Daily Archive: November 24, 2010


Achievement gap on pace to disappear in 40 years

The latest report by A+ Schools revealed that the achievement gap between White and Black students continues to decrease. However, at the rate it is narrowing, it would take 40 years to be eliminated. Even more disappointing is that the report also notes that while Black student achievement, as demonstrated through performance on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, has increased, a decline in White student achievement also contributed to narrowing the gap. A+ SCHOOLS—Carey Harris addresses the audience at a community discussion. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart.) Despite an unclear picture of how the achievement gap is changing, the report, released on Nov. 15, concluded that high schools, which have the largest achievement gaps in the district, remain the key areas most in need of improvement. Despite gains made in elementary schools, PSSA scores for grade 11 declined in all subjects.



Are abusive police being disciplined?

Officers Kenneth Simon and Anthony Scarpine, arrested Nov. 9 for allegedly framing and shaking down drug suspects, are on paid leave. District Attorney Stephen Zappalas’s office said the charges jeopardize at least one case the officers worked on. Officer Dwayne Ausbrooks, charged with domestic violence after allegedly assaulting a girlfriend in his car Nov. 19, is on desk duty. CHIEF NATE HARPER And 11 months after officers Michael Saldutte, Richard Ewing and David Sisak allegedly beat CAPA student Jordan Miles during a January arrest in Homewood, they too remain on administrative leave with pay, awaiting the conclusion of investigations by the Bureau of Police Office of Municipal Investigations and the FBI.


Strickland shares resources with Oliver

In a room at Oliver High School, there is a display showing student proficiency on the most recent Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests. While the box representing the lowest level of achievement is full of student faces, the box at the highest level is sparsely dotted with only a few faces. This is not the kind of achievement William Strickland likes to see. The Oliver graduate turned president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation recently starred in a documentary about public education and the success he had in a system often criticized for letting African-American boys fall through the cracks. TAKING STEPS TOGETHER—From left: Dennis Chakey, William Strickland, Derrick Lopez, Ebony Pugh, PPS public relations coordinator, and Paulo Nzambi, Manchester Bidwell Corporation vice president of administration, survey under utilized space at Oliver. (Photo by J.L. Martello) “My participation was to show that public education can work. It’s very easy to talk about what’s wrong,” Strickland said. “I think it’s the basis for hope. I went to Oliver High School, I’m very proud of it.”



Racial Justice Awards remember Dorothy Height

At the 19th annual Racial Justice Awards on Nov. 17, the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh honored six individuals and one institution for the work they have done to reduce racial disparities. “Tonight we honor people and organizations who have made significant contributions toward equality and social justice,” said Magdeline Jensen, CEO, YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. HONOREES—From left: Greg Dietz, Curtiss Porter, Donna Baxter, Dina Marie Lebanc, Sister Sheila Carney, Peggy Harris and Rev. John Welch. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart.) As she has done in past years, Jensen provided historical context for the evening’s award ceremony. This year she focused on the recently deceased Dorothy Height who has been known as the leading female voice in the civil rights movement.


NAACP questions Penn Hills schools residency requirements

NAACP Penn Hills President Joyce Davis said the school district might be discriminating against some families new to the district by requiring excessive proof of residency. The burden has resulted, she said, in children not being allowed to attend classes. “We’re talking about delays of as much as two months here,” said Davis. “I’ve spoken to the board about this twice and they still haven’t indicated when they will address the issue. It seems to be focused on the city side of Penn Hills. Everyone who has contacted me about this long delay is African-American.” JACKIE DAVIS School Board President Joe Bailey, who is Black, said he looked at some of the admission paperwork, including release forms allowing for information to be taken from the IRS, the state Department of Public Welfare, and Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families department among others.


McFerren still fighting to reclaim job

More than six months after the Commonwealth Court’s decided that he was unjustly terminated as principal of Farrell High School, the fight for Lee V. McFerren is still not over. In July 2008, the school board terminated McFerren after he reportedly received several complaints from teachers and board members when he was allegedly hired to “clean-up” the school. Although he received complaints, he also received high evaluation scores. LEE V. MCFERREN In April of 2010 the court found there was a lack of evidence for his termination and decided that he was wrongfully terminated. Shortly after the decision, the Farrell School District filed a petition for an Allowance of Appeal with the Pennsylvania State Sup­reme Court.


Community Calendar

Talent showcase NOV. 24—Lawacit Entertainment and Mark C. Productions will host a Stop the Violence Holiday Talent Showcase at 5 p.m. at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. There will be music by DJ Bo and first place winners will receive $500. For more information, call 412-734-1067.


Speak Out: Your response to 72 percent of Black mothers being unwed?

According to a recent study, 72 percent of Black babies are born to unwed mothers, so we asked Pittsburghers what they thought and this is what you said: “I think that at least 50 percent of the women should be married. Women without a companion could go the wrong way and struggle more than they need to. Children should have a father present and women with children should have a husband.”George MonroeWilkinsburgRetired


Madagascar PM says mutiny ends without bloodshed

by Lovasa Rabary-Rakotondravony ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP)—An attempted coup on this troubled Indian Ocean island has been defused without bloodshed, the Madagascar regime’s prime minister said. COUP ATTEMPT FOILED—A government military officer holds a rocket propelled grenade and launcher outside the air-force base near the airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Camille Vital told reporters late Saturday that 16 officers surrendered, ending an impasse that began Wednesday when a faction of officers declared they were taking over from Andry Rajoelina. Rajoelina, a former mayor and disc jockey, himself had the military’s support when he toppled an elected president last year after months of violent protest. Earlier Saturday, reporters had seen hundreds of soldiers loyal to Rajoelina converge on a base near the capital’s airport where the mutineers were holed up. Officials had said talks were planned, but shots could be heard inside the base.


This Week In Black History

Week of Nov. 26 to Dec. 2 November 26 1873—Macon B. Allen is elected a judge in Charleston, S.C. Allen holds the distinction of being America’s first Black lawyer having been admitted to the bar in Massachusetts on March 5, 1845. During Reconstruction he decided to aid the former slaves in the South by moving to South Carolina and running for judge. TINA TURNER 1883—Sojourner Truth dies at her home in Battle Creek, Mich. Truth was a major figure in the abolition movement fighting long and hard to bring an end to the dreaded institution. After slavery, she became a major voice for Black rights and women’s right to vote.