(NNPA)—“To demonstrate that this Congress is both morally and fiscally responsible, the time to act on job creation is now.”—Members of the Congressional Black Caucus
Mark your calendars. Wednesday, March 7 is the date for one of the most important pre-election events of the year—the release of the National Urban League’s 2012 State of Black America Report. We are urging everyone who can to join us at 7 p.m. EST on March 7 for our State of Black America free town hall at Howard University in Washington, D.C. If you can’t be there in person, you can view the LIVE WEBCAST at www.iamempowered.com. You can also be a part of the national conversation on Facebook and Twitter (#SOBA 12, #OccupyTheVote).
This year’s State of Black America report and town hall will launch a year-long campaign, “Occupy the Vote to Educate, Employ & Empower.” The National Urban League is encouraged by steadily declining unemployment numbers and the passage last week of an extension of the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits. But, the economic recovery is still lagging far behind in urban America. While, overall unemployment has fallen to 8.3 percent, the January unemployment rate for African-Americans is still unacceptably high at 13.6 percent. The rate for Hispanics, also at double-digits, now stands at 10.7 percent. Clearly, more must be done to ensure that our economy’s rising tide lifts all boats.
That is why we are issuing a call for immediate national action around the education and job-training steps necessary to bring jobs back to communities most in need. Any serious discussion of job creation and economic opportunity must offer solutions for the obvious shortcomings of our current national approach to education, from early childhood education to adulthood and beyond. A broken national system of education and job training will continue to yield a broken economy.
The National Urban League’s 8-point plan to tackle this problem is designed to spark serious discussion, while also serving as a policy playbook ready for action today. Our plan includes:
1. Fair and equitable school funding for all
2. Robust early childhood education for each child
3. Strengthen high schools and re-engage students to prevent dropouts
4. Robust STEM focused curriculum and programs
5. Qualified, effective and diverse teachers
6. Strategic workforce development: targeting Americans most in need
7. New job training models coupled with job placement
8. Improving and integrating current data systems
In addition to a fuller discussion of our “Occupy the Vote” campaign, this year’s State of Black America report and town hall will include a discussion of the Equality Index—a statistical analysis of the status of Blacks, Hispanics and Whites. The report will also contain essays by a host of political, business, and community leaders including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, singer John Legend, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, entrepreneur and author Steve Stouts, and others with prescriptions for the empowerment and education crisis facing the nation. With new voter ID laws and voting rights under attack, this year’s report is also a clarion call for everyone to “Occupy the Vote” in this important election year. We hope to see you in person, 7 pm, March 7th, at Howard University or online at www.iamempowered.com. The time to act is now!
(Marc H. Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League)