Time to Work program getting young people working

Baltimore officials have made it a mission to dedicate resources towards creating opportunities for the city’s youth population and one entrepreneur suggests that a quick way to accomplish this is by merging the needs of the city to the abilities of young individuals.

It’s a mission that Charm City resident Elijah Kelley says he firmly believes in. Founder of web app, “Be A Boss,” Kelley has teamed up with Master Your Card, a firm with a mission to empower financially underserved communities to move into the mainstream economy and to help small businesses; and the full service political consultant firm, The Politics Store to provide paid opportunities for young people through a program called, “A Time to Work.”

The program offers the prospect of employment to unemployed and underemployed youth.

Those involved say they hope that by expanding opportunities for young people, there will be more chances to find gainful employment, particularly performing the most basic task— cleaning up the neighborhood.

The program, which launched on November 18, 2017, allows youth to clean and brighten up local communities. Starting at Rose Street near the Gilmor Homes and Bethel Street in the Oliver Community where several participants engaged in clean up and beautifying activities while earning money doing it.

Kelley says his continued investment in offering such opportunities has a lot to do with taking action to combat the narrative that there is no hope.

“I believe at the core of this entire monstrosity of crime and waywardness is the lack of resources, the lack of basic ability to care and provide for yourself and your family,” he said.

Neighborhood cleanup activities that net young people a decent day’s pay shows there is a direct correlation between supporting and uplifting communities while making a living, according to Kelley.

“Fifty percent of a community in survival mode means 100 percent of that community is in danger of collapse. I care about the community I grew up in, the community I still have family and friends in and the community members that have the same potential I had to become a better me,” Kelly said. “My expectation for this program is to assist in the empowerment of youth providing for themselves and their family while planting seeds of opportunity and possibility.”

It wasn’t immediately known how many young people participated in the November 18 cleanup, but a year ago city Department of Transportation (DOT) officials used the “Be A Boss” app to contact 345 city youth between ages 14 and 21 to connect them with snow shoveling jobs within four or five blocks of their homes.

DOT officials say hundreds of sidewalks were cleared as a result.

Looking ahead, Kelley says the “Time to Work” program will be expanded adding more youth each month. To assist the program, which is being funded by Kelley’s company, he hopes to gain more traction by having individuals and businesses join the initiative by sponsoring participants.

As part of the learning experience component of the program, the youth are paid using a prepaid card provided by MasterCard’s “Master Your Financial Literacy Program.”

His vision for the program is that individuals, organizations and companies take up the challenge to hire and pay a living wage whenever possible and to consider sponsoring young people for just one hour at $25 per, Kelley said.

“[Those interested] can take part by registering on the Be A Boss app and then subscribing to “A Time to Work,” by clicking on subscribe. For more information, including how to register, send an email: info@beabossnow.com.

Turkeys in the White House

Satire in the Time of Trump is becoming really tricky. Just when a satirist believes that he or she has the kernel of a silly or outrageous extrapolative idea, this administration jumps in front of it and even outdoes it. From Saturday Night Live to stand-up comics to the Onion to Andy Borowitz, it’s getting more dicey by the day.

For instance, I was chuckling grimly to myself as Thanksgiving approached, creating an SNL bit in my mind where Trump overturns the pardons of last year’s turkeys by Obama. Hahaha, I thought, that would spoof Trump’s outrageous assaults on all that is decent in health care and environmental protection that Obama did via Presidential Findings.

Then Trump actually said that he tried to overturn Obama’s pardons for last year’s turkeys. Trump thought that was darn funny. My blood ran cold. This man’s sense of humor must have been surgically implanted by a really stupid robot improperly programmed in a middle school, shop class. This is a fellow who believes his wit is the height of caps when he calls a foreign head of state short and fat or yuks it up with cops about brutality.

I’m American, approximately Trump’s age and I’m a white guy so I’m feeling embarrassed and apologetic when I’m not feeling apoplectic at the snake pit into which we’ve cast ourselves.

The Deadbeat Prez! It’s so rampant the makers of Embarrassmints cannot keep them in stock.

Hurry, Mueller, please. Bring charges, snip the Putin Puppet strings, and strip this sorry excuse for a public figure of all title, wealth, power and comfort. Can you manage? Will my $5 donation help? I could do $10 if you could jam on the gas. I know my annual donations to worthy causes aren’t enough but on a percent basis I am confident they overtop Trump’s. You can have some of my zip ties; they make great handcuffs.

We’ve seen this country sink faster than a granite block in water and there is no bottom in sight. I have a friend who is one of the world’s top climate scientists and he is trying to convince us all to get busy. I have another friend— two friends actually, who are heading to prisons for nonviolent resistance to climate chaos greatly exacerbated by the astonishingly poor decisions and inept presidential orders we have seen launching off the Oval Office desk.

Trump fails to understand rudimentary science, basic morals, honesty, simple ethics, decent planning for the future of our nation, and all-around civility.

Who raised this cringe-worthy one? Does he have a daily quota of groups and individuals he intends to offend?

It’s all I want for Christmas. Make us all grateful. Bring down this failed and dangerous administration— quickly. His fingers may be tiny but they have been in all the wrong places and cannot get near the nuclear football.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is a scholar of civil resistance and PeaceVoice Director.

What everyone can learn from the Texas ESSA state plan

Education officials in Texas put a lot of work into the Every Student Succeeds Act state plan that they submitted to the Department of Education. We can all learn from what they included and what they chose not to include.

The Texas plan is supported by the strategic priorities of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These priorities

include: (1) recruiting, supporting, and retaining teachers and principals; (2) building a foundation of reading and math; (3) connecting high school to career and college; and (4) improving low-performing schools. TEA acknowledges these priorities require support and therefore list three prerequisites referred to as “enablers” for effective implementation of these strategies. These enablers include: (1) increased transparency; (2) ensuring compliance; and (3) the strengthening of organizational foundations.

Overall, Texas’s plan is designed to implement ESSA as Congress intended; allocating resources and funds according to need, closing the achievement gap, and increasing community partnerships. TEA states several long-term goals. The first, being that by the year 2030, sixty percent of Texans aged 25-34 will possess some form of post-secondary credentials. Another long-term goal is a 94 percent high school graduation rate. For English Language Learners, TEA proposes that by 2032, forty-six percent of students should be achieving English language proficiency. To support these long-term goals, Texas has established short-term targets in five-year intervals.

A major component of equitable resource allocation is the collection of data. TEA evaluates academic performance by ethnicity, economically disadvantaged, students receiving special education services, students formerly receiving special education services, English learners, continuously enrolled, and mobile. The minimum size for subgroup data reporting is 25. Data for subgroups 10 or smaller will be calculated using a three-year composite score. Considering the population of Texas metropolitan areas, it seems the subgroup size of 25 is appropriate. TEA will also periodically review the resource allocation process for local education agencies; which could include a review of per-pupil spending.

ESSA requires that schools use three academic measures and one non-academic school quality or student success measure to determine school achievement. TEA has chosen to use the “percentage of assessments at or above the Meets Grade Level standard for all students and student groups by subject” as their school quality and student success measure for elementary and secondary schools. For high schools, TEA will use college, career, and military readiness to include: students who earn dual credits; students who successfully complete AP Exams, students who are awarded associate’s degrees while in high school, students who enlist in the military, etc. These “non-academic” indicators are disappointing since the U.S. Department of Education encourages less emphasis on testing. Four of the six indicators of school success identified by TEA include an element of testing. Students deserve holistic education that values social development as well as academic achievement. Primarily focusing on test scores as a means of determining success devalues other important categories of intelligence, such as musical-rhythmic and harmonic abilities.

Texas does deserve praise for their inclusion of a “Closing the Gaps Domain” in their A-F accountability system. The Closing the Gaps Domain focuses on educational equity for all children; irrespective of ethnicity, economic status, or special education status. The Closing the Gaps domain must represent at least 30 percent of the overall school rating. Any school that has one or more significant gaps in achievement between subgroups will be identified for targeted support and improvement. TEA will also use a ranking system; comparing school progress to other schools with similar student demographics.

Texas also seems to have made every effort at establishing community partnerships by proposing numerous consultations under a variety of circumstances. Campuses that need comprehensive support or require even more rigorous interventions must undergo a district-led improvement plan. However, before any plan may be submitted the district must consult with parents and community members. TEA has also included parent and community feedback in their initiatives to reduce the risks of student drop-outs; the Texas Readers Initiative focuses on creating parental and public awareness while the redesign of school report cards assists parents in better understanding their child’s learning needs.

So, although school accountability measures focus primarily on testing, and support for a well-rounded curriculum like the promotion of the benefits of a free enterprise system, as well as, religious literature including “the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) and New Testament, and its impact on history and literature,” Texas made a concerted effort to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act according to the original intention of the law to allocate resources and funds according to need, close the achievement gap, and increase community partnerships.

Lynette Monroe is a master’s student at Howard University. She is the program assistant for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Lynette Monroe on Twitter @_monroedoctrine.