A Call to Amendment: No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

No_Child_Left_Behind_Act

Overview

The No Child Left behind Act of 2001, established during the Bush administration would ensure that all children receive fair and equal access to quality education. More specifically, in 2002, the policy required that all states test their students in reading, and math starting from grades three through grade eight, and again when the student reached high school level where students were to meet or exceed reading and math requirements. In addition, the act would help close the gap of achievement for students [according to the United States Department of Education] by providing quality education where focus was on (a) accountability and assurance to disadvantaged children, (b) flexibility that allowed federal funds to be used to improve student achievement, (c) research based education which placed emphasis on programs and practices that proved effective through scientific research, and (d) parent options which provided choices for Title 1 school parents (No Child Left Behind Act 2001). However, at present, the policy though well written has not taken shape, and neither has there been offered relief to support all students for which the policy was created other than to transfer a student passing from the school where the environment has become academically unsafe. Moreover, because of racial disparities and economic conditions such as poverty in districts the children are further subjugated to even poorer learning environments where there are meager classroom materials and less than adequate instruction. Therefore, this article will propose change to the current policy,  an amendment;  along with, recommendations to abolish areas where the policy has been breached by providing information which is overlooked and or ignored in current more up to date research concerning the No Child Left Behind Act overall.

Problems with Current Policy

Firstly, there are a number of reoccurring problems with standard testing as it pertains to the NCLB Act, and these must be dealt with to ensure that all students taking the exam have equal success. It is the case, that nearly every child entering the public school system [particularly] among the African American and Hispanic students exhibit ongoing failure even while there is instruction for the same.  Hence, the occurrence of such failure among the students would beg the question to ask is it really a fact that students are dumb or dumbed down?  Reportedly, blacks currently score lower on vocabulary, reading and math tests; including, measurement of aptitude and intelligence than European Americans, and the authors stated that “On some tests the typical American black still scores below 75 percent of the American whites on the same test (Jencks & Phillips, 1998, para.1). Accordingly, teachers/educators are required to ‘teach’ the test rather than teaching regular curriculum that stimulates the intellect, or creativity in the student. It is the case that much of the school year is taken over with this type programing, and the morale of both students and educators is low because of failure to pass the test. Hence, armed with this information the premise of reauthorization of the act is of no regard. Consequently, the premise of reauthorization only acts to restore previously enacted documents which to date have failed to yield positive results. As a result, the failure of the practice in testing students has not fulfilled the element of improved research. Therefore, a total amendment, and or more acceptable replacement is needed.

Secondly, the promise to close the achievement gap as enacted by law has failed, and reportedly, the gap has not been lessoned for years. According to a New York Times (2009) article, “’No Child’ Law is not Closing the Racial Gap”, it is apparent there has not been an improvement in years.

Sam Dillion (2009) wrote:

Between the year 2004 and 2009 when the article was written that even though black and Hispanic elementary, middle and high school students all scored much higher on the federal test than three decades ago most of the gains made were not recent but during the desegregation efforts of the 1970s and 80s and was well before the No Child law which in the official description admonishes to close the achievement gap (Dillon, 2009, para. 3).

The Official Description

SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday, the third day of January, two thousand and one.

An Act

To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled [No Child Left Section 1].

According to the Center of Education Policy (as reported by USA Today), there are 43,000 schools in the US that fail, or have failed which means 48 percent of students have made no progress since the enactment of the law. This information is troubling, because the only relief noticeable to parents is the opportunity once a child fails to transfer to a district passing. Hence, this too brings problems added to problems when transportation becomes a problem. Nevertheless, the report is telling that in Wisconsin (for example) the failure was extremely low at 11 percent. In explanation, of the failed standards for the federal exam policymakers have predicted failure rates of 82 percent, however, there are claims as well that the statistics are in error. In essence, to keep with the premise of requirement by law that every student perform at grade level by the year 2014 is impossible and has failed according to some educators (USA Today, 2014, para.1).

Thirdly, there is variance in the degree of difficulty as it pertains to the standardized testing. For example, in some school districts there are different tests given. In the USA Today article there is information given to that effect. The authors wrote, “State’s scores varied widely”. For example, in Georgia, 27% of schools did not meet targets, compared to 81% in Massachusetts and 16% in Kansas” In addition, the authors stated that even state officials argue that the act is do for rewrite, and further that officials offer little hope when lawmakers cannot agree on how to fix the problem of differences in difficulty of the testing between state, or, to amend it (USA Today, 2014, para. 5). Consequently, there are several reasons given for the variant in difficulty in certain states:

  1. Immigrant students
  2. Low income students, and
  3. State requirement to raise expectation in the number of students who pass each year (USA Today, 2015, para.6).

As a result, of these facts, the essence of the federal law which is intended to close the achievement gap by realizing equal achievement with regard to students at disadvantage has failed and is biased.

The Violation of Civil Rights is a Violation of Ethics

Fourthly, educators across the nation are seeming at their wits end and are of great travail concerning the premise of federal testing calling the test biased, however, advocates of civil rights concerning the original intent offer justice and equality as the Department of Education pronounced that biased testing is a civil rights issue and an ethical one as well. In an article, “Is it a student’s civil right to take a federally mandated standardized test?” author, Lyndsey Layton (2015) wrote:

Removing the requirement for annual testing would be a devastating step backward, for it is very hard to make sure our education system is serving every child well when we don’t have reliable, comparable achievement data on every child every year,” Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, said in recent testimony before the Senate education panel. Her group joined 20 civil rights organizations to lobby Congress to keep the requirement to test all children each year in math and ­reading (Layton, 2015, para. 4).

However, is this statement a fair assumption to say that the removal of the federal test is against civil rights? Conversely, teachers agree that teaching the test while forsaking the art of creativity and free expression surely takes away human rights of the student to think for themselves.

In an interview, a former educator and social worker detailed what many instructors go through in teaching and testing. During her interview, Jacqueline James (2015) was asked to (a) Recount factors of her work, (b) Factors leading to the testing being biased in her opinion, (c) Why she left the school system, (d) What the morale was like for students and faculty, and (e) Suggestion of changes that would contribute to the law.

She wrote:

Hello Everyone,

My name is Jacqueline Jordan. I have five years experience in the school system, including, elementary, middle and high school education. I held positions as substitute teacher, assistant and as a social worker. I also hold a Bachelor of Social Science with a minor in Education, and a Master of Education with a minor in Public Policy; as well as, a Master of Organizational Management.

As an educator, some of the main factors that were attributed to our work was tied to testing. Hence, the main issues were that I and other educators were frustrated that our students’ performance was not meeting expectations. Conversely, exam scores were lower than previous years and we spent many days and months trying to figure out why our students were struggling, and after interviewing students in their perspective classes and schools we were told that they did not understand the question. Therefore, it was determined that the questions on the tests had nothing in common with how certain groups of children think or rationalize.

I feel the testing is biased due to the overall testing results for students who otherwise pass their assignment during the entire school year only to take the test and fail. Moreover, the testing is set for certain populations of students who may be at a disadvantage. Hence, from my experience many racial minorities struggle to pass the test because of no relation to what they have learned, and neither to their personal lives. This too, is one of the reasons I left the district, because I feel it is not fair to our minority students.

Honestly speaking, the morale for the majority of faculty was low because of dissatisfaction in the work. Consequently, low morale among the faculty was the reason for high turnover in staff and low performance, and frankly, from my viewpoint the student morale was lower due to many not being able to understand, nor, were they accurately understand the assignments given. Hence, this occurrence caused behavioral issues, students skipping class, incomplete assignments and or unfocused students without the ability to engage. Therefore, all this overall also caused parents to feel as if their children were not being effectively taught by the school system which added to all parties being frustrated—parents, students and faculty. In general, the environment for most students was stressful due to non-relational material.

There are quite a few areas to policy and procedures that I would like to see amended:

  1. Teachers should not have to teach from a manual and or for a test.
  2. The material learned should be based on real world solutions.
  3. The students success and being promoted should not be based on the one test, especially when the student works diligently throughout the year to pass their assignments otherwise (Jacqueline Jordan, interview by Kayla Daily, October, 11, 2015, 4:19 p.m., interview Electronic Communication).

Dispelling Myths

A fifth reason, brings attention to a telling fact of how the academic success of students may be hampered is the myth that black students are not as smart as white or non black students, and this assumption may certainly seem realistic if one places judgement in relation to test scores, however, one would have something other than assumption to rely on. Jencks & Phillips (1998) argued that theorists promote the idea that low scores are attached to family background and or family environment which can be taken generally to say that all black people are dumb, unable to learn, and thus, unable these factors in turn can affect; or rather, do affect test scoring.

The authors explained:

In 1978 the Nigerian anthropologist John Ogbu suggested that cast-like minorities throughout the world tended to do poorly in school, even when they were visually indistinguishable from the majority. Later, Ogbu argued that because blacks had such limited opportunities in America, they developed an ‘oppositional’ culture that equated academic success with ‘acting white’ (Jencks & Phillips, 1998, p.6, para.4).

In general, the rejection of assumptive views tend to hide bias, or rather lend to biased thinking, and along with the awareness that there may bias lurking amidst the exams one can also be aware that text books containing the answers are not made available to the impoverished districts. In her interview, Jacqueline James (2015) alluded to that fact saying that ‘the children’ said they did not understand the questions (James, 2015). Hence, this begs the question that asks if the children do not understand even though the educators are teaching the tests then there is more than an agenda set up for their fail, and why is there a manual to teach from instead of a book? Could it be that the curriculum for the exam is not being taught? In this instance, a proposed plan for a policy amendment or rewrite is simple, either stop the federal exam or make the materials needed for the exam available to all students everywhere. In other words, there is no gap if there is not one continually created. Accordingly, the US Department of Education has promised equal access to education for all students. Hence, if one is to support the breach in civil rights as advocacy outlines then one would need to consider the evidence presented speaking of no access to testing materials equally, and the propensity that the teachers are given manual over the actual textbook. Therefore, the premise of testing as a civil right has been breached and has failed, because not only are teachers hindered but there is pressure for them to teach what they do not know may be the wrong material.

The No Child Left behind Act is a Breach of Budgeting

In an article, there is evidence that federal funding may be misappropriated. Hence, with funding and budget cuts so steep there must be need to look further into the matter. It is the case, that “Prior to 2001 and the implementation of the law that appropriations went up only $3 billion per year”, however, after are up 64% according to a CBS News report. Elizabeth Harrington (2011) wrote that from the years 2000 to 2001 the appropriation rate increased by 9%. However, after implementation of the program appropriations were up to 33% which is $42 billion (2001) and climbed to $56.2 billion (2002). Hence, it is notable that more funds are spent yearly, yet, the children fail more so even with all the programming.

Here is a further breakdown of expenditures according to CBS News (2011) report:

  • 1997 – $33.52 billion
  • 1998 – $35.67 billion
  • 1999 – $38.31 billion
  • 2000 – $38.44 billion
  • 2001 – $42.06 billion
  • 2002 – $56.17 billion
  • 2003 – $63.25 billion
  • 2004 – $67.21 billion
  • 2005 – $71.47 billion
  • 2006 – $100.04 billion (due to a jump in Federal Family Education Loans)
  • 2007 – $67.12 billion
  • 2008 – $68.57 billion
  • 2009 – $138.00 billion (regular spending of $39.88 billion plus $98.23 billion under the Recovery Act)
  • 2010 – $63.00 billion (Harrington, 2011, para.4).

There is no need to address the overall budget implemented concerning the NCLB when there is evidence of an astronomical amount of federal dollars spent even while the children fail at a rapid pace yearly. Hence, this begs the question where does the money really go? There is no reauthorization needed, no restore of the same disparaging occurrence as it relates to the law. That said, policymakers must address these issues immediately and reconsider their programming is not working and is wasting away tax payer dollars.

Lips & Fienberg (2007) wrote, that “Federally funded full time employees in state education agencies worked to implement education programs three times more than the number of employees working at the Department of Education (Lips & Fienberg, 2007, para. 3). Hence, here are workers making money for programing that is no good when the consideration should be on the text books, and other needed materials that make for a successful test score. There has already been evidence brought that the children understand that they do not understand the questions on the test when they have worked all year to learn. In essence, more money should be spent in the school to pay the districts’ teachers, and less money for programming that does not work. Therefore, the only cut to budget should state in policy to quit bogus federal government expenditures, because after all paying the teachers and funding the school so that all is equal access is the mission of NCLB.

Summary

The NCLB has failed to do what it was created to do in closing the achievement gap academically, because the children still fail and is in breach of promise. There is variance in the degree of difficulty involving the exam across states which promotes the premise of biased testing standards and is in breach of policy as the occurrence does not promote equality; and, which leads to a breach of civil rights.  The academic success of students has been hampered severely because of myths that non whites cannot learn as favorably as white students. Hence, this thought is promoted further as it relates to tests scores more favorable to the white students. There is evidence that federal budget as it pertains to NCLB may be misappropriated where money is spent implementing programs rather than actual research to find error in testing.

Conclusion

Finally, as it pertains to amendment the NCLB has left a disparaging mood among educators across the nation to adamantly lift up a cry out for those who stand to lose more from standardized testing. It is the case that the states have failed the students of which the need for educational equality is upheld. Hence, for blacks and other minorities who will take their place in the world, that is,  a world in need of equality where their fate should not be determined by a test. Hence, the premise of education and all its characteristics should say in policy all is equal, and not according to multiple choice, unless the multiples of choices are discerned from a creative mind with the ability to think its way through the problems presented with logic and sound reasoning. Policy makers should then, take the evidence presented here; along with, the research provided to make sound judgments and see that what is happening in the school system is questionable, and is not equal access as the law is written. Rewrite it then, make it plain to all that you mean what you say is the cry of all who speak of civil rights, on the streets and now in education. Notably, change will come—with an equal policy that truly stands with all accepted as equal.

Related Articles  

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing

Not Child Left Behind is not Closing a Racial Gap

Education Spending Up 64% Under No Child Left Behind But Test Scores Improve Little

The Black-White Test Score Gap. CHAPTER ONE  

The Administrative Burden of No Child Left Behind 

Is it a student’s civil right to take a federally mandated standardized test?

Report: Half of US Schools Fail Federal Standards

How No Child Left Behind Benefits African Americans 

Performance Evaluation and Standardized Testing

Test-Clip-art-640x330The ideal of performance budgeting carries with it some noticeable flaws.

For example, a budget of this type can be seen in the educational venue and the public schools where there is concern with standardized testing, and is a form of control in certain programs offered to  districts by the federal government. In essence, this type performance standard can be useful in other programs but not school, because it puts some students at a disadvantage even more , and today, instead of actually teaching subjects students are subjugated to perform for tests, untaught testing for some and most fail.

Meredith Broussard (2014) wrote:
The companies that create the most important state and national exams also publish textbooks that contain many of the answers. Unfortunately, low-income school districts can’t afford to buy them. (Broussard, 2014).So if the answers for the text are in the books and a particular the district cannot afford the book then why are children taking a text on something they have no way of learning?
It is fair to say that public means federal government so that the propensity for the government knowingly withholding funds in areas where there is lack is unconstitutional. This may be a tad off topic, but how can performance based assessments be tied to funding? Does it make sense for a public education system to do that?

Notably, are these low performing schools even included in the budget planning on federal or state level?

Of course the government should utilize and maintain performance budgets for agencies they support. However, the question to ask is if the agency supported is keeping in line with their supposed mission concerning (a) their various boards, (b) their workers, in this instance, their faculty, and (c) their students.

Mission

ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Congress established the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on May 4, 1980, in the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88 of October 1979). Under this law, ED’s mission is to:

  • Strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;
  • Supplement and complement the efforts of states, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the states, the private sector, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education;
  • Encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;
  • Promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through Federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;
  • Improve the coordination of Federal education programs;
  • Improve the management of Federal education activities; and
  • Increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public (U.S. Department of Education, 2015).

Performance budgeting does not evaluate wholly what is being taught in the subject matter but to testing. In other words, ask is the testing necessary to pass the class?For example, it is not difficult to see that if a bus is in need of repair then why would you continually allow people to board the bus? No, the bus would be taken off the street until the necessary repairs are made, or it would be replaced altogether. Or, why continue to allow people to board buses in disrepair on one part of the city while on another side of the city the best buses are offered and used? See then if the budget is allocated for public transit then the public is all inclusive not based on the performance of the buses but solely based on the needs of the people.

See then that the scenario for the performance budget and school fits as well and reflects bias because the students are the passengers and the system in need of repair.

According to the TIME  (2012) article, the exact information is given:

Do standardized achievement tests unfairly advantage white and Asian students and disadvantage the rest? According to a group of educational organizations and civil rights groups the answer is yes. The recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education pointing out that black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools. As a result, the complaint argues that New York City is in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because schools rely on a test that advantages one racial group over another. (TIME, 2012).

In this way,  yes performance budgeting might be needed, however, not this way. Evaluate the teachers, but not because of their ability to teach a test that they do not have answers to and most certainly do not punish the students for not learning what they have not been taught.

Related Articles

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing

Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Standardized Tests

US Department of Education Mission Statement

Your Sunday Bread: Know the Truth About It and Stun the World with Your Wisdom

discerment_true_falseI felt like that people who suffer in their mind, and that some are so severely vexed they cannot determine night from day and  are taken over by evil spirits.

In fact, when my husband’s mother was sick was the first time I had experience seeing a mental collapse in a person, or rather seeing to such a degree that I saw for the first time in that home she was placed in individuals whose minds had been taken over.

One woman in a wheel chair was having fits to such a degree that she was tormented and twisted. Hence, this place was filled with demonic spirits and I said that within myself as I sat there beside my mother in law, and then a while later as my husband and I were leaving that same woman which was sorely vexed stopped screaming and turned her head  to follow us with her stare. I was looking back and noticed as the demon took over once again as she went back to that tormented place in her mind. Screaming in agony and body twitching.

I thought to myself that I should go back and pray, but did not because I was scared hearing so many stories, especially about demonic forces. However, there are still many forces to be reckoned with in everyday life because when people cannot think straight it shows. Therefore, it shows in the jails, in the hospital rooms, it shows in the sanatoriums, and it shows in us when we cannot believe truth, that is, that Yah can do the impossible.

About the following  video,  “Sign and Wonders| Glenda Jackson?” there have been many instances where so called miracles have been performed through deceiving spirits taking unsuspecting and desperate souls unawares.benny-hinn  It is the case that just because someone says they are prophetic doesn’t mean prophecy in the sense of biblical standards but in divination, which is fortune telling or a soothsayer, and the scriptures speak of how Paul was on his way to the temple and was accosted by such. The lesson in this is when to determine what is fake and what is of Yah.

In essence, do not put your money up when you can receive your healing free through your belief in the true Name of the Most High [See: Signs and Lying Wonders: Will You Be Deceived?].

 Read:

”And it came to be, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of Puthon, did meet us, who brought her masters much profit by foretelling. Having followed Sha’ul and us, she cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High Elohim, who proclaim to us the way of deliverance.” And she was doing this for many days. But Sha’ul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the Name of יהושע Messiah to come out of her.” And it came out that same hour. But when her masters saw that their anticipation of money-making was gone, they seized Sha’ul and Sila and dragged them into the market-place to the rulers. And having brought them to the captains, they said, “These men, being Yehuḏim, greatly disturb our city, and they proclaim practices which are not right for us to receive nor to do, being Romans.” And the crowd rose up together against them. And the captains tore off their garments and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And having laid many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a command, put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:16-28).

We should beware of the deception because the people are being robbed instead of healed. It is not the case that no people are healed, but that some people come in a name that is deceptive. Do you know the difference? As we see with the set apart ones coming in the Right name to cast out demons can cause some problems for the money makers.

For your hearing:

Matthew 24:24

Watch: Sign and Wonders| Glenda Jackson

9th Ward: Minimal Media Help, Maximum Tourism Coverage

Hurricane Katrina, was perhaps, the most devastating and deadly natural occurrence known to the United States at least to those who suffered through it and who lived to tell about it. Who can forget the lines of people waiting for relief to come?

The infants without milk; or the elderly without medical attention, those who died waiting, those who slept in a stadium with without proper sanitation for such a large amount of people, and those relieving themselves wherever and whenever possible; a stench so horrid, the stench of rape, the stench of a people seemingly forgotten.

In my neighborhood even though there are leash laws which protect animals from harm, and while there is protection for these animals facing neglect there is even less help when it comes to media attention on some issues troubling man. Hence, the way I see it; the media is a “Watchdog” chained.

When I say chained; I mean, although they are supposed to put an eye out for wrongdoing in the government which is designed to help the citizens they do for some, but for others they turn a blind eye. Although, Katrina was a national, even worldwide disaster; what people still ask, and what people still wonder is what took the government so long to help those people?

Perhaps, there is something shady going on within the news industry, because one executive said of his station that news is what he says it is. I say, if this thinking is embedded in the industry as a whole it is no wonder; then that, issues go unnoticed, unheard, and ignored by the media.

The media as the Fourth Estate was originally included with the three class statuses: upper, middle and lower. I believe they were originally called the First, Second, and Third Estate; all, which were government intertwined. In other words, the government ran them and decided who got what and where they got it from; if anything during the Medieval Period. Probably, they included the media because they could stir trouble for an ill or poorly run country. With that in mind, the U.S., established the “Fourth Branch” of government and set the media as watchdog to guard them and keep them honest; however, the media is a “watch dog chained.”

New Orleans was hard hit and ravished by what we thought was Hurricane Katrina. However, evidence and eye witnesses have determined that this is not the case. News updates first reported that the levees which held waters to the great Mississippi River collapsed, but someone living nearby called the news stations to report hearing a series of explosions before the flood came, and after the storm had passed.

In the article “Levees Blown Say Eyewitnesses – Media Ignores Them,” Greg Szymanski says this:

“Eye witnesses are starting to come forward, some only a block away from the 17th St Canal levee break, saying they heard a loud, powerful explosion right before water starting gushing in, as they ended up in a matter of minutes floating downstream on their rooftops.”

“Terry Adams, who lives one block away from the 17th St. break, remembers hearing what sounded “like a bomb going off” from where the levee gave-way before rushing water forced him to his rooftop. “Everything was calm, it was late at night, and the storm had passed. I thought we had dodged a bullet and there was no water in my house and I was only a block away from the 17 th St. break,” said Adams, a lower 9th Ward resident, in an extended conversation this week from New Orleans.

“Then I heard what sounded like a bomb go off from the direction of where the levee gave-way and within a matter of minutes I was forced up on my roof where I floated for about a mile into town before somehow getting to safety.”

“Asked if he was sure he heard an explosion, he added: “Water breaking a levee isn’t going to make the noise I heard and besides, the levee should have broke before or during the storm, not afterward. “I heard an explosion and so did a lot of other people. It came right from where the levee broke. What else could it have been but somebody blowing up the levee?”

None of this was ever reported on the news; despite repeated calls to news stations, and it should be noted that today, although some residents still have not been given the call to go home; city officials allow tours through the ruins of what once was someone’s home.

According to the article, “Katrina victims take on hurricane tour operators”, a Fox8 News reporter says this: “About 9 million people visit New Orleans each year, mostly to see its stately homes along oak-lined avenues, dine at its renowned restaurants and take in the jazz and ribaldry of Bourbon Street. But Katrina’s devastation in August 2005 unleashed an unexpected cottage tourism industry, drawing a daily parade of rubbernecking tourists for a close-up look at the city’s hard-hit Lower 9th Ward.”

The article states further that officials “Worried that a flood of tour buses and vans would interfere with clean-up efforts, the City Council approved an ordinance in 2006 banning them from crossing the prominent Industrial Canal entering the neighborhood that received Katrina’s fury.” “Now, tour operators are crying foul, claiming the ordinance had been thinly enforced until recently.” They say a business that is bringing them and the city tourist dollars is being hurt.”

To see more on the tours: Click Here

To read more of the Levee Explosions: Click Here 

  • Watch:Hurricane Katrina: The Drive: New Orleans Lower 9th Ward

Something Else the Government Can’t Fix, Welfare Reform Starts in the Mind

I want to scream, because of the anguish I feel inside right now for my people; not only in America, but in Africa as well. I often find myself wondering what life would have been like for me had not I been born in America; if my ancestors had not been kidnapped from their homes and villages. What; I think, would be my name?

I would undoubtedly be somebody totally different had I been born there; had slavery never taken place. However, this thought is wishful thinking. Dreams and visions of a forest life, far away from life in a nation which can sometimes be so callous towards their own.

Black people have had a rough time here and still do, but now some of it is our own fault; because we have become beggars in our right. Instead of  kings and queens we have become paupers, beggars and borrowers waiting a on a handout; it is time to move on from that, but some of us are too heavy to carry and too paralyzed to carry ourselves.

Can we continue to blame it on the white people? The answer might surprise those who feel as if they too carry a burden too hard. It is difficult to comprehend when you have not the experience of being there. I cannot remember a time in life that someone I know has not needed help at some point in life; however, it is the thought that although help might be needed, is it really the case that we stay there?

This post is more for my brothers and sisters who want out than for anyone else reading now. It is not the case that all do not need to break free, but that all are not ready yet. There are people, both men and women who are praying for a better way of life other than government issued benefits and those are the ones who need this encouragement.

I want to say that it is not the case that prayers have not been answered, but it is that prayers might have been hindered. I cannot say that help is not available; I cannot say that people don’t care, because they do. Maybe not in the way of taking people by the hand but by offering the programs in the first place, and we must understand that no one is going to do any more than they have already put it out there. It is up to us to go get it.

More than going to get it, because some have gotten and continue to get and are in the same frame of mind as at the start; so, what is the problem?

The problem is that:

1) Someone doesn’t know any better, because their parents lived this way, and so do they; hence there is no exposure to something new.

2) Someone sees this thing as a way to get what they can get “free,” doesn’t matter what it is they want it, and will put in a day’s work to get those things which are free. This includes long lines, the drudgery of monthly forms, people prying into your personal life asking very personal questions about everyone in the house. It is not the case that this person will not lie to get that thing free.

3) Someone is lazy, don’t want anything.

4) Someone wants out, has the exposure, but its taking time so they still receive the help. They are educating themselves and taking advantage of every means available to them to move to another level in their mind and circumstance.

5) Someone works but doesn’t make enough money still, but even here there is a tendency not to reach for better.

Notably, #1, 4, can be helped if they reach out, but sadly, when someone hasn’t gotten up to go seek someone will not find it. In the case of all the above examples the government; along with the benefits offers help for school and daycare, jobs, now phones, but if there is no seeking, no asking then there is no help. In reality it requires an awakening. The fourth individual is at the place in their mind where they take “advantage” of the programs offered with the mind of self-empowerment. It’s all in the mind.

I was on a class field trip once and on the van I was riding with a bunch of guys; not only guys but young white guys, a Hawaiian, and my professor who my age. There were other women, but somehow I was the only female with all these men. At 48 years old, here I was, as old as my instructor and on bus full of kids just out of high school; or not far from it.

Somehow the conversation went to the discussion of women on welfare. I know now that it was the place I needed to be, because I had no clue to what people really thought about the women who receive help. Mind you this was no short trip so what I heard I could not run from it; nor could I turn it off. I was forced to sit there and listen to their version of how  Women on Welfare give me the blues.

The Hawaiian guy was very passionate about his lack of desire to put money in the pot for women who don’t choose carefully their children’s fathers. What he said was an eye opener for me because he felt that these women sleep with bums, losers who have no intention of doing anything; except use the women. Moreover, he asks, why does he have to continue to pay for children who are not his? He goes on to say that it; literally pisses him off when he gets his check and he doesn’t have enough money to buy groceries and he sees women loading their baskets with junk, or the baby daddy, boyfriends putting food in and when they get to the register out comes the old EBT card. Conversely, he stated, that he has to suffer when he is sick because there is little money for doctor’s visits and then he has to pay for children; again, not his.

“It’s not fair,” he added,” that me and my wife have no children but have to pay out for someone else’s”.

Wow! I sat there and could barely breath, what could I say to that; isn’t he right? That some of us, Ladies, just keep having baby after baby without a thought of how we will take care of them. Or with the thought that this is more money on my check? I nearly cried when I heard it from someone else.

Now, the intention of this note is not to bash, but to bring awareness of how this thing looks to some people.

Are you really trying to help yourself out of poverty; or, laying down day after day with no way to feed yourself, no plan of action. If you’re not there yet, haven’t even thought about your life; please consider what this means for you. Ask yourself: What if tomorrow or even a year from now they stop all this; what will I do? This should be a consideration the next time a letter comes from the food stamp office or the welfare office sends you a letter to go to find work, or attend a class. Go to school; learn so that your kids can at least know that they can do better. If you don’t know how to read, learn now.

If you just can’t do better that’s one thing, but if you are manipulating, and lying; nobody will suffer more in the end than you. It’s not too late get up! You can do it!

I hope this has helped someone; at least I am encouraged. I want those who feel bad about what’s being said on the news and who watched that video with the woman excited about the free phone to know that you are more valuable than “250 minutes a month”. At least I think so.

Take courage.

Watch: Obama phone Lady

A Day in Africa: The Mbuti Pygmies and the Itari Rain Forest

English: Mbuti pygmies with Osa Johnson explor...

English: Mbuti pygmies with Osa Johnson explorer. Español: Pigmeos mbuti con exploradora Osa Johnson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American theatres and movies paint the scene of a rainforest as a primitive place that is less than appealing for the laid back life of ease found in a domesticated life. On the screen from the comfort of our living room television set we have watched a scantly clothed man called Tarzan, along with his female companion Jane and their faithful chimpanzee; Cheetah.

The American people sat captivated watching them swing from limb to limb, chased by leopards, lions and vicious tigers; frightening for those whose only experience with animals of the wild has been during visits to the local zoo.  In the dense bush of the Congo Rainforest of Africa we can see people of a different kind, small people, little people who survive the wilds of jungle life; hunters and gathers of a strange land. These people are known as pygmies; a description given because of their less than average height, but even though short of stature they are rulers of jungle life; the Mbuti or Bambuti band.

Home is definitely where the heart is, because a connection in kinship ties is found in the forest where the family is oriented. In his article, “The Symbols of  Forest” Mosko denotes that the tribal unit is “kinless” being that all concerning the lives of the people are attached to the forest. He says, “Crucial features of Mbuti kinship, economics, politics, and religion are all linked together by and through it. Indeed, the Forest is to the Mbuti as it might well appear to us: no less than “the one standard by which all deeds and thoughts are judged” (Turnbull 1961:125) (Mosko, (1987)., pp. 898; Para. 2, 3) There is also description given of a family universal where there is father, mother, friend or sibling and a lover; all tying in with the view the Mbuti have of themselves as a family unit. The forest then is the Mother who keeps, protects them, and with whom they are closest, their friend, their sister, and lover to all people; they are one.

Although the band is known to be of patrilineal heritage they are in fact a blended community, because there seems to be no emphasis paid to actual biological ties with the family system; bilateral connection order is: “All members of the band are thus amua’i (“sisters”) or apua’i (“brothers”), ema (“mothers”) or epa (“fathers”), tate (“grandmothers”) or tata (“grandfathers”), or miki (“children”),” (Mosko , (1987)., , pp. 903; Para. 2). This view adds flavor to a more simplified view for family meals and activities of leisure; thus one gets a perception of a great family gathering.

In the foraging community when describing techniques of the hunt Turnbull states that the men are the most skilled of the group; lying in wake to ambush their prey seems to be most pertinent. He says, “archers; they do not know the net hunt and seldom practice the communal beat ranks the ambush as most important.” “This method of hunting is used by the older men who no longer are able to track game successfully. They lie in wait and imitate the call of the game, attracting it until it is within range of their iron-tipped arrows,” (Turnbull, 1965, pp. 898; Para. 7)where the bow and arrow being the most effective weapon of choice for bringing in the kill. The methods used are planned and deliberate as the author says that a group of five or six men, along with dogs are used to track their prey. “When the dog puts up game, the hunters all stand rigid, bows flexed, ready to shoot if the animal passes their way. Sometimes the animal is killed by the dog; sometimes it escapes or is only wounded and must be pursued.” (Turnbull, 1965, pp. 172, 173; Para. 1). The game hunted are: elephant with the spear, monkeys, chimpanzee, and wild boar with the bow and arrow; it is noted also these meats are delightful additives to a fine meal along with some other animals and birds. Their meats add about 30 percent to their overall diet (Turnbull,  1965, pp. 174; Para. 2).

The women are the choice pick for gathering efforts where most of the diet is vegetarian. Information tells us that when there is no meat brought to the table that the food gathered by the women is needed to provide nourishment for the families; their contribution to the meal being about 70 percent of all subsistence. “Trading is also used to gather additional food items among the women and the neighboring villages where they get plantains, sweet potatoes, and peanuts in exchange for meats. The forest supplies the other portions of their food substance in the form of roots, vegetables, fruits, nuts, edible fungi, snails and grubs; as well as a small amounts of fish which concludes a healthy diet”(Turnbull, 1965, pp. 174; Para.1, 2).

A typical day after the gather and hunt continues as family time reveals a wife and mother taking care of her children. The author says that it is normal for her to “take all the children with her as she goes about gathering firewood and other material needed to build or repair their family’s hut, and that it is her responsibility to do so. She carries the smallest child on her back or hip while the other older children follow or play near the hut. The father is seen sitting out by the fire as it is also near the front of the hut; and he is either doing man stuff or watching guarding the food for his wife. At dinner the family takes dinner together with the exception of dad and the older boys sitting a little apart from the females.” Turnbull states that the separation during mealtime is more of a habit adopted from the villagers than that passed down through lineage. (Turnbull, 1965, pp.177; Para. 1, 2).

The rearing of the children is a matter between husband and wife, but it seems to be a cause of concern and conflict among the married partners; children are expected to mind, obey and respect both parents. An example was given of an incident where the father and son got into an argument and the son threatened harm to his father with his bow and arrow. This behavior causes great concern to the structure of the band’s unity, and when incidents like this one happen then all become involved and the offender is asked to leave the group along with his entire family; insolent behavior is not acceptable in the band (Turnbull, 1965, pp. 177; Para. 3).

As the children reach the adolescence stage of life they begin to separate, but not in the sense of leaving the family as would be expected; in this context we see that “the boys leave to be with the fellows of their lineage while the adolescent females cleave more to their mothers like never before; there is no formal training for either sex during this time. Puberty for the boys is a time of good-byes as they leave their mothers and go off to learn the hunt, because there is really nothing more for their mothers to teach them; but she still does prepare his meals from time to time. The boys organize hunts of small game near the camp which consists of small rodents, while the girls practice and develop being flirtatious; thus preparing themselves for married life” (Turnbull, 1965, pp. 179; Para. 1, 2).

As with most cultures, the Mbuti have a belief system. Male members of the band are participants in a ritual that takes place every six years. “The Nkumbi is a rite to passage ceremony given for those males in puberty and the villagers. The transition from boyhood to manhood where the boys are led out to a designated camp far from the forest. A conical hut is built that has two sides; one side is for the participants and the other side of the hut is for the elders who watch the boys and train them. The candidates are taken to the operator who yields the knife used to remove their foreskin. Surprisingly, some of the more courageous boys are allowed to stand, but others are forced and held down. Food is prepared and brought to the camp by the boys’ mothers, but they are cut off from any contact with them which might be viewed as comforting” (Turnbull, 1965, pp. 179; Para.3-8).

The Elima Puberty Festival is a rite of passage which takes place when menstruation for the Mbuti females begins; however, “both male and females participate in this event. Female members and their friends or “sisters” of the same age are taken out to a special hut; called the elima hut where they invite other females in neighboring bands to participant in the event. Supervision is provided by the “mother and father of the elima” whose presence is to keep a watchful eye out since this festival is a prelude to marriage.” (Mosko, (1987), pp. 907; Para. 3-6). The act of and initiation into loving making is the way to determine who marries and who doesn’t in this event; therefore we see compatible couples participate in shared, mutual loving making.  Supervision by the mother and father of the elima is necessary to ensure that no one who isn’t supposed to be there takes part in the sacred event. The outcome of the event being that someone is eligible for marriage (Mosko,  (1987)., pp. 907; Para. 3-6).

Finally, in light of what one can see thus far concerning mutual unity and oneness with the forest, and the provision of mother, lover, and friend to the people; the question arises as to where are the activities for leisure or the release from pressures of life in an otherwise tranquil existence? The answers to these questions are found by some in the form of drink, stimulants and even narcotics which are found on the “villagers’ plantations. Products like tobacco, bangi (or hemp), its counterpart from the forest plant medeaka, and the kola nut; as well as palm wine and banana wines” (Turnbull, 1965, pp. 175; Para. 1).  We can see that the minds of the Mbuti are carried away by the evil of such vices.  A picture unravels of a people being taken advantage of by those they see as friends, because the effects of drugs are kind to no one; no one is immune. The fog of abuse looms ominously as the rulers of the forest are described as weak vessels: “The Pygmies covet, as we all would, the aluminum pots, cigarettes, and manufactured clothing carried by Congo’s bicycle caravans. Yet in exchange, loads of timber, wild meat, and gold are streaming out of their forest home along the same tracks-a bonanza of raw materials swindled from the Pygmies by unscrupulous shopkeepers and middlemen. Moreover, the tiny hunters’ ancient bonds of trade with local farmers–a quasi-feudal system that swaps Mbuti field labor and forest products for food crops and metal tools-are becoming frayed. “They are easy to cheat,” a roadside merchant says of the Pygmies along the way. “Like children.” (Salopek, Paul, 2005). A result being the tranquility of the forest and its people held hostage by the grip of sin comes as no surprise as America watches another day for the Mbuti come to a close; a not so happy ending between two lovers, the Mbuti and the rainforest they call home.

Source:

Mosko, Mark S. (1987), “The Symbols of  Forest”: A Structural Analysis of Mbuti Culture and Social Organization

Watch: Mbuti Pygmies: The Forest is Everything

 

The Churches’ Finest Hour: Bishop Kenneth B. Spears

Bishop Kenneth B. Spears is Pastor to a crowd of over four thousand members; the people are drawn to the teaching of the man of God. Charisma permeates every word spoken where on Sunday there is an expectation for an anointed word of impartation to help those who seek it; surely he is gifted. His experience speaks for itself as he has shared the word of God with all for more than 30 years. He serves as Presiding Bishop of the Full Gospel Fellowship of Texas, and is author of the book “The Church’s Finest Hour.” He is also a publisher, media personality; as well as a prominent leader in the community. His ministry “Be Restored” reaches many through its television and radio broadcasts weekly in several states. In the community, he is an exemplary leader where he serves on several committees and boards, and has been accredited several awards for his dedication

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

Life is challenging for many, especially when viewed from the concept of light and darkness. Where does the world seek shelter when they cannot see their way through life’s struggle? This picture of the light that shines in a dark world deserves attention. First Saint John Full Gospel Fellowship is that beacon of light which shines, and Bishop Kenneth B. Spears is the Shepard who guides it.

Appropriately situated, the church building in Fort Worth, Texas is placed atop a hill in the south side of the city. This church is also the beacon of light to guide an impoverished community to which it serves where the church motto is “The church on the hill that serves in the valley.”

Statistical data for the City of Fort Worth gives note of just how impoverished some areas really are, including the south side where the light of this church reaches many there. Poverty in the city has a wide range of targets one in particular; the 18 to 24 age group at just above 11 percent is hardest hit. Moreover, data includes single females with children who make their homes in the area where this church presides. Females with no husbands represent 53 percent of the poverty level here.

Where does “the church on the hill that serves in the valley” fit into this sea of poverty? When asked what the message of the “Church on the hill” conveyed to those in the valley Bishop Spears gives an account of Moses who stood on top of the mountain with his hands lifted, and of Joshua and Aaron in the valley fighting. This illustration builds confidence in the man of God as a spiritual intercessor for those in need while encouraging one to look up to seek further past the problem for help.

The glimpse of prayer going forward on behalf of the people also lends credence to the church mission statement says, “To build a ministry that re-establishes confidence in God, the body of Christ, pastors, and/or preachers in the local assembly in the communities where we live.” (Hebrews 10:35). Truly the people have much to place their confidence in. The church is an active participant in the community it serves and is seen making great strides to ensure they play a key role to alleviate poverty in the community; prayer is always the key to change, and answered prayer has brought much needed business development to the community and neighborhoods.

It is a unique, and a live fellowship which takes place within the walls of this house of God and upon entering its sanctuary one is sure to take notice that this is not your everyday run of the mill church setting. Here you see a live band complete with praise dancers, praise team and choir. Is it contemporary? Yes.  Is it Ordinary? No.  However, with the rise of the Mega Church comes the temptation to handle church business as any other business of the world’s setting with all its money making gimmicks; one has to wonder how this church remains grounded through it all and not “dampen” the “inspiration.” Bishop Spears was asked how he keeps First Saint John from becoming “Institutionalized?”

He says, “I suspect that if you only view the church as an “institution” it will dampen the “inspiration.” But I view the church not as an “institution,” but a unique, live, vibrant family that is constantly changing and growing.” He speaks further to add that the spirit of God is continuously moving this being the essential nature of the body of Christ. Intercessors are in place to pray before, during and after worship to prevent the dampening of the worship experience no matter the size of the body.

In the community the church serves an even greater purpose of fulfilling their mission of building confidence through their Community Development Corporation which allows focus of health education, homelessness and concentrations to enlighten issues concerning senior adults to be addressed; and, as a result the church is watching change in a number of areas, Bishop said. Accordingly, Bishop Spears’ sermons are broadcast on several radio stations in several cities across the states; Texarkana and Hope Arkansas along with some parts of Louisiana, Kansas City, Missouri; services can be viewed via streaming over the internet from the sanctuary.

Women today still face challenges in the church; as well as in the community because of discrimination in the pulpit, competition in the work place as well as the political arena.

Bishop Spears, author of the book, “The Church’s Finest Hour,” addresses a key issue concerning women through a conversation with God who speaks of his deceased mother “Doris.” In that conversation he confesses that he was posed a question where God asked, “If Doris could talk about Me in her house; why can’t she talk about Me in My house?” Bishop Spears notes that this question and conversation was an incentive, and a precedent to embrace women in leadership roles in church and out. He is supportive of women using their gifts, but shares that from a Godly perspective all should be used “decently and in order,” which ensures neither her husband’s role, or the role of her pastor is not compromised.

Bishop was asked his opinion as to whether or not a woman can be President of the United States? He responded by saying, “I believe that a woman will one day be President of these United States, but like the timing it took for a black man to become President it will come with the struggle, criticism and challenges which denotes time.”

He adds to that by saying, “Women are as valuable as men, a job should not be judged on gender, but skill and ability.”

He concludes by saying, “My mother was a woman, my wife is a woman, my sister is a woman, grandmother, and great grandmother were women, and I don’t want any of these people in my life to be discriminated against. I support the values of women, the gifts of women, and the vision of women.”

Well said Bishop. Indeed the church is in its finest hour.