February 16 - 22, 2011
February 16 - 22, 2011
9 NO. 23
Helping Vicims The Legislature floats a mixed bag of new laws to strengthen protections for domestic-violence victims.
ANDY CHILDERS; FILE PHOTO; COURTESY FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX; SHAWANDA JACOME
Cover photo by Salgu Wissmath
THIS ISSUE: Smoke and Mirrors
31 33 34 36 36 37 38 42
Anti-smoking advocates get a watered-down version of a bill to ban smoking statewide.
.............. Editor’s Note ............................. Talk ...................... Editorial ............................ Zuga ...................... Opinion .................. Diversions .............................. Arts .......................... Books ......................... 8 Days .................. JFP Events .......................... Music ........... Music Listings ............................. Slate .......................... Sports ............................ Astro ............................ Food ............ FLY Shopping
vera johnson “I’m pretty much a glorified driver,” Vera Johnson says, referring to the time she spends chauffeuring her two children, Elisabeth, 9, and William, 5, to activities like dance classes or basketball practices. “We spend a lot of time in the car, but we also spend a lot of time talking in the car,” she says. “Maybe it’s talking about what’s going on or bringing up current events or what they’re learning about in school.” Johnson, 38, suggests that busy parents use time in the car and every other opportunity to stay involved with their children. As Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson program coordinator and parent organizer, Johnson leads by example. Part of her job is to help Mississippi parents get involved in their children’s education. “We know that if you have involved and committed parents, it makes a difference in the schools,” Johnson says. The Hattiesburg native graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1996 and moved to Jackson with her husband, Sherwin, 38. Johnson became involved with PPS by attending a “Lunch Bunch” meeting and completing the Parent Leadership Institute in 2007. “I have always been a big supporter of public schools, being a product of public schools,” she says. “I always thought it was a great utopia and a great mix of everything.” In the Indianola School District, Johnson works with a grant from the Delta Health
Alliance to help the district increase parental involvement. The program offers Tuesday night family-art classes, followed by an hour of discussion and enrichment for parents as one way to involve parents. Johnson hopes Mississippi public schools can see more efforts like these. “I’d love the arts (to) be integrated into all the schools,” Johnson says. “… If I had a dream for schools it would be that we’re not just teaching from the textbooks, but we’re having them become more visual learners.” Johnson works with fellow PPS Leadership Institute graduates to keep them connected. She also likes to keep herself involved by volunteering. Johnson serves as a Girl Scout troop leader, teaches children’s Bible study at her church, Black’s Chapel, and is a member of her children’s parent-teacher associations. “I also like to scrapbook and create memories, as if you couldn’t tell,” Johnson says, gesturing around her office where she has placed photos of her family on practically every surface. Johnson seems to have no plans of slowing down when it comes to staying involved in her kids’ lives. “The other day I leaned over to my (troop) co-leader … at my son’s basketball game and said, ‘They’re having a coaches’ meeting for T-ball on Tuesday, wanna go?” she says, laughing. —Holly Perkins
29 Novel Reads Looking for a good book or two to curl up with? Here are a couple of novels worth checking out.
42 Mother Africa To celebrate the heritage of African Americans, the JFP provides a sampler of some amazing shopping.
4 6 12 12 13 26 28 29 30
Ward Schaefer JFP reporter Ward Schaefer came to Mississippi to teach middle school, and is now a journalist. His hometown of Chevy Chase, Md., was not named for the actor. He is slowly learning to play banjo. He wrote the cover story.
Salgu Wissmath Salgu Wissmath is a Sacramento, Calif., native currently teaching kindergarten in Lexington, Miss. She took the photograph for this week’s cover and cover story.
Holly Perkins Editorial intern Holly Perkins is originally from the Jackson area. Holly loves the arts—acting, painting, photography, writing and music. She is a freshman at Belhaven University and hopes to travel the world after she graduates. She wrote the Jacksonian.
Garrad Lee Garrad Lee is working on his master’s in history at Jackson State University. He grew up in south Jackson but now lives in Belhaven with his wife, dog and cat. He wrote a music feature.
Dorian Randall Former editorial intern Dorian Randall has degrees in journalism and media studies. She hopes someday to write a New York Times bestseller, win an Oscar, and marry a male model. Maybe. She wrote an arts feature and a book review.
Charlotte Blom Charlotte Blom lives in Hattiesburg. With a bachelor’s in psychology, she performs a balancing act between introversion and extroversion. Her penchant for discovering beautiful, bizarre things sometimes overrides practicality. She wrote a book review.
Bryan Flynn Bryan Flynn is a lifelong Mississippi native who resides in Richland. When not working for the JFP, he writes a national blog, playtowinthegame.com. He lives with his wife and their four cats. He wrote the sports feature.
February 16 - 22, 2011
Advertising Director Kimberly Griffin is a Jackson native who likes yoga, supporting locally owned businesses and traveling. In her spare time she plots how she can become Michelle Obama’s water holder.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Lest Ye Be Judged
ran into a woman Sunday at Broadmeadow United Methodist Church who remembered that my mother used to sell Avon. Apparently, Mama had gone to her family’s house in Neshoba County and took me along. Somehow, she remembered. I always went along when Mama went door to door trying to sell cologne and lipstick to white, black and Choctaw residents of the county. I had to: She couldn’t read the forms herself or fill them in. So she’d pretend that she was “letting” me do it so she could make money beyond her seamstress job or the meager disability pay she got when she finally got too worn down to work. My mother couldn’t read to me. Nor could she write a note to my teacher, although she signed my report cards. (She memorized how to write a few names by writing them over and over again.) She told me that her daddy hadn’t believed girls should go to school, so he kept her home to cook and work in the fields. When I was growing up, she didn’t go to PTA meetings (I don’t actually remember any at Neshoba Central), even though she always showed up to cheer for me when I marched with the band at halftime. She worked long days in a factory, sewing and then later ironing pants just to keep food on the table, and did odd jobs like selling Avon. There wasn’t always enough: I remember us “rolling nickels” one year to buy my Easter basket, and I’ll never forgive myself for losing the class ring she and I saved so long to buy. We received various forms of public assistance over the course of my childhood and college days. I got Social Security payments after my (real) daddy died. By the time I went to college (at Mississippi State on a Stennis scholarship and federal grants), she was getting food stamps and living in a small trailer. We had given up our house after she finally left my stepdad due to violent episodes associated with his drinking—although I’d worked 40 hours a week at Pasquale’s during my 10th-grade year to try to help keep up the house note and the car payment. I still cringe when I think of scrubbing pizza pans late on school nights. My mother had severe challenges beyond her illiteracy. Breast cancer cost her the muscles under one arm and, later, she died from heart disease. She never had good medical care, although she worked damn hard for many years. She did get whatever public assistance she could get her hands on, though, mainly so I could “be something” some day, as she would put it. And although she couldn’t teach me many things herself, she urged me to learn however I could. She even bought me a set of encyclopedias one year on a payment plan and told me to “read ’em.” My mother also had a bad habit of falling in love with men who had problems (and limited education); the pickings were thin for illiterate women in Neshoba County. I loved both my daddies, but they put her, and often us, through hell. And they would spend the
money she, and sometimes I, worked so hard for on gambling or something we didn’t need. None of my parents had great parenting skills. Indeed, they probably never heard the word “parenting.” They all grew up among poor people who worked in the fields; I was one of those toddlers (like Rick Bragg wrote about) whose mother’s day care meant me climbing on her cotton sack when I got tired of following her through my uncle’s field. I tell you all this not to make anyone feel sorry for me or my family. Honestly, we had plenty compared to many others around us, and my mama had a spirit you can’t buy. And I’m proud of my past; it makes me who I am, inspires my writing, and it has helped instill empathy for other people. No, I’m sharing these details now because I’m sick and tired of hearing people bash poor parents and single mothers who don’t have what they have. I’m tired of hearing people say, “where are the parents?” when the parent(s) might need as much, if not more help than the children. The parents may be exhausted, or sick or plain uneducated about what their kids need to succeed. I survived my mother’s challenges due to her intense love for me and her willingness to beg or borrow to meet my needs (and maybe she stole to feed me now and then, but I doubt it). I also survived because there was a larger community of people who cared what happened to me and others like me. There was a 5th-grade teacher in Columbus, Ga., (where we lived for a minute) who encouraged me to read “Little Women” (life-changing for me). There were teachers at Neshoba Central like Mrs. Salter (yes, Sid’s mom) and Mrs. Hodges who mentored and encouraged me to think, write, challenge and believe in myself (and
slipped me lunch money now and then). There was a funky 4-H leader in her 20s (and unmarried!) who made me want to grow up and be an independent woman and wear cool clothes and have a lot of beaus. Blaming parents for problems facing our younger generations is horrifying and ludicrous and shortsighted. Blaming parents for being poor is plain obscene. We’ve had a lot of talk on our website (still unfolding) about a faulty chart a local newspaper publisher sent around, claiming to prove that poor people are better off getting public assistance than working. I can guarantee you that that successful publisher probably didn’t buy his school clothes on layaway, or watch a prideful mother decide to sign up for food stamps or cash in empty bottles to buy school supplies. We live in a country where not only is the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us widening astronomically, but where jeering contempt for people not born into wealth is off the charts. The same people who game the government to help their business and industries, or avoid taxes, are sending vicious e-mails turning the needy into hustlers who jump out of bed every morning thrilled to be on welfare and unable to give their kids what they want and need. This is unconscionable. Our citizens— and especially those who descended from the unsung sharecroppers, slaves, seamstresses and farmers of our state and nation—deserve a safety net. They deserve just as many opportunities as a guy who gets into Harvard or Yale because his daddy went there first. They also deserve basic human respect. Think twice before you desecrate them. Judge not, lest ye be judged, friends.
The ninth annual Best of Jackson celebration was held on Jan. 30, 2011. Over 1,000 guests were (re)introduced to the old Coca-Cola plant on Highway 80 west, which has been renamed simply The Plant on 80. This industrialized space provided a perfectly unique backdrop for toasting the personalities that give Jackson the best in arts, dining, entertainment, business and politics. The raucous crowd enjoyed food from 30 of the areaâ€™s most desired restaurants, music spun by DJ Phingaprint and a flash mob courtesy of Belhaven University Dance Department. On an otherwise quiet Sunday night in Jackson, Highway 80 West registered a frenzied pitch of excitement and celebration. See more photos at www.jfp.ms/boj11
Photography By Meredith Norwood
Photography By Meredith Norwood
Photography By Meredith Norwood
Photography By Eddy Michiner
news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, Feb. 10 Billionaire businessman and TV personality Donald J. Trump announces his bid for the Republican presidential berth in 2012 at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Friday, Feb. 11 After 18 days of demonstrations calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, his vice president, Omar Suleiman, announces Mubarak has stepped down after 30 years in office, leaving the country in the hands of its military. … Republicans in the House unveil a budget cutting up to 25 percent in non-defense spending, appeasing tea-party freshmen, while increasing defense spending by $8 billion. Saturday, Feb. 12 Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, wins a straw poll for the Republican presidential nominee taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. … Gov. Haley Barbour delivers his speech at CPAC, accusing President Obama of being hostile to job creation. Sunday, Feb. 13 More than 1,000 young people in Yemen take to the streets to protest their government in the third day of an Egyptianstyle demonstration. … Belzoni, Miss., musician Pinetop Perkins, 97, wins a Grammy for best traditional blues album.
February 16 - 22, 2011
Monday, Feb. 14 President Barack Obama unveils his 2011 federal budget of $3.7 trillion, selectively cutting spending while increasing funds for education and clean energy programs. … The U.S. Senate confirms the appointment of Clinton native and Mississippi Supreme Court Presiding Justice James Graves to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Tuesday, Feb. 15 Citizens in Jackson’s Ward 1 go to the polls to replace former Councilman Jeff Weill, who resigned his council seat in January to sit on a judge’s bench in the Hinds County Court.
Resistance to integrating Mississippi’s public schools led to nearly doubling the number of private schools in the state (from 121 to 236) between 1966 and 1970, as white parents hastily set up segregation academies to keep their children from going to school with African Americans. SOURCE: mshistory.k12.ms.us
Strengthening Domestic Abuse Protections
fter her husband physically and mentally abused her for nearly a decade, Joy Jones* realized her situation was only going to get worse. She gathered up enough courage to seek a divorce and secretly obtained a lawyer, who encouraged her to close her and her spouse’s joint checking account. Jones says earning the majority of the family’s income gave her a financial advantage in being able to afford the proceedings. When her husband found out, he was furious. She feared the worst as he left their house for several days and took her vehicle. Ninety days later, Jones filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences, but because her husband had to consent, it took a year of pleading with him until he signed the divorce papers. “It gave him more time to manipulate and control me,” Jones says about why it took him so long to sign. “… Until he signed, he felt the liberty to come and go as he pleased.” Jones is one of many domestic-violence victims who find themselves stuck in an abusive marriage because of the state’s divorce laws. Currently, the state offers 12 grounds for divorce, and those who are abused typically either cite irreconcilable differences or habitual cruel and inhumane treatment. Like Jones, relying on an abuser to consent to a divorce under irreconcilable differences gives the abuser an opportunity
to exert further power and control over the relationship. And for a judge to grant a divorce for habitual cruel and inhumane treatment, a victim must testify in court, reliving those memories in front of her
by Lacey McLaughlin
to grant a divorce if a couple has been separated for five years or more without any sexual contact. The additional ground would not require consent from both parties, but a judge could grant the divorce unless “the court finds the divorce not to be in the best interest of the children.” Bill sponsor Sen. Joey Fillingane, RSumrall, said while the bill does not contain specific language regarding domestic abuse or violence, the bill is meant to help victims along with anyone else seeking a divorce. He admitted that five years is a long time for victims to wait, but says the time period was necessary for the bill to pass. “Almost every state has something akin to this. Most of them are shorter than five years—like 18 months or a year—but Mississippi is a very conservative state that’s very pro-family and pro-marriage, so ours is going to be a lot longer than most states,” Fillingane said. “But it would help those people who are being abused and feel the need that they have to leave the relationship to protect themselves.” The bill is currently in the House Judiciary A Committee awaiting a vote. The Legislature has a few other bills addressing domestic violence. Last week, the Senate passed SB 2426, which would create a misdemeanor offense for anyone who obstructs another person from seeking emergency assistance. Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson,
Wednesday, Feb. 9 U.S. Rep. Christopher Lee, R-New York, resigns from the House of Representatives after a photo he took of himself, shirtless and flexing a bicep, surfaces on the Internet. Lee, 46, married and a father, had e-mailed the photo to a woman he met via Craigslist.
Civil-rights veteran and physician Alvin Poussaint is in Jackson this week. p 9.
abuser in what generally turns into a he said/she said contest where the party with the best lawyer wins. On Feb. 8, the Mississippi Senate passed a bill that seeks to give victims an additional ground for divorce: SB 2652 adds bona fide, complete separation without reconciliation, which would allow judges
VIOLENCE, see page 7
WORD(S OF THE WEEK) SEARCH
trust “I don’t think he knows much about the Medicaid program. I don’t trust his numbers. He twists things to meet his ‘government-light’ approach to Medicaid and I’m tired of it.” Mississippi House Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, on why he removed Mississippi Division of Medicaid Director Robert Robinson from his committee last month.
R E D A V H T R A D U H J N Z
N O B A M A E C I N C O M E O
D E T R O I T L Q W C J T S V
H F S C B W C E A K W Z T M R
N F T L U F T F N F H G O D O
N D A K P A R O C H I A L W O
X P C E U S V D G N T S R H S
G A K L Z K V D X Z E R J I E
U R Z K B W V N X M F E U T X
X X A G U I L E R A L K W W S
B Y U Y L B R I D U I C A E S
A B A P J F Z U U Y G A W L B
Q I N Y B M D Z S L H P Y L V
T T A Y W O F K O I T I U N U
T P Y G E T U R B A Y Q J E P
news, culture & irreverence
VIOLENCE, from page 6
who authored the bill, said he introduced it on behalf of the attorney general’s Domestic Violence Division to help prosecutors. “This is a charge that could be used in connection with other charges (relating to domestic violence),” Blount said. “You would have to obstruct someone from obtaining emergency medical assistance.” The House passed a bill shortly before the Feb. 8 deadline for floor action that would give judges the option of requiring a person charged with domestic violence to wear a GPS device as a condition for bond. Jones said despite an amendment to House Bill 196, Rep. Sidney Bondurant, R-Grenada, requested that the bill be taken off the unofficial calendar of non-controversial bills on Feb 8. Bondurant was concerned that the bill would require judges to issue the GPS order for all domestic-violence offenders, Jones said. An amendment Jones added before the floor vote, however, changed the bill to state a court “may require” the GPS system instead of a court “shall require” it as a condition of bond. The bill requires offenders to pay for
the GPS equipment, but does not state what municipal entity would monitor the devices. Jones said that detail is still being worked out, and it would likely fall on local law enforcement. Sandy Middleton, director for the Center for Violence Prevention, said the bill is a good step to protect women from domestic abusers, but judges will need to be educated about the GPS option if the bill passes. “I think we have to trust our judges,” Middleton said. “We have to trust and educate them to make the right decision. You can’t put a cookie-cutter approach on any cause. It may be appropriate and it may not be. I think we are going to have to have confidence in our judges to put it in place when it needs to be in place.” The House also passed a HB 1340 Feb. 7 that would make attempted murder a homicide offense, and those convicted would face at least 20 years in prison. *Joy Jones is not the real name of the victim in this story; her name has been changed to protect her identity.
Stadiums and Parking PUBLIC DOMAIN
by Ward Schaefer
he Mississippi Senate is considering transferring control of the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium to Jackson State University. House Bill 1158, which the House of Representatives passed Feb. 10, would give JSU control of the stadium while transferring property surrounding the stadium to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. In its original form, the bill also gave control of the stadium, currently in the hands of the state Department of Finance and Administration, to UMMC. JSU hailed the new arrangement as a “win-win” situation until the university constructs a new sports stadium. “When JSU eventually moves to a new stadium, the subsequent transfer of the stadium property to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which currently parks nearly 3,000 cars per weekday at the stadium, will secure vital room for future expansion for this growing academic medical center,” JSU said in a statement.
UMMC Parking Plans UMMC also has plans to add more parking capacity. The medical center will construct an 1,100-space parking garage on the eastern end of its campus, UMMC spokesman Tom Fortner said. A legislative advisory committee meets today to review three bids for the project. UMMC expects to break ground on the garage in November of this year and finish construction within 12 months. “It’s really sort of a domino, one of the first dominos that has to fall for our master facility plan, which calls for some new buildings on campus,” Fortner said. “Some of the new buildings will displace some of the surface parking we now have.” Fortner said that a projected cost for the project was not available, yet, but that parking fees paid by UMMC employees would cover the cost of issuing bonds for the garage’s construction. Get breaking business news at jfpdaily.com.
The state-owned Veterans Memorial Stadium could end up under Jackson State University’s control.
Best Salon & Best Hair Stylist - 2010 & 2011 Best of Jackson -
Legislature: Week 6
by Adam Lynch
Schools and Cigs
February 16 - 22, 2011
Sex and Medicaid School districts must adopt an absti-
nence-only or abstinence-plus sex-education policy under a bill the House passed last week. Current state law requires that school districts teach abstinence-only education, unless the local school board votes to teach comprehensive FILE PHOTO
1935 Lakeland Dr. 601.906.2253
harters-school advocates are looking to change the state’s current law to allow charter schools to use lottery enrollment. The Mississippi Legislature passed SB 2293 last year, creating a process for transforming some failing public schools into “New Start Schools” and “Conversion Charter Schools.” Under that law, charter schools are independent of local school districts in some rules and regulations, with parent-elected independent boards, instead of boards appointed by a city council or mayor. The new schools must comply with the rules and standards of the State Board of Education, however, and converted charter schools must also accept the same students enrolled in the school prior to its conversion. Senate Bill 2774, which the Senate passed last Thursday, alters that law by exempting conversion charter schools from “regulation, ... of the State Board of Education,” except where applicable under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and Department of Health regulations, among a few others. The new bill, if passed, also installs a lottery program to determine new applicants to the charter school, rather than forcing the school to accept all students zoned for the school. The lottery applies to new student applicants one year after the school’s application for conversion, and only kicks in if the number of applicants exceeds the school’s capacity, as set by the school’s charter. Former Jackson Public Schools Superintendent and current Mississippi NAACP Education Chairman Earl Watkins said legislators should wait to see whether the 2010 law is successful before trying to alter it. “Any time the proponents of charter schools seek to debunk what we have in place that requires you serve the same population … you have to ask yourself what exactly are they looking for? … [Y]ou deduce that they have issues with things like who goes to the school, and who is the authority in the school,” Watkins said.
The Senate passed a bill that, if passed, would have adults who allow a party at a private residence with minors face criminal penalties if alcohol is present.
sex education. But many school districts do not have a policy specifying what they teach. Democrats in the House, including Reps. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, and House Education Committee Vice Chairwoman Sara Thomas, D-Indianola, support comprehensive sex-education in public schools. Both argue that knowing the facts about sex prevents sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy. The state’s in-person requirement for determining a Medicaid beneficiary’s eligibility could end if the Senate approves a House bill removing it. House members passed HB 1359 last Wednesday, which would allow a beneficiary to apply for Medicaid through the mail. Removal of the in-person component remains unpopular among Republicans, however, who largely voted against the bill last Tuesday with a 49-to-65 vote. Anti-Smoking Bill a Butt Critics say restricting smoking only in university and government buildings and vehicles isn’t going to cut it. The Senate last week unanimously passed Senate Bill 2726 that mandates those smoking restrictions. The
bill, however, is a weaker version of an earlier bill, which prohibited smoking in most public places including arenas and stadiums, and places of employment, including restaurants. Sen. Tom King, R-Petal, submitted the amendment watering down the bill. King told the Jackson Free Press he submitted his amendment because he considered the smoking issue to be “a private property rights issue.” “It’s up to the restaurant owner if they want to allow smoking or a smoking section,” King said. “It’s my right as a customer to choose not to go there.” The U.S. Constitution does not protect the right to smoke as a privacy issue, however, nor does it protect smokers as a protected group according to a California Department of Health Services report. The Supreme Court typically requires a protected group to have “an immutable characteristic determined solely by the accident of birth.” Dogs and Drinkers Abusers of domesticated dogs and cats will face harsher penalties if the House passes SB 2821, which the Senate passed last week. The proposed law imposes a $1,000 fine or imprisonment of up to 90 days for “mischievously or recklessly” killing, maiming, wounding, beating, poisoning or depriving a dog or cat of food, shelter and water. The penalty makes it a felony for the same acts of abuse committed “intentionally or maliciously, or out of the spirit of revenge or wanton cruelty.” A conviction, under that determination, sets a fine of up to $10,000 and five years imprisonment, or both. Adults who allow a party at a private residence containing minors could face criminal penalties if they know alcohol is present. Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, sponsored Senate Bill 2597, which passed the Senate last Wednesday, setting a fine of $1,000 or up to 90 days imprisonment at a county jail for an adult who violates the law. The flurry of bills passed last week in the Senate and House preceded a Feb. 10 legislative deadline for floor action on bills originating in their own house.
Health for All
lvin Poussaint’s career reads like a hopscotch game across the touchstones of post-World War II African American history. Born in 1934, Poussaint earned a medical degree at Cornell University and studied psychiatry at UCLA before joining the Civil Rights Movement. From 1965 to 1967, he was southern field director for the Medical Committee for Human Rights at its Jackson office at 507-1/2 Farish Street. There, he helped treat workers from the many civil-rights groups located around Farish Street, including the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the NAACP. The Medical Committee also operated a clinic in Holmes County and provided medical care for demonstrators around the state. When the state and local police attacked and threw tear gas at hundreds of marchers outside Canton in James Meredith’s 1966 March Against Fear, Poussaint’s group cared for them. In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked on “The Cosby Show,” to ensure that it provided positive images of African Americans. Poussaint teaches and writes widely about the psychology of racism, issues in raising African American children and the effects of media on children. Why did you join the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Mississippi? I felt that the biggest mental-health problem was segregation and discrimination in the United States. That led to low feelings of self-esteem, a whole lot of stress and anxiety. If you could eliminate these social ills, and blacks could move into the mainstream, a lot of the pressures on them as individuals would diminish. I felt that, by helping to desegregate health facilities and mental-health facilities, conditions for blacks would improve. At that time I had just finished my training. I didn’t see doing one-on-one (therapy) with black people (as) the answer. You needed a systemic approach to the problem.
8IJUBLFS&TUIFUJDT • Facials • Waxing • Permanent Makeup • Brazilian Bikini waxing
I still feel that’s very important, not just in terms of discrimination and desegregation, but also the types of community programs you have, the types of schools you have, the types of supports you have for families. That’s going to affect the men-
Renowned psychiatrist and civil-rights activist Dr. Alvin Poussaint will speak at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Feb. 17 and 18.
tal health of black people much more than dealing with the individual illnesses. What was Jackson like when you came down here? I came down in ‘65. Things were just beginning to open up a little bit, but no one was welcoming to you. If we went to a downtown cafeteria, you could see the stony faces and so on, but they wouldn’t say anything. Then there were other places that would refuse you. … I remember the laundry I took my clothes to. They had a black side and a white side. Black people’s clothes were only allowed on the black side, very clearly. They didn’t have a sign, but they just had two different sides. Most of the time, I hung out on Farish Street, which was just a hub of activity. The last time I was in Jackson, years ago, I was really surprised by how the whole area seemed dead. I remember the area just bustling with civil-rights activity, lawyers groups, medical groups and people walking down the street. They had restaurants, a couple of them there, that were very popular—black restaurants, where we’d all eat lunch and gather for meetings.
Tell me about the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which you helped launch in 2000. We were very concerned about the advertising of fast food and junk food to children—which goes on extensively in all children’s programs—because of the obesity epidemic. …We felt that that’s a public-health issue. … Kids tend to believe advertisers and are very vulnerable to their strategies, so we carried on campaigns against advertising that we felt was detrimental to children.
Linda Whitaker Professional Esthetician Licensed since 1986
Cell 858-357-7257 Located at The Sun Gallery 6712 Old Canton Rd Ridgeland, Ms 601-957-7502
Is there a mental-health-specific perspective that advertising is dangerous to children? Well, we feel that it promotes certain types of values. Advertising wants to make consumers out of kids. … It makes them want to be competitive about material things, who’s got what and who’s wearing what clothes. You see even in elementary school, kids rejecting or accepting kids depending on whether they have certain kinds of sneakers and clothes. It promotes a kind of malignant individualism sometimes. … Also making kids believe that they have to possess these goods in order to feel self-esteem. What’s the next campaign frontier? We’re trying to promote play, because play is the best way for children to learn. We’re doing that, and we’re also campaigning to reduce the amount of time that children spend with media. That’s also part of the obesity epidemic. It’s bad for both their mental and physical health to be so absorbed in media and to see the world in terms of entertainment. Poussaint visits the University of Mississippi Medical Center this week. At noon on Feb. 18, Poussaint will deliver a speech, open to the public, on diversity and multiculturalism in the lower amphitheater at the school of medicine. For more information and to RSVP for the event, contact Chris Taylor at 601-984-1340.
GALLOWAY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH PRESENTS A TALK BY
Paula D’Arcy, Great Lessons from the Journey Author and Retreat Leader on Spirituality and the Life Journey.
Why we need to deepen our spirituality at this time in history.
March 26, 2011
305 North Congress Street, Jackson, MS Registration: 8:45-9:15 a.m. Talk: 9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
$20-single ticket $30-couple tickets Lunch Included 601-326-3443 For Additional Information
ed Date North n, MS
by Ward Schaefer
LIZA GREEN, HARVARD COLLEGE
by Adam Lynch
Health Reform Moves Ahead WARD SCHAEFER
Public schools do more than educate children. They measure a city’s pride. They reflect community. They predict the social and economic well-being of a city’s future. For 20 years, Parents for Public Schools of Jackson has worked to keep our public schools strong, to empower parents as leaders for positive change, and to engage community support of our public schools.
Join us. For our city. For our children. For our future. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant’s legal challenge against national health-care reform hit a snag in U.S. District Court this month, but he has 30 days to hone his argument.
Founding Chapter, Parents for Public Schools, 1989 200 N. Congress, Suite 500, Jackson, MS 39201
STOP EXCESSIVE SUSPENSIONS AND EXPULSIONS!!! When students are out of school, they are not being educated. The ACLU of MS provides trainings on education and school discipline law. Know Your Rights!
The ACLU of MS also works with a coalition of parents, students and advocates from throughout the state Join Us!!
For more information, call 601-354-3408 or
February 16 - 22, 2011
Visit our website www.aclu-ms.org
he Mississippi Legislature is debating laws that conform to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, even as legal challenges to the act continue. The law, which President Barack Obama signed in March 2010, is still weathering attacks regarding its constitutionality. Hattiesburg U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett tossed a lawsuit this month lodged by Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and other Mississippians on a technicality, arguing that the plaintiffs did not prove their premise for the suit. In Bryant’s suit (Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, et. al. vs Eric Holder., et. al), plaintiffs argue that the PPACA’s minimum insurance-coverage provision will economically injure them. The new law says most Americans must have health insurance by 2014, but the plaintiffs state they do not have health insurance now and have no desire to get it. They argue that the coverage requirement will economically injure them. The law states that those making above 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,484 for a single individual and $29,726 for a family of four in 2011) must purchase health-insurance. It makes those earning less than 133 percent of FPL eligible for expanded enrollment under Medicaid in January 2014. The state Legislature, despite legal challenges, is already moving forward in response to the federal mandate that most Americans must acquire health insurance by 2014. Lawmakers are mulling House Bill 1220, which provides for establishment of a “Mississippi Health Benefit Exchange.” The program will allow Mississippi health-insurance customers to shop for health insurance. The Penalties Maximum penalties for not having health insurance will either be a flat dollar amount, $695 per person in 2016, or 2.5 percent of the household’s income for 2016, whichever is greater. The financial penalties at the onset of the requirement in 2014 is $95 per person. The penalty for uninsured children will be half of the amount for adults. Both penalties could
rise with inflation in later years. The new law also penalizes larger employers with 50 or more employees (30 of which must be full-time workers) that do not offer employer-based health insurance, and/or whose employees participate in a health-benefit exchange. To calculate the penalty, subtract 30 from the number of employees, then multiply the result by $2,000. The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates that about 21 million nonelderly residents will still be uninsured in 2016 after the mandate kicks in, but that the majority of these individuals will not be subject to the penalty for various reasons. Some, for example, will have incomes so low that they do not have to file an income tax return. Or the premium they would have to pay for their insurance would exceed 8 percent of their income. Undocumented immigrants also will not have to have insurance, as will members of some religious denominations. Starrett, however, ruled that plaintiffs offered “insufficient allegations” to establish that they will have to comply with the new mandate. The plaintiffs, he said, submitted no financial records indicating that they will have to purchase the mandated insurance or suffer a tax upon refusal to do so. Bryant, in any case, is a government employee who already has insurance through the state. He must prove to the court, then, that the new government system will require him to purchase a health-insurance plan containing health options that he finds undesirable. Starrett dismissed the motion, but gave the plaintiffs 30 days to submit sufficient facts proving future injury from the mandate. The Mississippi case is only the latest in a volley of court decisions either favoring or opposing the health-insurance mandate. Bryant’s suit is separate from an even larger suit. Mississippi is among 26 states that challenged the health-care law in Florida. Almost all the states challenging the law, like Mississippi, have Republican governors. Gov. Haley Barbour joined the Florida suit for Mississippi last year.
Florida Evens the Score U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida most recently ruled in the case involving the 26-state challenge that the federal mandate goes too far in demanding Americans purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. â€œRegardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,â€? wrote Vinson, a Ronald Reagan appointee. â€œBecause the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.â€? Vinson added that Congress â€œis not without power to address the problems and inequities in our health-care system,â€? and that the health-care market comprises â€œmore than onesixth of the national economy.â€? He said that Congress has the right to reform and regulate that market, but disputed that it has the right to exercise power over individual citizens, forcing them to purchase insurance. That case (State of Florida, by and through Attorney General Pam Bondi, et al.; plaintiffs vs. United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al) could eventually go to the Supreme Court for an opinion. In the meantime, Vinsonâ€™s decision evens the score the lower courts at two in favor and two in opposition to the individual health-in-
surance mandate argument. Gov. Haley Barbour and his appointed head of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, Robert Robinson, argued last year that the lawâ€™s impact will put new financial pressure on the stateâ€™s already shrinking budget. Division of Medicaid Deputy Lynda Dutton told legislators last September that she expected up to a $1.7 billion increase in state Medicaid expenditures, triggered by factors such as administrative costs related to healthcare reform for 2014. The state currently has 691,677 individuals currently enrolled in Medicaid-related services. Thanks to expanded eligibility, enrollments between 2011 and 2014 could put 88,990 more children onto the rolls, and 140,948 adults and pregnant women, a state Medicaid budget report stated. Medicaid officials also expect children qualifying for the federally matched Childrenâ€™s Health Insurance Program to increase by 840 kids, to 68,000, while newly qualifying childless adults who make up to 133 percent above the federal poverty level will put 188,000 new beneficiaries on Medicaid rolls when they qualify in 2014. Federal Commitment But the American Medical Association points out that the new legislation has the statesâ€™ expenses covered.
â€œ[T]he legislation provides 100 percent federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid coverage to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of FPL from 2014 to 2016, 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019, and 90 percent thereafter,â€? AMA states. Despite expanded costs to the federal government of funding new Medicaid enrollees, the Congressional Budget Office issued a March 11, 2010 report telling U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that PPACA will reduce the nationâ€™s debt. The CBO reiterated that information in January 2011 in response to the Republican-sponsored â€œRepealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.â€? â€œCBO and JCT now estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting H.R. 3590 as passed by the Senate would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $118 billion over the 2010â€“2019 period. Approximately $65 billion of that reduction would be on-budget,â€? the CBO reported. The rest of the savings included â€œoffbudgetâ€? deficits, such as Social Security and the United States Post Office, which are both federal entities whose budgets are not a part of the federal budget. Media fact-checking organization Politifact.com called Republican descriptions of the new health-care law as â€œjob killingâ€? incorrect,
citing a CBO report projecting a â€œhalf a percentâ€? reduction in the labor in the economy as a result of the law. The CBO reported that the reduction in labor does not amount to job losses, but rather a personal choice of individuals to reduce their own work hours because of their new eligibility for expanded Medicaid. Mississippi House Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Holland, DPlantersville, said he tossed Robinson from his committee last month due to Robinsonâ€™s bias against the program. â€œI donâ€™t think (Robinsonâ€™s) word is factual,â€? Holland said. â€œI donâ€™t think he knows much about the Medicaid program. I donâ€™t trust his numbers. He twists things to meet his â€˜government-lightâ€™ approach to Medicaid, and Iâ€™m tired of it. ... He has been absolutely the worst director in the programâ€™s history, and Iâ€™m just weary,â€? Holland said. In response to our calls, Robinson sent the following statement via e-mail: â€œMedicaid is the sixth statewide agency I have managed, and Iâ€™ve worked for six different governors, Democrats and Republicans. We have had clean federal and state audits, and our eligibility error rate is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the country. I have ... never witnessed the type of behavior exhibited by Representative Holland at the two meetings I attended last month.â€?
PA I D A DV E RT I S E M E N T
EO\b^O\SS`bVObĂ‚a\SO`- BO\R]]`WW\OVc``g- B`gA^WQS/dS\cS Visit Spice Avenue at 4711 I-55 North today.
City with flavor. City with choice. City with soul.
Spice Avenue is open Monday thru Saturday for a lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and dinner is served from their extensive menu at 5:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. There is truly something for everyone at Spice Avenue; you donâ€™t have to boast an adventurous palate to enjoy all that Indian cuisine offers. Just ask Ali, he will grin and point you in the right direction.
hen the door opens, the first smells lightly drift through the air. The aromatic dance between curry, saffron and the other spices lure you inside. You have momentarily left Jackson for the Far East. Welcome to a culinary adventure like none other; welcome to Spice Avenue. Spice Avenue opened in 2008 by owners who had travelled the globe and learned their craft from restaurants in Chester, England to Baltimore, Alabio Dcrubruz - Waiter MD. For those who may not know, England is home to some of the greatest Indian restaurants in the world...outside of New Delhi, that is. Taking his extensive training, almost 25 years of experience, the chef at Spice Avenue delights in bringing healthy, fresh produce to the table mixed with chicken, goat and lamb curries. For those looking to take that initial step into the curry pot, aromatic delights such as curry chicken and butter chicken, a house specialty, are mild enough for virtually any palate to enjoy. If curry isnâ€™t your thing, donâ€™t despair, the â€œTandoori Platterâ€? awaits. Overflowing with chucks of fresh fish, prawns, lamb and chicken lightly marinated in herbs and grilled in the clay or â€œTandooriâ€? oven, the platter arrives sizzling to your table. Add a side of fragrant basmati rice and you have a feast fit for royalty. No meal at Spice Avenue would be complete without a side of naan bread fresh out of the Tandoori oven and a refreshing, sweet mango lassi to wash it all down. But if you havenâ€™t filled up on their famous â€œDrums of Heavenâ€? appetizer, save room for the delightful dessert kheer, a rice pudding served with nuts and raisins that perfectly complements and cools your palate. Spice Avenue offers a phenomenal lunch buffet with a sampling of many of the dishes that have earned them recognition in the Jackson Free Press â€œBest of Jacksonâ€? reader polls in 2010 and 2011. While itâ€™s not everywhere in Jackson you can experience such a culinary delight, there is certainly nowhere else in Jackson to have the opportunity to be served by Spice Avenuesâ€™ most famous server: Ali a.k.a. Superman. From the moment you arrive, Ali ensures you have everything you need and is a most gracious host, offering helpful culinary suggestions along with his trademark grin.
opining, grousing & pontificating
Of Contracts, Broken
ver the past few weeks, the Mississippi Legislature has bandied about a few anemic attempts at strengthening laws protecting victims of domestic violence. Among them is an addition to the state’s divorce laws that would allow judges to grant a divorce if a couple has not been cohabiting for at least five years. Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Summerall, one of the authors of the bill, admitted that five years was a long time to wait, but, he said, Mississippi is a conservative state. Quick to fall back on conservative buzzwords, he added that our state is pro-family and pro-marriage, and therefore, divorces were just going to take longer here than in other (presumably anti-family and anti-marriage) states. Take away all of marriage’s pretty trappings—the white dress, the romance, the white picket fence and the 2.5 children—and you’re left with a simple legal contract. Two people vow to love and honor each other for the rest of their lives, and the marriage license seals those vows into a contract. Too often, however, one or both of the parties to that contract break their vows, breaching the contract. Physical violence and emotional abuse constitute such a breach. No one who loves would hit their loved one; no one who honors would assault with foul and destructive language. Ask any domestic-abuse victim what it’s like having a spouse who refuses to let go, and you’ll hear horror stories. Abused women—it’s usually women—with self-esteem and confidence as battered and bruised as their bodies, find themselves in an endless nightmare from which they cannot awake. Children become pawns in the abuser’s game of subtle tortures and overt threats. Witnesses to ongoing violence, if not victims themselves, frequently display signs of post-traumatic stress disorder on a level seen in combat veterans. Luckier victims manage to find resources to escape their abusers. Whether through family, friends or shelters, they begin the long process of healing emotional and physical scars. Yet, in Mississippi, they must still contend with a marriage contract held so sacrosanct by our state Legislature. Without a true no-fault divorce, abuse victims in Mississippi have few choices: They can wait until their abuser gets tired of controlling them and grants a divorce, or they can go to court. Neither option is cheap or fast. In court, it’s a whose-lawyer-can-make-the-best-argument game. In either case, the abuser is still in charge, capable of manipulating and inflicting more pain on the victim. It’s time to come out from behind the buzzwords and see the truth of domestic violence. Mississippi has come a long way from the days where the law considered women mere chattel, vessels for whatever meanness their men could dish out. Providing victims a way to permanently—and without the say-so of their abusers—shed their toxic marriage, respects the marriage vows in a way that tossing off an easy catchphrase like “family values” never will. It may be too late for this session, but in honor of every domestic-abuse victim, make it a priority for next year.
February 16 - 22, 2011
o’tel Williams: “Greetings, peace-loving people. It’s your non-black ambassador here to promote a special peace tour by the Sausage Sandwich Sisters: electric-slide line-dance ambassadors for world peace and rent money. “Since childhood, the Sausage Sandwich Sisters wanted to make a difference in the world. I recall the day when the sisters did their first peacekeeping mission. It happened about six days after the Rodney King verdict in 1992. Some very serious uprisings happened in the city of Los Angeles after four police officers were acquitted for conducting a serious beat down on Brother Rodney. The angry masses retaliated, a couple of people were severely assaulted, and Korean American merchants pulled out their semi-automatic AK47s and Uzis. The uprisings were definitely a hot mess. “Pent-up anger almost exploded in the Ghetto Science Community. Store merchants and property owners were concerned about the angry crowd gathering. A quick-thinking young Smokey Robinson McBride pulled out his beat-box radio and CD player and played music from an ‘Old School’ Pete mix-tape. “Suddenly, Big Sis, Susie Mae and Rhonda (the Sausage Sandwich Sisters) performed their electric-slide routine, inspiring the angry crowd to put down those bricks and rocks and do the electric slide for world peace and rent money. “Support the Sausage Sandwich Sisters World Peace Tour as they use the unifying power of the electric slide to help calm unrest in the Middle East. Help 12 us help a world in turmoil. It’s Electric!”
A Jackson Reality Check
t’s time for some hard truth. Some Jackson detractors may have taken my ProJack stance as blind love for our fair city. Some have accused me of selling hype over substance. I’ve refuted crime stats, championed development and screamed “Buy Jackson” at the top of my lungs. Guess what. None of those things will change. I love my city. I will forever sing its praises. I’m grounded firmly in the belief that we will win. With the people’s help and hard work and a little luck, we will win. We will be the capital city we are supposed to be. With that said, I’ve had to swallow some of my exuberance and deal with hard truths. The recent dust-up around town about “white flight” and the dropping census numbers was a needed reality check. I was disappointed to scan social-media networks and read the comments from a bevy of Jacksonians and former Jacksonians criticizing Jackson. This wasn’t the usual parade of anonymous posters bashing Jackson with racist comments on The Clarion-Ledger website; this was a diverse mix of frustrated citizens voicing their gripes. I don’t know about “white flight,” but I do know a number of middle-class Jacksonians, black and white, are making beelines for the suburbs once they are able. It’s disappointing that even after all we have accomplished in the past three years, we still haven’t been able to stop the bleeding. Consequently, it may be hard for us, and our public officials, to admit that we’ve dropped the ball somewhere. I’m sure there are some white folks who moved because they’d rather not live next to black folks, but the majority of those who have moved don’t mention race as their reason. Are you prepared to face it? Some Jacksonians and former Jacksonians see our City Council as a joke. Many lack confidence in them. The meetings oftentimes digress into embar-
rassing childish displays. It’s just not smart to think people are going to stay if they have no confidence in leadership. We can show our citizens all the positive numbers we want and rail against the fear-mongers. Fact is, the stink is out of the horse. Though most folks who cry “crime” haven’t actually had one committed against them, if they “feel” unsafe, that is their reality. They have no confidence in JPD or its leadership, and, honestly, why should they? Next, folks are moving because they want their kids in better schools. JPS is only the choice of hardheaded parents like I am and those who have no other choice. The district is a laughingstock, and there are not enough positive stories coming out of JPS to quell the negative. If we don’t begin to take the steps to change these glaring inadequacies, we’re going to see more people leaving. A grassroots campaign of concerned citizens is in the works as we speak. Realize, however, that only the mayor, the council or the school board can fix many of these problems. Ask yourself: Are they “really” doing their jobs? Jackson cannot be successful being an “only white” city or an “only black” city. We’ve got to learn harmony. We can’t prosper when black officials continue to make excuses for poor black leadership. We can’t prosper with white Jacksonians feeling like they have no voice. Likewise, we can’t move forward without white Jacksonians respecting black leadership, and without realizing that black citizens need more than an entertainment district or an arena. At this moment, ask yourself: Is Jackson keeping it real ... with Jackson? If your answer is “No,” what are you prepared to do to fix it? And that’s the truth ... sho-nuff.
E-mail letters to email@example.com, fax to 601-510-9019 or mail to P.O. Box 5067, Jackson, Miss., 39296. Include daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
Smaller, Blacker, Stronger Editor in Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer
EDITORIAL Managing Editor Ronni Mott News Editor Lacey McLaughlin Associate Editor Natalie A. Collier Senior Reporter Adam Lynch Reporter Ward Schaefer Events Editor Latasha Willis Music Listings Editor Natalie Long Assistant to the Editor ShaWanda Jacome Writers Quita Bride, Lisa Fontaine Bynum, David Dennis Jr., Scott Dennis, Bryan Flynn, Carl Gibson, Brandi Herrera, Garrad Lee, Lance Lomax, Anita Modak-Truran, Larry Morrisey, Chris Nolen, Robin O’Bryant, Casey Purvis,Tom Ramsey, Doctor S, Ken Stiggers, Jackie Warren Tatum, Valerie Wells, Byron Wilkes Editorial Interns Holly Perkins, J. Ashley Nolen, Dorian Randall, Dylan Watson Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Art Director Kristin Brenemen Advertising Designer Andrea Thomas Graphic Designer Holly Harlan Production Designer Latasha Willis Editorial Cartoonist Chris Zuga Photographers Christina Cannon, Jert-rutha Crawford, Josh Hailey, Tate K. Nations Charles A. Smith, Jerrick Smith, Amile Wilson, Tom Beck, William Patrick Butler
SALES AND OPERATIONS Sales Director Kimberly Griffin Account Executive Randi Ashley Jackson Account Executive and Distribution Manager Adam Perry Events and Marketing Coordinator Shannon Barbour Accounting Montroe Headd Distribution Lynny Bradshaw, Cade Crook, Clint Dear, Linda Hamilton, Matt Heindl, Aimee Lovell, Steve Pate, Jim Poff, Jennifer Smith
ONLINE Web Producer Korey Harrion
CONTACT US: Letters firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial email@example.com Releases firstname.lastname@example.org Queries email@example.com Listings firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising email@example.com Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org News tips email@example.com Internships firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackson Free Press P.O. Box 5067, Jackson, Miss., 39296 Editorial (601) 362-6121 Sales (601) 362-6121 Fax (601) 510-9019 Daily updates at jacksonfreepress.com The Jackson Free Press is the city’s award-winning, locally owned newsweekly, with 17,000 copies distributed in and around the Jackson metropolitan area every Wednesday. The Jackson Free Press is free for pick-up by readers; one copy per person, please. First-class subscriptions are available for $100 per year for postage and handling. The Jackson Free Press welcomes thoughtful opinions. The views expressed in this newspaper are not necessarily those of the publisher or management of Jackson Free Press Inc. © Copyright 2011 Jackson Free Press Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ast week, The Clarion-Ledger published an article (Gary Pettus, “City loses 19K white residents in decade,” 2/6/11) in which it summarized and responded to data from the 2010 U.S. census, which records an overall 5.83 percent population loss in Jackson over the past 10 years. But as the headline suggests, the issue is less population loss than the color of the population loss: Jackson’s black majority has grown from 73 percent to 79 percent since 2000. Not that this is only due to white population loss: Jackson has gained 7,500 net black residents, which has softened the effect of white flight on the city population. But according to the article, and the horrifically racist online reader comments below the fold, the demographic shift itself poses a danger to the city’s future. Not that The Clarion-Ledger’s readership is alone in its reaction to the census. The day after article appeared, the blog of the Mississippi Business Journal called for commercial developers downtown to secede from the rest of the city, declare an independent “District of Magnolia,” and operate under the supervision of the majority-white state government (“MS should call Jackson the District of Magnolia, take it over,“ 2/7/11). And whites on Facebook who had previously described the city as a wonderful place to live seem to be experiencing a crisis of faith, bemoaning the city’s disappearing middle class despite the fact that the most recent economic census numbers, from 2007, were promising enough to allow for more than $1 billion in downtown development and extensive commercial development throughout the rest of the city. If you want to look at how the city has really changed, go stand on the sidewalk in front of the King Edward Hotel and look around you. Then imagine how different your environment would have looked if you’d done that 10 years ago, when the city was whiter. Or 20 years ago, when the city was only 56 percent black, had a white mayor, and had nearly twice as many homicides per year. We’re smaller, blacker, and much, much stronger than we were 20 years ago. There is no question that Hurricane Katrina, followed immediately by the worst economic recession in U.S. history, has hurt
the economic climate in Jackson. But we have to find new solutions to these problems; the old ones didn’t work. And we have to bring new people into Jackson; the old ones didn’t stay. And we have to find a new model for what our city needs to look like; the old one didn’t hold up. And we have to develop new commercial possibilities for the city, because the old ones were not ambitious enough to give us the renaissance we all know that we are beginning to experience. The challenge that the new census numbers presents to white Jacksonians is this: “Are you willing to commit yourself to the future of a thriving 79 percent black city?” Because by any reasonable standards that take into account our city’s history and its location in the center of the poorest U.S. state, we are thriving. We survived a disastrous mayoral administration, pushed through the regional economic effects of Katrina, and continue to develop through a recession. This did not happen by mistake; it happened through the hard work and sacrifice of people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds who are committed to the future of this city, and it happened because this is a city worthy of our commitment. Our enemy is, and has always been, segregation. We always knew we would defeat it. We just didn’t know when. Maybe that time is now. Now that the possibility of a white suburban reconquista is demographically nonsensical, we all have the opportunity to stand together as a multicultural Jackson that represents everything that is good, everything that is new, and everything that is redemptive about Mississippi as it exists today—and continue to build, on the foundation of an extinct volcano, the greatest capital city we have ever had. All evidence points to our success, but the greatest evidence will be our continuing willingness, as a community, to work together and get the job done. Every Jacksonian has the opportunity to be part of that process. Freelance writer Tom Head is a lifelong Jackson native. He has authored or co-authored 24 nonfiction books on a wide range of topics, is a civil liberties writer for About.com, and a grassroots progressive activist.
We all have the opportunity to stand together as a multicultural Jackson that represents everything that is good.
CORRECTION: In Vol. 9, Issue 20 (Jan. 26, 2011), in the Urban Living category, we implied that the Best Biker Hangout, Shucker’s Oyster Bar in Ridgeland, is connected to the former Shucker’s in Jackson’s Belhaven neighborhood. They are not connected. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the error.
“I’ve worked as a nurse for nearly 15 years. Massage offers another path for our bodies to heal.”
Massage for healing and wellness.
Gilly MacMillan, BSN LMT #1500 PREGNANCY SWEDISH SHIATZU THAI YOGA REFLEXOLOGY
Follow Mississippi Happening on Twitter and Facebook.
No Small Feat What Can Charter Schools Teach Mississippi? by Ward Schaefer
February 16 - 22, 2011
KIPP is a national network of charter schools, all sharing the same cheery, hard-work and sloganeering style evident in Bennetts’ classroom. Its approach pairs high expectations with greater time commitments from teachers and students—in the length of the school day and the school calendar. Founded in 1994, the organization has been remarkably successful in replicating its approach in 20 regions around the country. SALGU WISSMATH
he students in John Bennetts’ second-grade class are being perfect sponges. Bennetts, a teacher at KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy, a charter school in Helena, Ark., is drilling the class on the difference between “explicit information” and “implicit information.” His students sit straight up in their chairs, heads forward, forearms crossed on their desks in front of them. KIPP, an acronym for the Knowledge Is Power Program, calls the position “sponge,” and students learn it when they first enter kindergarten. Bennetts is reviewing how to draw conclusions, or find implicit information, from a story. “Explicit information is information that is—” he prompts. “Right there!” his students chant back, bringing their hands up to pantomime quotation marks, then dropping them back into “sponge.” “When we draw a conclusion, it is information that is—” “Not right there!” they respond, crossing their arms in an X, drawing the air quotes, then returning their hands to their desks. Every student wears the KIPP uniform: khaki pants, and either a gray sweatshirt—with the slogan, “Work hard. Be nice!” on the back—or a blue T-shirt, bearing a quote from Richard Steele: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” One wall in the room displays vocabulary words with accompanying definitions and illustrations done by the students: “deviate,” “anticipate,” “abandon,” “transport.” A pennant from Bennetts’ alma mater, Gustavus 14 Adolphus College, hangs by the door.
KIPP schools demand longer hours from teachers such as second-year Teach For America teacher John Bennetts.
In Mississippi, however, what KIPP is doing would be illegal. Mississippi has no law allowing for the creation of charter schools like KIPP, which open by securing a “charter,” or agreement with a school district or state educational authority to operate. What’s In A Charter? Put simply, a charter school is a privately operated school that uses public funds to serve public-school students. Authorities like state departments of education, local school boards or mayors grant a “charter” to a private operator—often, but not always a nonprofit organization—that requires the operator to produce certain results in exchange for a greater degree of autonomy than that given to a traditional public school. Charter schools often have complete hiring and firing authority over principals and teachers; they can often tweak the school day and calendar; and they usually have broad freedom to innovate curriculum and teaching methods. KIPP has opened 99 charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, all conforming to a strict standard approach. In doing so, the organization has become the gold standard for charter schools because of its replicability—perhaps the most tenacious obstacle to widespread charter-school adoption. Under KIPP’s approach, teachers must commit to an extended school day and nearly round-the-clock accessibility. Teachers give students their cell-phone numbers and encourage evening calls for help with homework assignments. KIPP teachers explicitly instruct students in how to behave during class: how to sit, how to listen, how to ask questions. Other charter schools take different tacks, however. Some specialize in science and technology; other organize curriculum around ethnic or cultural studies.
KIPP Delta Public Schools, a part of the KIPP charter-school network, have been successfully educating students in high-poverty Helena, Ark.
What the Studies Say In addition to the emotional and political arguments that surround charter schools, there’s the troubling question of results to contend with. Several recent studies in particular have weighed heavily on the charter debate. In February of last year, the Civil Rights Project at UCLA released a study showing that charter schools are more racially segregated than traditional public schools. The report was deliberately provocative: It bore the title “Choice Without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards” and referred to schools with 0 to 1 percent white students as “apartheid schools.” The UCLA study compared the racial demographics of charter schools and traditional public schools in six states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan and
North Carolina. It found that minority students who attended charter schools in those states were more likely to be in highly segregated environments than their traditional public-school peers. The study ignited a round of press coverage but also received substantial pushback from charter proponents who pointed out the study’s blind spots. For one, they argued, the study used an imbalanced comparison. The UCLA study compared the public-school demographics of entire states and metropolitan areas to the populations of charter schools—which tend to cluster in urban areas with larger minority populations. The traditional public schools that most charter schools operate alongside are almost equally segregated and minority-heavy. A more significant report appeared in 2009, when Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes released its National Charter School Study. A longitudinal study of outcomes for more than 70 percent of the nation’s charter school students, the CREDO study essentially found that most charter schools are nothing special. While 17 percent of charters give their students a better education than they would receive from local public schools—as measured by performance on reading and math tests—almost half of charter schools do not outperform their traditional public school peers, and 37 percent actually perform worse. Despite the “sobering” big-picture findings, the study found some important trends within those groups. Charter performance varied widely by state. In five states—Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri—charter schools significantly outperformed public schools, while in six others, charters performed worse. Even more dramatically, the CREDO study found that, overall, black and Hispanic students in charters fare worse
than in their public-school counterparts. Yet the study also found that for students in poverty and non-native English speakers, charter schools outperformed traditional public schools. “This is no small feat,” the report’s authors wrote. “These populations, then, have been clearly well served by the introduction of charters into the education landscape. These findings are particularly heartening for the charter advocates who target the most challenging educational populations or strive to improve education options in the most difficult communities. Charter schools that are organized around a mission to teach the most economically disadvantaged students in particular seem to have developed expertise in serving these communities.”
The Charterless State Mississippi has yet to grant a single charter. For years, state law had no provision allowing the Mississippi Department of Education to grant charters. Bills in the state Legislature to authorize charter schools meet with stiff opposition from many Democrats. Many African American legislators, especially, have opposed charter legislation, arguing that a challenge to traditional public schools—and the hard-won state dollars that fund them—raises the specter of segregation and the private “segregation” academies that many white students fled to following integration. State NAACP President Derrick Johnson finds charter schools eerily reminiscent of the white flight from public schools that followed Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. “Dating back as far as 1954, the state has established
No Small Feat, see page 16
The charter-school concept began in the late 1980s as a proposal for allowing teams of teachers to create small, reform-minded schools that would serve as laboratories, devising best practices that traditional public schools could adopt. As education historian Diane Ravitch explained in her 2010 book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” however, that original intent became tangled up with other reform movements based on the principles of school choice, accountability and privatization. “Charter schools had an undeniable appeal across the political spectrum,” Ravitch wrote. “Liberals embraced them as a firewall to stop vouchers (giving students public funds to attend private schools). Conservatives saw them as a means to deregulate public education and create competition for the public education system.” That complex history helps explain why charter schools can have such diverse supporters as President Barack Obama and Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant.
No Small Feat,
Closing the Gap
February 16 - 22, 2011
At the city limits of tiny Lambert, Miss., a weathered sign reads “Welcome to Lambert: A City of Hope.” Signs across the Delta provide a similar optimism, inspirational words that have become increasingly ironic as jobs and people have fled the region over the decades. Just yards from Lambert’s sign, another streaky billboard declares “Quitman County Elementary School: Where Hope Begins and Dreams Come True.” Last year, the school was a sobering reminder that slogans cannot do the hard work of education. QCES earned an “At Risk of Failing” designation from the state for its low test scores. The state grades schools on their annual standardized test performance and on the year-over-year growth in their test scores. By both measures, QCES has struggled. Last year, the school had a Quality Distribution Index—the state’s technical term for test scores—of 104, only slightly up from 102 two years ago. This year, however, the school may be bearing out the promise on its sign. QCES is one of four schools participating in a novel 16 program initiated by the Barksdale Reading Institute. The
tuition programs for private academies and has sought ways to divert public funds to support private, segregated academies,” Johnson says. “We see the attempt by advocates for charter schools as a means to maintain segregated settings.” Moreover, he says, the messengers trumpeting charter schools are, in some cases, conservatives who are ideologically inclined to support anything that diminishes the power of government and hands over more control to private interests. Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, who has introduced charter-school legislation in each of the last three years, has also proposed bills attacking federal health-care reform, criminalizing abortion and requiring school districts to spend at least 75 percent of their budgets “for instructional purposes.” While the House remains intransigently opposed to full-bore charter school legislation, the more conservative Senate managed to pass a version of Watson’s charter legislation last year. The bill, SB 2293, created two paths for making a charter school. The first, an “open-enrollment public charter school,” was a conventional charter process, with the added option that the state Board of Education could require a petition from interested parents. The second, a “conversion charter school,” would require approval from the local school board, a majority of teachers and a majority of parents from a traditional public school. After going through the wringer of the House Education Committee and a conference committee between the two chambers, however, the bill’s final incarnation no longer provided for new, open-enrollment charter schools. Instead, the bill provided for the creation of up to 12 conversion charters in the state from schools that have received the state’s “Failing” or “At Risk of Failing” label for three straight years. House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, has said that he does not plan to approve any major new reform legislation this year. Nevertheless, Brown faces yet another Senate charter-school proposal this year. The Senate passed SB 2774, a repeat of Watson’s original bill from last year, on Feb. 8. The state’s conversion charter-school law only went into effect in July 2010, and no school has petitioned the state Board of Education for conversion charter status yet. There are four schools in the state, though, that could provide a glimpse of what a conversion charter could do.
from page 15
Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson worries that allowing charter schools in Mississippi would divert already meager state funds from public schools. Charters are another school reform experiment at the expense of children, he argues.
institute, which has the financial backing of former Netscape CEO and native Mississippian Jim Barksdale, worked for years to improve literacy and reading instruction in schools around Mississippi. BRI promoted a literacy curriculum and later began providing literacy coaches in schools to help teachers teach reading. Last school year, eight different school districts around the state received some help from BRI, through materials, literacy coaches or other resources. The institute has shifted tactics, though. Last winter it negotiated agreements with three school districts that allow BRI to hire an elementary school principal and give that principal greater freedom to innovate in curriculum, scheduling and personnel. In Quitman County, BRI hired Michael Cormack, a first-time principal originally from Portland, Ore. Cormack taught fourth grade for two years in Indianola, through Teach for America, the teacher-training program that places highly motivated, non-education major college graduates in struggling schools. After two years at Carver Upper Elementary, Cormack worked for Teach for America supervising participants, then moved to Helena and taught at KIPP Delta. Cormack’s TFA and KIPP pedigree is evident on a Wednesday afternoon in January when the school dismissed students early to run a professional development session for teachers. In schools both thriving and failing, “professional development”—or “P.D.” or “in-service”—can inspire dread in teachers, conjuring up endless hypoglycemic afternoons listening to a consultant drone on about topics that have little to do with the harried everyday reality of the classroom. Cormack uses the time like a halftime pep talk, pivoting from an assessment of the school’s progress to a plan for the second half. “We come from further behind, because of where we are, because of where our students come from,” he tells teachers. “But our students are bright and capable, our teachers are bright and capable, and we exceed the average performance of teachers.”
The principal reminds teachers of their four goals for the year: increasing literacy; finding funding for the school’s pre-K program; increasing parents’ involvement; and pursuing a “shared vision.” Students should be able to recite the school’s shared vision—”We are readers, writers and problem-solvers”—if an adult pulls them out of class and asks them, he says. Under Cormack, the school has seen impressive progress in only a few months. In basic reading skills, the school’s first, second, third and fourth-grade students are all on target to exceed their end-of-year goals. By the middle of the school year, students in first through third grade had already met or exceeded the beginning-of-year reading scores of students one grade above them. “If you look at the national trend line, in terms of rate of improvement, you see a little bar graph and it goes like this,” Cormack tells teachers, holding his forearm out at an angle. “But our rate of improvement has a steeper incline, because we’re doing it faster. We’re trying to go from behind and get to where the national norm is—to arrive, and to accelerate.” By mid-year, 88 percent of the school’s first-graders were at or above grade level in their oral reading fluency. “Second-grade teachers, you ought to be shouting and dancing,” Cormack says. “The group that you’re going to get is going to be further along the continuum.” Third-graders went from 40 percent at or above grade level at the beginning of the year to 60 percent by mid-year, he notes. To keep students on that upward trajectory after the school year ends, Cormack is pushing summer school, hard. “Summer school is open to everyone,” he tells teachers. “I’ll repeat that: Summer school is open to everyone. It’s very important that you, as members of our faculty, that
No Small Feat, see page 19
K^h^ii]ZB^hh^hh^ee^EZig^ÆZY;dgZhi Add`^c\[dgVEZg[ZXiAdXVi^dc[dgNdjg;Vb^anGZjc^dc! LZYY^c\!dgAVg\Z<gdje<Vi]Zg^c\4
Jesse Gallagher Sarah J Griff Howard Lori Carpenter Scroggins Ginger Rankin Brock Freeman
8dch^YZgdjgaVg\Z(%¾m+%¾ XdkZgZYeVk^a^dcl^i] lViZgVcYedlZgVkV^aVWaZ# =Va["YVndg[jaa"YVn gZhZgkVi^dchVkV^aVWaZ# COME CHECK OUT THE MANY THINGS THE MISSISSIPPI PETRIFIED FOREST HAS TO OFFER! Registered National Natural Landmark
Now a Paul Mitchell signature salon.
glVgY LZ¾gZAdd`^c¾;d ¾ NV \ idBZZi^c
A Registered National Natural Landmark
775 Lake Harbour Drive #H in Ridgeland 601.856.4330 | fax: 601.856.4505
124 Forest Park Road Flora, MS 39071 +%&"-,."-&-.&');dgZhiEVg`GY#!;adgV!BHlll#BHEZig^Æ ZY;dgZhi#Xdb
Get Today’s News
TODAY (Daily News & Events Updates Via E-mail)
Sign up at JFPDaily.com
Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson, Inc. is building approximately 65 new homes in the City of Jackson in the next 24 months.
Proposals should be submitted to: Habitat for Humanity/Metro Jackson, Inc., P. O. Box 55634, Jackson, MS 39296. Include references and state qualifications. No phone calls please. HFH/MJ is an equal opportunity employer (M/F). (EOE) Proposals are solicited from small, women owned and minority businesses, especially those certifiable as Section 3 employers. Licensed by the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance. NMLS Number: 283632.
Accordingly, it is soliciting proposals from building and construction trades in the following activities: demolition, site preparation (including excavation and supply of non-expansive silty clay), tree and stump removal, concrete finishing, driveways and sidewalks, foundations, bricklaying, plumbing, electricians, HVAC, framing, siding, insulation, drywall, roofing, trim carpentry, flooring, landscaping, painting and lawnmowing, brush removal, lot cleanup and boarding up houses. Contractors must be licensed and bonded by the City of Jackson and have liability insurance acceptable to HFH/MJ. Worker’s Compensation insurance is also required. If the contractor does not have worker’s compensation insurance, the cost of that insurance will be subtracted from all payments.
3TART THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT WITH CUSTOM JEWELRY &RESH 7ATER 0EARLS
601-853-3299 • 398 Hwy 51 • Ridgeland
February 16 - 22, 2011
from page 16
we all have the same understanding of what summer school looks like.” His hand-picked assistant principal, Patrick Doyle, chimes in, “I would go a step farther than that. I would say that you all are our best marketers for summer school.” Another Teach for America alum, Doyle’s official title is “Dean of Students,” which Cormack picked because he thinks it better defines the job and its focus on students. Doyle was part of the same TFA class as Cormack and taught at QCES for three years. He shares Cormack’s dataheavy approach and TFA vocabulary, with its talismans (“close the gap”) and corporate phrases (“marketing”). Cormack says that being able to pick his own deputy to handle logistics was a crucial part of the Barksdale program’s appeal. “He and I are friends, and we share the same mindset and passion for our kids, for closing the achievement gap,” Cormack says. “There are some things that are just assumed.”
Lighting a Fire Cormack’s arrival—and the data-heavy, relentlessly upbeat culture he brought with him—appears to have transformed the school. Inside the low-slung brick building on the next morning, you can feel a palpable sense of possibility. In a kindergarten classroom, a cluster of four students is tracing shapes on lined paper. “What are you working on?” Cormack asks them, his bass voice hushed and several octaves higher. “Our names. And our ‘Y’s.” “And can you tell me some things that start with the letter Y?” “Yellow!” “Yolk.” “You.” Like many schools, Quitman County Elementary starts every day with a “literacy block”—intensive, smallgroup reading practice for all of its students. The school is able to use federal Title I funds to hire teaching assistants for every class from pre-K to third grade. It also has an in-house BRI literacy coach, and a full-time reading specialist to work with struggling students. Barksdale has also paid for physical renovations at the school, but the building is far from new. The walls of the dimly lit third-grade hallway are dingy with yellowed, peel-
ing paint. In a remnant of 1970s-style open-plan schools, most classrooms at QCES have cinder block walls that stop at seven feet. The gap between wall and ceiling is filled with a window, but sound carries easily from one classroom to another. Still, Barksdale’s involvement makes Cormack’s job— and the job of every teacher there—easier. With Barksdale’s help, the school hires retired teachers to administer periodic reading and math skills tests in the hallways, allowing classroom teachers to continue teaching uninterrupted as their students take brief diagnostic tests one by one. In Cormack’s words, “it becomes less about the process of assessment and more about what we can we learn from it.” Cormack stops a teacher passing in the hallway and hands her a printout from the school’s data tracking system. The report identifies students who made significant progress but didn’t meet the school’s mid-year targets and who could especially benefit from extra practice. “I didn’t know it did all that!” she says in amazement. “One thing about the data and transparency that we have is that it’s lit a fire in the teachers, who want to provide the best they can for their kids,” Cormack says later. “But at the same time, I think the data is very public about, ‘OK, here’s the gap.’ No one wants to be the grade level that doesn’t bring it.” Cormack took advantage of his Barksdale-negotiated hiring authority to bring in two Teach for America alumni as veteran teachers. In addition to Cormack and Doyle, nearly one-third of the school’s teachers are current participants or alumni of the program. Cormack also adopted the program’s rubric for evaluating and further training teachers: Teaching as Leadership. He’s optimistic that his ties with TFA and KIPP could help recruit even more highly motivated teachers. “I think it’s a really valuable pipeline, to (be able) to say, ‘You’ve had some good experience. Would you like to work in a school where we’re really trying to turn things around?’” he says. “I think a lot of folks could be compelled to stay on and make teaching—at least do it an additional two or three years, if not consider it a life option.”
Kristi Hendrix, executive director of Midtown Partners, helps support two schools in Jackson’s Midtown neighborhood with early childhood and after-school programs.
Michael Cormack, the first-year principal at Quitman County Elementary School, has increased freedom to innovate, thanks to an agreement negotiated by the Barksdale Reading Institute.
“Williams-Sullivan Elementary School, preparing students for college—How can I help you?” It’s another bold claim, given the school’s history. Based on its test scores from last year, Williams-Sullivan Elementary is the seventh-worst performing school in the state. The school’s Barksdale-hired principal, MenSa Ankh Maa, knows he has a tough job ahead of him. He visited Williams-Sullivan over the course of two days last year. “It was chaos,” he says. “The principal couldn’t show me a schedule. Kids were kind of all over the place.” Also a Teach for America alum, Maa taught in the Washington D.C., school system for five years and served as a principal there for another three. He made his first task organizing the school’s schedule and enforcing it to give students more time to learn. Tall, with dreadlocks that reach the middle of his back, Maa cuts a distinctive figure. He’s a bit like a celebrity in his own school. As he walks through the series of doublewide trailers that house grades one through six, students rush up and hand him letters they’ve just finished writing. (“Dear Mr. Maa, I like your hair.”) “Everybody just hold your letters, and I’ll be sure to read every single one of them just as soon as you turn them in,” he says. When he passes students in the hall, Maa peppers them with multiplication tables. That sense of urgency, to use every minute of the school day, is what Barksdale Reading Institute CEO Claiborne Barksdale says he was looking for in applicants to the principals program. BRI’s own sense of urgency drove the principals initiative. “We felt that, yeah, we were able to affect the reading programs in the schools,” Barksdale says. “But we also saw a lot of things that weren’t happening, and we had no ability to deal with it.” He cites one incident, from 2009, in which the institute delivered nearly 500 books to one of its participating schools. The books, which had been selected specifically for that school’s needs, languished in opened boxes for months. “Instances like that confirm … if you’re going to really change the school, you’ve got to put that leader in TOM ALLIN
No Small Feat,
No Small Feat, see page 22
‘It Was Chaos’ The principal’s secretary at Williams-Sullivan, in Holmes County, answers the phones with a standard greeting:
Super Veggie Super Hero Ridgeland
7OOD &IRED "RICK /VEN 0IZZAS (OOKAHS ON A "EAUTIFUL 0ATIO 'REAT BEER SELECTION "RING 9OUR /WN 7INE
601-853-0876 • mezzams.com 1896 Main Street, Ste A in Madison
M-Th 11-2, 4:30-9 • F-Sat 11-2, 4:30-10
Sunday, Feb. 20th
SAVETHE TRAIN RALLY Come hear the
LIVE and get a chance to win AWESOME
INCLUDING A CASINO VACATION FOR TWO
Sherman Lee Dillon (Blues)
Beth Patterson (Traditional Irish) FRIDAY 2/18
The Electric Co. (Rock/Blues)
The Joe Carroll Gang (Blues)
2 pm - 5 pm followed by Save the Train Rally MONDAY 2/21
February 16 - 22, 2011
Karaoke w/ Matt
Open Mic with Jason Bailey
Don’t Pay to Get Your Taxes Done Make less than $39,000 a year? You Could Qaulify for free tax prep and E-File
Drop in Locations
Jackson Medical Mall
January 18, 2011 - April 14, 2011 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. / 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Hinds County Human Resource 258 Maddox Rd., Jackson, MS 39212 Monday - Saturday 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Jackson State University January 24, 2011 - March 5, 2011 Monday, Tuesday 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
JUST JUST WHAT WHAT AT MAMMA MAMMA ORDERED ORDERED RED RE
Appointment Locations Tougaloo College
January 14, 2011 - April 15, 2011 Monday - Thursday 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Call 211 for additional locations and times.
BEST OFFER EVER! GET OVER
120 TOP CHANNELS INCLUDING LOCAL CHANNELS
24 (where available)
FOR 12 MONTHS*
CALL TODAY AND RECEIVE The Lowest All-Digital Price Nationwide! Plus:
FREE FREE FREE DVR HD FOR LIFE OVER 200 CHANNELS
15 MOVIE CHANNELS
($6/mo DVR Service fee applies)
Offer Requires Agreement and AutoPay with Paperless Billing
& FOR 3 MONTHS (with Agreement)
Digital Home Advantage plan requires 24-month agreement and credit qualification. If service is terminated before the end of agreement, a cancellation fee of $17.50/month remaining will apply. Programming credits will apply during the first 12 months. Free HD valid for life of current account; requires 24 –month Agreement and AutoPay with Paperless Billing. HBO/Showtime offer requires AutoPay with Paperless Billing; credits apply during the first 3 months ($72 value); customer must downgrade or then-current price will apply. Must maintain continuous enrollment in AutoPay and Paperless Billing. Free Standard Professional Installation only. All equipment is leased and must be returned to DISH Network upon cancellation or unreturned equipment fees apply. Limit 6 leased tuners per account; lease upgrade fees will apply for select receivers; monthly fees may apply based on type and number of receivers. HD programming requires HD television. Free HD channels will vary based on package. 200 HD channels require subscription to additional packages and ViP® 922 receiver. All prices, packages and programming subject to change without notice. Local channels may not be available in all areas. Offer is subject to the terms of applicable Promotional and Residential Customer Agreements. Additional restrictions may apply. First-time DISH Network customers only. Offer ends 1/31/11. HBO® and related channels and service marks are the property of Home Box Office, Inc. SHOWTIME and related marks are registered trademarks of Showtime Networks Inc., a CBS Company.
SAVE OVER $380
from page 19
perimented with.” Barksdale maintains, however, that dramatic reform like installing new principals with greater autonomy is the only way to approach an intransigent situation. “You can’t nibble around the edges,” Barksdale says. “If you’ve got a chronically low-performing school, you’ve got to do something pretty dramatic to change it, to turn it around. You can’t tweak your way to success.”
Our roses don’t have to wait for spring to bloom.
No Small Feat,
All Hands On Deck
Rachel Hicks, executive director of Mississippi First, believes that the state’s “ossified” system slows and even prevents traditional public schools from adopting charter-school techniques.
February 16 - 22, 2011
Always Drink Responsibly
(Next door to McDade’s Market Extra) Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. • Maywood Mart Shopping Center 1220 E. Northside Dr. • 601-366-5676 • www.mcdadeswineandspirits.com
there,” Barksdale says. “If you look at schools that have really changed and gotten on the right path, two things have happened: They’ve gotten that new leader, and secondly, they have disentangled themselves from the district.” Maa is unapologetic about rejecting some of his district’s standard policies and programs. He banned corporal punishment, which Holmes County Schools still allow despite a concurrent court order to implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, a discipline system completely at odds with paddling. “I think it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world,” Maa says. He also runs his own professional-development sessions for teachers, instead of using the district-provided sessions with consultants and motivational speakers. He made the decision after attending the district-wide orientation at the beginning of the school year. “It was low-quality,” he says. “It’s just not professional development.” Maa also hopes to take advantage of BRI’s agreement with the district by tinkering with extended school hours or a longer school calendar. Those decisions will have to come, next year, though. “I can’t just snap my fingers and make it happen,” he says. “There’s buses, there’s lunch duty, there’s hiring. That’s something I’m looking forward to possibly next year.” Derrick Johnson says that while he appreciates the urgency of Barksdale’s approach, he considers the principals program another example of the continual, disruptive churn of school reform. “One of the things that I have always been interested in figuring out is why every two to three years, we’re always seeking to reform education, when in fact we have many best practices that have already been proven to be effective,” Johnson says. “It’s another example that children are being ex-
Barksdale cites a number of examples and studies of “turnaround schools” that served as models for the principals’ initiative. Among them is the Harlem Children’s Zone, which boasts powerful leaders and freedom from traditional school-district policies but is also nothing like most other turnaround schools. One of the better-publicized charterschool models, the Harlem Children’s Zone is actually a network of charter schools and related programs that aim to reverse the effects of poverty on children in 100 blocks of Harlem in New York City. Children’s Zone programs reach nearly every facet of a child’s life: counseling pregnant mothers to prepare them for parenthood, providing early childhood education and daycare and offering health care and social services to parents and children. The comprehensive project has produced impressive results. In 2009, two Harvard economists, Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer, Jr., released a study finding that the Harlem Children’s Zone could erase the statistical “achievement gap”—which puts its predominantly black students behind white students their age—in math by middle school and reduce the gap in English and language arts. A July 2010 study by the Brookings Institution found, however, that HCZ middle and elementary-school students perform no better than the majority of students at other New York City charter schools. While the HCZ’s performance is still impressive compared to traditional public schools, its panoply of social services does not appear to offer any educational advantage, study authors Grover Whitehurst and Michelle Croft argued. President Barack Obama has signaled his support for the Children’s Zone model with a national initiative he calls Promise Neighborhoods. Jackson hasn’t applied, but the city’s Midtown neighborhood is actually already engaged in a similar approach. Bordered by Woodrow Wilson Avenue and West, Mill and Fortification streets, Midtown has the relative density and strong borders that make a concerted, comprehensive effort to alleviate poverty more efficient.
No Small Feat, see page 24
6ISIT OUR 'RO CE 3TORE N RY EXT DOOR
4HANK YOU FOR THE "EST OF *ACKSON 6OTES 6ISIT ALADDININJACKSONCOM
Custom cakes for all occasions
Candy Cocktails & Frappe
Gourmet chocolates & truffles
Freezes at our â€œCandy Barâ€?
Chocolate covered strawberries
10% off any bakery order with presentation of this ad. (Applies to any order over $25)
LSO 7E A R CATE
$INE IN OR 4AKE /UT 6XQ7KXUVDPSP )ULDQG6DWDPSP
,AKELAND $R *ACKSON -3 7HORU )RQGUHQ%HOKDYHQ80&DUHD )D[
2IDGE 7AY 3TE % &LOWOOD -3 7HO )D[
Located in Fannin Market 1149 Old Fannin Rd. Ste. #7 in Brandon MS Call 601-992-9623 or e-mail email@example.com
Sunday & Monday
for Cosmetologists, Massage Therapists, Barbers & Estheticians
2084 Dubarton Drive
(Behind Pennâ€™s on Lakeland)
Jackson MS 39216 601.896.6022
Capital City Beverages M ISSISSIPPI â€™ S C OMPLETE B EER S OURCE
F IND U S O N F ACEBOOK
15% off Deep Tissue & Relaxation Massage
No Small Feat,
February 16 - 22, 2011
On a Monday morning earlier this month, the two classes were a study in the difference between fifth-grade boys and girls. The girls sat quietly at their desks but seemed uninhibited about raising their hands. Next door, Mr. Norman led their male peers in a vocabulary exercise. Each boy stood at his desk and spelled the words (“astrolabe,” “technology,” “settlement”) out loud, punching the air for each shouted letter. “I firmly believe that our public schools can offer so many experiences and opportunities that people typically think look like charter schools,” Luckett says. “We just have to be able to know how to manage and bring in resources. And, number two, people have to be at the school that have the same mindset and vision for those kids. I know there’s a lot of controversy over charter law, but public schools can look very different than they do today.”
No Time to Lose While change is possible within the public schools, it takes time, as Claiborne Barksdale has learned. “When I came up with this idea … I thought maybe we could be in 10 schools initially,” he says. “Thank goodness we didn’t do that, because the learning curve is very steep.” The Barksdale Reading Institute has no plans to expand its principals initiative next school year. It may try to expand in the 2012-2013 school year, Barksdale says. That delay will give the institute a chance to collect solid data on the first four schools’ performance to use when trying to persuade districts. It will also give BRI time to assuage some fears. “There has been and continues to be some suspicion about our motives,” Barksdale says. “There was some concern: ‘Oh, you’re going to come in and fire all the teachers.’ … That is something that is problematic. I would like to have more time to meet with community leaders and with school boards to say, ‘Look this is why we’re doing what we’re doing.’ And if we do expand in future years, we’ll have a track record to show for it. I think that will give those
communities a bit more piece of mind about our motives.” Barksdale is adamant that the BRI’s principals initiative is distinct from a charter school approach. If anything, it is reminiscent of a conversion charter that takes in an entire existing student body. For Rachel Hicks, executive director of the publicpolicy nonprofit Mississippi First, Barksdale’s approach is not enough. “One of the most common critiques I hear from people is: ‘Why do we need charter schools? Can’t regular public schools do all these things?’” Hicks says. “The fact is that our system is so ossified that these things are not easy for our system to do. When people say that to me, I say, ‘That would be great, but I’m not going to hold my breath.’” Mississippi First supports a full-fledged charter-school law that would allow new, open-enrollment charters to open in low-performing districts. The bill the House Education Committee is currently considered is a dangerous over-extension of the charter concept, though, Hicks says. Sen. Michael Watson’s SB 2774 would allow any university or local school board to authorize new charter schools, in addition to the state Department of Education. The more entities there are issuing charters to school operators, the harder it is to maintain quality, she argues. Especially in the case of local school boards, the job of overseeing schools to ensure that they comply with the terms of their charter performance targets could be simply too large to do well. “Unless you have the capacity to do that task well, what you will end up with is a lot of bad charter school getting to open and then not closing,” Hicks says. Regardless, with opposition to a new charter law from many House members and Brown, the committee chairman, Watson’s latest proposal appears doomed. That means that charter advocates like Hicks will have to wait another year. “Five years in the life of policy change is a pretty quick timeline,” Hicks says. “Five years in the life of a child is very long. … We can’t wait around forever.” SALGU WISSMATH
The neighborhood has two schools, Brown Elementary and Rowan Middle School, and both boast a surprising degree of community involvement and support from outside organizations. At Brown, first-year principal Serenity Luckett has been bowled over by the variety of help other groups have offered. Brown and Rowan both have full-service health clinics within their walls, giving students regular access to a nurse practitioner who teaches nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Beyond treating colds and offering physical exams, the clinic also serves to keep students in school. Rather than missing an entire day to wait in a hospital emergency room, a student leaves class for a few minutes to get checked for strep throat. Members of 100 Black Men provide mentoring to a select group of students, eating lunch with them every Thursday and holding them accountable for their grades and behavior. Other community-service groups like Stewpot Ministries and Operation Shoestring have donated winter clothing and provided after-school tutoring to students. But perhaps the most dramatic outside involvement comes from Midtown Partners, a nonprofit formed this year by the merger of Good Samaritan Midtown and the North Midtown Community Development Corp. Midtown Partners runs a Montessori preschool and child-care center, an after-school program for the neighborhood’s fifth through eighth graders and supports other programs at Brown and Rowan. The organization also works with the area’s parents and grandparents, however, offering career counseling for adults, administering welfare and food-stamp programs and providing food assistance to the elderly. “What we do is try to support the families and provide them with services that create a less stressful home situation, which will allow a student to show up Monday morning ready to learn,” says Midtown Partners Executive Director Kristi Hendrix. This summer, Midtown Partners plans to operate an early childhood program for 20 of the neighborhood’s 4year-olds. Hendrix says that the goal was to target only the area’s most vulnerable pre-kindergarteners—those not already enrolled in day care or Head Start. Children in the summer program will get used to sitting in a classroom in the actual school they will attend in August, Hendrix says. The program will work on basic school skills, with the aim of having the children adequately prepared for kindergarten. Hendrix says that she hopes to use the same diagnostic tests on the program’s children so that their files will be relevant and useful for Brown’s kindergarten teachers. Luckett welcomes Midtown Partners’ help. “What I really have come to know is that we, as the school, can absolutely not do it alone,” Luckett says. “There are so many needs in the community, and of the kids, that we have to reach out to all these partners.” The network of supporters working for Brown’s students is far from the fundraising juggernaut that supports the Harlem Children’s Zone, however. Midtown Partners has occasionally leveraged its close relationship with the Walker Foundation to cover one-time expenses for Brown, but the neighborhood lacks the wealthy patronage available to HCZ. More significantly, perhaps, Brown and Rowan are traditional public schools, governed by a central administration and school board. But Luckett says that even a traditional public school can be innovative. After seeing a spate of discipline problems in the school’s fifth grade classes early this year, Luckett decided to divide the grade by gender. The effect was dra24 matic and almost immediate, she says.
from page 22
KIPP has become a poster child for effective charter schools, but Mississippi law has prevented it and other charter organizations from opening schools in the state.
Live Your Live At
Assistant Editor/Copy Editor
ARRIVALS FALL MERCHANDISE
Position starts as an hourly job, from 30 to 40 hours a week, but has exciting growth potential. If interested, send a cover letter stating why you want to work for JFP-BOOM. Also attach a resume and links or PDFs of up to three writing samples (samples not required). E-mail the package to ladd@ jacksonfreepress.com. No phone calls.
JFP is an equal opportunity employer.
<^UOQ Save 50% or more on gift certificates
Massages, Spa Treatments, Dinner 2475 LAKELAND DRIVE FLOWOOD MS 39232 601.933.0074
Position will assist editor in chief and managing editor of the Jackson Free Press and BOOM Jackson with assigning and editing. The right candidate will possess excellent editing skills, be very organized, manage time well, work independently and have good communication skills. Familiarity with and interest in arts and culture, style, local business and development helpful.
ARTS p 28 | BOOKS p 29 | 8 Days p 30 | MUSIC p 33 | SPORTS p 36 by Garrad Lee
Rip the Cypher: Phase One
Februaru 16 - 22, 2011
efore stepping foot inside the North Midtown Arts Center on Millsaps Avenue, it was obvious that something was going on. More than the cars parked along the sides of the street gave it away. The energy was palpable; the music was loud; and the building’s usually dim lights were bright this Jan. 15 night. Reminiscent of a scene straight out of “Step Up,” dancers and onloookers stood on the floor and risers. Dressed in bright colors and fly sneakers, hipsters had invaded the center for Jackson’s Phaze One Dance Crew’s first “Rip the Cypher,” a monthly hip-hop dance jam. Dancers from all over the southeast joined Phaze One to showcase not only the three core styles of dancing— krumping, break-dancing, and pop and locking—but also regional styles and dances like the Memphis buck. Phillip Rollins, aka DJ Young Venom, 26, is Phaze One’s official DJ and provides a constant soundtrack for the dancers, deftly keeping the break beats going, altering his song selection, when necessary, to accommodate the different styles of dance. He is also one of the event organizers. In 2007, Rollins organized and hosted a “Rep Your City” party at the now-defunct Seven*Studioz on Millsaps Avenue. 26 Two “’80s Babies” parties followed, and all three parties fea-
Break dancers, krumpers, and pop and lockers contort their bodies in unimaginable ways at a recent dance competition, “Rip the Cypher.”
tured some of the best dance talent from around the region. “After these parties, we shut it down for a bit,” Rollins says. “We were off doing our own things.” But in December 2010, Phaze One received a challenge from a rival Jackson dance crew, O.V.T. It was on. The crew asked Rollins to deejay the battle, and Phaze One defeated the challengers. The win gave pride and bragging rights to Phaze One. More importantly, it reinvigorated the local dance scene. “After that battle, we all talked and decided to do a monthly dance jam, and ‘Rip the Cypher’ was born,” the DJ says. While “Rip the Cypher” is a gathering place for dancers from all around, the jam’s host, Phaze One, is the centerpiece and foundation upon which the Jackson dance scene has been built for years. Venom says Phaze One core members—B-Boy Tony Touch, Topz, Prophecy, Baby J and Jag-War—are “students of dancing.” The crew has hosted dance classes and plans to provide opportunities for other dancers to exchange ideas and styles before dance jams. They take this dance thing seriously, Venom explains. As one of the four core elements of hip-hop (along with emceeing, deejaying and graffiti), the dance scene in
Jackson is an important part of the overall hip-hop landscape in the city. “There are a lot more dancers in Jackson than people realize. It is a very strong dance community,” Venom says. December’s “Rip the Cypher” proved that. Aside from the dancing, December’s event featured a performance from local rapper Zeedubb, and Rollins plans to include other local artists in upcoming jams. Members of the Jackson hip-hop scene are making a concerted effort to galvanize the movement and stake a claim in the city and nationally. “Jackson is trying to find an identity, both with music and dancing,” Rollins says. Beyond its meaning and relevance to hip-hop culture, “Rip the Cypher,” fundamentally, provides a venue for young people to express themselves. “There isn’t always a whole lot for younger people to do in Jackson,” Venom says. “We try to provide that at least once a month. ‘Rip the Cypher’ events will always be for all ages. That’s why we start at 6 and end at 10. Got to get the kids home before curfew.” The next “Rip the Cypher” is Saturday, Feb. 19, at the North Midtown Arts Center (121 Millsaps Ave.). Cover is $5; doors open at 6 p.m. Check RiptheCypher on Facebook for more details.
7INGS IN *ACKSON
/A:GD 4HN ?HK MA>