STATEMENT: CAP’s Carmel Martin on the Administration’s Executive Order Restoring Pell Grant Access to Incarcerated Students

Washington, D.C. — The Obama administration announced on Friday that the U.S. Department of Education will launch a pilot to test the effects of restoring access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students. This measure will give a limited number of individuals at selected correctional facilities a chance to obtain education and training to prepare for employment upon release. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:

We applaud the Obama administration for taking this important step. Prison education and training is truly a win-win—boosting formerly incarcerated individuals’ employment rates upon release, substantially decreasing recidivism, and yielding tremendous cost savings in reduced incarceration. In fact, studies show that every dollar spent on prison education saves $4 to $5 in reduced incarceration costs during the next three years, when recidivism is most likely. Yet despite their cost effectiveness, prison education and training programs are far too scarce, in large part because Congress removed access to Pell Grants for inmates in 1994, putting prison education and training out of reach for inmates who want to increase their employability and chances of successful re-entry. The president’s action today will help ensure public safety and give a limited number of individuals in select correctional facilities the chance to obtain the education and training they need to forge a pathway to successful re-entry and to have a meaningful shot at a second chance.

In a recent report from the Center for American Progress, "One Strike and You’re Out,"Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich address how mass incarceration and criminal records serve as underappreciated drivers of poverty and inequality in America by presenting barriers to employment, housing, education and training, building good credit, and more. The report offers a roadmap of policy recommendations—including calling for testing the restoration of Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals—to ensure that Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at making a decent living, providing for their families, and joining the middle class.

Mitt Romney Doesn't Care About Poor People

The “Mitt Romney Is Not Concerned About the Very Poor” video has gone viral. It is reminiscent of the Kanye West inspired video mash-up — “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” by the Legendary KO.  



Surely someone is creating a remix spotlighting Mitt Romney. He has provided enough material to make a very informative and thought-provoking video. Remember his very cavalier $10,000 bet with Rick Perry during the December Republican debate; his statement that he likes being able to fire people; describing the more than $370,000 in income he earned for speeches as not that much money; characterizing people as envious if they questioned the economic disparity in the U.S.; and the fact that his 2010 income tax returns indicate he pays less than 15% in taxes while sheltering millions in offshore accounts

You already know the title of the new video mash-up — “Mitt Romney Doesn’t Care About Poor People.” Just make sure the video accurately reflects the demographics of the very poor in the United States. 



Troy Anthony Davis was executed. What next, America? [VIDEO]

Howard University student arrested at protest at The White House

People around the world protested Georgia’s execution of Troy Anthony Davis for the August 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah. Messages and photos flooded Twitter’s timeline. Cable television news channels covered the story. Democracy Now! livestreamed  coverage via the internet. As police presence in riot gear was beefed up at Georgia Diagnostic Prison, the site of the execution, it was apparent Davis would be put to death this time. In spite of the protests and legal appeals, Davis was executed by lethal injection at 11:08 PM EST on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.


The video footage of the arrest of Howard University students who were protesting at The White House were eerily reminiscent of the non-violent civil rights protests I remember as a child in the 1960’s. Has the execution, I prefer to refer to it as a crucifixion, of Troy Anthony Davis ignited a fire for a larger and louder chorus of voices demanding the end of the death penalty? It would seem so.

Troy Anthony Davis proclaimed his innocence to the end. The State of Georgia has blood on its hands. If you are a Georgia resident, even if you are not on The Supreme Court, the Georgia parole board, are one of the witnesses that recanted, or are the District Attorney of Chatham County, that would be you too.


 Video: RTAmerica


MSNBC's Black Agenda Show: Interesting and Awkward [VIDEO]

Msnbc the black agenda 

Unfortunately, I didn’t watch The Ed Show on A Stronger America: The Black Agenda that aired yesterday. I’m really sorry I missed it because clips from the show were very interesting and borderline explosive. They obviously showed the difference of opinion between the black panelists but let me just say that the entire show was awkward and telling of the lack of a black presence in mainstream media television news reporting.

I’m a fan of Ed Schultz so don’t twist my comments. I do think the show would have had a different feel had the host been a black person. In a few instances he basically served as a referee between Rev. Al Sharpton and Dr. Cornel West. (I must admit I've never seen Dr. West lose his cool before.) If you tell me about Rev. Al Sharpton somewhat co-hosting the show, I’ll say that adding his name to the show’s promos after they had already been running was MSNBC’s attempt at damage control for those folks who were paying attention.

Be that as it may, it seems the show was interesting and informative even if there were a few awkward moments. I hope to catch more clips of it or perhaps it will be rebroadcast. Do check them out and let me know what you think.  


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Related Link: "A Stronger America: The Black Agenda"


Waka Flocka, Voting and Crimes Against Our Children [VIDEO]

First there was T-Pain, now Waka Flocka. This video is sad on so many levels. I don't know who Waka Flocka is or what Waka Flocka means but I do know that here is a young man, obviously a celebrity since he's being interviewed on 106 & Park, who cannot hold an intelligent conversation. He could have been nervous but that doesn't explain the vocabulary and grammar issues.

It's easy to make jokes about this interview and some of the comments about this incident on YouTube are brutal but it's so not funny. From family to community to the educational system to the record company he works for --- this is so wrong. It's child abuse...neglect...fraud and a number of other charges we should be ashamed of as adults.

Artists like Waka Flocka are emulated by other young people, pushed through or kicked out of our educational system and neglected by family and community. Like many young people, he has potential but for whatever reason, we didn't nurture him. It's not too late for Waka Flocka and many other young people in our communities, so what are we going to do?

In case you forgot...

Get out and vote on November 2, 2010!

Roland Martin Keeps it Real

Much has been said about the latest political gaffe involving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He's a racist and should resign….he's not a racist…double standard…blah…blah…blah. Regardless of your take on this situation, let's not allow a crucial issue to go unacknowledged by mainstream media and thus far it has.

Political commentator Roland Martin was very clear, bold and courageous when pointing the plethora of black faces in the media addressing the Harry Reid situation and the dearth of black presence on any other issues as if race is all black folks can talk about. Now I can't write what Brother Martin said verbatim. I can tell you it was concise, clear and on point. Let's hope the folks making decisions about the perspectives allowed on the air didn't miss that message.

America's racial issues can be diminished if more perspectives are shared with a greater, more diverse audience. People are a lot more alike than they are different. It's my experience that talking with folks who are different from me breaks down barriers. It also diminishes the power of the few to control the many and maybe that's why we're so disconnected in the first place.

Roland Martin, thank you for speaking the truth.

Power to the People.

From the White House: President Barack Obama's Speech to America's School Children


Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today. 
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.   
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year. 
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. 
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox. 
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve. 
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. 
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. 
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. 
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. 
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy. 
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. 
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in. 
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. 
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right. 
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying. 
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. 
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America. 
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall. 
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. 
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. 
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. 
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." 
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. 
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in. 
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. 
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. 
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?  
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
Source:  The White House

Global Day of Blogging for Justice: Save Troy Davis!


Several journalists and bloggers have joined Amnesty International and other human rights groups to call attention to the impending execution of Troy Anthony Davis who sits on Death Row in Georgia. Davis has been this close to execution three times before but was spared thanks to expert lawyering. This time Davis may be out of luck as his last extension expired last Saturday.

In spite of the fact that seven of nine witnesses in the twenty year-old case recanted and cited undue influence by law enforcement; Davis is still set to be executed. How the U.S. Supreme Court and the American justice system in general can allow this to happen is nothing short of frightening.

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis pens an excellent article citing the facts of the case; shoddy and incomplete police investigation and the egregious decision by several Supreme Court Justices to deny Davis a hearing to present new evidence because his papers were filed late.

Where is the justice in such a decision that may result in the murder of an innocent man? Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue should do the right thing and pardon Troy Davis. It is just. It is humane. It is the right thing to do.

Save Troy Anthony Davis. Please.