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Friday October 20th 2017

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Why African American and African studies should be a requirement in Twin Cities Public Schools

It’s been over a month since I sent my CV to a local nonprofit agency that was searching to hire Fellows to work on a brief in support of African American studies in the public school systems. I never got a response, but that will never keep me from championing causes I believe in. Of course this nonprofit might be like others who talk a big game, but when it comes down to pushing an agenda for black learners, they are in lock-step within a political infrastructure led by their friends…they would never push against that, even if it is the right thing to do.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News (Twin Cities)

Twin Cities public schools do not teach the greatness of our black forefathers, nor will they acknowledge the greatness of the black body. (photo: Tumblr - Fair Use).

Twin Cities public schools do not teach the greatness of our black forefathers, nor will they acknowledge the greatness of the black body. (photo: Tumblr – Fair Use).

Every man and woman in existence has a vast story behind then and a bright future to come, but in order to understand where we are going as a society, we need to trace our past steps and learn from the rich experience of our ancestors. African American culture is an integral part of the American culture as a whole, and if we don’t embrace properly, it will be impossible to understand our nation and the incredible contributions that African Americans have had to science, politics, civil rights, medicine, art, jurisprudence, music, diplomacy, literature, military, sports and education. The study and analysis of African American history and issues, is the key to a multidimensional view of humankind.

In this current time where the controversy of racism covers our justice system, it is essential to comprehend the fact that the way to overcome this hideous belief and vanish it from society is through education. Educating our generation about the history and the struggles of African Americans, not only in our country but around the world too, will provide humanity with the right perspective and the well-deserved respect these citizens merit. Knowledge is the light that will shine through the darkness of racism and violence, and it is our duty as a nation that defends the values of freedom and equality, to make sure our youth recognizes this truth.

African-American and Caribbean cultures, which have a lot of African roots, traditions, and values are crucial to develop the appreciation of how important Africa is as a major player in this age of global interdependence. Making students from public schools think about the many and countless achievements of our African-American community traduces into the empowerment of young people, particularly those who live in neighborhoods with high populations of African-American learners, since they are ones who historically have the less means to get ahead in life. We are talking about providing truth and meaningfulness to their efforts and origins, in order to create well-educated and mature human beings and Americans.

History is filled with lots of white men, but we hardly ever focus in the all the things African-Americans have done for the world. We know about the relevance of Martin Luther King or Malcom X, but do we really have a deep understanding of the things they stood for? Moreover, do we really know and value the role of many other African-Americans in every aspect of our culture? What would be of us without their influence in sciences or sports? Are we really a complete society if we don’t include them? The mission that public schools should undertake nowadays to change this is incredibly difficult and complex to carry on: disarm the current established cultural mindset that rejects the inclusion of African-American legacies and embrace them all equally for the well-being of our country.

Public Schools have the challenge to effectively include these studies in their policies and their syllabi as a mandatory aspect to cover in class. If we really strive for people to create a new world order determined by peace, solidarity and the true understanding of each other, then we should start by creating the right conditions: It’s time to start taking into practice fairness and give the African-American culture its rightful place in history and education; it’s time to build the new foundations of our society based upon new, redefined and improved standards of human rights and the way to begin that change is by letting our youth know that we trust them and we are assuming the defy of doing better things for the world.

Minnesota: When can Black Minnesotans be recognized for bravery and be trans-formed?

Many people are saying Bruce Jenner is brave and courageous but you don't see too many people sharing LT.Colonel.

Many people are saying Bruce Jenner is brave and courageous but you don’t see too many people sharing LT.Colonel.

No schoolteacher in Minnesota should have to explain the transition of Bruce Jenner to his or her students until black history, race and caste politics becomes a core standard in Minnesota’s public school system. Can we get back to making black lives better?

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

Black Minnesotans again, have been given the short end of the stick. Black Community members from all across the United States supported same-sex-marriage on behalf of their LGBTIQ friends, families and co-workers with hopes black Minnesotans would get the same support. When legislation was passed making same-sex-marriage legal, a deafening silence replaces marches, protests and lobbying on behalf of the black body for civil rights issues of equity. No…the LGBTIQ community never came back to assist; so why must we (blacks) celebrate without question the ungodly pop culture sensation Bruce Jenner?

Congressman Ellision said...(Photo - Facebook fair use)

Congressman Ellision said…(Photo – Facebook fair use)

On June 1 at 1:55 p.m. Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison posted this message on his Facebook page: “Thank you for your bravery, Caitlyn Jenner. I hope that sharing your story will help change hearts and minds so we can address violence against the trans community, especially trans women of color.”

The problem with congressman Ellison’s statement is one of looking the other way and not really taking care of business in his own back yard. This becomes problematic when talking about bravery and trans women of color in Minnesota that are affected by the same type of prejudices every other black person deals with here (ACLU).

Across the street from the congressman’s north Minneapolis office located inside the Minneapolis Urban League is a health clinic were according to Hennepin County (Minn.), over 91 percent of the resident who use the clinic are more than 200 percent below the federal poverty line (2012 Hennepin County). I do not feel Ellison’s statement was one of sincerity when in his own district, under his watch structural violence in the form of arrests of blacks with no accountability (in some cases they did not commit a crime), unemployment numbers, gaps in education between whites and black learners; and the housing for the homeless are at some of the highest levels in the United States. In Minnesota some areas have turned into a concentration camp of perpetual blight with black-on-black shootings and killings being the main attraction for local media. There can be no bravery in a community where poverty, political exclusion and bad systems of education control information.

I understand why the congressman posted on Facebook about Bruce Jenner’s bravery and transformation, it was to stay in step with the liberal machine of checks and balances that will win the hearts of the blinded masses (and maybe a presidential election for Hillary Clinton).

In reality, I do not give a damn about Bruce Jenner and his pop culture circus with the Kardashians. What confuses me terribly is the fact, based on history, black lives (circumstances) do not matter.

Teachers complain, chaos reigns as St. Paul schools spend millions on ‘white privilege’ training

Video posted by Our Black News – Louis CK, “Being White.”

by Steve Gunn, Editor-in-chief of EAGnews – OBN Guest Contributor

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Have the taxpayers of St. Paul spent nearly $3 million over the past five years to bring chaos and danger to their schools and students?

Apparently so.

In 2010, the St. Paul school district began a contractual relationship with the Pacific Educational Group, a San Francisco-based organization that tries to help public schools deal with achievement and disciplinary issues involving black students.

PEG packages and sells the concept of victimization, for a very high price.

It claims that the American education system is built around white culture, tradition and social norms – aka “white privilege” – to the unfair detriment of black students.

PEG believes that black students will only achieve if school curricula are customized to meet their cultural specifications. It also rejects the concept of using suspensions or expulsions to discipline black students.

The relationship with PEG has been costly for the St. Paul district, in more ways than one.

According to information provided by the district to EAGnews through a freedom of information request, St. Paul schools spent at least the following amounts on PEG consultations services over the past five years:

* $137,720 in 2010-11,

* $366,800 in 2011-12,

* $598,900 in 2012-13,

* $489,150 in 2013-14 and

* $285,895 in 2014-15.

The district also reported spending “matched amounts” of $132,072 (2010-11), $363,260 (2011-12) and $537,900 (2012-13) on PEG, without explaining what that term means.

Not long after PEG started working with St. Paul school officials, crucial policy changes were made, according to various news reports.

Special needs students with behavioral issues were mainstreamed into regular classrooms, a position openly advocated by PEG.

Student suspensions were replaced by “time outs,” and school officials starting forgiving or ignoring violence and other unacceptable behavior, according to various sources.

“The disciplinary changes came out of meetings with an organization called Pacific Educational Group, a San Francisco-based operation that has been consulting with the district dating back to 2010,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The result has been general chaos throughout the district, with far too many students out of control because they know there are no real consequences for their actions.

A  local publication called CityPages recently told the story of Becky McQueen, an educator at St. Paul’s Harding High School.

“Last spring, when she stepped into a fight between two basketball players, one grabbed her shoulder and head, throwing her aside,” the CityPages article explained. “The kid was only sent home for a couple of days.

“In March, when a student barged into her class, McQueen happened to be standing in the doorway and got crushed into a shelf. The following week, two boys came storming in, hit a girl in the head, then skipped back out. One of them had already been written up more than 30 times.

“Yet another student who repeatedly drops into her class has hit kids and cursed at an aide, once telling McQueen he would “fry” her ass. She tried to make a joke of it — ‘Ooh, I could use a little weight loss.’ Her students interjected: ‘No, that means he’s gonna kill you.’”

McQueen now has her students use a secret knock on the classroom door, so she will know who to allow in, the article said.

“There are those that believe that by suspending kids we are building a pipeline to prison. I think that by not, we are,” McQueen told CityPages. “I think we’re telling these kids you don’t have to be on time for anything, we’re just going to talk to you. You can assault somebody and we’re gonna let you come back here.”

There are similar horror stories from many other school buildings in the district, according to CityPages:

At John A. Johnson Elementary on the East Side, several teachers, who asked to remain anonymous, describe anything but a learning environment. Students run up and down the hallways, slamming lockers and tearing posters off the walls. They hit and swear at each other, upend garbage cans under teachers’ noses.

Nine teachers at Ramsey Middle School have quit since the beginning of this school year. Some left for other districts. Others couldn’t withstand the escalating anarchy. In mid-April, staff at Battle Creek Elementary penned a letter to their principal over “concerns about building wide safety, both physical and emotional, as well as the deteriorating learning environment.”

A week later, the principal announced that he would be transferred next year.

One despondent teacher told CityPages, “We have students who will spend an hour in the hallway just running and hiding from people, like it’s a game for them. A lot of them know no one is going to stop them, so they just continue.”

The families of the district have clearly had enough.

Over the past four years, as PEG has cast its influence in St. Paul, the number of students living in the district but attending non-district schools, has increased from about 9,000 to 12,000, according to Joe Nathan, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Center for School Change.

Two-thirds of those students come from low income families, or families of color, so it’s not just a typical case of “white flight,” Nathan said.

“The most basic thing our schools must offer is the safety of the children,” Nathan told the Star Tribune. “A significant number of families are saying their children do not feel safe in the schools. They don’t feel safe even going to the bathroom.”

The situation came to a head in April when members of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, who organized under the name “Caucus for Change,” convinced the powerful Democratic Farm Labor Party to withhold its endorsement from three incumbent school board members who had planned to seek another term in the November election.

The three, who have supported the superintendent’s relaxed disciplinary policies, will reportedly not run without the party endorsement. The party has endorsed four new candidates to fill the upcoming vacancies on the board.

That means the St. Paul school district will likely have four new members on its seven member school board, and perhaps the new majority will do something to restore discipline, order and sanity to the schools.

But what about the district’s relationship with PEG? Will officials continue to waste taxpayer dollars on an organization that pushes policies that destroy any hope for creating or maintaining a productive learning environment?

As one recently published story on better-ed.org put it, “Given the recent (and probably ongoing) turmoil in St. Paul Public Schools, it’s time to ask questions about Pacific Educational Group.”

Minnesota Department of Education Parent Information Focus Groups scheduled

Our Black News – Community Alert 2015 

*See Letter to Parents and Guardians below

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 9.41.46 AM

A perfect opportunity for parents to give feedback.

Letter to Recruit Parents-Focus-Groups The Minnesota Department of Education is working on a redesign of the Individualized Student Reports (ISRs) provided to parents or guardians each year with test results on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). We are recruiting parents or guardians in your region to participate in a focus group to provide input on the report mock-ups being considered for reporting 2016 results.

The goal of the redesign is to deliver improved student reports that provide clear, concise interpretive information as well as a more graphical presentation of the test results.

We are asking for feedback about which elements are easiest to understand, which elements provide the most beneficial information, and what additional information can be provided to help with the interpretation and usefulness of the reports.

State Area Parent Focus Groups (Click on Date to RSVP).

Monday 6/15, Rochester, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday 6/16, Brooklyn Center, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday 6/16, Duluth, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday 6/17, Bemidji, 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Thursday 6/18, Marshall, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Thursday 6/18, St Paul, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Please RSVP online with the appropriate location RSVP link above or call Pearson at 1-888-817-8659 to RSVP.

Governor Mark Dayton’s Pre-K Plan (information) is purposely being kept away from Black Minnesotans

Governor Mark Dayton's plan is graded. (Photo: "F" - Fair Use).

Governor Mark Dayton’s plan is graded. (Photo: “F” – Fair Use).

The evolution of Jim Crow seems to follow black Minnesotans into employment, economic development and education. The governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds will drive every program created by people of color outside MN’s public education system out of business. Cultural competence is being met by political bamboozling. 

By Don Allen, Publisher –Our Black News

I was inspired to write this piece after hearing reports on Minnesota Public Radio and just recently reading Joe Nathans piece, “Column: Four requests of the governor, state legislators.”

Again, I am put in a tough position trying to explain to my brothers and sisters about what is happening at the state legislature without our consent, which will lead to the further destruction of our black youth in the public education system. The Pre-K bill that the House and Senate produced is one of political favors and a payback to Minnesota’s public education system for some deed done that was aligned in lock step with the Democratic Farm Labor party (DFL). Governor Dayton wants to make free all-day kindergarten available around the state and spend more than $100 million on preschool programs for 4-year-olds in public schools…free sounds great, but because of the programming done to black Minnesotans this free will cost us dearly.

If an expert says Dayton’s plan is no good, then why are black Minnesotans not talking about it? (Jim Crow training.)

An expert on the guts of this bill Art Rolnick, the former research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis who supported Dayton’s previous efforts to expand learning for the youngest children, now a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has made researching early childhood education a big part of his life’s work doesn’t back the governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds. Rolnick prefers an existing scholarship program that pays for needy children to attend Head Start, a childcare facility or a public school program that meets quality standards. He said Dayton’s plan is misguided because it would subsidize early education for all kids rather than target low-income children who need early education the most and are the least likely to have access to it (MPR).

The other catch 22 is if passed, this bill will put most private pre-K educational facilities like Montessori schools out of business. This means, a program ran by black Minnesotans, for black (or children of color), low-income, poverty stricken will have to enter into a system that has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that black bodies do not matter and educating these bodies, based on Minnesota school systems continuing decline means nothing. Of course, the African American Leadership Forum fully endorse Dayton’s plan, which should be telling in itself. A black organization supporting more failure for black children…think about it. (There has always been overseers.)

Let me remind you; white students sit in the same classrooms besides our failing black students in Twin Cities and manage to maintain a passing grade. The public school system was never set up with a cultural competence piece to teach black students.

Dr. Paul Farmer an expert on structural violence would say this in light of what’s happening to black Minnesotans

Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people … neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.

The catastrophic failure of Minnesota’s public education system has roots that reach from the training of new teachers to testing. Minnesota has looked the other way when Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education in a visit to Minnesota suggested more black male teachers in the classroom might be a start to close the gap. The Minnesota Board of Teaching, who controls the Minnesota Teachers Licensure Exam (MTLE), has continued to let what I allege is the racist organization Pearson dictate testing in Minnesota from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Pearson’s farms out its testing development to another firm in the same state. What we get in Minnesota is a test where the first few question is about Hitler’s drive into Europe (Allen 9/13).

The state of Minnesota is not complicit alone in its social arrangements. There are several politically driven “educational nonprofits,” which maintain their non-partisanship demeanor, but their actions aligning with DFL tactics show otherwise.

The Minneapolis Foundation, Charter School Partners, Educators for Excellence, Education Evolving, Migizi Communications, Minnesota Business Partnership, MinnCAN, Parent Aware for School Readiness, and Put Students First Minnesota all need to be questioned about their intent. All listed agencies are well-established, stocked with white females, but yet do not have a plan to assist black bodies failing in the public school systems – but think governor Dayton’s pre-K bill is a formula dropped out of Mount Olympus.

Another piece of this pre-K puzzle is the voice of our black elected officials. Senators Bobby Joe Champion, Jeff Hayden and state representative Rena Moran have remained virtually silent about Dayton’s pre-K bonanza. Black people in the black community do not know enough about this bill other than if Dayton says its good…its good; he’s a democrat, president Obama is a democrat…the bill must be good. The step and fetch-it mentality of the black community will be their undoing unless we start to pay attention when these white men and women talk about spending and re-routing billions and not one red cent will touch the black community, or its children in the public school system.

What should happen at the end of the day is that if a universal pre-K bill is passed, parents and legal guardians should be able to chose where the money goes. So if I want to send my 4-year-old to a Montessori program, the voucher I have will direct money to that program because I feel strongly this is the best option for my child.

Minnesota state government is not a parent of your young pre-school children. Do not let them start now.

Structural violence has a chokehold on black Minnesotans.

Is Downtown Minneapolis is safe…do black youth have summer jobs? (No)

If young black at-risk students do not have summer jobs to look forward to, downtown Minneapolis will become the mecca of hanging out, which leads to nothing but bad things. Come on, we have seen this too many years in a row.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

Yes, downtown Minneapolis has a lot to see and offer. But city officials don't offer it to their own. (photo: Minneapolis skyline - Fair Use)

Yes, downtown Minneapolis has a lot to see and offer. But city officials don’t offer it to their own. (photo: Minneapolis skyline – Fair Use)

In the career long tradition of former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, the city of Minneapolis police chief, mayor and city council want residents, visitors and business people to know downtown Minneapolis is safe. This announcement published in the Star Tribune earlier this week is only a metaphor from city officials who do not have a clue as to what it is that keeps the shootings, stabbings and robberies in downtown Minneapolis a focal point of concern.

If Minneapolis is so safe, then why the need to make a public spectacle of the area? I’ll tell you, Minneapolis is far from being the sanctified grail of fun and excitement it used to be. As someone who is very interested in restaurants, shows and people watching, it is very clear, when in downtown Minneapolis, especially at night, you do not walk into crowds of youth and expect not to be disrespected, asked for money or called an Uncle Tom or sell out because you’re wearing a suit that you worked very hard to buy and these thugs and thugette’s (black and white) wouldn’t know the first thing about doing something meaningful in terms of pulling up their bootstraps and applying a little sweat equity to get what they need.

Minneapolis’ mayor Betsy Hodges has failed to focus on programs like the very successful Neighborhood Youth Corps, employing youth 14-21 in meaningful roles in Minneapolis. From building cement trash cans for Nicollet Mall, cutting the grass for Minneapolis’ senior citizen population, or making wood chip trails down by the banks of the Mississippi River, the creativity of employing Minneapolis’ most critical population to deter crime is met with more police. A challenge that will bite the mayor and police chief right in the behind once the Aquatennial and city block parties start to happen.

We all have heard the news reports. Shootings at Target Field, robberies in downtown Minneapolis and many deals gone bad that never get reported to the police, its only a matter of time before that wife, child or visitor to downtown Minneapolis becomes a statistic and city, including its Department of Civil Rights will be forced to deal head-on with what they do not want to happen…the successful and part-time gainful employment of Minneapolis at-risk youth.

With less than $1 million, the city of Minneapolis could hire 500 youth from north and south Minneapolis at minimum wage to work at least 25-30 hours per week in programs connected with leadership from the public school system, police department and Minneapolis’ health department. The work could range from door-to-door lit drops, to beatification projects in Minneapolis Parks. However, this takes creative planning and I feel the city has run its course of creativity, intention and ethical behavior in this matter.

Personally, when I go downtown – it’s in and out…anyone reading this should plan your trips accordingly. #willnotbeaDTmplsvictimofviolence

Medical cannabis law changes clarify use in health care facilities

Medical marijuana news in Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Department of Health

Certification and registration starts June 1

Media inquiries: Scott Smith – MDH Communications, Phone: 651-201-5806

During the final days of the 2015 regular legislative session, state lawmakers amended Minnesota’s medical cannabis statute to address patients’ use of medical cannabis in hospitals and other health care facilities.

The amendment extends protections and immunities to employees of health care facilities to possess medical cannabis while carrying out their employment duties. These protections include providing care or distributing medical cannabis to a patient on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry who is actively receiving treatment or care at the facility. The amendment also allows health care facilities to reasonably restrict the use of medical cannabis by patients. For example, the facility may choose not store or maintain a patient’s supply of medical cannabis or that use of medical cannabis may be limited to a specific location.

With certification and registration beginning Monday, June 1, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has added informational resources on the Medical Cannabis website (mn.gov/medicalcannabis) to help Minnesota patients better understand their options under the state’s new medical cannabis program.

June 1 is the first day that the registration process can start,” said Assistant Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala. ”While there is no time limit on when patients can register, this is a good time for patients and practitioners to start having the conversation about medical cannabis.”

An essential first step for those patients interested in medical cannabis is to visit a health care practitioner – a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant – who can go to the MDH website and certify they have one or more of the qualifying conditions. Once a provider certifies a patient, the patient can register at the MDH website to receive medical cannabis at one of the locations established by manufacturers after the program goes live July 1.

Practitioners voluntarily choose whether to certify patients. Patients may have to seek a second opinion if their practitioner declines to participate. Patients also need to consider the potential out-of-pocket costs, which could be hundreds of dollars a month. Minnesota insurers do not cover medical cannabis.

Under the law passed in 2014, patients with the following conditions qualify for medical cannabis in Minnesota:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea  or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or treatment produces severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting

Minnesota plans to have eight Cannabis Patient Centers across the state. The first ones will open July 1 in Minneapolis, Eagan and St. Cloud. Additional locations in Rochester, Eden Prairie, St. Paul, Hibbing and Moorhead will open in the following months. After completing the registration process, patients can visit a cannabis patient center to receive medical cannabis. Patients meet with a pharmacist to determine the correct dose of medication.

-MDH-

 

Military Families’ Reliance On Food Stamps Hit A Record High

I wish someone could explain to me why our military personnel need food stamps.

I wish someone could explain to me why our military personnel need food stamps.

Editors note: DOD-run stores, known as commissaries, sell food to active-duty and retired military personnel and their families at prices that are lower than what private grocers charge. Nearly $104 million of the $6.2 billion in total revenue the commissaries brought in during fiscal year 2013 came from food stamps.  Food stamp usage at the stores has more than quadrupled since 2007 as the recession compounded the already difficult financial situation faced by military families. New soldiers with a child and a spouse earn $20,000 per year in pay, according to CNN Money, and the frequent relocations and disruptions inherent to the lifestyle of a military family make it harder for military spouses to find jobs and bring in supplementary income. The unemployment rate for young military spouses was 30 percent in 2012. Retired military servicemen and women who joined up after 9/11 have a 10 percent unemployment rate, which also contributes to the elevated food stamp figures at DOD commissaries, and nearly a million working-age veterans lived in poverty in 2010.

The following is from MPR by Krissy Clark:

growing number of working people use food stamps to help make ends meet. Often they work in retail, food and service industry jobs, where pay is traditionally low. But there’s another group of working people turning to food stamps that might surprise you: active-duty military personnel and their families.

What do we know about food stamp use in the military?
 
Every year the Department of Agriculture publishes data about where food stamp benefits (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) are being spent. The categories range from grocery stores and super stores to convenience stores and farmers markets. Also on the list, surprisingly, are military commissaries — those stores on military bases that sell groceries just above cost to active duty and retired military personnel and their families, as well as those in the reserves and National Guard.
In 2014 more than $84 million-worth of food stamp benefits were spent at military commissaries. That’s just a fraction of a percent of all the food stamps spent in the U.S. last year. But the number is sobering when you think of who is doing this spending — people who served or are currently serving our country and are still having trouble making ends meet.
Do we know how many active-duty military personnel are on food stamps?
The numbers are hard to come by. Neither the military nor the USDA tally those numbers, but recently the USDA estimated that between 2,000 and 22,000 active-duty military members
used food stamps in 2012, the latest data available. (There’s an interesting explanation of how those vastly divergent numbers are arrived at in this PDF, a report from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.) These estimates suggest that between 1 percent and 2 percent of active-duty military members used food stamps in 2012.
What about veterans?
The USDA estimates that in 2012, more than 1.5 million veterans used food stamps, or about 7 percent of all veterans.
How low does your income have to be to qualify for food stamps?
Pretty low — though it depends on how big your household is. A single person has to be grossing less than $15,180 a year. For a family of four, the annual income threshold is $31,008.
So what is military pay these days?
If you are a very junior member of the military on active duty, your annual base pay can be less than $19,000. Add in housing and food allowances and it can go up to the high $30,000s. But if you’ve got a big family, if your spouse isn’t working (which, if you’re moving around from base to base or if one parent is overseas can often be the case), that money may not go too far. You might very well qualify for food stamps, or at least find yourself struggling to get by.
What kinds of financial challenges face military families?
Jennifer Daelyn grew up in a military family and now runs the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry near Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base north of San Diego. When she tells people that she helps a lot of active-duty military families, “often people are really surprised that it’s even needed,” she says. “They’re like ‘they don’t need that — that doesn’t really happen.’ But it does.”
Daelyn says she hears common concerns from the military families she serves. “They might have things set up if everything is going as planned, but if unplanned costs arise — someone needed to get new tires for their car, or had an unexpected pregnancy, it’s difficult to handle considering the financial situation that they’re in.”
And then there’s the added challenge that military families are moved around a lot. “It can be hard to maintain family and social support networks,” Daelyn says. “People who are in different states than their parents, than the kids’ grandparent that was providing support for them emotionally, financially, just with coping.”
Does it matter if military personnel use food stamps?
You could look at the issue of military personnel on food stamps as academic — it’s all government money after all. Does it matter if lower-paid military members are getting part of their paychecks supplemented through one taxpayer-funded program, SNAP, rather than subsisting on their taxpayer-funded paychecks alone?
Others argue it’s just not right that wages for some of those serving in the military haven’t kept up with inflation.

The Suicide Rate for African American Boys has doubled since 1993

By Your Black World

A study published in the JAMA Pediatrics on Tuesday found that black-boys suicide rate among has doubled since 1993. The suicide rate among white children during the same period has declined.

Why do black youth commit suicide?

Why do black youth commit suicide?

The study tracked the suicide rate of children aged 5 to 11 from 1993 to 2012. During the period studied, the suicide rate among black boys rose from 1.78 to 3.47 per million, while suicides among white boys dropped from 1.96 to 1.31 per million.

“I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” said Jeffrey Bridge, lead researcher and epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

“I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly?’ I thought we had made a mistake,” Bridge told the New York Times.

“We were very surprised to see higher suicide rates among black children over time,” added Bridge.

“The stable overall suicide rate in school-aged children in the United States during 20 years of study obscured a significant increase in suicide incidence in black children and a significant decrease in suicide incidence among white children. Findings highlight a potential racial disparity that warrants attention. Further studies are needed to monitor these emerging trends and identify risk, protective, and precipitating factors relevant to suicide prevention efforts in children younger than 12 years,” the journal concluded.

The rate of suicide among black girls is also rising, increasing from .68 to 1.23 per one million. The suicide rate for white girls during that same period went from 0.25 to 0.24 per 1 million.

This increase in suicide in black children is alarming since it goes against the national trend.

“Historically, the suicide rate among US black individuals has been lower than that of white individuals across age groups, although the gap between black and white boys aged 10 to 19 years narrowed from 1980 to 1995.9,15 To our knowledge, this is the first national study to observe higher suicide rates among US black individuals compared with white individuals.”

What can the Minneapolis Urban League do to survive it’s own reputation?

Today I, Don Allen offer an olive branch to the Minneapolis Urban League. If I have to work to help keep the doors open, then let it be. It is much more important the agency survives its own storm with the assistance of broad thinkers like myself who hold the key to survival and re-invention.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

One right move today can make the difference for the Minneapolis Urban League.

One right move today can make the difference for the Minneapolis Urban League.

Since 2007, the Minneapolis Urban League has been plagued with issues funding, accountability and questionable numbers of community members served by the agency. In 2007, community members were in shock as the city of Minneapolis re-directed over $700,000 in funding for a truancy program to another agency under the watchful hand of former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak who maintained concerns the Minneapolis Urban Leagues program missed the mark in addressing critical needs in the areas of truancy and community engagement. The termination of the contract to manage the Curfew/Truancy Center also meant a dozen people hired by the program were unemployed effective December 31, 2007 when the current contract expires. The Minneapolis Urban League managed the program for the city and county since its inception, 12 years ago. The program was created as collaboration between then County Attorney (now U.S. Senator) Amy Klobachar, and then Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.

Between 2008 and 2009, the Greater Twin Cities United Way pulled over $1 million from the agency. It was explained the United Way changed their focus from 7th-to-12th grade education to early childhood education and this was significant to MUL, because they operates both an elementary/middle school and high school that experienced a direct hit [approximately $500,000 per year].

In 2013, the Minnesota House of Representatives have enacted a bill attempting to establish a “13th” grade pilot project based in north Minneapolis. The bill, H.F. 1149 is part of an education and employability solution for young adults who are unemployed, underemployed and not enrolled in postsecondary education. Co-authored by Senators Jeff Hayden (D-SD 62), Bobby Joe Champion (D-SD 59), Representatives Ray Dehn (D-HD 59B) and Will Morgan (D-SD 56B), the bill is said to potentially impact over 3,000 young adults ages 18-26, placing them on college and career pathways by 2015. It states the commissioner of education shall develop a one-year “13th” grade pilot project, with one site being operated by the Minneapolis Urban League. Unfortunately, the oversight for this educational juggernaut was snatched away by the bills authors, leaving responsibilities only to officials and board members at the agency (MUL). That too was shut down when the Minneapolis Urban League was accused of potential double billing. The questions started after the Minneapolis School District awarded the Minneapolis Urban League as much as $800,000 a year for a program that never lived up to its promise of graduating the city’s most troubled high school students. Then Minnesota legislators agreed to give the Urban League $300,000 a year for nearly identical work, paying some of the same staff to work with many of the same students the school district already was paying to help. Now top state officials and Minneapolis school leaders are investigating whether the Urban League is getting paid twice for similar work (Star Tribune).

Needless to say, the Minneapolis Urban League has a trend, not a fluke of alleged mismanagement of resources.

In 2015, after 40 years of service to the Minneapolis Public School systems, the relationship between the Minneapolis Urban League and school system was cut off. Minneapolis Urban League will be closing its alternative high school, coming a month after criticism from state and Minneapolis School District officials that the agency was double billing for its work helping at-risk teenagers. The alternative high school will close June 5, ending a 40-year partnership with the Minneapolis Public Schools.

The Minneapolis Urban League must come to the realization a different approach is needed before the agencies doors are shut for good. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Admit to the mainstream community of the Twin Cities, not just the black bourgeoisie of the Twin Cities that the MUL has made many mistakes.
  2. Talk in open forums about the plans to correct or reset the MUL.
  3. Stop using black media outlets to cry race card and that the white news paper are “attacking a black agency,” when in fact any thinking person knows the MUL has been virtually ineffective for many years and provides no real substance to its surrounding community in north, or south Minneapolis.
  4. Re-engage members of the community the MUL has vilified, like Don Allen for instance. New and different relationships might reconnect the MUL to uncovered funding that is currently on the table. (Hint)
  5. Let community members know when you will have the challenge fixed. There’s nothing worse than black folks working in a silo like they’re members of the NSA.
  6. The failure of the MUL’s “Gateway to Success” must be rebranded to something meaningful and Twin Cities appropriate. Former MUL president R. Scott Gray had no skin-in-the-game, and we allege most of his ideas were someone else’s ideas.
  7. Open the MUL’s focus to the Hispanic-Latino, Asian and Immigrant population in the Twin Cites. The discretionary spending of these groups combined with black Minnesotans is in the billions every year…an MUL self-awareness campaign wouldn’t be a bad idea to build the community with affirmations like, “We can build the MUL together.”
  8. Apologize: At this point, thinking you’re pulling the wool over someone’s eyes is a death sentence for the MUL; yes it’s humbling, but a necessary part of the community healing process.
  9. Make sure those Conflict of Interest Statements are signed, god forbid state auditor James Noble finds out the MUL has been paying a board member for advertising and editorial content the crap will hit the fan (oops).
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Many of us already know the Minneapolis Urban League under its past and current leadership cannot make it alone. If the Minneapolis Urban League maintains it stratified social cabal, marginalizing creativity by those they demonize, we can expect the Minneapolis Urban League to take the same path of the St. Paul Urban League…Closed, out of service.

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