By Lizzie Buchen
Flipping through this year's proposed criminal justice legislation, it is hard to miss Crime Victims United (CVU), a seemingly-omnipresent victims' rights group that registers strong support for tough-on-crime legislation and adamant opposition to bills seeking to reform sentencing laws or reduce incarceration. Their stance is in line with the conventional wisdom that victims want vengeance and favor a punitive approach to criminal justice. But despite CVU's dominance in the media and in Sacramento, a new survey reveals that the group does not represent the majority of crime victims - who they are, what they need, or how they think about public safety.
By Anthony Asadullah Samad
There has been another raging discussion taking place over the past couple months, that of the school-to-prison pipeline. How many different ways can we say that the absence of investment in America's intellectual capital causes - even promotes - devastating social consequences? And how many different ways can we assess the racial consequences of misapplied forms of social control? No, there are no more "whites only" or "colored only" signs, which causes society to suggest that we are a more racially homogenous society. Yes, we do come together on some levels today. But the most common way in which we come together is on anti-intellectual levels.
By Lisa Schiff
In the midst of a protracted assault on public education, teachers unions have in front of them a tremendous opportunity. The need for strong leadership asserting child-centric approaches to education has never been greater - teachers and their unions can seize this moment to break the mold of the traditional union and expand that organization's legitimate sphere of action to formally include the very structure and quality of students' learning experiences.
The historic purpose of a union to protect and advocate for its members is no less relevant today than it was in years past, but within the world of public education that mission alone is insufficiently ambitious, both for teachers and their students. The conditions of work are critical, but the nature of that work is equally so.
By Mark Naison
Little by little, we have created an apartheid nation, a place where a profound spatial and moral divisions separate the lives of the privileged and the unfortunate. The boundaries are not strictly racial - though those on the lower side of the divide are overwhelmingly people of color - nor are they marked by gates and walls and fences. Rather, they are enforced by a complex set of codes followed by law enforcement authorities who have acquired immense power to assure public safety since the imposition of the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, powers that have effectively prevented the poor from doing anything to prevent their marginalization, and which have given wealthy elites virtually immunity from threats to their well being coming either from political action, mass protest or street crime.
By Steve Hochstadt
In May, Mitt Romney told an audience of big donors in Florida that 47 percent of Americans would vote for President Obama because they pay no income tax, are dependent on government, believe they are victims, and feel “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Romney said these people are hopeless: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
When a video of this speech was made public in September, Romney stood by his remarks. After he lost the election, he repeated this claim by attributing his defeat to the big “gifts” that Democrats had given and promised to “the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
By Kenneth Burt
California and Texas have the largest Latino communities, but Spanish-speaking voters are likely to have the greatest impact in states having either a relatively small Spanish-speaking population or where the ethnic composition is in flux.
Latinos are positioned to play a major role in three Southern states - Virginia and North Carolina, where the Hispanic population is relatively new, and Florida - once dominated by conservative Cuban Americans - where there has been dramatic growth in the Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Central American populations.
By Diane Lefer
The problem isn’t a secret: California schools suspend more students than they graduate, tracking them to jail instead of to success. But Ramiro Rubalcaba was surprised when he found himself being part of the solution.
Rubalcaba told his story at a forum on school discipline held in Los Angeles on September 10, sponsored by the California Endowment, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torkalson, and the Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris.
By Eva Paterson
Equal Justice Society
On August 13, the Equal Justice Society, the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and the Haas Diversity Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 13 of the country’s leading social scientists in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, urging the Court to uphold modest race-conscious admissions policies.
The brief cites studies, provided to the Supreme Court for the first time, showing that race-conscious admissions policies such as those used by the University of Texas at Austin result in a more diverse student body, which is essential to produce leaders able to compete in the 21st century global marketplace. The brief also explains how structural barriers inhibit educational opportunity.
By Zaineb Mohammed
New America Media
Despite possibly record low voter turnout, candidates of color largely achieved success in California’s June 5 primary.
Fifty-seven Democrats advanced to the November general election in California’s 53 congressional districts according to Tenoch Flores, communications director of the California Democratic Party. Twenty-six of them were candidates of color.
“Asian Americans did well. Out of our endorsed candidates, all of them went through to the second round except for one,” commented Andrew Medina, consultant to the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.
Medina observed that there are currently 11 Asian Americans in the state legislature, which is the most representation they have had to date. That could improve in the upcoming election.
“There is the potential in November to reach 12 Asian Americans,” he said.
By Raj Jayadev
New America Media
The call to action in rallies across the country following Trayvon Martin’s death is a wake-up call for our country to confront racial profiling in our communities. Racial profiling may have killed Trayvon Martin, but it is the so-called prosecutorial discretion that allowed, and may still allow, his killer to escape justice.
It must be pointed out that his killer, George Zimmerman, has until now not been charged with murder because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law that allows people who feel threatened to use deadly force in self-defense and says they have no duty to retreat. The law has been at the center of the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin.