Bill Gates Unplugged

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

AfroSpear Bloggers Call for a Freedom Technology Christmas


AfroSpear bloggers are encouraging Blacks to give "the gift of technology" to their children, parents and others, to empower them to communicate in the Internet Age, with recommended gifts of computers, digicams, broadband and open source software.

This Christmas, the same AfroSpear Black bloggers who organized the March on Jena are spear-heading the "AfroSpear Freedom Technology Christmas" (FTC) campaign.

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Sixty-thousand Blacks Responded to the AfroSpear's Call.

One hundred AfroSpear bloggers in forty US states and five countries are mobilizing their readers to give Christmas presents that increase citizen journalism within the Black community.

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The AfroSpear's Field Negro, courtesy LA Times.

"When you have a blog, what happens to you in a small town can become international news, said Field Negro, who won a Black Weblog Award this year. He cited the case of Shaquanda Cotton, a 14 year-old who was unfairly sentenced to 7 years in prison for pushing a high school hall monitor, but who was released when her Freedom Blog caught national attention.

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The AfroSpear's Eddie G. Griffin (BASG) believes word will spread.

"We're going to teach our children to communicate with the world and give them the tools to do it," said Eddie G. Griffin (BASG), an ex-Black Panther who helps lead the group's outreach to Blacks in the criminal justice system.

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Shawn Williams, AfroSpear's Dallas South Blog

Shawn Williams, of the AfroSpear's Dallas South blog, featured on MSNBC and in the Chicago Tribune for his Jena Six advocacy, says the success of the March on Jena has convinced Black bloggers that "Freedom Technology" is essential to their movement. He said, "This Christmas, our children and families need modern communication tools, like 24-hour broadband connections and digital cameras. These tools can be used to document injustices like the Jena nooses, while at the same time help to narrow the technology divide that continues to widen."

"The gift of communication technology like computers and webcams is the best gift that you can give your children and family, because it empowers them to educate and advocate for the Black community and for themselves," said the African American Political Pundit. "Black blogging encourages writing skills and critical thinking, which are precisely the skills our children need," said the African American Political Pundit.

“Black children are going to jail at a rate 6 times higher than that of white children in America”, said Eddie G. Griffin (BASG), a leader of the AfroSpear's Black Accused Support Groups movement.

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The AfroSpear's Atty. Francis L. Holland

"We are expanding the national Black media that focuses on the needs of black people in the context of America and the world. And AfroSpear bloggers will announce the ways in which Freedom Technology Christmas presents have dramatically improved communication among AfroSpear bloggers in five countries and four continents," said Atty. Holland.

Freedom Technology Christmas recommended gifts are laptop or home computers, headphones with microphones and webcams (for computer- to-computer conversations), digital cameras and camera "memory sticks," "pen drives" for saving documents, photographs and music, foreign language software, music production software and writing skills software.

Many excellent Christmas computer software presents are available for free. Open Source alternatives are abundant. For example, the cost of Microsoft Vista Home Premium at Amazon: $219.99, Cost of Ubuntu Linux: $0; Cost of Adobe Photoshop CS3 at Amazon: $619.99, Cost of Gimp: $0; Cost of Microsoft Office Standard 2007 at Amazon: $324.99, Cost of Open Office: $0, and Cost of Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 at Amazon: 398.99, Cost of Nvu: $0.

Many communication programs are available for free download and include Skype (free computer telephone), ooVoo (free televideo communication) Yahoo and MSN (e-mail and instant messages), all available at Download.Com.
Contact: Francis L. Holland
AfroSpear Freedom Technology Blog
AfroSpear Bloggers in the News
AfroSpear Think Tank Blog

Monday, October 29, 2007

Addressing Criticisms & Shortcomings in School Bond Package

By Eddie Griffin

Monday, October 29, 2007

The needs of our Fort Worth school children are ABSOLUTE, not RELATIVE. Any time our children turn on their Windows 95 based computers and the lights in the schoolhouse go out, we know it is be time for a major overhaul of our infrastructure. It is evident that the FWISD curricula delivery system is so antiquated that our schools are not able to utilize the latest multimedia teaching and learning tools.

Therefore, our first priority must be to get our children as much educational resources as possible- and do it ASAP.

Even with a price tag of $587 million, we recognize there will still be needs unmet. As I noted in my article supporting the November 6 bond package, this is not a panacea for all the deficiencies in our assets of educational resources. The learning gap between different school districts directly correlates with the disparity in resources. The bond package attempts to bridge that ever-widening gap, in a thoughtful, foresighted way- with built-in contingencies for the life of the bond cycle.

Of course, I am disappointed that we will not have students coming out of school, with machine shop technology skills, knowing how to set up machining operations and how to read measuring instruments, and using scientific calculators. Also, someone else has pointed out that there is no budget for upgrading alternative schools to put them on par with regular schools. These are terrible, terrible shortcomings for the critical needs of our students and local job market.

But shortcomings cannot be the basis of rejecting the bond package, when the overriding needs of our children are so high. If we reject the bond package this time around, we will only come back with a much larger bond package proposal next year, or the year after. In the meantime, another year or two is lost for the students. It would be better to take part now and part later. Therefore, I agree with Black Chamber Dee Jennings. Approve this bond package and come back with another one in the near future. In the meantime, we would hope that our local industries make financial investments and commitments to supplement the education of our future workforce in the local FWISD.

We realize that, historically, minority schools receive the short end of the stick, in terms of educational resources and quality teachers. But Superintendent Melody Johnson promised “parity” in distributing resources coming out of the bond package. And, the budget itself is transparent.

The question can only be: If everything is done according to the bond’s proposal, will the ISD achieve “parity”? Maybe not as we hope, but it provides a measuring rod to determine which schools are better equipped. Therefore, we must insist that, at a very minimum, inner city school children get every dollar allocated to them by the state. It is up to the school district to repair the breach created by previous disparities.

Secondly, there is the question of leadership- at the institutional and board level. Now I can criticize leadership from here to Washington, but in the final run we must dance with the one that “brung” us. Always get as much money as possible for the kids first. Then, if leadership is lacking, at least we have the money. We can replace the leadership, if necessary, without ever disturbing the pot.

Pastor Kyev P. Tatum writes: I am dazed and confused by your support of the over half billion dollar school bond.

As I said above, it is not necessary for the bond package to be perfect in order to support it.

Tatum further writes: How can you ask us to boycott and call for a "Sliver War" on November 2Th and then turn around and ask us to vote for the "largest" tax bonds increase in the history of Fort Worth ISD on November 6Th... Double standard and message

This is not a ‘double standard” nor a mixed message, unless there is a misconception between “Silver War” and “Civil War” (spelled with an S). The objective of a civil war by economic boycott relates specifically to issues of injustice carried out by the state against our youth and the hate crimes that have followed. The presupposed tax increase from the bond package is a different issue, altogether.

According to the graphic rendition, actual property tax rate is supposed to go down over the next few years as a result of a previous legislative measure. To compensation for loss revenue from reducing property taxes, the state raised cigarette sales taxes- an unwise tax swap, seeing the number of cigarette smokers are declining. Nevertheless, we were very conscientious of how the state robs Peter to pay Paul- in this case, by inflating property values. If memory serves me correctly, we put a cap on how much property values can be appraised from year to year. Of course, this means we have to stay vigilant.

Again Tatum says: We are tired of not receiving our "fair share" and equal justice for our children... You are asking people to give FWISD more money to "refinance" debt from the last bond which you and I both know was grossly mismanaged.

For sure, we can do nothing about past mismanagement other than send the crooks to jail (which we did). A portion of the new bond package will liquidate the balance of the previous bond, which is the normal course for any new bond package. Does that say we condone the previous schemes and scams? With the old bond package balance from the Toco administration out of the way, Dr. Melody Johnson can start with a clean slate. There would be no vestige of the past affecting her administration’s performance. After all, Dr. Johnson has been stuck with “old baggage” from the day of her arrival.

Low performing and unsafe schools are NOT ABSOLUTES either. They are as RELATIVE as the politics involved in school administration and oversight. Things can and do change. I agree: We need more education for our money rather than more money for our education. But wherever there are largest sums of money being spent, there will be sales people “selling the Brooklyn Bridge”. I believe that we are already paying too much for the new accounting system and that we underestimate the learning curve for assimilating new hardware and software.

But then again, if we were looking for perfection, we would just put God in control and let the system run on its own. Otherwise, we have to made do with partial solutions and imperfect people.

Former Sec. of Ed. Rod Paige to Lecture at Texas Schools


Media contact person: Rev. Kyev Tatum at 817-829-5455

TARRANT COUNTY, TEXAS—Rod Paige, the former Secretary of Education (2001-2005) under President George W. Bush, will speak at Everman High School, Tarrant County College South Campus, and The University of Texas at Arlington on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007. Dr. Paige's lectures are entitled "Help Our People Excel" in which he will encourage local educators, parents and students to continue to pursue excellence in education.

On January 21, 2001, the United States Senate confirmed Dr. Rod Paige as the 7th U.S. Secretary of Education. For Paige, the son of a principal and a school librarian, that day was the crowning achievement of a long career in education. Born in 1933 in segregated Mississippi, Paige's accomplishments speak of his commitment to education. He earned a bachelor's degree from Jackson State University and both a master's and a doctoral degree from Indiana University.

Paige is the first school superintendent ever to serve as Secretary of Education. His experience as a practitioner—from the blackboard to the boardroom—paid off during the long hours of work needed to pass President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The driving force behind his work as Secretary was his belief that education is a civil right, just like the right to vote or to be treated equally.

Paige's visit to the area is part of his Texas Hope Tour, sponsored by the Ministers for Education of America. "We are honored and humbled to host an American Hero in our community," said, the Rev. Kyev Tatum Sr., President of Ministers for Education of America. "Dr. Paige will go down in history as a leader who helped to change the course of history in education for years to come," Rev. Tatum said.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Dr. Paige tour will begin at Joe C. Bean Everman High School at 1000 S. Race Street in Everman, Texas at 9:00 a.m. and at Tarrant County College-South Campus at 5301 South Campus Drive in Fort Worth at 1:00 p.m.

The UTA event will be from 7 to 8 p.m. in the sixth floor parlor of the Central Library, 702 Planetarium Place.

For media opportunities, contact Rev. Kyev Tatum at 817-829-5455.

9:00 A.M.
1000 S. Race Street
Everman, Texas 76140
Mr. Cutis Amos

1:00 P.M.
5301 S. Campus Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76134
Mr. Zeb Strong

7:00 P.M.
701 Nedderman Drive
Arlington, Texas 76019
Mr. Daniel Woodward

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eddie Griffin Supports $587 Million School Bond Package

I will have seen most everything when I see an elephant fly. This is a big baby- Fort Worth Independent School District’s half-billion dollar bond package.

I have a confession to make. Secretly, I confided to some friends that I would oppose the November 6 proposition up for voter approval- not because of the size of the bond, but I was not altogether confident in the school’s leadership to fly this big baby.

Our kids need a massive capital infusion to reinvigorate our public education system. Most of our schools are 50 years old or older, and some 100. While children in Japan and India are racing light years ahead of our children in the competitive global economy, our Fort Worth children are still wrestling with Windows 95. They cannot access new digital curriculum without major upgrading and too much online activities will cause the lights in the school to go off. The technological infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

Yes, we are that far behind in the Fort Worth ISD.

So, it was with great anticipation that School Superintendent Melody A. Johnson brought her school bond presentation to Wednesday’s Minority Leaders and Citizens Council. It was the first time I heard what Dr. Johnson had in her plan.

She wants parity for all schools- that is to say, we wants each school brought up to its full educational potential. This would technological infrastructure, curricula upgrade, capital improvements, and expansion. In order to relieve overcrowding, Dr. Johnson proposes building six new schools, adding 342 new classrooms altogether (including expansions at eight existing schools). She offers improvement of science labs and other upgrades, with built in contingencies for changing technology and future needs over the life of the bond.

What I saw, I like immensely, and most other minority leaders also. But woefully missing from the wish list was the re-capitalization of trade skills programs, particularly in machine and manufacturing technology critically needed for our local aerospace industry. That would take more money. The current bond package was not a big enough elephant.

Nevertheless, I commend Dr. Johnson for doing the best she could for a school district that has fallen so far behind the times. She was wise enough to bring in professionals to assess the needs and pull together a committee of 400 to evaluate the plan. Even so, the Providence, Rhode Island native has yet to get her feet on the ground after only three years in office. She has yet to realize that she is now a Fort Worth Texan. Nevertheless, she is learning who’s who and the “Fort Worth Way” of community collaboration. Her presence at the MLCC weekly luncheon was a big step in reaching out to the minority home base.

Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks spoke for all of us in “unequivocally” endorsing the bond package. But Black Chamber leader Dee Jennings went further in addressing the immediate need for skill sets for our business and manufacturing industries not being fulfilled by the public school system.

“We will support this bond package and look forward to supporting the next bond package to address those needs,” Jennings declared, as he presented Dr. Johnson with a Chamber resolution.

A recent news article appearing in the Dallas Morning News describes new vocational education centers cropping up in Grand Prairie, Frisco, Lewisville, Birdville, and now Dallas. People are looking at career and technology school programs like those offered at Denton’s state-of-the-art LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex, which offers advance technology at the junior and senior high school level, and certification in professional career fields.

Compared to our rich neighbors, our FWISD inner city schools are just now getting started. LaGrone ATC offers its students courses in Advanced Engineering with curriculum that includes, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and Engineering design. And, that is just the Advance Engineering Academy.

There is an Advanced Visual Arts & Communications Academy offering exciting courses in Advertising Design, Animation, Media Technology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), NASA Space Technology, and Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing.

LaGrone has an Advanced Computer Technology Academy offering Computer Maintenance Technician training and Cisco Networking. On and on, the school offer Aerospace Manufacturing, Computer Numerical Control (CNC), Programming, Automotive Technology, Welding, Culinary Arts, Accounting internships, Marketing, E-Commerce, Financial Planning, Securities Operations, Banking internships, and a Medical/ Allied Health Academy, Education Career Academy, and Personal Services Academy.

Fort Worth ISD offers little by comparison, with no financial commitment to doing so. The issue is cost. Although it is rumored that LaGrone only cost $30 million, that would be thirty million more than the big elephant can swallow.

So I asked Dr. Johnson had she heard of the Texas Workforce Solution’s $1 million exploratory grant for an Aerospace Space Academy. She had barely heard of the agency, and no one had spoken to her about the academy. No surprise- she is still new. And, at last sight, TWS was looking at Birdville ISD as a potential site for the Aerospace Academy.

How can our Fort Worth children compete in the global economy against China, Japan, and India, if all the resources are going to cities like Grand Prairie, Frisco, Lewisville, Birdville? Sure, we need the $587 million bond package, and then some. We need the Fort Worth-base business community to step up with financial commitments to assist educating our children to meet the future needs of their industries. We need fairness in grant giving, such as the million-dollar grant to explore a Space Academy. And, we need trickle down funding for the myriad of support services that go unrecognized in contributing to our students’ success.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Senator Deuell Announces Start of 2007-2008 High School Aerospace Scholars

Contact: Don T. Forse, Jr.
October 4, 2007
(512) 463-0102

Senator Deuell Announces Start of 2007-2008 High School Aerospace Scholars

( Austin ) - Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) is pleased to announce the launch of this year's High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS). HAS will enable selected Texas students to explore and become a part of NASA's plan for space exploration, which will send humans back to the moon, then on to Mars and beyond. After they employ their math and science skills to complete 10 web-based assignments during the school year, they will travel to Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston during the summer and use those same skills to help investigate options for sending humans to Mars alongside their peers and real NASA scientists and engineers.

Eligible students are required to meet the following criteria

1.) U.S. Citizen
2.) Texas resident
3.) Currently a high school junior
4.) Interest in science, math, or engineering
5.) Able to commit to a relationship with JSC, including a one-week residential experience during the summer
6.) Access to the Internet and e-mail (home, school or public library)

The State of Texas , in partnership with JSC and the Texas educational community, developed High School Aerospace Scholars in 1999 to encourage more students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Additional partnerships include the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, University of Houston System , and Rotary NASA. More than 1,750 students from across Texas have participated in the program.

High school juniors interested in applying for the 2007-2008 program should visit the web at:

Read Eddie Griffin opinion column
White Rats and Black Mice

Promethean Board demonstration