ACLU SUES 30 CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS OVER “PAY TO LEARN” POLICIES
Dear Beverly Hills, Burbank, Long Beach and Orange County school districts: WTF????
It’s the perfect story for the first day of public school classes.
The LA Times’ Jason Song lays it out here:
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Friday for allowing school districts to charge students for books, uniforms, classes and other basic supplies.
The Orange County Register gives a lot more of the details. For example, they report that Loara High School in the Anaheim Union District, charges $86 for all their AP exams. (Poor kids don’t need to take AP exams, I guess.)
Also listen to Adolfo Guzman Lopez’s report on KPCC.
This is—how to put it?— illegal, according to a 1984 California Supreme Court decision.
Here’s a little of what the ACLU’s Mark Rosenbaum said when he announced the lawsuit on Friday.
The idea of educating every child at public expense ranks with political democracy as one of the United States’ great original social contributions. Each of these ideas rests on a hallowed belief that every child is capable of reaching his or her fullest potential only when we encourage and honor accomplishment based on merit and hard work and disavow class distinctions.
It is for this reason that free public schools are the linchpin of our democracy. That free public schools are the constitutionally ordained mechanism by which the American dream is made accessible to all children regardless of class or social status.
But in California, for thousands and thousands of children, the state imposes a cover charge and minimum on the American Dream, because the public schools are not free or open to all on equal terms. There does not exist in California a true system of free public schools….
Check out the So Cal ACLU website for more of the details plus the actual filing.
$578 MILLION RFK SCHOOL COMPLEX OPENS FOR BIZ (AND KIDS) TODAY, MONDAY
The LA Times Howard Blume reports on the controversial school and its grounds in anticipation of the first day of school.
OBAMA IGNORES TRADITIONAL DEM FEAR OF BEING “SOFT ON CRIME”
Or at least we hope that’s the trend for the Obama White House. Not that it will win him any elections, you understand. But it is cheering to see POTUS beginning to do the right, logical and moral thing in this particular arena.
Josh Gerstein has the details in this extended piece in Saturday’s Politico. Here is how it begins:
For years, it was one of the GOP’s most potent political epithets — labeling a Democrat “soft on crime.”
But the Obama White House has taken the first steps in decades to move away from a strict lock-‘em-up mentality on crime — easing sentences for crack cocaine possession, launching a top-to-bottom review of sentencing policies and even sounding open to reviewing guidelines that call for lengthy prison terms for people convicted of child pornography offenses.
The moves — still tentative, to be sure — suggest that President Barack Obama’s aides are betting that the issue has lost some of its punch with voters more worried about terrorism and recession. In one measure of the new political climate surrounding the issue, the Obama administration actually felt free to boast that the new crack-sentencing bill would go easier on some drug criminals.
“The Fair Sentencing Act marks the first time in 40 years that Congress has reduced a mandatory minimum sentence,” said White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, who billed the new legislation as “monumental.”
Obama’s signing of long-debated legislation last month to reduce the disparity between prison sentences for crack and powdered cocaine is being hailed by some advocates as a watershed moment in the nation’s approach to criminal justice.
Now if only the California state legislature would grow themselves some
balls…er…. strength of their convictions.
DECIDING WHO TO KILL: JOHN GRISHAM CHALLENGES A WOMAN’S DEATH SENTENCE
In his Op Ed in Sunday’s WaPo, novelist John Grisham discusses the whimsical and utterly inconsistent nature of the application of the death sentence as he explores the case of a Virginia woman who was sentenced to death, while the men who actually did the killing got life.
(In reading it, one is reminded that skilled writers are more fun to read on nearly any topic.
Here’s a clip. But do read it all.
Her name is Teresa Lewis, she is the only woman on death row at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and her appeals have all but expired. If she is executed, she will become another glaring example of the unfairness of our death penalty system.
Lewis is not innocent. She confessed to the police, pled guilty to the judge and for almost eight years has expressed profound remorse for her role in two murders.
As with most violent crimes, a recitation of the facts of this case would fill pages; still, a brief summary drawn from news reports, letters and affidavits is useful.
FRANZEN ON FRESH AIR
Jonathan Franzen’s much-ballyhooed new book Freedom isn’t exactly a social justice issue, but it is very, very, very good—hype or no hype. (I read it, loved it, am sad it’s already over.)
In any case, the author was interviewed on Fresh Air last Thursday, If you have any interest in or curiosity about Franzen and/or this book that has folks quarreling loudly, do listen.
IF CALIFORNIA LEGALIZES POT, WILL THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SUE?