased or merely left as a footnote. For students of color, who rarely see themselves represented in high school courses, this erasure tells them that they do not matter. The College Board says that they are “dedicated to equity in education.” If they are dedicated to equitable education, then they must not play a role in erasing Black and Brown histories.

    Save Black history. Tell the College Board to keep Black history in their courses.

    Until justice is real, 

    –Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Evan, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Saréya, Eesha, Angela, Sam and the rest of the Color Of Change team

     References:

    “AP World History gets a makeover, and high school teachers rebel,” Politico, 11 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59248?t=9&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Donald Trump Says ‘Our Ancestors Tamed a Continent’ and ‘We Are Not Going to Apologize for America’,” Newsweek, 25 May 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/59249?t=11&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Texas textbook calling slaves ‘immigrants’ to be changed, after mom’s complaint,” LA Times, 5 October 2015 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/59250?t=13&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Millions of Students Are Quietly Being Taught the Koch Brothers’ Whitewashed Version of Black History,” The Root, 14 March 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59251?t=15&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Proposed Michigan social studies standards erase references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and KKK ,” DetroitMetro Times, 12 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59252?t=17&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Teachers Fight To Keep Pre-Colonial World History In AP Course,” Colorlines, 12 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59253?t=19&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2

    Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

    Dawn C. Collins is an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member and community advocate. The Lee High School graduate and Baton Rouge native, is a governor’s appointee to the East Baton Rouge Parish Board of Elections Supervisors. She began her professional career at Louisiana Department of Health where she was responsible for program-related data management. A grassroots organizer, Collins, who is 42, gives data-driven strategic consultation to campaigns and handles government affairs and training programs for non-profit organizations.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:    Was elected to public service on the East Baton Rouge School Board, District 4, on March 6,2016.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: I will be fighting for teacher and support staff pay raises in order to retain and attract the best educators for our children. Several community-wide events are on the horizon that will not only galvanize support for schools but help develop a sense of togetherness on this side of North Baton Rouge.  We have tremendous community assets, and we should celebrate them.

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Getting re-elected to School Board so that I can keep fighting for progress in our schools.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

    Role Models: My humble mother, Yolanda Castle Chanet; State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith; and political guru, Ben Jeffers

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?  A very bad experience when my children were in elementary school compelled me to be an education advocate.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? “Best of Me” by Anthony Hamilton and “Really Love” by De’Angelo

    What are you reading? “The Originals” by Adam Grant

    What’s entertaining you? “Queen Sugar” – The depth of each character is amazing, plus I absolutely love Violet and Hollywood›s relationship. Also, Netflix’s “Black Mirror” – It’s so on point in so many ways.

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

    Southern University and A&M College was well represented by 30 undergraduate and 5 graduate students who participated in the 75th Joint Annual Meeting of the National Institute of Science and Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honors Society, in Washington, DC.   This scientific conference, hosted by the University of the District of Columbia, aimed to provide young scientists the opportunity to disseminate their research findings and to network with students and peers of like minds.   This Diamond Anniversary Year represents the 75th one for the joint annual meetings of Beta Kappa Chi (BKX) and the National Institute of Science (NIS). Southern University students won several awards at the conference.

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

    Students and faculty were elected to national offices as well.  Deadra James Mackie was elected as national executive secretary for the 18th year, student officer, Joenique Woods, was unanimously chosen as the Southcentral Regional Vice President for Beta Kappa Chi and secretary for the National Institute of Science.  Honors student, Ikea McKay, was elected president of the National Institute of Science and Darrell Harry was chosen as student secretary for Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and Treasure for the National Institute of Sciences.  As expected, the Jaguar nation made an indelible mark on the conference.

    Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society was founded in Lincoln, Pennsylvania in 1921, and chartered in 1923.  BKX is a member of the certifying body, the National Association of College Honor Societies (www.achsnatl.org).

    Travel to this endeavor would not have been possible were it not for the financial support of the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College and the Timbuktu Academy, both led by Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D., the Southern University Foundation, through the Office of Robert Easley, the College of Sciences and Engineering dean Patrick Carriere,Ph.D., and the Department of Biological Sciences.  Collective contributions from these units allowed the students to have scholarly and professional experiences. The students’ advisors were Eric Pugh, Deidra Atkins-Ball, Phyllis Okwan, and Deadra James Mackie. Bagayoko said “the Jaguar Nation is very proud of them for their intellectual and leadership accomplishments.”

     

    Pictured: (first row) Deadra J. Mackie, Dr. Deidra Atkins-Ball, Paige Mitchell, Wes Washington, Joenique Woods, Ashley Lewis, Irene Lewis, Eric Pugh, Chloe Washington, Tiara Johnson, Dr. Phyllis Okwan and Brandon Parker; (Second row) Terani Dillahunty, Kirstin Brooks, Kelvin Wells, Jacara Glover, Jonathan Sumbler, Ikea McKay Naila McCraney, Darrell Harry, Demario Vallier and Edgar Perez

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    AT&T Louisiana donation supports future coders in Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced that AT&T Louisiana has contributed $40,000 to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program as part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s philanthropic initiative which drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond.

    The contribution supports a four-week coding and web development course conducted by The Future’s Fund as a part of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The program will employ 250 young people and 50 of those students will participate in entrepreneurship, technology, and software development courses. This project-based learning environment promotes innovation and creativity to foster skills to meet the needs of the future workforce.

    “I’m grateful for AT&T’s continued dedication to improving access to educational opportunities through this generous contribution,” said Broome. “These STEM-based courses will give students a boost in learning more about the potential career opportunities ahead of them.”

    Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, said, “Supporting education and workforce development efforts through contributions like this one to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and the coding course conducted through the Future’s Fund is another important way that AT&T Louisiana puts a high priority on growing the economy of the future for the people of Louisiana.”

    AT&T invests in education and job training to create a skilled and diverse workforce that powers our company – and our country – for the future. Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, AT&T helps provide access to education and training people need to get and keep good jobs. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $400 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world. AT&T Aspire brings together the power of our network – our employees, our technology and organizations – to connect people to opportunities through education and job training.

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  • ,,

    SU Commencement speaker wants graduates to ‘be the change’

    “Will your degree serve you or will you use your degree to serve others.”

    Angela Rye, political commentator and social activist, was the keynote speaker for the Spring 2018 Commencement Exercises at Southern University, Friday, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. More than 650 candidates earned degrees.

    “My responsibility to you today is Truth,” said Rye, who can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC, and TV One. “My responsibility to you today is ensuring you are adequately equipped to survive in a 2018 America. And in the America we create together for the future.”
    web KaylaClancy13
    The political strategist went on to convey that she had a message for the graduates. Her message was to “wake them up” before they become bogged down by society’s obstacles.

    “We cannot keep talking about the problems, and not playing our respective parts to change them.”

    “Be the change. Be courageous. Be bold, like your lives, our lives, depend on it because they do.”

    “Create the community you know we can be. Create the country you deserve to see. Create the world in which you want to live.”

    With smiling faces and teary eyes, the candidates soaked up their final moments. As names were called, family and friends burst into excitement with screams, laughter, and sentiments. 

    _5118024

    The ceremony was presided by Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System, and James Ammons, executive vice president/executive vice chancellor.

    The spring 2018 chief student marshal was Chicago native, Kayla Clancy. She graduated with a degree in psychology and a cumulative grade point average. 

    Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the commencement. The top grad plans onattending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling.

    The SUBR spring graduating class included 419 undergraduate candidates and 198 graduate candidates. The class had 137 honor graduates, (one summa cum laude, eight magna cum laude, 27 cum laude, and 101 honorable mention).

    Along with the class, the university commissioned three Army and three Navy officers.

    The Golden Class of 1968 was celebrated and donned gold robes. More than 30 members represented the class and were ecstatic to be included in this momentous occasion. 

    Southern also awarded a doctor of humane letters to civil rights attorney Johnnie A. Jones Sr.

    Encouraging support system leads to Chicago native to become SU top grad

    “Hard-working” and “high-achieving” are adjectives that are not new to Kayla Clancy. Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the 2018 Southern University Spring Commencement.

    “Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my support system. My mother has been my backbone through it all,” says the psychology major who will lead more than 700 grads during spring commencement, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. “Since losing my father at the age of nine, my mother was all that I had and she has truly been everything to me and more.”

    Clancy’s support team not only included her family, but mentors that made sure that she was headed for greatness. When choosing her next steps, Grambling State University was top on her list until a mentor, Frances Thibodeaux-Fox, told her to keep her options open and continue to research Southern University. Through constant communications with SU admissions representatives and being awarded a scholarship through the SU Alumni Federation Chicago Chapter, she chose to continue her next steps at Southern University in the fall of 2014.

    After coming to Baton Rouge, Clancy made herself at home and found support within friends and professors, such Reginald Rackley, a Southern University psychology professor, and Mark Gaines, a personal friend. They pushed her “outside of [her] comfort zones showing [her] that being uncomfortable promotes true growth.”

    This advice proved true for the top grad as she devoted herself to her studies and involving herself in extracurricular activities. She held various offices within Psi Chi: International Honor Society in Psychology, Collegiate 100 Black Women of Southern University, and the Beta Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. To prepare her for her future career, she participated as a research assistant in a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research internship at University of Chicago during the summer of 2017.

    Looking back on her college journey, she is proud of the woman she has become. Being chosen as the chief student marshal was an accomplishment that was unexpected.

    “More than anything, I am truly honored. I didn’t think that I would be granted this opportunity, but I’m blessed to say that I am here,” she said. “I owe this to God because without him I am nothing and would not be here. I tell my little sisters all the time that everything I do is for them because I want them to see that the sky is the limit. So, for me, this large achievement is, also, for my little sisters,” says Clancy.

    As she prepares for her final exit, she feels her future is full of bright possibilities. In the fall, Clancy will be attending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling. Also, to honor her father’s memory and assist students with having higher education resources, she has decided to start a scholarship in his name at his alma mater in Chicago.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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  • ,,

    High schoolers meet Chief Justice for Law Day

    Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson hosted students from L.B. Landry-O.P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School, and McDonogh 35 Senior High School at the Louisiana Supreme Court building in observance of Law Day, a national day set aside annually to celebrate the rule of law. Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, was the theme for the 60th observance of Law Day.

    Established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower who was motivated to highlight the American governmental system, the Constitution and the inherent freedoms it subscribes to, Law Day is celebrated annually on May 1.

    Nearly 70 students sat in on oral arguments before the Supreme Court on May 1. Immediately after, law clerks fielded questions from the teens regarding the case. They also toured the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and Law Library of Louisiana, which featured new displays on the three branches of government, and some had an audience with the Chief Justice.

    Chef Johnson“The theme of the day is very timely,” said Johnson. “Citizens of the United States are more in tune with what is happening in America with regard to government, policy and law-making than any other time in history. The Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom encapsulates the U.S. government model that compartmentalizes the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Each branch has distinct responsibilities to maintain a balance of power, and underscores the mantra– no one is above the law,” said Johnson.

    The American Bar Association declares the Law Day theme annually. Law Day activities are planned to encourage Americans to reacquaint themselves with the Constitution, to encourage careers in the legal profession and government buildings are encouraged to raise the American flag.

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  • ,,

    Kedric Taylor announced as interim director of Southern University ‘Human Jukebox’ Band

    Southern University President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton today announced Kedric Taylor, associate director of bands, as interim director of bands. Lawrence Jackson, a former director of bands, will serve as a consultant to the band department and University administration on matters regarding band operations.

    Taylor, a Southern alumnus, participated in the Southern University Marching Band (“Human Jukebox”) for four years while he was a student. He has worked with the band department since 2014.

    A native of Mobile, Alabama, Taylor previously served as head director of the Baker High School band and as a teacher in Jackson, Louisiana. In his role as associate director of bands at Southern, Taylor has been responsible for music arrangement, band rehearsals, as well as directing the saxophone and wind ensembles.

    Taylor also has served as an adjudicator for numerous “battle of the bands” competitions and as a guest clinician for districts in the southern region. In addition, he is director of bands for the Louisiana Leadership Institute, which consists of high school students from around the state.

    Taylor, who is an instructor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies at Southern, holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern and a master’s degree from North Central University. He has also studied at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

    Southern’s administration is currently in the process of launching a formal search for a permanent director of bands.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Alumni host annual crawfish boil, music festival, May 5

    The Southern University Alumni Federation Home Chapter is hosting its 6th Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival on Saturday, May 5 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at BREC’s Greenwood Community Park in Baker.

    Guests will enjoy boiled crawfish or fried catfish, a live performance by Stephanie McDee, games for the kids, vendors, a Stroll-off, a Cook-off and the Southern University Human Jukebox band.  The park also features a hiking trail and splash pad.

    “I’m so excited to give our alumni, friends, and supporters another great opportunity to come together, eat some great food and support our great university,” said Home Chapter President Cortny Jarrell.

    Proceeds will help fund scholarships and alumni recruitment. Early bird tickets are $25 per person until May 2. After May 2, tickets are $35 per person.

    To purchase tickets, go to www.suhomechapter.com or call (225) 443-2167.

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  • ,,

    Not sure what’s on the April 28th ballot for East Baton Rouge Parish school tax renewal

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 1 of 3 – 0.51% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in funding repairs and renovations, enhancing technology and construction of new classrooms and schools in the public school system in East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of fifty-one hundredths of one percent (0.51%) (the “Tax”) (an estimated $43,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District, (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.46% and July 1, 2020 for 0.05%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 2 of 3 – 0.08% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in improving the educational environment in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System by improving discipline, providing alternative education and reducing truancy in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of eight hundredths of one percent (0.08%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $6,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.07% and July 1, 2020 for 0.01%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 3 of 3 – 0.41% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in increasing compensation of teachers and other school system employees in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of forty-one hundredths of one percent (0.41%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $35,300,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective date of April 1, 2019, with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

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  • ,

    SU, BRCC sign articulation agreement for STEM students

    Officials from Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University and A&M College signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the agreement between the schools to facilitate the articulation of coursework and to provide a seamless transfer of BRCC Associate of Science students into the SUBR College of Sciences and Engineering to earn a Bachelor of Science.

    The agreement, which is effective immediately, was signed by Dr. Ray Belton, President/Chancellor SU System; Dr. Larissa Littleton-Steib, Chancellor BRCC; Dr. James Ammons, Executive Vice President/Executive Vice Chancellor, SUBR; Dr. Toni Manogin, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, BRCC; Dr. Patrick Carriere, Dean of College of Sciences and Engineering, SUBR; and Ms. Laura Younger. Dean of STEM Division, BRCC.

    “We are excited to build upon our current partnership with Southern University to continuously enrich our students’ transfer and workforce opportunities,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib. “This agreement will not only allow a seamless transfer for our students pursuing bachelor degrees in STEM-related fields, but it will also encourage future students to consider the endless opportunities available to them by starting their college careers at Baton Rouge Community College. We are grateful to the Southern University System for this partnership.”

    “This agreement between two of the leading institutions of higher learning in the state is another step in expanding our offerings in STEM,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “This new program will allow a greater number of students to seamlessly matriculate and obtain their bachelor’s degrees right here in Baton Rouge. We look forward to their success and another great partnership with BRCC.”

    Under the agreement, BRCC students who receive the Associate of Science degree in Computer Science or General Science following the prescribed coursework and declaration of intent to pursue the Bachelor of Science in the College of Sciences and Engineering at SUBR, will be admitted to SUBR as a junior upon successful completion of the BRCC AS degree with an overall GPA of 2.0 on all work attempted. 

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

    Political commentator and social activist Angela Rye will be the speaker for Southern University’s spring commencement. The ceremony will be held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on May 11 at 10 a.m.

    A prominent strategist, Rye can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC and TV One. She has also been featured in publications such as Marie Claire, Ebony and the Washington Post. Her dialogue from political campaigns to legislation and administration policies that have long-term implications nationally and internationally.

    Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rye says she learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law.

    Rye is principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. Her past appointments include serving as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. In this role, Rye was tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the Caucus. Prior to working for the CBC, she served as senior adviser and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Upon moving to Washington, Rye co-founded IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.

    Rye serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBCPAC), the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, Inclusv, and Wilberforce University. She is a member of The Links Inc., National Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Washington Government Relations Group.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Halfmann delivers courageous account of a slave teacher’s legacy

    Steal away, children.
    Hide, sneak, and risk your life to learn to read under the dark cloak of midnight.
    This was a dangerous feat for a courageous people and an unrelenting teacher. It is the story many people have heard passed from grandparent to grandchild for generations. Thanks to Janet Halfmann, London Ladd, and Lee & Low Books, there is at least one narration that has been validated in the pages of “Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School.” This historical, beautifully illustrate children’s book on Lilly Ann Granderson’s life gives a wide-eyed account of the effort, fears, and successes slaves underwent to be educated. Granderson’s passion to teach takes the reader through an abandoned cabin at midnight to the fearful moment where she is caught teaching by the slave patrol. She and her students face a charge of severe whippings or death. Halfmann pens the perfect record of Granderson’s phenomenal legacy from educating slaves to graduating students at the Natchez Seminary (now Jackson State University) and influencing generations, especially her own family’s who were the first to graduate from Spelman Seminary (now Spelman College). “Midnight Teacher” is a gift with clear storytelling of a heroic educator. #JSBookandBrew

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    COMMENTARY: Preparing Parents for the ACT

    Standardized tests give many students the heebie jeebies, especially tests that are known by three letters and determines many factors about life after high school.  I’m talking about the ACT and the SAT. As a an academic and college coach, I either have to help students reduce their anxiety about these tests or light a fire beneath them.  My true preference is to have students in the middle of these extremes. Students should have a healthy respect for these tests. They should not feel that their intellectual identity is reflected in the scores they make.  However, they should not take it lightly either.

    While it has been nearly 17 years since I have had to prepared for the ACT, the test has changed very little.  My test preparation was trial and error over the course of my high school career. My family did not have the resources to take a full course by the top test preparation companies. And, neither one of them attended college so these tests were foreign to them, which means they could offer minimal help.  So, I purchased a $25 test prep book and went at it on my own for about two hours during the week and five hours on the weekend. I religiously did this from my sophomore year to my senior year. My score was enough to give me a competitive edge for scholarships and awards.

    Throughout the years, I realized that my study methods, nor the result, were a common practice or experience. I really wanted  to empower students to conquer the ACT regardless of the hand life has dealt. I began to offer workshops and personal coaching services. While the students benefited the most from the information, parents were comforted knowing that they were able to provide support for their child.  Here are the top 6 tips that I always provide families embarking on their journey of test preparation.

    1. Start early. A majority of the ACT is based on skills learned in 7th – 10th grade.  Most students wait until junior or senior year to take the test. By then, they have forgotten most of the concepts, especially in math.  Arrange for your child to take the test in their spring of their 9th grade year.

    2. Take the ACT often to decrease anxiety. Taking the ACT is like any other performance activity.  The more students practice in real conditions the more comfortable they will be when it counts. Also taking the ACT frequently can help students recognize patterns of questions that will help them streamline their study strategy. Taking the test one or two times raises the stakes for students and causes pressure, which in turns breeds fear and anxiety.  Start with taking the test once a year during 9th and 10th grade years. Increase attempts to two times in the fall and spring during their junior year. Seniors should take the test as many times as possible until the desired score is reached. Taking practice tests at home under similar testing conditions is also useful.

    3. Dedicate special study time. Slow, consistent and steady wins this standardize test race.  Starting ACT prep as early as the 9th grade prevents cramming which leads to anxiety. Help your student set aside quiet time that is dedicated to practice.  Schedule a few, intense, short study sessions (30 – 50 minutes) per week during the academic year. Increase the frequency during the summer to prevent summer melt.

    4. Divide and conquer.  The ACT is perceived to test students on everything they have learned. This is a myth that paralyzes students with stress.  There are a set number of skills and concepts that the ACT focuses on. You can find a complete list of topics on act.org and in most preparation books.  Devise a strategy to attack the content and create a schedule to cycle through content. Use scores on official and practice tests to determine weaker areas.  The ACT administration can provide students with their actually answers along with the answer key for an additional fee. Paying the additional fee may be worth the cost, as students can gain valuable wisdom and insight into own their testing habits. I often find students getting wrong answers because of 2nd guessing, simple mathematical mistakes, or misunderstanding the question and not because they could not answer the problem.

    5. Invest in affordable resources. There are many free and low-cost resources available to aid students in their preparations.  A test prep book is an essential resource. However, they are not all the same. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure the book has a diagnostic test, at least two additional practice tests, and skill building sections where students can refresh on concepts. Another type of prep book is a workbook that walks students through specific content in-depth.  Workbooks allow students to become their own tutor and interact with the material. There are some preparation books that are just a series of practice tests. These types of book offer very little help on individual concepts, however they offer great information on how to eliminate the wrong answer and attack common questions. Lastly, there are also books that just provide tips and strategies.  Besides books, you can also find flash cards, mobile apps, and email subscriptions. ACT.org has free and paid practice material. Sites like Kahn Academy and YouTube have free videos that help students work through particular problems and concepts.

    1. Talk positive.  Words, positive or negative, can impact a student’s mindset and mindset has the greatest impact on performance.  I often hear parents say, “She’s not good with tests.” “He’s never been good in math.” I see the result when students are in front me in a workshop.  Students give less than 100% effort while saying, “I don’t remember this or “I could never get this.” When students think they are already defeated, they won’t commit the time or effort into improving. This is known as a fixed mindset.  Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their talents, traits or performance can never improve. Those with a growth mindset Parents can help shift students’ mindset from fixed to growth by calling attention to their hard work, quality time dedication and their persistence. Parents should recognize small improvements no matter if it is getting one practice problem correct or improving their score on the official test. Focusing less on skills or ability and more on effort and strategy can help your student improve their performance on the ACT as well as get them in the college mind frame.

    While I am a part-time college coach, I am also a full-time higher education administrator who works to improve the number of students who complete college.  Understanding the full picture from admissions to graduation, I know that grades and scores are shallow predictors of success especially for minority students.  There are plenty of smart students who are college drop-outs. Those who persist to the end are the ones who take advantage of resources, practice self-management, confidently face challenges, acknowledges their weaknesses and appreciates learning. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that I give these same tips to parents during freshman orientation on how to help their child succeed in college.  How a student prepares for the ACT can give more insight into college performance than the score by itself. Helping them to connect quality effort and discipline to high performance can be as valuable of a win as achieving the score alone.

    By Erin Wheeler, Ph.D.
    Erin Wheeler, Ph.D., is the founder of BePreppy.com, a college counseling site dedicated to providing quality low-cost, college planning assistance to all. She can be reached at erin@bepreppy.com.

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    COMMENTARY: Teachers have Been Armed!

    A couple of days ago, I read a blog post from a sister who works within the public fool system. She stated emphatically that if white teachers were to be armed, she would immediately remove her Black son from the school.

    Trust me. I think that that’s a great idea.

    My only issue is that we are so reactive.

    If white folk do this, I’ll do that.

    If Dump becomes president, I’m moving to Afrika. (I wonder how many have actually repatriated.)

    Always reacting.arming-teachers-28166604_10108801548667945_659648788552076372_n-680x680

    The reality is that teachers have always been armed with the weapons of miseducation, cultural misorientation, and low expectations. They, Black and white teachers, have been dealers in mentacide for the longest. That “mental gun” has shattered more dreams and lives than we can ever calculate.

    We don’t need anything else to happen within the schools to know that the public, private, and charter fool system is no place for the young Afrikan mind.

    Let’s be proactive. The proactive posture fills us with power and puts us in control of our lives and our children’s education.

    This reactive stuff is LAME.

    With or without guns in the classroom, our Afrikan minds don’t survive in the contaminated soil of the Eurocentric educational system. But we can do something about that.

    Revolutionary Love,
    Baba Dr. Brotha Samori Camara
    from Accra, Ghana

    P.S. Mississippi has already begun the process of arming teachers. Now what? Read about it HERE.

    Samori Camara, Ph.D., is an Afrikan warrior scholar, director of Kamali Academy–which began in New Orleans, educational consultant, life coach, and motivational speaker. Follow his @SamoriSpeaks

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    Middle schoolers participate in Southern University’s Black History Quiz Bowl Championship

    Six teams of eager middle school students from McKinley Middle Magnet, Westdale Middle School and Scotlandville Middle Pre-Engineering Academy competed in the SU Land-Grant Campus’s Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition on Feb. 28.

    Thoughout February, Southern University Land-Grant Campus professor emeritus and Black History Quiz Bowl organizer Owusu Bandele, Ph.D., conducted quiz bowls at the three area schools. The first and second place teams from each school were invited to participant in the championship competition at the SU Ag Center.

    During the championship,  Dawn Mellion Patin, Ph.D., SU Land-Grant Campus vice chancellor for extension provided the opening remarks, and Bandele served as moderator. Awards were presented to the winners by research associate Erica Williams Mitchell.

    The competition covered a variety of topics including current events, politics, history, sports and entertainment.

    Westdale Middle School’s Wakanda Team won 1st place during the Championship Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    Westdale Middle School’s Wakanda Team won 1st place during the Championship Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    Westdale Middle School’s Team Wakanda took first place. Team members were: Kahlil Bandele, Elijah Doomes, Condoleezza Semien, Lailah Collins, and Khamerin Edmonds.

    McKinley Middle Magnet School's Imhotep Team won 2nd place in the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    McKinley Middle Magnet School’s Imhotep Team won 2nd place in the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    McKinley Middle Magnet School’s Team Imhotep town second place. Members were Justin Thompson, Michael Shin, Sean Murphy, and Victoria Williams.

    Westdale Middle School's Freedom Riders Team took home 3rd place during the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition

    Westdale Middle School’s Freedom Riders Team took home 3rd place during the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition

    In third place was Westdale’s Team Freedom Riders with Micah Dunn, Caelen Broussard, Pamela Davis, Marshall Seymour, and Phillip Antoine.

    Members earned place medals. Every participant received a book by or about some aspect of the Black American experience.

    The event ended with SU Land-Grant Campus Chancellor-Dean Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., encouraging the young students to pursue a college education.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    We’re over the moon about ‘Hidden Figures’; Celebrate the One Book One Community selection

    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The title was first announced at the annual Louisiana Book Festival downtown in October 2017.

    There’ll be FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing and even a Moon Walk (cake walk)! Our special guests include Tamiara Wade, Ph.D. former Learning Expert at the NASA Stennis Space Center, and Alyssa Carson, a 16-year-old aspiring astronaut who attended Space Camp seven times, Space Academy three times, Robotics Academy once, and is the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy! Learn more about Carson at www.nasablueberry.com. Partners Forum 35 also will be on hand to welcome the NASA STEM Team!

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE. A schedule and related information, as well as an InfoGuide, is posted at www.ReadOneBook.org, and it will be updated with additional events periodically.

    Here are some upcoming related events:

    · Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda | FREE!
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10, Main Library at Goodwood

    · LASM Discovery Dome Presents Magic Tree House: Space Mission & We Are Stars
    Presentations run March 5 – 28; For a full schedule, pick up a copy of the Library’s monthly newsletter The Source, or visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    · Book Talk with Author of The Radium Girls Kate Moore
    7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Main Library at Goodwood

    · Hidden Figures Movie Night on the BIG Screen
    7 p.m. Friday, April 6, Main Library at Goodwood

    · The World Behind Hidden Figures with Dr. Renee Horton
    2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Main Library at Goodwood

    · History of Flight with Jim Slade & Katharine Wright
    2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Main Library at Goodwood

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    East Baton Rouge Parish Library celebrates Black History Month

    February is Black History Month! To celebrate, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is inviting the whole family to join in the fun with a variety of FREE programs and events to commemorate the rich culture and traditions of African-Americans and their impact on United States history.

    Other events include movie screenings, trivia games, exhibits and more for all ages. For a complete schedule, visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com. Here are some of the Black History Month programs and events planned at your Library:

    Featured Events

    Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda
    Come to the FREE Mid City Micro-Con to gear up for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther film at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10! For more information, visit the InfoGuide at www.ebrpl.com, or call Samantha Belmont at (225) 231-3710.

    One Book One Community LAUNCH PARTY Celebrating Hidden Figures
    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Enjoy FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing, a Moon Walk (cake walk) and so much more! For more information, visit www.ReadOneBook.org.

    Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, for a class focused on resources designed to help in researching African-American ancestors. Due to the history of slavery, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans in our country, African-Americans were routinely excluded from many records that could have documented details of their daily lives. In this class, attendees will learn several search techniques and how to navigate special records collections including African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 231-3751.

    Adults

    Three-Part Black History Month Film Series
    Adults are invited to celebrate Black History Month at the Carver Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, February 8, 3:30 p.m. Friday, February 16, and 11 a.m. Saturday, February 24! We’ll watch three different films that highlight the stories of African-Americans throughout history.

    Make African Doll Crafts!
    Experienced crafter JoAnn Fryling will be back at the Library again this year to give a fun craft tutorial. Adults are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, February 15, to learn how to create a beautiful African doll craft. All supplies will be provided. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 354-7550.

    Black History Month Trivia for Adults

    Come to the Carver Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 28, for a little friendly competition with other adults on black history. Spend the beginning of February brushing up on your history and then come prepared to impress!

    Teens

    Self-Portrait Remix

    Hey teens! Join us at the Library for the Self-Portrait Remix program! Bring your friends with you to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 5, to be inspired by prominent African-American portrait and figurative artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalen Thomas and Ernie Barnes, and create a collage portrait of your own. You even can use your art as a swagged-out Instagram or Facebook photo!

    Black History Month Trivia for Teens
    Join other teens at the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 12, to celebrate Black History Month with the Black Heritage Trivia board game! Test your knowledge on history, cultural experiences and major contributions made by African Americans from the year 1619 until present day. Winners will receive a prize!

    Traditional African Textiles

    Teens can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 26, to honor Black History Month through the appreciation of fabric and fashion. Explore printmaking and patterning through traditional African textiles to make a beautiful hand-stamped scarf or bandana inspired by traditional African fabrics such as Kente cloth, Mud cloth and Ankara cloth.

    Children

    Peanut History Story/Craft
    Kids ages 8-11 are invited to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20, to hear a reading of George Washington Carver by Julia Garstecki. Afterwards, each child will create a peanut man craft! Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 389-7460.

    Fairwood Awesome Bookworms Book Club
    Kids ages 7-11 can come to the Fairwood Awesome Bookworms (FAB) Book Club meeting at the Fairwood Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 27! We’ll be reading Daniel Hale Williams: Surgeon Who Opened Hearts and Minds, a biography of the pioneering African-American doctor who in 1893 was one of the first in the world to successfully perform open heart surgery. Afterwards, you’ll learn a little about your own heart when you take your pulse both resting and after light exercise. Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 924-9386.

    For more information about any of these Black History Month events, call the Library location directly. To learn more about the Library or any of its other free programs, events or resources, visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Tangipahoa library plans meetings to discuss March 24 tax renewal

    The Tangipahoa Parish Library will host seven town hall meetings to discuss their upcoming millage renewal leading up to the March 24 proposition election.

    Starting Jan. 16, the Library system will hold public hearings at each of their six branches to answer questions and outline plans for the millage renewal.

    Currently, the Library receives three mills for “improving, maintaining, operating and supporting the Tangipahoa Parish Library and its branches.” The 10-year tax has been on the books for decades and has been critical to provide library services for the public.

    Scheduled meeting dates and locations are as follows:
    Amite Branch: Jan. 16 at 5 p.m.
    Kentwood Branch: Jan. 29 at 5 p.m.
    Loranger Branch: Feb. 5 at 5 pm.
    Ponchatoula Branch: Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.
    Independence Branch: Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.
    Hammond Branch: March 1 at 5 p.m., and March 17 at 10 a.m.
    For more information on the March 24 Tangi Library tax renewal, go to www.TangiLibrary.com.

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    White Hills Elementary fourth graders thank ‘Wonder’ donor

    Within two weeks of White Hills Elementary 4th grade teachers Lacy Aucoin (pictured at left) and Carlita Joseph-Gordon (right) requesting book donations on Facebook, Rachel Dickerson and Maranda Smith Williams mailed 26 copies of Wonder by R. J. Palacio to the students. Gordon, who is using the book to address core reading standards, said the books will help students jumpstart or continue building personal libraries. Other books on the teacher’s wish list are: Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Summer Saves Summer by Adara Gaston, and Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

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    Southern University, LSBDC proclaim ‘Innovate now!’ with workshop series

    When innovation meets entrepreneurship, great things happen. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University and the Southern University Innovation Center are bringing to the capital region a series of trainings through an event called, “Innovate Now! When Innovation Meets Entrepreneurship” that will begin on January 16, 2018 at the Southern University Innovation Center located at 616 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.

    Innovate Now! will build awareness and provide information to the small business community to inspire and inform aspiring and existing entrepreneurs about resources to help them succeed. This dynamic series addresses three major areas of focus: Innovation in Business, Product Innovation, and Innovation Globally.

    “Entrepreneurs want to be intellectually challenged, and want to make a difference in society while still obtaining financial gain,” said Ada Womack, LSBDC at Southern University interim director.

    Innovation is simply a new way of doing something, Womack said, and added that Innovation is defined as incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

    Entrepreneurship is “one who takes a risk to start a small business.” Womack said the well- known Innovation Equation model is Innovation = Creativity + Risk-Taking.

    “Southern University offers Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship assistance all on one campus,” Womack said.

    Southern University has taken large steps towards developing its entrepreneurship and economic activity especially since the grand opening of its Innovation Center in September.

    Southern University Executive Director for Strategic Engagement Deanna Williams Smith said “we are equally as excited about the upcoming Innovate Now Campaign which allows the local business community to take advantage of the numerous resources offered in one stop.”

    “The SU Innovation Center provides attractive and affordable lease office space to small upcoming businesses as well as outreach programs for our students who are guided by an entrepreneurial spirit,” Smith said. “Through our partnership with the LSBDC, our business tenants have a unique opportunity to form critical partnerships, business training resources, and access to student and faculty engagement. It’s a great time to start the New Year with ideas and passion through innovation.”

    The Innovate Now! schedule:

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Innovation in Business: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Shakita Billups, Entrepreneur
    Anyone can be innovative. Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. During this session you will learn about bringing innovation into your business that can help you save time and money, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace. Innovation can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding. Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Product Innovation: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker – Carlos Thomas
    What is product innovation? This session will provide an introduction to product innovation and the steps in creating your product or service that is new or significantly improved regarding characteristics or intended uses. These components are inclusive of significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Product innovations may include both new products and new uses for existing products.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Innovation Globally: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Mike Smith, CEO-OPEX
    My business is going global! Many businesses are aware that there are hidden opportunities in global innovation. Global operations is a treasure trove of ideas and capabilities for innovation. It can be challenging going global with your ideas or exploit the capabilities in global innovation projects. Some of the challenges of global projects are familiar: figuring out the right role for top executives, for example, or finding a good balance between formal and informal project management processes. In this session you will learn about the challenges and benefits of taking your business global.

    ONLINE: www.lsbdc.org.

    page2image14256 page2image14416 page2image14576 page2image14736

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    Middle school engineers, teacher tackle water robotics

    When the buzzer sounds, the students in Ingrid Cruz’s eighth-grade marine robotics class hop into action. Their mission? Compete against other teams to guide a remote-controlled underwater vehicle along the bottom of a pool to recover critical equipment—using only the robot’s camera to see.

    Cruz’s students attend the Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, a science, technology, engineering, art and math-focused middle school. Its curriculum offers courses such as game design, computer applications and multimedia production. The goal is to get students interested in science and math topics past middle school, planting the seed of encouragement to pursue these subjects further in high school and college.

    Though some of the robots developed by Scotlandville’s students have started earning them ribbons, it took a little trial and error for the course to gain its footing. “The first day of our marine robotics competition three years ago was the first time our robot had ever been in the water,” Mrs. Cruz said. “As soon as it got wet, everything fell apart.”

    Part of the issue was a lack of access to a pool where they could test their robot prior to competing. When leaders at the ExxonMobil YMCA learned the school needed access to water, they put in a plan to let them use the facility’s pool. ExxonMobil also provided grants so the students could take swimming lessons and water safety courses. “So now we get to test our robot in an actual pool, in the deep end, and we’re having more success because of that,” Cruz said.
    But it takes more than a pool to develop underwater robots. It’s crucial for the students to strategize and work as a team, skills they learn throughout the school year leading up to the competition.

    “The students absolutely must demonstrate teamwork,” Cruz said. “Building the robot is not easy, and when one student has an idea and somebody has a different idea, they have to learn to work together and test everyone’s ideas to see which one works best.” Cruz said it took her students about three months to build their last robot.

    The applications of the technology they test at the YMCA pool go well beyond marine applications. Just to name a few, fields like archeology, aviation, oil and gas, and even space exploration all use remotely operated robots.7 SPEMA Robot

    “The missions have relevance to real life,” Cruz said. “During one, the kids had to maneuver the robot inside a shipwreck and identify some of the packages inside the ship. In another, they had to open a power source and replace a battery inside, so they had to install a gripper on the robot.”

    It may be a few years before Scotlandville students start careers in robotics or engineering, but that hasn’t kept them from being exposed to some of the biggest names in remotely operated vehicles. After a 2016 competition, for instance, representatives from one local company were so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, they asked one of Scotlandville’s teams to show their technology to some of their managers.

    “We’re making the robotics courses relevant to the kids, letting them know that this is a viable pursuit,” Cruz said. “Developing these underwater robots is a first step that could inspire our next generation of engineers and innovators.

    Read more »
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    LETTER: We Stand With the Most Effective People

    Our intentions never have been and never will be to hurt White people or any particular race for that matter. Strategically speaking, supporting the advancement of African Americans in Tangipahoa is supporting the overall growth of the entire parish considering about half the parish is African American. And there is absolutely no way that we can ensure what is in the best interests of our children with the mindset that we should hire unqualified Black people at the expense of losing effective individuals who are non-Black. The point is that we understand that to bring about the significant transformation spoken of by the board, the system has to make certain it hires the most effective individuals to lead in specific roles. We can no longer just hire people for purposes unrelated to bringing about success in our children first. Nor can we sit around and wait for an unknown superintendent while things continue to fall apart as one Board member hinted to as an option. Significant change means that even individuals on the board may need to be educated on exactly where the district falls short which should help guide them with “look fors” when determining who is best qualified for various roles so that the hire that may have happened in the case of Transportation can more likely be prevented.

    And as hurtful as the truth may be, we have fallen a little short with our children. Think about it. As per LDOE, students of color in Tangipahoa have a graduation rate of only 66%. This means that a whopping 34% did not even graduate. According to statistics, what is the likely outcome for these kids?  Ask Sheriff Daniel Edwards. Or, ask our Parish’s landlords. Not even discussed is the fact that the average ACT scores of students of color is a mere 16.5. We must do better. It all works together and begins with ensuring our kids are receiving a quality education.  Our concern is not about race if the individual has proven to be qualified and effective in advancing all kids, especially Black children which is definitely needed if we want to improve our parish long term. It cannot be.

    For the record, there have been many Black individuals whom the NAACP did not support in positions that directly affect our children. In fact, we recently expressed our non support for the following individuals prior to their selection and we will explain why:

    Walter Daniels 
    Walter Daniels has not only supported every single action made by the current superintendent, he has also made specific statements that belittle women. Just recently, Mr. Daniels stated that a “woman cannot handle the Director of Transportation job.”  It is 2017, and this is the sentiment of an actual School Board member. How will he inspire more African American girls to go into STEM fields with this mentality?

    Andrew Jackson – The role of the CDIO is to hold the system accountable to following the court order while doing what is in the very best interests of our children. We can recall that the system fought viciously against the current individual serving in this role for being unqualified for the position. The NAACP agreed with the system in this case.  Under his watch so far, the system has:

    1. Began with a salary of $40,000 annually; now according to the LLA Report has increased significantly.
    2. “Negotiated” a job for a long time female friend (colleague from Reynolds Institute) in a public school as an actual social worker although this individual was found to not even possess a license to serve in such a role, let alone deal with our children.
    3. Allowed the current superintendent to choose White candidates for positions in which more qualified Black candidates applied knowing these individuals were not the better candidate for bringing out the best in our kids. For instance, nothing was ever done about the Early Childhood Coordinator position.
    4. Allowed the superintendent to let Hammond High go a full year without being advertised while being run by someone who was a teacher less than a year ago.
    5. Did absolutely nothing about the removal of the hundreds of African American children from Eastside and Westside to Greenville Park and Woodland Park even after having been warned of the impact this would have on both school’s overall performance scores. This placed Black kids in a worse situation than previous.
    6. Knowingly allowed the superintendent to avoid advertising key positions for months at the expense of our children and an entire system that is already in educational crisis mode.
    7. Never followed through with the complaint challenging the actual credibility and validity of our system’s magnet programs due to so many that are believed to be magnets in name only. For instance, How is Westside Middle Magnet different from Natalbany Middle?  What is the specialized program and how has it benefited the kids?
    8. Never followed through with complaint of flawed evaluation system in which individuals like the same magnet supervisor responsible for the failing magnet programs and schools as a result may be underserved receiving high marks. We have yet to see evaluations as compared to performance.

    Byron Hurst
    We have all come to realize that doctorate degrees come “a dime a dozen” these days and we know from watching first hand poor leadership at some schools that things that look nice on paper seldom guarantee effectiveness. Therefore, we must look at an individual’s performance record in educating our kids. Byron Hurst was an ineffective school leader in St. Helena Parish. The school failed and he was later given a position as an Assistant Principal in Tangipahoa Parish. He then applied for a Principal position at Sumner High and was offered the Director post instead due to the superintendent wanting to place a White individual in that position. This decision making had absolutely nothing to do with children of course.  We will never support this unethical decision making. Now we have a failed principal overseeing the welfare of our kids. Again, significant change must take place.

    So, for those who have so long believed the NAACP to be anti-White, let our support for Kim Notariano teach an important lesson about our organization. Chuckling as I am writing this, she is definitely not paying us to stand for her. And she does not have to. We know that Kim. We know she loves children and takes her job seriously. Her record and credentials speak for themselves. Her knowledge of transportation, performance record as an actual parish bus driver, not to mention her business background far outweigh educational backgrounds in our opinion not to mention the fact the individual now in question did not even qualify for the position based on the system’s own advertised qualifications. If the board had hired the other candidate, then it would have followed the same pattern as discussed in the cases above. And if we are going to go ahead and pull together to bring about the significant changes spoken of that the people want, then the NAACP is taking the steps necessary to do our part. Children first!

    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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    Grambling student, Adrian Wilson, named to La. Board of Regents

    Adrian Williams, of Ruston, has been appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents. He is in his third year as a Liberal Arts and Theatre major at Grambling State University. Williams has served as the 2014-2015 Student Government Association (SGA) Freshman Class President, the 2015-2016 SGA Sophomore Class President, the 2016-2017 SGA Chief of Staff, a Student Ambassador, a member of the University Concert Choir, the NAACP, and the Floyd L. Sandle Players Club.  He is a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. and currently serves as the 2017-2018 SGA President. Williams has aspirations to become a professional performer, lawyer, and political figure.  Following graduation, he plans to attend graduate school for performing arts and law school.

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    Wilbert Pryor named to Board of Regents

    Wilbert Pryor, of Shreveport, has been appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents. Pryor is the chief deputy district attorney for Caddo Parish  for the Honorable James E. Stewart, Sr., Caddo Parish District Attorney.  He formerly served as an ad hoc Shreveport City Court judge and was in private law practice. A native of Shreveport, Pryor is a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he was a football letterman, and the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center.  He has served on the Louisiana Lottery Corporation Board of  Directors and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.  He presently serves on the Family Justice Center of Northwest Louisiana Board of Directors, the Pathways to Education  Board of Directors, and the Zion Baptist Church, Board of Deacons. For his efforts to improve the community, Mr. Pryor was awarded the 2016 NAACP Shreveport branch Dr. Jesse N. Stone Pioneer Award.

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    Oil and gas industry challenged to engage STEM talent in Black communities

    WASHINGTON DC–When it comes to preparing the next generation for careers in science, technology engineering and mathematics, also known at STEM, Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said that leaders in the oil and natural gas industry have to answer the “awareness question.”

    “There are many people out there, today, that don’t really understand the oil and natural gas industry or the opportunities that it can present for them, their families and for well-paying careers,” said Gerard. “It’s incumbent upon us, as an industry, to have this dialogue more often and to intensify this discussion, so that people really understand,” the connection between the oil and natural gas industry and their everyday lives.

    The American Petroleum Institute and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, recently hosted a panel discussion focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM careers and in the oil and natural gas industry. API, the only national trade group representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, according to the group’s website, supports 10.3 million jobs in the United States and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

    The panel discussion coincided with the release of a new RAND report titled, “Postsecondary Education and STEM Employment in the United States.” The report, which was prepared for API, examined national education trends and the relationship between degree attainment and employment and wages, specifically in STEM fields.

    “Many of tomorrow’s best paying careers, at all levels, will require some kind of training or education in a STEM discipline,” said Gerard.

    STEM degrees can lead to higher earnings and can help to close the wage gap between Blacks and Whites. Those higher earnings are even more pronounced in the oil and gas industry.

    Blacks with STEM bachelor’s degrees earn $45.15 in hourly wages in the oil and natural gas industry, compared to Blacks with non-STEM bachelor’s degrees, who make $28.10 per hour, according to the RAND report.

    Whites with STEM bachelor’s degrees make slightly more per hour than Blacks with STEM degrees working in the oil and natural gas industry ($45.26 vs. $45.15).

    The hourly wage gap is higher between Whites and Blacks with non-STEM degrees that work in the oil and gas industry ($37.73 vs. $28.10).

    According to the 2016 report titled, “Minority and Female Employment in the Oil & Natural Gas and Petrochemical Industries, 2015-2035” by IHS Global prepared for API, “nearly 1.9 million direct job opportunities are projected through 2035 in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries” and “African Americans and Hispanics will account for over 80 percent of the net increase in the labor force from 2015 to 2035.”

    Gerard said that over the next 10 years about 50 percent of the oil and natural gas workforce is going to “turnover.”

    According to the IHS Global report on minority and female employment in the oil and natural gas industry, Blacks accounted for 6.7 percent of the total workforce.

    Gerard said that as the current workforce reaches retirement age, the industry will need a rising generation to fill those jobs. Understanding the demographic shifts the industry has to get more aggressive in addressing that challenge, added Gerard.

    “If we’re going to do the things that are necessary to move the needle to impact those 1.9 million jobs, we have to go where most people don’t want to go and that’s in the Black and brown communities,” said Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., founder of STEM NOLA. “We often talk about STEM in a way that a common man and common woman really can’t grasp.”

    Mackie, who is an engineer in New Orleans, said that millions of Black and brown boys play football and basketball every Saturday, dreaming of making it to the NFL or NBA, even though their chances of achieving that goal are statistically low.

    “If we’re going to solve this problem, we have to go to the communities and make sure that on every Saturday there are a million Black and brown kids doing STEM, hoping and believing that, 15 years later, they will become,” millionaires and billionaires, said Mackie.

    Mackie runs a program that exposes elementary and high school students from underserved communities to STEM principles and STEM careers.

    Gerard said that leaders of the oil and natural gas industry recognize that they have to engage more effectively with minority communities, in order to build relationships and train and recruit their future workforce.

    “We need help from people who have been on the frontlines for many years,” said Gerard.

    Overton said that working with groups like the National Newspaper Publishers Association can improve the oil and natural gas industry’s outreach in the Black community.

    Overton also shared an anecdote about the African American women who were depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

    African American NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan predicted that an incoming IBM computer would displace “human computers” in the 1960s. In anticipation, she learned the computer language Fortran, and she taught it to her team of Black women mathematicians. When the IBM arrived, the team was ready and took over new jobs operating the IBM, Overton said.

    “We are in this moment of rare opportunity…we can be proactive instead of reactive, like those women in ‘Hidden Figures,’” said Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

    Mackie said that in order to increase awareness about STEM careers in the oil and natural gas industry, programs have to be culturally and environmentally relevant.

    “When we start talking about STEM education…sometimes it’s disenfranchising our children, because it’s not exposing them to the possibility of the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry,” said Mackie.

    Mackie said that the nature of work is rapidly changing, driven by innovation and technology; that rapid change has the power to change lives for those individuals who have access to the resources to harness those tools.

    Some education advocates fear that Black children, oftentimes don’t have access to those resources.

    “America is in trouble,” said Mackie. “We have to make sure that we expose every kid to the possibility of STEM, because the future will belong to those that can play in it and create it and all of our kids deserve that possibility.”

    Gerard noted that the oil and natural gas industry contributes to the production of the energy efficient screens found on windows, the paint on the walls in our homes and offices, the fiber composites in the carpet, and the plastic components in smartphones.

    “We have to make our industry more relevant in those conversations, so that rising generations realize that there are vast opportunities up and down the continuum,” said Gerard. “So, we don’t scare them with the STEM conversation, but we teach them that everything that they do is grounded in this industry and the opportunity within that space is very significant.”

    Gerard continued, “If we can work on this together, we’re going to see a lot of opportunities out there, because people will start making those connections between [the oil and natural gas industry] to things they take for granted and to well-paying careers.”

    By Freddie Allen 
    NNPA Editor-In-Chief

     

    PHOTO CAPTION: Calvin Mackie,Ph.D., engineer and founder of STEM NOLA, talks about diversity and inclusion in the oil and natural gas industry, during a panel discussion at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

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    Judge Faith Jenkins to be SU fall commencement speaker

    Southern University Baton Rouge has invited Faith Jenkins to be its fall commencement speaker. Jenkins is the host of Judge Faith – a nationally televised court TV show now entering its fourth season.
    Originally from Shreveport, Jenkins  graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana Tech University (where she was also the first Black woman to win the title of Miss Louisiana Tech University) and a J.D. from Southern University Law Center where she ranked #1 in her law class. She went on to become Miss Louisiana in the year 2000 and represent the state in the Miss America pageant where was first runner up to Miss America.
    Jenkins started her legal career in New York in the litigation group at Sidley Austin. After five years as a commercial litigator, she became a prosecutor at the Manhattan District attorney’s office. As a prosecutor, Jenkins  handled hundreds of criminal cases and was the lead attorney in numerous jury trials. Her work included indicting and prosecuting a multitude of violent crimes such as gang assaults, robberies, burglaries, kidnapping, drug sales, and firearms cases.
    Jenkins  is also known for her legal and social commentary on television. Prior to signing as a legal analyst exclusively with MSNBC, she appeared regularly on CNN, Fox News, and HLN to analyze the nation’s most high profile cases and legal issues.
    During the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, Jenkins analyzed the trial daily on all three major news networks. She appeared nightly – from jury selection to verdict — on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation to discuss witness testimony and opine on the trial’s overall progress each day.
    Southern University will be conferring degrees for more 500 graduates commencing bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral programs. Jalen Wagner, senior biology major, will be the chief student marshal for the commencement. The program is set for Friday, December 15, at 10am in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
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    Flooded Louisiana Schools Receive $14 Million More in Recovery Funding

    Approximately $14 million in federal disaster aid will support schools in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Tangipahoa parishes with recovery and repair efforts following the August 2016 floods.

    Some repair projects received supplemental funding to enhance construction, reduce flood damage and break the cycle of repetitive losses.

    Students and schools in these parishes will benefit from the following projects reimbursed by FEMA:

    • Amite Westside Middle Magnet School has been approved for nearly $466,000 for classroom repairs. This includes $7,785 to install watertight doors.
    • Baker High School has been approved for about $2.4 million for repairs to classrooms. FEMA previously approved $5.4 million to reimburse the cost of temporary facilities, debris removal and cleaning expenses along with funding to replace contents and assist with building repairs.
    • Brookstown Magnet Middle School in Baton Rouge has been approved for approximately $2.4 millionfor classroom repairs. FEMA previously approved $1.7 million for cleaning and flood damage removal expenses.
    • Lake Elementary School in St. Amant has been approved for nearly $3.3 million for building and equipment repairs. Of that total, $61,758 will help elevate electrical equipment vulnerable to flooding. FEMA previously approved $7.4 million for temporary facilities and flood-damage removal and debris expenses.
    • St. Amant Primary School has been approved to receive about $1.8 million for classroom repairs. This includes funding of $150,300 to elevate electrical equipment.
    • The Runnels School in Baton Rouge has been approved for about $1.3 million for temporary classroom facilities, contents and repairs to accommodate displaced students and faculty.
    • The Wilma C. Montgomery Center – an East Baton Rouge School Board administration building - has been approved for about $1.3 million for repairs.

    To date, FEMA has reimbursed Louisiana schools more than $133 million for disaster-related projects through the Public Assistance program.

    The PA program has reimbursed over $489 million to local and state government entities as well as certain private nonprofits for August 2016 flood-related expenses. Eligible reimbursement projects include repairing or replacing disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure, debris removal and emergency response activities.

    FEMA has a long-term commitment to help Louisiana communities and critical infrastructure recover from the August 2016 floods. The agency continues collaborating with the state on recovery projects with 282 applicants in 26 parishes.

    FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible expenses. However, the agency will reimburse applicants 90 percent of eligible expenses given the magnitude of the August 2016 floods.

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    COMMENTARY: Louisiana School Finder gives parents information to help children succeed

    School accountability is key to ensuring all students — regardless of Zip code, race, socioeconomic status or differing abilities — have equal access to the high-quality education they deserve. But it’s often difficult to gather information that paints a complete picture of how well local child care centers and schools are preparing children for the next grade level. A new tool created for Louisiana families offers a solution.

    Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Education released a new online tool called the Louisiana School Finder that enables families to find and evaluate schools and early childhood programs across the state to find the sites that best fit their unique child’s needs. The revamped report card system shows overall school and district performance scores — Louisiana schools, for example, earned a collective “B” letter grade this year — and traditionally reported data points like assessment results, graduation rates and college enrollment. It’s also expanded to offer results by student group, detail student discipline and attendance data, and even highlight facts about the teachers who work at each site, a huge step toward ensuring greater transparency and addressing equity.

    In addition, the system gives users information about all publicly funded early childhood centers, prekindergarten and Head Start programs across the state, unifying our early childhood and K-12 education systems. These new ratings, which were unveiled for the first time this year, are derived from site observations and provide a snapshot of each classroom’s climate and how well they are preparing kids to enter kindergarten ready. Statewide, about 1,500 performance profiles are now available.

    The Louisiana School Finder plainly communicates the details families need to make informed decisions about their child’s education, and the facts educators, stakeholders, nonprofit organizations and advocates need to understand the gaps that exist, how to direct resources and how to leverage best practices. It is truly a one-of-a-kind community tool.

    As president of Urban League of Louisiana, my job is focused on ensuring that all students have the same resources and opportunities as their counterparts. It’s a responsibility that is the heart of my organization. The Louisiana School Finder helps accomplish that mission and positions our state, our schools and our students toward continued success.

    By Erika McConduit

    President of the Urban League Louisiana

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    Our Glass wins Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge

    Four Southern University Baton Rouge students collected a $10,000 grand prize after placing first in the Bayou Classic Biztech Challenge.

    Their business pitch, Our Glass, caters to herbal tea consumers and is a 3-D printable, portable bottle that is insulated and allows consumers to brew tea on the go.

    Adorned in a white t-shirt with baby blue writing that spelled Our Glass, senior mechanical engineering and supply chain major from Mer Rouge Nathan Morrison, presented the problem of not being able to brew tea quickly without a heating element nearby.

    After coming up with the idea, Morrison sought out those who he knew could help bring his vision to life. SUBR students, Polite Stewar. Jr., Rashad Pierre and Ashley Lewis were the three additional powerhouses behind Our Glass.

    “We have to get patented, trademarked and figure out who gets what,” Morrison stated in regards to the volume of investment offers that the quartet have recently begun to receive after their victory.

    The students received a $10,000 check in which they will split four ways. They were also gifted $10,000 in legal fees during the Nov. 25, 2017, event.

    Read complete story at The Southern Digest.

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    Policy experts discuss education in the new Jim Crow era

    After decades of desegregation efforts, federal civil rights laws, and other attempts to close the achievement gap, a high quality education remains an elusive goal for most Black children.

    In an effort to engage Black parents around reaching that elusive goal, educators and community stakeholders tackled leadership, educational equity and policy in urban schools, during a recent panel discussion.

    Led by moderator Linda Tillman, professor emeritus of education leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the panel discussed the challenges faced by African American teachers and leaders, as they work to educate Black children and young adults in urban communities.

    “We are here to revisit old discussions and bring fresh ideas,” Tillman said. “Jim Crow has affected Blacks in so many ways. Black education is a right [that’s] not solely based on White norms.”

    Panelist Terri Watson, a City College of New York (CCNY) educator and co-creator of the CCNY-based “Growing Our Own Doctor’s Project,” said that there’s not only a need for better education, but that there’s also a need for safer communities for Black students.

    “We have to focus on creating space where kids are informed and active, that’s important,” Watson said. “We have to let the kids know that the world is waiting for them, they’re up next and we have to change their mindset that the world views them as disposable.”

    Rodney Hopson, a professor and associate dean of education psychology at George Mason University, Sonya Douglass Horsford, an associate professor of education leadership at the Teachers College at Columbia University, and M. Christopher Brown II, the president of Kentucky State University also participated in the panel that took place during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference.

    Both Brown and Horsford, longtime friends, said the majority of public schools are now non-White. The proliferation of charter and alternative schools has also chipped away at the effectiveness of public schools.

    The federal government has played such a major role in shaping education policy and schools now mostly prepare African Americans for prison, not college, Brown said.

    “The school’s structure that’s used is that they teach our kids how to stand in a straight line, to raise their hands when they have to go to the bathroom…you do that in prison, so that’s the training they’re getting,” Brown said.

    He then quoted what he said was a prophetic statement made by W.E.B. Du Bois 57 years ago.

    “[African American] teachers will become rarer and in many cases will disappear,” Brown said quoting Du Bois, noting that the prediction has come to pass.

    Brown continued, quoting Du Bois: “[African American] children will be instructed in public schools and taught under unpleasant if not discouraging circumstances. Even more largely than today, they will fall out of school, cease to enter high school, and fewer and fewer will go to college.”

    Horsford, like the other panelists, said no one should be surprised, because, after all, resegregation has occurred and education is the “new civil rights in the new Jim Crow.”

    “We shouldn’t operate from the assumption that our schools are broken,” she said. “They are doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is to sift and sort children into different categories for economic reasons.”

    Horsford added that African Americans must tap the potential, possibilities and gifts of the young people who truly hold the answers to society’s pressing problems.

    Even educators have suffered and are poorly valued in a system guided by high-stakes testing and performance-based accountability, Horsford said.

    “We have to engage in parallel efforts…we need to reimagine schools and school systems that support everyone,” said Horsford. “We also have to make sure that, in the meantime, we are preparing students to not only survive, but also thrive in an era of extreme inequality.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Contributor

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    Superintendent does not deserve all the blame

    Many I Have talked to are very dissatisfied with the performance of the current superintendent. We know that the next superintendent must be someone with a strong background and proven performance record in educating children (all children). Our current su- perintendent is well-versed in nance. Yes, this is what our board chose to lead our kids and schools over the past decade; a nance guy. This is perhaps where the notion that more money is the right answer to solve every educational problem comes into play. Maybe we should ask the districts in our country that spend less per pu- pil and yet outperform others. Or, we can ask those districts in places like New York that spend tens of thousands per pupil while performance still lacks. But, that’s another discussion for another time.

    In the superintendent’s defense, I do not think the current superintendent deserves all of the blame for district perfor- mance. For instance, currently Tangipahoa has an abundance of “magnet” schools. However, there exists absolutely no blueprint or school magnet plan illustrating to the public exactly how each magnet program should look and sound by full implementation. Nor, is there a timeline with performance benchmarks so that the indi- vidual responsible for imple- menting magnet programs District-wide can progress- monitor implementation. What kind of organization does not have these simple processes in place? Ours.

    What is the outcome of this? Well, for one, we have commu- nications magnet schools that have been in existence for over ve years without any real outlying educational experiences than those found in traditional schools. What is the blue print for the Medical Magnet at Amite? Is it just the state’s jumpstart CNA programs? Let’s get serious.
    We have kids dropping out of the high school’s IB program because they were not properly prepared for the Diploma Pro- gramme in K-8. There has been no success in securing the ac- tual Middle Years Programme despite attempts having been made since 2012 or earlier. There’s no wonder our kids are having trouble in high school; they are missing the o cial IB Middle Years. Let’s not even talk about the academic per- formance of the district’s mag- net schools. Basically, most of them are in decline.

    As for our high schools, a high school supervisor reportedly assigned e ective ratings to a high school administra- tor who was removed by the superintendent for basically being determined ine ective. How can such a discrepancy exist? Well, based on the lack of growth performance coupled with culture and climate issues that existed at this particular high school, the superinten- dent probably made the rightdecision. However, the individual who gave that particular school leader e ec- tive ratings should have also been repri- manded. The public must trust that indi- viduals are being held fairly accountable for how they perform with our children, and the ability to properly hold system leaders just as accountable as school lead- ers and teachers is a known weakness of the Tangipahoa Parish School System. This system has been known to place in- dividuals in district leadership roles who have not been proven to have been ef- fective leaders in schools based on, well, school performance. We must do better to win the public over.

    Lastly, Tangipahoa Parish Schools contain a reform measure known to help raise student achievement called the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP). The program involves the hiring of mas- ter and mentor teachers in TAP schools as well as a district Master teacher who supports TAP schools. At one point, the system had as many as nine TAP schools. Now, it has only one. Again, who holds the individual responsible for supporting these TAP schools (District TAP executive TAP Master teacher), and why is this individual still serving in this role when the district only has one TAP school? Who pays for this? How did the one school in which this individual was responsible for perform this past year? It declined.

    In conclusion, yes, the superinten- dent is ultimately responsible for district overall performance. However, the in- dividual responsible for district magnet programs, high school performance, and the individual responsible for the TAP should all be held accountable for the performance (or lack thereof) in these particular schools and programs overall. In addition, the board should request a copy of how the superintendent and/ r designee evaluated each and compare these evaluations with actual school/pro- gram performance. We do expect that, in the future, this superintendent as well as future superintendents do a better job at securing the most e ective individuals for these kinds of positions so that our entire district can be led in a more posi- tive direction, academically.

    By Patricia Morris
    President Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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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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    COMMENTARY: Not every child is going to be a scientist or doctor. Educate them still.

    I am a former teacher. I taught for 25 years in the public school system and have held various titles in the field of education throughout my 40-year career. I have always had a passion for education. My family and I joke that I have been teaching since the first day of kindergarten. My older sister also wanted to be a teacher. So, we would spend our evenings “playing school” with our many siblings and neighbors. Because of our productive “pretend play” I began school already reading and writing. I remember printing the alphabet with pride. By the time I reached third grade I was reading everything I could get my hands on and helping my classmates read as well. In fact, the only time I was reprimanded was when I tried to help a classmate pronounce names during her social studies report on current events.

    I shared that time during my childhood, because it is important for educators to understand that children begin school on various levels. Children develop and retain information differently. Some students begin school ahead of the pack. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure all children, irrespective of their initial academic level continue to make progress.

    Unfortunately, most students are not progressing at an appropriate pace. The reauthorized, national education law, Every Student Succeeds Act, grants states the freedom to develop their own academic standards and measures of accountability so long as those standards prepare students for college and career readiness. State academic standards can include a wide range of subject areas; in contrast to the previous emphasis on reading and mathematics. To support the academic achievement of students with varied academic ability, background, and socioeconomic status, it is vital that educators refrain from the one-size-fits-all model of instruction promoted during No Child Left Behind.

    To improve academic achievement, we must reflect on our stated mission: to educate all children. Not every child is going to be a mathematician. Not every child is going to be a scientist or doctor. However, every child is born with specific gifts and talents. It is up to us, as parents and educators, to help each child develop those specific talents. In a family of six children, each of my siblings had a different area of interest. One became a medical doctor, another a mathematician, still another, an engineer; there are two former teachers, and a law enforcement officer. We were all expected to excel in our respective fields, and we did.

    Success comes in many forms. A successful student is allowed to pursue his/her natural talents and encouraged to learn the skills needed to be a productive citizen. Had my siblings and I been limited to reading and mathematics, we probably wouldn’t have been as successful; not in our careers or personal lives. To improve academic achievement, let’s first equip teachers with the skills to recognize the natural talents that support and encourage academic achievement. School systems must realize that tests only measure a finite set of skills and that skills do exist outside of those measured. Academic achievement is improved when we recognize the differences in children and embrace them rather than trying to put every child in the same, square box. Academic achievement is improved when parents take the initiative to advocate for their child’s needs from the womb all the way through college graduation and the start of their careers.

    Who is responsible for improving academic achievement? All of us. Get engaged, go to the meetings, participate in the professional development, take part in the free webinars, read the articles on education in your local newspapers, and be a voice in your child’s education.

    If you are looking for tips on how to get involved, or where to go to attend meetings, visit www.nnpa.org/essa.

    Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D., is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. She is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow her @elizabethprimas.

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    SU fall enrollment sees jumps in key areas

    SU fall enrollment sees jumps in key areas

    Student population is expanding at Southern University Baton Rouge. In particular, for the first time in several years, the University experienced significant growth in important sectors this fall. Online enrollment increased 70 percent from last fall; new first-time students had an increase of 13 percent; cross-enrolled saw an increase of 609 percent; and transfer students jumped five percent.

    “What is encouraging about these numbers is the increase in the first-time freshmen at the University,” comments Ray Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System. “The SUBR campus has suffered from declining enrollment for multiple years, so this response gives indication that we are on the right path.”

    The increase in online enrollment is associated with marketing strategies including targeted digital campaigns the University activated last semester. The focus was to highlight newly released programs and concentrate on a new demographic: working professionals.

    “It gives me great joy to see our System flourish,” said Luria Young, interim executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “While working collectively, we achieved a goal that we can continue to build upon.”

    Dianna Depron, SUBR executive director of admissions and recruitment, attributes the increase in transfer and cross-enrolled students to trending recruitment tactics, such as social media and digital campaigns, email marketing, and aggressive recruiting.

    In addition to the growing enrollment on its flagship campus, the SU System is enjoying encouraging numbers from the SU Law Center (SULC) and Southern University New Orleans (SUNO).

    According to Lisa Mims-Devezin, SUNO chancellor, the campus overall enrollment increased nearly five percent with first-time freshmen student enrollment expanding by 47 percent.

    “We took the initiative to do more community outreach, engagement, marketing, and recruitment,” said Mims-Devezin.

    SULC Chancellor John Pierre reported that despite the trends of national law schools, enrollment at the SU Law Center is up slightly this fall.

    “We’re very happy with the composition of the class and the numbers,” said Pierre.

    The SU System saw a moderate increase in overall student enrollment.

    “We will continue to invest and to shape strategies that will prove to fulfill our enrollment aims,” said Belton. “There is a great anticipation that we will continue to move the needle forward.”

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    Ascension parish pushes to reject school tax exemptions

    Ascension Parish teachers, community leaders call press conference to urge school board to reject “blank check” on corporate school tax exemptions

    PRAIRIEVILLE–On Monday, September 18th, at 6:30pm, teachers, faith and community leaders are holding a press conference to urge the Ascension Parish School board to reject a proposal being put before it to offer a blank check to industry on exemptions from school taxes.

    The resolution will be considered by the Ascension Parish School Board’s finance committee on Tuesday, September 19th, 5pm.

    The resolution is being brought to the school board by Ascension Economic Development Corporation. It would have the school board grant a 100% property tax exemption to subsidize a non-disclosed project by a corporation already operating in the parish, the identity of which AEDC officials are refusing to disclose.

    “It is shocking that a school board would consider something so carte blanche and irresponsible,” said a statement by local educators, congregations and community leaders in Ascension Parish. “We’re calling on the school board to reject the proposal out of hand and start subjecting these corporate exemptions to serious scrutiny.”

    Standard practice for local tax exemptions across the country is that local taxing bodies create a set of policy criteria before approving exemptions, so that there are clear standards by which exemptions can be judged. The Ascension Economic Development Corporation originally intended to pursue that path several, but back-tracked to their current demand for 100% exemptions on non-disclosed projects.

    Industrial tax exemptions will be decided by local school boards for the first time this year, instead of by the state Board of Commerce and Industry, due to an Executive Order signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2016.

    In 2017, industrial tax exemptions are costing Ascension Parish schools $79.1 million in lost revenue.

     

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    For Quintina Ricks, stronger girls create a stronger world

    Program designed to transform girls into leaders

    During the time where many messages for young girls seem to be conflicting, Baton Rouge teens are experiencing an influx of organizations and programs designed to show them how amazing and powerful they are in the world. From Black Girls Rock on a national scale to the local Womanhood101 initiative and the TransfHERmation program, the brilliance of teen girls are being magnified and strengthened.

    Quintina Ricks

    Quintina Ricks

    “I believe girls are a special gift from God and they should be nurtured as such,” said Quintina Ricks, founder of TransfHERmation, a summer enrichment program for girls.

    For two years, more than twenty girls have experienced TransfHERmation at T. Simmons and Company in Baton Rouge where they developed businesses, vision and mission statements, brand names, and taglines to reflect their value system. These values were explored during sessions on gratitude, respect, public behavior, and relationships.

    The girls created products for their business—most opting for cosmetics—using raw materials and scientific principles to manufacture lipsticks, lip gloss, soap, and candles. During an interactive, real-world stimulation, they took on adult responsibilities and purchased homes, cars, insurance, and childcare services.

    13876464_1767600440190901_603581414478951159_nAs part of their transformation experience, the girls learned strategies to improve and maintain healthy diets, relationships, hygiene, and finances. “Critical to their success and quality of life will be their ability to make healthy lifestyle choices relative to managing stress and friendships,” said Ricks. “We teach young ladies to prioritize their greatest asset which is their health.”

    TransfHERmation is Ricks’ brainchild which she started in 2014 as an exhilarating, multi-faceted summer program that she designed to help girls improve their self-awareness, self-love, and self-worth. Ricks is owner of Ten40 Solutions. She said she is an accountant by trade, event designer by passion, and youth developer by purpose. It is within the structure of her TransfHERmation program that Ricks is able to be most creative in reaching the girls.

    “When we invest in young people the return on that investment is immeasurable. We build the female leaders of the future,” she said. The Drum talked with Ricks to learn more.

    THE DRUM: How was this experience designed to be transformative?
    RICKS: Our goal is to build the female leaders of the future. There’s no denying that women are making huge contributions all across the globe in all walks of life. It’s also no secret that women face unique challenges relative to crushing stereotypes and breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling. Our desire for these girls is that they embrace their femininity, understand their power, harness their creativity, identify their strengths, and visualize their future.13653375_1767598700191075_5907672966460323250_o

    Why was this age group targeted?
    This year’s camp experience was developed specifically for teenage girls. Adolescence is an important time. These young ladies are making critical life decisions that will either serve a setbacks or set ups for long term success. We want to equip these young ladies with the information, tools, resources, and mentors to make solid life decisions.

    What life lessons did you want this experience to teach or be reveled to participants?
    Our curriculum is designed to expose these young ladies to lessons that focus on leadership, introduce the concept of entrepreneurship, teach principles of saving/investing, and also highlight STEM careers and women who are thriving in those fields. Self-esteem, self-love, and self-care is emphasized throughout the camp experience. We want these girls to walk away feeling powerful.

    13872960_1767548013529477_6476131997101244025_nHow did this year meet or exceed your expectations?
    This year exceeded our expectations despite some internal hurdles that we had to cross. Typically when we sponsor these types of programs we plan over 6-8 months. This year we pulled the camp together in less than a month. Our businesses were swamped with new clients, which is a good thing. But we didn’t know if we would have the time or the capacity to host the camp this year. We decided collectively that we had to make it a priority and we were able to pull it off. It was well attended. We worked with an amazing group of girls.

    What were the memorable transformative moments?
    The responses that we get from the parents are always telling for me. When you get an email celebrating academic or social growth that makes all the hard work and sacrifices well worth it. We had a diverse group of girls in attendance this year. Some were from upper middle class households, attending high performing schools, taking family vacations, etc. Other camp participants came from extreme poverty. One young lady in particular had not attended school regularly since the flood. Her mother was on the verge of eviction. They had no water or utilities in their apartment. Fortunately the young lady was comfortable enough to tell us what was going on. Our team was able to get her enrolled in school, purchase uniforms, connect her family with job placement assistance, and reconnect their utilities. Were it not for the camp this particular kid would’ve probably dropped out of school and eventually been homeless.

    How does this program fit within your company’s work or mission? Our company is obviously very diversified in terms of its divisions and the products and services that we offer. The common theme across the entire organization is our commitment to giving back to the communities that have contributed to our success. The way we choose to give back is through building human capital. Investing in young people feels good from an individual standpoint, and it’s smart from a business standpoint. The return on investment is so significant that it’s virtually immeasurable.

    ONLINE:www.TransfHERmation.com 

    By candacejsemien
    Jozef Syndicate

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    Kaweeda Green Adams selected NY superintendent

    Shreveport native Kaweeda Green Adams has been selected superintendent of the City School District of Albany, NY, a district with 9,700 students. She is a graduate of Caddo parish public schools and is pursuing a doctorate in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoneics. She served in Nevada’s school district for 28 years with one position as school associate superintendent. In Albany, she will lead the district which has struggled to close the achievement gap and has been cited in recent years for disparities in suspension rates.

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    Liberty Tax Service Offers Tuition-Free Tax School, Sept 12

     Liberty Tax Service at 4911 S Sherwood Forest Blvd and 1402 N Burnside in Gonzales will offer a 10-week, tuition-free* Tax School for aspiring tax preparers, do-it-yourself filers, and those who want a better understanding of income taxes, beginning September 12, 2017.

    Tax School combines classroom discussion with hands-on learning. It offers practice in preparing income tax returns and covers a variety of topics, including: filing status, exemptions, tax credits, and more. Students learn about the tax code and gain a new, marketable skill. Those who successfully compete the course can apply for positions with Liberty Tax Service.

    Registration is open now for the Liberty Tax School that runs September 12, 2017. Small fee for books and supplies. Enrollment in, or completion of, the Liberty Tax Course is neither an offer nor a guarantee of employment, except as may be required by the state. Additional qualifications may be required. Enrollment restrictions apply. State restrictions may apply and additional training may be required. Valid at participating locations only. Void where prohibited. Liberty is an equal opportunity employer.

    For more information, call Liberty Tax Service at (225) 778-5892 or visit the Baton Rouge office at 4911 S Sherwood Forest Blvd.

     

     

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    Youth experience nation’s capital during 4-H Citizenship program

    High school students from Southern University Laboratory School and Park Ridge Academic Magnet School learned about political processes in the vibrant, living classroom of the nation’s capital as part of Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF), an intensive 4-H civic engagement program for high-school youth held at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

    The six youth, Coby Pittman, Jaymya Joubert, and A’miya Thomas  Michael Boudreaux III, Tyliya Pitts, and Michael Wicker, along with Tiffany Franklin, Ph.D.,  4-H CWF coordinator at the Southern University Land-Grant Campus, and Tara Hollins, CWF chaperone, participated in the program from July 10 -14.

    While in DC, the students were given the opportunity to tour the United States Congress, where they met Representative Cedric Richmond, from Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, and had a personal night tour of the Capital with Representative Garret Graves from Louisiana’s 6th District.

    “I enjoyed the CWF color workshops most because I connected with others from different states and we were able to work together,” said Pitts. “I will impact my community, using what I learned from CWF, by connecting with my people and creating a program that could help them with their problems. Being involved in the CWF program meant a lot to me and I would love to return.”

    For more than 50 years, the National 4-H Conference Center has invited thousands of young people from across the country to travel to Washington, DC and participate in civic workshops, committees and field trips before returning home to make positive changes in their own communities. CWF not only strengthens young people’s understanding of the government’s civic process, but it also boosts their leadership skills, communication skills and overall confidence.

    During CWF, youth get a behind-the-scenes look at the nation’s capital while meeting with members of Congress to learn more about how their government works. At the end of the program, youth draft step-by-step action plans to address important issues in their communities. Youth have developed a plan that will provide a hands-on, engaging seminar with community youth, while discussing the negative effects of underage drinking and smoking.

    “CWF is a great opportunity for young people to come together, talk about the problems they see in their communities, and identify solutions to make their communities stronger,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council. “The experiences these young people gain during CWF gives them the tools and confidence to grow and thrive as leaders.”

     

    Caption for photo titled ‘With Rep. Garret Graves’: Baton Rouge and Baker high school students, front row from left, Tyliya Pitts, Jaymya Joubert, A’miya Thomas, Louisiana State Representative Garret Graves, Michael Wicker and Coby Pittman. Standing on the second row are, from left, Michael Boudreaux III,  Tiffany Franklin, Ph.D., 4-H Citizen Washington Focus (CWF) Coordinator at the Southern University Land-Grant Campus, and Tara Hollins, CWF chaperone. The students visited the Nation’s Capital from July 10-14 to participant in the 4-H CWF program. (Photo courtesy of the SU Land-Grant Campus.)

     

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    Join Job Club Networking Group

    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring a 12-week job search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with like-minded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. The Job Club will meet from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday starting September 29 through December 15 at the Main Library at Goodwood. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. Registration is required for this group. To register, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733 or send an e-mail to Anne Nowak at anowak@ebrpl.com.

     

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    September is Library Card Sign-Up Month

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library  is joining with the American Library Association and public libraries nationwide to make sure that every student has the most important school supply of all – a FREE Library card. Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school, and they can turn to the Library for materials, programs and knowledgeable Library staff to support academic achievement.

    This year, crime fighting DC Super Heroes, the Teen Titans, are teaming up with the ALA to encourage everyone to get this all-access pass to FREE use of online databases and training resources, print books and magazines, e-books and online magazines, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs and BluRay, streaming movies, online homework help, genealogy research, workforce development, Arduino kits, children’s storytimes, meeting rooms, free computer classes, programs and events on all kinds of subjects and so much more! For more information about Library Card Sign-Up Month, signing up for a free East Baton Rouge Parish Library card or for general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3710, pick up a copy of our monthly newsletter The Source or visit the Library’s website at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Don Bradford Bible College hosts orientation night, Sept. 5

    The Don Bradford Bible College will host an orientation night Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 7pm, at the Charity Christian Center, 871 O’Neal Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70816. The school is designed to develop leaders in today’s church, strengthen the ministry, and deepen one’s knowledge in the Word of God, said Linda Bradford, DTh., pastor. The Don Bradford Bible College is accredited with AICCS.

    For more information, call Charity Christian Center (225) 272-8252.

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    COMMENTARY: We owe our children the best education possible

    I am a native Washingtonian. I still live on the same street that my parents brought me home to 50 plus years ago. I am a product of D.C. public schools. I began my education prior to integration. I was taught by, in my opinion, the best-prepared teachers in the city. I remember that most of my teachers had masters’ or doctorate degrees and they taught in the field in which they earned their degree. They were highly qualified, dedicated, and allowed no child to be left behind. The principal knew every student by name. She knew our strengths and weaknesses. She made sure that her teachers addressed the individual challenges of each student. I left public school well prepared to face the world.

    Through the years, I have witnessed many changes in both education and community. I have watched my neighborhood demographic change from middle class Black families, to a neighborhood where drug use, unemployment, and the lack of marketable skills has resulted in random acts of violence. Today, my neighborhood is nearly unrecognizable due to gentrification. However, my immediate concern is not growing property taxes or well-intentioned, but ill-informed redevelopment projects. My immediate concern is for the children in my neighborhood, right now; the children struggling to succeed in a rapidly changing environment and an ineffective education system; children who are taught by teachers, who do not relate to their personal struggles and lack the skill set to respond to their individualized needs.

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) addressed many of my concerns in education. The NNPA continues to echo the message that giving parents a voice in how the school system operates is vital to closing the achievement gap. It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers. Unfortunately, high-poverty schools are disproportionally staffed by unprepared, substitute, and out-of-field teachers. Although there are numerous causes for this phenomenon, the fact remains that, ill-prepared teachers undermine student achievement.

    According to an article by Emma Garcia published by the Economic Policy Institute, about eight in 10 poor Black students attend high poverty schools. Garcia found that 81 percent of poor, Black children attend high poverty schools compared to 53.5 percent of their poor White peers. It is also noted that attending a high-poverty school lowers math and reading achievement for students in all racial and ethnic groups. These discrepancies in access to adequate education expand into discrepancies in economic prospects and social mobility.

    ESSA requires states and districts to ensure that low-income students and students of color are not disproportionally taught by ineffective, inexperienced, and out-of-field teachers. ESSA requires state and school district report cards to include the percentage of inexperienced teachers, principals, and other school leaders; teachers with emergency or provisional credentials; and out-of-field teachers. Reporting this data provides states with the comparative data necessary to examine the root causes of inequities. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA changes the distribution formula for funds by requiring that any increase in funding is prioritized to states with high rates of students living in poverty. ESSA has ended the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores. Growing evidence suggests that using student test scores to determine teacher effectiveness is misguided and does not improve instructional practices. ESSA includes a Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program that will provide grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures.

    At some point, we must stop treating our children like widgets. They won’t all fit into a round hole; some of them are square pegs. They all have gifts and talents, but it is difficult to realize potential with a rotating door of teachers and school leaders. The cuts in the federal education budget have targeted teacher training and professional development. We owe our children the best education possible. They are our future.

    Together, we can fulfill the promise of ESSA and ensure that every student succeeds.

    By Lynette Monroe
    NNPA columnist

    Lynette Monroe is a master’s student at Howard University. Her research area is public policy and national development.
    ONLINE: nnpa.org/essa

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    Families believe inequality growing in schools, ESSA plans could worsen laws

    Black families overwhelmingly believe that their schools are underfunded, and that racial inequality is growing, according to a poll conducted by The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Anzalone Liszt Grove Research firm.

    The Leadership Conference Education Fund, which is the education and research arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, developed the poll to “explore how Black and Latino parents and families view the American education system’s success in educating their children,” according to a press release about the survey.

    The poll revealed that 90 percent of Black parents and families believe schools in Black communities are underfunded compared to White communities.

    The poll also showed that almost 75 percent of Black parents and families believe that the education Black students receive is worse than what White students.

    A report about the poll said that, “Among Black parents and family members whose child’s teachers are mostly White, only 42 percent believe that schools are trying their best to educate Black students, 16 points below the share of those whose children have mostly Black teachers.”

    Liz King, the senior policy analyst and the director of education policy for The Leadership Conference Education Fund, said that there has been a lot of research that’s come out lately that suggests an implicit bias that educators, who are mostly White, have towards Black and Latino children.

    The press release stated the findings come at a critically important time for public education in the United States as states are currently developing education plans as part of their obligations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

    “These plans are states’ opportunities to make a clear declaration about their belief in the education of all children and a commitment to ensuring children get the education they deserve,” the press release stated.

    Republicans in the United States Congress continue to chip away at ESSA, making it harder for states to clearly define those commitments.

    In March, Republicans voted to rollback accountability measures established by the Obama Administration, Education Week reported.

    “The Obama-era accountability rules, finalized late last year, set ground rules for how schools must be rated for school-improvement purposes, specified the requirements of (and flexibility for) states dealing with high testing opt-out rates in individual schools, and outlined how states would have to handle the ‘school quality’ indicator in accountability systems,” according to the Education Week blog post.

    Opponents of the Republican-led rules change said, “that the move was unnecessary, would create confusion in states about whether and to what extent their ESSA accountability plans comply with the law, and could endanger crucial protections for disadvantaged students.”

    In the report, researchers with the Leadership Conference Education Fund said that the findings of the “New Education Majority” poll, should be a clarion call for advocates and policy makers who must come to terms with the fact that a successful education policy must be responsive to the needs of Black, Latino and Asian children, who make up a majority of public school students in America.

    Researchers recommended opening the decision-making processes around educational policies to Black and Latino families, especially decisions regarding priorities and funding; integrating implicit bias and cultural responsiveness training into teacher preparation and professional development; preparing, hiring, supporting and retaining strong Black and Latino teachers; designing accountability systems that focus on high academic achievement, especially for Black and Latino children; and supporting and improving any school where Black or Latino children are not being effectively educated.

    Given the context of ESSA implementation, King said that the federal government, states, school districts and schools have a great opportunity to put policies into place that are responsive to the needs and values of the new majority of public school children.

    “We need to ensure that every single school is organized around excellence for every single child,” said King. “Parents in this poll spoke to the value of a state’s rating of a school’s success in educating children well, a central piece of ESSA’s accountability requirements, as well as the need to ensure that educators have the [resources] and preparation to support every child’s success and to overcome historic barriers to opportunity.”

    The “New Education Majority” national poll conducted by The Leadership Conference Education Fund suggests that Black families believe that racial inequality is growing.

    By Bria Nicole Stone
    NNPA Newswire Contributing Writer

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    VC to launch tech programs September 13

    Virginia College in Baton Rouge has launched two new programs: an Electrical Technician diploma program and a Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) technician program. The programs will both launch Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 at the campus located at 9501 Cortana Place.

    The Electrical Technician diploma program can be completed in as little as 48 weeks and/or 12 modules. The program equips students to work with electrical systems, including power, communications, lighting and control systems in environments such as hospitals, retail businesses, commercial buildings and more.

    The new HVACR diploma is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely install, troubleshoot and repair equipment used in the home and light commercial industry. This program also includes preparation for the following certification examinations: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification, Industry Competency Exams (ICE) and North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification.

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    ‘Voices from the Bayou’ pulls powerful, emotional writing from BRCC students

    When Baton Rouge Community College professor Clarence Nero and his teaching colleagues walked into their classrooms for the first time after the tumultuous summer of 2016—a summer that in Baton Rouge had seen the murders of Alton Sterling and innocent police officers as well as historic flood—they had no idea what to expect from students.

    This wasn’t any ordinary semester at Baton Rouge Community College. Many enrolled students had lost their homes due to flooding; most were still reeling from the shootings and the subsequent protests and riots that rocked the capital city. There were students who had been traumatized in ways that defied simple explanations.

    Not only did Nero understand that they were in pain—he had lived with and through the same hellish nightmare that summer—he was determined to let them give expression to their experiences and reactions. Having seen this type of racial tension fuel students’ creativity in the film “Freedom Writers,” based on actual classroom experiences of Erin Gruwell, Nero showed the movie to students in his English classes.voices from the bayou

    The result was an instant connection: the diverse women and men in Nero’s classes identified with the students in Gruwell’s class who had shared stories of frustration and pain growing up in racially hostile, violent communities in South Central Los Angeles.

    Before long, students were sharing their own stories, too, writing narratives and engaging in intense conversations in the classroom around race in south Louisiana. The idea caught on around the college; other professors similarly challenged their students, and the school’s Creative Writing Club members joined in the effort. Students who had begun the semester in varying states of distress were writing powerful and unforgettable accounts of their shared experiences coming of age in the South.

    Voices from the Bayou was born: a collection of heartwarming and heartbreaking narratives told by college students who bravely put it all on the line during a time when our country is most divided, after a contentious presidential election. Their courageous stories of dealing with racism, the police, and the flood in Baton Rouge will leave an indelible impression, reminding readers that our young people are ever watching and their voices must be heard and studied for peace and humanity’s survival.

    The BRCC Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit, has generously aided in the publication of this collection of student narratives. All proceeds from sales of this book will go towards the foundation; in turn, the foundation will help the students who participated in this project continue their education, will assist BRCC faculty with professional development, will facilitate student programming at the college and at literary events for high school students, and will provide scholarship funding for future BRCC students.

    ONLINE: MYBRCC.edu/foundation

     

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    EBRP Schools’ Michelle Clayton moves to online K-12 charter

    University View Academy Superintendent Lonnie Luce announced the appointment of Michelle Clayton, former deputy superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish School System, as the new associate superintendent of innovation and interim K-8 principal for the online K-12 charter school.

    Clayton graduated of LSU and earned a Ph.D. from Southern University and A&M College. The former teacher also served as executive director of academics for the Zachary Community School District.

    Luce said Clayton is now part of his dream team of educators to lead University View Academy into being a K-12 charter school in which every student in every parish of the state has the opportunity to gain a quality public education from day one to graduation, and earn two years towards a college degree by graduation time if they so desire.

    She will direct implementation of the school’s new curriculum as K-8 Principal and assist the Superintendent with comprehensive data analysis and planning so that the staff and students unite to achieve greater academic performance in all subjects.

    Mandy LaCrete

    Mandy LaCrete

    Recently, the school added Mandy LaCerte from Baton Rouge Community College as its director of early college and workforce development to manage the school’s growing two-year associate’s degree program. LaCrete was also a founding board member of Apex Collegiate Academy in North Baton Rouge. Shana Corers was named interim high school principal.University View Academy starts the 2017-2018 school year as an independently managed statewide charter school, after being affiliated with Connections Education of Baltimore for six years.

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    C.H.E.F. Youth Cooking Camp starts July 24

    The Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus, in collaboration with the LSU AgCenter, will sponsor its “Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods” (C.H.E.F.) youth cooking camp for youth ages 9-11 on July 10-14 and for ages 12-15 on July 24-28.

    The C.H.E.F. cooking camp is designed to teach youth basic cooking principles and nutrition education based on the USDA’s, “MyPlate” food guidance system and Dietary Guidelines.CHEF CAMP REGISTRATION FORM

    Each day, participants will work together to create an entire meal while learning healthy eating and physical activity principles, food preparation, kitchen and food safety, common cooking terms, proper food handling, measuring techniques, critical thinking and team building skills, planning and time management.

    Both sessions will be held on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus in Pinkie E. Thrift Hall from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Only 12-16 participants will be accepted for each session. Participants are required to bring a bag lunch and healthy snack each day.

    Registration for the camp is $25 and must be accompanied with a completed registration form and mailed to: C.H.E.F., Nutrition Education Program, Southern University Ag Center, P. O. Box 10010, Baton Rouge, LA 70813. Payment must be made in the form of a money order payable to the Southern University Ag Center.
    The deadline to apply for both camp sessions is Friday, June 30th.

    To enroll or for additional information, contact Kiyana Kelly or Marquetta Anderson at 225.389.3055 or via e-mail at, kiyana_kelly@suagcenter.com or marquetta_anderson@suagcenter.com

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    College offers high school diploma for free

    VIRGINIA COLLEGE ANNOUNCES HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA PROGRAM IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PENN FOSTER TO OFFER COMMUNITY MEMBERS ACCESS TO POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION 

    Virginia College in Baton Rogue has established a  High School Diploma Program  where students can earn an accredited high school diploma at one of 11 Virgina College campuses across the country in as little as 12 weeks and at no cost. Since the program began in January 2017, the Baton Rouge campus has enrolled 20 students, with four already completing the program and graduating with their diplomas – three of those graduates went on to enroll at Virginia College.

    The program is designed for students who have previously faced challenges completing their high school diploma or GED but who are interested in earning a high school diploma as a step toward a new career or further vocational training. Transfer credits will be awarded for comparable high school subjects where a full credit has been earned. Penn Foster also accepts transfer credits from a GED.

    “We are proud to partner with Penn Foster to offer this program at our campus,” says Campus President Bill Wells. “Through the High School Diploma Program, we are uniquely able to equip and empower students, regardless of their situation, to prioritize their education and take the necessary steps toward becoming the leaders, employees and business owners of tomorrow.”

    Students enrolled in the High School Diploma Program work directly with an experienced instructor every step of the way. The program requires students to dedicate a minimum of 12 hours each week to on-campus classwork, and allows for any additional to be completed remotely. These flexible class times and schedules allow many students to still maintain a job while earning their diplomas, accommodating a variety of situations and lifestyles.

    Upon completing the High School Diploma Program and earning a high school diploma, students are given an opportunity to enroll at Virginia College to begin vocational training and work toward a certificate, diploma or degree through any of its various programs.

    ONLINE: www.vc.edu/locations/batonrouge/ or call (225) 236-3900. For more information about the High School Diploma Program, .

     

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    Summer reading program kicks off in Tangipahoa

    Tangi Library will kick-off its summer reading program following the theme of building and construction using the slogan, “Build a Better World.” Through the program, the library aims to combat summer learning loss by offering dynamic, entertaining and educational programs for children, teens, and adults.

    The program is open to all ages, separated into age categories from birth to 7 years old, 7-12 years old, 12-18 years old, and adults. Everyone that signs up for the program will have a chance to win prizes based on the number of minutes read throughout the summer. The process includes reading yourself or reading to your child, going online and logging minutes, then receiving prizes every time a new benchmark has been reached.

    Along with all of these great prizes, the library will also host entertaining guests to come in and perform. “For our summer kick-off parties, we will have “Lady Chops,” percussionist Elizabeth Vidos sure to bring music to your ears at all of our library locations. Lady Chops is a former STOMP percussionist that provides a quality show with information about different instruments , techniques of playing music, and little bit of a background about her life as a performer. All library locations will have new guests every week in June and July including a petting zoo, a trained dance troupe, stage productions of Beauty and the Beast and Pinocchio, a balloon artist extraordinaire, a magician, and more,” said Laura Brooks Thomas, M.A., community relations coordinator, Tangipahoa Parish Library.

    All of these performances are free and open to the public.

    thumbnail_SRP - Photo ChallengeTo get everyone really engaged in the Summer Reading Program, Tangi library invites the public to participate in our social media challenge. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share photos every day for the month of June that fit into the theme, BUILD A BETTER WORLD! With the key below, check and see what the theme of the day is and capture a picture that illustrates the theme. Remember, when doing the challenge, be sure to tag the library and use the hashtag #TangiReadTeam and share all of the amazing things going on at your local library. Join us in building a better world through reading at Tangi Library!

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    Southern’s college government to offer additional international studies in policy, finance and business

    Southern University’s newly formed Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences will introduce a new curriculum, programs and international opportunities this summer. Previously known as the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, the school was upgraded at the beginning of 2017, and it is the only college of government in the state.

    “Our goal is to become more expansive and create additional opportunities for our student body and faculty,” said Damien Ejigiri, PhD, dean of the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences. “The curriculum now extends beyond foreign government relationships and presents recruitment and academic connections with African countries.”

    In addition to international opportunities, the new curriculum will have a stronger emphasis on government issues and relationships within the state and southern region. The college has also formed a partnership with the Southern University College of Business to introduce a new Ph.D. program with a concentration in finance and business. Students from the College of Business will be able to earn dual degrees from the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences.

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Mninwa J. Mahlangu

    Ejigiri has established a relationship with the South African Ambassador to the United States, Mninwa J. Mahlangu, who has openly declared the forging of a connection between the College and South African government. The South African diplomat rededicated the college on behalf of the late Nelson Mandela on the campus of Southern University in May. After the ceremony, Mahlangu and Ejigiri discussed leading efforts to establish exchange programs and training opportunities within multiple South African universities. The relationship will also connect the college to South African companies to establish recruitment efforts for graduates. Furthermore, faculty will be encouraged to visit the country to discuss best practices and further develop valuable connections.

    “The mission of the College is to attract and educate men and women from across the globe who will matriculate with the spirit of service, superb competence and employability skills needed in the market, and who further will acquire the uncompromising spirit to fight for justice and equality,” said Jocelyn Freeman, Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences professor.

    ONLINE: www.subr.edu.

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    Young Investors plan for future financial growth with local bank

    Fourth grade students at Glen Oaks Park Elementary School and their parents will soon learn the value of using even small savings to invest in tomorrow’s goals. These 66 Baton Rouge students are the in the inaugural class of Young Investors Children Savings Account Pilot Project class of LABEST.

    “As I crossed the threshold, I overheard a suited man talking to some students clad in their collared uniform shirts and holding brightly colored plastic piggy banks. He said, ‘Feed the pig and we’ll put interest on that…free money! Now, that’s what I’m talking about!’,” said Carmen Green, a policy fellow with the Louisiana Budget Project.

    The Children Savings Account is an initiative of The Middleburg Institute in collaboration with LABEST, a statewide coalition of organizations seeking to influence public polices and improve the lives of low wealth communities over a lifetime. TMI established the Young Investors elementary school savings project with support and research provided by Howard University Center on Race & Wealth, Washington University in St Louis, CFED and the Ford Foundation Building Economic Security over a Lifetime Initiative (BESOL). The Project teaches students the importance of savings and how to develop habits of making money, saving money, and spending wisely.

    Young Investors will raise money to deposit into the accounts. In addition to the personal deposits that students and their parents can make, the Young Investors will try their hand at entrepreneurship. They will engage in monthly fundraising activities for regular deposits so they can witness their accounts grow.

    The Young Investor’s program is partnering with Rhonda Jefferson and Lorraine Oubre, owners of Grandma Tootsie’s Creole Pralines. They plan to make and assist in selling pralines to raise money. In house, Young Investors may be “hired” as tellers in the school bank, and oversee daily accounting.

    The program features financial literacy coaches, professionals, and advisors including those from Edward Jones, Junior Achievement, and local banks who are available to students and parents during monthly learning opportunities.

    Alarian Brown, 10, already has ideas on money management. “With all the money I get, I want to save more,” she said. “I’ll keep it in the bank and when it comes to stuff I need, I’ll get it out.”

    Alarian, who has plans to be an orthodontist, is looking forward to the fundraising aspects of the program, including selling lemonade and pralines.

    That “free money” did not grow on some special cash tree. Financial advocacy group LABEST, The Middleburg Institute, and Gulf Coast Bank partnered to set the students up with a real savings account; each with $40 seed money. State Rep. Rick Edmonds ‘pledged a donation to the Young Investors program increasing the seed money for each enrolled student.

    As a member of the legislative education committee, Edmonds is well aware of the disinvestment in education and equality in the state and took his commitment to another level, said James. He plans to bring the students to the capital for a Young Investors Day this spring. This will give them exposure to state government.

    “As children and parents learn more about money management, it is our hope that this will influence change in behaviors as it relates to investing,” said Joyce James, LABEST state director. “Families may create workable budgets and start an emergency fund. We are able to say we changed behavior and increased the financial future for our children.”

    Green explained that these students will be able to grow into young adulthood with a little investment which they can use in high school or college for the ever-increasing tuition and dissipating scholarship opportunities. “Students will start to make the connection between production, cash and government, through exposure to entrepreneurs and local representatives,” she said.

    “I cannot determine the long-term effect on the city of Baton Rouge or on the lives of the students, but I see the potential. It feels like the Black community is brushing off the dust and moving forward,” Green said.

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    Barthelemy named to SUS board

    John L. Barthelemy, of Braithwaite, was appointed to the Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Mr. Barthelemy is a Plaquemines Parish Councilmember and former educator. Mr. Barthelemy was the principal of Phoenix High School for 30 years. After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Isaac, he worked with FEMA to redevelop Phoenix High School. Mr. Barthelemy earned a Masters of Education degree and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Southern University. He will serve as a representative of the 1st Congressional District.

     

     

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    Vote on school tax renewal April 29

    On April 29, voters in East Baton Rouge will determine the 10-year renewal of two property taxes totaling an estimated $42 million over 10 years to improve and maintain salaries of employees and to reduce state receipts to maintain the system. Specifically, voters will say “yes” or “no” to these propositions which state:

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 1 – 7.14 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.: Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of seven and fourteen hundredths (7.14) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $25,437,280 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for improving and maintaining salaries and benefits of public school employees in said District?

    Cons. Sch. Dist. No. 1 Prop. No. 2 – 4.98 Mills Renewal – SB – 10 Yrs.:Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana (the “District”), levy a special tax of four and ninety-eight hundredths (4.98) mills on all the property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $17,741,970 is reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2018, for the purpose of giving additional support to the public elementary and secondary schools in said District by providing funds for the purpose of replacing reduced state and local receipts and operating and maintaining the public school system in said District?

     

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  • Tangipahoa school employees attend conference

    Members of the Tangipahoa Federation of Teachers attended the annual Louisiana Federation of Teachers Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel Conference, April 1 at the Baton Rouge Crowne Plaza Hotel.

    The annual PSRP Conference recognizes the contributions of school support staff. It includes professional development workshops, briefings on important legislative and educational issues, and awards to honor the achievements of members.

    Shown at the conference are, from left, Tonia Conley, Monica Robertson, Jackie Wheeler, TFT President Dina Esquinance, LFT President Larry Carter, Ellender Tillis, Rose Martens, and Pam Lipscomb.

     

    Submitted by Les Landon, Director of Public Relations

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    Baker High School Boys Varsity Basketball Team reaches state playoffs

    Because of their hard work and endurance and in spite of the loss of their school and/or homes as a result of the Great Flood of 2016, the Baker High School Boys Basketball Team participated in the 2017 Allstate Sugar  Bowl/LHSSA Basketball Tournament. With an overall season record of 25-12 and district record of 7-5, the team made it to the quarter finals of the tournament. We look forward to next year’s team making it all the way! Good luck to the team’s graduating seniors in their future endeavors. GO BUFFS!

     By Submitted News

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    Futures Fund rolls out Spring Semester with double attendees

    The Futures Fund began their Spring semester with new and returning students, almost doubling attendance from last year. Organizer said the word is clearly getting out. “If a student between sixth and 12th grade wants to learn photography or coding, this is the place to go, especially if economic barriers would normally keep them from such classes.”

    Each Saturday for eight weeks, students, of either a digital or visual arts discipline, attend early morning workshops lead by some of Baton Rouge’s highest-ranked industry professionals. These teachers not only pass the skills they’ve learned throughout their careers, additionally they become mentors to students who could be labeled as “at risk.”

    “Since the group was together last semester, they came in ready to roll. Some of them already do freelance and brought their freelance questions to the start of class,” said instructor Quinton Jason. This sense of entrepreneurialism is sparked and encouraged throughout the classes. Every skill taught is meant to empower young minds into pursuing their passions.

    “Every Saturday morning, [our] mission is to educate, enrich and empower the young minds that soon will be leading our neighborhoods, cities, and state for years to come,” said program manager Luke St. John McKnight.

    The Spring semester will conclude on May 13 with a student showcase at the BRCC Cypress Building and Magnolia Theatre. Student coding projects will be shown as well as an unveiling of a print gallery created and curated by the photography students.

    ###

    ABOUT THE WALLS PROJECT
    The Walls Project is a unique collaborative effort involving local Baton Rouge groundshakers in business, creative arts, and community development. Although The Walls Project had grassroots beginnings, our core values continue to persevere. Fueled by our mission set in 2012 and by the generous donations gifted to us, The Walls Project has been able to bring social and economical resurgence in underserved areas by delivering community-driven services via staged clean-ups, mural paintings and industry-lead professional classes for students of the community.

     

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    Broome invites public to city-wide dialogue on education, March 21

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is inviting education stakeholders to attend the City Parish’s Inaugural Education Roundtable: City-Wide Dialogue to help close the education gap in our community.

    As part of the roundtable which will be held on March 21, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Members, Metro Council Members, and other educators will come together to share common goals, express challenges, and develop solutions to enhance the educational experiences of our children. Representatives from Southern University, LSU, and Baton Rouge Community College will also participate in the event.

    “While education doesn’t fall directly into my realm of responsibility, it is a very important part of helping to move our City Parish forward,” Broome said.  “My vision for this forum is to help support local systems and boards so all of our students have an opportunity to succeed.”

    The education roundtable will take place at the Raising Cane’s River Center in rooms 9 and 10 from 3:30pm to 7pm. It will include two sessions:

    ·        3:30pm. to 5:15pm, Information sessions will feature speakers discussing various topics including early childhood expansion, higher education connections, and future workforce demands.
    ·        5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., a dialogue between Metro Council and School board members about proactive measures that can be taken to enhance the experiences of our children.

    Members of the audience will also have an opportunity to ask questions or make comments.  Participants should enter the River Center on the St. Louis Street side near the theater.

    Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here: Attend Education Roundtable
     

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    Southern University to observe its 137th Founders’ Day, March 9

    On Thursday, March 9, 2017, Southern University will host its 137th Founders’ Day with activities commemorating its history, honoring employees celebrating 10, 20, 30, and 40 years of service, and recognizing Southern University alumni who are elected officials throughout the state of Louisiana.

     

    This year’s observance of the annual recognition is themed, “Southern University:  Positively Impacting the Community, the State, the Nation, and the World.”

    The public SUBR Founders’ Day celebration will begin with a SU Laboratory School Commemoration at 8:30 a.m. The Community Prayer Brunch/Founders’ Day Convocation begins at 10 a.m. in the F. G. Clark Activity Center, a voter registration drive will be held at the Clark Activity Center service entrance during the convocation, and a SU Founders’ Day Birthday Party at noon in Jaguar Square in front of the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

    In keeping with the celebration of Baton Rouge’s Bicentennial, the 2017 Southern University Founders’ Day observance is scheduled as one of the University’s events to commemorate the founding of Baton Rouge. The city in January celebrated 200 years since its incorporation.

     

    To highlight the special SUBR observance, Sharon Weston Broome, the first female elected mayor-president of Baton Rouge-East Baton Rouge Parish, will serve as the keynote speaker for a mid-morning combination Community Prayer Brunch and Founders’ Day Convocation in the Felton G. Clark Activity Center.

     

    Prior to becoming mayor, Broome served as a Louisiana State Representative (District 29) and a Louisiana State Senator (District 15). While in the legislature, Broome became the first female to hold the leadership position of pro tempore in the House and Senate.

    Over the years, Broome has been recognized for her service and leadership by a number of organizations including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, the American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, Morehouse College – just to name a few.


    “This Founders’ Day commemoration is especially meaningful as we honor the hope and perseverance of early public servants whose brave and historic efforts chartered what was established 137 years ago in the city of New Orleans — Southern University. Their legacy is remembered as we recognize the continuing contributions of many our officeholders whose education was made possible by our Founders,” said Ray L. Belton, SU System president-chancellor.

     

    About the SU System Commemorative History
     

    Delegates P.B.S. Pinchback, T.T. Allain, T.B. Stamps, and Henry Demas sponsored the movement in Louisiana for an equal opportunity institution of higher learning in the 1879 Louisiana State Constitutional Convention. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of this institution for the education of persons of color in New Orleans. Southern University, chartered by Legislative Act 87 in April 1880, had a 12-member Board of Trustees. The act provided for the establishment of a faculty of “arts and letters’ competent in “every branch of liberal education.” The charter sought to open doors of state higher education to all “persons competent and deserving.” Southern opened with 12 students and a $10,000 appropriation. With the passage of the 1890 Morril Act, the University was reorganized to receive land-grant funds.

    In 1912, Legislative Act 118 authorizes the closing of Southern University in New Orleans, the sale of its property, and the reestablishment of the University on a new site. In 1914, the “new” Southern University opened in Scotlandville, Louisiana, receiving a portion of a $50,000 national land-grant appropriation Southern University in New Orleans and Southern University Shreveport were authorized by Legislative Acts 28 and 42 in 1956 and 1964 respectively. The Southern University Board of Supervisors, a management board authorized by the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, was created to govern the Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport campuses. In 1985, the A.A. Lenoir Law School was designated the Southern University Law School.  Dedicated in January 2002, the new Ashford O. Williams Hall is home to the fifth SU System campus, the Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which also is located in Baton Rouge.  

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    Lawmakers attack Obama’s education law

    Educators nationwide are voicing concern following a push by Republicans in Congress to overturn accountability regulations for ESSA which could have far-reaching consequences for how the law works in states.

    Groups supporting the move argue that it would free schools from unnecessary burdens, while opponents contend that overturning the rules could hurt vulnerable students and create turmoil in states and districts trying to finalize their transition to ESSA.

    ESSA, which also reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and ESSA goes into full effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

    Under the 2015 law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, each state will adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools.

    “The ESSA law was established to help increase the effectiveness of public education in every state,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “Our task is to inform, inspire, and encourage parents, students, teachers, and administrators to fulfill the intent and objectives of ESSA with special focus on those students and communities that have been marginalized and underserved by the education system across the nation.”

    Last week, the House of Representatives approved a joint resolution that would overturn ESSA accountability rules issued by the Obama administration.

    Those rules, which became final in November, are intended to detail for states the timeline for addressing underperforming schools, how schools must be rated, the ways English-language learners must be considered in state accountability plans, and other policy issues.

     

    “One of the things that should be included in any modification of ESSA is the fifth criteria for schools which is about school climate,” said Helen Levy-Myers, founder and CEO of Athena’s Workshop, Inc., a texting application for educators. School attendance is often dependent on other factors, like the friendliness of the staff, school leadership, safety of the school and neighborhood, health of the community, and the level of engagement between students and teachers, she said.

    A white paper presented by Levy-Myers noted that the “cold, hard truth is that chronically absent children end up leading harder lives.”

    Students who miss just two or three days each month in kindergarten and first grade never catch up. They become chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year.

    While many Republican lawmakers have moved to strike down the implementation of ESSA, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state school officers around the country that despite a delay, several regulations will be reviewed and changed by March 21.

    DeVos told the officers that state ESSA plans will still be accepted either in April or in September.

    In a memo to state school heads DeVos wrote: “Due to the regulatory delay and review, and the potential repeal of recent regulations by Congress, the Department is currently reviewing the regulatory requirements of consolidated State plans, as reflected in the current template, to ensure that they require only descriptions, information, assurances, and other materials that are absolutely necessary for consideration of a consolidated State plan.”

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    Top summer internship programs announced for 2017

    Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs.

    Nationwide — Many companies and organizations are already announcing that they are accepting applications for their upcoming internship programs. Here’s a list of the top 2017 summer internship programs for African Americans:

    #1 – The NBA Internship Program offers college students an exciting opportunity to use their skills and classroom learning within a national sports environment. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/nba-internship-program.html

    #2 – The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week, full-time, paid summer work opportunity for deserving students with an interest in the NASCAR industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/nascar-diversity-internship-program.html

    #3 – Black Enterprise Internships are designed to provide real-life work experiences for college students interested in a career in the media industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/black-enterprise-internships.html

    #4 – The NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship offers an opportunity for a minority, female college student to be chosen for a unique two-year internship program. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/ncaa-ethnic-minority-and-womens.html

    #5 – The Minority Access Internship Program offers spring, summer and fall internships for college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduates and professionals. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/minority-access-internship-program.html

    #6 – Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internships are available for college students pursuing undergraduate associates or bachelors degrees. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/congressional-black-caucus-foundation.html

    #7 – Explore Microsoft Internship Program is for current college undergraduate minority students pursuing a degree in computer science or software engineering. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/Explore-Microsoft-Internship-Program.html

    #8 – BET Networks Internships provides paid internships for both undergraduate and graduate college students at five different locations.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/bet-networks-internships.html

    #9 – The UNCF/NAACP Gateway to Leadership Internship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship for undergraduate students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/uncf-naacp-gateway-to-leadership-internship-program.html

    #10 – Google Internships is rated No. 1 by Forbes as the best internship opportunity for college students interested in a career in software engineering. Google offers an open culture and rich learning experience as well as good pay. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/02/google-internships_15.html

    #11 – The TV One Internship Program is open to full-time or part-time students attending an accredited college or university with an interest in a career in the media industry. TV One, one of the largest African American cable networks. Internships are offered to undergraduate college students in the Fall, Spring and Summer. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/09/tv-one-internship-program_12.html

    #12 – Oracle offers a 8-week, paid internship for students who attend one of the 39-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The internships help students to gain knowledge and experience in the field of technology. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/oracle-diversity-internships_95.html

    #13 – The National Urban League Summer Internship Program offers internships to students who are interested in a career in the non-profit industry. The program provides an 8-week paid internship for college students in either New York City or Washington, D.C. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/national-urban-league-summer-internship_8.html

    #14 – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) offers internships to minority students interested in pursuing a future career in journalism. Applicants selected for a 10-week internship will be offered positions in print, broadcast or online disciplines at selected news organizations across the country. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2016/11/nabj-internships.html

    #15 – The Essence Communications Internship is a 9-week, paid internship is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in a career in the media industry. Candidates must have a strong interest in issues among African American women.
    Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/10/essence-communications-internship_73.html

    #16 – The Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) offers a full-time summer work experience for college students pursuing a career in advertising. Eligible students must be Asian/Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Multiracial or Multi-ethnic. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/05/multicultural-advertising-intern-program_5.html

    #17 – Merck offers 9-11 week internships are available to college students in the areas of research & development, sales & marketing, information technology, human resources, communications, finance and legal, as well as internships in biology and chemistry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/merck-internships_1.html

    #18 – General Motors offers internships in the areas of communications, finance, information technology, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, health and safety. The internships offer a paid opportunity for students to receive a challenging work experience in the automotive industry. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/04/general-motors-internships_33.html

    #19 – DELL Computers offers 10-12 week internships during the summer for undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of marketing and sales, finance and accounting, IT and more. Internships provide real-world experience for college students while they are still in school. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2014/01/dell-internships_9.html

    #20 – PricewaterhouseCoopers offers more than 700 internships each year across 29 countries for college students majoring in accounting and finance. Students will work with highly skilled professionals and receive a realistic insight into the accounting and finance profession. Learn more at www.findinternships.com/2013/03/pricewaterhousecoopers-internships_67.html

    To view more 2017 minority summer internships, visit:
    www.findinternships.com/search/label/Minorities

    To search hundreds of other 2017 summer internships, visit:
    www.FindInternships.com

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    Small farmers gather for annual conference on innovations, resilience

     Small farmers from throughout the state will gather at the Southern University Ag Center March 16-18 to attend the 7th annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference.

    The three-day conference, themed “Innovations and Resilience for Louisiana Small Family Farms,” is designed to educate, provide expanded awareness of educational opportunities, USDA programs and services and other resources to help small farmers stay in business.

     Registration for the conference is complimentary for anyone who submits their registration form by Friday, March 3. On-site registration will begin at 8am.

     Conference speakers will include Jay Grymes, chief meteorologist at WAFB News Channel 9; Brandon Davis, agriculture labor attorney at Phelps Dunbar, LLC.; Leonard Jordan, associate chief for conservation at the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and Brennan Washington, minority farmer/ outreach specialist at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).

    Session during the conference will include:

    • Drone Demonstrations
    • Grant Writing
    • Soil Health
    • Farm Labor
    • Marketing

    This event is the ideal venue for new and beginning farmers, small and urban farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, backyard gardeners and community based organizations.

    Other events occurring during the conference will include the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and the graduation ceremony for the 2016 Class of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    To register, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/small-farmers or contact Kelli Hollins at 225-771-2242 or e-mail kelli_hollins@suagcenter.com.

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    Southern calls Town Hall to discuss medical marijuana venture

    The Southern University land-grant campus–consisting of the SU Ag Center and College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences–will host a Medical Marijuana Town Hall on Feb. 23, at 2pm in the Southern University Ag Center, A. O. Williams Hall, 181 B. A. Little Drive in Baton Rouge.

    The meeting will provide an overview of the land-grant campus’ medical marijuana venture.

    Potential vendors and the public are invited to attend. Individuals must pre-register to attend the meeting by visiting www.suagcenter.com/townhall.

    The land-grant campus is requesting that all questions from vendors regarding the Medical Marijuana Program be emailed in advance to Janana Snowden, Ph.D., at janana_snowden@suagcenter.com. The deadline to submit questions is at noon on February 21. All questions received will be addressed during the Town Hall.

     

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    BRCC ultrasound students seek volunteers for free exams

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) program at Baton Rouge Community College is seeking volunteers for ultrasound exams. The exams will be conducted by students enrolled in the ultrasound program under the direct supervision of course instructors who are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS).

    All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, with pregnant volunteers being especially desirable. Exams must be scheduled by appointment. To schedule an appointment, or to ask questions, call Mike Beauford at (225) 216- 8046 or Richard Goldsmith at (225) 216-8498. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your first and last name, phone number and state your exam of interest.

    General exams offered include the Abdominal Ultrasound for those who experience pain on the right side after eating. Individuals interested in participating must fast – no food for six hours prior to exam. Obstetric Ultrasounds are available for women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. Volunteers may bring a flash drive to save ultrasound photos. The Carotid Artery Ultrasound is available for those who want to screen for risk of stroke.

    Exams available for interested volunteers who are age 50 and older include the Ultrasound of Arm and/or Leg Arteries to check circulation for PAD -Peripheral Arterial Disease; Ultrasound of Arm and Leg Veins to check veins for leg swelling or varicose veins; and Ultrasound of the Thyroid, the gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.

    For Carotid Artery and Thyroid scans, volunteers should wear shirts with loose collars; for leg scans, volunteers should wear shorts that can be pulled up thigh high; and for arm scans, volunteers should wear T-shirts.

    The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, located at BRCC’s Frazier site, 555 Julia St., Baton Rouge, always seeks volunteers for students to practice exams. Anyone not immediately interested may contact the department for further information.

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    Local Links chapters to announce partnership to support SU

    Two local chapters of The Links, Incorporated will come together to officially announce a partnership with Southern University through the national organization’s Historically Black Colleges And Universities (HBCU) Initiative.

    Officers of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated will make a formal announcement of a collaboration that will support the University in increasing graduation rates, providing scholarships, and promoting STEM programs, Tuesday, January 31, 9 am, in the Donald C. Wade House on the Baton Rouge campus.

    “Institutions of higher education have a vested interest in building strong relationships with organizations that serve to build a better community. Southern University welcomes the opportunity to partner with The Links in furthering our mutual goals to strengthen HBCUs,” said Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. president-chancellor, Southern University and A&M College.

    The Links, Incorporated’s HBCU Initiative focuses on addressing the critical needs of the community through transformational programming to increase high school and college graduation rates, awarding college scholarships and endowments, and promoting and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

    The program features hosting HBCU college fairs and other events in each geographic region, promoting and encouraging connections with an HBCU and its STEM programs, mentoring and recruiting students to attend and complete HBCUs, identifying opportunities to support faculty research and/or professional development, and contributing to the sustainability of HBCU institutions.

    “As an organization committed to community service, The Links of the Baton Rouge area are excited to come together in support of one of the nation’s premier historically black universities,” said Yolanda Dixon and Paula Clayton, presidents of the Baton Rouge and La Capitale Chapters of The Links, Incorporated, respectively.

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    Elementary schools, Kids Orchestra create harmony

    15 Kids Orchestra Trumpets

    Baton Rouge’s Kids Orchestra is the largest elementary-age after school music program in the country. Last month, elementary students from Brownfields Magnet, Ryan Elementary, and J.K. Haynes Charter ensembles of wind and percussion instruments during their combined Neighborhood Concert.

    Now in its fifth year, Kids’ Orchestra provides opportunities for 800 kindergarten through fifth graders to study instrument and perform in an orchestra or sing in a choir. Students are given instruments on loan for the school year after paying a modest tuition.

    In group settings, kindergarten and first graders are introduced to musical concepts in the Foundations class. Second through fifth graders choose and study instruments in brass, percussion, strings and woodwinds. Vocal education and theory are essential in the K-6 choir program.
    15 Kids Orchestra main photo

    Kids’Orchestra offers mentorship, tutoring and homework help, and a healthy snack at each session to ensure each child is prepared for success regardless if they pursue music once graduating from our program.

    Each student has the opportunity to perform in Neighborhood Concert Series, while honors level students perform during Kids’ Orchestra three orchestras, two choirs, and special community performances.

    Kids’ Orchestra’s mission is to bring children of all cultures and backgrounds together using music education as a vehicle to foster teamwork, develop understanding and emphasize excellence.

    The program is modeled after the principles of El Sistema: fostering teamwork and understanding, crossing economic barriers, emphasizing excellence, and learning instrumental skills and brotherhood within the orchestral system.

    15 Kids Orchestra FlutesRecent research has shown that quality music instruction impacts academic achievement. Kids’ Orchestra offers high quality, standards-based music education designed to improve lifelong learning.

    Photos by Yusef Davis

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    School rep from flooded district meets with principals, partners to ‘move forward’

    EBR school board representative Dawn Chanet Collins hosted a New Year’s reception for the principals in East Baton Rouge Parish School System, District 4, with more than 50 residents and community stakeholders present on Jan. 18.

    Collins said participation in this Moving District 4 Forward event was “better than anticipated…The purpose of the event was to begin building a strong relationship between the schools in the area and the community – the village – because that is the only way the schools will truly prosper,” she said.

    “I promise to bring this type of event to the district at least once a year.  It’s so important.  Many parents in this area would like to see these schools enhanced so that some of the best programs the district has to offer are right here in their own back yards.  Right now, many parents feel compelled to send their kids to options on the other side of town,” Collins said.  “I’m excited about moving forward, and I believe this is something Superintendent Drake is eager to do as well.”

    Some highlights from the meeting included attendees being made aware that though both North Louisiana and South Louisiana experienced cataclysmic flooding in 2016, the Louisiana Department of Education has not made any provisions to accommodate students who have not been able to prepare for the state’s first mandatory computer-based testing this Spring. Drake has already reached out to the state for a waiver, and State Senator Regina Ashford-Barrow committed to working with her colleagues to address the issue.

    Some attendees committed to assisting District 4  schools by donating books and revisiting a partnership with Belair High to bring back the DECA Club.  “I know other partnerships will soon follow,” Collins said.

    image

    Dawn Collins, EBRP School Board Rep


    The district includes Belair High School, Brookstown Middle Magnet, Greenbrier Elementary, Howell Park Elementary, La Belle Aire Elementary, Northdale Superintendent’s Academy, Park Forest Elementary, Park Forest Middle, and Villa Del Rey Elementary. Six of them were damaged by the August 2016 flood.

    City Councilpersons Donna Collins-Lewis, Erika Green, and LaMont Cole; business owners Jason Gardner of Vivid Images, Jeremy Jackson of State Farm Insurance, and Denise Harris of REMAX Preferred Choice; public education advocates Rev. Reginald Pitcher and Anthony Troy Dennis; Johnny Anderson, deputy chief of staff for Governor John Bel Edwards; and Darlene Fields, Congressman Cedric Richmond’s representative for the Baton Rouge area attended the event at Baby Dolls Café on Greenwell Springs Road.

    Collins said she is planning to host meetings specifically for parents and caregivers who reside in or send their children to schools in District 4.

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    Conference focused on special education starts Jan 30

    The Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children (LaCEC) will host its annual Super Conference on January 30-31, 2017, at the Cajundome Convention Center located at 444 Cajundome Blvd. in Lafayette, LA. The title of this year’s Super Conference is “To the Classroom and Beyond!” The program will include outstanding speakers for general and special educators, families, students, administrators, related service providers, paraprofessionals and postsecondary educators.

    First Lady Donna Edwards and Bambi Polotzola, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs, will present the LaCEC awards during the Super Conference.

    Click here for more information about Super Conference and to register.

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    Officers installed on SU System Board

    The Southern University and A&M College System Board of Supervisors installed officers for 2017 and held a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed members during its regular monthly meeting, Jan 6.

    Chairwoman Ann A. Smith and vice chairman Rev. Donald R. Henry, who were elected during the annual officers’ election in November 2016, were installed as the new officers for the governing board for the only historically black college and university system in America.

    Smith is a retired school educator and administrator in Tangipahoa Parish, member of the Louisiana School Board Association, and former member of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board.

    Henry represents the 2nd Congressional District. He is a planning and scheduling professional at Noranda Alumina, LLC; and co-owner of DRH Consulting Group, LLC in Gramercy.

    Taking the oath of office for the SU Board were two newly appointed members and three reappointed members named by Governor Edwards, December 30, 2016.

    “I salute the long-standing members of the Board for their great and unselfish service to the Southern University System and congratulate those members who have been reappointed who will continue in service. I genuinely look forward to working with you as we advance the mission of the Southern University System,” said SU System President Ray L. Belton.

    Sworn in on the 16-member board that serves to manage and supervise the SU System were:

    Leroy Davis, of Baker, is a retired professor and dean of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Additionally, Davis is a former mayor and councilman of the City of Baker. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a master of science degree from the University of Illinois, and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. He will serve as a representative of the 2nd Congressional District.

    Richard T. Hilliard, of Shreveport, is a senior engineer and business consultant at the Maintowoc Company, Incorporated. Hilliard received a bachelor of science degree from Georgia Technological University and a master of science degree from Walsh College. He will serve as a representative of the 4th Congressional District.

    Domoine D. Rutledge, of Baton Rouge, is an attorney and general counsel of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. He is a former national president of the Southern University Alumni Federation and the current president and chairman of the Southern University System Foundation Board of Directors. Rutledge received a bachelor of arts degree and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center. He will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    Smith, of Kentwood, received a bachelor of science degree and a master of science in education from Southern University. She will serve as a representative of the 5th Congressional District.

    Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., of Lake Charles, is the pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Bishop College and a master of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary. He has also received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary and Christian Bible College and an honorary doctorate degree from Temple Bible College. Rev. Tolbert will serve as an at-large member on the board.

    The Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College is vested with the responsibility for the management and supervision of the institutions of higher education, statewide agricultural programs, and other programs which comprise the Southern University System. Members serve six-year terms appointed by the governor.

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    Families Helping Families of Jefferson offers free online webinars

    Families Helping Families of Jefferson, through its statewide program Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center, invites you to register and attend their free webinars full of rich content. A webinar event is viewed right from your computer, where you can watch, listen and have the option to post questions and get live responses. Webinars are offered on various days and at various times.

    Some of the webinar topics in January are Extended School Year (ESY) Services, Legal Status and Capacity – What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter, EEOC Basic Overview of the Laws, Understanding the Important Difference Between Accommodations & Modifications, Seizure Recognition and First Aid for Families, IDEA: What You Need to Know, Expanded SSI Application Window for Foster Kids, Be Your Own Self-Advocate, Understanding 504, and Individualized Education Program (IEP): A Blueprint for Student Success (for Children and Youth Ages 3-21).

    For a full listing of webinars, visit fhfjefferson.org

    and then click on “What‘s Going On” to choose a topic and register.

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    Baton Rouge charter pushes to remain open

    When Jonathan Hage traveled to Baton Rouge following the August flood, the Charter School USA director’s first concerns were his teachers’ and students’ well-being. Along with his wife and other executives, Hage brought hope and money—each teacher received $500. “It’s not money. It’s love,” Sherry Hage told the teachers. “We want you to know that you’re loved and cared for.”

    The gesture was especially generous for the teachers who had lost property and possessions. Their support came as a result of their employment at the Baton Rouge Charter Academy at Mid-City. “These are our teachers; these are our kids,” Jonathan Hage said. “This is honestly the best part about what we do.”

    But now, the mid-city charter and its teachers face a formidable challenge to save the school.

    After three years with performance scores less than 40, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education denied the charter renewal request and will close the school under its state charter in May 2017. Even amid strong support for the school, BESE voted against allowing BRCA an additional year to show improvement. BESE members Jada Lewis and Kathey Edmonston formally objected to the closure. School officials have said performance scores will raise with more time, dedicated resources, and its new principal, Tale’ Lockett.

    “They (parents and administrators) are all on board to make sure we have enough time to continue our success,” said Lockett in a Dec. 6 video. “We’re going to make that mark with continued support.” In order to do so, charter administrators have to convince the local school board to allow the school to re-open, or transfer, as a Title 2 charter under the governance of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. It’s sister school, South Baton Rouge Charter Academy, is already an EBRP charter.

    BRCA has 80 teachers and more than 650 students who would relocate if the transfer isn’t successful. Then, students and their parents would choose to return to their previous public school or select another charter to attend. Middle school students in the attendance zone of Baton Rouge Charter Academy would have four EBR middle schools to attend: Capitol, Park Forest, JK Haynes, and Scotlandville Pre-Engineering. They would also have a choice between Celerity Lanier and Celerity Crestworth or tuition-based private schools. (School performance scores are available at http://www.louisianabelieves.com/data/reportcards/2016 )

    “Statistically, many of these students attempt to return to the public system,” said former BESE representative Carolyn Hill. “There will be an aggressive push to move these students into other state-governed charters and other management groups…it’s about the money. But, this management group has the most resources to help the students.”

    “It is a good thing that this charter management group is trying to unify with EBR,” Hill said. “A collaboration between this charter—which was once a state charter— and East Baton Rouge Parish Schools would set a precedence statewide and even nationally that says, ‘we are willing to step in and work in partnership to ensure that these children get what they need to succeed’.”

    “I believe in local schools controlled by local communities,” Edmundson told the Baton Rouge Business Report earlier this year. “If the locals want a charter and the local board has responsibility, that makes me feel a lot more comfortable.”

    That comfort comes from the local district’s ability to provide additional resources to students including special education services like speech pathology, free lunch programs, shared transportation, and more teacher stability.

    “It’s not about a charter movement. Merging together will be a success story, nationwide,” Hill said. “These parents should keep fighting for their children. I would tell each of them, ‘Let the growth in your child be the determining factor‎’.”

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    Perkins named ULSystem chair

    Alejandro Raeshod Perkins has been elected to chairman of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The ULSystem is the largest higher education system in the state with more than 90,000 students and nine universities: Louisiana Tech, Grambling, University of Louisiana at Monroe, University of  Louisiana Lafayette, McNeese University, Nicholls State University, University of New Orleans, Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University. Jim Henderson, Ph.D., was elected System President.

    Perkins is a law partner at Hammonds, Sills, Adkins, and Guice, LLC. He was recently appointed by the National Bar Association as Deputy General Counsel. He is a Louisiana Arts and Science Museum Board Member, National Annual Fund Chair for Xavier University, and Vice President of the Xavier University Alumni Association-Baton Rouge Chapter.

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    Toldson named ‘most influential’

    Ivory Toldson, Ph.D., has been named one of the 30 Most Influential Forensic Psychologists by Emergency Management Degree Program Guide. He completed a doctorate in counseling psychology from Temple University and later became a forensic psychologist at the United States Penitentiary. His dissertation focused on black men in the criminal justice system. His ongoing work includes research regarding misled media statistics and the link between Black males to crime and their ability to learn. The Baton Rouge native is executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is also editor of the Journal of Negro Education.

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