June 12, 2015

Racial History of American Swimming Pools. . . So, municipal pools, in at least the northern and western United States, were racially-desegregated in the late 1940s and the 1950s. And what I found is that in city after city after city, when a municipal pool became racially-desegregated, and so a court would order that the pool has to be open to blacks and whites without discrimination, what I found was that the overall attendance to the pool would plummet, and that, literally, the majority of whites who had been using the pool previously stopped using the municipal pools. They abandoned them, but they didn’t stop swimming. What they did is they then retreated to private pools. They built private club pools, which were able to continue to legally discriminate against black Americans. Or they build at-home residential pools, so they could really enclose themselves off from the larger public and truly exercise control over who they were swimming with. NPR

John Oliver, Bail Bonds, Charter School Owners, ALEC and Privatization. So, I was watching the latest Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. The main topic was our out-of-kilter bail system which can victimize low income people and their families from the moment they’re taken into custody, whether they’re innocent or guilty. It’s a topic I’ve become more interested in lately with my growing understanding of the evils of our system of mass incarceration. (The most eye opening book I’ve read in years is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I recommend it highly.) I was more than usually attentive to what John Oliver was saying, and something kept knocking around in the back of my head. “Bail bonds. Bail bonds. When have I looked into that subject before?” Tucson Weekly

Commentary: Delay privatizing commissaries. . . A survey last year shows that 95 percent of service members are using commissaries to achieve needed savings in their family budgets, with a satisfaction rate of 91 percent. According to the Military Officers Association of America, the average family of four that shops exclusively at the commissary sees a savings of up to 30 percent — roughly $4,000 a year in savings for a military family. Commissaries also provide jobs for the families of service members and veterans. According to the Armed Forces Marketing Council, more than 60 percent of Defense Commissary Agency employees have links to the military. Their jobs are transferable, giving much-needed employment and income certainty when families are regularly relocated all over the world due to permanent change-of-station orders. Military Times

AZ: Arizona high court lets stand ruling on charter school funding. Arizona Supreme Court is letting stand a lower court’s ruling that said charter schools aren’t legally entitled to the same state funding provided to district schools. The justices on Thursday declined to review the Court of Appeals’ Nov. 18 ruling that said the state’s school funding system isn’t unconstitutional though charter schools and district schools get unequal funding. A lawsuit filed on behalf of parents of students attending charter schools had argued that the school funding system violates the Arizona Constitution’s requirements for a general and uniform public school system and for equal protection under the law. azcentral.com           

MI: Problematic privatization. Tuesday, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed a bill permitting a closed correctional facility in Northern Michigan to reopen and operate as a privatized prison under the authority of the GEO Group of Florida. The new legislation provides for the upheaval of a restriction that previously prevented the Baldwin area prison in Lake County from housing inmates categorized under the highest security level, designated by a “Level 5” category. The intent of the legislation was to promote job creation and alleviate economic hardship in one of the state’s poorest regions. Under its new operation, the facility will house roughly 1,675 inmates from other states, such as Vermont and Washington. While the legislation provides some economic incentive — roughly 150 jobs — to Lake County, the privatization of the Baldwin facility only exacerbates existing issues surrounding the country’s high rates of mass incarceration as well as issues of safety and human rights violations. The Michigan Daily

WI: Education professors in Madison say teaching standards need to be higher, not lower. Anyone who wants to reform public education should be advocating for more professional training of teachers, not less, says Jed Hopkins, an associate professor in the School of Education at Edgewood College in Madison. . . . The idea that teachers need more training, not less, is catching on, said UW-Madison education student Briana Schwabenbauer, who on Wednesday delivered an online petition to Gov. Scott Walker with the names of 37,000 people who oppose dropping standards for teacher certification. . . . “It shouldn’t be left to an individual employer to say who is suitable…it’s a profession. It’s a collective. Education belongs to the community and should involve lots of players,” Hopkins said at a recent gathering of Edgewood teacher educators. It takes trained professionals to respond to the kind of proposals making their way through the legislative system – like the corporatization and privatization of education, said Sheila Hopkins, director of graduate programs in bilingual educations at Edgewood. Madison.com

VA: Editorial: Money wasted on 460 creates skepticism. State officials are approaching the home stretch in negotiations to recover some of the $300 million shoveled toward a road that never was built. . . . Despite spending an inordinate amount of their first 18 months in office working on the issue, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his transportation secretary, Aubrey Layne, are unlikely to fully repair the damage caused by their predecessors. The structure of the project’s contract heavily favored the private contractor, making it unlikely that Virginia will be able to recover even half of the money already spent. “The state’s going to be out a bunch of money for a road that’s not being built,” Layne said. “There’s no way around that.” . . . Legislation approved by the General Assembly and signed by McAuliffe established stronger processes requiring more oversight and assigning greater accountability to prevent such embarrassingly bad deals from ever being repeated. That does little to assuage the frustration over the current mess, but it should help improve the public’s confidence that officials will strike a reasonable deal on future projects. PilotOnline.com

IL: Environmentalists ask feds to kill Illiana. With Gov. Bruce Rauner shelving the Illiana toll road, environmental groups want to make sure there’s no change of heart and have moved to try to ensure that the controversial road is truly dead. Several organizations — including the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Midewin Heritage Association, Openlands and Sierra Club Illinois — are asking the Federal Highway Administration to rescind its approval of the 50-mile tollway and also withdraw its environmental impact report that supported the Illiana. Chicago Tribune