Posts Tagged ‘education’


We will work together as brothers or perish as fools.  Lawd, I evidently have a wide array of friends and this election season has created a civil war on my facebook page.  As Rodney King famously said, “Can’t we all just get along.”  Hell nawl  .

This country was built on a shaky foundation—stolen from the Natives, stolen labor from Africa, women were second class citizens.  At some point, there would be a correction or reconciliation.  Of course, those who benefited would be reluctant to change.

Donald P. Trump didn’t create the current climate.  Hell, Trump is a professional personality—more P.T. Barnum than anything.  The guy is an opportunist who recognized the anger of a certain part of the population…a part of the population that really has nothing to do with him.

I appreciate Donald Trump for saying out loud what others are thinking.  Basically, they want their country back—the country they stole fair and square.  The country that affords certain privileges based on skin color.  (Oh, don’t act like African Americans didn’t do the same thing inside our race…running behind redbones, so-called good hair etc….cast the first stone, my brother.)

Malcolm X often taught that progress starts with putting your true feelings on the table—even if you are considered wrong by others.  If he was with us today, he would hate Trump’s views of Islam but appreciate him saying what was really in his twisted head.

To me, the biggest supporter of Hillary Clinton for president is Donald Trump with a properly functioning microphone.  Mr. Trump, please continue to speak your mind.  If Trump becomes president, those who Democrats seek to help deserve whatever the blank happens to them because they didn’t vote.  I don’t like being separated from my brothers but my brothers vote.

I also appreciate the debate surrounding the Georgia amendment that would give the governor’s office the right to privatize or closed under performing schools.  First, many of these schools are in our communities and kids should have good educations.  However, this horrible amendment is a Trojan Horse; a hidden effort to open up school choice.  Again, Malcolm X acknowledged men and women who spoke their minds rather than those who had undisclosed agendas.

Actually, school choice is a debate we can have because parents should have the options of moving their kids to private schools with a little of their money or teaching them at home.  Personally, I think homeschool kids are too sheltered but that is just me.

Our community must vote because leaders make decisions involving everyone based on what they hear from the few who vote and speak up.  The same people seeking to get their nation back with Trump are also trying to figure out a way to keep their kids away from certain kids and certain teachers.  It’s the resegregation of the school systems.

Let me say something rough: many schools are jacked up for real.  However, I am the only one who will honestly say that poor schools start with poorly prepared kids and parents.  Oh, the school is a lovely building and the teachers well-trained but rotten, half-raised kids will deflate the spirit of teachers and poison the educational process for the majority of youth.

Some kids are raised by the streets and crime-oriented sexy music videos.  They don’t know how to focus in school because video games have spoiled their minds.  Of course, we could focus at school because we learned how to pay attention at church.

We should consider the path Blacks have taken into the middle class. If you think about it, the surest way into the middle class for many Blacks was government work: the military, civil service, nursing and most of all teaching.  This election is an attack on that path because a Trump White House would make the military risky for everyone, the state governments want to privatize civil jobs and the Opportunity School Board Amendment would lead to private companies running schools.  Those companies would replace experienced teachers with new educators who cost less.


Bottomline: Good communities, schools and nations don’t happen without honest debate, focused people and hard work.


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Is every college really a college? An industry has developed around funneling unwitting people into a questionable segment of the educational system and the federal government could be directly or indirectly involved.  Today the for profit higher education sector is mired daily in controversies and its benefits to those it purports to serve is questionable at  best.  This press release is an example of the problem.



Firstly, college and technical college, like anything worth doing, should be hard. In my day, students said they “took” this degree and that degree from creditable institutions. You knew the creditability because the schools were state institutions or private ones accredited by known sources. While I loved President Obama, I disagree with his effort to have everyone go to college (higher training and life-long learning, yes) but college is different. I hate commercials about making college easy and working around busy schedules. If I spent the first six years of my adult life eating noodles and writing papers, a person who went directly into the workforce to make money is in a different situation. Many of my friends who make six-figures simply took a job weeks after high school or went into the military and worked their way up.

To be honest, people who are “between opportunities” often consider school as an educational option that brings money into the household and there is nothing wrong with that. They should enroll in the local state college or select a major at the state-run technical colleges.

However, proprietary or for-profit schools are signing up loads of students from minority communities who aren’t familiar with the financial aid process. “Just sign here and you will have some cash in your hand every few months.” These students don’t know that most of this money is simply a student loan, the cost of the school is higher than a state school and some of the diplomas they might receive wouldn’t be as accepted as traditional ones. The wiki page on this topic is a real eye opener.


“If this problem was true, surely my congressman would be on top of this matter.” Child, please. The Wall Street firms behind these schools are some of the biggest contributors to both political parties. The student loan default rate for these schools is astronomically high and taxpayers’ money ultimately secures the loans. We are starting to hear more and more from former employees of the corporations behind these schools and the federal investigators are learning the real deal.

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hill harper
Between Barrack Obama and his Harvard Law School classmate actor Hill Harper, I surprisingly think that Harper could have as big an impact on young Americans of all colors.  Hill has dedicated his life to sharing positive information with others.  Below are my notes from his first book.  The underline sections are the beings of paragraphs that I really found useful.

Letters To A Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny         Author: Hill Harper

Xii           I want young men to have knowledge of the things that bring them true empowerment: education, a strong sense of purpose, compassion, confidence, and humility to name a few.

Xvi          It is no coincidence that both my mother and father became doctors just as it is no accident that I graduated from Brown University magna cum laude and received graduate degrees with honors from Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.  My family taught me that doing my best, educating myself, and being in service to others were not optional and that having values and being truthful were not negotiable.

p. 5         You will live longer, become better educated, make more money and be happier than the previous generation.  You are here to improve the human race, and you need to embrace that.

p. 8         A good man is honest, lives his life with integrity, and behaves responsibly.

p. 9         Be Balanced

p. 13      You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.

p. 14      While it is important to have friends, it’s also important to realize that you, completely on your own, have to be able to make yourself happy.

p. 17      There is nothing wrong

p.  20     Luckily, as I matured

p. 21      Rejection is God’s protection

p. 21      So the most important thing I learned is that my absentee parent didn’t leave me, she left the situation.  My mom left the relationship with my father because she felt she had no other choice.  Even though your father may have left when you were a baby, it’s important that you realize he didn’t leave you.  He didn’t even know you.  Your father left for reasons that had nothing to do with you.

p. 24      Truth be told

p. 24      Also, you may not

p. 33      Will Smith: Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.

p. 34      School, as hard as it may seem, is easier than the real world.

p. 36      The only two areas in your life where you should allow yourself to owe someone else money is for school (education debt) and when you buy your house – and notice I’m saying “when” you buy your house not “if” – that’s what we call “mortgage debt.”

p. 42      Hey, man

p. 44      General Colin Powell: “There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

p. 44      “Working smart” means using your brains first to formulate a plan of how to “work” most effectively.  If you are working smart, you are first very clear about what you want to achieve – that’s your goal. Then, before you take the first step toward achieving that goal, you use all the knowledge and information you have at your disposal to decide what the most effective route will be to get there.

p. 66      “There are some things that money can’t buy.”  In fact,, if you break it down, money can buy one thing, and one thing only and you know what that is?  Options.  Money cannot buy you freedom or happiness or love.  If you have enough money, it gives you options as to what you can do in your life and with your life.

p. 68      More focus needs to be put on developing an inner happiness, doing what you love, and having faith that if you do these things, the money will come.

p. 69      For instance

p. 74      The first car

p. 79      Girls are attracted

p. 81      Women care about much more than just external things.  A woman wants a man who will treat her with respect and wants to do fun things with her and make her laugh.

p. 82      Sanaa Lathan: All I want to know is can I talk to him?  Is he really interested in getting to know how my mind works?  Does he truly listen when we talk?  Do we have fun, do we laugh, and ultimately how do I feel when we’re together?  Be careful of wearing too much bling cuz it might outshine your better qualities.

p. 87      Throughout the history of the world more men have been brought down and had their lives destroyed because of their irresponsible sexual activity than by any other single act.

p. 88      Sex is not a bad thing.

p. 89      And remember, just because a woman wants to have sex with you, it doesn’t mean you should feel you have to have sex with her.

p. 90      Men have lost

p.  92     Gabrielle Union: Oftentimes as girls and women

p. 99      Let’s face it-mistakes

p. 101    Mistakes are decisions we have control over.  And you can make a mistake in an instant, which is why it’s important to know who you are and what you stand for before you find yourself in a situation where you make a wrong decision.

p.  103   It seems a recurring theme

p.  111   So let me set you straight- making money is not a goal.  Making money is a result.

p. 114    If you find what you love to do then, ‘hard work’ becomes easy – it’s more fun than just chillin’ or doing some job just for the money.  If you’re doing something you love, working hard at it is more fun than working just to work; now that’s hard!

p. 116    Venus Williams: School is very important

p. 122    Here are some questions

p. 128    I’ll give you an example….Barrack Obama

p. 129    You have to first, dream; and second, work hard to achieve those dreams.

p. 135    “There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen; those who wait for things to happen; and those who sit and wonder what happen.”

p.  155   Every day we are faced with challenges and choices.  Some are harder than others.  And sometimes, what seems like a big deal at the time doesn’t matter at all a week later.  The one thing I’ve learned is that if I approach each day with an attitude of gratitude, even the most difficult challenges fail to bring me down.

p. 156    Obama: Life appears to be hard

p. 161    Wealth comes from knowing both your value in the world, as well as the value of the blessings life has brought you- family, friends, future opportunities, health, and the opportunity for true unreasonable happiness.  You win when you embrace all of these and look toward the future with a positive attitude.  So yes, you are wealthy already if you just look around you.

p. 163    Another wealth component


p. 167    Mantras and affirmations are strong tools that have been used for thousands of years in prayer and meditation.

I promise:

–          To be strong so that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.

–          To make everyone feel that there is something special in them.

–          To look at the positive side of everything and make my optimism come true.

–          To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.

–          To learn from the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

–          To have a cheerful presence at all times and give every living creature I meet a smile.

–          To give so much time and effort to the improvement of myself that I have no time to criticize others.

–          To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

–          To be a light for others, not a judge of others.

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School choice and family planning are two topics I would love to hear discussed in my community because they are at the foundation of our futures.  However, I want that discussion to take place around a discussion table sixty or seventy years ago. 

A.G. Sadler Sr., third seated from left

A photo of my father and his fraternity brothers meeting at the local Black college hangs in my mother’s den.  The organization wore Black and Gold and he was old enough to actually know founders personally but it could have been a meeting of any Black fraternity or sorority of that time because they were all committed to moving the race forward.  You can see the steely determination in their eyes: we as a people would have the opportunity to learn, earn and prosper in this great nation and the sky would be the limit once those doors of opportunity opened. 

If we had a time machine or a portal to the past (like a smart phone app), we could tell these gentlemen that we were from 2012 and that a Black man was in the White House…a Black man without a mop.  Since most of the men in that picture were college professors or public school educators, I want to know their opinions on school choice.

Today, we recognize that public school K-12 education needs a top to bottom overhaul.  I personally think that the teachers enter the profession ready to teach and that the facilities are generally acceptable in my area.  For a myriad of reasons, some of the kids just aren’t ready, willing and able to learn.  I think the foundation of education is discipline or obedience learned at home and church. 

Those guys in that photo didn’t question their parents in their generation and neither did we in my generation.  Today, I hear kids ask their parents “What?” and “Why?” with a tone that would have never happened in my day.  One of the men in that photo was likely the dentist that my father would have taken me to see after he knocked my teeth out for saying “What.”

We should discuss parents having a tax credit or voucher to put their children in the best quality educational situation.  When schools in the South were integrated, White private schools popped up in every county.  But, I can remember the dedication of the educators from the all-Black schools.  A period of “separate but equal” would have been fine with many Blacks because they wanted fairly funded schools more than forcing us to attend school with people who thought of us wrongly. 

When we debated school choice as congressional staffers in the 1990s, I would always argue that private schools would cherry-pick the best students and those remaining in the public schools would be students from families that couldn’t afford to get out.  If the best 20% opted for private schools, the worst 20% should have a voucher to attend a special school after getting kick out of regular school. 

Public policy can’t solve the education problem because the ultimate problem is that some people are having children before they are prepared to raise and nurture them.  To me, people shouldn’t get married until they are around 24 years old and they should then wait 24 months before having kids (a waiting period to ensure that the marriage is viable.)  Before 24 years of age, people could be finishing their education and training, moving up in the workplace and having fun socially.  Children should come into the mix when folks are ready to be parents like those Alphas in that old photo.  Instead, we have kids having kids and early grade teachers are half educators and half parents. 

Current conservatives trip me out with talk of abortion and welfare.  The guys around that table never envisioned people having the government deeply involved in their lives. They were concerned more with anti-lynch and opportunity.  The conservative men in that photo would have a lot to say about the long-term effect of LBJ’s policy that would come in a decade or two. 

A recent study indicates free birth control dramatically reduces abortion and teen pregnancy.  Since the far Right conservatives are rightfully concerned with governmental spending, they should know that abortions and public assistance goes down if fewer pregnancies occur in the first place.  The guys in that picture could discuss the wrongness of abortion and premarital sex as well as the wrongness of hungry children and struggling families.  Reasonable people know that you can’t always push your faith’s beliefs into the public policy of a diverse nation. 


The achievement-oriented Blacks of my fathers’ generation would be disappointed to learn that music is crime and sin-based and hip hop shapes the mindset of our youth more than parents and church.  If those guys in that picture were transported into current times, they would figure out a way to get the best education for their families.  Unfortunately, those pioneers in education would be compelled to seek schools for their families that kept their kids away from certain elements without regard to race.  Oh, I would teach government and tennis at an all-male school that brought academic heat all day every day–a place where gentlemen were built.

Teaching the guys in that photo was easy because they were enthusiastic about learning; it was learn or be an unofficial slave during Jim Crow.  If they had a window on today at that table, they would be flabbergasted with the way our youth are carrying themselves and disappointed with the squandering of opportunities.

I enjoyed hearing this speech by Kappa founder Edward G. Irvin.


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It’s madness to do the same things year after year and expect difference results.  So, I decide to acknowledge the brilliance of the guy who started the Khan Academy to reform education.  But first, I would like to invite anyone to join our ESPN NCAA basketball groups for the men and women tournaments.  The group names are “Jawja Hoops” in both contests.  Let the basketball and rethink ranting begin.

Rethink Education: Clearly, our education system needs retooling and Salman Khan has a fresh approach.  In my community, I simply wish parents would start with using better grammar 24/7 to stop contradicting what is taught at school.

Rethink College Basketball: College basketball shouldn’t be a stepping stone for the NBA and we should have a farm system in smaller cities (similar to baseball) for those who want to be pros.  Student athletes should be just that.  In other words, the NBA D-League should be developed.

Rethink Politics and Religion: In America, we have the freedom to select our faith and politicians’ faith walks should be the foundation of their character.  They shouldn’t attempt to force their particular church on the population as a whole.  So, Mitt Romney should put the nutty factions in his party in their places about his church and any other faiths that they find “different.”

Rethink Political Leaders: The next crop of political leaders should be much better than the current ones.  On the Right, conservatives should get back to being pro-business and smaller government rather than the promoters of the next Civil War.  On the Left, liberals are actually limiting personal development with their socialist policies.  We need leaders who will speak to the people (straight, no chaser) about the limited role of government and importance personal responsibility.

Rethink Campaign Finance:  My new congressman is Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia and he was a true campaign finance rebel as a candidate for governor.  He spoke wisely of limiting the amount of contributions and that got me thinking.  Everyone knows that money runs campaigns and that those who gave money will later want something from officeholders.  If I designed a congressional candidate from the ground up or from day one, I would tell my guy to take the average income in the area, add a few zeros and that would be the total amount raised for the campaign.  (For example, 32K in average income = 320,000 funding limited.)  If elected, that person would belong to the people and wouldn’t spend time kissing up to lobbyists. 

Rethink Black Conservatives: Peace to my brothers and sisters on the political Right…I feel you…I really do.  To me, your side is right (pun intended) more often than not; but the ugly ways and methods of the far Right make the GOP unacceptable for most Blacks.  There is no place for less bitter, moderate Americans in that party.  If Jon Huntsman won the GOP nomination, I would have strongly considered voting for him in November but you cats gave cool people the boot. 

Rethink Black Liberals:  At some point, it’s not about “the man” holding us down.  It’s about us holding us down.  We must return to the driven African-Americans who beat Jim Crow; the people who knew who they were and whose they were.  The next generation of CBC members must honestly inform the community that improves start in your house…not the U.S. House.   

Rethink Hip Hop: Most of current hip hop stinks out loud.  The music glorifies the worst elements of our community and I can’t tell college students from thugs and strippers.  I know artists are free to express themselves but come on now.

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What are soft skills?  The front of the Albany (Georgia) Herald today has a story about state official Melvin Everson coming to Albany to emphasis soft skills in K-12 education.


Soft skills include punctuality, ability to learn, appropriate business attire and teamwork.  Really?  Reading that article was a long blink second for me.  My homeboy Richardson (Fort Valley State, Omega, teacher) talks about long blinks when realizing what the youth today don’t know or refuse to learn—it’s called good, old fashion common sense or home training.  You learn it from the community, church, sports, band or working (as we did) in the “fields.”

Because I could talk and dress, I got out of the watermelon fields in high school and behind the microphone at “WRSG…radio Sylvester.”  To be honest, I did say there was a 60% chance of precipitation during a downpour but I was trying.   A lady called and said, “genius…there is a 100 percent chance..look out the freaking window.”

Many Americans learned soft skills from watching Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Good Times.  James and Florida raised quality kids in a rough environment; they were a strong family. 

Guys learn it by listening to oldheads in the barbershop and I imagine girls do the same in hair salons.  Everson learned it at our Albany State University and in the U.S. Army.  During his candidacy for state labor commissioner, I told Melvin that he would have had my vote in the general election because he was a Golden Rams and gets it. 

Everson is a conservative and fully conscious of the budget constraints facing the state and national governments.  So, I want to help Everson and former congressman, now Governor Nathan Deal save some money (Deal is cool because he always supported peanuts and other south Georgia crops.)

Georgia should create a program called the “Chameleon Project.”  As we know, the chameleon is a little lizard that changes to camouflage itself in different settings.  Of course, today’s youth want to be hard and thuggish like some hip hop stars.   Newsflash: your hip hop heroes send their kids to prep school in the suburbs because only a nut wants to be in the hard life–ask prisoners.  As the late, great Bernie Mack said, “If you went to jail for someone else…you aren’t a punk…you are a new fool.”  The Mack man said he would have been jumping up and down in court with his hand up, “he kilt that boy, your honor..I tried to call you but I didn’t have your number.”   I digress. 

The Chameleon Project would show young people how to learn from everyone, how to switch attire to secure the cool mall job and how to speak clearly and properly.  Watching the right T.V. shows can improve soft skills.  If a person says “youknowwhatIsayin” constantly, I don’t.  The smooth tone on NPR radio would give a young person a vocal camouflage option.  Cuban immigrant and former CEO of Coca Cola Robert Goizueta taught himself English by watching the same movies over and over.  We know some people can turn it on and off like a faucet but if you can’t, default to the manner of speech that puts legal money in your pocket.

It is a shame that young people spend so much money on clothes (not made in America) but don’t have a dark suit to wear to their grandmother’s funeral.  FYI: cut the tag off the sleeve.  The unofficial hero on the Chameleon Project is Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver.  Eddie was a cutup but he could pour on the charm when parents were around.  In the courtship and employment interview processes, we oldheads like to see a young man who can rock the classics….Blue Blazer…presses white button-down…khakis..penny loafs… prep tie.  I was crushing the sweethearts’ mommies with that gear in 82 and it was the same gear my father wore at A&T in 32.  That functional outfit could be put together in Wal-mart for under $100 bucks.  

That Eddie Haskell

I once worked in a job skill training program and the clients/students always said that this information should have been introduced to them ten years earlier–before certain paths were chosen.   So, Deal and Everson are on the right track because moving into management will require more than the basic technical skills.   I bet the youth in developing nations are as sharp as a razor and clean as a whistle; they have the eye of the Tiger.

Melvin, check this out, oldschool..holla at your boy.”  Translation: “Mr. Everson, look here, fellow alum..contact me for additional discussions regarding this matter.”

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What should children learn as they head back to school?

The start of the school year is filled with promise but I have serious concerns about the American education system.  First, kids have much better resources than we had but we had home training, which was actually home, church, and community training.  It was important that we knew when to sit down, be quiet and focus.  From 150 T.V. channels to Xbox, today’s kids like flashy and that makes good old fashion teaching boring.

Newsflash: much of life in the real world is boring and making yourself do what you don’t want to do is an important part of growth and development.  Children should arrive at the logical conclusion that they will be in school anyway so why not gain knowledge that will make their futures better.  Every subject from my school years has come up in life at some point and in some way.  When Black kids study American history, they should develop an understanding about the past and their obligations to strive into the future.  The revolving door on American prisons indicates that should young people don’t value the freedom many fought to obtain. 

High school economics is a needed subject in my opinion because kids need to know about conspicuous consumption, cost-benefit analysis, risk/reward and delayed gratification.  Even people who make 60K plus working in industry without college degrees should know that material things aren’t that important and everyone shouldn’t know what you have.  We should hope that kids learn to be balanced, law-abiding, happy citizens.  They should also learn that it’s not the government’s job to take care of you; the government doesn’t love you like that.

Teachers enter the profession fully prepare to perform but the half-raised part of the student body will ruin the learning process for all involved.  A stress-out teacher’s thoughts turn to mortgage and SUV payments—so they take it.  As the Negro hymn goes, “before I be a slave..I will be buried in my grave.” I would sooner stave that allow a student to disrupt school while disrespecting me.  To be honest, the wrong folks are having too many kids at the wrong time and they would be the first to tell you that—ten years later.


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What should the average American know about the job market and the government’s role in job creation?

Ted Sadler: Employment/recovery was the obvious first monthly topic for our new discussion series because so much pivots off jobs.  We should admit a painful fact: many of the jobs that America lost during the economic downturn won’t be coming back.  Companies are functioning leaner with more automation so the unemployed and underemployed should plan carefully.  We must work hard and work smart because the traditional 40 years with one employer and a solid pension is becoming the exception rather than the norm.  The government can’t guarantee a job that produces funds to meet your financial needs and wants.  As President Kennedy might have said, what you can do for your country is limit your obligations, training hard and pinch pennies until they scream. 

The government should provide quality schools for K-12 kids and educational options for adults while creating a business environment conducive to job creation.  We must keep a watchful eye on politicians and their relationships with special interest groups because at times it seems that the paychecks elected officials are most concerned with protecting are their own.  Candidate Obama was a master at straight talk and I need him to speak honestly about the possibility of emerging nations out hustling us with their “hungry for opportunities” workforce.  We better get on the ball.  Finally, I was alarmed by a CBS Sunday Morning cover story about 50 plus years old unemployed people.  Surprisingly, many employers pass on experience applicants because they are concerned with retirement while young workers are cheaper to employ.  Look here: the job market is a rough game and must be worked from every angle….half the process is crafty networking. If you find yourself unemployed, the time could be right to build your own house or spend precious time with young family members—raise them or the streets will.  

CBS Sunday Morning story


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In Georgia, we spend too much money on criminal justice after spending cash for 12 years to education whose who would become criminals.  New Governor and former congressman Nathan Deal was alarmed by the crime-related items in the state budget.  To me, it’s like that old Fram oil filter commercial: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later” the mechanic says.

Well, we should pay teachers who today unfortunately do more than the teachers of old.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Spike Lee are pushing for more Black men to consider teaching.  Currently, one percent of teachers are Black men and over the next 20 years many teachers will be retiring.  In this down economy, teaching could be a cool option for those with the right temperament and the paid is not bad.

Education officials should look into a program Silver Springs, Maryland, had in the 90s called college style teaching.  The D.C. Area had many retired federal workers and military veterans who would like to work part-time because they were basically fine financially.  The school system found recruiting difficult because those who wanted to simply teach didn’t wanted the headache of hall, bus, homeroom and activities duties.  While the majority of the teachers were “full teachers with full pay,” the college style teachers, who received less money, arrived on campus 30 minutes before their first class, taught two classes, had a planning period, taught two more class and left campus—similar to college professors.

Options for other duties like coaching and clubs came with more money in a cafeteria plan like current coaches’ stipends or supplements.  We could be talking about former Wall Street executives, well-travelled war veterans, and high-paid factory worker who want a change for the last phase of their working years.  If the schedules are right, these teachers might split time between teaching and consulting in their former fields.  The real winners would be the children who would get teachers who know exactly what the workforce needs.  I love the idea of lower grades kids having more positive men in the schools as role models.

Yes, our communities were better when parents and the church primarily raised kids.  Today, music videos, the internet, 150 T.V. channels and the streets are framing young minds.  If we don’t do something innovative soon, we will continue spending more money sending youth to Georgia State Penitentiary than Georgia State University.  The rough kids disrupt the education experience for those to want to learn.  I will tell you what: get this program before my 50th birthday and I will teaching four American government/civic classes and coach tennis for 30K and be glad to have it.      

The added benefit of having clean-cut men in the schools is the character options for boys, and the experience of being around real men for girls whose fathers were elsewhere.  Oh yeah, some of those life-long daddy issues and quickness to argue with men stem from rarely being around a certain type man.  As Chuck D said in the rap rhyme back in the day, “with a man in the house…the bullsh__ stops.” I shouldn’t go there but let me rhyme, “with men in the schools…knowledge becomes more cool.”

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Henrietta Lacks’ contributions to medical research are amazing but were unknown to her when she died in Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951.  Taken without her permission, her cancer cells or HeLa cells have growth in lab settings better than any cell lines and are central to many medical breakthroughs while her family is uninsured. 

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is part Black history book, part biology book and part spiritual book.  Rebecca Skloot wrote a fine novel and I hope that money from the movie rights will fund Lacks’ grandchildren’s education. Henrietta gave in life and continues giving to this day.  Can you imagine a biology student working with living cells that belong to his grandmother.

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We have all seen the Geico commercial where Charlie Daniels takes the violin from a strolling player in a fancy restaurant, rips some righteous fiddle licks and gives it back to the guy before saying, “That’s how you do it, son.”  I enjoy everyone on the violin from Daniels to the brother in Dave Matthews Band to Israeli-born Miri Ben-Ari, who puts it down over hip hop beats, to Novi Novog, the lady who played stings for The Time and Prince in the 80s.    

To me, there are different ways of doing things and it’s good to study other methods and approaches.  New Jersey’ Governor Chris Christie is one to watch because the big fellow is one conservative who is going to tell it like he see it – right or wrong – and let the chips fall where they may.  Baller style, that’s how you do it son.  I think candidates Obama and McCain were planning the same thing.  We remember the talk from both about reforming the system and walking away from the game on top like NFL great Jim Brown.  Of course, elected officials often find that easier said than done.

Governor Christie is hell-bend on reigning in state spending and bumping heads with key groups in the process.  The recent video clip of his confrontation with a teacher over pay and benefits was an instant classic.  The teacher said she was not being paid for her education and experience and Christie basically told her to work somewhere else.  Ouch.

Christie says NJ teachers are well-paid and have excellent benefits but they need to understand that average citizens have cut back in these rough economic times and governmental employees must do the same.  My mouth dropped when the teacher made her point because we “assumed” in the 80s that we would at least make enough money to paid for our educations.  Hell, I simply wanted to make my age and grow old.  The price of everything has skyrocketed but salaries are stuck in 1990.

Can a person walk away from a job offer with a salary of the same amount as that person made 20 years ago?  No.  Our parents always said people with bills should take any income source they can until hard times pass.  Guys with children should drop fries, wash windows or collect cans because those kids did not ask to be born.  The guy Joseph in the Bible told pharaoh to store away in times of fat in preparation for times of lean.

The now defunct cable channel Fine Living produced a show called Radical Sabbatical about rich people who decided to cash out on Wall Street do things like starting kayak businesses on lovely western rivers.  While that might be extreme, I admire my homeboys who made good money in production, the military or teaching and could retire to enjoy family by their early 50s or work less stress, giving back jobs.  In actuality, people spend money like money will always come in and the result is sometimes similar to NBA veterans who are penniless by forty.  That’s not how you do it, son. 

If the budget hawks approach matters like Christie, the average America could see their point.  Dave Matthews Band, Miri Ben-Ari and Novi Novog fused hop hip and rock with strings and the results introduced everyone to something new; Novog on Time’s Chili Sauce was brilliant.  The same thing must happen in Washington with spending because something has to give. 

People on the outside think something has got to give with the education system because teachers are making good money but Johnny can’t read.  Of course, the teachers will tell you that we went to school reading back in the day and the family should do more to prepare little Johnny to sit his blank down in class and focus.  I still like the programs that bring military veterans into teaching because some kids need a little guidance.  That’s how you do it, son.

Christie and the Teacher video



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If you know me, you don’t call me during Jeopardy, Lost, 24, and Grey’s Anatomy.  The same is true with CBS’s Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes.  Wynton Maralis’s trumpet fanfare that starts Sunday Morning is the ringtone on my cellphone.  My friends (part Nerds, part roughnecks) say that if you ask a sister what channel is CNN, MSNBC, HGTV or the Travel Channel and she doesn’t know, move on to someone else. I bet she knows Lifetime Movie Network—the “what guys did wrong this time” channel. 

We watch too much T.V. but some programming can be informative and uplifting. A kid being home-schooled in a remote location might receive a quality education from current channels if handled correctly.  That’s it: create the Homeschool Network with four or five channels of the most effective teachers in the nation teaching the three Rs.—old school style and lunch is a Fried “Baloney” Sandwich. (Sorry, First Lady Obama).    

My friend Karen Bogans and I were talking the other day and we wondered if there was a block in America where ten or so families created a home school in the community clubhouse and used the stay-at-home parents as teachers and the working parents taught classes relating to their careers before work, after work, during lunch or on their flex day.  Retirees and military veterans could get a tax-break for sharing their vast knowledge.   That idea seems voucher worthy and shovel-ready.  

Sunday Morning’s story on people around the world and 60 Minutes’ Bloom Box segment are examples of what is right about T.V.



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Would someone explain the charter school concept to me? Are these schools publicly funded private schools? I am one moderate who would support a school voucher program with certain provisions so I am not hating on charter schools. My concerns have always been with cherry-picking the best students and families out of the failing school systems. Shoot, I could teach those good kids but if you want to be really impressive reach those “Stand By Me” students. The cute part about vouchers is that difficult kids’ parents would not have the remaining amount of the tuition so they would not sully those precious private corridors.

People make money in the city and drive into the suburban communities with their tax dollars everyday yet wonder what is wrong with the urban areas. When Marion Berry was mayor in D.C., he considered taxing them on the bridges.  What was he smoking? 

We must fix the inner cities and failing school systems but good kids shouldn’t be penalized in the meantime.  In rural Georgia, teaching has always been an important path into the middle class but teaching unions can’t justify these horrible results.  Something has got to give. 

Are charter schools required to take a certain percentage of difficult learners?  Retired military veterans (Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Black Ops) should start charter schools for the worst of the worst and when the weak parents comes to complain drop them for 50 pushups.  

On the whole separation of church and state thing, the History Channel is tripping me out with all of the information about the Founding Fathers efforts to support this concept.  Can charter schools function like Christian, Jewish or Muslim schools?  We take this P.C. stuff to far at times.  The local high school cheerleaders have always done the standard cheer, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, all the Rams are going to heaven…when we get there, they will say..the other team went the other way.”  Can they say that or is the ACLU in route.


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Loyalty is a word with many different dimensions.  On Capitol Hill, a former supervisor gave our staff the following poem during an uncertain period.

Pledge of Loyalty
By: Sir Elbert Kim Hubbard

If you work for a man,
in heaven’s name,
work for him,
speak well of him,
and stand by the institution
that he represents.

an ounce of loyalty
is worth a pound of cleverness.

If you must grawl,
condemn and eternally find fault,
resign your position!

And when you are in the outside,
damn to your heart’s contents!

But as long as you are a part of the institution,
do not condemn it.

For if you do,
the first high wind that comes along
will blow you away.

And probably,
you’ll never know why.

The essence of the poem hit home with me because I have always believed in being loyal to those who were beneficial to me—that includes staying basically “down with the team” long after working somewhere.  But, loyalty is a two-way street that requires commitment from bottom to top and top to bottom.  For example, Sarah Palin should remember that Senator John McCain “put her on” and Joe Lieberman should do the way with Al Gore.  

From the following list, how would you prioritize your loyalty?






Political Party

College Football Team


While the last one might seem humorous, some folks would have it very high up on their list.  I saw Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rev. Al Sharpton and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the Meet the Press discussing their efforts to reform education in America.  While I wasn’t invited, my comments would have centered on loyalty in education.  It’s no secret that I feel Black students owe a debt of gratuity to those who broke down barriers and that they debt is paid by working hard, being focus, and capitalizing on educational opportunities.


At the same time, teachers who are loyal to the field should remove themselves if they realize they aren’t reaching the students; getting money for not doing the job could be considered stealing on some level.  Of course, weak teachers have bills and other financial obligations that sometimes keep them in the classroom—skating by.


Some teachers will tell you that half-raised kids with poor attention spans burnt them out with a quickness and that parents aren’t doing their parts.  The finger of blame can point some of everywhere but we must fix this broken system before we have a generation of Americans ill-prepared to function in the global economy.


If you let me tell it, I think the bells and whistles of video games, computers, and T.V. creates kids who only want to focus when things are flashy and visually stimulating.   Loyalty to local school system makes citizens reluctant to admit that “needs improvement” is an understatement.  If Secretary Duncan asked me to create a charter school as a model, you can best believe it would be the old school three Rs with a high-tech twist and little Johnny would understand that his loyalties must compelled performance and achievement.  Who am I fooling; the young cats in my community are unbelievably selfish.  If you asked them what they believe, they would likely say, “I believe you better get out of my face.”



Meet The Press


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UGA Arch

UGA Arch

We read so many negative things about our youth in the newspapers these days. Below is a positive story about triplets from the Savannah, Georgia area heading to the University of Georgia…top three in their class…. public school products…. single parent household with working mom.

When I read “top three in their class,” I made a face normally reserved for a rim-rattling dunk or the perfect execution of the hook and lateral football play.  While the sisters might have achieved in sports also, this story is about family, 4-H and good old fashion hard work.  My friends and I are puzzled when someone says their child is practicing basketball 5 hours a day to hopefully make the N.B.A.  While sports are good “anti-drugs,” Junior could be leaning on the UGA Arch with the triplets if he put that much attention to his books. The business and professional connections made at a major university can be more beneficial than a few years in professional sports.  

Since all three Morgan sisters plan to purse pharmacy degrees at UGA, I have a headline for you:   

Georgia Sisters Plan Careers as Drug Dealers

I never thought I would see that and be pleased and proud.   


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The headline in last Thursday’s Augusta Chronicle ‘Juvenile Crime up 23% in Richmond in the last year’ was troubling.  So much so that I teamed up with a friend who manages three Waffle House restaurants and three local organizations that work directly with at-risk and disenfranchised boys to do something about it. A press conference was held Wednesday and once again the local media were there. Our CBS and NBC affiliate, our daily newspaper and the black owned weekly newspaper were there and gave us much coverage and much love. In about 24 hours, we’ve got over 60 men who have signed up to serve as mentors for our young boys. Our goal is 250 men, by August 7th, who commit to at least one hour per week with a young man. It seems we’re well on our way. We’ve even attracted people who want to help ‘recruit’ men to get involved. I’m blown away by the response we’ve received in such a short time…

The following article was featured in today’s Augusta Chronicle. http://www.augustachronicle.com

Effort seeks mentors for young males
By Stephanie TooneStaff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Helen Blocker-Adams met with media and community partners Wednesday about filling the void of father figures in the lives of Richmond County’s young males. // <![CDATA[//

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Radio host Helen Blocker-Adams (right) and Waffle House District Manager Escubar Moore (left) want men to volunteer to be mentors for young males to help combat the rise in juvenile crime in Augusta.

Mrs. Blocker-Adams, a talk show host on WNRR-AM 1230, said she was disturbed after reading in The Augusta Chronicle that juvenile crime has increased 23 percent in the past three months, compared to the same time last year. That should be a wake-up call to Augusta, she said.

“Juvenile crime is just off the Richter scale,” she told a crowd in front of the Waffle House on Gordon Highway on Wednesday. “We have to find some surrogate fathers for these young males because a lot them don’t have one.”

She and Escubar Moore, the district manager of three Augusta Waffle House restaurants, will sponsor the Back to School Men’s Drive for Kids, a campaign to recruit positive male role models for Augusta’s male youth.

By July 27, Mrs. Blocker-Adams and Mr. Moore hope to sign up 250 men to volunteer with local mentoring agencies: Dads in Action, An Ounce of Prevention and Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry.

Mr. Moore said men can sign up at Waffle House locations on Gordon Highway, Deans Bridge Road and Wrightsboro Road. The men are asked to give one hour a week with one of the three mentoring agencies. About 75 men had signed up to volunteer as of Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Moore said.

“I hope we blow that number away and have even more,” he said. “That 250 hours per week can make a whole lot of difference in our community.”

Devon Harris, the executive director of the Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry, has worked with troubled youth for several years. He said the statistics are not surprising. A positive male in the lives of some of the young men in his program could make a difference in their lives and have an impact on the community, Mr. Harris said.

“We want to think it’s somebody else’s problem or the government’s problem, but we have to plant the seed,” he said. “These young men are looking for guidance. They want someone to invest in their lives.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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Be careful what you wish for because real problems and real solutions might cause a dramatic change in your professional and financial life.  But, good Americans want what is best for the nation—right.  President Obama is a great guy but you know he really is balancing hard solutions with the grim reality that some core supporter won’t like what needs to be done. 

Teachers give a sound effort but the public school system needs fundamental improvements.  Those improvements actually start with people having kids when they are prepared to raise properly developed, responsible children but politicians can’t say that or they will be accused of genocide or something.  So, teachers who were trained to teach subject matter find themselves as surrogate parents, social workers and role models (the same can be said about police officers.) 

What if we embrace that concept and train teachers for the roles need to be play in young lives.  I am thinking supplements similar to coaches for more men in lower graders and retired military in upper graders.  How many kids in certain areas grow up without a strong male in their lives and preacher are not doing it because people are half going to church.  One strong male in a boy’s or girl’s life could plant that positive seed and I included girls because too many are only exposed to the shady, weak guys their mothers dated—if you can call that dating.  We need male and female teachers who are firm yet fair and who can consistently get students to buy into the importance of developing their minds.  If teachers can’t do that, they should seek other employment.

Healthcare professionals (doctors, administrators, nurses) should stop defending their wallets and realize that big changes are need in their field.  The health care debate should include their input as much as the government and insurance companies but like teachers the first thing out of their mouth is don’t reduce their incomes.  It alls comes down to cost effective performance and results

We often forget about the avenue into the Black middle class provided by the military.  The armed services gave many a son and daughter of the South the opportunity to secure their financial futures and see the world.  We need to hear from them more about what works and doesn’t work with the Pentagon’s use of defense contractors and when nation-building and regime change crosses the line.  We care about people in Iraq and Afghanistan but should not forget about Idaho and Alabama public works projects.  With net base education and distance learning, down time in the war zone might be a good time to earn degrees and credentials for post-military careers in law enforcement and teaching.  Little Johnny won’t “bow-up” so fast on a no-nonsense teacher with combat experience and the girls in the community could learn a lot from a vet who is deliberate in her actions and fully-focus.  Luckily, these troops to teachers and troops to cops programs currently exist and should be expanded.

I am confident fair people will accept changes or “corrections” for the common good in the same matter that people in the auto-making and banking industries were forced to grasp rough realities.  As President Obama has repeatedly stated, now it is time for the hard part to being.

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As we consider the next steps in improving the community, the book Come On People by Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint is a must read. Here are my highlights from this firm and real book.


Come On People: Notes

p. 36             Although few acknowledge it-who would?- the doctrine of white supremacy has sunk deeply into the minds of too many Americans, black people included.  It has slithered its way into the psyches of poor black youth with low self-esteem, who equate academic success with whiteness.  And if success is “white” then are we saying that to “act black” is to fail?

p. 103 Dr. George McKenna Now when we underachieve, we compare ourselves to some other underachievers and celebrate being the best of the pitiful.  And that, ladies and gentleman, is a definition of insanity.  When you create an alternative reality and believe that where you are is normal, you’re insane.

We see a lot of alternative reality in Compton, kids who pride themselves on saying, “I will walk like this.  It won’t get me anywhere, but I’m a big man in a mall square and I will kill my fellow brothers over land I neither lease, own, rent or pay taxes on, and call in my turf.”

p. 108-109 We are all worried sick about the high school drop-out rate of greater than 50 percent in many of our cities- with higher rates for black males than females.  In Baltimore, for example, about 75 percent of black males do not graduate from high school.

As a result of such stupid decision, our jails overflow with your black male high school dropouts.  A year of college at a state school costs the state about ten thousand dollars; a year in jail costs about twenty-five thousand dollars.

p. 110 We have to copy the methods of successful schools in low-income black communities.  Positive examples exist in cities around the country.  It is not enough simply to add tougher courses or more homework.  Schools succeed best when the entire “school culture” is changed to support success instead of failure.

Education reformers report that the core components of effective schools are: a sense of purpose, clear standards, high expectations of all, a belief that all students can be educated, safe and orderly environments, strong partnership with parents and caregivers, and a commitment to solving problems.

p. 195 FACE THE FACTS HEAD-ON   Here are some unfortunate facts: Black youths are six times more likely to die from homicide than white youths and seven times more likely to commit a homicide.  During the last thirty years, close to 50 percent of the homicides in the United States have been committed by black people, mostly black men, and 94 percent of the victims of black killers were black.  Is this crazy or what?  Homicide, in fact, is the leading cause of death among black males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine and has been of decades.

p. 211 In 1954, the year of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, about ninety-eight thousand African-Americans were in prison.  Today, there are nearly ten times as many black people in prison.  According to the Sentencing Project, 32 percent of the black men born today will go to prison at some point on their lifetime.  In 2005, 4.7 percent of all black men were in prison, compared to 1.9 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males.

p. 218 Charles Ramsey, former chief of police in Washington D.C.    Let me just give you a picture of some of the issues that we’re confronted with.  First of all, let me start by saying that we’ve got more decent kids than we have bad kids.

The fact often gets overshadowed because we focus on the negative, and rightfully so, because we do have a serious problem out here.   But we have to continue to support those youngsters who are trying to do the right thing.  We also have the reality that we have a significant population of young people that is totally lost.

p. 224 TAKE ANY LEGITMATE JOB       Parents and caregivers, have you heard a kid say, “Well, I can either flip burgers or go out here and make real money selling drugs”?  When you hear that, do you stop that child and say, “Wait a minute, fool.  You don’t flip burgers for the rest of your life.  You flip them to become the manager of the place.  You flip burgers to move from manager to owner of the damn franchise”?

You have to say this to your kids more than once.  So do their teachers.  If the kids give you lip, ask them to identify a middle-aged, home-owning drug-dealing grandpa with a family that loves him.  That will keep them quiet-and busy.

Please remind your young people that there is no shame in hard work.  All work is honorable and makes a contribution to society whether that work is as a janitor or an astronaut.  An unpleasant job usually leads to a better job as young people develop working skills that are useful on any job, including the ability to work with others and be punctual.  The unemployment rate for black people is twice that of white people- this has to change.

The truth is that if we all showed more respect to blue-collar workers, there would be less rejection of so-called menial jobs by our youth.  If there was less rejection, kids would see that one job leads to another as the worker gains experience and basic workplace skills such as cooperating with others, taking orders, and keeping regular work hours.  By not giving up hope and persevering against the odds, many succeed.

p. 226 The high cost of childhood poverty is tragic.  It is estimated that children who grow up poor cost the country five hundred billion dollars a year.  Poor people do not contribute sufficiently to the economy, and the health and criminal costs that grow out of poverty are enormous.  Experts argue that we can counter poverty levels by extending the earned income tax credit to more low-income workers.   But don’t overlook the word earned.  If you don’t earn it, you don’t get it.  Our children are in great need, and we cannot afford to squander any opportunities.

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While teaching an academic refresher class in a welfare to work program, a student asked me to make a list of the common English errors she should avoid.  The list because the first day icebreaker for new groups and the standard for speaking at the facility—in and out of class.  Former students still thank me for “the list” because it helped them with interviews, work and parenting.  From 600 plus students, a surprising number have kept the list handy for years to improve the English of their families.


 1.     fittin’ = fixing

2.     gull    = girl

3.     baze   =bath

4.     bout   =about

 5.     –in     =ing

6.     dat     =that

7.     doze   =those or doors

8.     dez     =these

9.     nem    =them

10. wit     =with

 11. menz  =men

12. y’all   =you all

13. chew  =you

14. showl =sure is

15. betcha =bet you

 16. nann   =none

17. sometin’=something

18. wartor   =water          

19. flow =floor

 20. foe =four

21. ax =ask

22. lawd =lord

23. lil =little

 24. bitness =business

25. stoe =store

26. lunt =loan

27. wuz =was

28. hur=her 

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Kids who think that they are not suppose to learn in the summer are simply wrong.  School is formal education and everything else is informal education or other components in the learning process.  What about the family that plans summer vacation trips to hit historical sites and science centers or the families who would send the city kids to the country and vice versa?  Listening to grandparents’ wisdom and knowledge helps complete the well-rounded child.

The teens of south Georgia should spend a few weeks working in the infamous “fields.” When I harvested watermelon, cantaloupes, and tomatoes, my muscles ached but I learn that the slaves and sharecroppers had in rough and this was not the work for me.  I was on the honor roll the next year because I was trying to have educational and career options to keep me out of those fields…unless I was the farm owner. 

Some of the kids today don’t know how to learn.  The information covered in class should be used everyday for the rest of their lives.  Kids walk out of English class speaking the worst English you ever heard.  Parents should be mindful of the English spoken around kids at home and correct mistakes.  I was a “community organizer” with a community development program at my alma mater and my duties included teaching job skills and academic refresher classes in a welfare to work program.  My students would complain about not getting jobs in retail at the local mall and I would tell them the real reasons—they couldn’t speak or listen properly. 

The first thing I noticed was their fast manner of speaking.  One student would repeat everything three times to get the listener to understand. “WhatagotoBurgerKing, WhatagotoBurgerKing, WhatagotoBurgerKing.” I pointed out that it would have been easier to say it one time a little slower and speaking slowly was the considerate thing to do..like an attorney during court cases on Law and Order.  With the addition time, a speaker could construct grammatically correct sentences and be that much closer to the coveted job selling chinos at the Gap.  Of course, working in the mall might introduce them to a man who was more focused than the kuckleheads from some of their pasts. 

I tried to teach them to be resourceful by watching the more educational channels and news discussions rather than a constant diet of music videos and “he is not this child’s father” shows.  To me, Maury Povich and BET can damage America as much as Kim Jong-il. 

What Obama does for or to our community cannot compare to what we could do by being more resourceful and deliberate in our formal and informal educations and President Obama will quickly tell you that.  During the July 4th cookouts, we should look for two groups at the same party.  One group will feature “uncle in and out of jail” telling glorious stories about his sordid past.  The other groups will feature “uncle the military gave me options” who will be emphasizing personal responsibility and consequences.  The first uncle talks fast and you can hardily understand what he is saying while puffing on a Newport.  The second uncle speaks clearly and composes his statements around a central theme…while puffing on a Newport. 

While the cookout does not take place in a farmer’s field, both uncles will plant seeds with the youth.  In twenty years, the kids from that cookout might reflect lessons learned that day from the uncles.

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