Why Music Education is Essential for Underserved Schools

By Taryn Finley, HuffPost Black Voices

Sway Calloway knows firsthand the life lessons kids receive while learning to play instruments.

Mastering the song flute, clarinet and alto saxophone fostered a love for music that he eventually turned into a career as one of the most well-known hip-hop journalists today.

“What I learned from music is a lot about melody and that’s how I communicate,” the Oakland native told HuffPost, citing his interview strategy. “I learned a lot about rhythm and as I got older, I learned how to make that translate into social skills, how to communicate with people, how to talk to folks, when you talk to folks, when you jump out, when you interject.”

He may not professionally play an instrument today, but music education opened up doors for Calloway ― whose family was on public assistance when he was younger ― that he may not have found otherwise. Music programs in schools have been proven to keep students engaged in the classroom; improve early cognitive development, math and reading skills; develop critical thinking skills; and foster confidence among students, according to the National Association of Music Merchants.

Sway Calloway speaks on stage at VH1 Save the Music 20th Anniversary Gala in NYC. (Jason Kempin via Getty Images)

But despite the lasting impact music education has on students, many children in low-income communities still don’t have access to it. That’s why Calloway and the board members and team behind VH1 Save The Music Foundation have been working to bring music programs to underserved schools.

Since the nonprofit was founded in 1997, VH1 Save The Music Foundation has allotted grants to more than 2,000 public schools in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. These grants have benefited more than 2 million kids. Recently, students in Newark, New Jersey, and Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in West Virginia received $45,000 worth of musical equipment from the program.

Chiho Feindler, senior director of programs and policy, said the foundation has not only benefitted students and their communities by bringing marching bands and orchestras to their cities, but also by improving graduation rates and reducing absenteeism.

″[Rewards vary from] a student telling us that in his home life, it’s just such a chaos that being able to play flute on his stoop for his young siblings just brings a peace into his home to better graduation rates to the student who’s now interning to go to college studying music education,” Feindler said. “Stuff like that and just … giving them the reasons to thrive.”

Learn more about VH1 Save The Music Foundation by visiting its website.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Somebody lied: Education alone can’t dismantle white supremacy

By: Andre Perry: hechingerreport.org

Americans like to think that if individuals are educated in great schools, they can pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps and bring their families with them. No matter if obstacles such as bad policing, weak labor markets and discriminatory housing policies litter our path. We believe that a good education can propel us past those barriers, and we can surpass our parents’ social standing….

Source: adnor-sevenoaks.org/

But new research out of the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that we’re overselling our belief in schools….  The study’s author, Jessie Rothstein, and his colleagues at Berkeley found that the quality of K-12 schooling has little bearing on individuals’ ability to earn more than their parents. The study found that family structure (spousal earnings), access to a college education and the ability to parlay that education into a bigger paycheck play much larger roles.

There are reasons that poor folk are stuck with hope instead of real opportunities: Middle-class families are hoarding them.

Every college place or internship that goes to one of our kids because of a legacy bias or personal connection is one less available to others,” writes Brookings Institution researcher Richard Reeves in a discussion of social mobility in his book Dream Hoarders.

The difference in social mobility among adults has less to do with skills gained in school and more to do with factors that influence labor markets, such as the protection that comes with belonging to a union, or differing access to good jobs, or access to exclusive internships that lead to prestigious careers and mentoring….

Source: educationimages.com

There’s another negative to inflating the impact of schools. If students don’t succeed, we fault them or heap blame on black parents for their under achieving kids. “It all starts at home,” we say, shaking our heads sadly, wagging our fingers at black America. This in the face of consistent evidence that shows African-Americans are most likely to value a postsecondary education for success, at 90 percent, followed by Asians and Latinos, with whites at 64 percent….

Then, after blaming low-income black folk, we middle-class Americans pat ourselves on the back to justify our seat at the table.

It’s time to discard the cliché about education that it is the next civil rights issue of our generation; the reality is that privileged Americans limit opportunities for everyone else, ensuring that the American dream remains merely a fantasy.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Mich. Teacher Drags Student From Seat After Not Standing For Pledge

Breanna Edwards, The Root

Everybody is all about freedom of speech and expression until a black person (hey, Colin Kaepernick; hey, Jemele Hill) decides to exercise his or her right to do so. And in this particular case, a black sixth-grader out of Michigan says he was assaulted by his homeroom teacher all because he was exercising his rights and declined to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Stone Chaney, who attends East Middle School in Farmington Hills, Mich.,told ClickOnDetroit that his teacher “violently” dragged him out of his chair and attempted to force him to stand for the pledge, leaving the young man confused and unwilling to return to that school.

“The teacher consultant comes up behind me and snatches me out of my chair violently,” Stone told the news site. “I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Note that Stone referred to the individual in question as the “teacher consultant.” That means that the person who allegedly thought it was all right to snatch a child out of his seat trains other teachers. One would wonder what kind of training those other teachers are receiving.

“It’s his choice to sit,” Brian Chaney said. “I don’t make him sit. And they should respect that.”

The superintendent of Farmington Public Schools released a statement detailing that the district does support the right of students to opt out of the pledge, announcing that it was conducting an investigation and that the teacher involved has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome.

Read the full article here.

Read about the history of black social movement and protest here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Under Trump, Justice Department Resumes Fight for White Privilege

By: Charlene Crowell- blackpressusa.com

Credit: nnpa.org

As millions of students return to school, the nation’s Justice Department (DOJ) is beginning an investigation that could potentially sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies….

For Black people and other ethnic and racial minorities, this investigation seems like window-dressing to deny millions of students a quality education in the name of injustice.

Such actions also signal a more subtle message is to roll back to the progress achieved in broadly affording students of all races and ethnicities the benefits that higher education derives….

“The American Dream offers each new generation the opportunity to build on the successes of previous ones,” wrote Nikitra Bailey, an executive vice president with the Center for Responsible Lending, in a related op-ed. “However, if you are African-American, the nation’s history of enslavement and legal bigotry consistently requires each generation to start anew….”

Credit:commons.trincoll.edu

“If it passes, we are announcing to the world that women and minorities will not be given an equal opportunity to succeed in business in our state,” said Hillegonds. “This is the wrong message to send at a time when we are trying to attract new businesses and develop a talented, multicultural workforce ready to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.”

State-approved bans on affirmative action in higher education also led to fewer Black students in the University of California system as well as at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Today the real difference between then and now is that the U.S. Justice Department is resuming a fight for the preservation of White privilege that is armed with resources and personnel that taxpayers of all colors provide.

Abigail Fisher, right, with Edward Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, left the Supreme Court in Washington after oral arguments in her case last December. Her case argued the University of Texas, Austin, had denied her admission based on her race. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

The United States Supreme Court recently affirmed the use of affirmative action in admissions decisions in the “Fisher v. University of Texas” case. In that ruling, the importance of diversity as a compelling state interest was affirmed as settled law. The decision was also a victory for equal opportunity and recognized again that it is critical for schools to create diverse and inclusive student bodies.

As the cost of higher education tends to increase every year, students of color are the ones most likely to go into debt in search of a degree that will deliver a middle class standard of living. Even four years after graduation, Black college graduates earning a bachelor’s degree owe almost double the debt of their White classmates, according to CRL research.

“The U.S. Justice Department must enforce inclusive educational policies as they open the doors of opportunity for all,” said Bailey.

 

Read more Breaking News here.

Read the full article here.

Read more on Affirmative-Action here.

Read more about National Newspapers Publishers Association here.

Teens Plaster Vandalized Emmett Till Marker With Words Of Hope

By Elyse Wanshel, HuffPost Black Voices

The vandalized sign.

A civil rights landmark in Mississippi that commemorates the death of Emmett Till has been vandalized, The Associated Press reported Monday.

The sign, which has been defaced before, was scraped so badly that information and photos about Till’s brutal death have been obliterated.

Students from Cultural Leadership, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that teaches young adults how to become civil rights leaders, were present at the site after the sign was vandalized and were disheartened by the destruction.

Dani Gottlieb, a 16-year-old from Cultural Leadership, told HuffPost that she was expecting to see “flowers growing in Emmett Till’s honor” at the landmark, “not a torn-down marker.”

Contributions from the teens at Cultural Leadership.

She and her peers decided as a group to take action. They covered the scraped-off information with hand-drawn pictures of Till, messages of hope and information about his killing.

Read the article in its entirety here.

Read in depth about the struggle for justice and equal rights here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Family Who Won $429 Million Lottery Aims To Use Money To Fight Poverty

By Zahara Hill, HuffPost Black Voices

Pearlie Mae Smith (far right) and her children won the Powerball jackpot.

We’ve all fantasized about what we’d do if a few million dollars just found its way into our lives. For the Smith family of Trenton, New Jersey, philanthropy was at the top of their list after they won a $429 million Powerball jackpot last year.

At a post-win press conference last May, the family, which consists of Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven children, said they planned to spend their earnings on their community ― and they meant it.

The eight-person Smith family chose to collect their winnings in a lump sum as opposed to yearly installments, with each receiving about $25 million after taxes. After paying off bills, student loans and taking care of other financial obligations, they invested their money in Trenton through the Smith Family Foundation.

“We want to fund programs that directly affect systems of poverty so we can help change the systems or change the dynamics that are causing people to be in poverty,” family member and foundation program manager Harold Smith told NJ.com.

Read the full article here.

Read more about the importance of community reparation here.

Black hair restrictions in schools are a return to the Black Codes

By David A. Love, TheGrio.com

…As kids throughout the country get out of school for the summer, it is a perfect time to reflect on all of the Black children who, over the course of the past semester, have been punished, disciplined or otherwise called out and singled out for wearing braids, locks, natural hair or any other culturally expressive hairstyle. Studying while Black, apparently, is a thing.

The Cook sisters at Fenway Park.

Consider some of the outrageous incidents that have taken place. In the Boston area, 15-year-old twin sisters faced detention and suspension for wearing braids, which their charter school claimed was a violation of the dress code. Mya and Deanna Cook, sophomores at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass., were banned from the prom and stripped of their extracurricular activities and sports team privileges for violating the school’s prohibition on wearing extensions.

…[In] 2009, a white Milwaukee teacher cut off the braid of Lamya Cannon, 7, because the girl was playing with her hair. After cutting off Lamya’s hair in front of the class, the teacher sent the girl back to her desk. Would this ever happen to a white girl with pigtails? And could we ever envision a Black teacher doing this to said white girl?…

Tiona Norris, a self-described “unapologetically black mom” of a young schoolgirl, tweeted this note from her daughter’s teacher and commented, factually,  that coconut oil has no stinky smell.

These days, when some in white America claim they are taking their country back, all the way up to the White House, it is no accident that Black children are punished for their Blackness. We know the studies about the disproportionate discipline against Black children, and black girls in particular. This is part of the school-to-prison pipeline, a regime of punishment following kids through adulthood. Most of all, it is an effort to monitor their bodies, not unlike the Black Codes established during Jim Crow to restrict the activities and labor of Black people and maintain white supremacy….

These codes, like the so-called dress codes in place at some schools today, serve the same purpose–to normalize whiteness and criminalize Blackness. When schools tell Black children the hair God gave them is an issue of bad hygiene and grooming, what they mean is they think Black people and their hair are less desirable. Some things never change. Institutional racism, not the hair, must change.

Read David A. Love’s article for TheGrio.com in its entirety here.

Read about how Black people are disproportionately punished in other institutions here.

Read about the Five Pillars of Jim Crow here.

Read about the education of Black children in the Jim Crow South here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Michael Bennett Has Earned Our Respect. It’s Time We Show It.

By Jordan Schultz, HuffPost Black Voices

Michael Bennett is one of the NFL’s good guys, explains columnist Jordan Schultz in his article for the Huffington Post.

Michael Zagaris via Getty Images

This is why it’s surprising to see how Bennett has drawn the ire of prominent sports journalists, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, as well as a local sports columnist. It’s unfair that his name was dragged through the mud. Bennett is a unique person and by all accounts a great person ― and he has done nothing wrong.

In an article published two weeks ago in The Seattle Times, Matt Calkins heavily criticized the Seattle Seahawks star defensive end for lashing out at a local TV reporter who was questioning him after a game. Calkins didn’t contact the TV reporter before publishing his column. If he had, he would have found out Bennett had privately apologized to him. Calkins penned an apology when he realized his mistake ― but the damage was done.

Bennett, who plays one of the league’s most violent positions, is one of its most gentle and caring people. The former undrafted free agent is a highly dedicated member of the community and one of the team’s most respected members.

In March, the 31-year-old Bennett announced that he would donate 100 percent of his endorsements to helping minority communities and empowering women of color. Additionally, he will also donate half of his jersey sales to inner-city garden projects.

Bennett’s honesty and conviction might scare people, but sports fans ― even those who disagree with his opinions ― should be promoting it. What matters is that Bennett doesn’t merely have an opinion, but he believes in it strongly enough to stand up for himself.

For more on Michael Bennett and his work within the community, read the full article here.

To learn about how race can negatively impact perception, and why its important for news media (including sports) to start supporting outspoken black influencers like Michael Bennett here.

Read about the crucial role that Black press has in our society here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Civil Rights Era Poet Shares How to Create Civility in Today’s Society

From:Huffington Post- Black Voices

Written By: Kristina Puga

Writer and activist Eugene Ethelbert Miller discussed his love for writing and history by stating:

“I wanted to be involved in every aspect of writing about it,” says Miller about the politically-charged time, as sharply and energetically as if it were just yesterday. “It was just like now – with the Woman’s March and Black Lives Matter…”

Miller, who goes by “Ethelbert” spent his college years immersed in black history. 

He attended college (Howard University) in the same year that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. This, among other events (such as the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and the Vietnam war) led him to began a career as a poet. He explained:  “I wrote many love poems,” says Miller. “I wanted to leave behind poems that were similar to Pablo Neruda’s work.”

Millers’ family consisted of a postal working Father, and a seamstress mother. He explained that college was “a strain financially.” Therefore announcing that he would be a writer to his parents was a bit of a misunderstanding. He later explained all of the different opportunities his writings afforded him: “When I look back on my writing, it took me to places that I couldn’t have gone otherwise,” says the poet, mentioning the U.S. State Department sponsored some of his trips. “I went to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, people would send me to all sorts of places.”

Miller continues with more inspiring anecdotes for writers of all backgrounds leaving us with this piece of life advice:

“I think what I’ve learned now are two things: We have to practice deep listening. We have to understand what [people] are afraid of, what they’re suffering from. Then the next level is compassion.”  

Read the full article here

Follow Miller’s work here

Read more Breaking News here

 

Google partners with Howard University to develop future black engineers

From: The Grio

Recently, Google announced the beginning of a new program partnered with Howard University. The new program is part of an effort to recruit more young black minds and promote greater diversity in the engineering industry.

As The Grio writes in their article,Howard has opened a campus at the Googleplex, called Howard West, ‘a physical space on campus where Howard students and Googlers can grow together,’ and hopefully will encourage diversity in a field that sorely needs it.”from Google/Justin Sullivan via Good Black News

from Google/Justin Sullivan via Good Black News

This program stands as a step in the right direction, advancing the diversification of Silicon Valley while investing in the futures of young black men and women. Google has hopes to expand the program to other Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

To read more about the program, or for more information on Howard University and Google’s new partnership, head here.

Read more about the importance of community diversification and understanding past-to-present racial segregation here.