AUSTIN, Texas – Former President George W. Bush said the education achievement gap – up to four years at some grade-levels – is a "nation scandal" that deserves immediate action.
Bush, former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama addressed a three-day summit here last week celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas.
Speaking at the closing session Thursday, Bush said: "According to the most recent testing, the average reading score for a white student at age 13 is about the same as an African-American at age 17 – that's a four-year, four-grade achievement gap. In an economy where higher skills are ever more necessary, that is scandalous. In a nation dedicated to equal opportunity, that is scandalous. Among the political heirs of King and Johnson and Dirksen and Humphrey, this should be a national scandal, demanding action."
Just a day after his speech reflecting on the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which he credited with paving the way for his historic presidency – President Obama told modern-day civil rights activists that the gains of the last 50 years are at risk of being dismantled by Republican efforts to limit access to the ballot.
"The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago," he said in remarks at the annual convention of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in New York City.
Obama cited recent restrictive voting legislation requiring additional identification, closing polls on Sunday, and creating hurdles for overseas soldiers and married women who have changed their last names. These Republican-led changes – which, he reminded the audience, have often by inspired by explicitly partisan aims – "harm the entire country," he said.
Former president Jimmy Carter is never shy about speaking his mind on modern politics.
And in a no holds barred interview with Salon, the "Man from Plains" spoke plainly about why a generation of white men have solidly embraced the Republican Party in multiple elections.
"It's race. That's been prevalent in the South.... Ever since Nixon ran — and ever since Johnson didn't campaign in the deep South, the Republicans have solidified their hold there," he said.
Federal election monitors for the May 6th election?
The Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr. is pushing a request to the U.S. Department of Justice and Ninth District Congressman Steve Cohen is using his access to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to press the case.
Meanwhile, Shelby County Election Commission Chairman Robert Meyers said Wednesday that election monitors would be freely welcomed, if ordered.
Jesse Jackson Sr. spoke with Roland Martin Tuesday and confirmed reports that his son was placed in solitary confinement recently for advising other prisoners of their rights. He was later transferred to another prison.
According to the Associated Press:
Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been moved from the federal prison in North Carolina to a minimum security prison camp in Montgomery.
Al Sharpton has been called many names. Add CI-7 to that list.
According to a lengthy report published by The Smoking Gun news website, Sharpton was a confidential FBI informant—code named CI-7—for several years in the mid-1980s.
On Monday, the Smoking Gun published documents that purport to show that the current host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC was once an informant. According to the news site, Sharpton carried a briefcase fitted with a recording device that he used to tape conversations that detailed mob hits, extortion schemes and the activities of Genovese crime family.
Education in the United States is vaulting into the digital era. Students today can use Facebook to create book report-related author pages, while teachers can Skype in experts for in-class science lessons.
But with disparities in funding and allocation of resources, the rush to inject more technology into classrooms is leaving many behind.
"I saw maybe one or two very old computers in the Atlanta preschools [I visited]," says Pilar Carmina Gonzalez, a researcher for the Education Development Center (EDC), a global non-profit that works to enhance education through the use of technology. Gonzalez recently visited schools in Atlanta and Florida, and says some schools still struggle with even just email access.