Sunday, May 25, 2014

#166 May 25, 2014- Public Education Needs Leaders

Educational Leadership. . .
Public education in modern America is under attack.  There is a very real and persuasive movement to change the very fabric of our educational system and to make education a resource that is socially, economically and politically controlled.  A resource that is available, in any meaningful way, only to a select group.  The potential power of public education to be a force for a socially just, democratically ruled society is muted by the attempts to privatize schools, to control what and how material is taught, and by the efforts to silence the voices of parents, community members and educators in decision making about educational policies and initiatives.  That all of these attacks are carried out under the guise of "reforming" our schools or providing more equitable outcomes makes them difficult to counter, and more damaging in their impacts.

As we "reform" our schools we see a loss of diversity and a re-segregation of our educational system.   History has shown us that a separate and unequal society starkly divided along any demographic lines (racial, gender, religious or class) can not thrive or survive for very long.

On the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, Congress is set to expand a...
The Huffington Post|By Diane Ravitch

Legally, you can't tell a parent of a kid with a disability that the child can't...|By Amy Silverman

With the standardization of curriculum and the emphasis on test scores for "core" content areas, students lose out on opportunities to learn and experience curriculum that is vital to our survival as a society.  A culture filled with individuals who are only educated to read "closely" or to perform rote algorithms will stagnate and decline.  Students need time and experiences with the arts, with science and the social sciences to become well rounded, community ready, emotionally healthy citizens.   

The arts are not the whole solution for education in the 21st century. We...
The Huffington Post|By Kerry Washington

It was announced today that the Boston Public School department is "reorganizing" by eliminating all Departments of History & Social...

We are raising a generation of chronically sleep-deprived, anxious,...
The Huffington Post|By Vicki Abeles

As we seek ways to "get back to basics" in educating students we see an effort made to turn educators into script reading, robotic automatons.  New evaluation tools, supposedly imposed to hold educators accountable, actually go a long way towards forcing conformity in our classrooms that reduced  the ability of educators to exercise their professional judgment and to individualize instruction for specific student needs.  That, and the fact that they are often based on flawed research, means that educators will find themselves spending as much time justifying their methods as they do practicing their profession.   

Has research slamming "value-added measures" affected the education...
Washington Post

Two companies are banking on helping districts improve their ability to hire high-performing teachers by using predictive analytics.

The Madison School Board is considering spending $273,000 for a...|By Lee Enterprises

Not satisfied with controlling the public and political dialog about education, so called "reformers" are setting their sights on the programs that educate future educators. 

The TPA in edTPA stands for Teacher Performance Assessment. Student...
The Huffington Post|By Alan Singer

I could respect the efforts to "reform" our schools more if the intentions behind privatization efforts were truly focused on improving outcomes for all students.  Yet, a significant majority of these "reform" efforts are designed either for profit, or to benefit a specific clientele.  Both the educational profiteers, and the school choice movement that represents a small number of parents are well represented in lobbying efforts.  The students who truly need the support and advocacy must rely on their families, community groups and educators.  The battles in the political arena are unequal and the outcomes often predetermined in favor of the wealthy and privileged.  

Banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit, which they can combine with other tax breaks while they also collect interest on any money they...
The Huffington Post|By Alan Singer

The second year of Wisconsin’s statewide school choice program expands the number of eligible students to 1,000.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Edgar Mendez

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — More than 3,400 students have applied to receive a taxpayer-funded voucher to attend private and religious schools...|By Lee Enterprises

The financial attacks on public schools have been devastating for districts, administrations and school personnel.  Inequitable school funding and cuts in state aid to our public schools have left districts across the state vulnerable to fiscal ruin.  Then the budget problems are used against the districts in an effort to privatize schools around Wisconsin.    

Proposals to fix the state’s school funding formula target aid for the unique needs of rural schools and now we need a bi-partisan commitment to get the work done for the sake of our communities.|By Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District

Steve Domurat, a 23-year veteran of cleaning and maintaining Wauwatosa Public Schools, will be part of the district's plan to layoff half of the custodial staff and hire contractors to clean the schools. Domurat is cleaning...

Noting that it would be nice to finally have a little spending cash on hand,...
The Onion

The political efforts to control education are gearing up as Conservative leaders look for ways to control local school districts.  These leaders can look south to Chicago and dream of having the power to appoint their own school boards to carry out their attacks on public schools even more effectively.   

Last night, in a discussion devoted to Milwaukee County government “reforms,” conservative gazillionaire Sheldon Lubar casually dropped a bomb: His next target is the Milwaukee Public Schools.,Daily Dose
A year after Chicago’s school board voted to close a historic 50 schools, the...

In order to counter these attacks we need strong leadership at the local level.  That is why this quote from the article about MMSD using a screener in the hiring process is so problematic.  In the article it states that, "Board member Ed Hughes said he believes the board's role is not to debate contracts like this at length, but to trust the administration's recommendations."  Notice how there is no mention of trusting educators or community members.  It is also problematic in that our school board is elected to oversee our school system and make decisions about just these types of decisions and contracts.  If our elected officials don't hold school administrations accountable then they are not doing the job that they were elected to do. 

In some places we are even seeing school boards push the "reform" agenda while ignoring the educators who work in their schools.

I am the son of a black father from the South Side and a white mother from...
The Chicago Sun-Times|By Letters to

Leadership doesn't end with elected officials.  In fact, our strongest leadership should come directly from the staff, community and even students in our schools.  We can work to elect officials to help us and to represent our interests, but if we've learned nothing else from the past 3 years here in Wisconsin, it should be that the people themselves need to be our biggest and most vocal advocates.  This means fighting to make our voices heard and continuing to spread the message about the power of public education.     

The goal of Teacher Powered Schools initiative, led by Education Evolving, is to seed a movement that will inspire other teachers in schools across the country to realize their potential as leaders.

The group of parents, educators and community members at my school (SCAPE) is working to get involved in the process of developing our school's School Improvement Plan (SIP).  We have been working to make our voices heard on many issues and the SIP is a way to have an influence on a wide range of things going on in our school.  Our primary goals in this process are. . .

-Meaningful and direct family/community input in the creation of the SIP.  This
includes having a parent on our SBLT (School Based Leadership Team).  It also means having some mechanisms in place for input so that the representation is truly inclusive and not simply the "squeakiest wheels."
-Diversifying the voices heard in discussion about school policies.  Investigate
and address reasons why we aren't seeing consistent participation in school events and decision making.
-Identifying alternative ways to measure student growth, school climate and other goals (academic, climate and social-emotional).
-Becoming a data informed, not a data driven school
-Sharing the positives about our school/staff/students.  Using these as potential
"data" in a systematic way.
-Identifying what we as a school community value and what we want our students
to experience.  What does it mean to be successful, educated, etc.?
-Investigating potential partnerships that could impact student achievement
(including things like birth-3 reading programs) and build connections with community organizations and other resources.

Every school is different, every district is different, but they all have some venues where those who support and believe in the power of public education can have a voice.  The challenge is to identify the best mechanisms and to find like-minded individuals to join in the fight.  We can't forget that the majority of people support their public school.  We must not allow a tyranny of the minority to destroy something of such great value.

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . Now on to bargaining in "good faith" as required by law.

MADISON, Wisconsin - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke's...

The Bad . . . Education isn't the only target of the current Conservative "reform" movement.

State legislatures have favored employers over their employees.|By COREY ROBIN

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The 20 highest-paid state employees last year worked for the Wisconsin Investment Board, which manages the...|By Lee Enterprises

One way to fight back is to spend your money effectively and wisely.

Stock your summer BBQ with these union-made products

The Ugly . . . The harm that is being done to the people of Wisconsin is terrible, and needs to be stopped. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Issue #165 May 17, 2014- Collective Bargaining A Necessity In Our Society

Collective Bargaining, Respect
and Education. . .
There’s a lot of lip service being paid to the importance of education in modern America.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor provided one quote in support of education when he said, "A great education is the foundation that Americans need to climb the economic ladder of success, and to build a bright future."  That type of comment is heard frequently from all sides of the political arguments as well as is common refrain in conversations across our nation.  According to this line of thinking, education provides the opportunity for individuals to improve their social and economic status, and therefore is important enough to merit close attention from those in leadership positions. 

However, there is always a "but", or some other follow up comment that provides an opportunity to attack a political opponent, or to advance an agenda.  In the case of education the statement of support is usually followed immediately by a critique of the shortcomings of our existing system.  Once again Mr. Cantor provides us with an example when he goes on to say, "For far too many children in our country, a quality education remains out of reach and kids without access to a quality of education struggle to even see any opportunity to get ahead."  This supposed concern for the children of America is used to build an argument against public education and for privately run, publically funded school systems.

Poverty and inequality, not teachers, are the drivers of deficits in...

School choice has been a divisive issue, but both chambers are moving...
U.S. News and World Report|By Allie Bidwell

In order to advance the agenda of privatization there is a need to find someone, or something to blame.  In education we find most of the blame is placed on the educators who work in classrooms, especially those in public schools.  Critics point at the Achievement Gaps, test scores that compare unfavorably with those from other nations, and complaints from political and business leaders that our students are unprepared for the competitive global job market.  Far too many people are willing to point out the shortcomings of our public schools, while solutions to the problems our public schools face.

A central idea of market-based education reform is to improve teacher quality by increasing both the risks and rewards of the job. The problem, in many places, is that teachers' jobs are becoming...

Sure, it’s mostly the courts, but charter schools and testing regimes are...
The Daily Beast

Wisconsin has become a leader in the movement to attack educators and to undermine public education.  Whether it was the QEO from the Thompson era, legislation that specifically targeted educators wages and benefits, or Act 10 that was a more sweeping attack on the public sector in general, the results are the same.  From almost any aspect, economic, social or political, education is a profession that is less than desirable.  Prospective educators must find ways to finance their education and training, but receive less money than other professions with the same educational requirements.  This translates to student loan debt that is a financial burden for many educators long after they graduate and become professional educators.  Educators are vilified and widely disrespected, especially by those in powerful positions.  Educators’ expertise is ignored in policy making, and attempts to speak out against current “reforms” are chastised as laziness, or a defense of a failed status quo.  The loss of collective bargaining rights across the state puts hard earned benefits in jeopardy and eliminates protections that allow educators to advocate for their students.
Want to make money? Don't pick these five majors.
The 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill was signed into law in June of 2011. The controversial legislation primarily impacted the areas of collective bargaining, compensation, and retirement...

Public educators in Madison have been fortunate in many ways.  Because of the support of the community, the willingness of our school board and administration to extend our contracts, and the strength of our unions, MTI, AFSCME and the building trades, MMSD employees have continued to work under a collective bargaining agreement despite the passage of Act 10.  However, all is not rosy here.  The collective bargaining agreements that have been negotiated since 2011 have transferred significant power from employees to MMSD.  Wages, benefits and working conditions have been impacted by these concessions and employee stress is at extremely high levels.

This week the Madison School Board voted unanimously to approve negotiations for a new contract that would keep collective bargaining in MMSD through 2016.

Meeting in closed session Thursday night, the Madison School Board inched...|By Lee Enterprises

This is good news in some ways, but many employees are apprehensive about what negotiations will bring.  The question of what we will need to give up in order to get a contract is a specter that lurks in the back of every employee’s mind.  We know that in past negotiations MMSD administration has looked to place limits and controls on planning time, sought to have unilateral control over wages and insurance costs, and placed other restrictions or created policies that have negatively impacted educators, as well as students.  The effort to make changes in elementary planning time that was successfully fended off a couple of years ago is an excellent example.  Now we see new ideas being put forward that continue to chip away at a contract that is the product of years of struggle and compromise.

Ed Hughes says labor rules giving current teachers the first shot at...|By Lee Enterprises

While it is true that MMSD employees should recognize the reality that we currently work in, and many school district employees across the state would be ecstatic to have the contract we have (as opposed to district written and implemented handbooks), the fact remains that all employees deserve a place at the bargaining table.  MMSD employees are leading the fight to try and maintain our voice in the workplace.  We want to do what’s right for our students while at the same time making sure that employees are honored and respected.  There is hope that we will be able to negotiate in true good faith, but recent experience makes us question just how good that faith will be. 

This uneasiness is certainly justified, especially in a climate where we are seeing statistics and data used to attack our profession and our public education institutions.  The drive to quantify educational efforts is creating havoc in educational policy, and we need to continue to question the “facts” that are presented and listen to the professionals who work in our schools. 

Why do these things correlate? These 20 correlations will blow your mind. (Is this headline sensationalist enough for you to click on it yet?)

As we move forward into negotiations I am urging all members of the Madison community to pay close attention to what is unfolding.  Will we see an effort made to address the needs of students, educators and the community?  Will we see the voices of stakeholders listened to?  Will budgetary concerns and questionable data override what is truly best for those who work and learn in our schools? 

Over and over we’ve heard about the strengths of MMSD.  The community, the employees and the students have all been touted as reasons for hope as we work to address the challenges we face.  Over the past year we have seen the power of collaborative efforts between staff and administration.  Educators and administration have worked together to create a Strategic Framework, we've collaborated on task forces addressing issues like assessment and engaged in discussion about important topics in joint committees.  Projects that improve communication between educators and administrators provide a glimpse of what MMSD/MTI partnerships could look like in the future.  These efforts show just how much potential exists when educators, administration and the community join together.

This potential is only realized when there is true communication, collaboration and mutual respect between all parties.  A collective bargaining agreement negotiated in true good faith will provide one of the only examples in our state to counter the belief that educators and their unions are the enemy of quality schools and true education reform.  Despite what we are told to believe, educators aren't the enemy.  Neither are administrators or school boards.  Our enemies are the inequities that exist across all aspects of our society.  Our enemies are those who seek to divide us and create conflicts to expand their own wealth and power. 

By successfully negotiating our contracts we can show the rest of the state the power of collaboration over segregation and conflict.  We can make Madison the example of how people can resolve problems cooperatively and address important issues in positive, progressive ways. 
The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . Paying workers a living wage makes sense economically and socially.  Trapping workers in low wage jobs with little opportunity for advancement creates a class structure that can easily become permanent.  Frederick Douglass offered this opinion, "experience demonstrates that there may be a slavery of wages only a little less galling and crushing in its effects than chattel slavery, and that this slavery of wages must go down with the other."  The minimum wage hasn't kept up with the cost of living and therefore needs to be raised.  Having the support of business owners increases the power of the message.

When Fred DeLuca founded Subway, the minimum wage was $1.25. It's...
Think Progress

For the second time this week, a CEO of a major fast food company came...
Think Progress

The Bad . . . Actually this is a mixture of good and bad news.  This Iowa investigation into voter fraud found that in the 2012 general elections the rate of voter fraud was about .008%.  In all likelihood this rate is similar in other states as well.  The bad news about this is that the data will be ignored by many who call for voter ID and other legislation that is supposedly designed to reduce voter fraud.  In fact Mr. Schultz, Iowa Secretary of State, spoke about the value of the study and the continuing need for voter ID.  Despite the minimal fraud he said, “There are people who voted who weren’t supposed to, and this is a situation where we tried to do something about it. I think it was the right thing to do and I stand by that.”

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz's (R) two year, $250,000...
Think Progress

A federal court ruling striking down Wisconsin's voter identification law as unconstitutional has been appealed.

The Ugly . . . During the debate about Act 10 we heard many comments about the power of union money in elections and how this was a threat to American democracy.  Now, these same people are arguing in favor of allowing conservative issue groups the right to advocate and educate the public on issues of importance.  We can't have free speech for one side of an argument and not for the other, if this happens then speech isn't really free, is it?  

A federal appeals court has declared key aspects of Wisconsin's campaign...|By Lee Enterprises

Why isn't this getting the coverage it deserves?  A "leader" takes responsibility for what happens under their leadership.  Blaming recalls, blaming Obama, blaming anyone else isn't leadership.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration reported Thursday that just over 28,000 private sector jobs were created in Wisconsin last year, the lowest annual amount since Walker took office.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

#164 May 11, 2014- Politics Matter

Politics Matter. . .
Wisconsin has been a political battlefield since 2011 when the first efforts to recall state senators began.  The conflicts have continued nearly non-stop since that tumultuous year and have divided a state that has historically been one where clean politics and bi-partisan cooperation have usually been considered the norm.  This is especially true when we compare Wisconsin politics to those of neighboring states like Illinois, and with the bitter conflicts that have divided other places in America.

The election of Scott Walker changed Wisconsin politically, socially and economically, and the change was not for the better.  We see the evidence of the divisive nature of our current climate in many ways.  Whether it is in the massive number of lawmakers deciding to leave office in order to escape the toxic environment, or the struggles to balance local and school budgets, or the fact that friends, family and neighbors find it difficult to talk about important issues with each other, the end result is the same.  We are more divided now than we were just a few years ago. 

There may be no more polarized place in swing-state America as national trends are amplified by fierce campaigns, an impassioned electorate, and a...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Craig Gilbert

Democrats have made huge gains in the suburbs since the Reagan years, but they haven’t made any progress in the areas around Milwaukee.
The New York Times|By Nate Cohn

Wisconsinites have learned the hard way that elections really do matter.  For too long we failed in our duties as citizens to hold our elected officials accountable by exercising our voice at the ballot box.  Scott Walker was elected by a significant minority of eligible voters, yet has not hesitated to govern as though he speaks for the majority.  Once gaining power, Walker and his supporters quickly worked to attempt to solidify their control of all aspects of our state government.  Progressives and those who speak for more moderate policies found themselves fighting to maintain a voice in state government. 

Ray Ciszewski, of St. Benedict the Moor in Milwaukee, understands all too well the burdens that voter ID laws create.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Judith Browne Dianis

In about six months we will have another opportunity to speak out against the policies that have divided and damaged our state.  The campaign will be difficult and it will be bitterly contested.  We've already seen the attack ads begin, and that was only the opening salvo in what promises to be a vicious, no-hold barred struggle to reclaim our state.  A struggle that will test the resolve and the strength of those who rose against Walker's policies in 2011.  Despite a few challengers it seems clear that the November election will feature Walker vs. Mary Burke.   

Scott Walker's had four years to do it his way. From the 250,000 jobs broken promise to the disastrous WEDC, Walker has stumbled badly. Yet he blindly touts his '
Green Bay Press-Gazette

She’s a political novice—and that may be what it takes to knock off Wisconsin’s governor, of whose jobs plan she says: ‘I’ve seen eighth-graders’...
The Daily Beast

Calling herself “a fiscal conservative,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke broke bread with Milwaukee business leaders Tuesday and pitched her ideas on jobs, education and the...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Bill Glauber

The November 2014 election is of huge significance for Wisconsin Progressives.  Walker is a strong candidate in the state, but his strength lies in his ability to mask the reality that his policies create for a majority of citizens.  This election provides the potential to begin the push back to changing the debate about a number of issues of great importance to the health and well-being of the citizens of our state and of our nation.  The fight may have begun in 2011, but it is continuing to escalate as we move forward.

The key issues in the conflict revolve around the role of government in our society, and the type of community that we want to be a part of.  On one side you have the Conservative, austerity movement that seeks to privatize as much as possible and leave individuals isolated and divided.  This vision of economics hasn't worked, doesn't work and won't work here or anywhere else.  The idea that we need to support the wealthy and the corporations while letting the common citizen struggle is inherently flawed and runs counter to the values espoused in our founding documents.  Documents that speak of "liberty and justice for all," not just the privileged few. 

Wisconsin lawmakers have cut taxes 43 times since 2011, reducing revenue by $1.9 billion over that period and limiting investments in Wisconsin’s...

Conservative economic pundits just love to justify "business-friendly"...
Los Angeles Times

Don’t be too depressed by Thomas Piketty’s arguments. Inequality is a choice.
The New York Times|By David Leonhardt

There is a certain amount of irony in the data that shows the "liberal bastion" of Dane County is actually one of the most successful areas in economic terms.  

I oppose the idea of Dane County seceding from Wisconsin and becoming its own state, but, if Dane County, which is regarded as Wisconsin's...

This privatization effort has centered around public education.  The idea that all students, from all backgrounds should receive a quality publicly funded education is one that should be supported by all who value our democratic traditions. 

Vos promised GOP delegates that he and fellow conservatives were ready to fight the party moderates on an array of issues in coming years.|By Lee Enterprises

A new report reveals widespread fraud and mismanagement in our...
Bill Moyers

Yet, we see a continual effort by those in power, Democrat or Republican, to undermine our public schools and to restrict the power of those who work and learn in them.  Educators, students, family and invested community members find themselves struggling to make their voices heard over the powerful lobbying efforts of school privatizers and privateers. 

What follows below is nothing original. It's simply another reminder. I know this is an unpopular thing to say in certain education circles but someone has to say it: Common Core State Standards a...

The Chicago Teachers Union passed a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards, in what may have implications for its parent union.

Along with education, health care has become a venue where the differences between political ideologies is clearly demonstrated.  Access to health care should be a basic right and should be promoted by anyone who wants to have a government that insures the "general welfare" for its citizens.  Yet, we have seen a concerted effort to limit the availability of health care for our most at-risk citizens.  These efforts have been disguised as "good economic policy", "limiting government", or "letting the market decide," but in reality are simply another example of profiting from the needs of others.   

His rejection of federal Medicaid dollars either costs Wisconsin lots of money or lots of lives.

Republicans have begun to see the effects that their policies have had on different demographic groups, but their efforts are often motivated by political, not social justice goals.  While the same argument can be made against the Democrats in many ways, the choice between parties is still quite clear when we look at policies and intent.  

Leaders at the state Republican convention tried to send a message that the party was broadening beyond its overwhelmingly white voter base.|By Lee Enterprises

When we put all of these things together it becomes clear that 2014 could be a turning point in Wisconsin politics.  We can either continue on the path of divisiveness and inequality, or we can change course and work to chart a path towards a more socially just society.  In order for this to happen we will need to communicate our ideals and hold all candidates responsible for upholding our values.  We can't trust in any party or candidate, but must remember that in a democracy, the people have a choice in what their government looks and acts like.  We can't allow ourselves to get the government we deserve through apathy or ignorance.    

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . While I find myself constantly at odds with President Obama on issues involving education I applaud a majority of his work.  Those on the right have been attempting to undermine his presidency from day 1.  The American people need to get some honest facts in order to be able to make reasoned decisions about the policies that our president has fought to implement.

Hey, Obamacare Truthers: Gallup just found the number of uninsured Americans is the lowest its found since 2008, when it started polling.

Senator Paul proclaims that more Kentuckians have lost their insurance under Obamacare than had insurance to begin with. - Math Fail!
Addicting Info

There is a local movement to attempt to change the way that public money is invested in building projects.  Currently we are seeing companies exercise their political influence to gain access to public money.  This movement seeks to put the people in charge of how tax dollars are spent and what projects are approved in Madison.  

The Bad . . . Only one bidder, and one that has been among the biggest education profiteers?  Monopolies rarely, if ever, work to benefit the majority of people, and this one has harmed too many students, schools, communities and educators.

The global education company Pearson has won a contract from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to develop test items, deliver tests, report results, and analyze...

Justice is supposed to be blind, but we all know that judges are human beings, and as such will have some bias when making decisions.  The key is that they must reference the law, and that there are processes to appeal and challenge rulings.  

A study covering 1953 to 2011 found that “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the...
The New York Times|By Adam Liptak

Walker supporters, and defenders of the "Money is speech" line of reasoning are enjoying this ruling.  However, the fight is not over yet. 

U.S. District Judge Rudolf Randa issued the 26-page decision late Tuesday, calling on prosecutors to immediately stop the long-running investigation into possible illegal coordination between the various groups.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Bill Glauber

Less than a day after a federal judge halted a probe into conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker, prosecutors filed an emergency appeal Wednesday of the unprecedented decision.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Jason Stein

There are two things to know about the federal court decision this week...
Talking Points Memo

The Ugly . . . Too often I hear people talk about how racism is a historical problem, but not a problem in modern America.  The message that we would like to believe is that racism is a problem that existed in America, but that we overcame it.  The reality is quite different.  Progress has been made, but we certainly have a long way to go.      

LaTonya Smith is upset with the personal attention she got at Hobby Lobby recently. She was being watched, closely.|By Lee Enterprises

The federal government’s vigilance in enforcing the court-backed desegregation of the country’s schools is a shadow of what it once was.