Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Press Conference Transcript

Want to know what I said? Don't go off on the bits and pieces, or what you heard someone say and simply fall in line with. Be bold. Be brave. Read the material. If you are given to the truth, this will open your eyes as to why I say what I said and why I will continue to question both the motive and mission of 'change 150' and the Mayor's commentary.

The one thing that is making a tangible and marked difference in the community, especially the Black and poor minority community,they say is going the "wrong direction"...PLEASE! They need to be ashamed of themselves!

Transcript:

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Core Values"...Let's Get To The Truth!

Since the transfer of a John Wetterauer, the former Principal of Charter Oak Grade School, the parents group and certain others, now calling themselves 'change 150' have been up in arms even demanding the immediate removal of the District Supt. Dr. Grenita Lathan.

This group has not only rallied, they have overfilled board meetings, heckled those who disagree with them, insulted the Supt, demeaned Board members and continue to do such openly and happily.

Until my statements this week at the board meeting, noone really knew how low certain individuals, in the "funk" of this group's horrible advances had gone to intimidate the Supt. and Board members and to strike fear in their minds. There have been "blue ribbons" thrown on the Supt.'s lawn in late night drive-bys, personal threats toward both the Supt. and Board members causing some Board members to secure personal security for themselves.

The question is where does this "hatred" and this supposed urgency for "change" in leadership come from? 

One would think that it is because the District has failed in reaching our students. Yet the record reflects the opposite. Part of the District's record is as follows:
*Balanced budgets. Balanced and in the BLACK the last 4 years even with the State holding money.
*Greater and more extensive teacher training to reach students in the seats.
*The Acquisition of current textbooks to better facilitate modern education.
*Technology necessary to make the learning experience relevant.
*Updated and modernized school facilities and environments.
*Teachers who now are accountable not only to their bosses, but also to parents.
*An atmosphere of accountability throughout the entire education system.
*Vocational & Technical Training to serve the needs of students who want to immediately be a productive part of society after school is over.
*Open communication, participation and dialogue through Parent Universities, and the Parent/Teacher Advisory Committee.
*Environments where the considerations of our children are placed first and foremost.
*Multiple opportunities of gainful employment for a diverse population of Peoria citizens. 
I am proud to be a part of this because I know the impact of a good education on crime and violence and overall benefits to and towards the community. Some of the critics say, "well ISAT tests results were lower last year, therefore this District is failing"...Well, it is true that ISAT scores were lower. They were lower for nearly all school districts in Illinois due to the implementation of Common Core, which some teachers spent the whole summer preparing for, but were yet learning on the fly, when school started last year. In fact, in math, one teacher told me that nearly 2 years of learning had to be given to students to bring them up to speed with the CCC (Common Core Curriculum). The Daily Herald.com reported this of the lower scores for most school sand school districts in Illinois last year:
"The decline is largely due to a change in the way the state board grades standardized tests. The 2013 state report card results released Thursday incorporates the more rigorous Common Core State Standards, and higher performance expectations on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test with different benchmarks to better align with the Prairie State Achievement Exam, given to 11th-graders. 
Also included in the state report card is a new growth metric showing how much progress individual students or schools made from one year to the next." ~ 10/31/2013
It seems that most forget that Dunlap 323 consequently, also failed to meet AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) in test scores as well. Unfortunately, they blamed it on the Special Needs children of their district. By far most of those students were Black. (This is a little something that Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis also seems to have a little memory lapse regarding)

So what is the deal? If information is readily available, why are we at this point. I have claimed racism, and certainly believe that to be part of the case, but I will agree that there is more to it as well.  

This group has recently placed their "Core Values" statement out with the following supposed "values". I will outline the portion of what they say and critically examine each one. My commentary is highlighted and within parenthesis from this point on. 

Core Values Examined:
1- "Culture of collaboration where the school board, administration, teachers, staff, parents, students and community leaders collaborate on issues of importance...more..."
[This value CURRENTLY exists, and is nothing new. As a leader of community organizations, I and others with and without me, have always been able to access this Supt. and School Board for meaningful dialogue. For example, ANY PARENT can be a part of the Parent/Teacher Advisory Committee, which comes together to review, revise and recommend policy for the School Board to undertake as District policy. This group meets every month and Dr. Lathan does not oversee it. 

Then there is Parent University. I was the volunteer Parent Participation Liaison facilitator for 2012-2013 of this group. There were about 10 meetings over the 2012-2013 school year and I was at every one of them, helping parents address issues at their local schools, giving ideas on how to draw other parents into the classroom and schools and overall directing individuals on how to get their needs and the needs of their children met.    

I don't know how anyone else feels, but I DO NOT want any parties simply coming into the District who has no vested interest within the District. I don't want business and business owners with no children in our District and who do not live within the District to simply come in and control what happens in our District and among our children. The district is over 60% Black and poor, but we're not cattle and should not be treated as such.] 
"2- Consistent practices of accountability where rewards and consequences for following district policies and procedures are the same.  Staff needs to clearly understand what the policies and procedures are, well in advance, and should be held accountable for following them.  Correct actions or infractions must be documented and result in consistent rewards and consequences."
[Prior to this administration, THIS was the problem. Any dissatisfaction seems to stems from this...ACCOUNTABILITY. NOW, teachers are not held to be infallible any longer, and the grades that they give have to be reasoned and can be called into question. Then the relationship of Principals to the parent and teachers is somewhat different. Whereas there was a time when Principals were expected to uphold almost all that a teacher did and held to be true without question, now the Principal is a partner with both the parent  and teacher. The distress that the parent faced under the old system, which I suppose this group wants us to revert back to, is no longer there. The parent's voice is important and cannot simply be overlooked.  There is a standard of service that the parent can expect from the teacher and that will be overseen throughout the system. This is a good thing that takes "hopelessness" away from the parent and helps facilitate a partnership in education. 

Then, under previous regimes and normal practices, there was no documentation or "write ups" of employees who failed parents and there was no way to deal with rogue individuals and employees. It seems that day is over within District 150 and those who continue to want privilege of being unaccountable without responsibility are upset. The problem is that if there are teachers who have an issue, they have the protection of a union and a grievance process. Personally I feel that process (the Union process) should be used to approach any teacher dissatisfaction issues with their boss.] 
3- Coalitions with community organizations and groups who care about the education and welfare of all students in our school district.  Partnerships with parents, city leaders, civic organizations and other interested community groups can serve to enrich the educational experiences and opportunities of our students.  
[The school already has business partners who provide resources, donations and help with many things as it pertains to the education of our children, and partnership with community groups and organizations on nearly any given level. As far as I am aware, such relationships have never been prohibited. For example, Dr. Lathan personally asked pastor's groups to get involved in many aspects of the schools, Parent Universities and other processes and operations of District 150. So this suggestion is not a new thing or not anything that is currently not being done. 

However, in essence, this core value, if taken too far, is very similar to #1, and runs amuck of the same things cautioned against previously. Our children and what they have access to is not for a part time salesman who has no stake in the game. How can anyone effectively engage the district by just collecting a check? The School, is a business, but cannot be run like the everyday business. We are talking about people and their lives and highly impressionable children who know and understand when people have a vested interest in them. 

What this group is seeming to suggest, is that the leadership of the District relinquish a certain amount of "control" to community partners, and that is certainly a wrong move. There should be no outside corporate control over our children's education. That is a ridiculous move. In fact, I believe that would even be prohibited by law. The citizens, through the representative board member process, should maintain control over the district, for the benefit and the welfare of our children.]   
"4- Communication involves both listening and dialoguing.  A circle of communication requires all parties to speak and to listen to one another in a way that results in a shared understanding and resolution of issues."
[As I have already established, the Supt., as I have known her, is open to all communication both positive and negative. Then to my knowledge open dialogue, is what Board meeting are for. For the Board to discuss openly the process and policy of the district in an above board and forthright manner. Then what's more, just because someone disagrees with you, or your suggestion is not followed, does not mean that you were not heard or given serious attention or consideration. I have made many arguments and decisions have been contrary to my arguments. I was heard, but simply not agreed with. One cannot root up the whole process, simply because things don;t move when one's mouth is opened. It seems that this group simply wants to redesign the process of board business and policy and or have some sort of special access, kind of like a VIP status. if that is the case, and I don't know that it is, that kind of elitism is exactly why our education processes were lacking prior to this administration.]   
"5- Clarity of issues, whether they are financial in nature, or policy and procedural issues.  In order to build trust, honesty and transparency need to be practiced and apparent to all involved."
[If there is a question, all one has to do is ask. I ask and I receive answers and I know many others who have done the same thing from district 150. On the other hand, from 2 or 3 people, there is quite a controversy over FOIA's. Over the years, every FOIA I have asked for has come in. I have asked others who have FOAI'd the district to make sure they have received answers and there is no problem of which I am aware. They are after all constrained by law on the issue. under this administration, I have not seen anything "hidden" in the details. I said this administration. 

At this point, this seems to be an ultra-critical approach to incite suspicion. With that said, I DO believe that any public organization should be held accountable and simply not taken at first blush. That is a good approach, and I can agree that entities who are to serve in the public interest should be examined and made to make sure that they stay true to that mission.]  
"6- Care and concern for all of the schools, students, staff, and parents in District 150.  Caring for students and staff begins with providing a safe environment for students to learn.  It also involves protecting the reputations of all schools, students, principals, teachers and parents and treating them with respect, dignity, and fairness."
[Once again, this one escapes me and seems to simply feed into stereotypes and fears that have been perpetuated ad nauseam, ad infinitum by this group. First of all, due to the advances and resources and training that this District has spent money on (that the critics do not want them to spend) our children are being educated much better and teachers have many more and modern resources available and at their fingertips to reach our kids with. That is an advent of THIS administration which has worked feverishly to update modern education within Peoria District 150. I know because as a volunteer parent, with absolutely no remuneration, I have been on the front lines of that fight as well. 

Secondly, we all want a safe environment for our students. For some reason, even against clear and cogent instructions on the issue, this group feels that the Supt. took away armed security within the schools. This has has come up from and by members of this group on 3 occasions in which I have listened to them. EACH time, save one, at least one Board member rose to assure that it was not the District who disarmed these officers. It was a court order by the ruling of a judge who did so. In fact, a failed move of the resource officers group is ultimately responsible for this and now we can only wait until it is fixed...

So, in essence, I am wondering exactly what these things mean taken together? There are some good suggestions, but most of the "care values" ascribed here are already implemented by the District.  I know this because for 13 years I and my family have volunteered...EVERY DAY, doing something that betters our child's and children's education at various schools. Ours is not an hour or half hour per week interlude, although any time that a parent could spend in the schools is welcome, of that I am quite sure...We have set forth multiple hours of free time and professional efforts helping improve this district. I have STAKE in the game and I proudly say so. 

Where this group comes from after the fact, I have no clue. I have not seem one of them at any parent meetings or Parent Universities or any other forum pre-Wetterhauer or Charter Oak wanting anything "better" for our district. When our inner city children were facing deficits in technology, bad lunches, and school closings, this group was not there and current individuals promoting it, were absentee on these issues and issues that pertained to the educational advance of our children. 

I am not convinced that this group wants anything other than simple corporate control and influence and power over money, and will suggest and do nearly anything to obtain it. 

I will examine their supposed "core issues" next. Maybe that will help us understand them, and what they actually want, a little better. 

Pastor Harvey Burnett

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Radio 1470, Or Should I Say 'change 150' Radio?

In a classic radio interview (at the end of this article) on AM 1470, the hosts, Jamie Markley and Scott Robbins sought intently to assert that my recent commentary at the Peoria School Board meeting wasn't appropriate and even "harmful" to the community. Here's what I said:
"You're not the sheriff, CHANGE 150,"..."We will not run
and we will not allow you to publicly lynch a Black woman in office. Yeah, that's right. You heard what I said. We won't allow you to lynch her or allow you to lynch any one who is helping our children. Yes, 'Wow' is the story," ..."If you don't like me, then you really won't like me because we are galvanizing to make our voices heard and voices known."
They asked if I wanted to take any of that back. To which I continue to state NO.

Further, they asked if I was remorseful for suggesting that the group 'change 150' were racists, by the use of the word "lynch". First, did I call them racists? At first blush, if one were to link the concept of "lynching" to historical racism and the attempt to use that methodology to shame, disgrace, dishonor, and ultimately place fear in the minds and hearts of others, the answer is yes. As I stated what has been done to and said about Dr. Lathan and some School Board members is nothing short of a 2014 modern media lynching. This is a long standard and common practice within Peoria. Both former Supt. Dr. Kay Royster, who "they" also refused to call Dr. at some point, and former Peoria Mayoral candidate General Parker have seriously found that out in modern times.   

The problem is that a certain faction of individuals, within this group, use historically racist methodology to promote their message which includes, disgrace, dishonor, shame disrespect and fear and intimidation of others. Further, it is clear, that the group's most vocal proponents perpetuates false information and misrepresentations under the guise of "change" to promote their position.

The Mis-Use Of The Media: 1470 Hosts "Pretend" To Be Confused

I may have been talking fast, but I wasn't talking that fast. From the beginning this presentation was one of bias. One of the most absurd things was the radio hosts attempt to seem oblivious to the connection between District 150 employees and citizen supporters of and within this group.

This is not a mere parents or citizens group. They claim to represent many different factions within the community. Here is an excerpt from their website which makes who they are and who supports them very clear:
"We are also a group of concerned parents, civic and religious organizations and political leaders who have come together to bring focus to the myopic leadership practices of current District 150 Superintendent, Grenita Lathan."
Then there is also this groups funding issue:
"Many of our donations have been in small amounts and come from teachers and staff who work within District 150." 
So at the very least, change 150 is a "non profit" organization. let's stop there for a minute....Since they are (or were) endorsing a School Board candidate for election, could they be a Illinois Political Action Committee For Education? If  this group is a political action group, do they have an obligation to release their donor information? They say NO for the protection of their donors, and that may well may be so, but why aren't the critics asking for additional information regarding this and why Sue Wolstenholm actually dropped out of the race? The reasons could be on the up and up, but it could have also been in effort to avoid the IPACE designation and any resultant donor disclosure requirements. That should be examined.  

Nevertheless, aside from change and endorsing candidates for School Board who have "dropped out" of the race, their primary intent is to remove Dr. Lathan from office. We know however, that there are several disgruntled District 150 employees not only and merely "donating" to the cause, as is their right, but actively spreading and promoting the vitriol of this group. Jeff Adkins Dutro, the Peoria Federation of Teachers Union leader, and District 150 EMPLOYEE, is most certainly promoting this group. Various employees, without refrain from him, are emailing and continuing to email other employees asking them to ascribe to this group's  statements and petitions. The only purpose of these actions is to give this group greater credibility under the guise of "bringing positive change to the district" and district employees.

Even though employees already have a union to redress issues of employment and employer/employee relationship issues, it is abundantly clear that this group has taken it further by fueling their dissatisfaction with leadership at street level confusing the issues and lines of policy, process, regulation and employment relationships. This is a very deceitful process and approach, and one which I believe that this group will ultimately pay for in the end.    

With that said, as I stated, I clearly did not believe that every member of the particular group is racist. Some are promoting their opinion, which is ultimately good for the community and as I have said before, everyone should have the right to voice their opinion. However some others, to whom those people are tied, have twisted themselves so tightly, until the voice of reason is hardly distinguishable from the voices of irrationality and hatred.

In my interview, I concluded by saying, "if the shoe fit" basically stating that if they or certain individuals and members were "racists" they should own it, and they should. Racism in the North has always followed this beneath the surface, "how dare you say that" pattern. Every Black person I know, and I have known them ALL my life, that has lived in both the South and the North, will readily say the same thing. The pattern of hidden, undercover and non-overt racism is a Northern(ly) inspired negative cultural value. 

Those who are not racists, know that they are not racist and should not own any suggestion to the contrary and certainly shouldn't be offended, but those who are, are exposed not only by their actions, but what they stand by, allow and by virtue of their silence endorse.

No One Likes To Be Called A Racist

In most cases, even those who are racists, don't like to be called racists because the term is filled with many negative connotations. Many individuals who deny that they are racists, have a disconnect in understanding just exactly how, they are racist and which actions are easily and readily interpreted as racist by those looking on.  

What sticks out like a sore thumb is that this group, was inspired by "change" in part because they feel that the removal of a White Principal from his long time position at Charter Oak School, due to testing irregularities (not merely mishandled paperwork, but changing of answers which led to changing scores) was too much,  and ultimately the straw that broke the camel's back. It was this event and removal of a "good man" (who has purged himself of it all through a voluntarily requested UNPAID leave of absence) made them come out of silence as to the demand to remove the Superintendent.

For them, it is a righteous fight to help deliver the employees from the "fear and intimidation" of the Supt. and her policies. What is interesting is that in the process this group has done nothing but:
  • Continue to bully and demand their way at public meetings
  • Heckle opponents of their position & 
  • Use tactics of fear and intimidation in demanding that their issues be acted upon
These are the very things that they accuse the Supt. of. Inspired by the utter disrespect displayed by this group, another certain faction has even thrown blue ribbons in front of the Supt's home in night-time drive-bys. To understand this, one need to understand that Charter Oak was named a 2012 Blue Ribbon School by the US secretary of Education Arnie Duncan. So certainly, this deplorable, and sick and twisted act is a message to the Supt.

This tactic, and things such as this, are all too reminiscent of the burning crosses that the KKK  placed in the yards of Black people and those that supported Black rights in  the pre-civil rights era. The instillation of fear and intimidation and shame was the purpose. Could this be some type of modern equivalent? I think so, it is certainly not coincidental. Then, there are threats towards various Board members which have caused some to secure personal security and body guards. All of this, because some disagree with Board members that the citizens elected and who are doing the job and following regulations.   

If these are not the actions and endorsements of people seeking CHANGE within or associated with this group, then how is it, that the instances of threats and intimidation align themselves so closely with the rise of this group and their demands?

A small amount of critical thinking is enough to raise the question of why there is such a strong push to remove this Superintendent and why such a vehement hatred is being sent out by this group, if not in print, certainly in it's actions or at the very least, by those who claim to be associated with it?   

If this is really about the "progress" of our district, then allow me to ask, why Change: 
  • Balanced budgets. Balanced in the BLACK the last 4 years even with the State holding money. 
  • Greater and more extensive teacher training to reach students in the seats.
  • The Acquisition of current textbooks to better facilitate modern education.
  • Technology necessary to make the learning experience relevant.
  • Updated and modernized school facilities and environments.
  • Teachers who now are accountable not only to their bosses, but also to parents.
  • An atmosphere of accountability throughout the entire education system.
  • Vocational & Technical Training to serve the needs of students who want to immediately be a productive part of society after school is over. 
  • Open communication, participation and dialogue through Parent Universities, and the Parent/Teacher Advisory Committee. 
  • Environments where the considerations of our children are placed first and foremost. 
  • Opportunities of employment for a diverse population of Peoria citizens. 
What Changes has this group proposed outside of changes in the Superintendency? How do their efforts make the children in the seats have a better and more positive learning experience throughout the district? How will their efforts better the educational progress and services rendered to this nearly 65% Black and minority school district? 

You will not hear the answer to those questions from this group. All you will hear is that THEY want change. In reality, they want to take over because someone "close" to them has "suffered". That someone is a nice, good, White guy, and that's ALL they need to know...forget all else...CHANGE!

I KNOW better. The cash cow of this district has been cut off and and those that know this and were used to taking advantage of overtime payments, checks in addition to salary, and overall cronyism has ceased!

Unfortunately for some of them motivating the complaints, cronyism, has ceased at the hands of a Black woman, and no matter how she has personally achieved, she is their nemesis, and is due no respect. This group shows a display of utter disrespect towards the leader of a group of children (the students) who who also identify with her. But for them, their blatantly disrespectful actions towards her, in spite of all the good changes that have been made without one word of encouragement from them, is of no consideration. Only their desire for "change" should be heard according to them.  

This is 2014, and Peoria, IL. is still suffering from a blast of 1920's styled racism. Shame on US if we, the citizens of Peoria who recognize this, don't take a stand!

Pastor Harvey Burnett

Radio Interview, or attempted radio "lynching"?
 
    )


HERE: Cindy Dollman Director of Development for the Peoria County Regional Board of Education said following proper protocol all comes back to the school’s top administrator. She said it’s typically up to the school to catch any possible mistakes or irregularities when analyzing its data. “The principal is in charge of making sure everything in the building is following state law, federal law, that all guidelines being followed within that building.”.

Special & Comical Note: 

In attempt to justify himself and his approach in demeaning Dr. Lathan and to diffuse my statements, (I suppose), Former Teachers Union leader Terry Knapp said the following:
"We're all Black!" 
He went on to state that the only people who were really White were albinos. I can't tell whether his statements were a justification towards "lynching" as if "lynching" is purely something for Blacks, or something that only Blacks can or ever will experience, or an effort to spark some "identity" or commonality among all people. He went on to continue to demean the Supt. and the Board. All I can ask him, and others that believe him, WHAT'S ON YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE? and DID YOU PUT THAT ON YOUR LAST JOB APPLICATION? I would like to know how that worked out...  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A 1 In 10 Million Chance

I suppose that the supporters of the change 150 group will be touting the phrase "struck by lightening twice" after this one. Based on their MAP scores, 1 in 10 million are the chances that the special needs students at Charter Oak would have had receiving the type of scores that they were credited on ISAT if CHEATING weren't going on.

It is a sad day when educators, and those claiming to direct the moral value underpinning of our minors, not only make a fool of themselves publicly, with the display of blatant disrespect and baseline racially centered rambling, but then go even further to support causes that they would condemn others for following and practicing.

Based On The Numbers Submitted, Scores Were Manipulated
Here is the email from a university mathematician regarding the test scores submitted from Charter Oak. It seems it would have been gross negligence NOT to have done something about the irregularities...unless one really wants to believe that they were 1 in 10 million EVERY year!

"I've shown page 10 of that report to my two best friends here in the math department today. Neither of them had heard a single thing about the incident prior to looking at the numbers. They both had a good laugh over the idea that anyone could look at those numbers and not believe there was cheating going on.
If I understand what you are asking me to calculate, I think it's the likelihood of all of the kids on page 10 passing their math and reading ISAT tests, given their extremely low rank on the MAP tests. This is a rough calculation, but in the interest of keeping it simple, I just multiplied those probabilities, which is how you calculate the likelihood of multiple, independent events occurring. I threw out the kid that didn't appear on the ISAT data (he would undoubtedly have lowered the number further).
Using the median number when the report provided a range of numbers, I came up with a probability of 7.88*10^-8. Don't take it as gospel. I only spent 5 minutes on it. That means there's a likelihood of 1 in 10 million that all of those kids would have passed the 2013 math and reading ISAT tests based on their 2013 MAP scores.
Keep in mind, however, that most of those kids did not just pass the ISAT. Many of them scored in the top 20% of all students (some even top 10%). That means they didn't just pass. Some of them went from a score that would indicate they barely knew anything on the MAP test to a score that would place them in honors classes in most schools, not special ed.If the firm that had prepared the report had provided the "unlikelihood" of the full increase into account, that 1 in 10,000,000 number would drop considerably. How much I can only guess without access to the proper data, but I'm guessing it would be a dramatic, dramatic drop, like the likelihood of being struck by lightning twice on the same day."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Change 150...Not Now & Not For Your Reasons Or By Your Methods!

UPDATE: Based on the numbers Charter Oak placed in their report, there was approximately a 1 in 10 million chance that they were telling the truth...1 in 10 MILLION! Incredulous! People trained to decipher numbers readily know that Charter Oak numbers were false. Read about that HERE

Recently,  I was motivated to act and get involved in what seems to be a fight over the leadership and direction of Peoria District 150. As I have previously stated, there is nothing man made that is perfect. However, I will take the modern and current District 150 under its current leadership with all of its imperfections any day over the alternatives that have been proposed. The dissent from a group called "Change District 150" is simply because they are discouraged in their vision for the handling of the the business of the District  and the recent reassignment of the Principal Of Charter Oak MS.

I want to set the record perfectly clear, as I am sure this group would like also:

I never had to "break away" from this group as I never was associated with it in any way shape or form. They have no credibility or validity associated with me or my name. ~ Pastor Harvey Burnett (Facebook Parent Connection Peoria District 150 Parents)

Week News
[WEEK: PEORIA, Ill. -- After Peoria District 150 parents and community leaders rallied last night over growing concerns with district leadership--one parent is breaking away from the newly formed coalition CHANGE150.
"I think they're picking the wrong fight, and they are fighting the battle the wrong way," said District 150 parent Harvey Burnett.
Burnett says he is also unsatisfied with Peoria's education system but he says shouting louder is not a solution.
"I think that this particular group has been heard, but now there's a desire to infiltrate the system, undermine the system and to try and strong arm," said Burnett.
After attending the change 150 rally last night, he was disappointed.
"It is like we don't care about the mishandling of test scores, which essentially amounts to cheating. It is as if they do not care about that and just want to proceed," said Burnett.
He is even more disappointed with what he says is a destructive and negative approach to change.
"This superintendent has brought positive change to the district and to the class room," said Burnett.
He says problems in school systems stem from underlying issues in the community like socioeconomic inequality. He believes a single person cannot be to blame.
"I refrained from using the word bullying, and I didn't use it last night, but I really think this is," said Burnett.
Instead, he says that all parties including the parents, the district and the city could to more to be a part of the solution.
"If we can be proactive and try to find some way to connect. If we can raise the level of expectations for our community as a whole, we'll be better off than just saying, 'Hey you need to move so the next one can be in place.' " said Burnett.]

The group Change 150 simply wants what they want with no rationale as to what is actually happening and or the big picture. The big picture is that although veterans of Peoria's education system may be uncomfortable with changing rules and regulations as it pertains to standards and performance policies many of which are state wide and nationally inspired, the greater issue is that we are much further along in the RIGHT DIRECTION in education than we have ever been as a community. Though one may pick over and debate methods and "management styles", one would be hard pressed to say that we need a reversion to former policies and results. The City can help by bringing a better community plan inclusive of all segments of Peoria and especially inclusive of its South Side and Black and minority owned businesses. Opportunity coupled with education and a serious redevelopment of many of Peoria's most devastated neighborhoods will do far more than building jails and community policing efforts can do. I for one certainly don't have all the answers but we have some good people in Peoria who can work together to come up with solutions to make this community a desirable community for ALL citizens. That is my prayer and for that I can't wait! 

District 150 Braggin' Rights

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Response To Mayor Ardis Criticisms of Peoria School District 150

When we initially formed the Peoria Association Of Pastors as we have become known, we identified 3 primary areas of concern that we would focus on and bring attention to. Aside from spiritual renewal, as we believe the only hope for any and every community is Christ and acceptance of his Lordship in the lives of individuals who make up the community, the areas of concern were 1) crime and violence 2) quality of life/social justice issues and 3) education and its impact on our children, family and community.

Peoria Education

The education system itself is not perfect. It is changing to accommodate the needs of the community. Needless to say that in every corporation there is room for improvement, enhancement and further development. There is no corporation, no matter how profitable, affluent or large that does not need to be improved in some way, shape or manner. Peoria School District 150 is no different and the Corporation of the City of Peoria is in the same boat...needs IMPROVEMENT!

With that said however, I can personally point to the areas in which Peoria School District 150 under the leadership of Dr. Grenita Lathan, has done an excellent job in many areas that have gone unheralded by the media and totally overlooked by Peoria Mayor Ardis in his state of the City address. Here is the link to the Mayoral address:

State Of The City Address  

In it you will note that the Mayor blames the lack of attractiveness of the City on the School District. He states that the District is going in the "wrong direction" and that it is a "pig" which lipstick can't make look any better. At the same time, the Mayor introduced that people are leaving the City because of the negative "perception" of the District, a "negativity" which the Mayor certainly fuels by his statements. I would like to know a few things however. Since the Mayor likes to play word games as well then:

1) Who Is "The District"

As the attached clip shows, when I challenged the Mayor on his statements, the Mayor said:
"Nowhere in my address did I place blame on educators, children or their families for problems in our educational system"
Yet he says he stands by his commentary that "The District" is going the "wrong direction". I think it is pretty clear, but since he didn't say who he blames specifically, the question is "who is The District"? If "The District" is not its teachers, children nor their families, then who is "The District"? The District is not the School Board, neither is the District solely Administrators...so who is "The District"?  Since they are going in the wrong direction and the City is worse off because of them, who is "The District"?

As any reasonable person can see, "The District" INCLUDES ALL of its components. Its TEACHERS, STUDENTS, ADMINISTRATORS (whom the Mayor did not include in his exclusion) CHILDREN and of course the families. His attempts to cover what he is saying and redirect blame are simply attempts to OBFUSCATE the truth.

According to Dictionary.com, the word Obfuscate is defined in the following manner:
1- to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy.
2-to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.
3-to darken.
The Mayor does all three of these things with his statements of course quite on purpose.

2) What Is The "Wrong Direction" That The District Is Going?

We all know that Mayor Ardis wants a leveraged takeover of District 150. He wants a system similar to Chicago, in which he has power of appointment of both Board members and the Superintendent...Believe me, that would be a tragedy!!!! Not simply because Ardis is Mayor (his person has little to nothing to do with it) Simply by concept of allowing the office of the Mayor to rule would be horrible, no matter who's in office in Peoria. Why, because as we have seen with other efforts, LARGE segments of our community would go without representation and would be under-served even worse than we already are...In addition, a school is a business, but does not run like a traditional business...Children are NOT clients and their families are not customers...

3) Since The Economic Blight & Devastation Of The Black Community In Peoria Can't Possibly Be Laid At The Feet Of School District 150, How Can The Mayor Or The City Claim That They Are Going In The "Right Direction"?

Many folk do not really understand. The 61605 zip code, by virtually every statistic that one can pull together, is one of the most economically devastated zip codes in the COUNTRY considering size and population demographic.

There is nearly 50% poverty and nearly 30% unemployment in that zip code alone. services include more retail liquor establishments most of which are not owned by residents in and of the area, but by foreign nationals and those who for 14 years, according to law, pay no taxes on personal income and many of whom turn over their business after such time, to other family members who also enjoy the tax breaks.

Where are the City's ideas to help the poor Black and minority inhabitants of these neighborhoods? Don't simply blame it on the Council Person. She has just got here and she is doing a great job. Don't blame it on the last Councilman either in totality...Peoria, was supposed to be a City of ALL the people.

So is the "right direction" the exclusion of the average Black family and or the poor and minority? Is that the path that we all should be so eager to follow?

Mr. Mayor and those who support his statements...I think NOT!   

I place the local CBS News story and my response to the Mayor's statements in the following or remainder of this article. As they say, read his statements, my response and you decide. 
CBS 31 News Story
My Written Response To The Mayor's Assertions (full version)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Statement Regarding Trayvon Martin Call For Justice

This statement was released Saturday July 20th in response to the 100 City Rally called for by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network concerning Justice for the family of Trayvon Martin


7/20/2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

STATEMENT REGARDING THE COMMUNITY AND CITIZEN RALLIES REGARDING THE TRAYVON MARTIN CASE RECENTLY DECIDED IN FLORIDA

CONTENT: 

As pastors and citizens of our community we stand in solidarity with countless millions across the country asking that the government undertake a renewed investigation into the possible racial motivations of George Zimmerman in stalking and eventually killing the 17 year old and unarmed Trayvon Martin. 

Although the courts and the predominately White female jury has interpreted the evidence in favor of Mr. Zimmerman, it is more than obvious to millions of Black Americans that the interpretation of Trayvon's efforts in his own self defense were viewed through a racial interpretive and not an interpretive lending itself to either individual or community justice. We feel that his actions are due a much greater level of scrutiny, and as it has historically been in civil rights, if scrutiny is not called for, justice will not be served. 

We also feel that a local conversation is vitally important to our community, in part, because a version of "stand your ground" and "self defense" will be adopted in relationship to new laws associated with concealed carry in Illinois. Since it is abundantly clear that such laws are rarely interpreted in favor of Black men and woman, it is in the citizens best interest to stand with a strong voice demanding the full attention of our elected representatives as they move forward to forge and implement such legislation. 

Finally, we must seek to challenge local authority to create and implement law enforcement policy acceptable to ALL of the citizens of Peoria which includes the Black community. 

Although national statistics affirm that the rate of usage and sales of drugs are shared in sheer numbers by both Black and White individuals, incarceration rates of Blacks in Peoria for such crimes hold steady to national norms, lending to the negative sterotypes and discouraging outcomes for Peoria's Black citizens, families and youth in particular. We feel that we must continue to address these stereotypical attitudes that result from this negative attention and set forth agenda that will address issues of ALL as we seek to build a better, stronger and more vibrant community. 

In short, we encourage and stand with those who stand for the rights of free speech, peaceful assembly, and the message of accountability directed towards those who have been charged to govern us. In a post civil rights America, we should be reminded that this call to accountability is a duty to all citizens and not just some citizens. 

Thank you. 

Pastor Harvey Burnett 
Peoria Assn. Of Pastors 
New Bethel COGIC

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Calling All Fathers And Families. Father's Day Anti-Violence Rally!

As promised the Peoria Association of Pastors is calling out to all Fathers for a pre-Father's day anti-violence community rally.

We will meet for the street and community styled rally at the entrance of Glen Oak Grade School on Saturday June 15th, 2013 at 12:00 noon.

Men woman and children are invited. Men's groups are welcome to represent themselves. We want to take the opportunity to invite men to compel their sons, daughters and neighbors to stop the violence, come out of the streets and embark upon a better path in life. The Mothers left a MESSAGE and we will ask the Fathers to formulate and leave one as well.

For additional information please call (309)688-6599 or email Dunamis1@netzero.com.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Votes Aren't There To Redefine Marriage In Illinois!

Thankfully the votes needed to redefine marriage in Illinois fell woefully short in the current session of the General Assembly, but there is still yet much work to do to secure the institution against further attack.

There was much confusion among pastors in the state over the issue, some claiming that the fight for gay marriage was tantamount to the denial of "civil rights" which in our opinion is a horribly wrong and bad argument. Peoria was not exempt from confusion with some pastoral groups standing to affirm the right of gays to marry.
 
The Peoria Association Of Pastors STANDS For Traditional Values

Although Illinois currently acknowledges civil unions, we are proud to say that we are a part of and in support of those Pastoral leaders around the state who have arisen to lobby against the redefinition of marriage in the state.  The Peoria Association Of Pastor's Statement on Gay Marriage can be found HERE. As long as this issue continues we will continue to advocate our position and address the arguments of the homosexual right on all basis upon which that argument is delivered.
Here is an email from one of the chief advocates for traditional marriage in the state, the director of National Organization For Marriage (NOM) Mr. Brian Brown: 

Washington, DC — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today celebrated the failure of legislation to come to a vote late this evening in Illinois seeking to redefine marriage, thus preserving marriage in the state as the union of one man and one woman. The bill's House sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, announced this evening that he did not have the votes to pass the measure and would not bring the legislation to a vote. Assuming this is the case, the bill is thus dead until the fall when the Legislature reconvenes for a veto session. 
"This effort to redefine marriage in Illinois was one of the most fiercely contested legislative battles in the country this year," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "This is a great victory for our allies and supporters, as well as Illinois families who have worked tirelessly with us to preserve marriage in Illinois. We are gratified that our collective hard work has paid off in this stunning victory."  
Illinois is a heavily Democratic state and has been widely considered by the gay marriage lobby as virtually certain to redefine marriage. Backers of the legislation have frequently claimed, falsely, that they had the votes in hand to pass the legislation (SB 10). President Obama had urged his former colleagues to vote to redefine marriage, and it was a top priority of both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn. It even was supported by a former Republican Chairman who was forced to resign from his post for advocating a position contrary to Republican principles.others throughout the state, we did what nobody in the intelligentsia thought was possible. This is a huge victory at a pivotal time, and totally undercuts the lie that somehow same-sex marriage is inevitable."  
NOM spent well over $125,000 on grassroots activities to defeat the bill, but praised others in the coalition for securing the victory.  
"So much for the inevitability of gay marriage," said Brian Brown. "With a coalition that included strong support from the African American community as well as so many  
"Our thanks go out to champions such as the African American Clergy Coalition; Rev. James Meeks and Bishop Lance Davis; the Illinois Conference of Catholic Bishops and their director Bob Gilligan; the Illinois Family Institute and their director David Smith; the Illinois Family PAC and their director, Paul Caprio; and the Coalition of African American Pastors and their chairman, Rev. Bill Owens. Everyone pitched in everything they had to stop this ill-conceived legislation. We at NOM are honored to have been part of the coalition effort."  
NOM also announced that it would form a state PAC to support Democrats and Republicans who supported marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and would oppose legislators, especially Republicans, who abandoned the true definition of marriage.  
"We intend to continue to work with our coalition allies including Pastor Meeks, Bishop Davis and the other amazing leaders in the African American community who boldly stood for the truth about marriage," Brown said. "And those Republicans who betrayed principle will soon learn that their political careers are headed for the same dustbin that met former GOP Chair Pat Brady when he betrayed the cause of marriage."
 
This should not be construed as a mark against "gay people". As an association we abhor civil injustice in jobs, housing, education and all sorts of social injustice, and we stand ready to assist all men and women, gay or straight, in securing fundamental rights and protecting their loved ones, however, marriage is a foundational principle within society between one man and one woman and cannot be compromised.

We are glad to encourage any pastor and any congregation willing to stand in defense of traditional values to stand along with this association of pastors and churches. Thank you.

Pastor Harvey Burnett
Exec. Director

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Peoria Inner City Track & Field Club, A Good Place For Your Youth This Summer


As pastors we are consistently asked what positive activities can kids be involved in during the summer which is often down time for many students from school. Basketball camps are often full and football season doesn't start until the fall with a very hot and often grueling preseason practice schedule.

So where can your youth go to be in am safe enviroenment,  receive excellent training and preparation for athletic activity and discover and further develop track and field talents?

The Peoria Inner City Track and Field Club is the place!















The Peoria Inner City Track and Field Club (PICTFC)is now accepting applications and enrollments for the 2013-2014 season.  There is not a better deal in town if you want your child to be exposed to a quality track and field program geared toward personal skill development and improved performance, community service, excellent coaching and all within a fun in a safe environment.

Developed  a little over 2 years ago by former Peoria HS track and field standout, Pasor Harvey Burnett, the PICTFC has already made an impact on the lives of many of Peoria's track and field athletes. Already athletes have gone to significant personal bests for this year over last years performance.
 
The club is seeking athletes interested in track and field or athletes interested in speed or athletic performance development between the ages of 10 and 18 with special training and development available for athletes at higher ages who are unafilliated with college or other semi-professional programs.

The scope of the program includes:

A low introductory annual cost of $40 per athlete
Automatic youth membership in the USATF
Training and development at all levels and skill sets
Strength training and development with a strength trainign professional (age appropriate)
Personal and modernized speed development programs and training
Community service opportunities (pad those college applications with what they want to see)
Ability to participate in meets outside of the area.
Opportunity to participate in the 2013 regional and national Jr. Olympics

There is a parent student enrollment and orientation meeting scheduled for 5:30 PM Tuesday June 4th on the campus of Bradley University at the Romeo B. Garrett Ctr. 824 N. Duryea, Peoria, IL At this meeting we will outline the scope of the program, receive enrollments and have a coaches introduction. Anyone interested in allowing their child to participate in the club is welcome to attend.

If one can't make that meeting, don't worry, practices are scheduled to begin Wednesday June 5th 2013 at 4:00 PM and Manual HS Russell Field.  No child can practice without signed enrollment and waiver and fee and parents are welcome to meet the coaching staff and receive a mini-version of the orientation at that time. Depending upon our sponsor contributions, a limited number of scholarships are available for placement in the program delivered on a first come first serve basis.  

To enroll forms can be downloaded HERE and regulations can be found HERE.  you can mail form along with fee to Peoria Inner City Track at P.O. Box 6167 Peoria, IL. 61601. You may also call our office at (309)688-6599 for further information or instructions.

We are accepting donations to help purchase uniforms equipment and offset enrollment fees. Please go HERE to make donations online and help us reach our goal in exchange receive discounts on national brand items. Check it out.  

Check out or web site HERE and our Facebook page HERE 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Message To The Gang Culture From Peoria Mother's (Father's Too)

Saturday May 11th was an historic event in many ways. Never before have Peoria mother's been called together to deliver an open message as it pertains to issues regarding Peoria's violent crime, and never before has such an event focused on the benefits of changing behavior and encouraging gang members to step out of the life, put down the weapons and come back to being a part of the community.

I (Pastor Burnett) asked the Mother's who were able to attend to set forth a clear meesage to both the gangs and community as a result of this event. We listened and this is what we learned: 

A Message To Gang Members & Those Considering Violence:
 

1- We love you and are not willing to give up on you. Your are our sons and daughters and we are your mothers. You are our family.

2- Stop the killing and violence. We will do all that we can to plead with you to stop violence, to stop you from killing and being killed.
3- You have a purpose and must live to see it. The purpose is NOT to hang out and or to kill and contribute to them who do. Your purpose is to contribute to the community through your yet undiscovered talents and gifts. 

4- It is our desire that you change your ways and come to salvation. The longest journey begins with one step. We are willing to help you if you can take a chance and step out of the crowd. We stand pleading with and for you and we will embrace you.

5- You are creative and gifted. You live beneath anything placed in you when you yield to violence, gangs and drugs. We need more doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, salespersons, business owners etc. You are and undiscovered treasure. Allow us to see the real you. You are much more than the streets say you are. 
6- We will be accountable to you for our actions, we will do better by embracing and spending time with you, but we ask the same of you towards us. Bring your frustrations to the table of discussion and resolution and not to violence and murder. With god's help together we will find and answer. Let's help one another.
7- Embrace the foundation of truth and morality. If we don't face and deal with honest and sincere truths, there can be no real change. Let us remember our history and build upon the values that made us a strong and proud people.
There Was A Challenge Issued To Peoria Families:

8- Spend as much time with your child and young people delivering and rehearsing values. Commit to having one more dinner per week at the table where all are present. Commit to attending one more school function with your child. Commit to not just sending your children to church, but going to church with them. A minute of prevention and concern could change the course of a life for the next 30 to 50 years.  

There Was Also A Challenge Issued To Peoria's Inner City Institutions Specifically The Church Itself:

9- It is time to step up to serve the community as it deals with the fallout of violence in a much better way. We thank you for food distribution. That is good. We thank you for clothing giveaways. They are needed, but failure to meet the spiritual needs of the family as it struggles to bring their sons and daughters out of gangs and off the streets is unacceptable. We need you as a community church to band together and overwhelm the neighborhood when crime occurs within the community and deliver innovative ideas to address the problems. With little exception, the leadership of the church is not nearly visible enough in the neighborhood settings when trouble arises and does not deliver many proactive measures to the community to prevent gang and drug proliferation. This must change. We need you, and you need us.

This is not the end all of everything that must be done, but it is the beginning of the shift in pleading for these young mena dn young women to embrace new values that are centered on and around family and truth. Without these things we have very litle if anything to build upon. It is time that these young people build their lives instead of destroying them.

Pastor H. Burnett
Exec. Director

Peoria Journal Star article HERE 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Calling ALL Women & Families! Mother's Day Rally 2013

The Peoria Association of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal is calling for a pre-mother's Day community rally for the restoration of our families and peace and safety of our community. This is not just an event. It promises to be a paradigm shift in how the community assesses and addresses crime and violence and sets forth change.
 
This gathering will take place Saturday May 11th, 2013 just prior to Mother's Day Sunday, at 12:00 noon,  near the corner of Butler & Warren Streets on Peoria's South Side, and is scheduled to last about an hour.

The first of two community rallies, the goal of the pre-Mother's Day event is to gather 1,000 Mothers/Women and their families to address crime and violence calling upon on our youth to cease from both destroying one another and our community's hope and future.   

"We will not fear, nor will we be afraid. It is time to call our young men and young women in. We must make efforts to speak to them, ask them, persuade them, to change. "Don't Shoot" cannot do what you can do and what we must do. WE must restore our families and children. No more death, no more murder, no more guns and no more shooting. We want them to live and what we can do is first pray, then plead with them to change. You will be heard!" ~ Pastor Harvey Burnett  

Pastor Burnett is asking for women and mother's to bring themselves, their significant others and families to pray and speak to our community and our youth. Email Dunamis1@netzero.com or call (309)688-6599 for additional infomration or how you and your group may participate and support this landmark community effort and event.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bringing Like-minded Parents Together

Engaging children in a successful education is a cornerstone of the community and is a vital aspect of our city's health and growth. Many of the families and children that attend local schools are also part of the local or community oriented church. It is vitally important that the church be engaged in the school process and share in its status. 

There is a new forum, inspired by association director, Pastor Harvey Burnett, run and operated by parents who wish to come together to discuss and address certain issues as it pertains to their district 150 school. Known as "Parent Connection" this group seeks to empower parents and students with education on the process of problem resolution, information sharing and what it takes to create the best possible educational experience for our children at all levels. 


Parent Connection seeks to engage parents from all Peoria District 150 schools. This is a function totally independent of District 150, its administration or its staff and information is free flowing. The goal is to help parents connect with each other regarding the current process of each school and to seek to provide suggestions on how issues and problems can be addressed and solved in the best possible and most efficient manner at the local school level.  

Information that can be shared includes but is not limited to things such as the dates of local PTCO meetings, requirements for an adequate and successful bullying policy, why parents must be involved in how Title 1 dollars are spent, and sharing of information as it pertains to District 150 sponsored events and forums such as Parent University and Parent Teacher Advisory meetings. 


Anyone can become a part of the Parent Connection by clicking the following link and pressing "Like".
Parent Connection Peoria District 150 Parents    

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Don't Shoot" Peoria's New Anti-Gun Violence Initiative Pt. 2

On Wednesday evening 8/29 at Riverside Community Church, David M. Kennedy delivered information to about 200 to 300 Peoria citizens interested in the concepts of his book and hearing  strategies and opinions on combating Peoria gun violence. In a riveting speech designed to not only stir emotions, but also conscience, Kennedy outlined a systemic problem starting with perceptions and stereotypes tracing their roots as far back as the civil rights era all the way to modern family life, education and inculturation.  
David M Kennedy
"Drug dealing is not a way to get rich. Studies show they make less than they could earn on a minimum wage job. No benefits, no retirement plan or health insurance and they have to work in the rain" ~ David M. Kennedy 8/29/2012
 
What was probably most shocking to audience members, was that Kennedy recounted that FBI statistics on crime are down to 4 homicides per 100,000 nationwide. He explained that  those figures are deceptive and not representative of what's really going on in the inner cities. For example, neighborhoods such as the Crescent neighborhood of Rochester, NY reflect a 526/100,000 homicide rate among those who are actively engaged in drugs and gangs. He also noted the numbers are worse in areas such as Chicago's W.Garfield Park, whose 1500 gang members actually produce an equivalent homicide rate of 3,000/100,000.
 
Exposing cultural stereotypes and questioning why these numbers aren't either the subject of the 2012 political debate and campaign promises, Kennedy unraveled what I call an ugly baby. A baby delivered almost DOA (dead on arrival)  exposing that these high homicide rates exist among  select groups of Blacks and minorities. These numbers exist among people who have become accustomed to crime, violence, incarceration, distrust and the disintegration of the entire community and the erosion of their family.
 
Hello...Have You Been Listening??? 
 
As I sat there, I understood that what many people don't know is that since 1980 there have been over 300,000 homicides of Black people committed by other Black people in the United States. In other words the Black community is exploding and there is very little being done to stop it.
 
 
One of the most disappointing realities of this session was that there were probably less than 50 Black people in attendance and less than a handful of Black Pastors and even less with churches in the affected neighborhoods, areas or communities. There could be many reasons for this, not to mention that Wed. night is a bible study night in many churches (which is something that could have been thought of if the intent was to involve the optimal number of Pastoral leaders and citizens within the affected neighborhoods...but I digress) I also thought that many of those civic "leaders" who were in attendance, were not going to hear this message from the Black community  (as similar information has been delivered to City officials by Black men and has fallen on deaf ears) their thoughts and assessments discarded, in part, because of what is perceived as "racial pressures" or accusations of racism or irrational and emotional thoughts.
 
The good thing is that when a White man (David Kennedy) says the same thing and writes about it in a book, it can be perceived differently and seems to be more acceptable to some in Peoria. My feeling is however and through whomever the message is getting across...the message is finally getting across, and WE are glad! 
 
Our Opinion Of The Effort  
 
The Don't Shoot initiative involves a totally different approach to solving crime from an administrative level, and as Mr. Kennedy said, "...if Peoria is serious" there is potential that this program will have a positive effect on decreasing crime and violence and saving lives in Peoria. Let me examine some of the "elements" that have been recognized as being essential from a professional standpoint to make this program work.  
 
States Attorney Jerry Brady
States Attorney
 
The States Attorney, Jerry Brady, seems to have taken an approach of community inclusion and accessibility which a very positive step. This is miles above former States Attorney, now Judge, Kevin Lyons, who was unavailable for anything other than the promotion of his political career while touting the fact that under his 20 plus years he was ready to "lock up" whomever he could. (with some major exceptions that will not be discussed here) ie: under the Lyons leadership the States Attorney office was simply uninvolved and there was no strategy that he would listen to that could come close to "Don't Shoot" with the exception of the DMI which came about toward the end of his tenure. Nevertheless, and Thank God, we are encouraged by Brady's approach in this regard.  
 
The Peoria Police 

Hopefully, Police Chief Settingsgaard will feel the need to drop "Broken Windows" as a community policing strategy or at least be compelled to modify the application of it to some degree. In addition, I hope that he will understand from this point forward, that it is essential to meet with all community leaders who have input in changing this community. The reason that this is important is because the Chief informed me in a 5/2/08 letter that because he and I were "incompatible" as leaders that he couldn't continue relationship with our organization simply because I pressed him to do what he committed to do, by providing a record of disposition on all the handguns taken in during the 2007 Peoria Gun Exchange event. To date, the Chief has refused to provide the agreed upon information and disrespects us as a community partner by contending that he and his department has to do nothing in response to our request. (see the letter that the Chief sent to me below)
Peoria Police Chief Settingsgaard

Quite frankly, when it comes to a community and community service, and life and death issues such as those we are dealing with in Peoria, people who are "incompatible" are compelled to meet one another and reach toward greater goals to secure opportunities, get things done, and potentially save lives.
 
That leads to the next issue and something that I promised to deliver in a previous post.
 
What If...The City Of Peoria Recidivism Plan???
 
Mr. Kennedy outlined the problems seemingly fanned by disproportionate incarceration rates of Blacks and minorities within America. As we reported in Black Education In Peoria..We Are Under-served?  over half of the 2 million men in prison today are Black although Black men represent only 13% of the US population. Black men are also 6.5 times more likely to to be in prison than White men. Black men at a rate of 3,161/100,000 are under custody or care of the Federal or State penile system as compared to White men at a rate of 487/100,000. In essence, the system is slanted against the Black individual more so than a White individual.
 
Not only that but there is also a link to education, (which is why we take such a bold stance on issues dealing with education as one can't effectively advocate for the Black community or community in general without advocating for better and more effective education) There is a link to opportunity as well. That opportunity to contribute to society is taken away from many Black men when they are arrested and there is little to no help in reintegrating these same persons when they have served their time and are trying to get back involved in society in a productive manner. 
 
In Peoria plans to address this problem and subsequent issues go unheeded or are simply overlooked. For example, at a meeting in 2009, (quite a few murders and arrests ago) I pitched a recidivism plan to Police Chief Settingsgaard which outlined creating a community and a network around those who were trying to re-enter society from prison or jail. This program included access and mentoring from the pastoral community, citizenship training and outreach from police officials, and involvement of the business community for apprenticeship training and possible job preparation and placement. The plan was developed in response to the Chief's commentary and Peoria Police findings that new crimes annually were flat, while repeat offenders were increasing in incarceration rates annually. ie: The same people were basically committing crimes within the community and going to jail over and over.
 
In a proposal that outlined reintegration and the creation of a system of accountability as specified above, and education for the particular target individual, the Chief simply responded by saying that it may be hard to get police personnel to "buy into" a program such as ours because many of the police had spent time, and had become personally involved in apprehending some of the individuals who would be reintegrating.???
 
I know...I said the same (or similar) thing....I don't to this day understand the objection. That was a ridiculous sentiment IF the aim is to address what we readily recognize is a problem segment and the source of crime and violence within the community. 
 
Is The City Ready For Fundamental Change?
 
What am I saying? I am saying that IF this city is ready to FUNDAMENTALLY change their approach to crime and how that is addressed and solved, this program may have a chance.
 
Mayor Jim Ardis
The Mayor's Office
 
Although Mayor Ardis is excited about the book and the program, if Peoria is ready to do more than "window dress" or put on a program to "look good", restricting it to a certain select few as they have done since 2007 in many instances, this program can change the lives of many people who both live in and outside of the affected areas.
 
However, one can't deal with gangs and drug dealers and simply walk away when one is tired. This effort must be sustained and inclusive and failure to involve individuals in the very same neighborhoods in which many of these crimes occur and have occurred is not a good move, nor is it sound wisdom. To set forth a program while ignoring the needs, culture (days that Black folk have church for instance) and individuals on the ground is not good either.  
 
A final note, although he (Mayor Ardis) didn't restrict or discourage the efforts of the Pastor's Assn., Mayor Ardis has committed to me in no uncertain terms, that there will be no Gun Exchange associated with this program. All I can say is that IF they are serious EVERY proactive measure should be considered and supported. Although a Gun Exchange is not the end all of any effort against gun violence, I will gladly give $100 to potentially stop and address gun violence before it occurs than pay the $40,000 per year afterward to lock up the one who shoots the gun, kills someone, destroys himself and potentially another family, providing him/her 3 meals and a cot on our dime.
 
Don't Shoot, may have begun with a book, but it will continue with people who are unafraid to get dirty, believe in standing for and doing the right thing, have their feet on the ground and set forth a good faith effort to reach out to ALL those who have a stake in the issue and have suffered loss.
 
Hopefully, this will be done the right way instead of the same old Peoria way that has led us, in many cases to what we see and experience at this point.
 
Let Us Pray!
Blessed!
 
Pastor Harvey Burnett
Director Peoria Assn. Of Pastors

A Letter From The Peoria Chief Of Police:
btw: 1- The Gun Exchange was NOT co-sponsored by the city, this ws fully sponsored by the Peoria Assn. of Pasotrs. 2- A full listing of disposition WAS agreed on BEFORE the exchange and has not yet been delivered for our review. 3- I delivered a letter to his office only after he would not return calls and at least one email sent asking for the information or a time frame. 4- In the meantime, the Chief seems to have became upset as our organization spoke out on another public issue, dealing with the Police, that had nothign to do with this without "running it by him" first.