Tuesday, January 3, 2012


                                  FORMER WAKE SUPT. DEL BURNS

By Cash Michaels

            It was in February 2010, right after then Wake Schools Supt. Del Burns shocked everyone by announcing that he was resigning, rather than to carry out the racial resegregating neighborhood schools policy of the new Republican-led Wake School Board, that he told The Carolinian, when asked, that of all the things he would be doing once he left, writing a book won’t be one of them.
            A few months later, Burns called The Carolinian and changed his mind. He was writing a book after all about his philosophy of the importance of public schools, the critical role they play in preparing and producing the leaders of tomorrow, and the effectiveness of public school leadership and governance.
            Burns’ book, “Preserving the Public in Public Schools” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), co-authored with Dr. Philip Boyle Ph.D, is finally out, and if anyone was expecting Burns to even the score with some of his most public adversaries, like Tea Party Republican Wake School Board member John Tedesco, they are sadly mistaken.
            In fact, Tedesco, who admittedly hasn’t even read the book yet, still blasted the former Wake superintendent for just writing it.
            "I wouldn't expect anything less from a former employee who is bitter, who was replaced by a quality leader like Superintendent (Tony) Tata, and who wrote a bitter fictional book," Tedesco, who has apparently not forgiven Burns for not wanting to associate with his policies, is quoted as telling The News & Observer.
            When told of Tedesco’s testy reaction during a phone interview last week, all Dr. Burns, who currently serves as interim superintendent of Edgecombe County Schools and an education consultant, could do was laugh, assuring that his new book is about sharing a vision, not attacking political ideologues.
            And yet, Burns makes no secret that he’s more than pleased that Democrats are back in control of the Wake Board of Education after last year’s dramatic school board elections where not only was Republican Chairman Ron Margiotta ousted, but Democrats defied the political odds by sweeping five open seats.
            The effort to completely eliminate diversity as a policy was of great concern to me,” Burns says, regarding not only why he left in 2010, but also contributed money to Democratic school board campaigns last year.
            With District 3 board member Kevin Hill now serving as chair, and District 4’s Keith Sutton backing him up as vice chair, the controversial anti-student diversity direction that Margiotta and his GOP majority had the school board is already shifting, with Democrats this week making clear that the previously adopted school choice plan that was hurriedly passed last October before the elections, must be tweaked now, before implementation, to reflect a greater emphasis on student achievement and getting more students from low performing areas into high performing schools.
            Translation - Democrats want to do whatever it takes, against the protestations of Wake Supt. Tata and Republican board members, to prevent the creation of more high poverty schools.
            For his part, Dr. Burns, anxious to stay away from any rhetorical involvement in current Wake School Board matters, was reluctant to offer his perspective.
            But Burns did say that he would like to see how the school choice plan is implemented, noting that with an enrollment of almost 147,000 students, Wake would be the largest school system in the nation to date to attempt to make a school choice plan work.
            “That is going to be a challenge,” Burns said of what little he knew of the new Wake student assignment policy. “It’s quite an ambitious plan.”
Dr. Burns’ book - based not only on his tumultuous, though short experience with the Margiotta school board, but also his several years as Wake superintendent preceding that, and his almost 30 years in the classroom - challenges society to do more to support its public school systems, which ultimately reflect, undergird and perpetuate - for better or worse - the values of the local communities that they serve.
            Burns says that parents and citizens can’t just look at public schools solely on what’s exclusively best for their child, but is ultimately best for the entire community to perpetuate progress, achievement, civility and purpose.
            Thus, as has happened in Wake County (though Burns refers to his model school system in the book as “Crestwich”), there was a palpable tension between well-to-do parents who wanted their children to attend the upper-middle class schools in their neighborhoods, and the need for the school system to promote student diversity so that all children would have the same access to educational opportunity, regardless of their economic strata, or where they lived.
            How a society ultimately balances the issues confronting it, both political and social, and its public school system, is what Burns and Boyle tackle, cautioning throughout that the “public” in public schools - in terms of who must be the ultimate beneficiary - should be the guiding standard.           
            “We should be about a common good,” Dr. Burns says.

By Cash Michaels

            Because of poor diets, heavy drinking, smoking, and chronic acid reflux, more African-Americans than whites proportionately suffer and die from esophageal (or throat) cancer in this country every year.
            But the deadly disease can also strike what seems to be a perfectly healthy man.
            Dr. Alice Garrett knows. Her beloved husband, Bobby, died of it in December 2008.
He had walked religiously for exercise for years, and had stopped smoking twenty-years earlier. There was the occasional acid reflux, which Garrett went to his doctor to have treated.
But when he lost his voice introducing his son as church one day, Garrett knew something was wrong. Garrett says her husband’s cancer started in the throat area, but spread throughout his neck. He lived with it for eleven years before he died.
Once her husband was diagnosed in 1997 (doctors told Bobby Garrett that the cancer had been dormant in him for 25 years), caring for him became the Garrett family’s center of their universe, making sure that Bobby Garrett was not alone through the ordeal.
             Part of that process had Dr. Garrett and her children immediately partner with the
the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Research Center in Chapel Hill, to ensure that her husband received the best care and treatment.
            Indeed, when Garrett saw how many people, and how much effort on the part of the Lineberger doctors and staff to treat her husband and others, she felt compelled to find an effective way to give back to the cause of fighting the disease.
            “I wanted to help others, and make sure that the community was made better aware of this cancer that is considered a “silent killer,” Dr. Garrett told The Carolinian.
Esophageal Cancer is a cancerous malignant tumor of the esophagus, the muscular tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach.
There is no cure.
            Black men are more likely, scientific research has determined, than any other group, including women, to contract and die from the disease. Black woman are, however, growing in percentages.
            On average, patients live five years after being initially being diagnosed.
            If caught early, esophageal cancer can be treated. But in an estimated 70 percent of the cases, by the time it is diagnosed, the disease is in its late stages. As with most cancers, it is then too late to effectively implement treatment.
            As the cancerous tumor grows in the throat, symptoms include difficulty swallowing causing pain and discomfort while eating; the sensation of food being consistently stuck in your throat; sudden weight loss; pain in the throat or chest; hoarseness or cough.
            In 2005, Dutch researchers studying the epidemiology of the disease in the United States, noted in The Journal of Clinical Oncology that a survey of Medicare records for over 3000 elderly patients with esophageal cancer determined that black were 50 percent less likely to have life-prolonging surgery for it, or even consulting a surgeon, than whites, thus increasing the likelihood of death.
            Bobby Garrett got the best treatment possible at the Lineberger Center, Dr. Alice Garrett says, noting that the staff and doctors were extraordinary caring, and always involved the family in any crucial decisions that had to be made.
            Even when it was clear that there wasn’t anything left to be done that would definitively prolong Bobby Garrett’s life, the Lineberger staff went the extra mile to make sure that his family was with him when his time came.
For the past 3 years in December, Garrett and her family have sponsored the Bobby F. Garrett Esophageal Cancer Benefit Gospel Concert at St. Matthew AME Church in Raleigh to both raise awareness of the deadly disease, and funds in the African-American community to help the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Research Center find a cure.
            “Esophagus Cancer is the least funded cancer of all known cancers in the United States,” Dr. Garrett says. “In our communities we often give to benefits and participate in groups but rarely do we step out and start something that can be identified within our communities.  Our giving is most often couched under the umbrella of well established organizations and benefits.”
            The Garretts also make time to speak to churches and civic groups about the cancer, sharing their personal experiences and passing out informative literature. They also mail out hundreds of solicitation letters, seeking donations.
            They make sure to tell people not to take things like sore throats and acid reflex for granted.
If there is “good news” in all of this, it’s that the mortality rates for African-Americans due to esophageal cancer have been going down for the past 20 years, even though they are still higher than for whites, according to the National Cancer Institute.
People are surviving what was once a sure killer. But the research continues, and Dr. Garrett says thus, more funding is needed.
Even though the next benefit concert won’t be until next December, the Garrett family’s awareness and fundraising efforts are year-round. The Lineberger Center has established a special website at http://garrettconcert.kintera.org that contains both the latest information on care and treatments, as well as accept online donations.
Checks with tax deductible donations for the cause may also be sent to “Garrett Benefit,” 1607 East Martin St. Raleigh, NC 27610. Please write Garrett Benefit on the memo line.
All proceeds from the Garrett benefit efforts go to the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, which has partnered with the Garrett family.
To contribute time to help further educate the community about esophageal cancer, please contact Dr. Alice Garrett at nashett1@aol.com

BRINGING AWARENESS OF NC'S POVERTY - NCNAACP President Rev. Barber is joined by a host of clergy and social activists in announcing this month's "Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty of North Carolina" Tuesday at First Baptist Church [Cash Michaels Photo]

Special to The Carolinian

             The North Carolina NAACP, NC Justice Center, and NC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity announced the first leg of the “Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina,” a state-wide tour of rural counties and inner city neighborhoods where North Carolinians have struggled to find work, decent housing, transportation, and sufficient food for their families.

“We want to shine the light of truth on the conditions of poverty and despair in North Carolina," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the NC NAACP. "We have faith there are leaders in our government, our media, our churches, and our schools who believe in the North Carolina Constitution's clear mandate that our ‘Government is instituted solely for the good of the whole.’ When our leaders act on that belief, a tidal wave of hope can come right behind the tornadoes of economic despair, creating a powerful new wave of economic and spiritual investment in Eastern North Carolina.”

         Rev. Barber, Prof. Gene Nichol, Director of the NC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, and Melinda Lawrence, Director of the NC Justice Center, provided details at the news conference Tuesday about the first leg of the state-wide tour, which will travel through the northeast quadrant of the state. The tour began with Listening Sessions on Thursday in a half dozen counties, where citizens had the opportunity to share their stories and experiences, and will continue with Town Hall meetings on January 19 and 20. A bus full of activists, reporters, foundation leaders, scholars, and people directly affected by poverty will participate in the Town Hall meetings.

“The truth is,” Rev. Barber said, “government and the private sector have not adequately addressed the historical and structural causes of the deep poverty in Eastern North Carolina. Long before the Great Depression or the recent Great Recession, thousands of Black, White, Latino and Native American families lived on the edge of survival. The recent economic and ecological tornadoes that swept through Eastern N.C. just made the structural poverty worse.”

Professor Nichol added: "The scourge of poverty in North Carolina is both our largest policy challenge and our greatest sin against constitutional principle. We seek to shine a light through this tour on the huge gap between our words and our deeds."

Five years ago, the North Carolina NAACP began to build a multi-racial, multi-issue alliance of progressive organizations to form the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition (HKonJ-PAC). The movement, now with over 125 member organizations, has successfully pushed its anti-racist, anti-poverty and anti-war 14-point Legislative Agenda. HKonJ culminates with an annual “People’s Assembly” on the second Saturday in February, honoring the anniversary of the NAACP’s founding. On Saturday, February 11, 2012, NAACP members and progressive North Carolinians of all ages and races will gather in Raleigh to tell our politicians: “We The People Shall Not Be Moved: Forward Together, Not One Step Back!”

The Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina builds on the groundwork laid by 68 years of the NAACP’s existence in NC and the 5 years of movement building by the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition.


            As predicted, the new Democratic Wake School Board majority isn’t pleased with the school choice assignment plan that the previous GOP-led board adopted. They want student achievement to be a higher priority than proximity, a change in feeder patterns, and setting aside seats in high performing schools from students who live in low performing nodes. Republican board members, and Supt. Anthony Tata, were furious, countering that any changes will delay implementation of the current. Indeed it was suggested that the assignment plan be delayed a year until all of the kinks could be worked out.

            Durham police have arrested an Iraq war veteran in the shooting death Monday of an NCCU student. The body of Joey Derek Squire, 24, was found in the breezeway of an apartment complex on Bainbridge Drive. Durham police arrested Brandon Tyrell Jones, 26, of Durham and charged him with first-degree murder. Neighbors told police that Jones allegedly killed Squire because he thought the student had been sleeping with his wife, also an NCCU student, while Jones was serving in Iraq. If you have any information about this crime, call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.

            The Democratic National Convention Committee deposited convention funds in a North Carolina minority-owned bank Wednesday, at the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Building in downtown Durham.  With Durham Mayor Bill Bell present, the funds, held in non-interest bearing account at both Mechanics and Farmers Bank, will help the bank expand their lending and economic development efforts to communities across the state.  The 2012 DNC will be held the week of Sept. 3, 2012 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.


            [LEXINGTON] When is the last time you saw a $1 million bill? That’s the question the cashier at a Wal-Mart in Lexington asked when a man bought $476 in items, and tried to pay for them with a $1 million bill. Police charged Michael Fuller, 53, with attempting to obtain property under false pretenses and uttering a forged instrument. Fuller reportedly insisted that the currency was real, but the largest bill in circulation is a $100 bill. Fuller is in jail in lieu of $17,500 bond.

            [CHARLOTTE] If NC State University economist Dr. Mike Walden is correct, North Carolina’s struggling economy may be showing definitive signs of life. Walden says an economic index that he created to measure economic growth four to six months in advance, showed a surge in November by 1.9 from October. Walden says 2011’s November’s figure are higher than November 2010’s, and if the pattern continues, the state could be in an economic upswing.

          [WINSTON-SALEM] The driver that state Rep. Larry Womble's car collided with last month was drunk well beyond the legal limit, police say. David Allen Carmichael, 54, died as a result of the Dec. 2 collision. He had a blood alcohol level of of 0.29, well above the North Carolina legal standard of 0.08 blood-alcohol content to determine impairment.  Womble, who was critically injured in the wreck, had no alcohol in his system, authorities add.  The nine-term lawmaker has undergone two surgeries since the  accident,n and is still recovering in the hospital. Previous reports had Womble's vehicle crossing the line and crashing into Carmichael's car.

By Cash Michaels

            HAPPY NEW YEAR - It’s 2012, everybody! A brand new beginning for all. Let’s face it, if you are the average person, namely fighting to survive in this crappy economy, then I’m sure you’ll agree that 2011 just sucked on so many levels. I was not a happy year at all for most people.
            But all of us learned an important lesson, namely that given the political strife in the country right now, and especially with 2012 being an historic presidential election year, we all know that if you want happiness, you better darn well be ready to FIGHT for it, because there are those out there ready, willing and able to take it from you just because …you’re you!
            From Tea Party Republicans to folks who exist just to rip you off, the sharks are DEFINITELY in the water now, so I hope you are ready to stand up, and not just DEMAND what you know is right, but do something about getting it accomplished.
            As the Occupy movement has shown, there is nothing wrong with taking to the streets to be counted, just as long as you’re being counted for something.
            But this year, we need those same numbers to be counted at the polls. As we see from the crazy votes wanting to install a voter ID system, there are those who are determined to make their racism law.
            You and I have to be even MORE determined not to let them have their way, and the best way to do that is at the voting booth.
            Look, 2008 was fun and memorable. But now in 2012, it has to be all about serious business.
            So be ready to stand, and make it happen, for yourselves and your children this year. Because if you don’t, your child and my child will have LESS, I repeat, LESS rights than you and I once had, and that doesn’t make any sense.
            2012, a year of courage and action!
            Let’s see what you got, shall we?
            HAPPY BIRTHDAY…ME! - Well, I’m getting to be an old man. On Tuesday, Jan. 3rd, I turned 56 years of age. Now I know you folks who are older may resent my saying that I’m getting “older,” but it’s relative. I feel older, I look older, I think older, I AM OLDER! If you’re 57 or older, and don’t feel, look or thing as such…THEN GOD BLESS YOU!
            But for me, the only things that keep me feeling young are my family and my work.
            Family, because watching my oldest daughter, Tiffany, continue to do well in her vocation; and my youngest, KaLa, absolutely explode in school with great grades (the only Christmas or birthday present I’ll ever really want) gives me daily piece of mind that when it’s my time to join my dear, departed mother upstairs, my kids will have a great foundation to continue on in life with.
            And my work, because I’m in the legacy business, and it’s vitally important to leave a lasting legacy of achievement for those who come behind me to discover and learn from.
            When I go to the library, I always lookup some of the old editions of The Carolinian or Wilmington Journal so I can instantly step back into time, and experience, through reading and research, what those who came before thought and dealt with.
            I’d like to know that years after they’ve thrown that last shovel-full of dirt in my face, there will be young people reading my prose and watching my videos and movies, trying to understand this space and time.
            Sound corny? Well think about it. In the end, since you can’t take any of it with you, then what exactly will you be leaving behind that will speak to the quality and significance of your time on Earth?
            I don’t think about dying everyday (not that crazy yet), but I do think about what I’ve done to leave a lasting contribution, something that can help someone better understand our world.
            So as I get older (hopefully), those are my two charges - family and building shared legacy.
            Hopefully somewhere in between, I’ll get to fly back to the islands for a quick break to enjoy the tropic sun and the sandy beach.
            After all, if I have no choice but to grow older, I might as well enjoy it, right?
            MICHAEL JORDAN, ENGAGED - I find it quite interesting, indeed, that when it was announced last week that former NBA superstar Michael Jordan announced that he was engaged to be married, a lot people tripped over themselves to make it expressly clear that they just didn’t care. And a lot of black women made it clear that they were not surprised that the woman MJ is engaged to isn’t black (which quite frankly is his business).
            Michael, currently the owner of the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, apparently burnt a lot of bridges in his community during his spectacular playing days. Just like the eventually disgraced superstar golfer Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan seemed, at times, to work really hard to disconnect any ties to the African-American community. That doesn’t mean, from time to time, that Michael hasn’t given money or aid to certain charitable causes, especially in his hometown of Wilmington (don’t forget, Michael was born in Brooklyn, but raised in Wilmington).
            But when it came time to use his celebrity to take a public stand for a worthy social cause, Mike was always seen hiding behind the basketball rack until the storm was over.
            Was that Michael Jordan’s right? Certainly! But did he miss opportunities - given his great wealth and influence - to positively lead by example to significantly help others through public or social policy? Absolutely, and as a result, now that many of his fans are older, they find themselves not having the same respect for Michael as they do for Magic Johnson on HIV/AIDS or former NFL great Jim Brown on economic development.
            Still, I hope Michael and his soon-to-be bride get married and are very happy. Just wondering what Michael’s attorneys are telling him about the pre-nup? After all, the first Mrs. Michael Jordan walked away with at least $150 million after the divorce settlement.
            How did that famous song go…”It’s cheaper to keep her?”
            ARETHA ENGAGED TOO! - Looks like the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is going to join Michael on that trip down the aisle. Lady Re reportedly is going to marry her longtime friend Willie Wilkerson, and is considering a summer wedding. Homegirl is 69, and insists that she’s not “pregnant” (who would have guessed.) This would make marriage number 3 for Franklin. Hopefully, after the honeymoon, Re will make time to finally come to North Carolina to perform, something she has repeatedly cancelled for many years now.
            I hope Willie has family here.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.



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