Daily Archive: April 8, 2011


White House aide meets with local leaders

Despite only being given 48 hours notice, leaders in Pittsburgh’s African-American community answered a call to meet with Michael Strautmanis, counselor for strategic engagement to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, on March 31. The group of local business owners, corporate representatives and nonprofit directors packed themselves into a room in the offices of River Development Corporation, a technical assistance company, as they awaited the counselor’s arrival. MICHAEL STRAUTMANIS (Photo by Rebecca Nuttall) Throughout his administration, President Barack Obama has kept Pittsburgh on his radar, choosing the city as the site for the international G20 conference, and naming Pittsburgh Steelers football team owner Dan Rooney as the nation’s ambassador to Ireland. With this most recent visit, Strautmanis reiterated the White House’s commitment to the region as he outlined the President’s “Winning the Future” agenda.


Local colleges take on budget cuts

While there hasn’t been a single educational institution spared from cuts in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal, colleges and universities in the State System of Higher Education are making the most noise in response to their apparent slight, and for good reason. Cuts to the state schools and state related schools averaged 50 percent across the board, the highest of any other cut in the governor’s budget proposal. STOP THE CUTS—From left: Jessica Thornton, Halim Genus and Kara Henderson, members of Pitt’s Black Action Society, protest at a rally in front of the Pitt Student Union on March 30. (Photo by J.L. Martello) While cuts to local colleges and universities range from 50 percent to 10 percent, each school will have hard decisions to make. For many of these institutions, the hardest choice will be to increase tuition. “These are choices that will make it far harder for the young people of Pennsylvania to use the power of education to build better lives; choices that will put a real financial squeeze on Pennsylvania families, often still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession; choices that will impede this region’s economic recovery; and choices that make it less likely that Pennsylvania as a state will compete and thrive in the 21st century,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.


Wilkinsburg school prepares for 100 more years

With the recent celebration of their high school building’s 100-year anni­versary March 30, Wil­kins­burg School District is turning their eyes away from the past and setting their sights on the future of their district and the achievement of their students. To reach the district’s goals in the next 100 years, superintendent Archie Perrin must overcome funding cuts currently being proposed in Governor Tom Corbett’s budget and an at-risk student population often more susceptible to what they learn outside the walls of their schools. ARCHIE PERRIN Wilkinsburg School Board ­Superintendent “We are currently developing a comprehensive professional development plan for our teachers in light of the budget cuts by the governor. It will place a greater focus on the areas of reading and math, which are areas our students tend to struggle in,” Perrin said. “We feel that when dealing with an at-risk population, research does prove there is a way to reach them but we can’t do that through traditional means. We’re also restructuring our curriculum to meet the needs of the urban students we’re dealing with to help them compete in a global society.”


Speak Out: What do you think of Min. Louis Farrakhan speaking in Pittsburgh?

Recently Nation of Islam leader Min. Louis Farrakhan spoke at a Town Hall meeting in Pittsburgh, which was opposed by a Jewish group. So we asked Pittsburghers their reactions and this is what you said: Andrew Johnson, Quicei Smith and Alante Everette “I am glad he took the chance and the time to speak out to the people. He is a very powerful icon and I think people should really pay attention and listen to what he actually has to say ‘cause it is actually true and what’s really going on. We are blinded by so many things and he is trying to pull the shades up to help us see better.”Andrew JohnsonSwissvaleHealth Trainer


NJ 1st-grade teacher suspended over Facebook posts

PATERSON, N.J. (AP)—A New Jersey school district suspended a first-grade teacher after parents complained that she had posted derogatory comments about her students on her Facebook page. The Record newspaper reports that the teacher wrote about feeling like “a warden” and referred to her 6- and 7-year-old students as future criminals. The teacher, whose name was not disclosed, was removed from the classroom this week after several parents who saw the posts came to Paterson School 21 and asked that their children be removed from her class.


It’s time to end the slush in major college sports

(NNPA)—It is not in all collegiate sports. Wrestling, hockey, track, lacrosse, etc. are not activities that involve illegal payment activity to athletes. Football and basketball are the two sports that involve the infamous “slush funds”. Currently, schools like Auburn, USC and Ohio State are under suspension and/or investigation for transgressions involving student athletes and the athletic office. It appears to be just as rampant today as it was when I played football at the University of Wisconsin. It is sick and needs to be eradicated. It evolved after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schools could no longer discriminate against Black athletes. The smart coaches soon realized that not only was it the law, it made a lot of good sense. Black athletes can jump higher, run faster, and hit harder than White athletes. That is not a racial statement but a biological fact. You cannot win a conference title, national championship or enjoy television revenues without a good sampling of Black athletes. At the same time television was going national and ad revenue was becoming immense. College basketball and football have become big business—a $4 billion business. Those with the best coaches and best athletes will reap serious money, enough money to fund the other sports programs, build new stadiums and start notable endowments.


Thousands are being killed in Ivory Coast as world looks elsewhere

(NNPA)—While the world’s attention is fixed primarily on turmoil in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, thousands of Ivorians are being murdered in fighting that pits supporters of Côte d’Ivoire incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo against challenger Alassane Ouattara. Both men claim to have won the disputed election in a country already torn by a nine-year civil war. President Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the United Nations have recognized Ouattara as the duly elected president of Côte d’Ivoire, which is French for Ivory Coast. What’s loosely referred to as the international community has accused Gbagbo of assorted human rights violations, including killing some of his political opponents.


Tribute to Dr. Manning Marable: The importance of Black historians

(NNPA)—Professor William Manning Marable’s contributions to African-American history remind all of us of how important it is to get the best possible education and then to use our education to advance the cause of freedom, justice, equality, and empowerment for all. This was the life and the struggle of Dr. Manning Marable. Manning was not only a great analytical historian of the plight of African people all over the world, and in particular here in the United States, but also my longtime friend and comrade, who was a diligent, consistent, thought-provoking visionary and champion of the liberation of the oppressed.


‘Shrek the Musical’ teaches… don’t judge a book by its cover

Actor Alan Mingo Jr. is having more fun playing the character of Donkey in “Shrek The Musical” than he thought he would. “The role is great! What makes it worthwhile is getting kids into the theater. That builds another generation of theater goers. There are four films about Shrek and everyone who comes into the theater, for the most part, has already been introduced to him and have a high expectation for the characters,” Mingo said. CAST FROM ‘SHREK’ “Shrek The Musical” tells the story of an ugly but good-hearted ogre who goes on a life-changing odyssey to reclaim the deed to his land. He is joined on the journey by his wise-cracking best friend, Donkey. While on the trip, the unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren’t only found in fairy tales.


Cover To Cover…Martin Luther King

He might be the elderly man, gnarled hands caressing a pencil as he tutors a child in need of more math skills. She might be a fresh-faced nurse with a gentle touch, giving comfort to someone at the end of life. Or maybe he’s a child who stands up to bullies or who donates her birthday presents to kids who have nothing. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and this month with the anniversary of his assassination, we celebrate one giant: Dr. Martin Luther King. By reading about his life, you can learn more about his death, his works and his personal story outside his actions. I was quite impressed with “Martin Luther King” by Godfrey Hodgson, perhaps because it’s penned by a British biographer and journalist who writes about American politics.