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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Charles Holt performs in metro Atlanta - will return August 14

Recording Artist Charles Trey Holt was the featured guest soloist at Unity North Atlanta Church in Marietta, Ga. at the 11:15 a.m. morning service.

Performing his signature piece "I Am" from his 2007 CD and 2010 arranged "Rolling River God" about God smoothing him as he smooths stones, Holt brought tears to this reporter's eyes and a standing ovation from the congregation. His voice rang out a very powerful, sweet message.

"I always want to be an agent of change and transformation through whatever I do. I'm there to be a beneficial presence." Holt said he wants his audience to experience an encounter with the Divine Spirit through him. "Something that people can touch and grasp in some realm of their being."

Holt describes his music as inspirational and eclectic because of the many genres from which he sings, including jazz, R&B, blues, and gospel. He notes that his grandmother gave him a love for music.

On his calling card, Holt lists his professions as actor, recording artist, speaker, and author. His latest book will be published in 2012. His production company is headquartered on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, Calif.

"I have been singing at Unity churches and centers for spiritual learning all over the country since November 3, 2007. As a part of the touring circuit, I found a few in the Atlanta area and asked to be a part of the service, and performed at Unity North for the first time three years ago," Holt said.

His musical credits include performing on Broadway in "The Lion King", "Smoky Joe's Cafe", and a few other notable shows. Songs that have left indelible impressions on him include "Home" written by Charlie Smalls from "The Wiz" and "Seasons of Love" written by Jonathan Larson from the musical "Rent".

"These songs have universally positive messages, messages that can be understood beyond social and physical barriers," Holt added.

According to Wikipedia, Unity churches encompass "a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement...and promotes a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind." Unity also publishes the Daily Word which began in 1924 and is distributed to 600,000 subscribers in over 150 countries. It is translated into seven languages and also is published in Braille.

In addition to performing at churches, Holt has entertained around the world, spoken at a myriad of colleges and universities, for the Turkish-American Association in Ankara, Turkey, and at Rikers Island Correctional Facility.

Holt will return to Atlanta on Sunday, August 14 at the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta (SLCA), which is under the leadership of Rev. Dr. David Ault. The performance will take place in the Woodruff Arts Center at 1280 Peachtree Street. For more information, call 404-417-0008.

Holt will also be the guest soloist at Morehouse College on Thursday, August 18 for the Parent's Parting Ceremony for parents/guardians and their sons. For more information, contact Alvin H. Darden, Dean of Freshmen, at 404-653-7804.

Do not use without permission.
Tomi Johnson with Charles Holt
(Holt with reporter Tomi Johnson at Unity Church's Holy Grounds Cafe. Photo by Ilea Johnson.) For more information about Holt and to view his videos, go to his website at

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wealth disparities in U.S. - how to close the gap

Many homeless people are limited to sidewalk housing and assets restricted to what they can carry.

by Tomi Johnson, Metro Atlanta...With all the hype surrounding the racial wealth gap and conservatives discouraging the use of the race card being played, it is still apparent that black family assets have been declining since the 1970's.

If the U.S. economy is the lead economy in the world, and that economy is based on white wealth, racial inequalities, and high poverty rates, what does that say for the future of the world?

Rakesh Kochhar, Richard Fry, and Paul Taylor's recently released Pew Research Center report, "Wealth Gaps Rises to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics," is based on 2009 data. The gap - White household wealth (net worth) is 20 times greater than Black households and 18 times greater than Hispanic households - may be wider than the report suggests because of the recession. (

According to economist Darrick Hamilton, associate professor at the Milano School of International Affairs in New York, where wealth is concerned, African Americans "are in a perpetual state of crisis."

Hamilton said it is a myth that black households are not frugal, and he deems historical public policies, high unemployment, racially segregated occupations, lack of inheritance advantages, and predatory lending scams as some reasons why blacks are poor.

"The racial wealth gap remains exorbitant and stubbornly persistent," Hamilton said.

He claims that wealth provides access to elite schools and the ability to finance expensive medical procedures, reside in higher amenity neighborhoods, exert political influence, purchase better counsel when in legal trouble, and opportunity to withstand hardships during emergencies.

Hamilton said the late historian Manning Marable from Columbia University and Duke University Economist William Darity as well as other leading African American economists have already given methods to solve the problem of racial inequality. Remedies include changes in generational wealth transmission, implementation of baby bonds/asset building programs, and passage of a Full Employment Act.

To view Hamilton's February 2, 2011 speech to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on "Racial Economic Inequality in America", go to

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

CBC kicks off jobs initiative; claims U6 unemployment rate for blacks at 33%

Celebrating its 40th year, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is slated to begin a jobs initiative tour on August 8 through August 31, 2011. The CBC has a lofty goal of trying to implement its mission of getting 10,000 people hired by corporations over a five city area in 24 days.

Chairman Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Missouri) said in a recent MSNBC interview that during the present legislative session, "The Congressional Black Caucus has introduced 40 pieces of legislation to deal with jobs," and will start its jobs fair tour beginning in Cleveland, Ohio and ending in Los Angeles, Calif. Other cities listed on the tour are Detroit, Atlanta, and Miami although Atlanta is omitted and Chicago added on its online registration form.

Speaking of unemployment in the African American community, "It is so bad that I think it merits the president and Congress declaring that this is a national emergency, and if that doesn't happen and happen quickly, I think we're going to look at a situation where African Americans are actually going to begin to move backwards," he said.

Cleaver said the real unemployment figures for African Americans is 33% and includes those who are on unemployment rolls as well as those who have given up finding a job, are underemployed, or working part-time. "If this continues, if this unemployment continues, this drop out rate continues, I'm looking for some serious problems down the road."

The CBC is partnering with major corporations to put people back to work, especially African Americans and others from census tracts which have been impoverished for over 30 years.

To learn more about the CBC and its jobs initiative, go to:

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are our leaders misanthropic? Should Obama declare national emergency on black male unemployment?

People waiting for food outside church in downtown Atlanta. Black unemployment, including those on unemployment rolls and those who have given up on finding a job, is estimated at 33% nationwide.

After watching thousands of people running for Section 8 housing vouchers which could take four years to receive, reading reports of immigrant jobs being given to parolees and prisoners, seeing students harmed by cheating on tests, and continuing to witness CEOs living large while layoffs loam, it appears that the administration and Congress hate blacks, the poor, and the middle class.

A hatred for humanity is called misanthropy, and this may be 21st century examples - high unemployment, school scandals, and national debt diversions. At least that's how it appears to me - that our leaders are letting us down. We cannot find jobs while millions of us are facing foreclosure, no health care, and apathy. The powers that be, including members of Congress, members of the Chamber of Commerce, church leaders, and bankers, MUST hate, dislike, or distrust us.

Many high school and college graduates can't find a job, for Christ's sake, and their student loans must be paid. Are our leaders ignoring the plight of poor, educated kids, too? What of their American dreams?

Wasn't this MLK's last campaign, that everyone looking should be able to find a decent job to house and feed family? "The diehards realize they are standing at the dying point, that the system is at its dying point, and this is the last way to try to hold on to the old order," MLK said in 1963.

Please email me or login to post your comments.

FYI: The U.S. Census estimates that in 2009, 18.7% of the Dallas County, Texas population lived below the poverty line. To watch a video of people racing for low income housing, go to:

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chamber of Commerce leader pessimistic on job creation

Leaders Magazine has an interesting interview with Thomas J. Donohue, President and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His comments surround jobs, our education system's inability to train workers, and a stinging pronouncement that the Obama administration is not doing enough to help small business with taxes. Read the interview and comment.

Monday, July 18, 2011

North Dakota is hiring!

According to an AP report posted today, one of the best places to find a job in the U.S. is North Dakota (if you can avoid the flooding).

For more info, go to: To find jobs in North Dakota, especially ones dealing with diaster relief, go to:

What could former Detroit NBA 2004 championship winners do when careers end?

With the NBA lockout in place, players could be looking toward the future, especially those who once played in Detroit's Palace. Here are some recommendations and possibilities for the former championship winners to consider.

Ben Wallace may become lawyer for troubled youth while keeping his hair neat for courtroom appearances. Wallace, who once scared players with his mean looks and fierce Afro, was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year four times. After leaving the Pistons, Wallace played for the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers before returning to Detroit.

Rip Hamilton could become a hand and finger model. (What nice nails you have!) Team Captain Hamilton has been with the Pistons since 2002. Mostly playing while wearing a clear mask because of a nose injury, Hamilton could also buy into a Party City franchise!

Already retired Rasheed Wallace may become a disc jockey while he counts his investment income. Wallace was the bad boy for the Pistons, making team winning shots at the buzzer way beyond half court. Wallace holds the NBA record for technical fouls and could possibly escort Bulls players off the court after the lockout is over.

With his degree in social work from UK, Tayshaun Prince could go for his PhD. and later work for the United Nations. Prince could also move back to metro LA and partner up with Snoop Dogg. He already has some experience working in films. Prince could also team up and start a tennis clothing line with the Williams sisters who are also from Compton, Calif.

Chauncey Billups could coach his three daughters to become women's basketball champs or dentists. What a smile you have, Chauncey, as well as a pleasing disposition!

After seven years since their last championship and a lot of hoops, only time will tell.

As for black male unemployment, go to

©2011 Written by Tomi Johnson. Photos by Tomi Johnson and Kurk D. Johnson. Wingcom Ltd. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cheating update: Georgia Dept. of Education and CRCT report

Lady Liberty before Georgia's Gold Dome.

The Office of Dr. John D. Barge, Georgia's School Superintendent, was approached by Wingcom Watchdog for a response to the recent CRCT cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools. Barge's department issues annual reports on system progress.

Justin Pauly, communications specialist & Georgia Board of Education liaison informed me that Melissa Fincher, associate superintendent of assessment and accountability, is "reviewing accountability implications and working with the system to serve the students impacted. Please understand that the GaDOE was informed of the investigation findings the same time the public was," Pauly said.

He referred me to this link:

"The state monitors (CRCT testing) but school systems are run independently of the Department (of Education). The Department creates the policy in which the school system implements," Pauly concluded. The Department of Education's website states that the Department of Education is responsible for the administration of the CRCT. He said the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) cheating investigation was started by former Governor Sonny Perdue.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue at Cedar Grove Middle School in Decatur, Ga.

On the Department's website, it states: "As part (of) meeting federal requirements for state standards and assessments systems, the CRCT was peer reviewed by a team of external experts in the fields of standards and assessments.

"This team was convened by the US Department of Education and considered evidence in the following areas: content and academic achievement standards; technical quality; alignment; inclusion; and scoring and reporting. The CRCT was found to meet nationally recognized professional and technical standards for assessment programs."

Kathy Cox was state superintendent between 2003 and 2009 when the alleged cheating occurred. According to Governor Deal's representative, Jen Talaber, "Gov. Deal was not governor at the time when Ms. Cox was superintendent, and it would not be appropriate for us to comment on what role, if any, she played in CRCT cheating. The CRCT report stands on its own," Talaber said.

Former Superintendent Kathy Cox, who resigned to accept a position as Chief Executive Officer for the U.S. Education Delivery Institute on July 1, 2010 in Washington, D.C., was called at her office.

A spokesperson for Ms. Cox, Luly Demaro, said, "Ms. Cox has no comments at this time."
Former Superintendent Kathy Cox in 2002.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 11, 2011

APS testing scandal: a reporter's opinion

Searching for unaltered bubbles?


Do you need to stress over whether you're the smartest crook in the classroom?

Should you pray for that elementary school teacher who slapped you or broke a cane over your back or caused you to urinate on the floor because you didn't provide the right answer?

What does the APS scandal say about performance-base/pay for performance income and the future of educational bonuses tied to test scores for teachers and administrators?

Are we hearing all sides and not just the major media hype surrounding this fiasco? What responsibility does the Georgia Department of Education have in all this??? Do the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta have a point in pulling the race card, saying the AJC is carrying on a witch hunt today against APS akin to its promotion of a non-desegregation stance in the 1960s?

According to Edublox, intelligence or IQ tests began in France around 1904 and were used to determine who was "normal" and who was "inferior." In my mind's eye, modern day testing should be used to help teachers figure out what needs to be re-taught or who needs special instruction to learn certain concepts. And this should be done in a compassionate, non-stressful environment.

No breaking pencils over fingers, and no need to repeat a grade. Let teachers teach and students learn, and let all be judged like Daniel in the Lion's Den.

With the way lesson plans, schedules, and curricula are geared today, there is no time to "re-teach" concepts that have not been "learned," even after the test results are in. Often, those who do not pass standardized tests are ridiculed as dumb and stupid, and their progress to move forward impeded.

People can and do cheat on academic achievement and assessment tests. Folks do cheat on certified exams, too. Test security is also a joke. While a supply reading teacher in a metro Atlanta middle school, I witnessed the assistant principal's frantic search for a copy of the CRCT which was left in a classroom by the test administrator. It was not found for four days.

At another school, I was able to sit in a testing room and monitored what went on but was not allowed to sit in the room for the remainder of the week. People "outside the system" or even parents who could monitor non-ethical practices should be involved in what is happening in testing arenas.

And to add insult to injury, teachers who take tests to become certified are often given copies of the exam to practice on and answers before going into the "secured" testing room. These types of practices do not proficiently gauge aptitude or teaching skills. Many a student has led a lackluster life because he/she could not "PASS" a multiple choice test. The same holds true for professional licensing exams for other occupations.

How do we know that the results are true? We now know the results have been falsified on many occasions, leaving us to laugh at the joke education plays on the misguided.

If you have the money, you can pay to take a class to prepare you to pass a test! Testing is a limited way to figure out who knows what. Your test results could depend on who you know or if you can get a practice copy.

I pride myself on reporting the truth, and having grown up on a college campus have always admired the teaching profession, but often administration is the system monster. If you look at the credentials of folks running school systems nationwide, check out how many are lawyers instead of exemplary teachers, scholars, and Milken award winners. It appears that politics has taken its place in higher learning, and the crooks are still racing to the top!

I am a former educational television producer, supply teacher, substitute, and paraprofessional educator who is a FAIR test taker but have trouble landing a good paying job! Does that mean I'm stupid? I passed the PMI ethics portion of the PMP exam. I wonder how Hall, Few and the others implicated in the APS cheating scandal would fair on an ethics exam. Do they know all the right answers?

Millicent Few, 2nd from right, with family. Photo by Kurk Johnson.

I know for a fact that HR Director Millicent Few is from an upstanding family, and it hurts my heart that this tragedy will put into question morals and ethics held by black families.

My best teachers didn't teach me what could be bubbled in on a test. They taught me that I am "special" and can succeed if I try hard enough and the right stars line up, and that success not only depends on what you know, but who you know and your attitude.

The best things I learned in school were, "Honey draws flies better than vinegar," and "Good always wins over evil." At home, my parents taught me to pay for everything in cash, but after listening to a financial adviser who is now an APS board member, I started believing that I couldn't run a successful business without obtaining bank financing.

I am still learning. I am looking forward to being quizzed on ethics on my next exam. May my bubbles go unaltered.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hinojosa swearing in scheduled for Monday

Dr. Michael Hinojosa, former superintendent of the Dallas Public School System, will be sworn in as the new superintendent of the Cobb County School Disrtict at Central Office headquarters, 514 Glover Street, Monday, July 11 at 8:00 a.m.

It is believed that Hinojosa will be the first Hispanic superintendent of the system located in metro Atlanta.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Job announcement for Louisiana firm

CenturyLink, Inc. has announced it is seeking to fill 54 technical positions by mid July. The company is a United States telecommunications firm headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana.

Individuals with bachelor degrees in CIS, Computer Science and Engineering with varying levels of experience are sought. Opportunities include openings for front line supervisors, front-line resources, and engineers.

To apply, forward resumes to Tina Williams at or apply online through the CenturyLink website at

SPSU announces scholarships in nuclear studies

Dr. Mahmoud Ghavi, director of the Center for Nuclear Studies at Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU) in Marietta, Ga., has announced scholarship opportunities for Fall 2011.

The Systems Engineering Department will offer a series of courses in Nuclear Engineering as part of a Nuclear Power Generation Option. The plan is to offer six nuclear courses on a rolling basis. All of these offerings emphasize the fundamental as well as the applied aspects of nuclear engineering and as such should be of potential interest to all science and engineering students.

The first course, Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering, will be offered this Fall semester: SYE 3501/001, Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering, 3-credit hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m. The pre-requisites for this course are PHYS 2212K, Principles of Physics II and Math 2255, Calculus III. Students should ask their faculty advisors whether this course could satisfy technical electives for their major.

"Fortunately, as part of our existing Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) grant program, we are also able to offer a number of semester based full-tuition scholarships to interested and qualified students," Ghavi said.

Nuclear Engineering is an important field that involves a number of industries including energy, healthcare, defense, food and research to name a few. In the coming years, a number of new nuclear plants are slated to be constructed in the U.S., and sixteen of these plants are scheduled to be located in the Southeast generating a large number of well paying jobs.

In addition to these courses, the Center for Nuclear Studies at SPSU offers several applied Nuclear Power training programs through Continuing Education as well. A number of scholarships are also available for these offerings to qualified students.

For further information and to inquire about scholarships, please contact Dr. Mahmoud Ghavi at or call 678-915-5531.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Breaking News: Atlanta Public Schools cheating highlight of national news - plan released by interim superintendent

The Atlanta Board of Education called a special legislative meeting and invited the press only two days after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal released a statement outlining the state’s investigation into the 2009 administration of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT).

The investigation revealed that the cheating by APS employees started in 2001.

According to the Georgia Department of Education website, "The CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). The assessments yield information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system, and state levels. This information is used to diagnose individual student strengths and weaknesses as related to the instruction of the GPS, and to gauge the quality of education throughout Georgia."

School board officials said they have developed a plan to question any test scores that show major improvements while paying close attention to department and employee evaluations.

The board was called to order by the new chair, Brenda Muhammad, a special presentation was given by Interim Superintendent Errol Davis, Jr., and then the board went into executive session.

The meeting was held inside the 130 Trinity Avenue location's auditorium and was attended by all major media. "This should be very eyeopening," said Jennifer Leslie, a reporter waiting outside amidst broadcast trucks.

Her station, 11Alive News, announced on its website that it "has committed its entire newsroom of journalists to covering the Atlanta Public Schools CRCT Cheating Investigation."

In a statement released by APS Communications Director Keith Bromery, the preliminary action plan submitted in response to Governor Deal's investigation includes:

* Moving the district’s Office of Internal Resolution (OIR) from Human Resources to Internal Audits, which reports directly to the Atlanta Board of Education;
* Setting ‘trigger points’ that will result in automatic investigations of schools whose test scores increase by a larger than normal percentage;
* Initiating climate surveys to periodically assess the culture at district schools and offices; and
* Adding customer service and student support key measures to the district’s ‘Balanced Scorecard’, which is used to evaluate the performance of departments and employees on an annual basis.

Why is this such a big story?

For years, students have been reprimanded for cheating, and now the shoe is on the other foot...administrators, principals, and teachers have admitted using erasers and pencils to change bubbles on answer sheets. This was done to improve student performance measurements. The "cheating" provides inaccurate information on student knowledge and achievement and skews teacher teaching skills in major subject areas.

Schools have to show yearly improvement on test scores to keep receiving federal government funds through the No Child Left Behind mandate.

“Nothing is more important to the future of our state than ensuring that today’s students receive a first-class education and integrity in testing is a necessary piece of the equation,” said Governor Deal in his press release.

“When test results are falsified and students who have not mastered the necessary material are promoted, our students are harmed, parents lose sight of their child’s true progress, and taxpayers are cheated." Deal said even though the report’s findings are troubling, "As we begin to turn the page on this dark chapter in Atlanta Public Schools, I am confident brighter days lie ahead.”

Deal's outline of APS impropriety stated, "A culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation existed in APS, which created a conspiracy of silence and deniability with respect to standardized test misconduct. In addition to the 2009 CRCT cheating, we found other improper conduct: several open record act violations; instances of false statements; and instances of document destruction."

Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. said that APS submitted the names of more than one hundred employees to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) for further investigation of testing improprieties and temporarily reassigned 12 principals whose schools had apparent testing issues.

“I plan to issue a more detailed action plan in response to the state CRCT investigation report that will be based on an extensive and thorough review of the findings,” said Davis. “I plan to take the time required to painstakingly go over the state report so that we address each and every issue it identifies,” he said.

"I don't know what makes people cheat, but I want to make one thing clear: that it is not pressure to perform that does that...we will not dummy down our standards of performance," Davis said in an earlier press conference.

It was reported by the media that Dr. Beverly Hall, APS's former superintendent who was in office during the time the cheating occurred, was in Hawaii celebrating her birthday and was unavailable for comment. It was also reported that Dr. Hall was paid $500,000 last year including salary, bonuses, and travel expenses.

Board members, however, are ultimately responsible for what happens in APS. Board members include Brenda J. Muhammad, Khaatim Sherrer El, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, Nancy Meister, LaChandra D. Butler Burks, Yolanda Johnson, Courtney English, Reuben McDaniel, and Emmett Johnson. According to the system's website, Atlanta Public Schools has 47,789 students, 101 schools, and a budget of $653 million.

One wonders whether honor students whose pictures grace the halls of APS headquarters had their test scores altered. One also wonders why teacher's kids excel in school and are placed in honors programs which could be the result of teachers having copies of tests and correct answers. Only time will tell.

"Many of our students have been cheated, and that I think is the most sinful thing," said school board chair Brenda Muhammad in a press conference the day Gov. Deal's investigation report was announced. To view the July 5th video, go to:

NOTE: Dr. John D. Barge is Georgia's Superintendent. "Georgia law requires the development and administration of the CRCT in the content areas of Reading, English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Each spring students in grades 1 through 8 take the Reading, English/Language Arts, and Mathematics CRCT, while students in grades 3 through 8 also take the Science and Social Studies CRCT. Reports yielding information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system, and state levels are produced annually."
(Georgia Dept. of Education website)

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.