DPS leader wants more Arab American students
By Nick Meyer
DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb met with The Arab American News Publisher and spokesman of the Congress of Arab American Organizations (CAAO) Osama Siblani on Tuesday, March 30 at the Fisher Building in Detroit to discuss plans to attract more Arab American children to Detroit schools.
The district has seen a sharp decline in enrollment in recent years as nearly 100,000 students have left since 1997 according to Crain’s Detroit Business, but Bobb recently announced a $540 million plan using federal money to make a series of sweeping changes and improvements.
Bobb made his intentions clear early on in the meeting, which was organized and attended by Arab American DPS employee Dr. Therese Smith.
“Our outreach to your community is that we want more of your kids, that’s the bottom line, I can’t say it any more eloquently than that,” Bobb said.
In order to get more kids to come, Siblani said that parents’ concerns over security and drugs must be addressed by DPS.
Bobb said that DPS has allocated $41 million in security for the coming months.
“We want to change the whole public safety department top to bottom and bring in more seasoned veterans who understand Detroit communities,” he said.
Bobb said plans are in the works to invest in a new headquarters for public safety, put more security technology in schools, and to begin conflict resolution programs to help students learn ways to settle disagreements in a peaceful way.
In addition to attracting more students to DPS, Bobb laid out his academic goals for the district.
Currently, DPS students graduate at a rate of 58%, but Bobb has set a standard of 98%by 2015, which is 9 points higher than the national average of 89%.
The dropout rate is 27%, much higher than the national average of 9%, and the goal for 2015 is 3%.
The ACT score average for DPS is 15 with the national average at 19, but Bobb wants to see the score come up to 21 by 2015 as well.
Bob used a sports analogy to further explain his lofty academic goals.
“No one who qualifies to go to the Olympics goes without the desire to win a gold medal, not even the Jamaican bobsled team from a few years ago,” he said.
“We want to invest in 21st century teaching and learning and be supportive of teachers to give them the tools they need to succeed.”
Bobb also expressed interest in learning the cultural traditions and values of the Arab American community. Siblani extended an official invitation to Bobb to join CAAO at a meeting and/or dinner sometime in the next month in order to meet with Arab American leaders, parents, and students.
Bobb said his time in Santa Ana, California’s school system in a dynamic community of Hispanic, Hmong, Vietnamese and Samoan immigrants was one of the most personally enriching experiences of his distinguished career, and he looks forward to learning about the various cultural aspects of the Arab American and Muslim communities so that DPS can better serve them. Currently, a sizeable and growing population of Arab and Muslim students live within Detroit’s borders.
Siblani said that educating local Detroit communities, teachers, administrators, and others about Arab and Muslim culture is of the utmost importance. He suggested that Bobb hire a knowledgeable adviser on the subject to his staff, which currently does not include any Arab Americans. Bobb was receptive to exploring that idea in the future.He said that Cleveland School in Detroit, which is now Detroit International Academy, made changes to accommodate Muslim students from diet and dress code perspectives and also had prayer rooms as well, which is a model that can be applied to future schools if need be.
“I want to do my best to learn about the culture so that I’m not trying to be respectful and end up being disrespectful,” he said.
This is part II of this weekends Islamic tirade, by the members of RevolutionMuslim.com. Once again their spokesman Younus Muhammad attacks the White House, and calls for Allah to send down destruction on to it. What is interesting in this video is that Younus and a Muslim who claims that Islam is peaceful, have a debate. Guess who wins? I will give you are clue, Islam is a religion of war.
Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
KABUL, Afghanistan — American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer, but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops, according to military officials in Kabul.
“We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who became the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent videoconference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties.
Though fewer in number than deaths from airstrikes and Special Forces operations, such shootings have not dropped off, despite new rules from General McChrystal seeking to reduce the killing of innocents. The persistence of deadly convoy and checkpoint shootings has led to growing resentment among Afghans fearful of Western troops and angry at what they see as the impunity with which the troops operate — a friction that has turned villages firmly against the occupation.
Failure to reduce checkpoint and convoy shootings, known in the military as “escalation of force” episodes, has emerged as a major frustration for military commanders who believe that civilian casualties deeply undermine the American and NATO campaign in Afghanistan.
Many of the detainees at the military prison at Bagram Air Base joined the insurgency after the shootings of people they knew, said the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall.
“There are stories after stories about how these people are turned into insurgents,” Sergeant Major Hall told troops during the videoconference. “Every time there is an escalation of force we are finding that innocents are being killed.”
One such case was the death of Mohammed Yonus, a 36-year-old imam and a respected religious authority, who was killed two months ago in eastern Kabul while commuting to a madrasa where he taught 150 students.
A passing military convoy raked his car with bullets, ripping open his chest as his two sons sat in the car. The shooting inflamed residents and turned his neighborhood against the occupation, elders there say.
“The people are tired of all these cruel actions by the foreigners, and we can’t suffer it anymore,” said Naqibullah Samim, a village elder from Hodkail, where Mr. Yonus lived. “The people do not have any other choice, they will rise against the government and fight them and the foreigners. There are a lot of cases of killing of innocent people.”
After assuming command last summer, General McChrystal moved to reduce the killing of civilians through directives that, according to United Nations human rights researchers, have led to a 28 percent reduction in such casualties last year by American, NATO and Afghan forces. The biggest impact was reducing deaths from aerial attacks, which fell by more than a third in 2009, the United Nations found.
More recently, General McChrystal moved to bring nearly all Special Operations forces in Afghanistan under his control. NATO officials said concern about civilian casualties caused by these forces was partly behind the decision, along with the need to better coordinate units and ensure that local commanders were aware of what was happening.
One unit could be doing counterinsurgency, while another carried out “a raid that might in fact upset progress,” General McChrystal explained during the videoconference.
He also challenged criticism that some of the new rules might hinder troops’ safety. “Nothing has changed to limit your right or responsibility to defend yourself,” he said.
Shootings from convoys and checkpoints involving American, NATO and Afghan forces accounted for 36 civilian deaths last year, down from 41 in 2008, according to the United Nations. With at least 30 Afghans killed since last June in 95 such shootings, according to military statistics, the rate shows no signs of abating.