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Q&A: Early childhood education, Common Core and America’s future

commoncore 600David Lawrence Jr. arrived in Miami in 1989 as an experienced newspaper journalist and continued his stellar career for another decade at the Miami Herald. He then retired to devote himself to improving the childhood years of America’s children. He chairs the Children’s Movement of Florida, a statewide, non-partisan, advocacy organization that focuses on issues critical to the early stages of life. In an interview, which has been edited, with NAM editor Khalil Abdullah, Lawrence makes the case for why Floridians should adopt the Common Core state standards.
What is your stance on Common Core?
I support Common Core totally. No question in my mind that if we are going to compete internationally as a country, we need national standards. States will continue to play the primary role in achieving this. Florida has had, as so many other states, a dust up over what’s happening here with Common Core. In Florida, we say Florida Standards. Our state has tinkered a bit  with the Common Core State Standards, but I think they’re very closely aligned.

‘Mr. Gotti the Restaurateur’

prive 600As a foodie, I enjoy experiencing new restaurants, concepts, dishes and atmospheres. Memphis has a winner in the Privé Restaurant, thanks to Mario Mims, aka Yo Gotti. Privé is French for private and the Privé Restaurant can only be described as incredible dining.
Hailing from North Memphis, Gotti, embraces his background and upbringing in his recordings and music.  Rapping since the age of 14, he has come a long way. One of his most popular mainstream songs is “5 Star Chick” and Privé has all the elements of a 5-star restaurant. 

Mom of three looks to ‘empower’ her community

90percentMost evenings you can find UCLA student Deanna Jordan at home on her computer, engrossed in assignments and class readings. This may sound typical for any dedicated college student, but most undergrads don’t have a trio of elementary school-age children diligently doing homework alongside them.
 “I’ll stop my work when they ask questions, and if it’s something that I know they can teach each other, I will have the older one mentor and tutor the others,” said Jordan, 28, a first-generation college student and mother of three who is set to graduate this week with a bachelor’s degree in African American studies.

When it comes to voting, Freedom Summer wasn’t a one-time event

In January, my father retraced steps he took 50 years ago in Hattiesburg, Miss. As a teenager in 1964, he had locked arms with men and women of goodwill seeking the most sacred and elusive right of citizenship: the vote.
Later that year, Mississippi would become the site of the extraordinary freedomsummer 600Freedom Summer, when students and activists poured into our home state to register voters and teach in Freedom Schools. But a half-century later, freedom remains unclaimed by too many as millions of African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans remain unregistered to vote.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released a stunning study, True South: Voters of Color in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer, examining the changing demographics in the South. The findings are straightforward but complex: Despite holding the keys to political power, too few voters of color have taken the initial step toward exercising this capacity.

Retirement plan distributions

moneymatters 600When it comes to receiving the fruits of your labor – the money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan – you are faced with a few broad options. Should you take the payout as systematic payments, a lifetime annuity, or a lump sum?
Systematic withdrawals
Some retirement plans may allow you to take systematic withdrawals: either a fixed dollar amount on a regular schedule, a specific percentage of the account value on a regular schedule, or the total value of the account in equal distributions over a specified period of time.