Monday, August 14, 2017

So Much Going On So Much Propaganda So Little Truth

                                       From The Ramparts
                                     Junious Ricardo Stanton
    So Much Going On, So Much Propaganda, So Little Truth

            "Never allow an insult propagated to go unanswered by you. Be ever vigilant to down anything by way of propaganda that dishonors or discredits you. Don't help the other fellow to carry on propaganda against yourself or your race." Marcus Garvey from Marcus Garvey Life and Lessons edited by Robert A. Hill and Barbara Bair page 291
            Last week following a rally to support Cheyney University, the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board wrote an Op-Ed piece about Cheyney University and indirectly Heeding Cheyney's Call that was so disingenuous I could not let it go unchallenged.  Their headline read Cheyney problem isn't racism: it's failing to compete for students. In an article attributed to the whole Editorial Board rather than one individual, the piece blatantly minimized the role racism has played during the ninety-five year history since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the school from the Quakers in 1922. It dishonestly stated "Cheyney’s predicament certainly has a racial component, but the solution must go beyond that perspective. It thrived in the 1960s when it was known as Cheyney State Teachers College and served as the principal institution in Pennsylvania training African Americans to become teachers. But it has struggled to find its niche in post-segregation America."
            What the editorial board deliberately failed to mention was, during the 1960's students picketed, demonstrated and took over buildings to protest the state's biased treatment of the school. I know because I was involved in those protests and I was part of student government when the state begrudgingly began to give the school more attention and funding.
            The Board also failed to mention that President Wade Wilson (from 1969 to1980) was a wise and visionary leader who leveraged the student unrest, demonstrations and protests to get more funding, buildings and degree programs from the state.
            The Editorial Board neglected to do its homework and due diligence and blamed Cheyney for its failings, conveniently overlooking and omitting something called the Performance Based Funding Formula employed by the Commonwealth that negatively impacted the PASSHE system.
            In theory the formulas are supposed to generate increased efficiency, enrollment, retention and graduation rates and fund raising on the part of the university. Critics of performance based funding say these policies do not generate the goals they are put in place to accomplish.  "The most instructive findings come from case studies of Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington, all of which based their policies on the seven principles identified by advocates. In Indiana, universities have become more selective and less diverse while also not improving degree production. In Pennsylvania, universities did not produce more degrees even after operating under performance-based funding for nearly a decade. After Tennessee increased the financial incentives and redesigned its policy, universities did not improve their graduation or retention rates. And in Washington, the state’s community colleges responded not by producing more associate’s degrees but by increasing short-term certificates. Despite each state having goals related to improving college completions, their performance-based funding policies have not yet achieved the desired results."  Why Performance-Based College Funding Doesn’t Work
                    During a meeting Heeding Cheyney's Call had with outgoing Chancellor Brogan in 2014, he stated PBF was not working and the schools would receive additional funding. But of course the Inquirer Board didn't include this information since they had another agenda which was to discredit HCC and Cheyney.
            The Board also mentioned the Keystone Honors Program but failed to inform their readers the program was created as the result of intervention by the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in 1999 when the OCR hammered out a binding agreement to remediate the Commonwealth's long history of underfunding and discrimination. The Inquirer also ignored the fact the Commonwealth has failed to live up to that agreement by underfunding the Keystone Honors Academy in the agreed upon amounts.
             All these facts are public record but somehow the Inquirer's "Editorial Board" chose to indict Cheyney for failing to diversify its student population. Here's another fact the Inquirer failed to mention, unlike many schools in the PASSHE system Cheyney has never discriminated on the base of skin color, ethnic origin, creed or philosophy. In fact at one time Cheyney was the most integrated school in the PASSHE system!
            What the Inquirer did was patently disingenuous; but then we must remember the Inquirer is part of the fake news industry, purveyors of propaganda and disinformation. Don't believe their hype!


Monday, August 07, 2017

Help Us Save Cheyney University


                                          Help Us Save Cheyney University
                                                   Junious Ricardo Stanton

            On Tuesday August 1, 2017 Heeding Cheyney's Call an alumni coalition of which I am a proud founding member, along with distinguished clergy, elected officials such as Philadelphia Councilman David Oh, Congressman Dwight Evans, Karen Warrington from Congressman Brady's office, State Rep Stephen Kinsey and State Senator Vincent Hughes along with a hundred other concerned alumni, community and political activists held a press conference and rally outside the Philadelphia office of Governor Tom Wolf.
            The purpose of the rally was to persuade Gov. Wolf to become more involved in saving historic Cheyney University. I say more involved because since his inauguration in 2015 Gov. Wolf has voiced support for saving Cheyney and has assigned his staff  to work with Heeding Cheyney's Call to remedy its troubles. But now Cheyney is facing an existential crisis and only Gov. Wolf can save this venerable institution from imminent demise.
            We called on the Governor to directly intervene on Cheyney's behalf by calling the Middle States Commission on Higher Education whose offices are in Philadelphia and tell them the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has called for a search for a permanent president, that only letting a contract for a consulting firm to conduct the search is holding the process up. We also are asking Gov. Wolf to intervene and vouch for Cheyney's fiscal sustainability until a new administration can be put in place to put Cheyney on a solid financial footing.
            While by all accounts our rally was a huge success: we received excellent press coverage, we had a hundred people out in sweltering heat and received the verbal and written support of extremely influential people several who were unable to attend; we still need your help whether you have a Cheyney connection or not! We are asking folks to call or E-mail the offices of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf  (717) 787-2500, Fax (717) 772-8284 or write to him at Office of the Governor, 508 Main Capital Building Harrisburg, PA 17120 thanking him for his continued support of Cheyney but ask him not to sell Cheyney's land, cut back on degree programs and to notify Middle States he will vouch for Cheyney's fiscal sustainability. We are asking you to do the same thing, contact PASSHE Board of Governors Chairlady Cynthia Shapira (717) 720-4028 Fax (717) 720-4011 or mail her at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Dixon University Center 2986 N. Second Street Harrisburg, PA 17110-120. Finally reach out to Cheyney University Interim President Aaron Walton (610) 399-2275 or write to him at 1837 University Circle Cheyney PA, 19319 and ask them nor to carry out the Task Force's agenda to cut degree programs, sell Cheyney's land or eliminate NCAA sports programs.
            If enough of you sacrifice just a few minutes of your time to do this, we can save Cheyney University the oldest institution of higher learning for African-Americans in this nation. Cheyney started out as the African Institute. The name was subsequently changed to the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney, later became the Cheyney Training School for Teachers, Cheyney State Teacher's College, Cheyney State College and finally Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. This institution has a major legacy of education, social activism, training and pedagogy primarily for African-Americans but unlike most colleges in Pennsylvania, Cheyney has never refused entrance to anyone based upon skin pigmentation, national origin, ethnic background and history or religious orientation.
            You ask, why should I help save Cheyney? Because higher education is in crisis in twenty first century America, especially Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania ranks forty-ninth in college affordability. Only one state in the nation costs more for its in state students to attend public colleges that is New Hampshire.  Pennsylvania spends more on prisons, incarceration and corrections than it does for higher education.
            These public policies do not bode well for working class families especially people of color in Pennsylvania! This means if you live in Pennsylvania and you want to attend a Pennsylvania public college or university it will cost you more than anywhere else in America except New Hampshire. As Cheyney goes so goes PASSHE. The fact of the matter is PASSHE is in trouble but Pennsylvania's elected officials try to suppress this fact.
            Cheyney is an HBCU the first institution of higher learning for Africans in America and many HBCUs is facing existential challenges. Frankly unless we intervene  many HBCUs will not survive.  If you care about quality, affordable higher education then you will join us in the fight to save historic Cheyney University.