Showing posts from June, 2015

South Carolina: It's Time to Take It Down

Dear South Carolina Governor & Legislators,

I was born in Charleston.  I'm a daughter of the South.  There's a city in Spartanburg County -- Landrum, SC -- that was named for some distant relatives of mine.  And my direct ancestor fought in the Civil War for the Confederacy.  My family owns land in the South that was passed down for generations, land that once we enslaved other people on. 

I understand heritage. I understand heritage is complicated.  I understand we have to remember the bad of who we were, and the hard times, along with the good of who we are, and the good times.  I understand that lives were lost and lives were changed, and the Confederacy and the Civil War continue to shape us.  I understand that we can't forget the past, nor do I want to.

I understand heritage.  I struggle with mine, celebrate mine, mourn about mine, live with mine.  Heritage is complicated.

But flying the Confederate flag doesn't represent my heritage, which goes back generatio…

"They died... discussing the eternal meaning of love."

In the Civil Rights era, there were churches that were centers for civil rights organizing.  And they were attacked -- bombed, set on fire.  We know best the story of the 16th Street Baptist church where four young girls died.  In his eulogy for them, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, "They died between the sacred walls of the church of God, and they were discussing the eternal meaning of love."

In that same eulogy for the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also said:
"They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing n…

The Trouble with Truancy - Part 2

As my letter in Part 1 of this series illustrated, it's fairly easy to have a truant child.  Missing two weeks due to illness is quite easy to have happen, and the requirement that many districts have that a doctor's note is the only way to excuse the absence means a classist system of who can and will have absences excused and who will end up with a truant child.  All other things being equal, two children out for two weeks with the same two colds can end up with very different fates, not because of the nature of the child, or the diligence of the parent, but simply for economic reasons.

That income levels and truancy are related is no surprise.  A recent MLive article reported:
"Some districts, including many affluent suburban ones, reported little or no truancy. The Forest Hills schools outside Grand Rapids reported five truant students among 10,147 enrolled, and Bloomfield Hills in suburban Detroit just 32 out of 12,306. But Kentwood, another metropolitan Grand R…

The Trouble with Truancy - Part 1

Two years ago, I wrote our school district about the truancy policy.  At that time, I was told that I had presented a good case, and they were going to change their policy.  I don't know if it actually did change and then changed back, but looking at the policy on my school district's webpage, the policy is the same as the one I complained about.  In this post, I'll share that letter.  In my next post, I'll talk about why it matters, and what the Michigan government has just done that makes this even worse.

Dear JPS School Board,

I’m writing to you because I’ve been disturbed about the JPS elementary school attendance policy for some time.Specifically, I find it disturbing that the only way an absence can be “excused” is with a doctor’s note.My chief issue with this policy is that I think it is, in a word, classist.In addition, I think that it represents a misuse of the medical system and it fails to respect a parent’s reasonable judgment.
The policy as it now stands …

New Legal Religious Discrimination in Michigan

Michigan's Governor Snyder signed a new set of discrimination laws yesterday.  "Senate Substitute for House Bill No. 4188" states:

"Private child placing agencies, including faith-based child placing agencies, have the right to free exercise of religion under both the state and federal constitutions.  Under well-settled principles of constitutional law, this right includes the freedom to abstain from conduct that conflicts with an agency's sincerely held religious beliefs."

Both faith-based and non-faith-based agencies receive government money.  Given the separation of church and state, it should be the case that agencies receiving federal or state money are not allowed to religiously discriminate in who they serve.  However, this separation has been eroded over the years in a multitude of ways, from President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. 

Even so, this is a new level of affront to freedom of religion. …