By William J. Ford
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Senate voted Wednesday to implement a multimillion-dollar education plan to revamp the state’s public schools, including an expansion of early childhood, school-based health centers and special education programs.
The two-year plan, known as the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” would also boost teacher salaries — by 1.5 percent from the state if counties and Baltimore City provide 3 percent.
“This bill as it stands before us is well-crafted, it’s well-put-together,” said Sen. Andrew Serafini (R-Washington County). “A lot of people put a lot of work into this and the funding is there. It is a responsible bill and moves us in a good direction.”
The 43-1 vote sets up the state to allocate $725 million through 2022 with an additional $130 million if the Senate can pass legislation next year on how to pay for additional programming.
The bill now heads to the House of Delegates with the 90-day session ending at midnight Monday.
The education package comes after two years of work by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission, led by William “Brit” Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland System.
After the vote, Kirwan was applauded by senators as he sat upstairs and clapped in the Senate gallery.
The legislature already approved an additional $255 million in the budget toward the commission’s recommendations.
Education advocates and lawmakers have said schools are adequately underfunded by $2.9 billion annually.
However, Sen. Chris West (R-Baltimore County) voted against the measure because he feared it would take away money from school construction legislation approved in the House of Delegates.
“It is just unacceptable that in the future we will have well-trained, well-paid teachers in Baltimore County standing in classrooms which are egregiously overcrowded and un-air-conditioned” he said. “We need to achieve a balance … and I hope next year we can be more successful finding money not only for Kirwan, but for essential school construction.”
According to the legislation’s blueprint, items school systems would receive include:
• Expanded early childhood education for 3-year and 4-year-old children.
• A college and career readiness standard by the end of 10th grade.
• Wraparound services for some students such as additional counselors, vision and dental needs.
• A professional development program for teachers on “racial awareness, cultural competency, religious tolerance and restorative practices.”
An additional measure on accountability, coming from Gov. Larry Hogan, would install an inspector general of education to assess waste, fraud and abuse of public money and property. The person would also investigate nonpublic schools that receive state funding.
The inspector general would serve a five-year term after a majority vote of the governor, attorney general and state treasurer, followed by Senate confirmation.
As for determining how much the state and local governments would pay in the future, the Kirwan Commission will continue to work on that with a possible recommendation later this year.
“The fact is, these lofty goals are achievable in Maryland,” said Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). “The message today is ‘that this is just a first step.’ Over the next nine months, we must have a very real and challenging and hard conversation about whether or not we have the political will to put this vision into action. I believe we do.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.
Black-Owned Newspapers and Media Companies Are Small Businesses Too!
NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Dear World, the entire planet is feeling the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cheryl Smith of Texas Metro News wrote to her readers. “We must be concerned about ourselves, as well as others. You may be aware that the media is considered ‘essential.’ So, guess what? We have a responsibility, a moral obligation to use this status to be a source of information, support, and inspiration, just as we are at all other times,” Smith wrote.
Financial Support is Essential to Delivery of These Essential Services
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
Publishers of Black-owned community newspapers, including Janis Ware of the Atlanta Voice, Cheryl Smith of Texas Metro News, Chris Bennett of the Seattle Medium, Denise Rolark Barnes of the Washington Informer, and Brenda Andrews of the New Journal & Guide in Virginia, are desperately trying to avoid shuttering operations.
On Wednesday, April 29, Rolark Barnes, Andrews, Bennett, and Ware will participate in a special livestream broadcast to discuss how their publications are enduring as the pandemic rages on.
In a heartfelt and straight-to-the-point op-ed published recently, Ware explained to her tens of thousands of readers that The Atlanta Voice has boldly covered the issues that affect the African American community.
“Our founders, Mr. J. Lowell Ware and Mr. Ed Clayton, were committed to the mission of being a voice to the voiceless with the motto of, ‘honesty, integrity and truth,’” Ware wrote in an article that underscores the urgency and importance of African American-owned newspapers during the coronavirus pandemic. Ware has established a COVID-19 news fund and aggregated the Atlanta Voice’s novel coronavirus coverage into a special landing page within its website.
To remain afloat, Ware and her fellow publishers know that financial backing and support will be necessary. Following the spread of the pandemic, many advertisers have either paused their ad spending or halted it altogether. And other streams of revenue have also dried up, forcing Black-owned publications to find ways to reduce spending and restructure what were already historically tight budgets.
With major companies like Ruth Chris Steakhouse and Pot Belly Sandwiches swooping in and hijacking stimulus money aimed at small businesses, the Black Press — and community-based publishing in general — has been largely left out of the $350 billion stimulus and Paycheck Protection Program packages.
To make matters worse, there are no guarantees that a second package, specifically focused on small business, will benefit Black publishers or other businesses owned by people of color.
Publications like the New Journal and Guide, Washington Informer (which recently celebrated its 55th anniversary) and the Atlanta Voice have been essential to the communities they serve — and the world at large for 193 years.
Unfortunately for some publishers, the impact of COVID-19 has brought business operations to a near halt. While none are thriving, some publishers have developed ingenious and innovative ways to continue operations.
“Dear World, the entire planet is feeling the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cheryl Smith of Texas Metro News wrote to her readers. “We must be concerned about ourselves, as well as others. You may be aware that the media is considered ‘essential.’ So, guess what? We have a responsibility, a moral obligation to use this status to be a source of information, support, and inspiration, just as we are at all other times,” Smith wrote.
Smith’s statements echo the more than 200 African American-owned newspapers in the NNPA family. The majority of the publications are owned and operated by women, and virtually all are family dynasties so rarely seen in the black community.
The contributions of the Black Press remain indelibly associated with the fearlessness, determination, and success of Black America.
Those contributions include the works of Frederick Douglass, WEB DuBois, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, and former NNPA Chairman Dr. Carlton Goodlett.
Douglas, who helped slaves escape to the North while working with the Underground Railroad, established the abolitionist paper, “The North Star,” in Rochester, New York.
He developed it into the most influential black anti-slavery newspaper published during the Antebellum era.
The North Star denounced slavery and fought for the emancipation of women and other oppressed groups with a motto of “Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color; God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.”
DuBois, known as the father of modern Pan Africanism, demanded civil rights for Blacks but freedom for Africa and an end to capitalism, which he called the cause of racism and all human misery.
Many large news organizations have begun targeting African Americans and other audiences of color by either acquiring Black-owned news startups or adding the moniker “Black” to the end of their brand. However, it was Black-owned and operated news organizations that were on the front lines for voting rights, civil rights, ending apartheid, fair pay for all, unionization, education equity, healthcare disparities and many other issues that disproportionately negatively impact African Americans.
Today, the Black Press continues to reach across the ocean where possible to forge coalitions with the growing number of websites and special publications that cover Africa daily from on the continent, Tennessee Tribune Publisher Rosetta Perry noted.
The evolution of the Black Press, the oldest Black business in America, had proprietors take on issues of chattel slavery in the 19th century, Jim Crow segregation and lynching, the great northern migration, the Civil Rights Movement, the transformation from the printing press to the digital age and computerized communication.
With the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling that said no black man has any rights that a white man must honor, there came a ﬂood of Black publications to advocate for Black rights and to protest the wrongs done to Blacks.
An expose in Ebony Magazine in 1965 alerted the world to a Black female engineer, Bonnie Bianchi, who was the first woman to graduate from Howard University in Electrical Engineering.
It was through the pages of the Black Press that the world learned the horrors of what happened to Emmett Till.
The Black Press continues to tackle domestic and global issues, including the novel coronavirus pandemic and its effects on all citizens – particularly African Americans.
It was through the pages of the Black Press that the world learned that COVID-19 was indeed airborne and that earlier estimates by health experts were wrong when they said the virus could last only up to 20 to 30 minutes on a surface.
Now, it’s universally recognized that the virus can last for hours on a surface and in the air.
“A few short weeks ago, life as we know it, was pretty different,” Ware told her readers. “These are unprecedented times, and we are working around the clock to provide the best possible coverage, sometimes taking risks to keep Metro Atlanta informed.”
Tune in to the livestream at www.Facebook.com/BlackPressUSA.
D.C. Declares State of Emergency Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
WASHINGTON INFORMER — A 58-year-old woman who contracted the virus had also traveled to a high-risk country while a 39-year-old made contact at a large public gathering with someone who tested positive. A 24-year-old man — the youngest among the group mentioned by Nesbitt — had no known exposure before health officials determined that he, too, had contracted the coronavirus.
By Sam P.K. Collins, The Washington Informer
Just days after District officials reported its first case of the novel coronavirus, the city declared a public health state of emergency Wednesday.
The heightened level of scrutiny has, for the time being, brought large public social and cultural gatherings — indoor and outdoor alike — to a halt.
As Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt of the D.C. Department of Health has stressed, such measures have been intended to quell the spread of the life-threatening virus at a time when much of the world is reeling from what the World Health Organization has designated a global pandemic.
“We made a recommendation of nonessential mass gatherings for a group of a thousand or more at a specific location to be postponed or canceled through March 31,” Nesbitt told reporters Wednesday.
“As we collect guidance, we want [people hosting] nonessential activities [of less than a thousand people] to have a consideration of how to postpone,” she said. “This is a recommendation that we want organizations to take seriously. The current advisory gives us a chance to flatten the curve. It’s a rapidly evolving situation.”
As of Wednesday, 10 local coronavirus cases have been reported, including two men, ages 38 and 59, who traveled to a level-three country on separate occasions.
A 58-year-old woman who contracted the virus had also traveled to a high-risk country while a 39-year-old made contact at a large public gathering with someone who tested positive. A 24-year-old man — the youngest among the group mentioned by Nesbitt — had no known exposure before health officials determined that he, too, had contracted the coronavirus.
Some of those diagnosed with the coronavirus had traveled from Ohio, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto to attend the AIPAC conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest earlier this month.
Symptoms of the coronavirus include severe difficulty breathing, fever, runny nose and coughing. Cases worldwide have surpassed 115,000, including more than 1,000 in the United States. Experts recommend that people avoid contact with the sick, wash their hands and abstain from touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Since Saturday, when a rector at Christ Church of Georgetown tested positive for the coronavirus, Mayor Muriel Bowser had alluded to the possibility of a public health emergency earlier this week. As members of the Northwest-based church started their period of self containment, various D.C.-based offices took similar precautions.
On Monday, School Without Walls High School closed for the day and custodians deeply cleaned the building upon the realization that an employee had been exposed to the coronavirus. D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis Ferebee later announced the cancellation of DCPS-sponsored international study tours that had been scheduled for up until May 1.
Early next week, teachers across the D.C. public school system will meet during a professional staff development day to further discuss prevention efforts.
The D.C. Council has also followed suit, with Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) announcing that he and his colleagues will spend next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting planning how to further enable Bowser to carry out her plans. The mayor said taking the proper precautions helps prevent future catastrophe.
In a public statement, Events DC announced the suspension of large gatherings and activities up until the date recommended by the D.C. Department of Health. In the interim, officials will facilitate deep cleanings of the Washington Convention Center, Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast, and the D.C. Armory and R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center, both of which are also in Southeast.
“We are making it clear that science tells us that mass gatherings over a thousand doesn’t help our goal of flattening the curve,” Bowser told reporters. “We’re pulling permits for public events. The organizers are fine with that and we should further discussions with our [social and cultural] institutions to give them information they need to keep D.C. safe.
“We’re constantly evaluating and it’s a fluid situation,” the mayor said. “We’ll come back to you if we have more information.”
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.
Suffragist Coralie Franklin Cook: First Descendant of Monticello Slave to Graduate College
NNPA NEWSWIRE — “No woman and no class of women can be degraded, and all womankind not suffer thereby … and so Miss Anthony,” Coralie Franklin Cook said, addressing Susan B. Anthony directly in a speech at the Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York, in 1902. “In behalf of the hundreds of colored women who wait and hope with you for the day when the ballot shall be in the hands of every intelligent woman; and also in behalf of the thousands who sit in darkness and whose condition we shall expect those ballots to better, whether they be in the hands of white women or Black, I offer you my warmest gratitude and congratulations.”
By Stacy M. Brown, Special to The Washington Informer
This is part of an ongoing Washington Informer series about the Women’s Suffrage Movement and an initiative that includes Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes that will use the lens of history, the fabric of art and culture and the venue of the public square to shine a light into dark places, equipping all with a compass to chart the way forward. The initiative lives in the institutional home of the Washington Informer Charities.
Get to know Coralie Franklin Cook, who taught elocution and English at Howard University.
Born into slavery in Lexington, Virginia, in 1829, Cook became the first descendant of a Thomas Jefferson Monticello slave known to have graduated from college. In 1880, she graduated from Storer College in West Virginia before becoming a teacher.
In 1898, she married Howard University professor George William Cook and served for more than 12 years as a member of the District of Columbia Board of Education. She founded the National Association of Colored Women but was mostly known as a committed suffragist.
Historians said she admired Susan B. Anthony, but eventually was turned off by the women’s suffrage movement because it ignored the plight of black women.
“No woman and no class of women can be degraded, and all womankind not suffer thereby … and so Miss Anthony,” Cook said, addressing Anthony directly in a speech at the Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York, in 1902. “In behalf of the hundreds of colored women who wait and hope with you for the day when the ballot shall be in the hands of every intelligent woman; and also in behalf of the thousands who sit in darkness and whose condition we shall expect those ballots to better, whether they be in the hands of white women or Black, I offer you my warmest gratitude and congratulations.”
The 19th Amendment granting the women the right to vote in 1918 was certainly a victory. However, as noted in a publication published by the League of Women Voters, for women who were not white, wealthy, or educated, it remained an incomplete one.
“Black men had been granted the right to vote in 1870 with the 15th Amendment, yet actual attempts to exercise that right had been repeatedly met with mob violence and lynching,” according to the article written by Kathryn S. Gardiner. “Black women now faced those same obstacles to their rights, and women like Cook who had carried the suffrage banner found themselves standing alone in facing them. Seemingly, as far as white women were concerned, the battle was over.”
In 1915, Cook continued her crusade for women’s and equal rights. She published “Votes for Mothers” in the NAACP magazine The Crisis:
“I wonder if anybody in all this great world ever thought to consider man’s rights as an individual, by his status as a father? yet you ask me to say something about ‘Votes for Mothers,’ as if mothers were a separate and peculiar people. After all, I think you are not so far wrong. Mothers are different, or ought to be different, from other folk. The woman who smilingly goes out, willing to meet the Death Angel, that a child may be born, comes back from that journey, not only the mother of her own adored babe, but a near-mother to all other children. As she serves that little one, there grows within her a passion to serve humanity; not race, not class, not sex, but God’s creatures as he has sent them to earth.
“It is not strange that enlightened womanhood has so far broken its chains as to be able to know that to perform such service, woman should help both to make and to administer the laws under which she lives, should feel responsible for the conduct of educational systems, charitable and correctional institutions, public sanitation and municipal ordinances in general.
“Who should be more competent to control the presence of bar rooms and ‘red-light districts’ than mothers whose sons they are meant to lure to degradation and death?
“Who knows better than the girl’s mother at what age the girl may legally barter her own body? Surely not the men who have put upon our statute books, 16, 14, 12, aye be it to their eternal shame, even 10 and 8 years, as ‘the age of consent!’
“If men could choose their own mothers, would they choose free women or bondwomen? Disfranchisement because of sex is curiously like disfranchisement because of color. It cripples the individual, it handicaps progress, it sets a limitation upon mental and spiritual development.
“I grow in breadth, in vision, in the power to do, just in proportion as I use the capacities with which Nature, the All-Mother, has endowed me.
“I transmit to the child who is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh and thought of my thought; somewhat of my own power or weakness. Is not the voice which is crying out for ‘Votes for Mothers’ the Spirit of the Age crying out for the Rights of Children?”
Information from The Crisis Magazine, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and the League of Women Voters of Delaware County (Indiana), was used in this story.
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