Education

Miami-Dade County Schools in Mask Mandate Spotlight

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Almost three million people in Florida have contracted COVID-19, and more than 41,000 have died. Of those statistics, Miami-Dade County represents more than 583,000 of those cases and almost 6,500 deaths. The Delta variant of COVID is much more contagious and severe. Yet, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican leaders have manipulated some parents to use a CDC (Center for Disease Control) preventive measure to protect school children, parents, and employees as a first amendment parental right. No matter how much the Board of Education says it’s not about mask-wearing, it clearly is. To suggest or declare anything different is a lie. Risking lives by politicizing COVID is shameful and illegal. It is tantamount to child endangerment.

 

This unbelievable attempt at political bullying and intimidation will come to a head in Miami-Dade County at 11 AM today when the school board convenes. The School Board and Superintendent are in the media spotlight and in the crosshairs of Gov. DeSantis, the Florida Board of Education, and the State Commissioner of Education because of non-compliance with the governor's ban on mask mandates. 

 

Gov. DeSantis threatened to withhold budget from non-compliant districts and Pres. Joseph Biden interceded in support of Broward County and Alachua County school boards and superintendents who have stood their grounds. 

 

Will the Miami-Dade County School Board and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho protect the District, or will they cave to the authoritarian Republican leadership of the state? Based on public comments, it appears that at least one Miami-Dade School Board Member has already said no to the mask mandate, and others might try to please everyone, which will be a sure failure to the students, parents, and employees of the District. 

 

Situations such as this test the integrity and courage of leaders. There are few if any, options to compromise while the Delta variant ravages our community and more COVID mutations are on the way. It’s so unfortunate that elected, and appointed leaders are willing to choose politics over people, but we’ve seen this before when they choose profits over people.

 

Here is the link to the subject board agenda item, H-17, proffered by the Vice-Chair of The School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida,  Dr. Steve Gallon III -   http://pdfs.dadeschools.net/Bdarch/2021/bd081821/agenda/h17rev.pdf. Please tune in online or attend  in-person  today. 


South Florida Spelman Alumnae Host Virtual Scholarship Fundraiser Sunday, June 27, 2021 3PM

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The South Florida Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College will present their "All That Jazz" 2021 Virtual Scholarship Fundraiser and Live Auction on Sunday, June 27, 2021, 3 PM ET.

Event co-hosts are Spelman alumnae Christie Grays Chambers, commercial realtor and founder of I am CHIC, and Betty Davis, Chief Meteorologist, WPLG-10.

You can win exquisite items while empowering the next generation of global women leaders in the liberal arts, sciences, and business.

Since 1881, Spelman College has produced notable alumnae such as Stacey Abrams, Alice Walker, Rosalind Brewer, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Esther Rolle, Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Marian Wright Edelman, and Bernice King.

RSVP at sfnaasc.org.


Juneteenth Unityfest, Livestreamed Celebrity Event, June 19, 2021 5pm-9pm ET

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Juneteenth Unityfest, a star-studded live streamed event presented by the Robert Randolph Foundation (RRF) is designed to commemorate and celebrate the Juneteenth holiday. GRAMMY™ Award-winning artists India.Arie and Ledisi have been added to the lineup.

Hosted by actress and author Amanda Seales and comedian JB Smoove, Juneteenth Unityfest will include musical performances by: Robert Randolph, Earth, Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, India.Arie, Darius Rucker, Dave Matthews & Carter Beauford, Ledisi, Black Pumas, Aloe Blacc, Keb’ Mo’, Bebe Winans, Khruangbin, Phony Ppl, Judith Hill, Jimmie Allen, Korean Soul, The Soul Rebels, and Greg Phillinganes, with more acts to be named soon.

The show also features guest appearances by: Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, Jon Hamm, Van Jones, Wayne Brady, Holly Robinson Peete, Aisha Tyler, Craig Robinson, Zach Galifianakis, Gail Devers, Lynn Nottage, Jason Wright, Krystal Mackie, Zina GarrisonWilson Cruz,Roger Guenveur Smith, LeVar Burton, Ms. Opal Lee, Adesola Osakalumi, Baratunde Thurston, and Jesse Williams.

Throughout the program, many community organizations and HBCUs will be highlighted. Some of the over 35 partners include:  HBCUs Benedict College, Fisk University, Lincoln University and Mississippi Valley State University; community organizations: Heal America, AARP Pennsylvania, The Africa Center, The African American Museum of Philadelphia, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, beGirl.world, The Hip Hop Caucus, The HollyRod Foundation,  The Links, Incorporated, The Muhammad Ali Center, Reel Works, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Usher’s New Look, We Are Family Foundation, the Zina Garrison Foundation, and UNCF.


Talladega College Explores Feasibility of Reviving Football Program on 100-Year Anniversary of Championship Win

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(Talladega, AL)  The Talladega College Board of Trustees authorized Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins to employ a consultant to determine the feasibility of reviving the institution’s football program.  Trustees voted in favor of conducting a feasibility study during the institution’s spring board meeting on April 30, 2021. 

Talladega seized the Black College Football National Championship in both 1920 and 1921 under the leadership of Coach Jubie Barton Bragg. While the institution’s illustrious football program was canceled 80 years ago, during World War II, the upcoming study may help usher in a new era of football for Alabama’s first private historically black college.

“The year 2021 marks the one hundred year anniversary of our historic back-to-back championship win,” said Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins. “Given the success of our academic and athletic programs; the recent growth and transformation of the college; and the myriad benefits of having a football program, now may be the time to revive our team. This could be great for the college, the community, and central Alabama. However, our decision will be based upon the findings of a formal feasibility study.”

Dr. Hawkins has extensive experience in bringing back a college football program. During his tenure as president of Texas College, where he served prior to beginning his presidency at Talladega, he successfully restarted the institution’s football program that had been shut down for 40 years. Texas’s football program is still thriving today. 

Talladega’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Jeffery T. Burgin Jr, recently spearheaded a preliminary investigation to determine the feasibility of adding a football program.  His committee surveyed employees and found that an overwhelming majority of Talladega’s faculty and staff are in favor of having a football program. Most employees believe a football team will increase student enrollment and retention; attract donations and sponsorships; and increase institutional pride.

“We are now moving forward with a true feasibility study. Adding a football program will affect community members so we want to hear their opinions. We also want to gage the opinions of our alumni and other stakeholders,” Dr. Burgin stated.

Talladega College Athletic Director Kevin Herod added, “The possibility of adding football would only enhance our athletic program and bring new opportunities to the campus, the community, and the overall collegiate experience for our students.” 

Shakayah Midgette, a 2021 graduate who served as student representative to the Talladega College Board of Trustees, stated, “The band would love to actually march at home games, and many students are excited about the possibility of attending football games on campus.  School pride has increased a great deal, and I believe a football team would help it to increase even further.  Football would attract new students as well as sponsors.”

Talladega recently launched its first-ever graduate program and constructed three new facilities — a 45,000-square-foot residence hall; the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center; and the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses Hale Woodruff’s renowned Amistad Murals. The 2020-2021 academic year was Talladega’s 3rd consecutive year for record enrollment increases. Talladega is consistently listed among the best colleges in the Southeast and the top HBCUs in the nation.  

 


Clark Atlanta University to Host Stacey Abrams and Bakari Sellers as Commencement Speakers

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The university will hold a unique dual ceremony honoring the Classes of 2020 and 2021

ATLANTA/PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday, May 15, Clark Atlanta University will hold a dual commencement ceremony honoring the Classes of 2020 and 2021. Politician, attorney and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams will address the Class of 2020 during the 8 a.m. ceremony, followed by attorney, politician and political commentator Bakari Sellers, who will address the Class of 2021 during the 3 p.m. ceremony.

Like many universities across the country, Clark Atlanta University postponed its 2020 commencement ceremony due to COVID. But university leaders remained committed to making sure that students don't miss out on this pivotal moment in their lives.

"We wanted to give our students the opportunity to walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and be recognized for their hard work in a traditional ceremony," said Clark Atlanta University President Dr. George T. French, Jr. "They have earned the right to experience that moment surrounded by their classmates, family and friends." 

An HBCU graduate and Georgia's Democratic nominee for governor in 2018, Abrams, was scheduled to address 2020 Clark Atlanta University graduates before the pandemic postponed the ceremony.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to the next generation of leaders graduating from Clark Atlanta University," said Abrams. "I hope that my words serve as a source of encouragement for the graduates by reminding them of how they can use their education to uplift those who are often unseen and unheard and push our society forward."

New York Times bestselling author, Abrams served as the Ga. House of Representatives Minority Leader from 2011 to 2017. In 2018, she launched Fair Fight Action, a national voting rights organization rooted in Georgia.

New York Times bestselling author, Sellers made history in 2006 as the youngest African-American elected official in the nation by winning a seat in the South Carolina State Legislature at age 22. Sellers, a CNN commentator and host of the Bakari Sellers Podcast, has been recognized as one of Time Magazine'40 Under 40 and made "The Root 100" list of the most influential African-Americans.

"As an HBCU graduate myself, I can distinctly recall the pride and excitement I felt when I graduated," said Sellers. "I hope to share a sense of optimism with these remarkable students as we honor their great accomplishments and look ahead to their bright futures."

Clark Atlanta University President Dr. George T. French, Jr. recognizes the importance of having two Black leaders who have profoundly affected American politics and civil rights.

"Our goal here at Clark Atlanta University is to prepare our students to be globally competitive and to be successful contributors and trailblazers in their respective fields of study," said Dr. French. "Hearing from Ms. Abrams and Mr. Sellers -- two leaders who have already made a difference themselves -- is a fitting way to send our students off fully prepared to take on the world."

 

 


NAACP Presents Legislative Debrief on Voter Suppression

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Let’s get informed and stay informed in preparation for the 2022 midterm elections. 

The Fort Lauderdale/Broward Branch of the NAACP will present a Virtual Legislative Debrief: “Where Do We Go From Here” on voter suppression in Florida. The event is scheduled for Thursday, May 6, 2021, 7 PM- 8:30 PM ET. Featured speakers are House Minority Leader, State Representative Bobby Dubose and State Representative Tracie Davis.  

Scan the QR code on the flyer to register or click here

Marsha A. Ellison is the president of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward Branch of the NAACP.

 

 

 


Wilson to Host Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee Hearing on the Future of Higher Education Post-COVID

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Washington, D.C. – Today, at 1 p.m. ET, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson will lead her first hearing as chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. The theme is Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Higher Education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant inequities in higher education and placed an enormous strain on universities and colleges and their students. The abrupt shift to remote learning has exacerbated barriers that make it difficult to successfully attend and graduate from college, particularly for low-income students and students of color who depend more heavily on the on-campus services they no longer had access to, including food and housing. While all students have been impacted by the pandemic, the biggest enrollment declines have occurred among black undergraduates and low-income students. Alarmingly, students who do not complete their educations have considerably higher levels of loan default. There is also evidence that the shift to online learning has compounded existing racial achievement gaps.

“The three relief packages passed by Congress invests more than $75 billion to help institutions and students avert crises, but we must do much more to ensure that underserved students are not left behind as the nation recovers from the pandemic,” says Congresswoman Wilson. “Bold steps will be required to strengthen student protections and expand access to student aid so that we build back a better higher education system for everyone. This hearing will explore how we can begin to achieve those goals.”

To watch the hearing, click here.

 


Follow the Money: School Board Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon Proposes Item to Address the Receipt, Plan and Accountability for the District’s Nearly $1.1 Billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

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At today’s Miami-Dade County School Board Meeting, Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III will propose an agenda item regarding the almost $1.1 billion the school district receives from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress. It intends to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession, which developed as a consequence. First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. It also provides $130 billion to elementary, middle, and high schools to assist with safe reopening, with Florida slated to receive approximately $7.4 billion. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district and having the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged students, is estimated to receive $1.1 billion. The bill will also directly impact local students and families through individual relief measures, including child tax credits that are projected to reduce child poverty substantially. 

With the infusion of these funds, the District will enhance its capacity to mitigate and address the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its students and their learning for over a year, with studies anticipating that learning loss will be more significant among low-income, Black, and Hispanic students---a demographic highly concentrated in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and whose anticipated academic, social, and emotional needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in large part and generated the unprecedented amount of federal funds.

Gallon’s proposal also directs the Superintendent to schedule a Board Workshop to discuss and review the allocation and allowable use of these funds, as well as,  review the prior allocation, expenditure, and planned use for remaining funds allocated to the District through the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020; and establish a system and structure for quarterly reporting of all funds expended through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and make available for easy public access and review on the District’s website.

“This will ensure that the Board provides increased focus, transparency, and accountability as well as an opportunity for the public to be informed about and serve witness to the School Board’s policy, practices, and procurement decision-making processes involving nearly $1.1 billion that have been allocated to enhance and uplift the learning and lives of our students---especially those facing the greatest challenges and with the greatest needs,” said Dr. Gallon.

To read the full item, click here: 

http://schoolboard.dadeschools.net/documents/agenda/h17.pdf


AKAs Present Virtual Spring Preview of Florida A&M University, 11 AM Saturday March 27

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On Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 11 AM, the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will present a Virtual Spring Preview spotlighting Florida A&M University.

This event targets high school juniors and seniors. Parents and interested prospective students are invited to attend. Not only will participants experience a virtual tour of the university, but you can also learn about admissions, financial aid, academic programs, housing and more.

Community service hours will be awarded to students. Click here to register.


Fisk Jubilee Singers® Win GRAMMY® Award for Best Roots Gospel Album

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 Nashville, TN (March 14, 2021) — Curb Records is excited to announce a 2021 GRAMMY® win for the Fisk Jubilee Singers’® album, Celebrating Fisk! (The 150thAnniversary Album), in the Best Roots Gospel Album category. Listen to the album HERE.

“I am very thankful to my students – 2016 and 2017 Fisk Jubilee Singers – Shannon Sanders, guest artists and everyone who contributed to us winning this award,” shares Dr. Paul Kwami, Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. “It is the first GRAMMY Award won by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in our 150-year history. The Fisk Jubilee Singers established and introduced a unique form of American music to the world in the 1800s and the legacy lives on!”

Shannon Sanders, album producer, also shares, “I am both humbled and honored to be a part of this historic moment. Congratulations to Dr. Paul T. Kwami, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Fisk University, Curb Records, and all of the phenomenal artists, musicians and engineers that contributed to this incredible project.”

The album, which is more than 150 years in the making, is a collection of 12 songs that beautifully represents and communicates the powerful and vibrant history of Fisk University, Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the city of Nashville. It features the group from the stage of Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, with guest appearances by Ruby Amanfu, Keb’ Mo’, Lee Ann Womack, The Fairfield Four, Rod McGaha, Derek Minor, Shannon Sanders, Rodney Atkins, Jimmy Hall and CeCe Winans, and was produced by Shannon Sanders, Paul Kwami, Jim Ed Norman, and Mike Curb.

“How exciting for the Fisk Jubilee Singers to be recognized for their hard work and dedication, not only on this album, but throughout history,” shares Curb Records Chairman, Mike Curb. “I have been blessed to work with Paul Kwami, who is a musical genius and a national treasure. This GRAMMY also honors Fisk University’s 150th Anniversary, which is so important for Nashville and our entire country. This is a momentous day for Fisk, the Curb Records team, and everyone that has been part of this project.” 

For more information, visit fisk.edu

Track-listing:

  1. Wade In The Water
  2. Blessed Assurance (feat. CeCe Winans)
  3. I Believe (feat. Keb’ Mo’)
  4. Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right (feat. Lee Ann Womack)
  5. Rock My Soul (feat. The Fairfield Four)
  6. I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (feat. Ruby Amanfu)
  7. When The Saints Go Marching In (feat. Rod McGaha)
  8. ‘Way Over In Egypt Land
  9. Glory / Stranger (feat. Derek Minor & Shannon Sanders)
  10. Working On A Building (feat. Rodney Atkins)
  11. My Lord Is So High
  12. I Saw The Light (feat. Jimmy Hall)