Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Please Help Me Sponsor a Children's Defense Fund Freedom School for Summer 2017

As an educator and a parent, I know the value of our students not losing instructional time during the summer months away from their respective schools. Many students leave school in May or June and do not participate in anything academic until school starts again in August or September. This is not the case for students who are fortunate enough to attend a Children's Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School that may be offered in their area.

I can personally attest to the benefits of Freedom School because my children attended the first one sponsored by the St. Luke Community Development Corporation (CDC) some years ago. It is this same CDC who I am a part of who is raising funds to sponsor another Freedom School for the Summer of 2017.

Across all of my social media sites I have nearly twenty five thousand connections and as a part of my fundraising efforts, I am asking that a minimum of five thousand of you donate a minimum of one dollar. For that matter ten thousand of you can donate fifty cents and so on and so on. My goal is to raise and donate five thousand dollars to the school.

The trickiest part in my mind (and it really is not that tricky) is downloading the Givelify app on your mobile device.  It will take a couple of minutes for you to set up the app in order for the dollar to be withdrawn from your account. It will actually probably take you a couple of more minutes to set it up than to actually donate the dollar, but it is for an extremely good cause.

Once you've downloaded the app and created your profile, select "Charities" from the bottom (it looks like a ribbon) and then input into the search box Saint Luke CDC. Tap the "Donate" button at the bottom and determine your donation amount. I am only asking you for a dollar, (of course you can donate more if you'd like) so you would tap "other" input $1.00 and tap "Done."  Once you have done this you will see a choice of where your donation can go.  Select "Freedom School." That's it and you will have helped a child have a summer academic experience of a lifetime.  The CDF Freedom Schools program is outlined below and briefly in the video above. I thank you in advance for helping me to raise funds such a worthy cause.

The CDF Freedom Schools® program seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today. By providing summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the CDF Freedom Schools program plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps — and is a key part of CDF’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children. In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, and secure juvenile justice facilities the CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, increases self-esteem and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities. Since 1995, more than 137,000 preK-12 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience and more than 16,000 college students and young adult staff have been trained by CDF to deliver this empowering model. 
The CDF Freedom Schools model incorporates the totality of the Children's Defense Fund's mission by fostering environments that support children and young adults to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference Site coordinators and project directors are also trained by CDF to provide supervision and administrative oversight.
The program provides an exciting Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) including carefully chosen developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant books. The model curriculum supports children and families around five essential components.
Something to critically think about. Hear me live as I broadcast around the world on gobrave.org each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as the host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. The show can also be heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @readingcircle01 and @thinkcritical01. Again I thank you for joining me in supporting this worthy endeavor.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

In Their Native Tongues

This is my own personal opinion and not based on any fact. It is pure speculation based on observation of the administration so far. In my comical imagination, I imagine the world leaders who take part in the G20 Summit saying the following in his/her own language when the current President of The United States enters that room. 
Aquí viene este tonto.
Here comes this fool.
Aí vem ESTA tolo.
Voici esta fou.
Voici esta fou.
Hier kommt esta Narr.
Here comes this fool.
Di sinilah bodoh esta.
Ecco che arriva ESTA sciocco.
여기 ESTA 바보 온다.
Aquí viene este tonto.
Вот идет Эста дурак.
Here comes this fool.
Hier kom esta dwaas.
İşte esta aptal geliyor.
Here comes this fool.
Here comes this fool.

I could be wrong and I am writing this tongue and cheek, but I can see it happening. Something to critically think about. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Be Careful What You Ask For. You Just May Get It!

1 Samuel, Chapter 8 (NIV)
Israel Asks for a King 
8 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”
The above Biblical account is found in the book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 8 in the New International Version (NIV) and reads like the current events facing us today. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.  Like the Israelites of that time, we too asked (maybe not in those exact words) for a "King."  For the intent and purpose of this post I will define "King" as someone tough, someone who is not politically correct, someone who says and does whatever is on his mind at the moment, someone like Donald Trump. Even bragging about groping women in the crotch because he is a "famous" king, whether they wanted to be grabbed or not, was not enough to dismay those who wanted this"king"  to be the king of the United States of America for the next four years. Like in the story above where the people rejected Samuel, we rejected our previous president, Barack H. Obama [Yes, we did. You all might as well admit it]. Many feel and felt that President Obama was soft or weak because he showed compassion to and for people of all countries. Many thought he gave away the store with a health care system that would benefit those who might not have health care otherwise. Many couldn't sleep at night because Obama refused to say "ISIS" (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), instead always stating "ISIL."(Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The same Congress and Senate who is remaining silent as this king is signing all of these "Executive Orders," blocked our prior leader [Barack Obama] at every turn.

Just like the people in the story above, God has allowed us to have our requested king in Donald J. Trump. Out of 18 king candidates, we [American people] selected this one. Similar to the king above, this king is claiming his ideologies as his rights regardless of who gets caught in the crossfire. This king claims to care about all, but in reality only cares about himself. It's all about "Donald," and by the time the masses see that, it will be too late. Why else would a billionaire who has been on the planet for three score and ten years, be worrying about someone being "nice to him," or the crowd size at his inauguration versus the crowd size for his predecessor ? Why else would this king who won the electoral vote, the only vote that mattered, be so fixated on the popular vote that Hillary Rodham Clinton garnered? Because it's all about him. It's not about the American people and it never has been for him. It's been all about him from day one and like the Israelites depicted in 1 Samuel above, we missed it. While this king's mantra is "Make America Great Again," in reality (not alternative reality or alternative facts) he is stirring a pot that not even he will be able to recover from when it boils over. America will be great again alright [sarcasm].

But, we wanted a king[tough, no nonsense, not politically correct, free reigning, no filter, hard charging, water boarding dictator] and folks, we've got him. Americans put him in and now will have to deal with whatever comes as a result of that choice. Make no mistake, choices have consequences. Be careful what you ask for. You just may get it. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

There Is A Stark Difference Between A "Handout And A "Hand-Up."

Blog posts similar to sermons and other messages can come from anywhere and at anytime. In fact, the creation of this post is one such example. Ironically, speaking of sermons, this one came to me while in church and listening to the morning prayer offered by a childhood friend who referenced both the "handout" and the "hand-up" in her petitioning on behalf of the congregation. As I connected with the spirit of the prayer, a voice spoke to me saying "There is a difference between a handout and a hand-up," and I immediately knew that before the day was out, I would write the post you are reading now. 

While both phrases start with the word "hand," over time each has taken on different connotations. Handout generally is connoted negatively, while Hand-Up is thought to be something positive. Oddly enough when researching the definition of  Hand-Up, I found that the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Hand-up as, to deliver (an indictment) to a judge or higher judicial authority.  For the purposes of this post, we will use the English Oxford Living Dictionaries definition which is as follows:

1 An act of assistance provided by one person to another to help him or her climb on to something, or move to a higher place or a standing position, by using a hand or hands to pull up and support his or her weight. Frequently in to give (a person) a hand up

2  An act of assistance or aid (typically in the form of practical advice or support) given to a person or persons in order to help them improve their circumstances; a helping hand.

A handout on the other hand (no pun intended) is thought of as something given free to a needy person or organization with the keyword being "free." The person or organization do not have to do anything for what is given other than to receive it. In both instances, it is assistance given in one form or another to someone in need.  If you've read this far, stay with me as I am going somewhere with the definitions, as herein lies in my view, the issue.  In far too many instances what was initially meant to be a "Hand-Up" became a perpetual "Handout."  The hand-up was never designed to be an eternal handout and yet for far too many it became just that. The system was not initially designed for generations to pass the assistance along as if it were an inheritance or right. It was supposed to be a temporary provision to get one back on his or her feet. Partially to blame is the original design of the welfare system (Man-In-The-House Rule) which cut its own nose to spite its face resulting in consequences opposite of intent.

So what's the point?, you say.  The point is, as I heard a news reporter say the other day, this is not the most "Entitlement Friendly" group that is coming into office in 2017, meaning the possibility of a significant amount of  government assistance being reduced or done away with altogether. Which means it is incumbent upon us to always be preparing ourselves to support ourselves whether government assistance is given or not. It is imperative that when we do fall on hard times that we use the system as a true hand-up and not see it as a handout for life. We must prepare ourselves with education and beyond, continuously retooling to keep pace with the ever changing skills market.

Grassroots alternatives such as the Medi-Share program and other hand-ups like it covering all facets of life must continue to be developed in order for everyone regardless of demographics to move to a higher place.  We must all work together to prevent the hand-up from becoming a handout way of life.

Below are some statistics provided by Statistic Brain (http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/ ) citing the US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute as its source for the information. Review information for what it is worth carefully and you will understand why we must keep a hand-up, a hand-up and not allow it to become a lifelong handout.

As always, something to critically think about.

The welfare statistics below represent anyone who receives any of the following government subsidies:
– Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps
– Housing assistance
– Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
– Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or cash benefits
– General Assistance
– DOES NOT INCLUDE the 70.5 million people enrolled in Medicaid
Welfare StatisticsData
Total number of Americans receiving welfare government assistance67,891,000
Total number of Americans on SNAP / food stamps –  41,170,000
Total number of Americans receiving (UI / EDD) – unemployment insurance10,200,000
Total number of individuals living in a home that receives housing assistance7,676,000
Total number of individuals who received TANF during the past 12 months4,306,000
Number of individuals receiving some type of general assistance welfare not listed above4,537,000
Percent of the US population on welfare programs21.2 %
Total Federal government spending on welfare programs annually (not including food stamps or unemployment)$158,200,000,000
Annual size of the Federal grant given to states for TANF$16,489,000,000
Welfare DemographicsPercentTotal Number
Percent of welfare recipients who are white / caucasian16.8 %11,405,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are black39.6 %26,884,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are Hispanic21.2 %14,392,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are Asian or Pacific Islander18 %12,220,000
Percent of welfare recipients who are Other / Mixed4.4 %2,987,000

Welfare StatisticsData
Total amount of money you can make monthly and still receive some form of welfare$1,000
Total Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job39
Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than a $12 per hour job6
Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher8
Average Time on AFCD (Aid to Families with Dependent Children)Percent of Recipients
Less than 7 months19%
7 to 12 months15.2%
1 to 2 years19.3%
2 to 5 years26.9%
Over 5 years19.6%
Statistic Sources & References
 Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, CATO Institute
Content Author: Statistic Brain
Date research was conducted: September 2, 2016
Welfare Statistics

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Well as hard as it may seem to believe, we are once again at the close of one year and on the precipice of another. In accordance with the Gregorian calendar, we are moving quickly towards the sixteenth anniversary of our beginning the century of the Anno Domini era, (Latin for after Christ); in layman's terms, the Twenty First Century.

As Christmas has swiftly passed and Kwanzaa is coming to an end, many ask each other the question, "What are you doing New Year's Eve?." so much so that a song was composed using that question as its title. I fondly remember hearing Lou Rawls in his unmistakable voice belt it out on my stereo during each holiday season as if on cue as it was a part of the discography on one of the holiday albums I played each year.

This very same question has been asked of me several times this year as we look to close out 2016 by friends, family members and sometimes even strangers in the holiday spirit.  My answer........ "I intend to go to Watch Night service at my church and make a beeline for my or possibly a friend or family member's home. New Year's Eve like several other holidays in the year are not times I choose to be moving about too much because too many use holidays such as New Year's Eve, Halloween, and even July Fourth as excuses to be stupid. What I mean by "stupid" is, one drinking/drugging excessively in the name of the holiday. Many lives have been lost because someone celebrated too much and felt capable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. On Christmas Eve of 2015, my wife's car was totaled while sitting parked during the night because someone decided to celebrate and then get behind the wheel. This occurred while we were at home and sleeping. The driver lost control of the car and careened into my wife's parked car. I had a similar experience with my car on Thanksgiving of 2010 as it was totaled while parked by an inebriated driver. In that instance, the driver took out five cars and left his overturned in the street. Thankfully in these instances, we were not in the cars or moving about the vicinity when these accidents occurred.

While I was not able to interview either driver, I would be willing to bet that when asked what happened? or why did you do that?, the answer would be, "Because it was Christmas," "Because it was Thanksgiving."  Similarly, all types of heinous activities occur on Halloween in the name of "fun."  Why did you do that?  "Because it was Halloween."  It's as if special licenses are granted to act foolish and irresponsible because it is a holiday. Countless lives are lost and property damaged, all in the name of "celebration."

I write this post as an encouragement for us all to be safe and sensible, particularly on what could be considered a higher celebratory holiday such as New Year's eve and any holiday or day for that matter and not drink and drive. The same holds true for smoking marijuana or any other sense altering drug. Do not get behind the wheel, weapon or action under the influence of anything. There is not that much celebration in the world that someone needs to lose his/her life or property.

So whatever you choose to do this New Year's Eve, please enjoy responsibly. As for me, I will be going to Watch Night Service at my church and then making a beeline for home. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Be grateful for 2016 and have an awesome 2017! 

You are invited to hear me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host my book talk radio show, The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. It can be heard around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. My first guest for 2017 on January 7th will be Dr. Steve Perry followed on January 14th by Dr. William Pepper. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.