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Futbolistas 4 Life Follows Youth Bringing a Soccer Field to Oakland’s Fruitvale

Futbolistas 4 Life Follows Youth Bringing a Soccer Field to Oakland's Fruitvale

World Cup fever is officially upon us. But what about soccer played a little closer to home?

What happens when Latino youth from Life Academy in Oakland’s Fruitvale, where homicide is the leading cause of death for young people, turn to soccer as a refuge from the streets? They put together a campaign to turn their “prison playground” into a soccer field. Futbolistas 4 Life is a documentary about their story, and the filmmakers have put together a Kickstarter campaign to help finish the film.

The filmmakers write

In 2012, there were 131 homicides across all of Oakland - the highest in six years. Soccer becomes a uniting force for the high school students in this film, who come to call themselves “Futbolistas 4 Life.” By bringing the community together around a new soccer field, they are determined to stop the cycle of violence in their community with courage, willpower and optimism. 

 In the last few years, these teens have lost four young people to gun violence in their small public high school. Their soccer club has become a space where they discuss their experiences with violence, poverty and immigration while strategizing ways to support their community. The film shows the passion and resiliency of these teens who create a legacy for future generations. 

Check out more at their Kickstarter.

Bergdahl in Texas, Cops Stay Quiet about Surveillance, and World Cup Surprises

Bergdahl in Texas, Cops Stay Quiet about Surveillance, and World Cup Surprises

It’s Friday! Here’s what I’m reading this morning: 

  • Bowe Bergdahl arrives in Texas, where he will continue his reintegration process. 
  • The Obama administration pushes local police to keep cell phone surveillance technology secret. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Active Military Post Prepares to Detain Immigrant Children

Active Military Post Prepares to Detain Immigrant Children

A U.S. Army base outside of Oklahoma City, Okla., is preparing to detain undocumented minors who were recently apprehended crossing the southern border without a parent.

Fort Sill—an active base built during the Indian Wars in the late 1800s—will take between 600 and 1,200 minors. The children mostly arrived from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, often fleeing violence in hopes of reuniting with parents already in the United States. Many of the migrant children, usually referred to as unaccompanied minors, are girls under the age of 12.

The minors may be held at Fort Sill for up to four months, but it remains unclear what will happen to the children after that time. Equally unclear is whether the use of Fort Sill as a detention center for minors is temporary, or whether new child migrants will be placed there in the future. 

Oklahoma’s KSWO-7 has been reporting on the issue locally:

Fort Sill is the third military base that will hold undocumented minors. Texas’s Lackland Air Force Base and California Naval Base are already holding migrant youth. 

Federal Contract Workers to Obama: $10.10 Not Good Enough

Federal Contract Workers to Obama: $10.10 Not Good Enough

A letter sent to the White House today from federal contract workers tells President Obama that his freshly ordered wage increase to $10.10 isn’t good enough. The letter, signed by 216 self-identified worker leaders representing over 50 private companies, ratchets up worker demands in a federal policymaking environment where $10.10 appears to have gained acceptance as the new ceiling. This February, Obama signed an executive order requiring companies contracting with the federal government to increase workers’ wages to $10.10. And while Senate Republicans this spring filibustered a bill naming $10.10 as the new federal minimum wage, Mitt Romney has urged Republicans to get behind it.

Federal contract workers’ dissatisfaction with $10.10 comes amidst cities enacting higher increases. Seattle is still celebrating (or lamenting, depending on point of view) its increase to $15, the highest minimum wage in the nation. And copycat calls from other municipalities to implement the same are gaining ground.

 

 

Vergara Trial Ruling Could Help Educational Equality in the Long Run

Vergara Trial Ruling Could Help Educational Equality in the Long Run

The dust is starting to settle around the landmark Vergara trial, which upended California’s teacher tenure statutes. While teachers unions mull a potential appeal, others are looking to the potential upsides in the ruling, which promises to have far-reaching impacts beyond the Golden State. 

Kevin Welner, director of the National Center for Education Policy, blogging over at Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet, argues that sure, Judge Treu issued a sweeping decision by relying on a narrow strip of hotly contested evidence to rule that teacher tenure policies saddle primarily poor students and students of color with “grossly ineffective teachers.” But by shifting his interpretations of earlier cases, Judge Treu lowered the standard plaintiffs must meet in order to prove that an educational policy infringes students’ fundamental rights to education. If an appellate court agrees with Treu, that could potentially help other legal fights for educational equity. It’s a provocative line of thought for people still reeling from this week’s ruling. But follow along.

Welner gives a key example: academic tracking.

There are likely hundreds of thousands of children in California who are enrolled in low-track classes, where the expectations, curricula and instruction are all watered down. These children are denied equal educational opportunities; the research regarding the harms of these low-track classes is much stronger and deeper than the research about teachers Judge Treu found persuasive in the Vergara case. That is, plaintiffs’ attorneys would easily be able to show a “real and appreciable impact” on students’ fundamental right to equality of education. Further, the harm from enrollment in low-track classes falls disproportionately on lower-income students and students of color. 

This means that the burden would fall upon those who engage in tracking practices (e.g., school districts). They would have to show a compelling state interest in maintaining low-track classes, and they would have to show that their particular practices are necessary in order to further that compelling state interest. Since the plaintiffs will be able to point to highly successful schools that do not track, the defendants would not be able to meet that burden.

This type of analysis could be repeated for a wide array of other policies and practices, such as transportation, school choice, buildings, funding formulas, access to computer technology, enriched curriculum, testing and accountability policies, and segregated and stratified schools. If the relatively anemic facts and evidentiary record in Vergara support the striking down of five state statutes, it’s almost mind-boggling what the future may hold for education rights litigation in California (again, if the appellate courts use similar reasoning).

Read the rest of Welner’s piece, and Judge Treu’s ruling (PDF).

ISIS in Iraq, World Cup Kicks Off and Recession Suicides

ISIS in Iraq, World Cup Kicks Off and Recession Suicides

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

How to Watch the World Cup (With or Without Cable)

How to Watch the World Cup (With or Without Cable)

The World Cup kicks off Thursday—but where can you catch all 64 games? Unless you live close to a sports bar committed to airing all the matches, it’s kinda complicated, especially because cable providers have set up a lot of rules around who can watch what, and when. 

Here’s a quick guide to help get you through the next month of matches:

If you have a television and prefer English language broadcasts:

  • Don’t have cable? ABC will air a weird hodge-podge of just 10 games, mostly on the weekends—including the final game on July 13.
  • Do have cable? ESPN and ESPN 2 will air the remainder of the games.

If you have a television and prefer Spanish language broadcasts:

  • Univision will air all 64 matches. Univision is a cable channel, but the first 56 games are completely free. You’ll have to pony up to catch the last eight matches, however—but you’ll probably be hooked by then anyway.

If you’d rather stream the matches in English:

If you prefer streaming matches in Spanish:

  • Univision will allow you to watch the first 53 matches online, on your iPhone, or on your Android for free! You’ll need a cable subscription after that. Unless you’re a Comcast subscriber—If that’s the case, you’re out of luck.

Still up in the air*: 

  • There are other options I’m looking into—Argentina’s public television station TV Pública is airing half the matches, but I’m unclear whether they’ll be available online in the U.S.
  • TyC is airing the other half, but again, I’m unclear if they’ll be available online.
  • And there’s also Fútbol Para Todos, although I hear you may need to download an app to make it work. 

*These options aren’t working in the U.S. 

Watch Pres. Obama React to Yet Another School Shooting

Watch Pres. Obama React to Yet Another School Shooting

Some Oregon families woke up to a heartbreaking reality this morning. During another school shooting yesterday, this time at an Oregon high school, a teen killed another student with a rifle, slightly grazed a teacher and then killed himself, according to news reports. There have been at least 74 school shootings—incuding Oregon’s—since Newtown, according to a list compiled by Everytown.orgPres. Obama expressed disbelief during a student debt and education event yesterday, that the nation was unable to pass new gun laws in response. “The fact that 20 six-year-olds were gunned down in the most violent fashion possible and this town couldn’t do anything about it was stunning to me,” Obama says, meaning Washington, DC. The only way forward he says, is if public opinion forces Congress’ hand.

What do you think of the president’s reaction and his efforts to curb gun violence so far?

(h/t Washington Post/Business Insider)

Watch ‘Proud To Be’ Commercial Aired During NBA Final

Watch 'Proud To Be' Commercial Aired During NBA Final

A California tribe bought commercial airtime, according to Deadspin, during last night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals to hammer home its stance on the Washington D.C. football team name and Native peoples. If you don’t live in the seven major cities where the commercial aired (or you’re not a basketball fan), check out the extended version of “Proud to Be,” which premiered over Super Bowl weekend. Two minutes of diverse images culminate into one statement: “Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing they don’t…” the voice over says before showing the Washington NFL team’s helmet.

What do you think about the ad?

(h/t Deadspin)

Cantor Loses, California Strikes Down Teacher Tenure and Shark Mystery

Cantor Loses, California Strikes Down Teacher Tenure and Shark Mystery

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Half a million Iraqis flee Mosul after Sunni insurgents seize the city. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Judge Strikes Down California Teacher Tenure

Judge Strikes Down California Teacher Tenure

In a landmark ruling issued Tuesday, a California judge sided with plaintiffs who argued that teacher tenure and due process protections disproportionately hurt poor students and students of color. The closely watched case, funded by Silicon Valley millionaire entrepreneur David Welch’s education reform group Students Matter and brought on behalf of nine California students in five districts, marks a serious defeat for teachers and teacher unions waging a losing war against education reformers who’ve made teachers out to be responsible for enduring educational inequity in the country.

“Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students,” Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu wrote in his ruling (PDF), citing a claim that an ineffective teacher costs a classroom $1.4 million in lost earnings over a lifetime. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.” 

As with everything education, the matter is deeply political. Diane Ravitch, an education historian and vocal critic of the mainstream education reform movement, pointed out that experts who testified in the case are advocates for or are employed by groups that advocate for policies that demand fewer due process rights and more test-based accountability for teachers. 

The ruling was closely watched around the country as a potential model for others who hope to do away with similar teacher protections in their states. The California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers and the state Attorney General’s Office argued in a joint defense that the lawsuit scapegoated teachers for what is at its heart about poverty and neighborhood violence, EdSource reported. 

“We believe the judge fell victim to the anti-union, anti-teacher rhetoric and one of America’s finest corporate law firms that set out to scapegoat teachers for the real problems that exist in public education,” CFT president Joshua Pechthalt told the New York Times. “There are real problems in our schools, but this decision in no way helps us move the ball forward.”

“The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers and match them with our neediest students,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement hailing the ruling. “Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems.”

Treu’s ruling, which charged the state legislature to find alternatives to the five newly unconstitutional policies, goes into effect in 30 days.

How A Black Sports Writer Stopped Using ‘Redskins’

How A Black Sports Writer Stopped Using 'Redskins'

Bleacher Report has a nice long essay by Mike Freeman, an African-American sports writer and Marylander, on how he stopped using “Redskins” to describe the Washington NFL team. See highlights below but make time for the thoughtful and compassionate essay, which explores team owner Dan Snyder’s motivation, as well as what it means to be an African-American fan and embrace a team name widely accepted as a slur.

I was part of a racially conscious family in a racially tolerant community with racially diverse friends and family, yet we never discussed that Redskin is a Webster-defined racial slur. None of my black friends and I did either. Ever….

But everything changed for me when my mother began tracing our roots and officially documented what was generally known in our family: that we had American Indian ancestry. That’s when I began to rethink my support of the Redskin nickname…

I was related to the people that were being caricatured. The moment was instructive in many ways. It showed, to me, the hypocrisy of a black man ignoring a slur his entire life because a football team meant so much to him.

It showed something else. I looked around at the diversity in my life, which was extensive, and noticed something: Long into my adulthood, there were few American Indians in my life. There was no one to express their displeasure.

(h/t Bleacher Report)

Marissa Alexander’s Retrial Postponed to December

Marissa Alexander's Retrial Postponed to December

Marissa Alexander’s retrial has been postponed until December 1 due to questions about whether a new Florida bill can be used retroactively in her case. She originally faced retrial on July 28. 

Alexander, 33, was convicted of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot during a fight with her abusive husband. But she was released on bond last November after an appeals court ruled in September that the jury in her trial was given flawed instructions. She was originally sentenced to 20 years; if convicted in a retrial, Alexander faces up to 60 years in prison.

Judge James Daniel was set to determine this morning if Alexander was eligible for a Stand Your Ground hearing—which was denied to her previously. Florida lawmakers passed a Warning Shot Bill in March that Alexander’s legal team says can protect her, but Governor Rick Scott has yet to sign it into law. Because of that pending law, attorneys on both sides asked for an extension. A decision on whether Alexander can get a Stand Your Ground hearing is now postponed until August 1.

One of Marissa Alexander’s most ardent supporters, Mariame Kaba, published an anthology whose proceeds will benefit the Alexander’s legal defense. “No Selves to Defend” is available today, and features writing and artwork that “locates Marissa’s case within a historical context that criminalizes and punishes women (particularly of color) for self-defense.” Only 125 copies of the anthology are available for purchase for $50—and there will be no reprints. 

Supreme Court Sends Young Visa Seekers to Back of a Very Long Line

Supreme Court Sends Young Visa Seekers to Back of a Very Long Line

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some children who apply for visas to reside in the U.S. age out, and have to begin the process all over again after they turn 21 years old. The decision is expected to affect not only those young people, but their parents as well.

Back in 1998, Rosalina Cuellar de Osorio applied for visas through her mother, a U.S. citizen, for her and her son, Melvin. Melvin was 13 at the time and both he and his mother lived in El Salvador. The application itself was approved within a month, but the actual visa wasn’t presented until 2005. Melvin had already turned 21 years old by then, and the U.S. insisted that he had to begin the process all over again. His mother was allowed entry to the U.S., but the son was denied.

The 2002 Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was created to protect people like Melvin from having to initiate the process all over again. But in 2009, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that the legislation wasn’t straightforward enough and could be understood to mean to only protect children applying through a Green Card holder, not through a citizen. An appeals court disagreed in 2012, citing the intent behind the law. And in 2013, a bipartisan group of senators who helped pass the CSPA —including John McCain (R-Az.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.)— issued a brief explaining that the legislation was indeed created to protect young people like Melvin.

The justices ultimately sided with the Obama administration on Tuesday. The divided ruling includes at least four different interpretations of the CSPA.

If children are placed in the back of the line at 21, it’s likely their parents may continue to wait with them, even if already approved. It’s not unheard for family-based immigration visas to take more than a decade. In fact, one brief filed when de Osorio’s case was at the appeals court indicated the backlog for certain visa applications from Mexico “is approximately 115.5 years.”

Texas Judge Bars Walmart Workers From Protesting

Texas Judge Bars Walmart Workers From Protesting

A Texas judge last week issued a temporary restraining order barring OURWalmart and others from protesting on or around Walmart store properties in the state. Judges in at least five other states have issued similar injunctions over the last couple of years, writes Ryan Williamson, an adviser to unions watch group Worker Center Watch. This Texas ruling is only a snippet of the ongoing, behind-the-scenes legal war over whether and how Walmart, fast-food, retail, college football players and other low-wage or unpaid workers can protest and ultimately, unionize. 

A hearing to appeal the temporary restraining order is scheduled for June 16. 

(h/t Washington Free Beacon)

Fresh Attack in Pakistan, FAA Approves BP Oilfield Drone, and Twins Born 24 Days Apart

Fresh Attack in Pakistan, FAA Approves BP Oilfield Drone, and Twins Born 24 Days Apart

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • The captain and crew of the South Korean ferry that sank, killing more than 300 people, go to trial
  • eBay’s PayPal president David Marcus resigns and joins Facebook
TAGS: Morning Rush

North Carolina Waitress Forced to Return $1,000 Tip

North Carolina Waitress Forced to Return $1,000 Tip

In odd news of the day, a Waffle House in Raleigh, N.C., forced a waitress to return the $1,000 tip she received on Mother’s Day. During her late shift, a gentleman customer made Shaina Brown’s night after leaving a $1,500 tip—$500 of which was asked to be shared with another woman, a down-and-out-looking customer at a nearby table. Brown, according to the News & Observer’s Josh Shaffer, is a 26-year-old single mother of three working two jobs.

For more on Waffle House’s policy regarding large tips like Brown’s, read Shaffer’s thoughtful piece, which may just have gotten Brown her tip back.

The customer, a Raleigh businessman, prefers to remain anonymous.

(h/t Raleigh News & Observer)

Las Vegas Shooting, Audra McDonald’s Tony Speech and the First Vine from Space

Las Vegas Shooting, Audra McDonald's Tony Speech and the First Vine from Space

Here’s what I’m reading up on this Monday morning: 

  • Today’s Google Doodle is fifth grader Audrey Zhang’s creation. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Why Are So Many Unaccompanied Minors Fleeing Central America for the U.S.?

Why Are So Many Unaccompanied Minors Fleeing Central America for the U.S.?

Scores of children, most of them from Central America and the majority without family or adults to accompany them, are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border at a staggering rate. Since November of 2013, some 47,000 unaccompanied children have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. Between 2004 and 2011, the number of apprehended unaccompanied minors averaged at around 6,800, according to a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (PDF). The influx has become a “humanitarian situation” of such significant proportions that this week the White House announced a coordinated federal response spearheaded by FEMA. 

But why are so many children taking such harrowing risks to make the journey from Central America to the U.S.? There are currently three prevailing theories, but no easy answers.

1) To reunite with family in the U.S. More than one-third of unaccompanied minors from Central America who crossed the border had at least one parent in the U.S., Vox’s Dara Lind reportedBrian Duran, a 14-year-old from central Honduras, told the AP

[Duran] knew that a couple of friends who left before he did had given themselves up after crossing and been reunited with family in the U.S. Sitting inside the walled compound of a migrant shelter in this Mexican border city across the Rio Grande from Texas, Brian wonders if that is still the case as he seeks a way to make his own crossing.

“I don’t know what the environment is like now, if they (Border Patrol) are supporting or if they are returning the minors,” he said Tuesday. He said he has an uncle in the U.S., but doesn’t know where because he lost his number while journeying north.

2) To escape violence and economic instability in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. While factors in every country are unique, “one overriding factor has played a decisive and forceful role in recent years,” reads the USCCB report (PDF). “Generalized violence at the state and local levels and a corresponding breakdown of the rule of law have threatened citizen security and created a culture of fear and hopelessness.” The USCCB report paints a portrait of rapid destabiliziation aggravated by transnational criminal networks responsible for wanton extortion, kidnappings, threats and forced conscription of youth into criminal activity.

PRI reported on the story of Eric, a teen from Honduras, whose father sent him to the U.S.:

Eric, who was 16, lived in Honduras with his father, who was a banker. Police would frequently detain Eric for petty infractions, and extort money from his father. Eric’s parents stopped paying the “fines” and ultimately Eric landed in a prison with adult inmates. Eric’s father paid what Cruz called a “ransom” to get him out of jail. Eric’s family sent him to California but he was ultimately deported, and returned to Honduras where he was killed. Authorities have not found those responsible for the murder.

3) To take advantage of lenient U.S. immigration policy regarding children. This line is particularly politicized, as it’s being pushed much more heavily by immigration restrictionists and Republican lawmakers. “Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies, and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America,” Virginia Rep. Robert Goodlatte told the New York Times’ Julia Preston. Ana Solorzano, an immigration official based in El Salvador, told the New York Times that policy and deportation shifts, however subtle, left families with the impression that the U.S had “opened its doors” to women and children.

Not necessarily, reports the Washington Post’s Katie Zezima, who writes that while the U.S. does have more lenient policy for unaccompanied minors, it’s not clear that youth crossing right now are even aware of those policies shifts.

Connecticut Considers Transfer of Transgender Teen Held in Adult Prison

Connecticut Considers Transfer of Transgender Teen Held in Adult Prison

Jane Doe, a transgender 16-year-old girl being held in an adult women’s prison in Connecticut without charge, may soon be transferred to a private treatment facility in Massachusetts. The state’s commissioner for the Department of Children and Families, Joette Katz, says that her agency has identified an unnamed location that Doe may be transferred to in the next two weeks. 

But Doe’s advocates are cautious of the latest development. ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio tells Colorlines that any update about moving Doe out of prison is an important one—but that the road ahead will still be tough. “No matter what happens in the future, she will need significant support to recover from the past decade of traumas,” says Strangio. “Including the trauma of spending the last three months in isolation or near isolation without peer interaction at this critically important stage of development.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Katz points out the possible transfer facility is one where staff is trained to meet the needs of transgender youth. Katz also says her desire is that “Jane Doe improves to the point that she can be placed with foster parents.” 

So far, Jane Doe has been at the York Correctional Facility in Niantic for 59 days.  

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