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Rustbelt Radio for March 01, 2010
by Pittsburgh Indymedia: Rustbelt Radio Collecti Monday, Mar. 01, 2010 at 8:28 PM
radio@indypgh.org

On today's show: The Pittsburgh Public Schools are proposing more building closures and consolidations. We'll bring you voices of concerned residents and parents, as well as school representatives. Local music artist Jasiri X uses hip-hop as an organizing tool and more in our local and global headlines.

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Rustbelt Radio for March 1, 2010

[1:00] Intro

Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.

On today's show...

Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.

We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:

We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.

We turn now to local stories.

Headlines

Local News

[8:15] Jasiri X- Local Hip Hop Activist

Jasiri X is a local community leader in Pittsburgh's activist, black, and Muslim communities. He uses hip-hop as an organizing tool and to share a message of social justice in the city and across the country. Sean MC of WRCT's Whats Really Good Radio brings us this interview.

To hear more from Jasiri, check out "This Week with Jasiri X" a news and music series on youtube. The album American History X is available for free download at gatheringforjustice. ning. com. Thanks to Sean MC for that report.

Wrapup

For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.

[ HMB BREAK RUSTBELT - 0:20 (fades down 0:10 in to start global intro) ]

Global News

--++++ Intro

You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.

[5:00] Media Minutes

Free Press brings us Media Minutes for the week ending February 26 2010.

[2:00 ] Guatemalan Activists Murdered

2009 was the most violent year in the past decade for Guatemalan human rights defenders, with 15 defenders murdered; 2010 is proving to be even worse, with attacks on 17 defenders including 4 dead.

On January 13th, Evelinda Ramírez Reyes was attacked and killed while driving home to San Marcos from Guatemala City. Evelinda was a community leader and member of FRENA (Resistance in Defense of Natural Resources and People's Rights) and the CUC/Farmer's Union. She had just attended a series of meetings with government officials on public access to electricity; she and other FRENA members filed complaints about the excessive rates charged by service provider DEOCSA-Unión Fenosa and also advocated for the public management of electrical energy distribution.

Less than a month later, German Antonio Curup was kidnapped with a colleague by men waiting for them outside of the workplace. On February 14, his body appeared in with his throat slit and other signs of torture. Curup worked for the defense of land and natural resources. He was the son of Abelino Curup, community leader of San Juan Sacatepequez who was sentenced to 50 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit.

On February 17th, Octavio Roblero was shot with 17 bullets in front of his shop in the market in Malacatán, San Marcos. Octavio was the brother in law of Victor Galvez, also a FRENA leader who was killed in Malacatán in October 2009. Both leaders organized a movement against the abuses and illegal actions of the electric company DEOCSA-UNION FENOSA.

Also on February 17th, Mayan lawyer Juan Antonio Chen was shot dead in Coban, Alta Verapaz. Chen worked with the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala and the National Reparations Program.

The Guatamala Human Rights Coalition is calling for a full investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the murder of Guatemalan human rights defenders.

Information in this report was brought to you by the Guatemalan Human Rights Coalition. Visit GHRC(dash) USA (dot) org for more information.

Features

Intro

You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.

[13:20] 2.3 Million and Rising

Fed up, Pittsburgh's chapter of the Human Rights Coalition, brings us this feature long report on the Prison Industrial Complex. This week, Fedup spoke with psychiatrist Terry Kupers about sexual assault in prison.

[28:00] Community Voices on Pittsburgh Public School Changes

In November 2009, the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education received a facilities report from the Ohio-based, independent consulting firm DeJong. The report predicts a 15.9% decline in the student population over the next ten years, and recommends the closing of sixteen facilities.

In response to the DeJong report; parents, residents, community groups, and school personnel are once again discussing the impact of declining enrollment on the future of the district. The proposed closures come on the heels of the Pittsburgh Public School Districts Right Sizing Plan which reduced the district from 86 schools in 80 buildings, to 65 schools in 63 buildings starting in the 2007-2008 school year.

Today Rustbelt Radio will bring you the voices of Pittsburghs NAACP Chapter and also concerned residents of the West End. Both of the groups gathered at separate events to discuss the proposed school closures.

After the DeJong reports release last Fall, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the NAACP expressed concerns as to how this plan would affect the African American community. The group called for weekly demonstrations outside of the districts administration building in Oakland. For seven weeks, they gathered in order to draw attention to what they claim are discriminatory practices in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The NAACP views disparate educational opportunities as the primary cause of the achievement gap between the districts black and white students. Pittsburgh NAACP President M. Gayle Moss and Education Chair Marilyn Barnett discussed this and additional concerns after a demonstration in November. Marilyn Barnett, who worked in the Pittsburgh Public School System for thirty years, says that the NAACP understands that some schools need to be closed, but wants it done in a way that won't disproportionately affect African American students.

Barnett feels that African American students are leaving the public schools for private and charter schools, where they feel they can receive a better education. Once enrolled in these schools, which are privately operated but publicly funded, Barnett says that these students perform considerably better.

The DeJong report recommends separating the school closings and renovations into four phases, with phase one taking place from 2010-2013. Each subsequent phase would start every two years and last for 3 years, until phase four is complete in 2019. The closings in Phase One will affect more students in the north and east neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, with schools such as Peabody High School being closed and its students reassigned to Westinghouse High School. Other phase one closings include Rogers CAPA, Homewood Early Childhood Center and Woolslair K-5.

The NAACP is worried about uncertified teachers in the classroom, and also teachers who are teaching subjects where they do not have certification. Another concern is the placement of troubled students in schools with high staff turnover rates, like the North Sides Clayton Academy. Clayton is run by Nashville based Community Education Partners, under an 18 million dollar, 3 year contract with the district. Since the 2007-2008 school year, PPS has sent students with disciplinary problems to the Clayton Academy, which specializes in teaching these students.

In November 2009, Pittsburgh Public Schools received forty million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The district plans to use this money to finance new teacher effectiveness programs. The Pittsburgh NAACP wants to be involved in any discussions regarding the use of this money, as well as further discussions concerning the Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship program founded by the Pittsburgh Foundation in 2008, which aims to help students pay for education after high school.

In order to address the concerns of the public, PPS is hosting community forums in schools located around the city, including the West End. Seven schools serve the West End of Pittsburgh. The changes proposed in the DeJong report are the following:

The CHARTIERS building, which houses a Headstart program will see no change. WESTWOOD K-8 and STEVENS K-8- will both see a boundary change. The Primary building of SCHAEFFER will close and the intermediate building will now house all students grades K-8. LANGLEY High School for grades 9-12 will see no change, however they will have additional students from the closing of Oliver High School. And finally, the Greenway 6-8 Middle School and Classical Academy will receive additional students from another schools closure.

It was in light of these proposed changes that approximately 15 community residents gathered at Westwood K-8 on February 23rd, to speak with PPS representatives. Representing the School Board was Sherry Hazuda (huh-ZOO-duh) and Floyd Skip McCrea. Representing the school administration was the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools at PPS, Derrick Lopez.

Sherry Hazuda asked the audience to share their vision of how the school facilities could best be put to use:

Although the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed changes, residents often voiced concerns on issues similar to those of the NAACP. These included student performance, school safety, parent engagement, teacher quality, and public perception of the school system.

One resident of the West Ends Oakwood neighborhood which lies between Carnegie and Crafton, questions the perceptions of the schools:

Observations of similar perceptions were echoed in the crowd:

School Board representative Floyd skip McCrea, whose district includes schools in the West End and North Side responds:

Representing PPS at the community meeting was Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Derrick Lopez. He spoke on some of the measures the district is putting into place to engage parents and students.

Concerns over disruptive learning environments and dangerous schools may be one of the factors leading to declining PPS enrollment. Lopez states that classroom disturbances have been reduced, in part due to the diversion of students to Clayton Academy, which is now in its third year.

Similarly to the NAACP, West End parents voiced concern with the quality of the teachers in the district. Sherry Hazuda referenced the recently awarded Gates Foundation grant that the district will use to address teacher performance:

One attendee at the forum was a young mother, who brought her infant to the meeting. In light of all of the issues discussed at the meeting and her personal observations, she seemed to lean towards NOT sending her child into the Pittsburgh Public School system.

Perception and PR was a recurring theme in the West End community meeting. Several parents and residents spoke up, including the parents of recent Langley High School graduates.

Pittsburgh Public Schools will continue to host community forums regarding the DeJong report's proposed school closings and building changes. On Wednesday March 3rd there will be a meeting for schools located in the North Side of the city. And on March 10th there will be a meeting for schools located in the Hill District. On Thursday March 11th, the Districts East Region Advisory Committee will also host a community forum to focus on schools in the East End. More information on all of these meetings is available on the PPS website at pghboe.net

Ending

Calendar of Events

And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:

[1:00] Outro

[ Outro Music ]

Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WNJR Washington, and FRSC Santa Cruz.

Our hosts and contributors this week are Carlin Christy and Garth Porter with additional contributions from Sean MC, Juliana Stricklen and Lizzie Anderson. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.

You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!

Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.

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Rustbelt Radio for March 01, 2010
by Pittsburgh Indymedia: Rustbelt Radio Collecti Monday, Mar. 01, 2010 at 8:28 PM
radio@indypgh.org

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