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Texas State Representative Hopes to End STAAR Testing

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A Texas state representative has filed a bill to eliminate the STAAR test.

Rep. Brooks Landgraf of Odessa authored House Bill 736 in an attempt to repeal the use of the STAAR test from being used as high-stakes, one-sized-fits-all substitutes for real accountability measures.

The bill was filed Jan. 10 with a note: “Relating to eliminating the requirement to use public school assessment instruments as a criterion for promotion or graduation or to make certain accountability determinations.”

Landgraf said the state should value teaching over testing.

“The state’s attempt to ensure academic readiness and hold school districts accountable for student achievement through standardized state-wide testing has failed,” Landgraf said.

“A state-wide assessment instrument places too great of a burden on our students and teachers. Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” so that the largest number of students can achieve scores that meet the minimum level of satisfaction,” said Landgraf in a news release. “This destroys any opportunity for teachers to come up with creative ways for students to learn, and limits the amount of time and attention teachers can pay to specific students.:

Landgraf added rather than looking at the work a student has done over a semester or school year, the test looks at one day. Rather than assessing growth of students with special needs or the level of intelligence of the most gifted and talented students, the test is designed to assess the average student’s understanding of basic curriculum.

“In my view, we should value teaching over testing,” Landgraf said. “This bill will allow us to get back to the basics of education so that Texas students are prepared for college, the workforce or the military when they graduate.”

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27. To read the bill, go here.

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Education

Champion For A Cause

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Serena Williams is Building Schools in Jamaica and Various African Nations 

Nationwide — More than just a tennis champion, Serena Williams has always been a champion for a cause. Through the Serena Williams Fund, new schools are being built in Jamaica and in various countries on the African continent.

Williams, who has a total of 39 Grand Slam titles under her belt, recently built the Marsh Elementary School in Jamaica in conjunction with the nonprofit Helping Hands Jamaica. Schools on the African continent were also built in partnership with Build Africa.

Prior to that, Williams already established grade schools in other African countries including Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.

Those efforts were part of Williams’ mission through her own non-profit organization called Serena Williams Fund “to promote equity; through education, gender, race, disability, or anything else that stands in the way of someone achieving their goals and living their best possible life.”

“The mission of this charity is to help the individuals or communities affected by to violence, and [to ensure] equal access to education,” Williams said in a statement.

According to Borgen Magazine, the sports superstar “has done extraordinary tasks using her own resources and through partnerships with the Serena Williams Fund and other foundations dedicated to providing and improving education for those in difficult conditions or developing countries. Her active role has notably left a mark on those who have had their lives changed significantly through this act of kindness.”

Williams, who is named as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, also founded Serena Ventures which aims to invest in early-stage companies to give them wider opportunities to grow.

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Financial Literacy And Discipline

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New Financial Literacy Curriculum Teaches Black Youth How to Invest in the Stock Market

Nationwide — Black Wallstreeter Consultation Services is now offering a financial literacy curriculum for youth. The primary purpose of the curriculum is to provide financial education and discipline at an early age, thereby possibly decreasing the wealth gap for future generations. The curriculum is titled Junior Wallstreeters: Empowering Youth with Financial Wellness.

Wallstreeter’s curriculum is very different compared to other financial literacy lessons. Their lessons will provide the following: 1) an introduction to financial literacy concepts; 2) tools on starting and running an investment club; and 3) investing in the stock market. One of the lessons will incorporate Kevon and Kamari Chisolm’s ebook titled Financial Legacy: Building Wealth Through Investment Clubs.

The inclusion of the investment club portion is the main difference of their curriculum. In this section, they teach students to apply the financial information by investing in the stock markets. Students learn how to become investors in some of the popular brands that they currently use including Nike, Timberland and McDonalds. The curriculum is currently being used at Vance High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Next summer, Black Wallstreeter Consultation Services is planning on offering Junior Wallstreeter Camps, which will use the same curriculum mentioned above.

For additional information about incorporating this curriculum in your classroom, after school program or if you have a location for a summer camps, please contact Kevon L. Chisolm, Esq. at 571-236-1471 or visit www.theblackwallstreeter.com.

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Charges Dropped

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Charges Dropped Against Black Teacher Who Punched White Student Who Called Him the N-Word

Maywood, CA — Marston Riley, a 64-year old Black teacher who was arrested on charges of child abuse after he punched a student who was yelling racial slurs at him, has had the charges against him dropped a year after the incident.

The incident happened last year when Riley asked a 14-year old white student to leave the classroom at Maywood Academy High School because he was not wearing the proper uniform. The 14-year old student then went to Riley and began yelling racial slurs and calling him the n-word.

In a cellphone video captured by other students, Riley can be seen calm despite the disrespect of the student, who even threw a basketball at him. The student continued taunting him until he decided to punch the student in the face. School staff members had to pull them away.

Riley was initially arrested and charged with child abuse and causing great bodily injury to a child. He was also forced to retire. But many of his colleagues, as well as the students and their parents, came to his defense.

A GoFundMe campaign titled For Mr. Riley (Teachers Deserve Respect) has been set up to donate for his bail and lawyer expenses. Even after he was released, he received outpouring support and raised $191,795.

Most recently, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office decided to drop charges against him citing the circumstances of the incident, the teacher’s age, and that the defendant did not have a criminal record. He also completed a 10-week anger management course.

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