The Cycle of Deconstruction to Restore the Old Order

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

“There was the economic battle over resources whites contended were being diverted away from the working class to blacks, … and there were policies designed to disenfranchise black voters.” Another effort was to incarcerate black men and women…

No, that is not a report on the agenda of Donald Trump and the Republicans in 2017. It is how Peniel E. Joseph, professor of public affairs and history at the University of Texas, described the Southern aristocracy’s reaction to Reconstruction after the Civil War. The result was the establishment of legalized apartheid via Jim Crow laws and terror campaigns to restore the old order.

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s was focused on ending those legal barriers to equality. Just as the defeat of slavery led to a deconstruction, passage of civil rights laws in the 1960s led the Republicans to develop their Southern Strategy. From Nixon, we got the “law and order” message which launched mass incarceration for mostly black and brown people. The Reagan years added messages about “welfare queens” as the kind of dog whistle described by Lee Atwater.

You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites….But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.”

Once again, these were efforts to deconstruct the changes and restore the old order.

By 2008, looming demographic shifts and the election of our first African-American president were met with what has been called a confederate insurgency. Over the last few years we watched as the norms that hold our democracy together were tossed aside in an unprecedented way because of this threat to the old order.

The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries.

Is it any surprise that we now have a new “law and order” president with major efforts at voter suppression underway and a White House chief strategist whose talk about deconstructing the administrative state resonates with white working class people?

We’ve seen this movie before…two times. Whenever this country takes a major step forward to reconstruct the equality that was written into our founding documents (but never realized), we face this kind of backlash and deconstruction. In the past we’ve eventually come out on the right side of this struggle — albeit with a lot of sorrow and bloodshed. One has to wonder what it will take this time — or even if most of us have correctly identified what this struggle is really all about.

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Isabel Rose and Her Daughter Sadie

Earlier today, I posted the letter that Isabel Rose wrote to Ivanka Trump about her transgender daughter. It is a powerful and moving letter. It has gone viral. It has been reprinted in many places and today appeared in Harper’s Bazaar with photographs of Isabel, Sadie, her husband Jeff, and her other daughter Lily.

What a wonderful testament to a family’s love!

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Betsy DeVos May Need a Civil Rights Reality Check

“When we had segregated schools and when we had a time when, you know, girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams [these were] important inflection points for the federal government to get involved,” the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, said recently.

But when asked whether any such need for federal involvement exists today, Secretary DeVos responded that she “can’t think of any right now.”

Our nation’s students need her to know better.

Secretary DeVos holds the purse strings for billions of federal dollars and leads federal involvement in schools, making it critically important that she know what students in too many schools today know all too well, and what Congress has mandated for close to 60 years: The federal government must actively ensure that our nation’s schools keep core civil rights promises.

I led the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, so I can offer Secretary DeVos a dose of reality about just how far we have to go as a nation to fulfill the law.

In Lee County Schools system in rural Alabama, for example, which had years earlier convinced a federal court that it had eliminated the effects of segregation, one of the four public high schools served more than 90 percent black students – even though the district student population was only 23 percent black.

Related: In a city still struggling with segregation, a popular charter school fights to remain diverse

The majority-black high school had never offered an Advanced Placement course to its students until three years before the civil rights office investigated, while the other three high schools offered a broad range of A.P. courses. Investigators from the Office of Civil Rights asked the principal of the overwhelmingly black school why he didn’t offer high-rigor courses. He said his students needed remedial education, not A.P. It took federal intervention in 2013, almost 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, to ensure that all students in Lee County – not just the white students and the few black students attending majority-white schools – had access to an education that would prepare them to fulfill their dreams.

In a district in the Southwest, teachers required a boy with autism to stand in front of his class and listen to his peers tell him what they didn’t like about him, as a way to discipline the child. When his mother complained, administrators defended the decision, saying the school needed to be able to innovate. It took federal intervention to ensure that this child, and his peers, did not suffer further discrimination at school.

In a Northeastern district, a middle school boy’s self-portrait was defaced with a gender slur, and he endured regular taunts from his peers — in front of school administrators – telling him he was too effeminate. His school refused to investigate many of the harassment incidents. With federal intervention, the school finally met its obligation to ensure that this student, and all students, could participate in school without ridicule for who they are.

In West Contra Costa Unified School District in California, where there were highly publicized rapes of middle school and high school students, administrators told the civil rights office staff that they were aware students were sexually harassing each other at school, but they hadn’t taken action because such behavior was expected of Latino students in an “urban culture.” After federal intervention, students in the district can now attend school without being subjected to a hostile environment of harassment and discrimination.

At Shaw University in North Carolina, a student with cerebral palsy arrived on campus for orientation only to be told his admission had been rescinded because of his disability. University officials told the civil rights office that they routinely denied admission to students with disabilities if the school couldn’t readily accommodate the student. It took federal intervention to ensure that the Americans with Disabilities Act, which had become law some 25 years earlier, would apply for students wanting to attend Shaw.

Related: New Orleans schools still struggle with integration

During President George W. Bush’s Administration, the civil rights office investigated racial harassmentthat had occurred on the way to a high school basketball game. White students attacked a black student, threatening to lynch him and other students of color. Only with federal intervention did the district finally address such racial harassment. At an elementary school, district administrators admitted to segregating Latino students. Without federal intervention, the segregation would have persisted.

These are only a handful of examples of the injustices that students face every day in this country’s schools and colleges. While millions of educators strive to – and do – provide rich and meaningful opportunities to all their students on an equal basis, some students still suffer unspeakable harm in school. Congress committed in 1964 – and every year thereafter – that the federal government would help ensure that our nation’s highest ideals of fairness and equality are reality for not just some, but for all students. We need the federal government’s intervention when that is not happening, and we need the Secretary of Education to lead that work.

[Cross-posted at The Hechinger Report]

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Quick Takes: Who Knew Health Care Was Complicated?

* The excuses for ignorance and incompetence have commenced.

TRUMP: “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” https://t.co/LFr422VHbq

— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 27, 2017

* Funny, I can think of at least one guy who knew health care was complicated…way back in 2009.

“You know, the truth of the matter is, is that—health care is very complicated.” -President Barack Obama, 2/25/10 cc: @CitizenCohn http://pic.twitter.com/ouvGAgycmf

— Andrew Long (@andrewlong166) February 27, 2017

* The Trump administration has finally come up with the outlines of a plan about how to defeat ISIS. Apparently it sounds an awful lot like somebody else’s plan.

…U.S. analysts said they don’t expect the new plan to differ dramatically from the Obama administration’s approach, at least in Iraq.

* You know why Trump’s plan for defeating ISIS in Iraq won’t be much different from Obama’s? Because Obama’s plan is working. The big effort right now is to re-take Mosul from ISIS. The eastern part of the city has already been reclaimed by the Iraqis. Here’s the latest from Rukmini Callimachi and Michael Gordon.

Iraqi forces seized most of Mosul’s airport on Thursday, an important milestone in the broader offensive to retake the western half of the country’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, Iraqi and allied officials said.

The push to take the airport, which has been led by the Iraqi federal police, is a promising start to what is expected to be a difficult and bloody fight to completely evict the Islamic State from the city.

* What all this means is that Andrew Exum is probably right: “Donald Trump will defeat ISIS. And it will be mostly due to the work of his predecessor.

…the fall of the Islamic State is going to happen, and it’s going to happen on this president’s watch. Like the American jobs he claims to have created that were announced long before he took office, Trump will take credit for the Islamic State’s defeat…

And Americans need to be fine with that, because as much as many of us do not want this president to get the credit for the work of others, defeating the Islamic State is a national good that should be bigger than politics.

* Ever since the 9th Circuit continued the stay on Trump’s travel ban, the White House has been promising that they’ll release a new executive order soon. This is probably a big part of the reason why they’re having trouble coming up with one.

Analysts at the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States.

A draft document obtained by The Associated Press concludes that citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats to the United States and that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.

* I’m sure that this will be a comfort to those who voted for Trump due to their economic anxiety.

The White House took its first steps Monday toward what would be a dramatic reshuffling of the $3 trillion-plus federal budget, sending guidance to agencies that calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending and corresponding reductions to most non-security agencies.

While Office of Management and Budget officials briefed reporters on the plan this morning, President Donald Trump publicly explained his proposal to focus federal spending on national security, including boosts to the military, local law enforcement and the Border Patrol, while cutting domestic programs and foreign aid.

* Finally, anyone think this is worth trying?

I’m no biologist but has anyone tried sprinkling salt on steve bannon

— Sarah Lazarus (@sarahclazarus) January 30, 2017

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Despite Family and Work Commitments, Student Veterans Outpace Classmates

Despite often having to juggle schoolwork with jobs and families, veterans attending college under the Post-9/11 GI Bill are finishing at rates slightly higher than their classmates, a new report shows.

The report says 53.6 percent of veterans using GI Bill benefits who arrived on campus in the fall of 2009 had graduated within six years, compared to 52.9 percent of students overall. Another 18 percent were still enrolled.

In all, the GI Bill — which costs $11 billion a year, according to the General Accounting Office — paid for all or part of 450,000 degrees earned by 340,000 students between 2009 and 2015, the study found. Some of those veterans earned more than one degree.

The research proves that “many veterans truly excel in the academic environment,” Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Terry Jemison said.

While the VA furnished data for the survey — called the National Veteran Education Success Tracker, or NVEST — it was conducted by the independent National Student Clearinghouse in collaboration with the advocacy group Student Veterans of America and reviewed by researchers from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University.

That’s because the government itself so far provides only information about the proportion of veterans at community colleges and proprietary schools who graduate, and not the significant number who attend four-year universities.

Jemison said there is a plan to provide that data, along with school-by-school success rates, but no date by which that might be publicly available. Nor does NVEST break down graduation rates by institution.

Two Democrat senators, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jon Tester of Montana, have called for the VA to speed this up by letting the National Student Clearinghouse formally track veteran graduation rates on the government’s behalf.

The VA did conduct a survey in 2010 that found that veterans who went to college using GI Bill benefits between the end of the Korean War and Sept. 11, 2001 graduated at a rate of between 66 percent and 68 percent.

Student veterans tend to be older than their classmates; more than half of those in the NVEST report were 22 of older when they first enrolled in college. Many also have family and work obligations, and some contend with service-related disabilities.

They also often have to fight with colleges and universities for their military training and experience to be transferred into academic credit.

This contributes to the additional problem that many student veterans use up their eligibility for GI Bill money before graduating and have the choice of paying from their own pockets to finish, or dropping out.

[Cross-posted at The Hechinger Report]

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Despite Family and Work Commitments, Student Veterans Outpace Classmates

Despite often having to juggle schoolwork with jobs and families, veterans attending college under the Post-9/11 GI Bill are finishing at rates slightly higher than their classmates, a new report shows.

The report says 53.6 percent of veterans using GI Bill benefits who arrived on campus in the fall of 2009 had graduated within six years, compared to 52.9 percent of students overall. Another 18 percent were still enrolled.

In all, the GI Bill — which costs $11 billion a year, according to the General Accounting Office — paid for all or part of 450,000 degrees earned by 340,000 students between 2009 and 2015, the study found. Some of those veterans earned more than one degree.

The research proves that “many veterans truly excel in the academic environment,” Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Terry Jemison said.

While the VA furnished data for the survey — called the National Veteran Education Success Tracker, or NVEST — it was conducted by the independent National Student Clearinghouse in collaboration with the advocacy group Student Veterans of America and reviewed by researchers from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University.

That’s because the government itself so far provides only information about the proportion of veterans at community colleges and proprietary schools who graduate, and not the significant number who attend four-year universities.

Jemison said there is a plan to provide that data, along with school-by-school success rates, but no date by which that might be publicly available. Nor does NVEST break down graduation rates by institution.

Two Democrat senators, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jon Tester of Montana, have called for the VA to speed this up by letting the National Student Clearinghouse formally track veteran graduation rates on the government’s behalf.

The VA did conduct a survey in 2010 that found that veterans who went to college using GI Bill benefits between the end of the Korean War and Sept. 11, 2001 graduated at a rate of between 66 percent and 68 percent.

Student veterans tend to be older than their classmates; more than half of those in the NVEST report were 22 of older when they first enrolled in college. Many also have family and work obligations, and some contend with service-related disabilities.

They also often have to fight with colleges and universities for their military training and experience to be transferred into academic credit.

This contributes to the additional problem that many student veterans use up their eligibility for GI Bill money before graduating and have the choice of paying from their own pockets to finish, or dropping out.

[Cross-posted at The Hechinger Report]

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Glen Ford: DeVos, Trump, Booker, Obama: Enemies of Public Education

I am reposting this because I forgot to put in the link. Please listen. It is a lecture so you can listen while driving. I knew the late Michael Joyce of the Bradley Foundation, a very rightwing foundation, and I can confirm that he knowingly manipulated black leaders in Wisconsin to get vouchers passed.

Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, is a fierce critic of corporate education reform. He is equally hard on Democrats and Republicans who have sold out their schools to satisfy rightwing foundations and Wall Street.

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In this post, he lacerates DeVos, Trump, Booker, and Obama
as enemies of public schools, who sold out their community schools to satisfy their funders or (in DeVos’s case) personal ideology.

Here is an excerpt:

“Sometimes, when ruling class competitors collide, the villainy of both factions is made manifest. Donald Trump did the nation’s public schools a great service by nominating Betsy DeVos, the awesomely loathsome billionaire Amway heiress, for secretary of Education. In turning over that rock, Trump exposed the raw corruption and venality at the core of the charter school privatization juggernaut. Only an historic tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence saved DeVos from rejection by the U.S. Senate. Two Republicans abandoned their party’s nominee, joining a solid bloc of Democrats, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, a school privatizer that crawled out of the same ideological sewer as DeVos and has long been her comrade and ally. Booker defected from his soul mate in fear that the DeVos stench might taint his own presidential ambitions.

“The New York Times editorial board, a champion of charters, bemoaned that DeVos’ “appointment squanders an opportunity to advance public education research, experimentation and standards, to objectively compare traditional public school, charter school and voucher models in search of better options for public school students” – a devious way of saying that the Senate hearings exposed the slimy underbelly of the charter privatization project and the billionaires of both parties that have guided and sustained it.”

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