Black Infant Mortality

More to Think About: Black Infant Mortality

Read the entire article here.   By Linda Villarosa

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from “The Hidden Toll,” the cover story in the NY Times Sunday magazine.
Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.
This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with another tragedy: a crisis of death and near death in black mothers themselves. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago. Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 maternal deaths occur in the United States.
In addition, the C.D.C. reports more than 50,000 potentially preventable near-deaths, like Landrum’s, per year — a number that rose nearly 200 percent from 1993 to 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts, according to the C.D.C. — a disproportionate rate that is higher than that of Mexico, where nearly half the population lives in poverty — and as with infants, the high numbers for black women drive the national numbers.

The crisis of maternal death and near-death also persists for black women across class lines. This year, the tennis star Serena Williams shared in Vogue the story of the birth of her first child and in further detail in a Facebook post. The day after delivering her daughter, Alexis Olympia, via C-section in September, Williams experienced a pulmonary embolism, the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung by a blood clot.

After Two Deaths, HPD Heeds Parents’ Demand for Crossing Guards

 

After Two Deaths, HPD Heeds Parents’ Demand for Crossing Guards

Denise Fillion, School Crossing Guard Supervisor for the Hartford Police Department (HPD) Traffic Division, sent a letter to the Milner School office dated August 22, 2017, informing the school that two crossing guard posts associated with the school would be closing. Fillion cited “low number of students” as the reason for closing the posts at the intersections of Albany Avenue and Vine Street, and Mather and Garden streets.

Adriena Baldwin, the mother of two students at Milner and secretary of its Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), thought that removing the crossing guards was a recipe for disaster and tragedy. Ms. Baldwin, the PTO, and AJ Johnson, Organizer for the Christian Activities Council, sprang into action by conducting their own survey.

The group monitored the intersection at Mather and Garden streets for two days. On November 13, forty-six children crossed, and on November 17, thirty-three children crossed. The parents were troubled to witness children, in the absence of a crossing guard, haphazardly crossing the street as cars ignored speed limits and traffic signals. Armed with their own action research, the PTO and AJ met with Ms. Fillion and Traffic Commander, Lieutenant Laureano. Unfortunately, the request was again denied due to the “stricter criteria” used by the traffic division to count the number of children crossing.

Tragedy did strike on January 16, 2018, when a speeding car hit Tina Fontanez and Catalina Melendez near 95 Vine Street, just steps away from Milner. Both women died. Although no children were injured, the two deaths alerted police to dangers flagged months prior by the organized parents. Police set up direct patrols on Vine Street the weeks following the accident that resulted in them issuing 25 citations for driving violations and making four DUI arrests. Subsequently, the HPD Traffic Division is restoring crossing guards to the sites requested thanks in large part to the power of organized parents.

With Hartford Public School Superintendent’s approved plan that includes relocating and restructuring Milner, the PTO is gearing up to launch a new safety campaign. Milner students in PK-5 will be relocated to Wish or SAND. Under the current policy, the new schools are close enough to the Milner neighborhood to render students ineligible for school bus service. However, parents are concerned about the safety of their young children having to walk long distances through neighborhoods that are unfortunately still plagued with criminal behavior. The PTO has already alerted HPS to the potential dangers, hopefully, HPS will listen to the parents on what’s best for their children and take action before tragedy strikes.  (from the Christian Activities Council)

28 Days, 28 Films

28 Days, 28 Films for Black History Month

IT HAS BEEN ALMOST A YEAR since Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight” won the Oscar for best picture. This awards season, Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” and Dee Rees’s “Mudbound” have received multiple nominations and accolades, optimistic signs that black filmmakers are receiving more opportunities in the movie industry. Soon these titles will be joined by two of the most anticipated releases of the year: Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” the first Marvel superhero movie from a black director, and Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” the first movie with a $100 million budget directed by a black woman.

The critical and box-office success of “Get Out” and the very existence of big-studio productions like “Black Panther” are good reasons to revisit the remarkable, complex story of black filmmaking in America. For Black History Month, we have selected 28 essential films from the 20th century pertaining to African-American experiences. These aren’t the 28 essential black-themed films, but a calendar of suggested viewing. We imposed a chronological cutoff in an effort to look back at where we were and how we got to here.

BTW: Passing Marvel stablemate Guardians Of The Galaxy on Thursday globally, Black Panther has lifted its worldwide cumulative audience to $780.3M. The breakdown through March 1 is $435.4M domestic and $344.9M at the international box office.

Connecticut’s Education System Is Flawed, But Not Unconstitutional

More to Think About: Education

Supreme Court: Connecticut’s Education System Is Flawed, But Not Unconstitutional

by Christine Stuart    ctnewsjunkie.com

HARTFORD, CT — The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Connecticut’s education system is imperfect, but not unconstitutional.

The decision may signal the end of 12 years of litigation over whether the state has been providing enough funding for its poorest school districts.

In a 4-3 decision in which three of the justices concurred and dissented with parts of the ruling, the majority concluded that it’s not the function of the courts to create educational policy “or to attempt by judicial fiat to eliminate all of the societal deficiencies that continue to frustrate the state’s educational efforts. Rather, the function of the courts is to determine whether the narrow and specific criteria for a minimally adequate educational system under our state constitution have been satisfied.”

The justices, in overturning Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling, wrote that “although the plaintiffs have convincingly demonstrated that in this state there is a gap in educational achievement between the poorest and neediest students and their more fortunate peers, disparities in educational achievement, standing alone, do not constitute proof that our state constitution’s equal protection provisions have been violated. The plaintiffs have not shown that this gap is the result of the state’s unlawful discrimination against poor and needy students in its provision of educational resources as opposed to the complex web of disadvantaging societal conditions over which the schools have no control.”

The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, which brought the case against then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell and worked for years to get it to trial, was deeply disappointed with the decision.

“CCJEF believes a case of this landmark magnitude should not be left dangling on such a close vote but requires instead the kind of clarity for the future of the State’s educational system that only a new trial and a definitive majority can establish,” James Finley, chief consultant for the group, said.

Finley said the coalition expects to file a motion for reconsideration.

“For over twelve years CCJEF has been battling in the Connecticut courts to ensure that every K-12 public school student in our state has the opportunity to receive their constitutionally guaranteed right to an adequate and equitable education,” Finley said. “Our courts are the backstop to ensure that state constitutional rights are protected when the other two branches of state government fail in their duty to do so.”

However, there are some in the executive and legislative branches of government who would be happy to put this case in the rearview mirror in order to move forward with changes.

“This decision concludes this landmark case regarding education funding,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was once a plaintiff in the case a mayor of Stamford before being elected governor to then become a defendant in the case. “At the same time, the urgency to continue the fight to distribute greater educational dollars where there is the greatest need has not diminished.”

He said no court “can mandate political courage, and it is my hope that current and future policymakers continue to make progress with a more fair distribution of educational aid.”

Senate President Martin Looney, a Democrat from New Haven, said the court’s decision “reaffirmed that local education funding is firmly in the purview of the General Assembly.”

But the legislature, according to the coalition of plaintiffs, has failed to create a system that provides every student with an adequate education.

“Every child in Connecticut deserves a first class education,” Looney said. “Our job will not be complete until we eliminate the inequities inherent our educational system and ensure that children in every city and every town across Connecticut receive a fair shot at academic success.”

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Republican from Derby, said the ruling provides an opportunity for the legislature.

“Everyone involved is frustrated that a comprehensive solution to this matter has eluded us,” Klarides said. “Disparities in our schools exist and that is not acceptable. But there is the will to bring the spectrum of stakeholders together and this offers new opportunities to address solutions in a comprehensive manner.”

But some stakeholders aren’t as optimistic about what the ruling means.

“Communities all over the state have already seen the state withdraw from its obligation to fund our public schools,” Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen said. “Rather than protect the quality of education in our communities, this decision allows the governor and the legislature to continue to slash funding to our schools and children. If Connecticut is to be an educational leader now and in the future, it will require that elected officials honor their duty to provide the equitable funding and resources all children deserve.”

Jennifer Alexander, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), seemed to agree, even though her group is often at odds with the teacher’s union.

“Today’s ruling from the State Supreme Court in no way absolves the state from fixing the persistent and alarming problems in our education system that Judge Moukawsher cited in his ruling,” Alexander said. “The status quo is failing far too many kids who are graduating from high school without the knowledge or skills they need to be successful in college or career.”

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, whose city is a member of the CCJEF coalition, said he’s also disappointed in the decision.

“We strongly believe that Judge Moukawsher was right when he ruled that while there may be enough resources overall spent to create an adequate education for all Connecticut public school students, the way in which the state has chosen to distribute these resources is irrational, and unconstitutionally disadvantages students from poor and challenged districts such as Bridgeport,” Ganim said. “How can you say that the state is meeting its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education to Bridgeport’s 22,000 public school students when it only spends $14,000 per pupil, and in better off communities nearly double is spent on every student?”

AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel, whose organization joined the lawsuit 13 years ago, said the decision puts the “responsibility for addressing and resolving the underlying cause of Connecticut’s broken education funding system on our elected leaders.”

She said the court “essentially issued a renewed call to action.”

The question remains whether the legislature has the political will to make the necessary changes to how education is funded.

What Rights Do Children of Illegal Immigrant Parents Have in the U.S.?

What Rights Children of Illegal Immigrant Parents Have in the U.S.

Updated By Ilona Bray, J.D., University of Washington Law School

The children of undocumented (often called “illegal”) immigrants in the U.S. typically had no say in their parents’ decision to move to the U.S., but must contend with the consequences nonetheless.

If those children were born in the United States, they are automatically U.S. citizens, and have all the rights that come with that.

Although many people assume that having a child in the U.S. (who is automatically a U.S. citizen) allows that parents to obtain lawful immigration status here, that is not the case. U.S. immigration law allows a U.S. citizen to petition for parents only upon turning 21. And in order to get through the financial-sponsorship aspects of the petition process, that child will need to be living in the U.S. and earning a high enough income to support his or her parents as well as any other household members.

Birthright Citizenship in the U.S.

The children of undocumented immigrants lucky enough to have been born in the U.S. will obtain what’s often called “birthright citizenship.” It is conferred automatically, solely by virtue of being born on U.S. soil. This right comes from the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

During various Congressional debates about immigration reform, there has been talk about eliminating or changing this right. In 2010, for example, some senators publicly announced their opinions that the Fourteenth Amendment needs to be amended. They argued that the amendment is being abused, citing instances where wealthy foreign nationals have come to the U.S. for a brief “vacation” and stayed just long enough to give birth to a child. Of course, they also mentioned the millions of immigrants who enter the U.S. without permission and have children, too.

Read more here.

With Integrated Schools Out Of Reach, Segregated Options Gain Favor

Imperfect Choices: With Integrated Schools Out Of Reach, Segregated Options Gain Favor

Connecticut’s network of regional magnet schools, long hailed as a national model for voluntary integration, still serve only a fraction of Hartford students a generation after their racial isolation was deemed unconstitutional. And those magnets, slipping in their effort to meet racial quotas after the 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill ruling, are now quietly tilting admission preferences to favor white suburbanites, even as thousands of black and Latino students are left out.

That leaves two public-school options for families desperate for a way out: Open Choice, a $35 million-a-year Sheff program that buses Hartford students to predominantly white suburban schools, and taxpayer-funded charters that are the most segregated schools in the state.

Neither option meets the ideals of integrated education, where robust numbers of blacks, whites and Latinos learn side-by-side. But in a world of imperfect solutions, Hartford families are flocking to choices where integration is absent — or actively spurned.  Read more here.

 

WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM

TROUBLED SCHOOLS ON TRIAL: FIRST OF SEVEN STORIES

WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM

Struggling to cope with past sexual abuse and a mother who works long hours at a low-wage job, Alex regularly breaks down while at school.

The screaming, crawling and crying of this 5-year-old at North Windham Elementary School – and the arrival of an ambulance when he sometimes begins to hurt himself – are disruptions that make it hard to keep other students focused.

“It’s a continued struggle to survive emotionally,” said Catina Cabán-Owen, the only social worker at her school of 466 students. “This child does not have the support, because the mother cannot provide it.”

Alex, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy, is watched by a neighbor while his mother works. His father is not around.

A student walks by one of the many boarded up houses in an impoverished neighborhood in Hartford on the way to school.

While Alex’s struggle is extreme, his basic story – a student living in poverty who needs help coping with trauma – is common. He is among many students for whom poverty creates or exacerbates obstacles to learning. Read more here. 

Europe’s Child Refugee Crisis

Image result for child refugees in europe

Photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

Europe’s Child-Refugee Crisis

At an age when most kids need supervision to do their homework, hundreds of thousands of minors are crossing continents alone.

BY  

Wasil awoke to the sound of a knife ripping through nylon. Although he was only twelve years old, he was living alone in a small tent at a refugee camp in Calais, France, known as the Jungle. Men entered his tent; he couldn’t tell how many. A pair of hands gripped his throat. He shouted. It was raining, and the clatter of the drops muffled his cries, so he shouted louder. At last, people from neighboring tents came running, and the assailants disappeared.

Wasil had left his mother and younger siblings in Kunduz, Afghanistan, ten months earlier, in December, 2015. His father, an interpreter for nato forces, had fled the country after receiving death threats from the Taliban. Later, Wasil, as the eldest son, became the Taliban’s surrogate target. Wasil was close to his mother, but she decided to send him away as the situation became increasingly dangerous. Her brother lived in England, and she hoped that Wasil could join him there. To get to Calais, Wasil had travelled almost four thousand miles, across much of Asia and Europe, by himself. Along the way, he had survived for ten days in a forest with only two bottles of water, two biscuits, and a packet of dates to sustain him. Before leaving home, he hadn’t even known how to prepare a meal.

Read more here.

Child Care Expense Causes Stress

Poll: Cost Of Child Care Causes Financial Stress For Many Families (are you surprised?)

 

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Most parents have experienced sticker shock when they find out just how much it will cost to care for their infant or toddler full- or even part-time. For parents who have little choice, this can be a big financial strain.

In fact, the most common challenge parents face when looking for child care is the high cost. That’s the finding of a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Listen to the entire program here.

Need a subsidy to help pay for childcare?   Read the article in the CT Mirror:

State says bailout unlikely for Care4Kids child care subsidies

A bailout to close a major shortfall in a program that subsidizes child care so low-income parents can work is unlikely, the governor’s budget director said Friday.

Earlier this year the state suspended new enrollment by tightening eligibility requirements for the popular Care4Kids program, but the move did not reduce costs enough, and an $8.7 million shortfall lingers – a 15 percent structural deficit.

The state is now considering closing the remaining shortfall by further changing eligibility requirements to eliminate daycare help for about 300 families now in the program each month, a decrease of about 2,000 families over the year.

Read more here.

Activities for Children – Swimming Lessons

Activities for Children

   

Black children ages 5 to 19 drown in swimming pools at a rate more than five times that of white children. That suggests a lot of blacks are not learning to swim, said Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, about 70 percent of African-American children, 60 percent of Latino children and 40 percent of white children are non-swimmers. Lack of access and financial constraints account only partly for these numbers. Fear, cultural factors and even cosmetic issues play a role as well.

“Before the Civil War, more blacks than whites could swim,” Lynn Sherr, the author of Swim: Why We Love the Water, said in an interview. “There are many stories of shipwrecks in which black slaves rescued their owners.”

But as Ms. Sherr learned from Bruce Wigo of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, segregation destroyed the aquatic culture of the black community. “Once whites discovered swimming, blacks were increasingly excluded from public pools and lifeguarded beaches,” Mr. Wigo told her.

As a result, many minority parents never learned how to swim. Adults who can’t swim often fear the water and, directly or indirectly, convey that fear to their children.  Read more here.

Dear Rev. Camp,

I am writing to inform you of opportunity to provide youth from Hartford, ages 5 to 9, with free swim lessons at the Downtown YMCA. The program is designed to mitigate youth drowning and promote physical activity.

Jeff Williams
241 Trumbull Street, Hartford, CT 06103
(P) 860 522 9622 ext 2302 (F) 860 522 1314
(E) jeff.williams@ghymca.org (W) ghYMCA.org