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ULISH CARTER

“Vote School Board First” is a great campaign that is long overdue. Education, or the lack of it, is still the most important issue facing Black America today.

A+ Schools launched a campaign to help convince people to think education and the school board candidates first instead of an afterthought when they go to the polls.

When most of us vote, we think President, U.S. House and Senate, and all the other national positions first, then it’s the state positions, the county and then the city. After everyone else has been accounted for, then only 20 percent of us vote for our school board candidates.

How many of us actually know who our school board representatives are?

The school board slot itself has served as a launching pad or an after-retirement position for most. And even though they control a half-million dollar budget, the board members themselves don’t get paid, which is one of the main reasons the seat mostly attracts people at the beginning or end of their careers.

At one time, most of the City Council seats were held by people who got their start on the school board, especially the Hill District and Homewood. Valerie McDonald Roberts and Jake Milliones are the most noted. On the North Side, Darlene Harris started on the school board. She moved from school board to City Council and now is looking to become mayor.

Being on the school board takes up a whole lot of time; it can take up as much time as City Council or state representative for those who take it seriously, yet they only get reimbursed for their expenses which has led to many quality people either not running, or stepping down because it takes so much time away from their jobs that paid the bills and family.

One thing that got my attention was their statement that only 43 percent of the people voted in the general election and only 20 percent voted for school board seats.

If the 43 percent is correct, I can understand why people like Donald Trump won the election, as well as why the GOP controls the state House and Senate. We not only are not voting for school board members, we are not voting for anyone. We are just the worst when it comes to the school board vote.

Education is vital to the future of Black America and it all starts with the school board, not the teachers or students, because just how effective a teacher, principal or student can be depends on the support the school board gives through supplies, programs or the methods being used to educate the students. All this comes from the school board first. Even the superintendent is selected by the school board and must answer to them. No matter how great his ideals are, if the school board doesn’t back and support him, none of his ideals will become policy, because the school board provides the funding and all proposers must go through it.

Maybe by putting more emphasis on the school board seats it will lead to more people running for these seats, thus eliminating all the lack of competition we have seen in the primary and general elections the past several years. And hopefully this campaign will lead to better education of the voters about each candidate so that they can make better decisions when it comes time to vote.

Summer jobs funding

President Trump is cutting funding left and right for poor, low and middle income families while cutting taxes for the rich. I guess this is going to ‘Make America Great Again.’ One such cut will affect the summer youth jobs programs not just in Pittsburgh, but all over the country.

Having been a youth who depended on these summer jobs in Champaign, Ill., I understand just how important these cuts are and wish the mayor well in trying to find the funding for these jobs.

When I worked, it was just cutting weeds and other overgrowth for the money. But Pittsburgh has moved much further ahead by offering jobs that can help these young people have a better idea of what they want to do or not do when they graduate. It’s now called the Learn and Earn program because you, well, learn while you earn.

(Ulish Carter is the former managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)

(Editor’s note: According to a March 29 New Pittsburgh Courier story, Mayor Bill Peduto has asked City Council to reallocate $700,000 in capital budget funds to cover a possible loss of federal Community Development Block Grant funds that had been slated to support the Learn and Earn summer jobs program. )

 

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