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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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    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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    DOTD announces public hearings

    A series of Public Hearings will be held in accordance with LA R.S. 48:231 and conducted by the Joint Transportation, Highways, & Public Works Committee. Below is a list of the times and places where the hearings will be held. The purpose of the hearings is to review highway construction priorities for the fiscal year 2017-2018. A copy of the Preliminary Program for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be available for review by interested persons at the LADOTD Headquarters Building, 1201 Capitol Access Road, Room 200U, Baton Rouge, LA 70802 or at http://wwwsp.dotd.la.gov/Inside_LADOTD/Divisions/Multimodal/Transportation_Planning/Highway_
    Priority/Pages/default.aspx.

    All interested persons are invited for the purpose of becoming fully acquainted with the proposed program and will be afforded an opportunity to express their views. Oral testimony may be supplemented by presenting important facts and documentation in writing. Written statements and comments should be handed to the committee conducting the Hearing, or mailed to the following address, postmarked within 30 calendar days following the Hearing:

    JOINT HIGHWAY PRIORITY CONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE
    C/O LA DOTD (SECTION 85)
    P.O. BOX 94245
    BATON ROUGE, LA 70804-9245

    Should anyone requiring special assistance due to a disability wish to participate in this public hearing, please contact LADOTD (Attn: Ms. Mary Elliott) by mail at the address above or by telephone at (225) 379-1218 at least five days prior to the date of the public hearing.

    LEGISLATIVE PUBLIC HEARINGS
    FOR THE HIGHWAY PRIORITY CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM (2017-2018)

    October 10, 2016 – at 10am, Franklin Media Center, 7293 Prairie Road, Winnsboro
    DOTD District 58, Serving Parishes: Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, LaSalle, and Tensas

    October 10, 2016 – at 2 pm, Monroe City Hall, Council Chambers, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway, Monroe
    DOTD District 05, Serving Parishes: E. Carroll, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Union, and W. Carroll

    October 11, 2016 – at 8:30 am, Bossier Civic Center, Bodcau Room, 20 Benton Rd, Bossier City
    DOTD District 04, Serving Parishes: Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Desoto, Red River, and Webster

    October 11, 2016 – at 2:30 pm, England Airpark, James L. Meyer Commercial Terminal Conference Room, 1515 Billy Mitchell Blvd., Alexandria
    DOTD District 08, Serving Parishes: Avoyelles, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Vernon, and Winn

    October 12, 2016 – at 8:30 am, Lake Charles Civic Center, Contraband Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles
    DOTD District 07, Serving Parishes: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis

    October 12, 2016 – at 2 pm, Lafayette Consolidated Government City Hall Council Chambers, 705 W. University Avenue, Lafayette
    DOTD District 03, Serving Parishes: Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion

    October 17, 2016 – 9:30 am, New Orleans Regional Transportation Management Center, Conference Room A/B, #10 Veterans Memorial Blvd, New Orleans
    DOTD District 02, Serving Parishes: Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and Terrebonne

    October 17, 2016 – 2:30 pm, Southeastern Louisiana University, University Center Room 133, 800 W University Ave, Hammond
    DOTD District 62, Serving Parishes: Livingston, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington

    October 18, 2016 – 9am, State Capitol Basement, House Committee Room 1, Baton Rouge
    DOTD District 61, Serving Parishes: Ascension, Assumption, E. Baton Rouge, E. Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. James, W. Baton Rouge, and W. Feliciana

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  • Brown to lead SU Ag center

    The Southern University Board of Supervisors has named Adell Brown Jr., Ph.D., interim chancellor for the SU Ag Center effective July 1, 2015.  Brown served as Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and currently as Vice Chancellor for Research and Executive Vice-Chancellor.

    Brown has more than 42 years of experience in higher education and agriculture, with 39 of those years at Southern University.
    He has held several positions within the SU Ag Center and the SU Baton Rouge (SUBR) campus. These positions included Adjunct Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance in the College of Business; Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at the SU Ag Center; Associate Specialist and Specialist/Extension Economist; Assistant Administrator and Specialist for Agriculture; Acting Administrator and Assistant County Agent for the Cooperative Extension Program at SUBR. He also served as Small Farm Coordinator for the College of Agriculture at SUBR.

    Apart from of his employment with the Southern University System, Brown has been Vice President for Research, Planning, Community and Economic Development and Tenured Associate Professor in Business for the College of Business at Mississippi Valley State University;  Program Manager for the USDA’s Cooperative State Research Services Office of Small-Scale Agriculture in Washington D.C.; USDA visiting professor for Farmer Home Administration and  Research/Teaching Assistant for the Department of Agricultural Economics at Louisiana State University.
    He is also the immediate past president/chair of the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Baton Rouge, a non-profit organization where African-American males assume roles of community leadership, responsibility, and guidance to enhance the lives of youth.
    Brown earned a bachelor of science in agricultural business from Northeast Louisiana University, a master of business administration with a concentration in management and finance from the University of Southwest Louisiana and a doctorate in agricultural dconomics with concentrations in Production Economics, Statistics and Management from Louisiana State University.
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    COMMENTARY: When different is the same in EBR schools

    Our Schools Our Excellence, an initiative of MetroMorphosis, which the Rev. Raymond Jetson created in Baton Rouge, is a great example of a different approach to addressing the educational needs of our children. The initiative was founded on the principle that every child deserves an excellent education.

    Sadly, every child is not getting an excellent education. Students within the same school districts-even students in the same building-are not receiving an excellent education. This is especially the case in magnet and charter schools in districts where many of the traditional public schools are considered “failing.”

    In the East Baton Rouge School District, most of the majority minority schools in North Baton Rouge are considered failing. At the same time, new charter schools are cropping up across the parish. There is a highly sought after magnet school, Baton Rouge Magnet High School, in the district that is popular, in part, because of the many advanced placement course offerings. The school is 38 percent White and about 43 percent Black. About 34% of students receive free or reduced lunch. The school district is about 45 precent Black and over 80 percent of students qualified for free or reduced lunch as if October 2014, before recent changes making all students in the district eligible.

    Another magnet school, Lee High Magnet School, which is in year two of transiting from a failed traditional public school to a magnet school, is increasing in popularity because of a focus on science, engineering, and math, and dual enrollment courses with the state’s flagship institution, among other reasons. Traditional public schools either offer no such classes or dual enrollment classes with Baton Rouge Community College.

    As Lee High Magnet continues to transition, many minority students who survived the turbulent first year may get to the mountain top, but seeing the promised land is doubtful. They are in a “different” situation than many in their cohort who were ill-prepared to maintain the required grade point average and were ultimately sentenced to serving out the remainder of their high school careers in failing neighborhood schools. The students who survived will not have access to all the promised technological changes, internships, additional course offerings, etc. as these will be phased in for new cohorts. For example, new cohorts are scheduled to enjoy Chrome Books with e-versions of all required textbooks and older cohorts will continue to haul around heavy and costly textbooks in new aged buildings that don’t have lockers or desks where books can be stored.

    EBR schools are not alone in these regards. Administrators of magnet and charter schools in districts with “failing” schools across the country apparently read from the same script, which requires the repeated use of the term, “different.” Magnet and charter schools, the administrators often contend, will have “different” curriculum, or produce “different” results, when compared with traditional public schools, when in fact, many of these schools represent more of the “same.”

    The schools represent the perpetuation of an unjust system that privileges some people, and is at the same time a continued source of misery and despair for others, especially people of color and the poor. The celebration of “difference” is in many ways an indictment of the quality of education available to communities of color and the poor. It is also an acknowledgement of the existence of a two-tiered system, which prepares some for success and citizenship while simultaneously reminding others of their place in a social institution, and in the broader society, that perpetuates inequality all the while extolling the virtues of fairness and justice.

    It’s time to take off the blindfolds and throw out the pacifier that is privilege.

    According to these administrators of choice schools, considered by some the mouthpieces of a misguided movement to use public schools as a profit generating machine, parents with children in their schools should feel grateful that their children have the opportunity to enjoy a “different” academic experience. On the contrary, parents, community leaders, school administrators, teachers, elected officials, etc. everywhere should all feel the “same” moral outrage. Our Schools Our Excellence got it right. “Every” child deserves an excellent education and no one should turn a blind eye to the injustices that are preventing the initiative’s rallying cry from becoming a reality.

    Lori Martin, Ph.D.

    Lori Martin, Ph.D.

    By Lori Latrice Martin
    Guest Columnist


    Lori Latrice Martin, Ph.D., is associate professor of sociology and African American Studies. She is the author of Big Box Schools: Race, Education, and the Danger of the Wal-Martization of Public Schools in America.

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  • COMMENTARY: Nearly half Black female teens have STD

    Forty-Eight percent of Black female teens have a sexually transmitted disease.

    The above figure is not a new statistic. My concern is that it has become the norm and is unacceptable. One fourth of White female teens have an STD. That figure would be a little more acceptable. Is the Black community in denial? Do we feel it’s okay if almost half our female teens have an STD? When I speak nationwide to youth, many of them tell they are virgins. I then ask how can you be a virgin with an STD? They then tell me it was oral or anal sex which they feel did not violate their virginity.

    Were you aware that the leading cause of death in the Black community is abortion? Each day, 1,786 Black children are aborted. Can you imagine 52% of Black pregnancies are aborted? Again, this not a new statistic, my concern like with STDs, is that it has become acceptable. Are 52% of all pregnancies aborted acceptable to you? Has abortion become the new form of birth control?

    Blacks are 13% of the U.S. population male and female. I would expect Black females to be 13% of females in America who are HIV positive. The reality is that Black females are 64% of the women in America who are HIV positive. Again this is not a new statistic. Are you okay and accepting of the fact that 64% of all women in America who are HIV positive just happen to be Black? Has this become the norm? Is that our reality? Are Black people in denial? Have all the statistics made us numb?

    How can we reduce these statistics? While writing Raising Black Girls, I discovered that Black girls start puberty before anyone else. They start at eight years and eight months while White girls start at 9.7. Black girls also start their menstrual earlier than anyone else at 12.06. Whites start at 12.88. In writing the book, I wanted to understand why. I discovered a relationship between puberty, menstruation and sexual activity. In addition, I also found a relationship between puberty, diet, exercise, body mass index and being breast fed.

    I want to close with a positive statistic seldom if ever is mentioned. There are thousands of Black girls who wear chastity rings and have taken the oath of abstinence until marriage. I salute and applaud you!

    By Jawanza Kunjufu, Ph.D.

    image

    By Jawanza Kunjufu, Ph.D.

    Excerpt from Raising Black Girls and Educating Black Girls

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