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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Six years ago terrorists in airplanes attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and apparently were headed for the White House when a heroic crew of passengers took one plane over and it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Not too long ago, Deena Burnett, the widow of Tom Burnett who was one of the heroes of United Flight 93, spoke courageously about her husband at the Clinton School.
On September 11, 2001 many of us watched thse events unfold on television with disbelief and shock. Almost 3,000 people died, and it is now estimated that about 10,000 more are sick or will be from other illnesses such as lung disease and cancer as a result of post-impact dust, debris and other injuries. For many students at the Clinton School, like Pearl Habor was to the World War II generation, 9/11 is a day that will always live in infamy.
We at the Clinton School pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the attacks, and we honor the families whose lives will never be the same. We do so with a simple but sincere message on a sign at our front entrance.
Today people all over the world, will ask each other this one question: “Where Were You on 9/11?”
For me, I was at a meeting in Brownsville, Texas. Later that day, I learned a family friend was on the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. I ended up staying in Brownsville several days before the airport reopened. In the midst of the tragedy, one of the things I remember was the kindness extended to a stranger by many in that South Texas community.
As a living memorial to the victims, the tragedy of 9/11 spawned a new interest in and commitment to public service. In 2005, for example, 5 million out of 12 million college undergraduates volunteered. That same year, the Clinton School, the nation’s first to offer a Master of Public Service Degree, opened its doors.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Invitations are in the mail for the first annual Clinton School Scholarship Fundraiser. Mitch Albom, bestselling author of Tuesdays with Morrie (1997); The Fve People You Meet in Heaven (2003); and For One More Day (2006) is keynoting the Oct. 24 luncheon in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Albom is also an award-winning sportswriter, having won the Associated Press Sports Editor Contest 13 times. This will be his first visit to Arkansas.
Here are just a few reasons why scholarships are so important:
*62 percent of college graduates ages 21 to 35 still have debt.
*39 percent said it will take 10 years or more to be debt free.
*43 percent used credit cards to pay tuition and one-third are still in debt.
*44 percent say the debt made them delay buying a home.
*28 percent say the debt made them delay having children.
*33 percent say the debt made them move in with their parents.
*25 percent had to postpone or cancel graduate school attendance.
We hope you will support the Clinton School by donating to our scholarship fund. We’ll be happy to send you a invitation. Just email your name and address to Eric Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 501.683.5655.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Clinton School and the William H. Bowen School of Law are teaming up to help strengthen the South Main Street area between Interstate 630 and Roosevelt Road in downtown Little Rock. This weekend students from both schools began canvassing the surrounding neighborhoods to assess the area’s demographics, needs and possibilities. It’s a great project and the partnership between the two schools makes it even more so. Funding for the project is provided by the Altheimer Foundation which provided this support to promote the common goal of public service shared by both schools.
When the survey results are finalized, a community trends report will be shared with the Main Street Board of Directors and distributed to the community. Hopefully, it will be the impetus for sustainable economic and neighborhood development.
Thanks in large part to the Clinton School student leadership of Christin Harper and Josh Heimburg, the faculty leadership of Joe Ballard, and the interest of our students, along with the cooperation and support from the Bowen School, this could well be an urban “Main Street” model for areas all over the nation.
We’ve only just begun.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – I stopped by the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion yesterday where a new desktop calendar book was released. Under the leadership of First Lady Ginger Beebe, the book features work from 88 Arkansas artistis. It sells for $20 and proceeds go to the Governor’s Mansion Association. The book is an excellent holiday gift idea and is also a special gift for Arkansans and family members living out of state.
Mrs. Beebe will be at the Clinton School Sunday, Sept. 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a reception and book signing. The event is open to the public and we hope you will join us. Click here for more information on the event — a great way to get a jump start on your holiday shopping too.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – When we studied how the Clinton school could offer one of, if not the nation’s best public program/lecture series, we reviewed those presented at Harvard. The programs at the Kennedy School and throughout the Harvard campus are extensive and cover a wide range of subjects.
On Nov. 18, I will join Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine, and noted Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates at Harvard for a Kennedy School panel dialogue on Little Rock today. Our discussion will follow a preview of the HBO documentary, Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later, which will be shown by HBO on the evening of Sept. 25, the 50th anniversary of the school’s desegregation. I have already seen a preview of the film produced by Little Rock residents Brent and Craig Renaud. It is strong; some will praise it, saying it presents a realistic picture; others will be critical, saying some essential facts are noticeably missing. At the very least it should spark strong commentary which could manifest itself at our Kennedy School discussion, seven days before the documentary appears on HBO. More info on the Harvard event is here: http://www.iop.harvard.edu/extcal/iop_calpop.php?id=315
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD: In the new Time magazine issue, a case is made for national service in Richard Stengel’s article, A Time to Serve.
“When Americans look around right now, they see a public-school system with 38% of fourth graders unable to read at a basic level; they see the cost of health insurance escalating as 47 million people go uninsured; they see a government that responded ineptly to a hurricane in New Orleans; and they see a war whose ends they do not completely value or understand.”
While polls indicate a depletion in confidence towards our government, studies show another hand at work: “In 2006, more than 61 million Americans dedicated 8.1 billion hours to volunteerism.” During this difficult, yet historic, time people of all ages and backgrounds are giving their resources and talents to public service. The Clinton School is meeting that call by offering the first Master of Public Service (MPS) Degree, providing a career path for those who want to enter public service, whether it be in the non-profit, governmental, volunteer or private sector arenas.
To read the full article click here:
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Bald Knob, Ark., (population 3,210) is home to the one of the best — if not Arkansas’s best — home town drive-in restaurants. “The Bulldog,” which happens to also be the name of the high school mascot, serves some of the best home cooking I’ve ever had. Since Bald Knob is Arkansas’s strawberry capital and the home of the state’s strawberry festival, it’s only fitting that the Bulldog’s speciality is homemade strawberry shortcake. The barbecue, fried chicken, beef stew and homemade pies also give the shortcake a run for its money. Clinton School staffer Eric Wilson is a huge fan of the peanut butter and banana milkshake. Though having tried it once, I wouldn’t put it in my Bulldog top ten. I would opt for the calories from the Lemon Icebox pie.
I had Labor Day lunch at the Bulldog and during my time there at least 50 others were also dining. It was encouraging to see that kind of economic support for a small business in a small town.
Today’s Bulldog stop, however, was different than most. The Bald Knob school system is in financial distress, and unless approximately $2 million in private funding is raised by Sept. 24, the school faces consolidaton or annexation. Neither option was sitting well with the folks having lunch at the Bulldog. But it certainly was the only topic of conversation — the Bulldog staff told me about $500,000 had been raised. If my math is correct, that’s already more than $150 for every Bald Knob resident. Usually when I make a Bulldog stop, people ask me about Bill or Hillary Clinton, but this Labor Day it was all about saving Bald Knob’s schools. As the late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” How true.
Fundraising is everywhere. Flyers promoting all kinds of events were posted on the restaurant door. Parked outside the Bulldog was a 2007 Suzuki Eiger 400. The all-terrain vehicle is being raffled off with the proceeds going to the Committee to Save Bald Knob Schools. The raffle tickets are $5 each or $20 for five tickets, and sales were brisk. (No, I didn’t buy a ticket). Other fundraisers I saw included car washes, bake sales and catered dinners. There are donation jars in almost every business, and workers are not hesitant to ask out-of-town visitors like me to contribute (which I did).
Bald Knob is less than 20 miles from Searcy, the home of Governor Mike Beebe. Prominent Little Rock advertising executive Wayne Cranford graduated from Bald Knob High. Former State Senator Bill Walmsley, now a Batesville, Ark., attorney, calls Bald Knob home. It’s a community rich in heritage and tradition. Here’s hoping it can save it’s school system which is so much a part of the fabric of this small but wonderful Arkansas town.
Donations can be made to an account at Citizens State Bank in Bald Knob or via the donation jar at the Bulldog. Tickets for the four wheeler are on sale until Sept. 22. If you have any questions or need additional information, call Bald Knob information and ask for the Bulldog.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – This week (Tuesday, Sept. 4 through Friday, Sept. 7) is one of the most interesting in our public program series at the Clinton School. On the schedule:
Tuesday at noon–Martin Indyk, former ambassador to Israel, an expert on Middle East policy.
Wednesday at noon — Mark Malcolm, Pulaski County Coroner–speaking on Pandemics, Epidemics and Earthquakes. He can also address issues about local crime.
Thursday at noon — Tim Hashaw, author of The Birth of Black America, about the first African Americans at Jamestown. I just finished reading his book, and it’s fascinating. A book signing will follow the luncheon.
Friday at noon — John Sweeney, national president of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO, America’s largest and most influential labor organization, has yet to endorse a 2008 Presidential candidate. Sweeney’s appearance at the school (and in Arkansas) couldn’t be any more timely.
Reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com or by calling Nikolai DiPippa at 501-683-5239. Bring your lunch. We’ll provide the water and soft drinks.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – This month we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School — America’s greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. Numerous events are planned all over the city, state and country. Several are scheduled at the Clinton School.
When co-chair Rett Tucker asked me to help Dr. Gail Reede Jones and him coordinate the 40th anniversary commemoration in 1997, I was glad to do so. One reason I thought it was important was because I didn’t know whether all the Little Rock Nine would be alive in 2007. Thankfully, they are, although Daisy Bates, who played a prominent role as head of the local NAACP, is now deceased.
But having not grown up in Little Rock, I also didn’t realize how tender the issue still was. During the 1997 planning, I received some hateful, but always anonymous, letters in the mail. One person asked why were we scratching the scab off the wound and advocated just leaving it alone. If I had a name and address to reply, my response would have been, “The wound has not yet healed.”
Unfortunately, I still don’t believe the wound has healed, but I do believe more dialogue, more discussion and more debate has taken place in the last 10 years than in the previous 40 combined. And that’s healthy. I also recognize some positive and signficant developments since 1997. These include:
*The opening of a Visitor Center in a restored Mobil Gas Station across the street from the school has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.
*A commemorative garden was built on what was a blighted lot also across the street from the school.
*Little Rock Central High School became a National Historic Site, the only operating public school in the nation with this designation.
*The high school has been completely renovated and is now accessible for people with disabilities, which wasn’t the case in 1997, leading to protests by disability rights advocates at the 1997 ceremony.
*The Little Rock Nine received the Congressional Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony.
*A new baseball field opened on the campus, thanks to a generous gift from the Coleman (Dairy) family.
*A monument of the Little Rock Nine is on the State Capitol Grounds as a result of the leadership of state Senator Tracy Steele.
*the Little Rock Nine were featured in a series of historic civil rights postage stamps — in large part due to the efforts of Ron Robinson who serves on the postal stamp selection advisory committee.
*Thanks to an appropriation shepherded by Senator Blanche Lincoln, Senator Mark Pryor and Congressman Vic Snyder, a new Visitor Center will open on September 24.
*Thanks to Congressman Snyder, Central (along with the 400th birthday of Jamestown) is featured on a special commemorative coin.
*Books have been (and are being) published by several members of the Little Rock Nine, historians, educators and others associated with the 1957 events which better explain the story from different perspectives. This collection is a great gift to history.