NAACP Calls for No More Charters Until Privatized Schools Face Same Standards as Public Schools

From Alternet:

Seeking oversight, civil rights protections and transparency.

By Steven Rosenfeld
October 18, 2016

The charter school industry is coming under increased attack by national civil rights leaders for its unequal and antidemocratic practices in the communities it purports to help by privatizing K-12 schools.

On Saturday, the board of directors at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ratified a resolution passed this summer at its national convention calling for a moratorium on charter expansion and strengthening charter oversight. The NAACP vote came after intense lobbying against the resolution from the industry and its allies, including editorials in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, a letter from black pro-charter legislators from California (where the sector gets almost anything it wants), and out-of-state protesters who were bused in and interrupted the NAACP’s proceedings.

“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools,” said Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP chair, in a statement after the 63-member national board vote. “Our decision today is driven by a long-held principle and policy of the NAACP that high-quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.”

“The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools—as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation,” said Cornell William Brooks, NAACP president and CEO. “Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.”

There are now 6,700 charter schools across the country, educating 3 million students. The initial idea for charters was to create locally run experimental schools. However, as the industry has grown, especially since 2000, it has become dominated by corporate educational chains and franchises with ambitions to become national brands.

In a move increasingly typical of the K-12 privatization industry, the charter industry slammed the NAACP, claiming the industry is on the side of the children. This claim ignores what has become obvious to many in education circles: that charters are siphoning billions of public funds away from traditional public schools and leaving behind a trail of deep problems that need to be addressed, including unequal admissions and overly test-centered academics; private school boards replacing locally elected and appointed officials; and a business model that encourages fiscal corruption and self-dealing at taxpayer expense.

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The fight for LGBT equality is not over | Hillary Clinton

‘Those that think terrorism has nothing to do with Islam are ignorant’

Respect for Women Means Defending Their Right to Choose

From Secular Values Voters:

Washington, D.C.– The Secular Coalition for America released the following statement in response to remarks made by both candidates during last night’s presidential debate.

Statement by Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America

“Following the release of a tape in which he casually discusses sexual assault, presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that; “No one has more respect for women than I do.” Trump invoked this talking point yet again at last night’s presidential debate shortly after promising to appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe. v. Wade. Donald Trump cannot claim women do not have the right to control their own bodies and, barely thirty minutes later, boast about how much he respects women. The core of Trump’s radical anti-choice position is the belief women’s voices can be disregarded and their medical decisions made by lawmakers. In defending this stance, Trump employed discredited myths about abortion care similar to those used by the religious right leaders who have advised his campaign.

If Donald Trump is at all curious what a platform respecting women would look like, it was displayed at the podium across from his by Hillary Clinton. When asked what sorts of justices she would look to appoint to the Supreme Court, Secretary Clinton did not hesitate to stress that any appointment she makes to the court will be committed to upholding Roe v. Wade. We applaud Clinton’s unequivocal and bold defense of a woman’s right to choose. Lawmakers have no right to impose their personal religious beliefs onto anyone, including women seeking access to abortion care. To do so is blatantly unconstitutional and deeply disrespectful.”

Contact: Casey Brescia,, (845)-380-6201

Tell America It’s Great

It’s Time to Decriminalize Personal Drug Use and Possession. Basic Rights and Public Health Demand It.

From The ACLU:

By Tess Borden, Aryeh Neier Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch
October 14, 2016

Police arrest more people for drug possession than any other crime in America. Every 25 seconds someone is arrested for possessing drugs for their own use, amounting to 1.25 million arrests per year. These numbers tell a tale of ruined lives, destroyed families, and communities suffering under a suffocating police presence.

For the past year I have been investigating how the law enforcement approach to personal drug use has failed. The resulting report, “Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States,” calls on state legislatures and Congress to decriminalize personal drug use and possession. It comes at a time when the country is recognizing that the so-called “war on drugs” hasn’t stopped drug dependence and that we desperately need to address the problems of mass incarceration, race, policing, and drug policy.

For personal drug use, it is time to replace our criminal justice model with a public health one instead.

The consequences of arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for personal drug use are devastating. I met people who were prosecuted for tiny amounts of drugs, in one case an amount so small that the laboratory could not even weigh it and simply called it “trace.” That man was sentenced to 15 years in Texas.

On any given day, nearly 140,000 people are behind bars for drug possession, while tens of thousands more are cycling through jails and prisons or struggling to make ends meet on probation or parole. Still others are serving sentences for other offenses that have been lengthened because of a prior conviction for drug possession. A conviction for drug possession can keep people from accessing welfare assistance and even the voting booth. It can also subject them to stigma and discrimination by potential landlords, employers, and peers.

I met a woman I’ll call “Nicole” in the Harris County Jail in Texas. Nicole was detained pretrial for months on felony drug possession charges for residue inside paraphernalia. While she was in jail, her newborn learned to sit up on her own. When the baby visited jail, she couldn’t feel her mother’s touch because there was glass between them.

Nicole ultimately pled guilty to possession of 0.01 grams of heroin. She would return to her children later that year, but as a “felon” and “drug offender.” She would have to drop out of school because she no longer qualified for financial aid. She would no longer be able to have a lease in her name and would have trouble finding a job. And she would no longer qualify for the food stamps she had relied on to feed her family.

Forty-five years after the “war on drugs” was declared, rates of drug use haven’t significantly declined, and criminalization hasn’t stopped drug dependence. In fact, criminalization has driven drug use underground, making it harder for people who use drugs to access the help they sometimes really want and need. The “war on drugs” has caused enormous harm to individuals and families — harm that often outstrips the harm of drug use itself. And it has made communities less safe by deeply corroding the relationship between police and communities of color and focusing precious law enforcement resources on nonviolent drug use instead of violent crimes, less than half of which result in an arrest.

Our research also reiterates that enforcement of U.S. drug laws and policy discriminates against communities of color. Although Black and white people use drugs at equivalent rates, a Black person is 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession. In many states that ratio is significantly higher. In Manhattan, a Black person is 11 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than a white person.

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Anti-Semitism at My University, Hidden in Plain Sight

From The New York Times: