Monthly Archives: February 2015

No Due Process, No Lawyer, Secret Jail, Police Brutality, of Black and Brown People…….In Chicago

February 24, 2015, Chicago

Yesterday a report by Spencer Ackerman from the Guardian  exposed the practice of the Chicago Police Department’s use of the Homan Square “Jail” Facility to detain people in secret, denying them access to an attorney, telephones and due process including brutal interrogation procedures analogous to reported CIA torture practices.  A follow up report from the Atlantic  included the transcript of an interview with Tracy Siska, executive director of the Chicago Justice Project and a criminologist who had previously wrote a story about military interrogation tactics in the city, spoke about the allegations of police brutality as well as the majority of people that the Chicago Police are abusing.

“Mostly who they take to Homan Square are black and brown and poor kids who can’t afford to hire private counsel while they’re in custody. That’s a little nuance in the law that few know about.”

Siska further discusses how long these practices have been going on and the failure of Mainstream Media to investigate the allegations brought to them by the local community.

“There was knowledge in the police-accountability community. We knew exactly where it was, but we couldn’t get the press in Chicago to cover the story. We think it started during [former Chicago Police Department Superintendent] Phil Cline’s time around 2006 or 2007 until about 2011 when the city had roving special units [that worked out of Homan Square.]”

Homan Square

Fortunately a number of alternative media outlets and activist organizations are shining the light on this so very important issue. The Chicago Police have denied the allegations levied against them by the named sources in the Guardian story which includes local attorneys as well as Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “NATO Three”.  Mr. Church’s allegations were videotaped and released as part of the Guardian’s article.

A growing number of media outlets are reporting this issue including the most influential progressive blog the Daily Kos,  Ultra Conservative The Blazealternative media outlets Ben Swann , The Free Thought Project and Glen Greenwald’s The Intercept

I spent the a number of hours this past evening speaking with activist organizations across the country that intend on protesting at the Homan Square facility as soon as later today.  Dan Johnson, the noted founder of P.A.N.D.A. observed in a phone call with me that the detention practices of the Chicago Police fall right in line with the Unconstitutional Indefinite Detention provisions of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Act as discussed at length on the P.A.N.D.A. website.

What is of paramount concern to this writer is the continued erosion of our rights that we keep hearing about in our society. Our Constitution strictly forbids any agent of our government from doing these kinds of acts.  It is the law.  The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 14th Amendment protections exist for a reason and our the rule of law in this country and officials in our government capriciously do not follow these mandates and our mainstream media offers a divisive and misleading rhetoric to keep we the people at bay. It is events like this that must be investigated objectively and thoroughly by the world’s journalists with a no holds barred attitude so we can make our elected officials pay the price for this kind of behavior at the polls and through the courts.  Hopefully this is just the beginning of the story.

Chicago Police Brutality Protest Call to Action Scheduled

February 25, 2015. Chicago

Chicago and Nationally based activists have set this Saturday, February 28 at 3:00PM to begin a weekly protest and education to the world the behavior of the Chicago Police Department at the Homan Square Facility. Mike Holman of Stop Mass Incarceration Chicago emphasized that while these violations are happening locally in Chicago the issues are far greater and needs to reach even the international eyes to properly show how Police continue to treat the people in the US.  Chicago Anonymous has created an event page about the Homan Square Facility and the actions of the Chicago Police Department.

Homan Square

The event hosted by a coalition of Chicago activist organizations including Chicago Anonymous, GLN and Stop Mass Incarceration Chicago called ‘Shutdown Homan Square”

What A “Fracking” Decision!

Image Credit: Sam Howitz
Image Credit: Sam Howitz

“WHAT THE DRILLING INDUSTRY HAS BOUGHT AND PAID FOR IN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS THEY SHALL RECEIVE”

Munroe Falls, OH (TFC) -The Ohio State Supreme Court ruled in a fractured 4-3 majority, that Munroe Falls city zoning ordinances and procedures conflict with Ohio Statute governing the issuance of permits for oil and gas wells and production operations. The decision in the case, The City of Munroe Falls, v. Beck Energy Corporation ET AL.,  essentially trumped the local zoning authority of Munroe Falls granted under the Ohio State Constitution.

In 2011 Beck Energy Corporation applied for and received a permit from a division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the purpose of drilling an oil and gas well on property within the corporate limits of the city of Munroe Falls. Soon after Beck Energy began drilling, the city issued a stop-work order and filed a complaint seeking injunctive relief in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. The complaint alleged that Beck Energy was violating multiple provisions of the Munroe Falls Codified Ordinances.


Munroe Falls Complaint stated five specific ordinances that Beck Energy had violated.
 The first is a general zoning ordinance that prohibits any construction or excavation without a “zoning certificate” issued by the zoning inspector. To obtain the zoning certificate, the applicant must obtain various approvals from the planning commission, the city council, the zoning inspector, and when a variance is being requested, the board of zoning appeals. For example, an applicant seeking approval of a conditional use must obtain a “conditional zoning certificate” by following the procedures outlined in the Munroe Falls Codified Ordinances, which include notice and a public hearing.

Does fracking impact you? Probably.
Does fracking impact you? Probably.

The other four ordinances specifically relates to oil and gas drilling. Munroe Falls Ordinances prohibits any person from drilling a well for oil, gas, or other hydrocarbons “until such time as such persons have wholly complied with all provisions and a conditional zoning certificate has been granted by Council to such person for a period of one year.” Munroe Falls Codified Ordinances also require an applicant to pay a fee of $800 and deposit $2,000 for a performance bond at the time of filing. Finally, Munroe Falls Codified Ordinances requires a public hearing at least three weeks prior January Term, 2015 to drilling and requires the permit applicant to schedule the hearing and notify all property owners and residents within 1,000 feet of the well head.

For anyone that had the experience of seeking a zoning variance all of these procedures are fairly common no matter where you live in this country. State laws are always involved and govern where applicable as well of course, but zoning laws have its say in every instance and it also allows for the public to be properly notified about and comment on, as it sees fit, within their own community.  Munroe Falls process in this regard promulgated the same procedures and protections.

The Summit County Court of Common Pleas, agreeing with the Munroe Falls, granted the city’s request for a permanent injunction prohibiting Beck Energy from drilling until it complies with all local ordinances. Beck Energy had argued that the Munroe Falls Codified Ordinances conflicted directly with State Law and had no authority over the oil and gas well drilling operations. Beck Energy refused to seek the permission of the Munroe Falls Zoning Commission and appealed the decision.

The Ohio State Court of Appeals reversed the trial court decision essentially holding that State Law forbids Munroe Falls from enforcing its ordinances. The court of appeals rejected the city’s argument that the Ohio State Constitution’s Home Rule Amendment allowed it to impose its Zoning Ordinance requirements on oil and gas drilling operations.

Munroe Falls appealed.

In its ruling the Court stated, “Article II, Section 36 vests the General Assembly with the power to pass laws providing for the regulation of methods of mining, weighing, measuring and marketing coal, oil, gas and all other minerals.” With the comprehensive regulatory scheme in R.C. Chapter 1509, the General Assembly has done exactly that. We hold that the Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution, Article XVIII, Section 3, does not allow a municipality to discriminate against, unfairly impede, or obstruct oil and gas activities and production operations that the state has permitted under R.C. Chapter 1509.”

As one can see Justice French based her decision on two premises. That the law in question specifically removes zoning authority from local municipalities and that by requiring zoning, Munroe Falls was somehow discriminating against, unfairly impeding or obstructing Beck Energy.

Nowhere in the Statute does it indicate the removal of local zoning ordinances and at no time during the trial was it proven that Munroe Falls was discriminating against, unfairly impeding or obstructing Beck Energy. On the contrary the Court specifically ordered that all Beck Energy had to do was comply with the ordinance. There was never any zoning denial by Munroe Falls. Justice French somehow equates that requiring Beck Energy to follow the law somehow has placed an undue burden on Beck Energy. The record does not support this factual finding so how would it support that legal conclusion?

While somehow agreeing with the judgment of Justice French, Justice O’Donnell wrote in a concurring opinion,  “Accordingly, whether a municipality has authority to enact zoning ordinances that affect oil and gas wells within its territory is a question yet to be decided, and for that reason, I concur in the resolution of this case.” Justice O’Donnell reasoned that this court ruling only governed these five ordinances from Munroe Falls and was not a blanket ruling overturning all other city zoning ordinances involving oil and gas well drilling. No doubt all of the Cities in Ohio will need to revise their own ordinances to comply with this decision. With the ambiguity and assumptions offered by Justice French there is no doubt that this task will not be an easy one.

Seven Justices sit on this court and only two of them did not write an opinion. All three dissenting Judges did. Justice J. Pfeifer offered this conclusion, “It appears that the General Assembly has attempted to bring order to Ohio’s historically scattershot way of dealing with oil booms. I would find that R.C. 1509.02 leaves room for municipalities to employ zoning regulations that do not conflict with the statute. By leaving some space for local control, the General Assembly has recognized that a “big picture” approach with local input is the best way to encourage the responsible and sustainable development of Ohio’s natural resources.” Judge Pfeifer also did not find any language that removed this local authority.

In a well penned opinion Justice J. Lanzinger stated,

“Because it is not clear to me that the Munroe Falls zoning ordinances actually conflict with a general state statute, I respectfully dissent. I believe that local zoning ordinances can have a place beside the state’s statutes regulating oil and gas activities.”

Again finding no language that supported the majority assertion of only state control. Justice Lanzinger pointed out numerous times throughout the writing how the General Assembly “knows how to specifically prohibit the enforcement of local zoning ordinances as part of a statewide and comprehensive legislative scheme” and how the Court had acknowledged this in a number of cases. Justice Lanzinger goes even further and offers a colloquy of cases throughout the country that clearly show how to “harmonize” State Law and Local Zoning relevant to oil and gas operations. Clearly dismissed by the majority. Justice Lanzinger smartly concludes, “There is no need for the state to act as the thousand-pound gorilla, gobbling up exclusive authority over the oil and gas industry, leaving not even a banana peel of home rule for municipalities.” Calling for further proceedings and requiring that the General Assembly addresses the open question presented by this case and ensuring that both jurisdictions remain relevant.

Rarely though has there ever been a dissent of the kind offered by Justice J. O’Neill.

“Let’s be clear here. The Ohio General Assembly has created a zookeeper to feed the elephant in the living room. What the drilling industry has bought and paid for in campaign contributions they shall receive. The oil and gas industry has gotten its way, and local control of drilling-location decisions has been unceremoniously taken away from the citizens of Ohio. Under this ruling, a drilling permit could be granted in the exquisite residential neighborhoods of Upper Arlington, Shaker Heights, or the Village of Indian Hill—local zoning dating back to 1920 be damned.”

One does not read comments by sitting State Supreme Court Justices like the one offered here by Justice O’Neill.  As pointed out by Think Progress, Justice French’s campaign contributions lists a who’s who in the oil and gas Industry while racking up “tens of thousands of dollars.” Among her contributors are Diversified Resources and American Energy, two fracking companies doing business in Ohio, a fracking equipment manufacturer Kimble Company and Murray Energy and First Energy Utility Companies. American Electric Powers and its political action committee gave large sums of money as well. One can only wonder if Justice O’Neill looked at the campaign contributions given to Justice French before writing that dissent.

Have You Read The Constitution Lately?

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During this past week I have become very frustrated with what I have read in the comments section of various news articles relating to the release of the torture documents. So many people have taken the stance essentially that torture is okay. Further, even more people have stated the position that the United States Constitution only applies to American citizens. It continues to amaze me how we are within the age of information and yet we can easily have our opinion swayed by a false argument whether it comes from mainstream media, our elected officials, our priest or minister, our friends and neighbors or even educators. One thing is for sure most people haven’t read the United States Constitution in a long time

          Every single day in our society people who are not citizens of the United States are properly afforded due process in a number of areas. The best example of this is another polarizing subject: Immigration. Every single day a person is arrested on the allegation that they have entered this country illegally. When this happens every single time these people are afforded due process of law. The probable cause for the arrest itself is that there is a belief that the person entered the country illegally. Based upon this probable cause they are formally charged. There are also times when they are charged with other crimes and allegations based upon whatever behaviors relevant to that person. More often than not the immigration process is dominated by persons that are charged with entering the country illegally. Then they are afforded a process. Due process of law. In this instance it is immigration law and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Criminal procedure and even appellate procedure that govern the process. Millions of people. Something that is commonly known in our society. Perhaps the people who are making the comments that the Constitution only applies to citizens does not realize that this is happening. Perhaps. I have no desire to figure out why people think the way they did.

          No person shall be deprived. The list is long. Of course the main parts are life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. As a society we insist on stating that we are the shining light. That we are also the land of justice. That we are the civilized nation of the world. But in my observation what is forgotten and, should always be included with these kinds of statements, is that we are a nation of laws and not men. We continue to discard the United States Constitution and our rule of law so easily on a daily basis it’s as if it almost does not exist. Our elected officials certainly do it so why wouldn’t we as a society mention it or understand the protections clearly outlined in our founding rule of law.

Just yesterday our wonderful Congress violated the Constitution a number of times within the omnibus bill and also with their recent expansion of the NSA spying that is going on in this country. In the past 30 years our elected officials have continually disregarded the basic premise of the Constitution more times than I can count. The War Powers act that was passed under Pres. Nixon began a serious trend to the expansion of the Executive branch of our government that clearly was never intended by the Founding Fathers or anywhere in the actual language of the Constitution. Congress has passed laws that literally say within the law that constitutional protections will not apply within the circumstances of that law. The Patriot Act and the Indefinite Detention provision of the NDAA are the two most egregious examples of this behavior.

Recent events involving the deaths of people at the hands of our police have also shown a disregard to the due process and equal protection clauses of our Constitution. We have become a society that at a minimum acquiesces to this kind of behavior by our government at every level. I remember watching the Rodney King video in 1992 appalled by what I was seeing. What troubled me more though was the argument that we had in our society about what we were looking at on that video.

I understand the anger of 9/11. My cousin was killed on that dreadful day. I went and visited the site about a month later. Walked up to the barricade and looked at a raging fire that was still burning. One month later. I watched the Towers being built when I was growing up. My nephew worked in the Towers and I spent that day looking for him not realizing that he had refused to go back to work in the Towers after the first bombing a decade previous. I’m a veteran. I joined the service because we had hostages in Iran. I understand that side of it.

I also grew up listening to stories on the news or reading stories in the papers about incidents that happened in Vietnam that were similar to these types of recently revealed behaviors. We did not stand for it then nor should we stand for it ever.

I love this country I love the people in it. And I can tell you honestly that part of my love for this country has to do with the fact that our laws demand Justice as a foundation. That we protect the rights of human beings simply because they are human beings. That is the kind of shining light that I think about when I talk about the United States of America. It’s that simple for me.

Troubled Times

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              Ferguson, Immigration, War, Unconstitutional Laws and Policies by Congress and the President, the Militarization of Our Police Force, Poverty, Racism, Money in Politics, Partisan Mainstream Media, Corruption and Conflict of Interest in areas of Food, Medicine and the Environment and a disdain for the truth.  Yes, there are issues that I have left out.  Too many more in my view.  The most important aspect of all these issues in my view is the lack of interest and apathy by our society.  Add to this a high percentage of trust in what our elected officials and government keep telling us even though the truth is staring us right in the face and I wonder how we are going to fix our government so it has our best interest at heart.  “We The People”.  Apparently this is not important to us anymore.  It certainly isn’t to our elected officials.  It certainly isn’t to these big money corporations that continue to mold policy and bribe our elected official to do their own bidding. It certainly does not matter to our Mainstream Media. The icing on this cake for me is the way partisanship has grown between neighbors, keeping us as divided as we ever have been in our history. Why do we allow it?

Take look at what is going on.  Do you care?  Do you care that tear gas is being used on your neighbors?  Do you care that we have been at War during your entire lifetime? Do you care that while the cost of living goes up the wages available to our children does not? Do you care that unarmed people are being gunned down and yet the finance community on Wall Street have never seen the inside of a jail even though they committed the richest crimes in history and have millions of victims? Do you care that our elected officials continue to violate the law? Do you care that our media helps them violate the law by telling us it was necessary or okay or not so bad? Do you care that there is Money in Politics and your vote is meaningless because they do what Money tells them not what we need them to do? Do you care that people who work for corporations are placed in charge of government policy on issues that directly involve the profits of those same corporations? Well? Do you? I know I do.

I ask you as a member of the human race born and living in the United States.  Please wake up and help to put a stop to what is going in our country.  Please take a stand.  Please talk to your neighbors.  Please stop hating.  Please demand that your elected officials protect your rights and follow the rule of law.  Please tell our government to turn off the war machine.  Please care.

I wish all of you a Healthy and Safe Thanksgiving.  Filled with love and freedom and family.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new international trade pact crafted by multinational corporations and currently being negotiated in secret by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) along with eleven other foreign governments. Over 600 corporate advisors also have access to the text, but the public and civil society are excluded. Little was known about the TPP until a series of leaked documents was published in 2011 by the Citizens Trade Campaign, revealing what many had suspected—that the TPP is not about trade at all, but is rather a corporate power grab that circumvents domestic judicial systems and undermines national sovereignty.

If ratified, the TPP would establish a system of international tribunals allowing corporations to challenge the laws, regulations and even court decisions of any member nation (including local, county and state laws) if they are deemed to adversely impact the corporation’s expected future profits. Under the TPP’s “investor-state” provision, corporations would even be allowed to file preemptive lawsuits against proposed government actions before they are undertaken, preventing, for example, New York or other states and municipalities from passing anti-fracking legislation or enacting consumer protection laws. Judges on these tribunals would consist of corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their regular jobs with multinational corporations, and because of international treaty obligations, their decisions it is alleged, would supersede those of domestic courts, possibly including the U.S. Supreme Court.

As I continue to advocate and will again here, the Constitution is NOT the problem.  In my view if our elected officials would follow the Rule of Law and honor our Constitutional Protections as their practice instead of disregarding the Constitution the way they do so many of the ills of our society would be solved.  Here is another example.  The Constitution does not authorize the execution of Secret Trade Agreements.  Further the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes it clear “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”  Now there is plenty of rhetoric that Treaties become the Supreme Law of the Land.  Rhetoric one can trace back to John Foster Dulles.  His “interpretation” was literally ridiculous but like much rhetoric and action it slithered its way into the mindset of the halls of our legal institutions. I went to t a seminar last year and a Lw Professor tried to argue that International Law and Treaties trumped Constitutional Authority.  This seminar was put on by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, acslaw.org, of which I am a member, and in a room full of lawyers, activists, judges and students my response to this lunacy was given a standing ovation.  If the Constitution Protections and Limits and Rule of Law is followed the TPP will have not teeth in our society.  Since we regularly disregard the Constitution the TPP then becomes very dangerous.  Something akin to the NDAA for example.

Provisions in the TPP specifically threaten to:

  • Undermine food safety protections by making it harder for countries to adopt regulations such as labeling laws or banning GMOs.
  • Dismantle the “Buy Local” movement by overturning government laws designed to keep taxpayer dollars in the local economy.
  • Inhibit access to lifesaving medicine by extending monopoly drug patents for big pharmaceuticals.
  • Curtail Internet freedom, spur further financial deregulation, roll back environmental laws and more.

The TPP is being negotiated under unprecedented secrecy because previous attempts to pass similar “free trade” pacts have been met with widespread public opposition. Grassroots movements in the past have successfully stopped the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the expansion of the World Trade Organization, and others. The Obama Administration therefore plans to bring the TPP to a “fast track” vote as early as the Fall of 2013, bypassing congressional review and public debate entirely. Therefore, we must act now, utilizing education, protest and civil disobedience to stop the TPP and build a broad-based movement for future battles.

The fight against the TPP is a fight that creates coalitions.  Many political groups from various ideologies advocate against the TPP.  This is an opportunity to highlight these coalition fights.

Three Muslim Americans Killed in Chapel Hill

 February 11, 2015  Breaking News

Chapel Hill, NC – At 5:11 PM last night Chapel Hill, NC Police responded to gunshots in Summerwalk Circle and Interstate 54. Chapel Hill Police have confirmed that upon arrival there were three victims of gun shots and all three were pronounced dead at the scene. Early reports by various news agencies including WRAL News  say that it was immediately stated by the police that there was not any other danger to the community.   A call to the Chapel Hill Police Department confirms the arrest of one Craig Stephen Hicks, 46 years old. Craig Stephen Hicks turned himself in to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in Pittsboro, NC.  The crime scene location is governed by Durham County, NC. Hicks has been transferred to the Durham County Jail.

According to the press release from the Chapel Hill Police Department, the three victims were Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill, Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh The victims were shot in the head.  More information will be available later today.  It is reported that Hicks has been charged with three counts of First Degree Murder.

    Hicks

Upon a search I was able to find a Facebook post about the victims.

 

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“Fixing” No Child Left Behind or Reauthorizing ESEA: Questioning The Federal Role in Education by Victoria Young

Originally Published by The Daily Kos on February 10, 2015 

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the first federal “accountability” law (2001) ever set for the whole K-12 public education system. The laws’ foundation is the idea that standards and testing for math and reading/language arts produces test scores by which we can judge our schools. The belief is that by making a school’s scores known that “competition” will improve schools because the law also provides “choice.”

The “accountability” piece sets the federal government’s role as monitoring the quality of standards and tests as well as compliance with all elements of the law. The “choice” provided gives the federal government another new role in education — “start-up costs” for charter schools.

The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is unrecognizable as the law of origin for NCLB. ESEA is the first federal law aimed at “strengthen this nation’s elementary and secondary schools” by focusing on the needs of “educationally deprived children.”

ESEA’s foundational belief is that by improving the education of the poor and disadvantaged, the country would be taking a big step forward, as a national goal, in ensuring equal access to quality education. The mechanism was to identify and address unmet needs in instructional materials and student supports while encouraging overall improvements through dissemination of useful information for leaders, teachers, counselors, parents, and communities.

Here is a one-page chart for comparing NCLB to our first federal K-12 education law, the 1965 ESEA.

With our representatives working to “fix” NCLB, there are many questions this nation ought to be asking.

After five decades of changes and additions to ESEA, what do we now need in our federal education law?

Should No Child Left Behind be salvaged and continue as our educational law of the land? Or, is it time to revisit the foundation of federal education law and review both our progress and our missteps?

Reviewing the missteps of No Child Left Behind is fairly easy; there is much agreement about what is wrong. To grasp where we began 50 years ago with the 1965 ESEA is a bit more of a problem because very few people are bringing its history forward. We should.

There are a multitude of studies and opinions written about why No Child Left Behind did not “work.”

Gary Ratner from Citizens for Effective Schools provides us with this insight.

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It’s unscientific…The annual “progress” percentages are arbitrary and unfounded.

It’s not fact-based… NCLB’s punishment scheme presumes that “failing” schools and districts know what to do to dramatically improve learning for their children and have the capacity to do it.

It induces manipulation… NCLB does not recognize that an approach that puts overwhelming emphasis on producing “high” test scores…will induce widespread manipulation of state/local testing criteria and concentration on “drill and kill” techniques to raise test scores.

It’s ineffective… [NCLB’s approach] will not cause widespread enhancement of teachers’ and administrators’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, raise the level of the curriculum or increase the extent of family support.

It’s unrealistic. … [Demands] all states’ departments of education must provide [Title I schools and districts] with technical assistance and support to enable them to [achieve the goal.] [The reality is that many] states are a long way from having the capacity to carry out [NCLB’s] mandates.

It’s unworkable…If NCLB could sustain the same improvement rates of 3% and 10% per decade in the future, it would take about 280 more years to raise the remaining 85% of poor and minority students to “proficiency” in reading and eighty-five more years to do so in math.

In “Flawed Assumptions: How No Child Left Behind Fails Principals” James Kim, Associate Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, stated the problem this way:

“The law is based on the assumption that external accountability and the imposition of sanctions will force schools to improve and motivate teachers to change their instructional practices, resulting in better school performance.”

And Ellen Forte from edCount, LLC, provided us with visuals along with her analysis in “Examining the Assumptions Underlying the NCLB Federal Accountability Policy on School Improvement” (EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST 45(2), 76–88, 2010):

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“The assumptions underlying the NCLB policy logic hold that schools in need of improvement can be identified via a large-scale algorithm, that pre-established sanctions applied to these schools will lead to their improvement and that these improvements in identified schools will yield increases in student achievement. This argument is compelling for its simplicity and apparent rationality, but its assumptions seem to lack merit.”

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NCLB has a very wide range of flaws and “unintended consequences” including the detrimental effects resulting from narrowing what is taught. More times than not, detractors of NCLB place the blame on the heavy emphasis on educational “outcomes” (scores) while ignoring the fact that we have never adequately documented and addressed our failure to offer equal opportunities to learn.

Educational opportunity is as important now as it was 50 years ago.

Writers of the 1965 ESEA attempted to establish social justice in the public education system by:

(1) deeming it imperative to put in place within the system the dissemination of “promising educational practices” to better ensure their use;
(2) designating funds for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials; and
(3) funding supplementary educational centers and services making sure to use the existing “cultural and educational resources of the areas to be served” (1965 ESEA).

In other words, ESEA set out to improve educational opportunities by:
★ increasing access to information,
★ increasing access to essential educational resources, and
★ providing the necessary community services where they were lacking.

And less than a year later, the 1966 National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children issued the first review on the law’s implementation.

They noted successes in identifying problems that interfere with learning. This was accomplished by having local school officials identify their students needs and address those neglected needs. It wasn’t a “program” or “model” so much as a true improvement process focused on students. It wasn’t about offering “wraparound services”; it was a process aimed at determining a school and community’s unique gaps in services and resources and filling the gaps in a targeted and effective way by first using existing, but often underutilized, community resources before adding anything “new” in the way of “programs.” Here’s how it looked after almost a year.

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attribution: 1966 National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children
Were there problems? Of course! Much like today, the council emphasized the need for better trained leadership. Leaders needed to understand the underlying concept in ESEA. In a country that had condoned and practiced legal discrimination, this was asking people to make a huge leap.

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And the writers of ESEA asked for something more from communities. They asked for cooperation and a coordination of “projects” to center on the needs of the poor.

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The implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act occurred while schools were under orders to desegregate. It was not an easy task.
But within a decade of this 1965 education law being put in place, “effective schools” were being studied. These were schools with high numbers of poor and “minority” children yet the students that may once have been labeled “educationally-deprived” were now called “high-achieving” in spite of the schools demographics. And in the 70’s and 80’s, the nation saw a significant narrowing of the achievement gap.

Was this cause and effect? Was it just a casual relationship of policies and practices? Or, did federal education law shine a light on practices that proved to be the right things for poor students and all students in schools in impoverished communities?

This Guy was Almost President of the United States. Let that Sink In

 

Bobby Rodrigo
February 2, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) They say hindsight is 20/20. In the case of john McCain one would have to agree.  Thursday morning the Senate Armed Services’ Committee welcomed to their chamber Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George Schultz. They called this gathering the National Security Strategy.

Sitting in the audience were members of the peace activist organization Code Pink. Code Pink’s Twitter account was live with planning for making sure their voices were heard when these Secretaries of State made their appearance.

C-Span covered the appearance of the three Secretaries and as a result we got a front row seat to Code Pink’s comments and protest prior the start of the discussion.  When Kissinger started to speak, you will notice that the protestors peacefully voiced their comments and fully cooperated with any policing that was done by Capitol Police.  They held up signs, there was the reading of a criminal complaint warrant at Mr. Kissinger, and a few protestors were asked to leave the Committee Chamber.

“Arrest Henry Kissinger”, chants were the most common among the protestors. Eleanor Goldfield , Activist and Founder/Lead Singer of Rooftop Revolutionaries, told me on the phone just after participating in the protest, “There were about 15 of us and twice members of the protest were asked to leave the Chamber.”

Then Senator John McCain decided it was time for him to welcome his guests.  The Senator then decided to voice his disdain for the protestors while a few of them were being removed.  “Get out of here you low life scum.”

The Senator doubled down on Sunday and said, “I think they’re (protesters) terrible people,”

As I watched this over again the first thought that came to my mind was that this man was almost President of the United States.  Perhaps he never heard of the Constitutional protections for Freedom of Speech and the Right to Peaceful Assembly.  Perhaps he has forgotten his Oath of Office.  Maybe he is just a bitter old neo-con that doesn’t care about the Constitution.

When elected officials behave this way, in my view, it shows how much the corporate media has allowed them to advance a rhetoric without making them answer the for their behavior.


This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author Bobby Rodrigo and TheAntiMedia.org. Tune-in to The Anti-Media radio show Monday-Friday @ 11pm EST, 8pm PST. Image credit: Gage Skidmore

About the author: Bobby Rodrigo is a long time activist, Coffee Party USA Newsroom Editor & Radio Host on “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee” on Coffee Party USA Radio every Sunday Morning at 8:30AM. Bobby is a business Owner, Veteran, Oath Keeper and Parent.