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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How can the NAACP Legal Defense Fund speak for the class without speaking to the class?


"Many of our nations' most cherished notions of justice and equality have acquired the force of law because of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Funds, Inc."

As I read the brief filed  by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on behalf of the Plaintiffs in the HCS desegregation lawsuit, I wonder how an organization steeped in civil rights law could be so out of step with the Plaintiffs, as outlined by the United States Department of Justice in their motion opposing the school districts rezoning plan?  Is this a case of divide and conquer?

Wardynski and the BOE, enabled by the media, insist the NAACP LDF sides with them against the Department of Justice.  I have read the BRIEF OF PLAINTIFFS REGARDING MOTION OF DEFENDANTS FOR APPROVAL OF DEFENDANTS STUDENT ASSIGNMENT PLAN page by page, line by line, footnote by footnote, and it is my understanding  the special counsel for the Plaintiffs (Norman J. Chachkin) is not opposed to the new school construction plan because of penalties the BOE would incur if they don't start construction of the new Grissom and the new Johnson High Schools by a certain date due to Arbitrage (Page 6-7 and footnotes page 6).  The Plaintiffs attorney (NAACP LDF) reserved the right to oppose the rezoning plan and further litigate whatever issues he deems are in the best interest of the class.

The motion filed by HCS request the courts approval, and DOJ agreement, to build a new Johnson High School and a new Grissom High School (footnotes page 4). The court did not approve, and the DOJ did not agree to closing Johnson, renaming Johnson High School , or combining Butler High School with Johnson High School.  In other words, the LDF has not dismissed this lawsuit.

That said, I can see how some  interpret the motion as the NAACP LDF siding with the school board, and that is what Attorney for the Plaintiffs, Norman J. Chachkin and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (not to be confused with the NAACP) need to clarify publicly and in plain English.

Counsel spoke for the Plaintiffs without speaking to the Plaintiffs, and therein lies the problem. Chachkin justifies his actions by noting  he has a special obligation granted to him by the court in rule 203, as amended in 2003, to protect the rights of the class.  The class needs to know if he is with the class or, with the school district.  Should the court revisit the decision to name a specific counsel/ firm as special counsel for the Plaintiffs?   

 I'm just saying..... the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has some splannin' to do.

Contact Information:
Norman J.Chachkin, Attorney for Plaintiffs
nchachkin@hvc.rr.com

Sherrilyn A. Ifill
President and Director-Counsel NAACP LDF
sifill@naacpldf.org

Johnathan Sandville
Chief Development Officer
jsandvill@naacplld.org

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Correction~"We Shall Overcome Someday"

chamber.JPG
Several groups, including Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, show their support for the Huntsville Board of Education by standing together on the steps of the Annie Merts Center on March 18, 2014. Community leaders spoke in support of the school board while protesters stood on the sidewalk. (Eric Schultz / eschultz@al.com) 
Correction:  The DOJ and the HCS agree to the closing Butler High School, what is not agreed to is combining J.O.Johnson High School and Butler High School.
The Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce  is injecting themselves even deeper  into the court battle between the US Department of Justice and the Huntsville school system over the system's new student assignment plan. Links inserted for emphasis and clarity:
The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce on Friday wrote to U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala, offering a counterargument to several letters written by black politicians, black ministers and black citizens across Huntsville.
The Chamber told the federal judge that black citizens in north Huntsville had not been ignored during zoning deliberations. That assertion contradicts letters to judge that were signed by all black elected officials in Huntsville save one, school board member Laurie McCaulley.
Again, predominately white groups are basically calling black citizens liars, expecting the black community to go along with their desire for unitary status without discussion or input.  
 Suppressing dissent by silencing taxpayers is a nice nasty way of saying you aren't valued as a person, we know what is best for you, and how your tax dollars should be spent.  We will do what we want to do in your community because you need the government to take care of you.
 The Chamber has the same right (pun intended) to write the Judge as any other taxpayer, but I would to like to take this opportunity to correct some factually incorrect assertions (for lack of better words) contained in their letter.

"The Chamber told the federal judge that black citizens in north Huntsville had not been ignored during zoning deliberations."  There is a well documented public record of black citizens being ignored, marginalized, and minimized during the deliberations.
The U.S. Department of Justice says that there was no need for months of secrecy surrounding plans to close Butler High and redraw zone lines across Huntsville. 
In fact, a federal attorney wrote that Washington never gagged the school board nor Superintendent Casey Wardynski, despite the board's recent claims.
 "The Chamber letter argues that busing from Monte Sano to Lee creates logistical difficulties and that removing Hereford would decrease diversity at the new Jemison High."

 Monte Sano is exactly 16 minutes from Huntsville High ,and 16 minutes from Lee High School so what logistical difficulties would be created?  Back in the day students from Monte Sano were zoned for Lee High School.    Hereford Elementary is the former Terry Height's Elementary school and is predominately black.  The new Jemison is predominately black, you do the math then explain how removing Hereford would decrease diversity at the new Jemison High School.

"The NAACP Legal Defense Fund -- a plaintiff in the long-running suit -- split with the Justice Department on this issue and does not oppose Huntsville's plan." 

Enabled by the media,  HCS keeps repeating The NAACP Legal Defense Fund did not oppose the Huntsville City Schools rezoning plan meme, counting on the public to infer the NAACP LDF supports the plan.
What they don't count on is the public having enough sense to read the motion for themselves.  The special counsel for the plaintiffs (Norman J. Chachkin) is not opposed to the new school construction plan because of penalties the BOE would incur if they don't start construction of the new Grissom and the new Johnson High Schools by a certain date due to Arbitrage (Page 6-7 and footnotes page 6). The Plaintiffs attorney reserved the right to oppose the rezoning plan and further litigate whatever issues he deems are in the best interest of the class.
 In other words, the LDF has not dismissed this lawsuit.

The motion filed by HCS BOE request the courts approval, and DOJ agreement, to build a new Johnson High School and a new Grissom High School (footnotes page 4). The court did not approve, and the DOJ did not agree to closing Johnson, renaming Johnson, or closing and combining Butler High School with Johnson High School. The closing of Butler is part of the rezoning plan which the LDF reserved the right to oppose.
" They write to the judge no one was excluded from planning, noting Huntsville held a meeting at each high school before filing for approval of the zoning plan. The meetings, taking place in the course of a week, were not designed to incorporate public input, but to allow citizens to ask questions and finally see the maps." The community meetings were held after the fact.
Dr. Wardynski and every one of the current board members are, evidently, terrified of actually answering questions from the public.
At the “Community Conversations” scheduled to supposedly allow the community to converse with the superintendent and the board of education about their “plan” for redistricting Huntsville, the community is, once again, not allowed to ask questions about the plan.
"All were given equal access to our school leaders," reads the Chamber letter.
So, on January 16th, at a meeting to discuss changes in the school zone lines, Wardynski spent half of his time talking about his accomplishments before even beginning the rezoning discussion.
After he wrapped up patting himself on the back, he then presented the district’s zoning plan. (You’ll have to scroll down to page 30 to see the new plans.)
Following his presentation of the rezoning plan (which does contain changes to the Grissom zoning, despite Wardynski’s assurance on January 14, 2013 that he was not rezoning Grissom), he left a total of 12 minutes for the “public” to ask questions at the meeting.
Mr. Blair, because he is terrified of facing the voters, decided that those twelve minutes should be reserved for the public officials present at the meeting. And so the Mayor, Councilman Russell (who both expressed “full faith and confidence” in both Wardynski and the Board) spoke first. Councilman Showers spoke third and made Wardynski quite nervous as witnessed by his rapid foot tapping.
" Perhaps the strongest portion of the Chamber letter is a bullet point list of recent school programs, including: breakfasts for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches; increase pre-kindergarten for low-income families; centralized teacher assignment to racially balance faculties; laptops for every student in third grade or higher; extended school year for Title I schools."

The summer feeding program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.  The extended school year for Title 1 schools is a federally funded program.  Centralized teacher assignment to racially balance faculties equals Teach for America teachers for north Huntsville schools, and certified teachers for south Huntsville Schools.  The laptops  for every student was also done without parental input or consideration.

"Unlike black citizens in north Huntsville, the Chamber members largely are not members of the aggrieved party in the 51-year-old lawsuit. It is unclear if the letter will be added to the court record.
As for approval of the city's zoning plan, the next round of legal briefs are due by May 16."

“The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination…” President Obama  addressing the Donald Sterling issue while attending a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I wish the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Education would initiate a public relations campaign to unite our city with the same gusto they are carrying out in favor of keeping the schools segregated.  Imagine the possibilities if every child, regardless of their race or address had equal access to a quality education?  Huntsville could be the shining example for education reform not just in our state, but our country.

Education is the hope of the republic

Monday, April 28, 2014

"Rarely is the question asked: Is the children learning?"

 
What have we learned?"  asked Speakin' Out News columnist Jerry Mitchell in the April 23 2013 editionin the aftermath of the showdown between black clergy and the Board of Education/City of Huntsville.  I would say we the peeps  learned the BOE and the City are determined to continue to ignore the United States Supreme Court by maintaining a dual school system.

I agree with  Mitchell, these are a few of the lessons they (see picture above) should have learned (links inserted for emphasis mine):
Predominately white organizations (See the Committee of 100 and Huntsville Chamber) can't hold rallies to announce their intentions and desires for "unitary status" for our schools, without discussions and expect the Black community to just go along for the ride.  Particularly when those same groups have passively watched the schools in the north struggle for years.  If anything the leaders of those organizations should be aware of the stigma and symbolism (especially when race is involved-and yes we can be in denial but yes it is) of rallying in the doors of an educational institution a'la George Wallace.
"This city belongs to us, the people. It doesn’t belong to the Huntsville Times. It doesn’t belong to the Huntsville Board of Education. It doesn’t belong to Dr. Wardynski. It belongs to us."  ~Geek Pavaler

Friday, April 25, 2014

Breaking News Update ~Let the Retaliation Begin

 Johnson High news conference
Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski, center, and school board president Laurie McCaulley, right, listen Monday afternoon as Huntsville resident Carlos Mathews talks about the choosing of possible names for a new northwest Huntsville high school to replace Johnson High. Behind Mathews are pictures of astronauts Ronald McNair and Mae Carol Jemison, whose names may grace the new high school and a new junior high to be built on the same campus. (Crystal Bonvillian/cbonvillian@al.com) 


Breaking News Update! County Commissioner's daughter files lawsuit claiming school board retaliation.

An overflow crowd filled First Missionary Baptist Church Wednesday night to pray for peace and equality in Huntsville's schools. But did the prayers help mend the rift between the city's black leaders and its school officials?

Absolutely Not, it only made school officials more determined not to listen to the city's black community.  Thanks to BOE member Laurie McCaulley, the only black elected official who supports the re-segregation of the school district, we know the only reason the Superintendent and the Board of Education attended the meeting was because Mayor Battle invited them. It must have been painful for them to have to sit there and listen to the lies and deceptions be exposed before God and country.

Mending fences with the black community is the last thing on the mind of this superintendent. Wardynski, assisted by the district 1 BOE representative , and the president of the Huntsville Council of PTSA's, attended the J.O.Johnson PTSA election the day after the prayer vigil.  According to my sources, with Wardynski, McCaulley, and Elisa Ferrall in attendance,  members of the J.O. Johnson Alumni Association were told their individual memberships were not valid because there were no copies of their membership applications.  They were also informed the application fees they paid were a donation, and refused to refund them.  So they had a record of the donations but not the membership.  Only two members of the JOJ Alumni Association were allowed to vote, but here's the kicker, ballots were not secret, they had to be printed and signed or they weren't counted.

Reynard Jones was elected President, and Carlos Matthews was elected Vice President of the J.O.Johnson PTSA by a vote of 21-2.  Neither of these persons have children who attend J.O. Johnson,  nor are either J.O.Johnson Alums.  Both were members of the hand picked members of the so called naming committee.
Last night the Huntsville City School Board of Education violated their own policy on the Selection of School, Facility, and/or Property Name (Policy 2.9, presented September 5, 2013) by concluding the process and voting on the new names approximately three weeks before they were allowed to do so.
On September 5, 2013, the board met and discussed during their work session a new policy entitled, “Selection of School, Facility, and/or Property Name” (Policy 2.9). This policy was necessary to ensure that the process of receiving new names for schools would be as open to the public as possible. Laurie McCaulley, who was at that time serving as the School Board President, assured the public present that evening that the public would have every opportunity to “have input on these changes.
 Why is Wardynski trying to gain control of the J.O.Johnson PTSA?  Possibly for the same reason the BOE violated their own naming policy.
The board was receiving political heat over this decision, and they don’t like political heat or pressure. Despite their claims to the contrary, they actually do prefer it when the board room is filled with nothing but employees whom they control.
That was why they held between 10 and 15 seats in a standing room only crowd last night for TFAers. (There are, by the way, only about 50 seats in the room that aren’t always taken by school district employees.)
That was why they kept the general public waiting outside until 5:15pm.
That was why they instigated a new policy of requiring all questions from the public during the work session part of the meeting to be submitted in writing (that they then refused to read out loud).
That was why Dr. Robinson decided that it would be a good idea to berate Johnson parents for supposedly caring more about the name of the school rather than the test scores when she said, “My challenge would be to those folks who have been spending a lot of time focused on the name that you might want to put that same focus on the test scores.”
That was why Ms. McCaulley seemed to have such difficulty reading citizens’ questions or putting forth a coherent statement on her position.
That was why Mr. Blair seemed incapable of doing anything other than demand complete silence from a crowd of interested citizens.
That was why Dr. Wardynski asked security to remove the few non-employees who managed to get seats in the room.
Wardynski, Blair and Robinson are all three looking ahead to their own political futures, and they decided that the naming question had embarrassed them long enough.
Mr. Culbreath’s only contribution was to claim, by holding up a folder that he “had received only a few hours ago,” that he just didn’t understand how anyone could claim that this process had been anything other than transparent.
Well, Mr. Culbreath, when the board refuses to follow their own rules, the process is significantly less transparent than it should be, don’t you think?
Only Mr. Birney seemed genuinely concerned about the process that they were pushing through when he shared that Mae Jemison didn’t appreciate her southern heritage by pointing out, “You may have the possibility of Dr. Jemison refusing this as she has publicly declaimed the fact that she was born in the south. She resented that heritage.” Mr. Birney was the lone dissenting voice on this matter last night.
Thank you, Mr. Birney.
This is just one more example of this board and this superintendent doing exactly what they want to do in the way they want to do it without consideration of what the community wants. They’ve done it with Special Education students. They’ve done it with the naming of schools. They’ve done it with the location of schools.
Next up, they’ll be doing it with the rezoning of schools.
It’s time for all of them to be sent packing.
Is what 
No great insight here but this showdown is good for no one. Hopefully this difficult situation will find a proper resolution to the betterment of children in Huntsville. Sadly, it's hard to envision that right now.
 Time will tell the truth, but based on the actions of this Superintendent and this Board of Education I don't believe finding a proper resolution to the betterment of ALL children in Huntsville is in the cards. Ironically, Wardynski and Company could have probably gotten away with their evil plan if  a number of councilmen and elected officials had warned him it would be a gargantuan mistake to change the name of Lee, I mean, J.O.Johnson High School.

I repeat:
As long as the quality of public education in Huntsville is based on parental income and property values there is no hope for the Huntsville City Schools.
From the position paper:

Again, we agree with the United States Department of Justice that the students of Northwest Huntsville deserve fair and equitable treatment in respect to all of their relationships with Huntsville City Schools System.
 You are either for fair and equitable treatment in respect to all students, or you are against fair and equitable treatment for all students in respect to all of their relationships with Huntsville City Schools.

Cliven Bundy

By now, we've all seen the video, perhaps, over and over again, approaching ad nauseum.

I had been collecting links and information about this subliminal man.

Then, I decided there were more important issues than this racists's opinions, and in a few days, they revealed themselves to be what Cliven Bundy is: a shill for the far right, militant anarchists extremists. After all, Bundy acknowledged his belief when he said that he didn't believe in the federal government.

As soon as I heard it, I thought it was a stupid thing to say.

I figure the IRS will help Mr. Bundy acknowledge the Federal Government. See, if he doesn't believe in the Federal Government, it's likely that he has some back taxes due, in addition to his back grazing fees, for a couple of decades. Just sayin'.

The fines are a result of Bundy grazing his 900 cattle on 600,000 acres of bureau-managed public lands since 1993 without a permit. He’s ignored his fees, fines, permits and multiple court orders.

Plenty of other ranchers pay their grazing fees; in fact, the Bureau of Land Management issues 18,000 permits for grazing on 160 million acres of public lands. The U.S. Forest Service allows grazing on an additional 81 million acres of public lands.

Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze was right when he said, “Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million.” Public lands belong to the American public. Regardless of his convoluted read of the Nevada Constitution, Bundy owes all of us that tidy sum. And he should us owe much, much more.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What happens when an irresistible force meets an unmovable object?


prayer meeting
Prayer meeting packs north Huntsville Church
My Daddy had one of the simplest, and I believe, best explanations for this paradox......he said "Sometimes you are the bug, and sometimes you are the wind shield".  I thought of this paradox last night as  Casey Wardynski, Mayor Tommy Battle, and the HCS BOE, collided with the Greater Huntsville Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship at a community prayer vigil.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -
A coalition of Huntsville ministers is injecting itself into the court battle between the US Department of Jusice (sic) and the Huntsville school system over the system's new student assignment plan.
How dare a coalition of Huntsville ministers inject itself into the court battle between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Huntsville school system!  I mean,  just who does the GHIMF think they are, Taxpayers?

Yep, the bugs hit the windshield with a big old squish.  All the lies, deceptions, and misconceptions were exposed in the name of God, in the house of God.  No longer can they claim black leaders approved the J.O.Johnson name change.  No longer can they infer the local NAACP approves the rezoning plan. No longer can they claim north Huntsville citizens aren't involved and don't care.  No longer can they continue to ignore the valid concerns for air quality at the proposed site of the new north Huntsville high/middle school.  No longer can they treat north Huntsville citizens like second class citizens. 

After prayers and the presentation of a position paper came the question and answer session.  Dr. Wardynski was asked why students in north Huntsville had to wear uniforms when students in south Huntsville did not. His response (para quoting),  it's so violent in north Huntsville he needs to be able to tell the difference between a student and a gang member, citing a Fox News report of a student that was forced to lie down in a ditch to escape gunfire for flavor.  Mind you,  the mayor was sitting right there listening to Wardynski proclaim north Huntsville as Chicago, I mean, a gang infested wasteland.

This is not the first time Wardynski has used the gang/thug stereotype to justify his actions.  He seems to believe all children in north Huntsville are guilty of being a gang member by association.
Yes, in order to convince the board to support the new fence around Lee High, he showed them a picture of a person in a hoodie. (Truthfully, I think the board had already made up their minds on this matter. I think this was intended to drive the need for a fence home to the general public.)
WAFF reporter Charles Molinaux said Wardynki faced a hostile crowd after he was actually invited up to answer the question. If Molinaux wants to see a "hostile crowd" he should attend some Huntsville City Schools Board of Education meetings.  Despite the prayer vigil being  held in violent north Huntsville there was not a metal detector, or armed security personnel in sight.  This is another media attempt to sensationalize what other wise was a civilized event.

From the position paper:
Again, we agree with the United States Department of Justice that the students of Northwest Huntsville deserve fair and equitable treatment in respect to all of their relationships with Huntsville City Schools System.
Let the fight for One Huntsville with liberty, justice, and equality for all begin.

DeTracking Tyson

I'm captivated by the Fox series "Cosmos" featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson. To say that it's a stunning series with amazing graphics really doesn't do it justice. If you haven't begun watching it yet, it's not too late. The series so far is available online, though the first episode only for the next 10 days. You can begin watching with Episode 1.

Watch just one episode of Cosmos, and you will be struck not only by elegant and beautiful graphics, but also by Neil deGrasse Tyson's studied ability to explain scientific facts and theories in everyday, understandable language. The clarity and precision of his explanations not only piques interest but it also stimulates the viewer to think about and enjoy science.

Obviously, in our increasingly complex and technological society, scientific literacy, that is, understanding science and the scientific process, is an invaluable asset. Yet, the percentage of Americans who are scientifically literate is low, at around 28%.

That low level of scientific literacy makes Neil deGrasse Tyson's mission in the new Cosmos all the more meaningful, as he explains and illustrates scientific principles. But throughout his own education, he faced obstacle after obstacle to become the scientist he is today.

Like many students, he was put into "educational tracking," the practice of separating students into ability groups geared toward preparing them for their presumed future occupations. To hear Tyson tell it, he had to continually reject the "traditional" tracking suggested to him, sports or entertainment. After all, at the wizened age of 9, after a visit to a planetarium, he knew he wanted to be an astrophysicist. And after meeting Carl Sagan, he learned what kind of person he wanted to be.

It's notable that DeGrasse Tyson attended school in Bronx public school system, just as it's notable that he resisted educational tracking that wasn't geared toward what he knew he wanted to do. The practice of educational tracking, when it hinders rather than supports student goals, is really a bureaucratic method of impeding a person's self-determination.

Jeannie Oakes recognized that in her book, "Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality." Tracking provides different and unequal access to educational opportunities, she argued. "...it is the social consequences of tracking - sorting students according to preconceptions based on race and social standings and providing them with different and unequal access - as much as any sense of organizational efficiency or pedagogical benefits that makes Americans want to cling to this type of sorting."

So, tracking can be used as an organized process to practice separate and unequal access to education. That belies our American pretense that our country is a land of opportunity, where anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can get ahead.

In the video, starting at 1:01:30, deGrasse Tyson confronts, in his own inimitable style, the question of barriers faced by those who would become scientists.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Voter suppression is not something made up by paranoid African Americans

African Americans are constantly told that voter suppression is some made up pipe-dream by-election stealing African American voters.

We are told we are "stupid" and there is no such thing as voter suppression.

Except clearly there is.  The Washington Post Aaron Blake writes this:
Black voters played a huge role in delivering Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012. And in 2014, they will play a huge role in determining whether the president's party can stop Republicans from taking the Senate.
So I guess we are supposed to believe it's a coincidence the first things red, republican controlled state legislatures did when they became the majority is enacted strict Voter ID laws under the guise of combating almost nonexistent "voter fraud." ?
Despite the GOP’s avowal to reach out to new constituencies following the 2012 election, Republican state legislators have continued to support new voting restrictions in 2013. According to a report by Project Vote, fifty-five new voting restrictions have been introduced in thirty states so far this year. “The 2013 legislative season has once again brought an onslaught of bills to restrict access to the ballot, including proposals to undercut important election laws that have recently opened the electorate to more voters,” writes Erin Ferns Lee. These measures include “strict photo ID policies…voter registration restrictions; voter purges; [felon] disenfranchisement; and policies to cut back or revoke voting laws that have made voting more convenient.” By my count, 235 new voting restrictions have been introduced in forty-four states over the past three years.
And where does the majority of the outcry of voter fraud come from?  It comes from republicans and sore losers who don't think African-Americans should have the right (pun intended) to vote unless they are voting for republicans of course.
So here we are, 3 months before a primary and we will have the usual jokers out moaning that Voter ID laws will suppress turnout in the black community. From the President Barack Obama tore into state voter ID laws Friday when speaking to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, accusing Republicans of trying to block minorities, women and seniors from voting and calling the laws a fraud.
But the reality is much better than this, it will suppress illegal turnout in the black community.
Just so you know Radio Boy, there is no illegal turnout in the black community.  The right to vote is scared to the black community.  It is steeped in blood, sweat, tears, courage, and sacrifice.  It is the only weapon we have to protect the very freedoms you hate us for having.
That's why we don't think Voter Suppression with the State Seal of Approval is funny. It's why we shake our heads at the tough Voter ID Laws enacted by red republican state legislatures. It's why we get weep silently when real voter fraud/suppression gets a slap on the wrist, and the imagined voter fraud is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It's like  1965 all over again.
Coffin carried through crowd
America.gov

Today's Must Read
Why Obama and the Left Are Hated

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"For more information contact your school board member or Huntsville Council of PTA's" Yeah, right.


I'm back! Before I get into the meat the potatoes of this post I must extend a sincere thank you to Chip for filling in during the void due to someone(s) cutting off the Internet to my home.  I HOPE Chip will continue to post on a daily basis.  We like and encourage diversity here at RedEye's page.  If anyone else interested in being a contributor grab a moniker and send me a writing sample c/o redeyeblog.alabama@yahoo.com.   I would also like to thank all of the readers/lurkers for your continued support. I continue to be amazed and humbled, it is why I blog, and why I am eternally grateful to mooncat and countrycat for encouraging me to blog,  for encouraging me to start my own blog.   ~RedEye

So, I return to find the Huntsville City Schools up to their old tricks in an attempt to keep the school system segregated by race/class, ironically at the same time the University of Alabama Student Government Association votes for integrating the Greek system.

We are constantly being told the NAACP Legal Defense Fund agrees with the Huntsville City Schools rezoning plan,  but clearly that is a lie.

Enabled by the media,  HCS keeps repeating The NAACP Legal Defense Fund did not oppose the Huntsville City Schools rezoning plan meme, counting on the public to infer the NAACP LDF supports the plan.

What they don't count on is the public having enough sense to read the motion for themselves.  The special counsel for the plaintiffs (Norman J. Chachkin) is not opposed to the new school construction plan because of penalties the BOE would incur if they don't start construction of the new Grissom and the new Johnson High Schools by a certain date due to Arbitrage (Page 6-7 and footnotes page 6). The Plaintiffs attorney reserved the right to oppose the rezoning plan and further litigate whatever issues he deems are in the best interest of the class.

 In other words, the LDF has not dismissed this lawsuit.

The motion filed by HCS BOE request the courts approval, and DOJ agreement, to build a new Johnson High School and a new Grissom High School (footnotes page 4). The court did not approve, and the DOJ did not agree to closing Johnson, renaming Johnson, or closing and combining Butler High School with Johnson High School. The closing of Butler is part of the rezoning plan which the LDF reserved the right to oppose.


"For more information contact your school board member or Huntsville Council of PTA's."  Again, the public is supposed to believe their school board member will answer their questions and not know the Huntsville Cluster of PTA's is a racket, I mean,  an arm of the superintendent and the BOA.

Just in case the school board rep will answer questions that aren't written down here are a few:
1. Who is the owner of the Bulk Mail permit?
2. Who generated the distribution list? 
3. Who composed the copy? 
4. Was this approved by the BOE?
5. If it was approved by the BOE when and where was it voted on?
Wonder why the media isn't investigating this?
Strike that.
We know why.

RedEye Roll

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Orange is the New Black

“You spend a lot of time thinking about how awful the prison is rather than envisioning your future.” ― Piper Kernan, author of "Orange is the New Black"

Yesterday, I wrote about the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences and the difference that including arts and music in a school's curriculum makes in better attendance and academic performance. I wonder if that young boy who added yet another picture to his overcrowded, beautiful but tragic wall as he "does his time" in juvy hall would be there if he had arts and music opportunities before he was incarcerated. Obviously, his artwork engages him.

One area of action that President Obama's privately funded, $200 million dollar initiative, My Brother's Keeper, is focusing on is K-12 students. The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report clearly shows a great need for improvement.

Kara Kerwin, President of the Center for Education Reform, lamented in a statement on the most recent NAEP report: "It’s a disgrace and truly incomprehensible that after decades of mediocrity, we celebrate the fact that only 34 percent of our nation’s 8th graders can read at grade level and only 34 percent are proficient in math....It’s rare to find a policy issue that 86 percent of the country agrees with, but in education, accountability does just that."

The human toll is evident, if we wish to see it. "Trying to stop a 13-year-old boy from acting out in school will not be as effective if the boy is acting out because he is behind grade level, three or four grade levels...He’s bored, he’s not engaged and he has a sense of hopelessness because he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to catch up." observed Johnny C. Taylor, of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Doesn't it make you wonder if that describes the young man incarcerated in juvy hall?

Academic under-performance is clearly linked to the incarceration epidemic, so hopefully arts and music opportunities to K-12 students will be in the My Brother's Keeper initiative.

And the exploding American prison population is an epidemic, one rooted in our national shame. "In 2011 there were more African-Americans in prison or “under the watch” of the justice system than were enslaved in the United States in 1850" wrote Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow. She explained, "Our nation's prison population has more than quintupled. And this is due largely to the war on drugs and the 'get tough'’ movement. The drug war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color even though studies have consistently shown now for decades that contrary to popular belief, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but by waging this drug war almost exclusively in poor communities of color, we’ve now created a vast new racial under-caste."

Among the 15 Executive Actions the Obama administration can take to secure justice, the Brennan Center for Justice calls for the creation of a Presidential Commission on Mass Incarceration in its recent report.

With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 25 percent of its prisoners. More than 2 million Americans are behind bars. A quarter of the nation’s adult population has a criminal record. The prison population has increased sevenfold since 1970. The country spends a quarter of a trillion dollars a year on criminal justice, but true costs are wider: Economic and social impacts on families and children can continue for generations. The explosion in our correctional population extends far beyond prison: pre-trial detention, parole and probation supervision, and those with arrest records. Public safety does not compel incarceration of this scope. More than half of prisoners are serving time for drug or nonviolent crimes. One in four new prison admissions are for violations of parole. One in five people behind bars are simply awaiting trial.

Incarceration under the guise of "public safety" is as much a profit center for the corrections industry, as well as a very cheap source of manufacturing labor, as for any real attempt at prisoner rehabilitation to re-enter society. It's no surprise then that majority of today's prisoners are black and minority: "Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of 'hiring out prisoners' was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else's land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then 'hired out' for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of 'hired-out' miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972."

We are now at the point where the costs of incarceration are decreasing the amount of money available for education, at an average annual cost of $30,000 per prisoner to imprison. "Our penchant for punishment has come at a cost. We spend almost $70 billion annually to place adults in prison and jails, to confine youth in detention centers, and to supervise 7.3 million individuals on probation and parole....States still spend more of their general-fund dollars on education than on incarceration, but the percentage of dollars being used for incarceration is increasing, while the percentage for education is decreasing. In 33 of 50 states, corrections-related costs made up a larger proportion of the general fund than in the previous fiscal year, while spending on K-12 and higher education decreased."

How will the future of that young man in juvy hall be best served?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Harmony of Hope

The children of the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences (DAAS) choir exemplify the reasons that we need arts in schools. Too often, when budgets need to be cut, the arts are the first to go. There's no comparison between the funding levels of arts and sciences. Federal funding of the arts is $250 million per year, while the National Science Foundation receives around $5 Billion.

Arts education has been slipping for more than three decades, the result of tight budgets, an ever-growing list of state mandates that have crammed the classroom curriculum, and a public sense that the arts are lovely but not essential.

Not essential? Actually, children who are "at risk" of not learning and not graduating benefit enormously from arts and music classes. Those involved are 4 times more likely to to be recognized for their academic achievement and 3 times more likely to have good school attendance.

Part of the lack of emphasis on arts and music education has to do with the fact that over the past 3 decades of No Child Left Behind, many parents haven't had arts and music in their own educations. They literally don't know what they've missed.

The fact that children exposed to arts and music do better in school has lead to innovative ways to infuse the learning environment with arts and music.

Comprehensive, innovative arts initiatives are taking root in a growing number of school districts. Many of these models are based on new findings in brain research and cognitive development, and they embrace a variety of approaches: using the arts as a learning tool (for example, musical notes to teach fractions); incorporating arts into other core classes (writing and performing a play about, say, slavery); creating a school environment rich in arts and culture (Mozart in the hallways every day) and hands-on arts instruction. Although most of these initiatives are in the early stages, some are beginning to rack up impressive results. This trend may send a message to schools focused maniacally, and perhaps counterproductively, on reading and math.

"Teaching to the test" is burdensome for both teachers and students, but involvement in the arts and music frees childrens' spirits and challenges them with the Harmony of Hope.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Graze King: From Welfare Queens to Simple Scofflaws

What a day April 15th was!

First, of course, it's the day we settle up with Uncle Sam. And for anyone who procrastinated, you bad. You got penalties now.

O yeah, and about that health care thing? If you haven't squared that yet, get yourself over to ObamaCareS, er, oops! It's last call (and I'm not talkin' alcohol!): Open enrollment is over for 2014! See if you can still get coverage! Come on now, spread the word! Did you get an email, holding your place?

Critics of the Affordable Care Act call it welfare. You know, like the fraudster reportedly zipping around in her Caddie. She rollin' ya know?

That description of the fictional "welfare queen" was first used by President Ronald Reagan.

But this week, another of President Reagan's legacies sprang into the forefront of national politics. It might be termed "Crazed Graze King."

President Obama, and/or one of his cabinet members, prudently decided to spare our nation and world of the debacle of massacring "women in front" over a 20 year old range fight. Stagecraft.

And the rumor mill can stop spinning: it has nothing to do with Harry Reid and cattle and solar.

Monday, April 14, 2014

GOP Voter Purges Undermine American Democracy

President Obama recently remarked at the National Action Network Convention that "Justice requires the right to vote."
So it behooves us to take a closer look at just one state that has played a pivotal role in the outcome of our national elections.
Of course, for the November 2014 elections, we're only looking at a non-Presidential election. But that election is pivotal to the timeline that our President has available to to implement meaningful change for all Americans. Unless, of course, you're a teabagger who believes that somehow, someway, President Obama will finagle a third term, however cloaked in the specious suggestion, down-low, that it is "political satire." That's Rand Paul's idea of humor: "suggest, mislead, chuckle. You fools." He published thAT red herring on his website. Sure hope his minions recognize they are being played for fools right up front, if they don't read the "fine print" at the bottom of the article.
But I digress. The point of this post is to look at what is happening in just one state, one critical state, in the upcoming "off-election" (meaning non-Presidential election year) and why this upcoming 2014 election is so important. The election results of this state dashed the Gore presidency, plunging our nation into two long wars for oil and an economic catastrophe. Florida 2000.
Under the guise of removing "non-citizens" from the Florida voting rolls, Governor Rick Scott and his appointed Secretary of State Rick Detzner have removed hundreds of voters from the rolls despite the fact that the national database used to cross-check voter identities is "not current enough for accuracy or reliability." Never mind doing it right, just do it, because the GOP doesn't care about accuracy - the GOP's goal is disenfranchising voters.
The targets of voter suppression tactics are those who the GOP calculates will vote Democratic: college students, disabled, people of color, and low-income voters. Indeed, the former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer said: "'The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,' Greer told The Post. 'It’s done for one reason and one reason only....'We've got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.'"

The GOP is just reading the numbers which show that most early voters vote Democratic. "In 2008 Democrats, especially African-Americans, turned out in unprecedented numbers for President Barack Obama, many of them casting ballots during 14 early voting days. In Palm Beach County, 61.2 percent of all early voting ballots were cast by Democrats that year, compared with 18.7 percent by Republicans."
Among the multiple tactics used to suppress voters are: prosecution for voter fraud (which has been shown to be practically non-existent); registration restrictions; limiting early voting; residency restrictions; and, voting ID laws. Our former first black president, Bill Clinton, noted that putting photos on Social Security cards would represent "a way forward that eliminates error" without having to “paralyze and divide a country with significant challenges.” According to the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as 11% of eligible voters do not have government issued photo ID.
In the vanguard of voter suppression is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who ghostwrites state legislative bills, then sends them to state legislators for introduction and passage. Here's one example crafted to disenfranchise non-drivers, low-income, minority, elderly and students, for whom the state of Florida is currently blocking the use of a college union as a polling place, according to Senator Bill Nelson.
ALEC is funded through corporations, those very corporations where we spend our money. Using the Color of Change letter, you can tell CEOs to stop funding an organization determined to undermine Americans' voting rights.
As President Obama reminded us in 2012: "As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together — through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe."










Sunday, April 13, 2014

Huntsville Board of Education Risks The Health of the Next Generation: What Does Environmental Justice Mean?

...probably asthma's next little johnny got a funny knob in his neck
so what the problem with that?...
On it, on it, we're so on it Gotta be on it if we ain't on it we're a goner
Who?
Me, you, everyone and their mama
It's our world, so defending it with honor On it, on it, we're so on it
If you ain't on it, this a warning Take a look at the world around..."


Excerpted lyrics courtesy of Black Educator Blogspot
Activists in Huntsville continue to protest the relocation of existing neighborhood middle and high school students' schools near a dust-ridden location with debilitating, lifelong consequences from exposures to unknown levels of potentially toxic levels of particulate matter.

What is environmental justice? Is there such a thing?
According to the EPA, environmental justice is "the distribution of environmental risks across population and income groups, and the policy responses to these distributions."

Dig a little deeper, and new parameters emerge. "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice, as fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, or commercial operations, or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies. Meaningful involvement means that potentially affected community residents have an appropriate opportunity to participate in decision-making about a proposed activity that will affect their environment and/or health."

Back around a couple of decades ago, "...on May 6, 1993, Administrator Browner affirmed the need to address environmental justice: as we undertake programs to reduce risks, we must explicitly recognize the ethnic, economic, and cultural makeup of the people we are trying to protect. We now believe that people of color and low income are disproportionately affected by some environmental risks: the risk of living near landfills, municipal waste combustors, or hazardous waste sites; the risks posed by lead or asbestos in old, poorly maintained housing; the risk of exposure to pesticides in farm fields; and the risk of eating contaminated fish when fish is a mainstay of their diet.(2)"

Now we have a definition, and a direction. So, where are the children of Huntsville in this mix? Sounds like the Feds are on board to protect the children of Huntsville.
Huntsville is in Region 4, where environmental justice is "...is an integral part of Region 4's mission."

Super! What about the state?
Hmmm..."The Air Division has primary jurisdiction over all air emission sources within the State, except those emission sources located within Jefferson County or the City of Huntsville. The Air Pollution Control Programs in these areas are administered by the Jefferson County Department of Health and the City of Huntsville Department of Natural Resources, respectively. Air emission sources in these areas should contact these agencies for information regarding applicable regulations and permitting requirements."
Got it. The Feds turned it over to the State, who turned it over to the county and city, where the Board of Education muzzles parental input. Submit your question in writing before the meeting, so we have time to decide whether we want to answer it, or how we want to answer it. We're good, but on our feet? Well, you might be better. Don't want to take any chances, ya know? Might get folks thinkin' there's something rotten in the cotton, as the old sayin' goes.
How's that working out for Huntsville's children and their parents? In terms of environmental justice? Or, in terms of an "appropriate opportunity to participate in decision-making about a proposed activity" that will affect their childrens' health and well-being, who are the future citizens and workers of Huntsville?




Saturday, April 12, 2014

The White House Easter Egg Roll

Notice how Bo let's the youngster Sunny have all the fun with the Easter Eggs?

That's what big brothers do!

President Obama: "Justice Requires the Right to Vote"

We're six months out from the next election, and historically, voter turnout in mid-term, non-presidential elections is low. About 60% of American voters go to the polls in presidential elections, but only 40% show up for mid-term, non-presidential elections. President Obama urged the National Action Network Conference attendees to work hard to help voters register and then get to the polls.

He recognizes that voting rights are under attack by Republican legislators in states across the nation. Quipping about "souls to the polls," the practice in many churches of following worship and potlucks with a bus ride to the polls, he noted that it could be done on Tuesday night, if you had to. But to be fair, the President noted that one Republican State Senator, Dale Schultz of Wisconsin, said that limiting early voting was "fiddling with mechanics rather than ideas...Making it more difficult for people to vote is not a good sign for a party that wants to attract more people."

There doesn't appear to be any shortage of imaginative ways to restrict voting. In Miami-Dade county, with a population of 2.6 million people, the elections department may prohibit all voters from using restrooms at polling places, reasoning that "If no voters could go to the bathroom, the county argued, then it could not be accused of discriminating against only the disabled ones."

“This is a very clear way to suppress the vote,” Marc Dubin of the Center for Independent Living of South Florida said. “Telling people, ‘We have 12-hour lines but you can’t go to the bathroom?’ You can be guaranteed that people won’t come out to vote.” Maybe, but it Depends.

President Obama's message is clear: voting is a fundamental constitutional right that must be used, and defended, because "Justice requires the right to vote." He reminded us that James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner believed so strongly in the power of the vote that they died for it in Mississippi fifty years ago.

According to the ACLU, "During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely."

Of course, citizens foregoing the right to vote entirely is exactly what the oligarchic Koch Brothers want to happen. Their paper mill, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, drafts and distributes boilerplate legislative bills throughout the 50 state legislatures. ALEC's "...bills or resolutions would disenfranchise Americans and give corporations even more power to use their vast financial resources to influence elections in our democracy without full disclosure of that spending. These two focal points of recent ALEC proposals pose twin threats to American democracy, by limiting the right of citizens to vote while expanding the power of for-profit corporations and the shadowy front groups funded by billionaires like the Koch brothers to distort elections through pouring money into expensive attack ads cloaked as 'issue' advertising."

We have six months to organize voter registration drives and ready voters to go to the polls in the upcoming mid-term election. Let's give President Obama a House that will work with him to craft legislation to benefit all of us, instead of a House that wastes time and tax payer dollars obstructing him. And of course, we need the Senate, too.

So when President Obama urges us register and vote, he is also telling us to defend our democracy - because there are those nefarious forces that want to restrict our democratic constitutional rights to suit their corporate interests.

Do You Know When/Where To Register To Vote? Check at: My Time To Vote.com