LA HAS A NEW, MUCH NEEDED EDUCATION BLOG
There are few things of more consequence in this city and county than education. And yet, although we have good education reporters in LA (Tammy Abdollah at KPCC, Howard Blume at the LA Times, plus various people at the LA Weekly), for whatever reason, the cumulative coverage has not had the depth, rigor and edge that the subject demands.
Not since Bob Sipchen ran the School Me blog for the LA Times (that the Times, in it’s infinite wisdom, chose to drop) has there been anything approaching the fine grain work we really need here on an day-in-day-out basis.
That’s why it is such very good news that we now have a new player on the field in the form of an independent education blog called: THE LA SCHOOL REPORT
The extremely smart and talented Hillel Aron will be writing it. Highly respected veteran education wonk and journalist/author, Alexander Russo, is editing. Journalist and television news producer and executive, Jamie Alter Lynton is the founder/ publisher.
And may I say in response to this bit of info: WOOOO-HOOO!
I don’t know Ms. Lynton, except by reputation. But I do know Hillel and Alexander, and—I promise you—this is a good team.
The timing could not be better. As cuts to education continue to go ever deeper, there can be no business as usual. Innovative solutions are needed. And good reporting will help to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The need for a watch-dogging press that holds the various facets of our educational system accountable has never been greater. Ditto a press that points to small, promising green shoots of progress.
The LA School Report is also surfacing at a time when the State Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color wrapped up its year’s worth of hearings with a report that revealed—among many other things— that African-American and Latino school kids are more likely than white kids to be suspended, and to drop out, and kindergartners of color are more than three times as likely as their white playmates to believe they lack the ability to succeed in school.
So how do we address those problems on which the health of our communities and our city depends? Good education reporting can help.
And so…. Welcome LA School Report! We’re very glad to see you!
KQED EXAMINES CALIFORNIA’S REALIGNMENT STRATEGY, AND EXPLAINS IT TO THE REST OF US – PART 1
Last October, California began the grand experiment known as realignment, a strategy that shifts responsibility for a certain slice of our convicted law breakers away from state custody and oversight, transferring the responsibility for oversight instead to California’s various counties.
The immediate purpose of realignment is to lower the population of the state’s overcrowded prison system, in response to last year’s Supreme Court decision, which demanded that our policy makers find a way to drop said population or the court would do it for us (and we likely wouldn’t like their strategies).
The secondary purpose is to lower our dreadful state prison recidivism rates (which would, in turn, over time, lower the prison population), the assumption being that the counties can do a better job at rehabilitation and reentry than the beleaguered state.
So, after less than a year, how’s it going?
KQED, together with the Center for Investigative Reporting, have just launched a series that aims to tell us just that.
First, KQED’s Matthew Greene gives us a mini-primer on the in’s and outs’ of the R word.
Then my very smart pal, veteran criminal justice reporter, Michael Montgomery, has a report on the differences in the way that San Francisco is responding to the added jails population, as compared to Fresno County.
For instance, in Fresno Nontgomery finds the system already getting overwhelmed. Some of the realignment inmates he talks to tell him they wish they could got to state prison instead of doing their time closer to home, in the county jail. They said that in jail, there is far less opportunity to better one’s self.
“There are no programs here,” one heavily-tattooed young man says. “No school, no education. There’s no jobs. This yard is once a week, every Monday, for one hour. That’s it. No sunlight, no fresh air.”
When asked where would they prefer to be, prison or jail, one Fresno inmate answers, “I’d rather go to prison myself.” All the other inmates agree. They’d rather be in state prison.
The theory behind realignment is that putting non-violent offenders closer to home increases their chances of rehabilitation. But for now at least, Fresno’s jail is stretched to capacity. Margaret Mims, the Fresno County sheriff, says they weren’t prepared for the influx.
“It was disappointing that we were hit so hard so fast with many more inmates, says Mims. “And we’re all scrambling to figure out how we’re going to deal with it.”
Yet here is what Montgomery heard from San Francisco inmates:
Unlike some other counties such as Fresno, San Francisco is investing most of its realignment money in rehabilitation.
Randy Nichols is serving time for drug charges. He says he spent 27 years in and out of prison, only to end up at the San Francisco county jail because of realignment.
“When I go to state prison I don’t know if I’m getting out…alive,” says Nichols. “When I come here I’m able to work on myself, be myself.”
The next installment will look at Los Angeles.
AS WE PREDICTED LAST WEEK, THE MUCH STALLED SB9—THE BILL THAT WOULD GIVE LWOP KIDS AT LEAST AN OUTSIDE CHANCE AT ONE DAY GETTING PAROLED—GOES TO JERRY BROWN’S DESK
After three years of being shot down in California’s Assembly, State Senator Leland Yee’s bill that would allow some kids convicted of murder as juveniles to at least apply for parole, passed in the assembly last week, and sailed through the state senate on Monday, 21-16. It is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Here’s a clip from the Sac Bee’s quickie rundown on what the bill means:
The bill by Democratic Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco would allow some murderers to petition for a hearing to have their sentence changed to 25 years to life, allowing them to later petition for parole. Several conditions would apply: They would have to have been under 18 when they committed a murder that got them life in prison with no possibility of parole. They also would have to have already served at least 15 years of their sentence, and wouldn’t be released until they had served at least 25 years. And they would have to have been convicted with at least one adult co-defendant.
Some criminals would not be eligible — those with a history of violence before the murder conviction, those who had tortured their victims, and those who had killed a firefighter or law enforcement official.
Yee said the bill would only apply when offenders showed remorse and when “it is a very clear case where an individual has made amends and demonstrated that they are not going to re-offend.”
Again, this perfectly sensible bill took three years to pass. But pass it has.
Now it’s up to Jerry.
OH, AND OAKLAND’S POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY GO INTO FEDERAL RECEIVERSHIP AND THEIR EXISTING FEDERAL MONITOR IS UNDER INVESTIGATION
I was in the Bay Area last week, part of that time in Oakland, where I learned that, not only is the Oakland Police Department laboring under a federal consent decree (a circumstance that LA knows well), things have gotten so weird that they’re actually teetering on the edge of being forced into federal receivership—which would make Oakland the first U.S. city to have its police department snatched from its control.
AND if that wasn’t trouble enough, Monday the news broke that the federal monitor (the person who keeps an eye on the department to see if the requirements of the consent decree are being met) is being investigated for….oh…just read the story yourself.
It’s a mess. as Matthew Artz from the Oakland Tribune points out. Here’s a clip:
….Deputy City Attorney Jamilah Jefferson wrote that the city is “duty-bound” to review the “potentially damaging” allegations concerning “communications between the court monitor and city officers” and asked U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson to seal all documents in connection with the investigation.
On Monday, the city filed a revised motion and asked that Friday’s motion be withdrawn and sealed because it contained “confidential and sensitive information that … should not be part of the court’s public record.”
Speculation is that the accusations stem from one or more meetings that included Warshaw, a former deputy drug czar in the Clinton Administration, and City Administrator Deanna Santana. Santana said she couldn’t comment on what happened because it is part of a personnel investigation. Warshaw could not be reached for comment Monday.
Henderson has tentatively scheduled hearings for December to consider stripping the city control of the police department because of its failure to fully comply with reform measures spelled out in a 2003 agreement that settled the Riders police misconduct case…
It’s not at all clear what the monitor did, as no one will say, but Artz quotes one source as telling him that he knows of no problem with Warshaw, the monitor, other than the fact that city officials really don’t like his reports.
Photo by SteveCof00 licensed under Creative Commons