Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Inexcusable self-delusion and ignorance in Texas' public school history curriculum

As a retired educator, this kind of stuff makes my blood boil.

"Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws.
And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.
Slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War,” said Pat Hardy, a Republican board member, when the board adopted the standards in 2010. “There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”  .

In one sense, he's correct it was the right of states to authorize one human being to own another human being. Now that's something of which to be proud!  Where did Gov. Perry find these people?
At a KKK rally?  I bet the Klan is mad about being left out of the books.  They're actually proud of their arsons, assaults, murders and lynching.

There's more: "Students in Texas are required to read the speech Jefferson Davis gave when he was inaugurated president of the Confederate States of America, an address that does not mention slavery. But students are not required to read a famous speech by Alexander Stephens, Davis’s vice president, in which he explained that the South’s desire to preserve slavery was the cornerstone of its new government and “the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

"Historians acknowledge that disagreements over states’ rights played a role in the Civil War. But the states’ rights issue was inseparable from slavery, they say: The right that states in the South were seeking to protect, after all, was the right to buy and sell people.
Southern states made that clear in their declarations of independence from the union, said James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association. Slavery’s primary role in driving the Civil War is a matter of scholarly consensus, he said.
“The War happened only because of the determination of the leadership of eleven states to defend the right of their residents to own other human beings,” Grossman wrote in an e-mail. “The Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery.”
Hardy, the Texas state board member who said the war was not about slavery, did not respond to requests for comment. The board’s chair, Donna Bahorich, also did not respond to a request for comment."
See the full article here.

From another article on the same topic: "Historians have soundly rejected the “states’ rights” argument as historical revisionism promoted by Confederate heroes and apologists after the war."

I suspect that in Iran the curriculum maintains that the Holocaust never happened. 

Amazing story of human hope and determination during the Civil War

Free black man, avoids being enslaved.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

$200 million dollar public education program fails.

If you are interested in America's children, their and our future, economic inequality and related topics, there are few topics more frustrating than the failures of America's education system, from K-12 to the university level.  The problems are most acute in big cities with large minority populations (e.g., Dallas, TX, Newark, NJ)  $200 million was donated to try to improve Newark N.J. public schools.  Although there are some bright spots, the effort largely failed.  Why?  This book suggests a number of reasons including politics, egos, and a failure to involve parents and teachers.  I suggest another, the failure to understand the families and environments of poor, black urban children.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Remember the agreement with N. Korea re nuclear weaons

It's amazing that no one in the media appears to want to talk about our last major venture into an agreement with a country to keep them from getting nuclear weapons.  Remember N. Korea.  There is some blame on both sides, but didn't we learn anything from this.  Assuming the Iran agreement is ultimately approved by both sides, will Republican opposition once Obama leaves office sabotage the deal?  Will the whole thing then fall apart and the Iranians will emerge (as did the
My take on this is that the whole show is a sham.  (a post on this later). The Iranians have no intent of giving up their quest for the bomb.  The Obama administration is  desperate for a foreign policy 'victory' and naively hope that the Israelis will go along with the charade. The administration naively hopes  that the next generation of Iranians and Iranian leadership will give up Muslim extremism and the problem will somehow disappear.  They also hope that even if Iran gets the bomb, the MAD  (mutual assured destruction) principle will keep them from using it.  Keep  your fingers crossed!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Racial Discrimination in Jury selection.

The issue of racial discrimination in criminal trials is again getting attention.  Having been both a defense attorney and prosecutor I can tell you that neither side uses its peremptory challenges directly to insure an unbiased jury.  Challenges are used to  get rid of anyone who might be biased in favor of the other side. Prosecutor's often fear that black jurors are more likely to identify with the defendant or have had bad experiences with the police. The theory is that the net result is an unbiased jury.  This doesn't always work.  
According to the Dallas Morning News:

"Racial discrimination during jury selection plagued the Dallas County district attorney’s office for years, The Dallas Morning News reported during a series of stories in March 1986. The U.S. Supreme Court cited The News’ work in a 1986 decision, Batson vs. Kentucky.
The News reported that a 1963 treatise by a Dallas County prosecutor recommended against permitting “Jews, Negroes, Dagos and Mexicans or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or how well educated.”

Racial discrimination during jury selection plagued the Dallas County district attorney’s office for years, The Dallas Morning News reported during a series of stories in March 1986. The U.S. Supreme Court cited The News’ work in a 1986 decision, Batson vs. Kentucky.
The News reported that a 1963 treatise by a Dallas County prosecutor recommended against permitting “Jews, Negroes, Dagos and Mexicans or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or how well educated.”

Remember, however, not every strike of a black juror is motivated by prejudice.  There are often neutral reasons (e.g., is a neighbor of the defendant). 

TIH: Aug 17, 1915--Leo Frank lynched in Atlanta

See this article from Wikipedia

Review of top US Supreme Court cases 2014-15

From the NYT.

Comic strip says it better than I ever could.

Although the author of this strip leans left, he sometimes actually hits the nail on the head.  They say  a picture is worth a thousand words. A comic strip should be worth a book. This strip mocks the Texas Education department's official curriculum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rookie Cop fired for killing unarmed black male

This officer, who was on patrol with his training officer, was fired for shooting and killing an unarmed, black male college student.  Criminal charges are possible.

New CA law helps promote transparency in police killing cases

CA Governor “Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday a measure that prohibits grand juries (which meet in secret and have secret proceedings) to decide whether to charge officers in cases involving excessive or deadly force by law enforcement, and another affirming the public’s right to take audio or video recordings of police officers.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) offered the grand juries measure in response to high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, where grand juries declined to indict police officers for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.

Mitchell said her bill, SB 227, would help make judicial proceedings more transparent and accountable. Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties already have opted not to use grand juries when an officer's actions may have caused someone's death.”  The decision to charge the officer would be made by the prosecutor

Both these measures should help insure more transparency and public confidence.

Final Report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing

The Final Report (May, 2105) of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing is available.  There is surprisingly little on the use of deadly force.  Transparency, policy and training are stressed.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

LAPD cleaned up

LAPD had a reputation of being one of the nation's worst.  This book, Blue, by Joe Domanick claims the PD has straightened up.  He gives much of the credit to former NYPD Chief  William Bratton (who left LAPD in 2009).  There are a number interesting points.  One regards the O.J. Simpson trial.
"Domanick gets everything right. His brief portrait of the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, for example, is a valuable corrective. O.J.’s lawyer Johnnie Cochran was no racial show boater, though the national media treated him like some sort of West Coast Al Sharpton. Cochran was a brilliant and highly respected local attorney who made his reputation trying police-abuse cases. “He knew what black jurors knew deep in their bones,” Domanick writes, “that racism, planting evidence, shading the truth and lying in court had been part of the Los Angeles Police Department’s modus operandi throughout its history.” The trial was always about the dysfunctional L.A.P.D., never O.J."

Bratton cleaned house, got serious about 'community policing,' disciplined, trained and provided positive leadership.Somewhat surprisingly,  Bratton did this without abandoning aggressive stop and frisk and broken windows policing.  He just made sure that it was done fairly and without bias.  There's a saying that "it all starts at the top."   Personally, I thought LAPD was too big and too corrupt to ever clean itself up.  I'm glad I was wrong.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Huge city payouts for police misconduct

The increased availability of video evidence in police misconduct cases led led to huge increases in city pay-outs for claims against police. Payouts are largest, as you might expect, when someone dies.  Video, whether it's by smart phones or police cams, is changing the legal environment, public attitudes, etc.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Police officer slain, suspect arrested

With all the attention given to police killing of suspects, let's not forget about the danger officers face and the officers who are killed by suspects.  This officer was from Memphis. RIP

Saturday, August 01, 2015

College Cops Getting Scrutiny

College/University PD's get little attention--until something goes radically wrong, such as an off-campus fatal shooting of an unarmed black male during a traffic stop.  What is this campus cop doing off-campus doing traffic stops?