The phrase “school-to-prison-pipeline” has been heard frequently around the country over the past several years as schools have shifted towards implementation of zero tolerance policies that criminalize student behavior, resulting in students entering the criminal justice system for offenses that would once have warranted a trip to the principal’s office, after-school detention, or a meeting with parents to discuss the behavior. Even more disturbing is the fact that African-American, Latino, LGBT and disabled students are disproportionately impacted by these policies. The school-to-prison-pipeline is exactly what it sounds like; a pipeline through which students are pushed out of schools and into the criminal justice system due to a national trend in schools criminalizing minor infractions and handing over control of school discipline to law enforcement. Instead of counseling or educational assistance, students are criminally punished for minor infractions and introduced to the juvenile justice system at an early age, increasing the likelihood that they will return to the system in the future. Read more
Political commentary has certainly been contentious since the election of President Barack Obama. However, a new phenomenon has arisen since the election of the nation’s first black president: differing opinions of black commentators regarding their criticism of President Obama, especially regarding issues of race. This has led to two sharp extremes: some steadfastly defend the President on all accounts, while others have harshly criticized him, using incredibly inflammatory rhetoric in the process. Read more
On November 15, 2012 the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education launched its investigation into the admissions test for New York City’s Specialized High Schools, in response to the complaint filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in September of 2012 (read more in our R2J Post of November 28, 2012). Considering the ahistorical and decontextualized approach the Supreme Court has taken when considering school segregation under the Equal Protection Clause, I can only hope that the Office of Civil Rights is able to awaken what U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, has called the “sleeping giant”—Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Read more
In a move that is drawing heavy criticism from parents, educators, school board members, and community advocates, Florida’s State Board of Education just approved a plan that sets educational achievement standards at different levels based on race. Under this new plan, white and Asian students are held to a higher standard than black and Hispanic students, with the expectation that 88% of white students and 90% of Asian students will be reading at grade level by 2018, while only 74% of black students and 81% of Hispanic students are expected to be reach that same goal. The goals for math proficiency are similar, with the highest targets set for white and Asian students and the lowest set for Hispanic and black students. Read more
On September 29, 2012, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) filed a complaint against the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and New York State Department of Education (NYSDOE), alleging that the admissions process for New York City’s Specialized High Schools (SHS’s) causes unjustified racially disparate impact, and is therefore in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The admissions process is determined solely by a student’s rank-order score on a multiple-choice exam called the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). LDF’s complaint alleges that this admissions process results in many qualified, high-potential students being denied access to the experiences that New York City’s Specialized High Schools offer. Read more
It can happen anywhere. Walking home from school. Walking to the grocery store. Walking to the subway. Thousands of New Yorkers are stopped and frisked by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers every year. Stop-and-frisk consists of two separate acts with respective levels of legal justification. When a police officer has reasonable suspicion that a person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime, the officer may stop that person; however, in order to “frisk” or search that person, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person stopped has a deadly weapon or instrument. Read more
Many states have or are trying to pass legislation to make the requirements to vote in an election very costly and complicated—potentially disenfranchising many poor and minority populations around the country. Thankfully though, one of the most suppressive voter identification laws to date will not be in effect this November. Texas Senate Bill 14, a very stringent voter identification bill passed in 2011, was recently declared unconstitutional by a three-judge panel of the District Court of the District of Columbia; marking “the first time a federal court has blocked a restrictive voter ID law.”
Monday, October 1, 2012 marked the commencement of the new term for the United States Supreme Court. This term is filled with controversial issues ranging from same-sex marriage to drug-sniffing dogs. Especially interesting are the race-related cases that are before the Court. The highly anticipated race-conscious admissions case, Fisher v. University of Texas, for which the Court heard oral arguments on October 10, is a very important case. Petitioner Fisher brought this equal protection action against the University of Texas alleging that she was denied admission and passed over for minority students due to UT’s race-conscious admissions program. The primary issue presented is whether race can be considered in admissions programs at institutes of higher education. Read more
In 1973, social critic and comedian George Carlin recorded a 12-minute monologue, titled “Filthy Words,” for his stand-up comedy album Occupation: Foole. In his musings, Carlin explored seven words, “curse words and swear words, the cuss words that you can’t say—that you’re not supposed to say.” The seven words were…
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The New York City Police Department (NYPD) engages in a tactic known as Stop, Question, and Frisk. The NYPD uses this tactic allowing a police officer to stop an individual based on “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. The NYPD uses the tactic throughout the city alleging that it helps prevent crimes, make arrests, and solve future crimes. The NYPD has dramatically increased enforcement of the program in recent years. The number of stop and frisks grew from 97,000 in 2002 to 601,055 in 2010. While enforcement of the tactic has dramatically increased, the percentage of arrests or summonses resulting from a stop has consistently hovered around ten percent.
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