Something To Talk About

How many of you have heard of the singer, Bonnie Rait? And how how many of you have heard of her song, “Something To Talk About?”

It is a favorite of mine. I absolutely love it as it’s a sermon or anthem of sorts.

We live in a world of Gossip, Murder, Hate, Adultery …WAR…and the news mediums have not a problem giving us our DAILY (Morning, Noon, and Night) doses of it. I recall, as an undergrad, when I’d arrived home from an exhausting day at the office and on campus. And back then, not so much now, I was a news junkie. And I’d arrived home, showered (I always shower minutes after arriving home…it helps me to calm and settle you from a long day). I’d showered, dressed, and prepared something to eat and sat down to watch the news. And it was one disaster, one horrible story after another. And then, the story of ALL stories, a baby, thrown into a dumpster. It was not just any baby, it was a newborn. The baby was thrown into the dumpster, like yesterdays trash, like an old rag. It was then that I got an instant headache, nauseous, and couldn’t breathe. I learned much later, the headaches and nausea; sleeplessness was all due to anxiety. More on that later as I have “Something more interesting to talk about”.  But for now, my point is, the media will find a way to continously bombard our lives with one horrible story after another.  But I’ve something to share with you here that I hope you find – inspiring.

There is a school, out of Chicago. It is an All Male school. It is an All Male Public High School. But because it is an All Male Public High School is what I want you to focus on. But I do want you to know that it is an All Black Male Public School. But that the Urban Prep Academy being an All Black Male Public School is not what I want to share with you although all of the above descriptors are important. What is quite important about the Urban Prep Academy is that all One Hundred Seven (107) seniors GRADUATED! But hold on, wait a minute; what is ultra-impressive is that all One Hundred Seven graduates have been accepted into 4-year colleges and/or universities! People – That is “Something to Talk About!” And why this great news isn’t being blasted across the airways and cyber ways is because you and I are not initiating it. I would love to shake the hand of, not the principal, not the teachers/instructors, but the young men who – have made history! But then again, to all the teachers, I understand your pain, frustration – your challenges. I do not make light your efforts. You teachers and instructors have made a great mark on the planet. And I am pleased to dedicate this posting to the Teachers, The Instructor, The Principle and THE GRADUATES (all 107 of you) of the URBAN PREP ACADEMY in Chicago. I look forward to hearing/reading more success stories about UPA.  Meanwhile, see the next post, titled, “Urban Prep Academy – Chicago.” 

Period, Case-Closed.

Urban Prep Academy – Chicago, IL

(Tribune photo by Heather Charles / March 5, 2010)  Urban Prep Academy senior Keith Greer, along with his classmates, celebrates the news they will receive a free prom in Chicago because 100 percent of the graduating class was accepted into 4-year colleges or universities. The entire senior class at Chicago’s only public all-male, all-African-American high school has been accepted to four-year colleges. At last count, the 107 seniors had earned spots at 72 schools across the nation.

Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman surprised students at an all-school assembly at Urban Prep Academy for Young Men in Englewood this morning to congratulate them. It’s the first graduating class at Urban Prep since it opened its doors in 2006.

Huberman applauded the seniors for making CPS shine.

“All of you in the senior class have shown that what matters is perseverance, what matters is focus, what matters is having a dream and following that dream,” Huberman said.

The school enforces a strict uniform of black blazers, khaki pants and red ties — with one exception. After a student receives the news he was accepted into college, he swaps his red tie for a red and gold one at an assembly.

The last 13 students received their college ties today, to thunderous applause.

Ask Rayvaughn Hines what college he was accepted to and he’ll answer with a question.

“Do you want me to name them all?”

For the 18-year-old from Back of the Yards, college was merely a concept–never a goal–growing up. Even within the last three years, he questioned if school, let alone college, was for him. Now, the senior is headed to the prestigious Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. next fall.

Hines remembers the moment he put on his red and gold tie.

“I wanted to take my time because I was just so proud of myself,” he said. “I wanted everyone to see me put it on.”

The achievement might not merit a mayoral visit at one of the city’s elite, selective enrollment high schools. But Urban Prep, a charter school that enrolls using a lottery in one of the city’s more troubled neighborhoods, faced difficult odds. Only 4 percent of this year’s senior class read at grade level as freshmen, according to Tim King, the school’s CEO.

“I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal,” King said. “Every single person we hired knew from the day one that this is what we do: We get our kids into college.”

College is omnipresent at the school. Before the students begin their freshman year, they take a field trip to Northwestern University. Every student is assigned a college counselor the day he steps foot in the school.

The school offers an extended day–170,000 more minutes over four years compared to its counterparts across the city–and more than double the number of English credits usually needed to graduate.

Even the school’s voicemail has a student declaring “I am college bound” before it asks callers to dial an extension.

Normally, it takes senior Jerry Hinds two buses and 45 minutes to get home from school. On Dec. 11, the day University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana was to post his admission decisions online at 5 p.m., he asked a friend to drive him home.

He went into his bedroom, told his well-wishing mother this was something he had to do alone, closed the door and logged in.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” he remembers screaming. His mother, who didn’t dare stray far, burst in and began crying.

That night he made more than 30 phone calls, at times shouting “I got in” on his cell phone and home phone at the same time.

“We’re breaking barriers,” he said. “And that feels great.”

Health Care Reform – A Simple Thank U

WOW! I have lived to see ANOTHER historical moment – in America – Healthcare Reform.  I have insurance.  And if I was not employed, I would still have some reasonable access to health care through the Veteran’s Administration.  However, I so wanted to see this bill pass.  I needed to see this bill pass.  I simply am numbed on the one hand that it actually passed and utterly ecstatic on the other hand.

Mr. President, I have watched you often over the last year and I honestly feel you have the best interest of the people of America at heart.  I do not know how you did it, the conferences, the town hall meetings, overseas travels to visit with heads of state, the threats, the lies, the deceit, …oftentimes,  I saw how physically tired you were, but you kept going.

I am often inspired by my students at the local colleges where I teach.   They too, work tirelessly daily and then come to class in the evenings.  They push, they try, they struggle…they push, they try, they struggle and ultimately success.   They are committed.  In their efforts, they motivate me.

President Obama, you may never know how much you motivate and inspire so many of us.  And as I continue in either of my capacities with either of the colleges, I know that I have not an excuse.  No matter what the challenge… I keep telling myself, if President Obama can push, try, struggle and remain committed to an ideal, so then can I – so then can we prevail, too!

I know that these words are so small, but it is the best I can do for now.   However, as I prepare to enter graduate and post graduate studies, I will dedicate my life with a renewed commitment to service and perfection.  I so wish more of us were like you…a man of intellect, courage – compassion.  I know it was difficult negotiating and persuading those that this was the right thing to do, thus your intellect.  I know it was difficult in light of the powerful corporate influences – thus your courage.  I know it was difficult in light of our individualistic culture – but you had compassion. And on behalf of the people of America, please accept my sincere gratitude.  I know it is small, but here is “A Simple Thank You – Thank you Mr. President, Thank You!”

Period, Case-Closed!

The Credit Game

monopoly

Remember Monopoly?  It is a fun game, right?  Well, there’s another game to tell you about.  But it is a very serious game! In this game, if you continue to be a pawn and NOT the King or Queen in this game, you will be INDEBTED for LIFE. You are going to have to get off of the Credit Band Wagon if you are going to have any semblance of freedom. What game am I speaking of? It is the Credit Game. These companies make tens of millions of dollars. Guess where that money is coming from? The profit is coming by way of fees and penalties. Guess who are paying all the wild fees and crazy penalties – the minorities and the poor. Someone asked, “Well, are not the two the same?” This is interesting, a very interesting question, we will revisit this question at a later time.

Meanwhile, did you know that your Credit Report costs anywhere from $8 to $10, per report? However, you are entitled to One Free Report each year.  You can request your Free Credit Report by clicking on the following link: www.AnnualCreditReport.com. It is the official site whereby the three (3) bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion was ordered by your government to have a central source whereby you and other consumers can obtain your report. Do yourself a favor – PRINT the report once it populates into your online account with Equifax, Experian, and/or TransUnion. You should keep this report – FOREVER. Should you go ANYWHERE else for a report, you WILL PAY for the report – somehow or someway and for what? You do not have to pay for your credit report when you can obtain it at No Cost at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

You should in my opinion review your report at least twice annually. Quarterly would be best as mistakes are made – daily.  We’ve not a clue exactly how many mistakes, but chances are that your  data was among the mistakes.  Humans make mistakes. Should you decide to start with one report a year, it would be my suggestion that you obtain your credit report in the month of your birthday. It should be easier for you to remember, right? Put those monies that you otherwise would have spent on the credit report towards one of those credit cards that you shredded or closed. Speaking of “closed”, there’s so much more to come on this subject. Stay tuned, Period, Case-Closed!

My So-Called Hiatus (smile)

I know, I know, my sincere apologies to all of you! I am back and that with a vengeance.  There is so much to write about since my last post.  Life continues to move on with or without our opinions. Life marches forward with or without the offerings of our thought, nor the input of our questions or answers.  Life is and Life does move on. So, why do you wait to step into your calling, your profession?  Get up, Get up, GET UP!

I have been asked on several occasions, “what’s up with the blog…why no new posts?”  Well, our lives can be so hectic, but it is how you and I have designed it.  But, no more excuses, no more hiatuses. I am returning to the search of truth and the tackling of lies.  Let us return to asking questions and proving thoughtful and meaningful answers of substance.  Let us return to conversation – great discussion.  Buckle up and Stay tuned, the ride will be bumpy, exhilarating, a trip and none of the following necessarily at once, but always Informative, Inspiring and Motivating.

Greater Successes,

Period, Case-Closed!