Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blog 126: President Barack Obama Embraces Global Warming In His Second Inaugural Address

By Vernon M. Herron and Joseph Burton

    The danger of Global Warming has been discussed before in previous blogs. 
    In blog 90, we discussed in depth the effect of global warming, changing rainfall patterns, leading shifts in plant and animal populations, rising sea level and an increase in the frequency and severity of tropical storms. 
    Recently, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record was formed. 193 fatalities were recorded. In the USA alone, we saw $52.4 billion in damage, mostly in the East from Florida to Maine including 24 states from Michigan to Wisconsin. New York and New Jersey were crippled with flooding streets, tunnels, subway lines and widespread outages. Some scientists have suggested that hurricane Sandy was made worse by global warming.
    In spite of former Vice President Al Gore’s warning that countries, industries, global leaders and politicians must show responsible leadership and subjugate the profit motive, we heard very little from President Obama during his first term in office about global warming, perhaps fearful of a defeated vote. 
    The President did say in his second inaugural address, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” 
    Hoo-ray, Mr. President, this is good to hear. We will be watching to see how this is programmed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Blog 125: When the Pied Piper Came to Town

                       “Mecklenburg County’s Quiet Shift from Desegregated Schools”

By Kenneth A. Simmons, M.ED
Guest Writer

     When school started in the fall of 1970, the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System had finally and totally desegregated all of it roughly 80-plus public schools. Ten years before this important milestone, the Charlotte city public schools and the Mecklenburg county schools merged, creating a school system that was destined to become the 18th-largest school system in the nation.
     Throughout  the ’70s  and well into the end of the 20th century,  the Charlotte Mecklenburg school board and administrators worked proudly to maintain a student population that reflected roughly 70% white students and 30% black students. This ratio closely reflected the number of black and white children living in our county and attending public schools at the time.
     Though Asian, Hispanic and other children were very minimally represented in the numbers at that time, we were beginning to witness the enrollment of a more diverse population of students, which would soon cause our commissioners to scramble for funds, land and new schools. Charlotte had begun to explode with growth!
     The Charlotte Mecklenburg School System (CMS) took pride, and rightfully so, in quoting a 70:30 ratio of white and black students, which for the next three decades decorated school documents, school banners, posters and local media displays. Also during these years, CMS established national recognition for its successful desegregation. School system administrators and board members touted a “world class” school system during the early ’90s; Charlotte was on the move.
However, as we approached the end of the 1990’s, pieces and threads began to unravel, philosophies began to butt heads, and the entire notion of children of different races and different socio-economic status  going to school together was changing before our very eyes.
     Mysteriously, the good citizens of our county seemed to be mesmerized as they slipped into a sort of hypnotic state while new leadership was ushered in to dismantle three decades of practice, beliefs and programs which we had deemed good for our community. For a brief period, it was as if time stood still, and far off in the distance, there came strange and ominous sound of music which quickly, like wildfire, permeated the streets, avenues and corridors of our county. Many of our children had been encaptured.
     When the music finally stopped, it was as obvious as it had been in the narrative, “Gone with the Wind”; our whole world had changed in our southern city, perhaps never to return again, much to the chagrin of many do-gooders. During our entrancement and hypnotic state, the Pied Piper had come to town, and when he was gone, so was a vast number of our white children. They had abandoned not only our inner city schools but our school system overall.
     Charlotte’s  good citizens remained “hushed” as this intruder skillfully and without heart robbed us of valuable resources, our children. Charlotte has resorted to the practice of remaining “hushed” many times before in our community. This southern-style political strategy always takes center stage when the truth is being threatened.  Very little has been said about this occurrence and very few articles have appeared in our local newspapers about a matter of such importance and one with the potential for such impact on our school system. Our local foundations and organizations purporting to support our children and our schools have absolutely refused to place this subject on their numerous round tables for public discussion.
     In closing, more than thirty years later, our white children make up a little more than 30% of the boys and girls in CMS.  Remember, they made up 70% of the student population during the ’70s and the ’80s. What were we really doing, and what were we really thinking when the Pied Piper came to town?