OXMOOR VALLEY, Ala.: Parents fight for desegregated schools

“If we don’t fight for our kids, no one else will,” was the slogan of over 200 African American parents in this Birmingham suburb. They confronted the Vestavia Hills School Board demanding that a 35-year-old desegregation order be kept in place in the mostly white district.

“You are in for a fight and you better believe it,” Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot told the board at a community meeting at the Shady Grove Baptist Church.

The desegregation order, issued in 1971, mandates that 25 percent of students in the Vestavia Hills school district be African American. On Sept. 19, the board voted to file ask the federal district court to rescind the order, claiming that the school district was overcrowded and unable to provide desks for students. Vestavia Hills has never met the 25 percent threshold. Currently 7 percent of the student body is African American.

State Sen. Rodger Smitherman, Birmingham City Councilwoman Miriam Witherspoon, the Rev. A.B. Sutton and attorney Theo Lawson also joined parents in supporting retention of the desegregation order.

School board president David Woodruff, after listening to the parents, conceded that opposition to the board’s decision was “fierce.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif.: Bring the Guard home, says Democratic gubernatorial candidate

“I believe this war is wrong for this nation, it is wrong for California, it’s weakened the security of this nation and it’s wounded our conscience and wounded our young men and women,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides told the Sacramento Bee.

Angelides pledged, “On day one, I will put in a formal request to President Bush to return our Guard units to California. I will go to work to mobilize other governors so that the National Guard can be used once again for its intended purposes, not to prop up the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld failed war policy.”

Angelides is challenging Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who supported the Bush invasion of Iraq.

Six hundred California Guard members are currently deployed in Iraq; 21 have been killed and over 100 have been wounded.

RALEIGH, N.C.: Deputies beat up African American pastor

When the Rev. Robert D. Wise and his wife and daughter left Applebee’s restaurant Aug. 26, they never dreamed Pastor Wise would end up in the hospital and face criminal charges, but that is what happened.

Ronald L. White, president of the South Central-Wake NAACP, said his organization is seeking justice over the vicious beating of the Black minister by three Wake County deputies, apparently over a parking space. “They beat him up real bad,” White said. Wise sustained injuries to his neck, face and chest. He was pepper-sprayed and his 11-year-old daughter was maced.

The three deputies are currently on administrative leave and under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation over the incident.

“I understand when you’re Black and you’ve been pulled out of a car by two white officers, it’s not going to be pretty,” Wise told reporters.

Although he has not been arrested, Wise has been charged with three counts of assault on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest.

WASHINGTON: GOP culture of corruption taints drug safety, reading programs

Two reports released Sept. 22 indict the Bush administration’s Food and Drug Administration and Education Department for conflict of interest, mismanagement and endangering public safety and our kids’ reading skills.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine, after a two-year study commissioned by the FDA itself, found that the agency responsible for safeguarding prescription medications is in “serious disrepair” and has too many scientists tied to the drug industry. The report called for reform including a moratorium on drug advertising and six-year drug oversight board terms to remove appointments from political cronyism.

Meanwhile, an internal audit by the Education Department’s inspector general found that a $1 billion federal program to improve reading in kindergarten through third-grade was run by staff who steered contracts to favored publishers, including ones that fit the administration’s controversial educational ideas. The inspector general recommended an overhaul of the “Reading First” program, part of the No Child Left Behind law, including removing directors and reviewing the propriety of their contract awards.

The head of the program, Chris Doherty, resigned before the audit was made public, and others have also left. Several, including Doherty, had ties to certain publishers of reading programs, the audit said.

The report cited examples such as Massachusetts, where Doherty questioned reading programs in four school districts, although state education officials approved them. One district refused to switch and lost its federal funding; the other three agreed to change and kept their funding.

NEW ORLEANS: Where’s FEMA? Try the Superdome

While the lights and pizzazz of Monday Night Football entertained a national TV audience, most Big Easy residents who have returned couldn’t watch the first Saints home game since Katrina because they have no electricity.

The Lower Ninth Ward looks as if the storm hit yesterday, not last year. But, to repair the Superdome, according to Sports Illustrated, FEMA spent $115 million, while Louisiana came up with $13 million, a bond issue brought in $41 million and the National Football League kicked in $15 million for a total of $184 million.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).