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Media Monday: Black in America

by Elena on Aug 10th, 2009

In July, CNN aired Black in America 2, the follow-up to last summer’s Black in America. Both series were hosted by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and explored issues of contemporary African-American identity. Last summer, the show focused on the struggles faced by African-American women and families: single motherhood, HIV/AIDS, black women in the workplace and more. This year CNN shifted its focus a little, toward strategies for change within the black community.Steve Perry

The achievement gap is one of the bigger issues facing the African-American community today. Black in America 2 profiles Steve Perry, principal of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital’s claim to fame is its 100 percent graduation rate, and that it sends 100 percent of its graduates to college. The school serves a mostly poor student body, many of whom are first-generation Americans.

In a supplementary editorial for, Perry writes about the struggles involved in opening a school and composing a team of educators. He talks about his efforts, early on, to hire an all-black staff, a move he now sees as a mistake:

I assembled an all -black team. My plan was to put black educators together, and we would show ‘em. Brothers and sisters were gonna open a successful charter school. Black educators serving black kids. This was my first major mistake.

Talent and commitment have no color. Kids don’t care what color their teachers are, and I shouldn’t have either. After almost a year of stops and starts with a team that was not effectively assembled, I realized that I failed in my judgment because I did not keep my eye on the goal, which was to build a school that sent kids to college regardless of their hue or economic status. I have never made that mistake again.

Watch the video profile Perry and his school:

You can find out more about Perry, and other prominent leaders and activists in the African-American community, on CNN’s website.

Black in America 2 [CNN]
Good Schools Aren’t Only for Rich Kids


Wednesday: A Weekly Look at Some Big Stories

by Amanda on Aug 5th, 2009

The Post-9/11 GI Bill: No Longer Shortchanging our Veterans

by Learning Matters on Aug 3rd, 2009

The Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect today and offers veterans a broader range of economic and education-related support. The bill will disburse $78 billion over the next decade and, according to the U.S. Veterans Affairs office, “will provide veterans with upfront tuition payments directly to the school, a monthly living allowance and a book stipend of $1,000 per year.”

In a change from the previous version of the bill, the Post 9/11 GI Bill allows vets to use tuition and fees for private colleges of their choice, not just public.

Last year, we covered the efforts of veterans and lawmakers trying to pass the new version of the bill. We talked with Iraq war vets currently in college but facing frightening debt, and Virginia Senator Jim Webb, a former marine and Vietnam vet, who shared his thoughts and frustrations with the then-current benefits system.

Watch “Shortchanging Our Veterans“:

Shortchanging Our Veterans: The Program [Video]

The New GI Bill [Website and resources]


Wednesday Weekly: Looking at the Big Stories

by Amanda on Jul 22nd, 2009

Media Mondays: A Second Chance

by Learning Matters on Jul 20th, 2009

Ibraheem Shahadat is a 17 year old senior at New York Institute for Special Education. He was nervous for his high school prom, plays in a competitive sports league and hopes to make it to the 2012 London Olympics. He also began losing his vision at 13, but that obviously hasn’t stopped him from living his dreams.

Watch the video:

Ibraheem comes off as a genuinely sweet and ambitious young man–a guy who probably wouldn’t allow limitations to stand in the way of his goals. But who knows what his life (and attitude) would be like without the help of teachers and those working in his  specialized school. Ibraheem’s story highlights the importance of special education as a way to empower young people so that they can build on strengths, learn from their disabilities and achieve their goals.

Showcase: Seeing a Bright Future [NY Times Interactive Story]

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