We Need Jobs!

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll with drastic job losses, safety, and high prices on working-class people.

Black America’s inequalities make it even far more oppressive. We are the last hired in good times and first fired during bad times. COVID-19 disproportionately strikes us in morbidity and catching the disease much more than the percentage of whites.

President Trump continues to defend his bungled handling of COVID-19 and mounting job losses. Do you believe that President Donald Trump still says that Blacks are better off than they have ever been because of his policies?

One question is whether it is COVID-19 safe to go to work or do you stay home with your child because it still remains unsafe to attend school? In our economic system, working people remain left to deal with concerns of a disruptive, dog-eat- dog, competitive economy on their own. Even with woefully inadequate government funding, problems of Black inequality, restoration, and renovation fall way short under both Republicans and Democrats.

Remember former President Obama, a Black man— chose “corporations to large to fail,” over saving people from losing their homes in 2009. Low-income people with Blacks near or at the bottom were affected the most.

He proudly said, “I’m not the president of Black America. I’m the president of all Americans.” Maybe he forgot where he was. Currently, both Democrats and Republicans continue to fight back and forth in Congress over another “help the people package” for the people. There we go gaming again.

Even with the current drama, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to undercount unemployment percentages. Previous administrations did the same thing. The Bureau continues to use the U-3 statistic to unemployment. It does not underestimate rates under the more accurate U-6 figure, which corresponds to a more on-target percentage.

Unions, labor, and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and the Black community need to make demands and fight back far beyond just voting Trump out. We need income. We need to fight for a federal government public works program putting millions to work at union-scale wages building needed hospitals, schools, housing, mass transportation, and many more infrastructure projects. We need to fight to stop layoffs; to cut the workweek with no cut in pay; to create a cost-of-living clause benefit that includes retirement benefits; and to fight for unemployment benefits for as long as workers need it.

Given the devastating fires in the west, a government-funded public works program could put tens of thousands of people to work at union-scale wages to stem forest fires. Workers could clear brush; replace old electrical lines; train personnel to sniff out potential hazards; and make sure that any new fires could be isolated and brought under control.

Dr. Ken Morgan is scholar-activist and former educator at Coppin State University. He can be reached at: kmorgan2409@comcast.net.

Postal Workers Know Best

On Friday, August 21, 2020, a racially diverse group of about 30 Baltimore City residents protested outside the United States Postal Service (USPS) office in Govans to air their grievances about the USPS mess. They made their voices known. Signs read: “I Love the Post Office,” “Black Votes Matter,” “Save Our Post Office to Safeguard Mail-in Voting For Nov. 3 Election.”

Courtney Jenkins, a postal worker, served as the main speaker.

They voiced that the taking out of processors and mailboxes, instituting speed-ups, and conducting other so-called reforms remain detrimental. These things put profits ahead of workers and postal customers. Wealthy businessman Louis DeJoy who was a major contributor to President Trump’s election campaign serves as the postmaster general.

According to pundits, many of these issues at the USPS preceded President Trump. However, he has made the situation worse by instituting changes during the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a presidential election. Now, the perception is that Trump is using this effort to stymy mail-in ballots for the upcoming November 3 presidential election.

In the past, Democrats, as well as Republicans, manipulated to get their president into office. A case still talked about is that of former Chicago Mayor Daley, now deceased. He reportedly got Kennedy elected in a close race with Nixon. When Kennedy was elected in 1960, the Illinois ballots were among the last to be reported. These electoral votes would make Kennedy the president.

Sources said that a television commentator said that Mayor Daley was out late counting graves of deceased Chicago residents to assure a Kennedy win. Although never proven, the story still demands merit. Then, Blacks were disenfranchised by Democrats in the South and now by Republicans.

Trump’s machinations misleadingly sound the alarm of voter fraud. He says that mail-in ballots create increased voter fraud and slows down of ballot counts. DeJoy’s actions correspond with Trump’s assertions, which are pitted against postal workers.

In the old days, obtaining a job for working-class Blacks in the post office was a gem. Blacks unable to attend college found the post office and industrial jobs attractive good-paying jobs in cities where Blacks resided. The environment was freer from racism than other work venues with half-decent pay and benefits.

I remember seeing the Off-Broadway play Big Time Buck White, as a young man. One of the characters said, “He got a good job working at the post office.” Blacks in the audience laughed because it rang true. “It still is,” said Courtney Jenkins, a postal worker of twelve years.

These jobs fostered Black migration to the north and west. According to the Pew Foundation, 23 percent of the workforce at the USPS is Black.

I place my bets on workers, to tell the truth over DeJoy and Trump. Allow workers to handle logistics, equipment and routes with pay increments. Get customer input. Then, they will be essential workers.

Dr. Morgan is a scholar-activist and former educator at Coppin State University. He can be reached at kmorgan2408@comcast.net.

A Select Reason To Remember John Lewis

John Lewis succumbed to pancreatic cancer, Friday, July 17, 2020. He was 80 years old. For many reasons, John Lewis’ death reverberates in my mind. No, not because of his tenure in the United States House of Representatives, representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district for 33 years.

No, not because he once served as the head of the Student Non violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a young man. No, not because the cops beat, battered and bruised him and other freedom riders of numerous times to remember because of his nonviolent mantra and his ongoing involvement. No, not because he spoke at the historic March on Washington August 28, 1963.

No, not because he led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. One of the marches went down in history as Bloody Sunday when Alabama police with guns pummeled and beat unarmed civil rights demonstrators. The first attack almost killed Lewis.

Yes, there was a select reason to remember John Lewis. The day was August 28,1963— the day of the March on Washington. Five members of the Big 6— A. Philip Randolph; Whitney M. Young Jr.; Martin Luther King Jr.; James Farmer; Roy Wilkins; and John Lewis— the men who put the March together, made a unique request that morning. Bayard Rustin served as a lead national organizer.

They asked John Lewis and other SNCC members that very morning to water down Lewis’s speech that he was going to give on the afternoon of August 28, 1963. The SNCC folks did. Still many claimed Lewis’s speech remained the most militant of the day.

Moyers and Company, an online journal commemorating the March’s 60th anniversary authored by Lauren Feeney, compared the Lewis original draft and the speech Lewis gave in August 2013. Look them up.

The original draft of his speech said, “In good conscience, we cannot support wholeheartedly the [Kennedy] administration’s civil rights bill, for it is too little and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality.

“We won’t stop now. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond won’t stop this revolution. The time will come when we will not confine ourmarching to Washington. We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground— nonviolently.

”Other draft passages hit the cutting board floor. “We are now involved in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic, and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles?’ The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party?

His draft speech, never to see the light was extraordinary. Lewis, regardless, still practiced what he preached. Black lives always mattered. John Lewis thought.

Dr. Morgan is an activist scholar, retired Coppin State University faculty member, and journalist. He can be reached at kmorgan2408@comcast.net.

Yes: End racist Black oppression and police brutality but no to taking down statues

On July 4, 2020, the Baltimore Sun’s headline read, “Christopher Columbus near Little Italy brought down, tossed into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.” A flyer described the statue removal. Remove statues that glorify owners of enslaved people, white supremacists, culprits of genocide and colonizers.  

Some misguided left groups, including anarchists and Antifa outfits, have tried to make tearing down statues the main piece of the oppression against Black folks here in Baltimore and around the nation. They remain a minuscule part of a more substantial majority of individuals and groups that feed into the rightwing bellows. The small group’s support comes from bleeding heart liberals that make a case for monument removal.  

Brandon Scott, the almost new mayor of Baltimore said in a statement, “I support Baltimore’s Italian-American community and Baltimore’s indigenous community. I cannot, however, support Columbus.”

Brother Scott, you do not have to support the atrocities of Christopher Columbus.

Most Charm City and Tubman City residents, aka Baltimore, including Black folks, young people with working-class roots and some working-class-whites took to the streets.   

We as everyday Black working-class and working minded persons need to lead, not follow. The high unemployment rate, unhealthy housing, continued cop brutality, and the “just us” system requires our primary attention.  

Add to those working, low wages. Add no health insurance. For many with or without a job, add food insecurity. Almost two-thirds of Blacks live in Charm City— most number as working-class or poor.  

Tell the real, accurate economic and cultural history, not revise it or pretend

oppression did not exist. Trying to rewrite history will not make past Black oppressions, go away. Slavery and the end of slavery introduced the world to the full-blown industrial economy. 

Destroying and removing statues cannot and should not erase that epoch and make-believe slavery did not occur. We fought in the Civil War. We walked off plantations to help end the War. We made history. We represent ourselves as the makers of history.

Instead, we need to fix the miseducation fed to our children, young, some middle-aged and older people. Remind us that racist oppression still heavily pollutes the air as do Coronavirus droplets.

We, the majority of residents of the city, will tell you what we need. At the end of June this year, the Mississippi government voted to take down its flag— the last state symbol flying in the country containing the Confederate battle flag. The demands of the day required it. This happening is a blow to any who would seek to organize racist violence today. Politicians and the Greater Baltimore Committee dare not tell us. 

Remember Peter Tosh’s song, “I need equal rights and justice, no peace.” “Everybody trying to reach the top, but how far is it from the bottom?

“This is the only way we can stop hatred,” according to a statue removal organizer. No, it is not.

Former Coppin State University Professor, Dr. Ken Morgan is a human rights

activist. He can be reached at: btimes@btimes.com

We need more of what happened at Baltimore City Hall this past Monday

Count them—three executions in the last three months took place. The cops executed George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Two right-wing vigilantes murdered Ahmaud Aubrey in Satilla Shores, Georgia. Who knows those killed and brutalized at the hands of the cops not counted as victims?

Malcolm X once said, “The chickens have come home to roost,” after the assassination of President Kohn F. Kennedy. Both nations, the United States and the Nation of Islam, ostracized him. They distorted his message but that is another story. Well, the chickens once again came home to roost in the way of a mass march and protest at City Hall this past Monday.

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of four white Minneapolis cops triggered the rally of an estimated several thousand people. The people attending were black, white, and many young. Demonstrators, waived signs in the air from black lives matter to white silence.

COVID-19 continues to ravage black folks disproportionately across the U.S. A horrific number of black essential, low-paid workers face life-changing decisions. Should they remain on the job, forced to return too many times to unsafe workplaces facing death. Countless numbers of us stand in unemployment lines.

Hundreds of thousands of us never have found jobs or have not met the levels of being part of the civilian workforce. Our seniors in nursing homes continue to die like swatted flies around a garbage can.

Remember the Freddie Gray killing. The people in those zip codes— 21215, 21216, and 21217 still wait for some modicum of improvement. Don’t forget the other zip codes where black folks live.

Guess what? The usual social oppression of black people continues to take place. We continue to face inequalities wrapped in racism. Most blacks, especially the working class, continue to carry these inequalities wrapped in economic and social oppression— tied with racism’s bow. No pity party resides here.

History tells us that black people’s economic and social gains accrued from protests, demonstrations, rallies and the like. We remember dynamic groups and

famous spokespersons. The groups and spokespersons rest on the shoulders of the people or the masses. Over 200,000 blacks fought for the North in the American Civil War, not counting those that walked off plantations. Who can forget the different black migrations or the black toilers that plowed the fields?

What about the unsung heroes such as Lucy Parsons; Hubert Harrison; Cyril Briggs; Mary Terrell; Harry Haywood; Claudia Jones; Queen Mother Moore; and Ella Baker, who helped to stir the black masses?

We need more of what took place at Baltimore City Hall with the voices that must be heard and the bodies that must be actively involved. Even though, what started out as peaceful, protests were hijacked by agitators creating chaos, breaking windows looting stores and burning buildings, we know the truth. We have known it for 400 years.

Baltimore Public Housing Residents Face Double Jeopardy

“You can tell whoever, the Resident Advisory Board (RAB) isn’t worth a damn,” said Reverend Annie Chambers, a long time advocate for tenants’ rights who along with several others on the RAB, feels that Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) usurped the RAB’s limited power.

In 1968, public housing residents met with Robert Embry, then Housing Commissioner to demand that tenants participate in the decision making of the HABC.

Paulette Carroll, a resident of Lexington Terrace and a member of RAB, aptly said to Housing Authority of Baltimore City RAB, “We don’t work for you. You work for us.”

These few tenant advocates now convene dutifully and regularly on the RAB. Still, they say that their issues continue to fall on HABC officialdom deaf ears. Mold, mildew, wall, ceilings in disrepair broken appliances and general maintenance complaints continue to surface.

“HABC has not been responsive,” said Crystal Branch, one of the proactive tenant representatives.

Disallowing food on HABC property brought to needy, older and disabled tenants sparked the latest controversy the Baltimore Brew reported.

“Food is required to pass health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety and health protocols to be distributed on HABC property,” HABC spokeswoman Ingrid Antonio.

“There’s nothing in my lease that says you can’t give your neighbor food,” Chambers told The Brew. “I have distributed clothes. We help people with their rent. I help people with all kinds of problems here in Douglass Homes.”

Amid the COVID-19 virus, public housing tenants do not fare well. Phillip McHarris, a housing advocate, working on his dissertation at Yale, said in a recent Essence article.

“Many residents are poor and working-class and may not be able to buy enough groceries and supplies to weather the outbreak without assistance,” McHarris said. “Outbreaks in these buildings are likely to spread rapidly given high levels of density and the fact that high traffic areas are rarely maintained adequately.

“Poverty and building safety have long created a state of emergency, a result of negligence and mismanagement by city, state and the federal government.”

Karen Walker, a tenant and coalition advocate said about the Bolton House with its mold and mildew, “This place is a killer.”

Later, on a Black Agenda Report podcast, McHarris said, “Folks are already in a housing crisis. Public housing is overcrowded, neglected and disinvested.” Activist RAB members agreed with his views.

Reverend Chambers, along with local organizer Brandon Walker continue to spearhead a growing local independent low-income housing coalition accountable only to its rank and file residents and their supporters.

Ken is a former Coordinator and Asst. Professor of the Urban Studies Program at Coppin State University. He can be reached at kmorgan2408@comcast.net.

Rectifying Education Underfunding In Baltimore City Public Schools, Part III

Many Kirwan funding supporters say that all students would have an equal chance to succeed with new Kirwan funding through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. On a local Baltimore TV newscast, the chair of the Kirwan Commission, Dr. Brent Kirwan asked. “Are we going to be a state that invests in our young people and gives every kid in every ZIP code a chance to pursue the American dream?”

The Baltimore City Public Schools enrollment in 2019-2020 was 79,187. African Americans made up 76.6 percent. In 2015, the Needy Families, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) determined that 84 percent met the low-income criteria. Now, BCPS removed the requirements. The 55 percent reported is far underreported.

Every person interviewed thought increased funding for BCPS helped the city’s historic education underfunding.

Contrary to Kirwan’s comments, most contended it left out or did not consider or provided too little direction towards advancing student equality. “Kirwan funding is needed, and eventually everything has a dollar sign,” said Diamonté Brown, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union. “There are fundamental skills that our students need to apply to life.

“Many of these things are not in the curriculum. They need to be able to write to fill out an application or to create a resume. You cannot have a P.E. teacher teach art. “The stifling status quo bureaucracy barrier remains unaddressed. BCPS district administration policies remain still too insensitive to educational and social student needs.“Poor and working-class students with new funding will not generally have an equal chance to succeed as an upper-middle-class and wealthy student. You cannot model student values and administration management after business corporate values and beliefs. We have students, not commodities. More money is just the beginning.” A BCPS teacher and former principal who wished to remain nameless spoke out. The teacher said: “They train students the values of the rich. They do not know their interest. Students think money determines all of what they do, and think it is okay. Schools are a training ground for society.”

Students suffer cultural and social poverty through racism. It took away black teachers. Teachers and principals are mostly white now, ‘the inner city teacher said. “There is no social or cultural connection, said the veteran teacher.”

Kirwan only addresses money and supplies and equipment, according to the educator.

It does not address racist curriculum content. The curriculum says little or nothing about black resistance to racism.

On the standardized test, the question asked: Why did Macbeth turn red? Students said, “We do not turn red; we are black.”The Algebra Project, a student-based group, is an ardent leader for Kirwan funding. It is a student-based group that fights for a first-rate BCPS education and the end to the school to prison pipeline. Jamal Jones, a co-executive director of the Algebra Project and former student member, said, “I do not know what it takes,” when referring to the amount of Kirwan funding. “It is going in the right direction,” he said. “The real question is what is done with the money.“We need culture competency. We need an African, centered structured curriculum”.When asked about the importance of Kirwan funding, Gillen replied, “It is necessary and owed, especially to African American students, but it is not sufficient in itself to change educational results.

“The accountability structure proposed by Kirwan will undermine equity-based education because the proposed accountability structure is rooted in the assumption that expertise and ‘high standards’ must come from outside the affected communities.”

This assumption means that the vast bulk of Kirwan funding will flow to the people outside the community who have the mandated credentials, authority and status to “hold people accountable.”

“Instead,” Gillen said, “students, families and teachers must be able to directly control the allocation of Kirwan funding and the ways to measure effectiveness. For example, the great majority of high school students in Baltimore believe that millions of dollars should go to year-round youth employment in entry-level, knowledge-based jobs, as opposed to spending money on testing, policing and incarceration.” Dayvon Love co-chairs Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, a black public policy and advocacy group. The State bill presented to amend the legislative Kirwan funding bill defined “culturally responsive pedagogy.” It means “an explicitly antiracist instructional practice in which instructors acknowledge the cultural background of students and their families when developing curricula and designing the students’ classroom experience.” “The issue with Kirwan is it presumes that the status quo can do differently than from what it is doing.” Love said. “The teacher’s role is to facilitate.”He said that it addresses the needs of black children in Baltimore, as well as all children. Brandon Walker is a single working-class parent and Coppin student. He placed his daughter in a private school.

“There was no safe [drinking] water, no toilet paper, over flooded bathrooms, and no computer classes at the pubic school,” Walker said. “Kirwan does not erase inequalities between poor and working-class with middle and upper-middle-class students.”

Elanore Brown, no relation to the BTU president, is a grandmother who takes her grandson to public school said, “The Common Core materials that children get at home because of COVID-19 do not educate children. Many times parents are barely literate.” Do you think that all students will have an equal chance to succeed with Kirwan funding on the way? Whether you do or you don’t— join the discussion and get involved.

Dr. Morgan is a long-time educator. He taught and coordinated the CSU Urban Studies Program.

Rectifying Underfunding In Baltimore City Public School System, Part II

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence better known as the Kirwan Commission took over the newly minted commission in 2016.

The Commission issued a 200 plus page final report on November 21, 2019 to the Maryland General Assembly.

Six hours of legislative hearings took place on February 17, 2020. Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young gave a ringing endorsement for Kirwan funding. On February 16, 2020, while testifying before the Education and Appropriations Committees he said that a poor education meant a lot of young people needlessly dying on the city’s streets.

At the bill’s hearing, according to Baltimore Sun reporters, Mayor Young said, “When people ask me, ‘why is Kirwan so important?’ I say it’s because for some of our young people, having the right support is a matter of life and death.”

Young cited the bill’s requirement that some local schools systems, including Baltimore’s, contribute hundreds of millions of dollars that the city could ill-afford to do.The Kirwan funding bill passed March 6, 2020 in the House Maryland General Assembly 96-41 based on the Kirwan Commission Report. Aptly titled, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the

bill proposes ten years to be phased-in at $2.8 billion; that the state pays for most costs and local governments contribute a much smaller amount.

Political debate continues as to sources of state revenue regarding Kirwan funding. The ACLU of Maryland makes it clear that it all starts with Article VIII of the Maryland Constitution, which reads: “The General Assembly… shall by law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance.”

Article VIII translates into adequacy and equity. Adequacy means, that all Maryland students and each district get the resources enough to equal state standards. Counties or school districts need to provide support based on what they can afford or local wealth.

Reporter Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal took a swipe at the Baltimore City Public Schools funding last May when he questioned the use of additional funding. Between the lines, his comments in part, spoke to the lack of usefulness of additional financing. He said, “City schools spent $16,184 per pupil, according to data released by the Census Bureau— up 6.7 percent from last year when the school system ranked fifth nationally. Baltimore City is the 40th-largest elementary and secondary public school district in the U.S.” This charge has been thrown at the BCPSS for many years.

Gov. Larry Hogan said about Kirwan proposed funding according to a CBS news report: “The State should not and can not simply increase $33 billion in new spending that we do not have without any plan whatsoever about where the funding is going to come from.”

A more recent measure witnessed both Democrat and Republican Maryland lawmakers soundly defeating a revenue bill as a way to pay the State’s share for Kirwan funding. Montgomery County Eric Luedtke (D) sponsored the bill. The bill proposed to tax business and professional services that businesses opposed. Gov. Hogan also opposed the measure.

The Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) newsletter offered structural funding sources for the state— “closing tax loopholes, ending giveaways to large corporations, and having the super-rich pay their fair share of state income taxes.”

The Funding Coalition spoke to the same point in a statement refuting Gov. Hogan’s critiques concerning his worry about unknown funding, the Maryland Funding Coalition made similar remarks.

The group said in a Community United newsletter: “We can afford to invest more in our schools if we take a few steps to clean up our ineffective tax code: eliminate ineffective tax breaks and close loopholes that benefit wealthy individuals and large corporations.”

The loose coalition includes the Baltimore Teachers Union, CASA, AFSCME MD, Communities United, Good Jobs First, Maryland Center on Economic Policy, Maryland Nonprofits, and SEIU Local 500.

“Take revenue from the police and police overtime to pay for BCPS’s share of Kirwan,” said Dr. Jay Gillen, a longtime Algebra Project facilitator and educator who offered one source regarding Baltimore City’s share.

Goucher College’s Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, released a survey recently regarding Kirwan funding. The survey revealed that even though, a majority of people support the plan, 51 percent of those surveyed thought that state taxes are too high to raise revenue for Kirwan funding.

The bottom line remains. Three education funding proposals still require passing: A $4 billion a year in state and local Kirwan funding; a $2.2 billion pubic school construction bill; and a $580 million increase to Maryland historically black colleges and universities. All maintain some impact on Baltimore.The Maryland General Assembly voted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 to approve the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future bill and it is now on the Governor’s desk.

If Governor Hogan rejects it, then the General Assembly must have enough votes to override it.

Former Coppin State University Professor, Dr. Ken Morgan is a human rights activist. He can be reached at: btimes@btimes.com

Rectifying Underfunding In Baltimore City Public School System Through Kirwan Commission

This material is a three-part series on Baltimore City Public Schools funding created under the Commission on Innovation and Excellence known as the Kirwan Commission.

The two other parts delve into the inclusiveness of the funding formula, and implementation considering BCPS race and social class in BCPS. Much of the information in Part 1 was garnered from the ACLU of Maryland. Although Kirwan funding is for all Maryland public schools, these articles concentrate on Baltimore City.

The intensity level increased as Baltimore City parents; students; community education groups; the Maryland General Assembly; and Governor Hogan grapple over “thorough and sufficient education funding for the Commission on Innovation and Excellence better known as the Kirwan Commission. About 81,634 students, mostly poor and working-class students, compose the Baltimore Public School System.

Much of the present-day concerns and potential solutions regarding the insufficient funding for Baltimore City Public Schools began with a simple phrase in the Maryland state constitution. It says in Article VIII, “The General Assembly…shall by law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance.”

The year 1994 marked the date that the ACLU and others strengthened by parents’ and students’ winds for change filed a lawsuit in the Maryland State Circuit Court. The timeline below provides some highlights of its travel over the last 25 years.

The lawsuit brought by ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Baker Hostetler Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education was brought on behalf of students and parents.

The plaintiffs said that BCPS students did not receive the “thorough and efficient” public school education. They claimed entitlement under Article VIII of the Maryland Constitution.

In 1996, the plaintiffs won. Bradford stated that students in Baltimore City did not receive the “thorough and efficient” public school education funding.

The ACLU Bradford lawsuit helped to generate the “Thornton” Commission and passage of the Bridge to Excellence in Education Act of 2002. The Act spurred increased funds for children from families with low income.” As a result, BCPS received $2 billion-plus.

Maryland ceased to account for inflation in 2008. According to the State, the U.S. and worldwide recession caused the stoppage. Since the recession in 2008, Maryland stopped adjusting the Thornton formula for inflation.

The stoppage leads to millions of dollars of lost funds for Baltimore City and like jurisdictions. Maryland school districts still await an updated funding formula from the “Kirwan Commission.”

The same year, the Maryland State Department of Legislative Services said the gap between what the State calculated (290 million in FY 2015) was inadequate. The $290 million in FY 2015 rendered fell short of the $358 million that BCPSS deserved. A total shortfall of $1.6 billion resulted in FY 0015. The gap remains. In 2016, Maryland Legislation created the Commission on Innovation and Excellence known as the Kirwan Commission. The Commission housed a 25-member body that Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, presently chairs.That same year in 2016, independent consultants suggest increased funding. Maryland consultants for the State, Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates recommended that an added $2.9 billion still was needed for Maryland school districts to be adequately funded. It broke down to $1.9 billion from the State and $1 billion from local governments.

On March 7, 2019, concerned parents, the ACLU of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. went to court. Lawyers then filed a petition for increased relief in the Bradford vs. Maryland State Board of Education lawsuit.

The raised relief included what the plaintiff laid out to address the horrible physical conditions of school facilities that disrupt students’ ability to learn. Currently, the physical facilities and construction bills are separate from the Kirwan bill.

On November 21, 2019, the Kirwan Commission released its report to the Maryland General Assembly that became a bill. The Kirwan funding Commission report now is a bill in the House Appropriations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. This body spent more than three years in its deliberations. It did not recommend any sources of funding. Instead, they left it to the General Assembly.

Timeline highlights follow:

1994: Bradford v. the Maryland State Board of Education brought to Court.

1996: Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs.

2002: Thornton Commission established. Funds awarded.

2008: Stoppage of cost of living

increases, leaving gap deficit.

2015: Shortfall and recommendations of additional funds.

2016: The Kirwan Commission created.

2019: The plaintiffs filed in court for further relief under the Bradford case.

Commission releases its report to the legislators.

2020: Bills now in the General Assembly for hearings and debate.

Do you want to get involved in Baltimore students’ education? Contact the ACLU of Maryland, Baltimore Algebra Project, BluePrint for Maryland’s

Future, Communities United, Leaders

of a Beautiful Struggle, Strong Schools Maryland, and the Maryland Education Coalition.

Former Coppin State University professor, Dr. Ken Morgan is a human rights activist. He can be reached at: btimes@btimes.com

Think, see and listen for ourselves

Malcolm X said: “One of the first things, I think, young people, especially nowadays, should learn how to do is: see for yourself and listen for yourself and think for yourself. Then you can come to an intelligent decision for yourself.” All ages apply here. View President Donald Trump’s domestic policies through this lens.

First some background is in order. In the United States, 10 percent of the population owns 77 percent of the wealth and are owners of all facets of the means of production. Their weight on the economy helps to unduly influence the political and social life of the nation.

Their worldview spans from conservative to liberal or from an unfettered free market complete with less laws and regulations to those with more.

Trump, like those he represents wants the free market to reign unfettered with minimum interference from government. Three of Trump’s main priorities are more jobs, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and tax reform. What are their effects on every day black people?

Blacks are the last hired and first fired. We have the lowest paying jobs between blacks and whites. Our unemployment rate is about twice as high as whites, regardless of who is president.

The U.S. Congressional Budget correctly revealed to us that Obamacare beats Trumpcare. Black people, because of our overall lower economic status and healthcare disparities render more illnesses. Still many flaws exist under Obamacare mainly due to its dependence on the free market.

Tax reform means the rich pay even less than their fair share of taxes from their profits and wealth.

This is what we need to do: Demand quotas and a timetable for blacks. Make $15 an hour a minimum wage now.

Demand public jobs creation. Provide unemployment insurance until work is found. Demand free healthcare for all. Demand a heavily leveled graduated income tax on the wealthy and big businesses. Eliminate taxes on the working class and the small farmer.

The struggle continues 365 days a year. Put people before profits, Republicans, and Democrats.

Dr. Ken Morgan is a long time local, national, and international activist and scholar.