04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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  • A number of the bills now before the Oregon State Legislature protect parties who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault  
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  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
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Golden shovels and all, ground will break next Monday on a vision more than five years in the making: the 9th Ward Field of Dreams.

Set to open for the 2014 football season, the $1.85 million project will give the kids at George Washington Carver High School and the surrounding community a football field, Olympic-sized track, lighting system, and stadium seating.

Though located on the Carver campus, the state-of-the-art facilities will be open and free of charge to all schools in the city as well as the community.

While the project has expanded into a partnership between public, individual and corporate sponsors, the dream started with the arrival of New York-native Brian Bordainick at Carver in 2007. Having just graduated from the University of Georgia, Bordainick came to New Orleans at age 21 as a teacher with Teach for America.

Not long into the school year, Bordainick assumed the role of athletic director at Carver when the previous director quit, and started trying to figure out how to run the athletic program that was financially "running on fumes."

In 2008, Bordainick learned about a competitive matching NFL grant to build a new football field – worth up to $200,000. He figured that the worst-case scenario would result in raising a few thousand dollars, which would still go a long way to get basic equipment to the kids.

But the entrepreneurial-spirited Bordainick leveraged every source he could think of and won the grant – raising $200,000 in 30 days and just barely making the deadline. Locally and nationally, individuals and businesses heeded the call.

Currently Bordainick said they have approximately $1.3 million, and the fundraising effort continues. The Recovery School District, who is the design phase of building a new school at Carver, contributed $200,000 to the Field of Dreams.

But the journey to the groundbreaking has not always been an easy one.

Throughout the process there have been delays, said Norbert Rome, who serves on both the Field of Dream's board as well as on the board of the Dr. George Washington Carver Charter School Association, a community-based group that applied multiple times to charter Carver before watching it handed over to Collegiate Academies in 2012.

Collegiate Academies now operates three high schools: Sci Academy in eastern New Orleans, G.W. Carver Collegiate Academy, and G.W. Carver Preparatory Academy.

While all parties have worked collectively toward the Field of Dreams, Rome and the Carver Charter Association have had a tense history with the RSD and the decision to give the school to Collegiate. Before that, the Association fought the RSD on the proposed closure of the school.

The clash between community and charter management operators is not unique to Carver, but Rome said that at least the Carver community has a place at the table with Collegiate. There has been give and take, he said, and the community has fought to participate in every decision they can.

As Collegiate Academies moved in, Rome said there were certain things the association would not give up.

The Carver name, for instance, was not something they would concede, Rome said. And they were able to convince the administrators who took over the upper grades being phased out not to force the students to walk on a straight line of tape as is common in many of the "no excuses" model charter schools that have infiltrated the city.

Rome contrasted the interaction – though often a firefight – with his alma mater, Alcee Fortier, where "Nobody fought – they just came and took the school and nobody said anything."

At least at Carver, there have been a lot of discussions, Rome said.

Over the past eight years of "reform" in New Orleans, Bordainick said that he has observed that for outside charter operators, battling out disputes with an engaged community is the much harder path to take.

The Field of Dreams process has required all parties to be engaged and to find common ground amid disagreement.

"You can't put a bubble around a school and say 'We know best,' and that anyone who argues with you is wrong," Bordainick said.

While he said he sees tremendous progress in many aspects of education, the "holy grail" question of education reform remains elusive. That question, said Bordainick, is "If you have kids, where would you send them to school?" Bordainick said he is still waiting for the day when the majority of policy makers and charter operators are advocating for and running the same schools where they send their own children.

"You can't have a good education system if it's not a part of the community," Rome said, and that includes athletics.

Rome said that one of the biggest challenges of turning the field from dream to reality was just getting everyone on the same page regarding the construction of the new school. Rome said the two separate projects ultimately came together with a plan in which ideally both will be completed within the next few years.

Bordainick said there were obstacles and setbacks he never could have imagined, largely related to permitting and construction issues. Now, he said he is ready to see the field laid down and "get the hell out of the way." It will be a resounding relief to see the kids on the field, Bordainick said. "I just want it to be there for them."

There's still a lot of work to be done, Rome said, but the prospect of what the Field of Dreams will bring to the entire community is an exciting one.

And the impact goes far beyond sports, Bordainick said.

According to the 9th Ward Field of Dreams website:

"Our mission is to give New Orleans' youths a place to learn life's lessons and play out their dreams, so that they may: Attain educational success; Build a strong character and healthy lifestyle; Live and play in a welcoming environment, unafraid of crime; And embrace the idea that people crazy enough to believe in their own power can overcome any challenge."

This article originally published in the September 02, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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