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NNPA to Honor Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) for Contributions in Education

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “If we are going to prepare our country’s youth for their future properly, we must ensure that we are giving them the fundamental tools necessary to grow into skillful and productive members of the workforce, starting from the beginning of childhood,” Rep. Scott said in a recent interview with NNPA Newswire.

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"The first thing we have to do is focus on the issues. We can't spend all of our time talking about [the scandals] and not talking about equity in education," said Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA).

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Virginia Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott has always advocated for a fair and equitable education for all students.

When he helped spearhead the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Scott had civil rights in mind. ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind law, which amplified the federal government’s role in U.S. classrooms. No Child Left Behind launched a national system that judged schools based on math and reading test scores and required them to raise scores every year or face escalating penalties.

“Fifty years ago, Congress originally passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to help make that right a reality,” said Scott, the chair of the Committee on Education and Labor. “The Every Student Succeeds Act honors the civil rights legacy of that law,” he said.

Similar to ESSA, No Child Left Behind was crafted and passed with strong bipartisan support. However, over time, its testing-centric accountability structure became widely seen as overly punitive.

Despite the Trump administration’s callousness toward a fair and equal education for all regardless of their race or background. Scott has remained vigilant about ESSA and education’s role in transforming communities.

In recognition of his unwavering dedication, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) will present him with the 2019 NNPA National Leadership Award for his outstanding contributions and courageous leadership in the field of education.

The ceremony will take place on September 12th at the Renaissance DC Downtown Hotel in Washington, DC at 7 p.m. In addition to Representative Scott, the NNPA will recognize seven other dynamic leaders over the course of the evening.

The 2019 honorees are the Honorable Karen Bass, U.S. Representative (D-CA); the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, U.S. Representative (D-MD); the Honorable Bobby Scott, U.S. Representative (D-VA); the Honorable Bennie Thompson, U.S. Representative (D-MS); Ray Curry, Secretary-Treasurer of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agriculture (UAW); Shani W. Hosten, Vice President Multicultural Leadership, AARP; Dr. Kim Smith-Whitley, Clinical Director of Hematology and Director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP); and Crystal Windham, Director, Cadillac Interior Design, General Motors.

The NNPA’s National Leadership Awards are an annual event that coincides with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. This year, the National Leadership Awards are supported by NNPA’s corporate partners and sponsors, including General Motors; RAI Services Company; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Pfizer, Inc.

NNPA’s corporate sponsors include Toyota; Ford Motor Co., AARP; Northrop Grumman; Wells Fargo; Volkswagen; UAW; API; Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts; Comcast NBC Universal; U.S. Census; CBCF Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Koch Industries; Ascension; and AmeriHealth.

A U.S. Army Veteran, Scott was born in Washington, DC in 1947.

He has represented Virginia’s third congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993.

Before Congress, Scott served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1978 to 1983 and in Virginia’s State Senate from 1983 to 1993.

During his tenure in the Virginia General Assembly, Scott successfully sponsored laws critical to Virginians in education, employment, health care, social services, economic development, crime prevention, and consumer protection.

His legislative successes in the state legislature included laws that increased Virginia’s minimum wage.

Scott created the Governor’s Employment and Training Council and improved health care benefits for women, infants, and children.

In Congress, as part of his efforts to provide universal health care, Scott sought to ensure that millions of uninsured children have access to comprehensive health care services.

The congressman has the distinction of being the first African American elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia since Reconstruction and only the second African American from elected to Congress by Virginians in state’s history.

Having a maternal grandfather of Filipino ancestry also gives him the distinction of being the first American with Filipino ancestry to serve as a voting member of Congress.

Throughout his service, Scott has championed early childhood education.

He’s often cited research that shows early childhood education during a child’s formative years as being critical to brain development.

“Participating in high-quality early childhood education is critical for children,” Scott said. “Doing so lessens the chances they will be involved in the criminal justice system, violence, or illegal drugs,” he said.

Scott is the lead sponsor of the Child Care for Working Families Act.

The measure is a comprehensive early learning and childcare bill that ensures affordable and high-quality childcare for working-class families and those living paycheck to paycheck.

“If we are going to prepare our country’s youth for their future properly, we must ensure that we are giving them the fundamental tools necessary to grow into skillful and productive members of the workforce, starting from the beginning of childhood,” Scott said in a recent interview with NNPA Newswire.

Earlier this year, Scott’s committee voted in favor of the Rebuild America’s School Act, a bill that would provide about $100 billion for school infrastructure.

Scott and his colleagues also advanced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which toughens penalties that businesses face for gender-pay disparities.

“The first thing we have to do is focus on the issues. We can’t spend all of our time talking about [the scandals] and not talking about equity in education,” Scott said.

“In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be able to succeed in life if denied an opportunity of an education; that such an opportunity is a right that must be equal for all,” he said.

The bill seeks to help minority students overcome some of the many disadvantages they face.

Much of which was spelled out in a 2019 report that revealed white school districts receive $23 billion more in funding than non-white districts despite serving the same number of students.

Because the school system relies so heavily on community wealth, the gap reflects both the prosperity divide in America and the fragmented nature of school district borders.

The system is designed to exclude outside students and protect internal advantage, according to the authors of the 2019 education report.

For every student enrolled, the average non-white school district receives $2,226 less than a white school district, the report revealed.

“After the 1954 Supreme Court ruling, we turned around and funded education with the real estate tax, guaranteeing that the wealthy areas will have more resources than low-income areas,” Scott said.

“Adam Clayton Powell spearheaded legislation in the 1960s that put more money into low-income areas. And, the Higher Education Act passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson, assured that no child would be turned away from college because he’s poor,” Scott said.

“Then there was the Pell Grant which assured that a child could go to any college and not incur that much debt. You can have equity in K-12, but you’ve got to have Head Start … and we have to make sure that legacy continues,” he said.

Scott said public schools in the U.S. are at a critical breaking point and noted that one estimate found that school infrastructure is shortchanged by $46 billion every year.

The Paycheck Fairness Act removes many of the legal defenses that businesses use to claim that they aren’t discriminating.

It makes it unlawful for businesses to inquire about a worker’s wage history or use it as a hiring factor if they know, among other provisions.

“Even when wage discrimination is discovered, workplace rules that restrict information about wages and pay raises often keep working women from holding employers accountable for discrimination,” Scott said.

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U.S. Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr./ NNPA Newswire

Even as the pandemic has laid bare societal inequities that have long eroded the foundation of our democracy, political leaders in Washington and in state capitols are mired in a level of rancor and partisanship not seen since the ideological struggles over the Vietnam War. 

This toxic atmosphere has left them incapable of addressing pressing, yet ingrained issues like the racial wealth gap, the digital divide, and vast inequalities in everything from health care to home ownership.

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities – particularly communities of color throughout the South – are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

From impediments to wealth creation opportunities and a dearth of education and workforce development to a lack of access to reliable broadband, substandard housing, and inadequate political representation, communities of color have suffered an outsized toll during the ongoing public health crisis.

Yet political leaders can’t even agree on basic facts that would allow the nation to implement a coherent national strategy for combatting a pandemic that appears to be entering a new wave amid the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant that is currently ravaging parts of the South.

Against that disillusioning backdrop, there is at least some reason for hope. Moving to fill the vacuum created by the inaction of our political class, a group of business leaders in the technology and investment sectors have embarked on a far-reaching – and perhaps unprecedented – campaign to address the social inequities and systemic racism that has historically plagued our country’s southern communities.

Known as the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), the campaign was founded by financial technology company PayPal, the investment firm Vista Equity Partners (Vista), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

SCI was formed to work with local elected officials and advocacy groups to tackle the ubiquitous problems of structural racism and inequalities facing communities of color in six communities throughout the South. SCI notes that these areas – Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La., – were chosen in part because they are home to around 50% of the country’s Black population and are where some of the greatest disparities exist.

SCI is aiming to drive long-term change, as outlined by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Vista CEO Robert F. Smith and BCG CEO Rich Lesser. 

In Atlanta, for example, SCI is working to bridge the wealth gap that exists among the region’s African-American residents. While there is a strong Black business community in the city, and high levels of Black educational achievement thanks to the regional presence of several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and the voice of the Black press, there is still an extremely low level of Black entrepreneurship and business ownership with only 6% of employer firms being Black-owned.

To remedy this disparity, SCI is working with the Southern Economic Advancement Project to create entrepreneurship hubs and accelerator programs to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. The corporations behind SCI are also using their networks to help other companies work with minority-owned supply companies.

In Alabama, SCI is seeking to bridge the massive digital divide in an urban area where 450,000 households are without connection to the internet. In order to tackle the crisis, SCI is leveraging relationships with local schools and libraries to distribute laptops and service vouchers. Another tact SCI is taking is to partner with the owners of multi-unit buildings in low-income neighborhoods to install free public Wi-Fi for residents.

The lack of access to capital is another reason Black communities throughout the South have been traditionally underbanked. In Memphis, where 47% of Black households are underbanked, SCI is partnering with Grameen America to cover the $2 million per year per branch start-up cost to build brick-and-mortar banks in minority communities.

This alone will provide 20,000 women access to more than $250 million per year in financing.

Beyond these initiatives, SCI is partnering with groups like the Greater Houston Partnership and the Urban League of Louisiana to provide in-kind support to improve job outcomes for minority college students, expand access to home financing through partnerships with community development financial institutions, and harness the power of technology to expand health care access in underserved urban and rural neighborhoods.

The issues facing these communities throughout the South are not new nor will they be fixed overnight.

Fortunately, SCI is taking a long-term approach that is focused on getting to the root of structural racism in the United States and creating a more just and equitable country for every American.

A once-in-a-century pandemic and a social justice movement not seen since the 1960s were not enough to break the malaise and rancorous partisanship in Washington. Fortunately, corporate leaders are stepping up and partnering with local advocates and non-profit groups to fix the problem of systemic injustice in the U.S.

We, therefore, salute and welcome the transformative commitments of the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). There is no time to delay, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so accurately said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

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NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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