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Voter Suppression: JUDGES MATTER Mobilize! Mobilize! Mobilize!

Voter Suppression: JUDGES MATTER Mobilize! Mobilize! Mobilize!

by Peter Grear

As we draw nearer to D-day, November 4, 2014, the political parties, candidates and pressure groups are identifying their issues, slates and strategies to win.  My title to this week’s commentary makes a gross understatement, judges matter. 

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Combining Math and Music Leaders in Disparate Fields Explain What Unites Them

Combining Math and Music Leaders in Disparate Fields Explain What Unites Them

American Academy in Rome

Anthony Cheung’s formal mathematical training essentially ended with high-school calculus. But as a musician and composer, he has explored mathematical phenomena in new ways.

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Winning a Dead Heat: Black Elected Officials Mobilize, Mobilize and Mobilize

Winning a Dead Heat: Black Elected Officials Mobilize, Mobilize and Mobilize

By Peter Grear

By most polls the North Carolina race for the United States Senate is a dead heat.  That being the case, victory in November will go to the political party that executes the best voter mobilization plan.  

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Jill Scott Talks About Her 63-Pound Weight Loss Journey

Jill Scott Talks About Her 63-Pound Weight Loss Journey

Singer and actress Jill Scott

Singer and actress Jill Scott is on the cover of the September 2014 issue of Essence magazine Jill Scott shows offer her new hourglass shape in a beautiful black form-fitted dress. 

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The Trouble with Women’s History Month

Written by Maureen Costello on 05 March 2010.

women in U.S. historyThe trouble with Women’s History Month - with all these special months - is that they encourage people to think that problems have been solved. The female heroes of yesterday are acknowledged, the debt paid and the slate wiped clean.

Women have been written back into history, we’re told.  And we get an entire month to learn about all the women in U.S. history, from Abigail Adams to Sojourner Truth to Sandra Day O’Connor and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But history is more than biography. Highlighting a few noteworthy women in March (or Blacks in February or Latinos in October) can lead students to think that the exception proves the rule: These dozen or so ladies really stood out, but the rest?  Forgettable.

Were I still in the classroom, I would teach about how women lived, and why their contribut - whether as a crucial member of the household economy in the pre-industrial era, or as a Lowell mill girl, or as a secretary during the Mad Men years - were consistently undervalued.

And then I would bring up the present. Despite appearing on television in nearly equal proportion with men as high-powered lawyers, renowned medical examiners or high-ranking police officers (while wearing heels, perfect make-up and sexy clothes), women in fact have not achieved parity with men in terms of either occupation or equal pay.

Try a simple project in your class. Have students cut out paper dolls of boy and girl stick figures and ask them to choose one for each of the following occupations:  secretary, nurse, teacher, cashier, firefighter, doctor, engineer. If they choose the boy doll for any of the first four, congratulatio - you’ve got some serious counter-culturalists there.

In fact, the top four occupations for U.S. women in 2008 were: secretary (or administrative assistant), k-8 schoolteacher, registered nurse and cashier.

And even when women get jobs in male-dominated occupations, they still earn less.

I know. Elementary students learn from stories, and heroes matter as role models.  Then tell the story of Lilly Ledbetter, who found out she was underpaid only after years of working as an area manager in an automobile tire plant alongside 15 men who had the same job and earned up to 40 percent more. She sued, but lost when the Supreme Court ruled that she waited too long - even though she didn’t know about the injustice while it was happening.

There’s a semi-happy ending to the Lilly Ledbetter story. The first bill President Barack Obama signed into law, in January 2009, was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows women to sue even years after discrimination begins.

How should we teach Women’s History Month? With the truth: That we’ve made progress, but injustice still exists. Let’s teach students to hunger for justice, know how to recognize its absence and fight for it in the imperfect world they inherit.

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