Thursday, October 29, 2015

Should Police Be Exempt From Child Protection Laws?

Now, word has it he was 'roiding.

So much for background checks in child welfare.

States Child Protection Laws make the rules in safety checks for children which includes drug tests, psychological evaluations, criminal background checks for parents involved in the system.

These safety check rules requirements do not apply to teachers, child protection workers, GALs, judges, prosecutors or police.

Hell, police, judges and attorneys are not even mandatory reporters.

South Carolina Foster Child Attacked By Deputy In School

Welcome to the world of foster care.

Is This What Happens ‘When Steroids, Racism and a Badge Mix’?

By now you’ve probably heard the theory that Deputy Ben Fields was on steroids – “roid raging” – when he attacked a teenage girl in her math class. Far from a polemic attack, Fields is well known for his heavy lifting at his local South Carolina gym. While no one is going to be able to confirm his steroid use, we did speak with some people who have given us insight into the deputy’s probable abuse of regulate hormones.

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Michigan Lied About The Flint Water Posioning, Over and Over

Michigan needs to be held accountable for the trending practice of excluding child welfare into any financial or economic decision, whether it be in law or policy.

This is nothing but a nefarious social policy experiment using the artificially crafted mechanism called privatization because, as we all know well, what happens in child welfare, stays in child welfare.

It is time to lift this veil of secrecy and hold these people accountable for using children as chattel, reimbursed through the creation of a whole boat-load of Christian-based welfare programs.

Of course, we also know that you cannot audit God, which only kicks up the immunities a notch.

DOJ Needs To Charge Governor Snyder for Intentionally Poisoning Children of Flint

The State of Michigan needs to be held accountable.  Period.

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South Carolina Foster Child Attacked By Deputy In School

Welcome to the world of foster care.

Deputy Ben Fields has damaged property of the state of South Carolina in the form of child abuse in the second degree.

The Sheriff Department claims the student needs to apologize and blame the parents and her community.

The girl is an orphan who has been placed as a ward of the state in foster care; therefore, the Sheriff was correct.  The state needs to be blamed with the way they have been raising its children.

Foster children, no matter what state, quickly learn how to defend themselves from people like Ben Fields everyday and if the public does not believe in the horrors of child welfare, then you need to ask yourself why I have been proselytizing for the promulgation on the way society views children.

My questions now arise to be presented as to why there was no IEP on record for the child being in foster care or for emotional issues on file with this so-called school officer.

When a child is at school and/or foster care, the responsibility to protect and serve falls upon the state as de facto parents.  

South Carolina failed to protect the student.

What the nation has witnessed is an everyday occurrence of the trauma of what goes on in child welfare which includes schools and foster care,.

If it was not for the videos of the other students, this would never have made national media, the Deputy would still have his job and I would not possess the vision for the change in how we treat our most precious treasures, children.

Niya Kenny stood up for the victim and was then put in handcuffs. Because she is 18 years old she was sent to Alvin S. Glen Detention Center. She says she was crying her eyes out and said she had to stand up for the victim. She also says the victim had a gash on her forehead. Niya was charged with disturbing school. SHARE. We will have more tonight at 6 & 11pm. Spring Valley High School (South Carolina) Richland County Sheriff's Department Check out video from Tony Robinson below....he is the student who recorded the video that went viral. He tells you the victim BEGGED for FORGIVENESS about her phone. See Below.
Posted by Alicia Barnes on Monday, October 26, 2015

I await charges from the State Attorney General if not the FBI.

Life is even harder now for the South Carolina teen assaulted by ex-Deputy Ben Fields — she's in foster care


Life for a 16-year-old black girl in the New South living in a foster home is no crystal stair.
In an interview with the Daily News, Todd Rutherford, the respected Columbia, S.C., attorney representing the assault victim of the recently terminated Deputy Ben Fields, revealed that his client, in addition to suffering injuries on her face, neck, and arm, is a recent orphan living in foster care.

Deputy Ben Fields was fired after video surfaced showing him flipping a South Carolina high school student backward in her desk and tossing her across the floor.

While her identity, no doubt, will eventually be leaked to the media, it's the goal of her foster mother to protect and care for her as well as she can considering the circumstances. She communicated to us that the young victim is devastated and emotionally traumatized by all that has happened to her.

EDS NOTE: STUDENT WHO SHOT THE VIDEO WISHES TO REMAIN UNIDENTIFIED. BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE, IMAGES MADE FROM VIDEO, AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS HANDOUT PHOTO TO BE USED SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THISchool, as you can imagine, could be particularly tough for a young girl who has experienced so much pain and loss in her young life. To think that she has now suffered police brutality and is facing trumped up criminal charges for age-appropriate classroom behavior is just despicable.

South Carolina sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields has been fired

NY Daily News

Some trauma cannot be undone. The experience of police brutality is an example of such trauma.
Our kids, who already face enormous pressure in life, should never be subjected to state-sponsored violence while in school. For this young girl, Spring Valley High School should've been a refuge.

Instead, it was something far worse.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

POTUS Addresses The Welfare Of A Child With Guns

This speech of POTUS is superficially about gun control because it hits deeper into the heart of the issues of such hate and violence, which is the role of governance in the welfare of the child.

Before you are a man, you are a child.  We, as a nation, have neglected our role in society to make sure it is better when we pass it on to our children when they mature.

It is my belief the U.S. Department of Justice is about to engage in a bit of self-reform in a possible restructuring.  For years there have been discussions in the functionality of the DEA and ATF.

Perhaps, the time has come to include a redirection of focus when it comes to the operations of governments, and by this I mean the operations behind privatization and its insurrectionist politics.


I wrote this some years ago for a friend because people stopped listening to his message.  Now is the perfect time to dust it off and call it a 2.0/

Universal Health Care: Providing For The Common Defense and General Welfare

The issues surrounding unruly town hall meetings and angry mobs were addressed over 200 years ago in the Federalist Papers, specifically #9, Hamilton and #10 Madison.

Hamilton #9The utility of a Confederacy, as well to suppress faction and to guard the internal tranquillity of States, as to increase their external force and security, is in reality not a new idea. It has been practiced upon in different countries and ages, and has received the sanction of the most approved writers on the subject of politics. 

What Hamilton basically says is that an insurgent faction disrupts consolidation and consensus of groups, better known as a republic. This idea was expounded and refined in Madison #10.

Madison identified the "inner tranquility" of the consolidation and consensus of groups as the "majority". He further spoke of the futility of non-peaceful protests as they disregarded established legislative processes, having elected government representatives.

"Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people."

Historically, civil disobedience only works when functioning under the policy of peace. These protests are not peaceful in language or activities, an early presentation of failure of the insurgence.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.The Bill of Rights: First Amendment

The key word is "peace". Once this tenet of the First Amendment is violated, peace, the government is empowered to protect the people, pursuant to the General Welfare Clause in the U.S. Constitution. The following is an excerpt of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States, called the General Welfare Clause:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Violence, be it verbal, economic, emotional or physical, becomes grounds for government intervention, or rather the calling of the police to maintain the peace. When this happens you have an insurrection, pursuant to the General Welfare Clause. Under this light, health care as commerce, or rather Universal Health Care, is seen as a "provision for the common defense social disease, meaning maintainability of individual and social health, becoming interchangeable with the temporal terminology of General Welfare.

Quintessentially, Universal Health Care is one in the same with the Common Defense and General Welfare of the people of the United States of America. Here is a visual model for greater understanding:

Universal = Common

Health = Defense

Care = General Welfare

There is a lack of organization and understanding, as the insurrections constantly demonstrate a significant failure in mastering a rudimentary education of the social mobilization.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Full Committee Markup of H.R. 2834, “To Enact Certain Laws Relating to the Environment as Title 55, United States Code”

U.S. Representative Conyers' Opening Statement begins at 34:52

“Mr. Chairman, I oppose H.R. 2834 because of serious concerns that I have about the process by which this legislation comes before us today as well its substance.  To begin with, the process by which this bill is proceeding to a markup – with only minimal notice and in the absence of collaborative and deliberative bipartisan review – stands in stark contrast with longstanding Committee practice in this area.

“This Committee has a long tradition of considering codification legislation pursuant to a thoroughly inclusive process that often spans multiple congresses.  A positive law codification -such as this legislation - requires close scrutiny because, once enacted, it repeals existing law and restates the law in a new form as a positive law title of the United States Code.

“To that end, Majority and Minority staff traditionally work closely with the Office of Law Revision Counsel and relevant committees of jurisdiction as well as all affected agencies and interested parties in the private sector to ensure that these bills truly are completely accurate restatements of current law.

“I am unaware of a single instance in which this process has not been completely bipartisan and in which the final legislative product has not had the support of both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. However, the bill we are considering today has had no Minority input, was introduced by neither the Chairman nor the Ranking Member of the full Committee, and appears to have had no comment from any relevant committee.

“Based on consultation with Law Revision Counsel staff and other interested parties, it appears that critical input from affected agencies has not been adequately solicited prior to the finalization of this legislative text. 

“Although the Environmental Protection Agency was given an opportunity to consider prior iterations of the legislation, such outreach appears to have been sporadic and without closure. When an actual bill was introduced this June, the Environmental Protection Agency was then given only 30 days to respond with comments on the 585 pages of text when the normal comment period would have been at least 180 days.  

“In addition, the Chairman of the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee sent letters to relevant committees requiring their feedback on this voluminous legislation also with only a 30-day deadline to respond. 

“I would note that these request letters – which under normal procedures would have been sent by both the Chair and Ranking Member of the Full Committee – were not shared with the Minority until this past Friday evening. 

“Other agencies, such as the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Council for Environmental Quality, were never consulted on the potential far-reaching effects that this legislation might have on existing law. 

“Another concern that I have is that this legislation goes far beyond simply restating current law. 

For example, the EPA, in the brief time it was given to respond, identified serious drafting issues with the bill that could be construed to change the meaning of existing law.  In particular, the Agency adamantly disputes  the bill’s interpretation of current law regarding its authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to issue the Clean Power Plan and regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other stationary sources.  

“This provision has generated significant confusion and the EPA warns that this bill, if it were law, ‘would exacerbate the confusion.’

“Outside organizations, such as the Sierra Club, have raised similar concerns that the legislation will  ‘introduce unnecessary ambiguity’ into the Clean Air Act.

“Finally, I am concerned that this sharp departure from normal Committee process may have been influenced by broader political considerations and a possible desire to impact pending legal disputes. 

“The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with other environmental groups, have cautioned Members that this bill ‘is a blatant effort by polluters and their allies to bias current litigation against the Clean Power Plan.’ Tellingly, this bill was noticed for markup on the very same day that the EPA issued a final rulemaking regarding the Clean Power Plan.  As authority to issue the rulemaking, the EPA explicitly cited section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. 

“And industry advocates have already cited this proposed restatement of current law in support of their challenges to the EPA's authority to implement the Clean Power Plan. At best, consideration of this bill today represents an incomplete and irresponsible legislative process.  At worst, it represents an effort to push through a purely political agenda to change substantive environmental law.

“Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 2834.”

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

DOJ Needs To Charge Governor Snyder for Intentionally Poisoning Children of Flint

The State of Michigan needs to be held accountable.  Period.

Michigan has policies under Child Protection Law which would have went after the parents and intervened in the lives of the children under abuse and neglect laws when these children tested for high rates of lead poisoning, if this scandal did not break.

Michigan was knowledgeable about the hazards.

It was well informed, well in advance, about the situation of lead contamination of the water yet, intentionally allowed children to be poisoned, for dare I say, access to federal funding to maximize revenue.

The Emergency Manager Law is a mechanism of privatization, or simply another mechanism to profit from the poor as a bill of attainder.

Due to the Eleventh Amendment immunities, it is just about impossible to sue a state, which makes this an issue of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch needs to launch an investigation to see if criminal charges can be laid against the Governor and his Executive Office.

These children and possibly their future generations will experience cognitive and psychological developmental disabilities for life, and will become reliant upon social assistance for these state inflicted maladies.

This was intentional just to save a few dollars.

Instead, it will now cost hundreds of millions in the long run, another example of extremely poor economic policy making.

Help is on the way for lead-exposed Flint kids

To the panicked parents in Flint: Help is on the way.

That's the message from doctors, university researchers and public health officials mobilizing to move an embattled city beyond shock and anger over its toxic water to a brighter next chapter — one that involves wrapping services around Flint's children to protect them from the worst effects of the lead that streamed through the city's water lines.

"This is somewhat of an unprecedented situation. Usually when we talk about elevated blood-lead levels, it's about an individual child or an individual family situation. Here you have a large,

communal source of lead," said Dr. Dean Sienko, associate dean for public health at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, which is helping lead the effort.

Flint doctor makes state see light about lead in water

While lead poisoning cannot be reversed, experts say that the right kind of nutrition, parenting and community services can mitigate the worst damage: learning disabilities, speech deficits and severe behavior problems in the coming years.

With guidance, in part, from a group known as the Flint Lead INnovation Team, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is expected to send letters this week to families recommending  they talk to their child's doctor about immediate lead testing and long-term monitoring for developmental problems, as well as focusing on nutrition, since certain foods can reduce the absorption of lead.

Is emergency manager law to blame for Flint water crisis?

Among other steps under discussion:
  • Move local nutritionists and dietitians to pediatric offices and health clinics. 
  • Develop a phone app for Flint residents that would remind them of the importance of screening and even promote healthy recipes. 
  • Boost enrollment in federal programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Double Up Food Bucks, which give low-income families access to fresh produce. 
  • Increase aggressive screening to monitor kids for developmental delays, launch school-based stress-reduction programs and boost enrollment in Early Head Startand Head Start programs to give kids who may struggle with learning disabilities an academic boost before they start school. 
  • Expand home visiting programs in which health care and social workers meet with families, in part, to monitor children for developing learning disabilities or mental health issues.
The crisis came about as a result of Flint officials ending the city's water contract with Detroit in 2014, saying costs were too high and opting instead to join the Karegnondi Water Authority, which is building a system to supply Genesee County with water from Lake Huron. But with that system not coming on line until next year, Flint decided in the interim to pull water from the Flint River and treat it at its own facility. Complaints began almost immediately; last month, research by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Hurley Children's Center pediatrician, showed a dangerous spike in children's blood-lead levels, corroborating water testing results earlier this year by a Virginia Tech researcher.
Amid accusations of a failure to properly treat the water and a cover-up, Flint reconnected to the Detroit water system a week ago. But it may take a few weeks to completely flush the system.

"We need to give parents hope, and we can do that," said  Hanna-Attisha, who is now also helping lead a team of doctors and researchers. "We need to help them build resilience for their kids."

Just down the hallway from Hanna-Attisha's office in the new, colorfully bright Hurley clinic in downtown, Janika Owens and Demario Stewart last week carried in their 2-month-old son, Damonei, for a routine checkup. He was measured and weighed. Medical staff checked to make sure bones and organs are developing normally, even though lead poisoning's effects won't show up this early.
That leaves Damonei's parents wondering.

Although they've used bottled water for his formula, Owens at times had cooked with Flint water while she was pregnant. She'd brushed her teeth with it.

Lead can pass across the placenta to a fetus, studies have shown.

Who would ever think you couldn't trust — of all things — water?

"I never thought I'd have to deal with this — ever," Demario Stewart said, trying to soothe his increasingly wriggly infant. "Ill never trust my water again."

Hanna-Attisha says she has seen parents streaming in almost every day in recent weeks  — parents who wonder how much lead their children have ingested. And about whether their child has irreparable brain damage.  And whether it will one day trigger the kind of learning or behavior problems that can set a life permanently off course.

Wayne State doctor: Women pass lead damage to grandkids

"They wonder: 'Did I protect my baby?' 'Did I trust too much?' " she said.
It's a grinding, toxic stress that finds access points in everyday inconveniences. Is the restaurant coffee made from Flint River water? Are the filters on the public drinking fountains adequate? Will the babysitter be as vigilant in getting bottled water? Is this a passing headache, or something more permanent?

Last week, Kaden Kyger's tiny fingers and face were slathered in strawberry yogurt as the toddler chased the family cats around the living room of their  home. His mother believes he has been spared from lead poisoning because she used bottled water for his formula and she cooked using filtered tap water.

But then again...

The filter is getting old, June Kyger, 25, notes. When should she get a new one?  She has heard there are free filters, but who has the best ones?

And what about lead testing for 16-month old Kaden? Who does that testing?
He seems fine — but then again...

The worries "every single day" are compounded by a sense of helplessness, said Kyger, who moved back to Flint earlier this year after several years away: "I don't really know my way around (city services) like I used to."

And some parents still aren't aware of the problem at all. Or they don't know help is available.
For every two clients served in the WIC program, it's estimated there is another eligible client who is not enrolled, said Mark Valacak, Genesee County's health officer.

"We have some very hard-to-reach populations," he said.

'Very, very unusual'

There's a symbiosis in this kind of public health initiative, too.

As researchers and doctors help residents navigate the years ahead, they will gather information from medical exams, cord blood testing of newborns, a review of low-weight births and miscarriages, results of water testing and geo-mapping of the hardest-hit areas. And that, in turn, will guide future public health efforts.

"What has happened in Flint is very, very unusual. They have essentially conducted an uncontrolled experiment, in that they corroded the heck out of these ... lead pipes," said Wayne State University lead expert Shawn McElmurry, who last weekend was in Flint testing water in homes just 48 hours after the city switched back to Detroit water.

Secondary to helping Flint's residents, Flint's crisis can offer important lessons to other cities relying on aging infrastructure, he said.

Testing over the coming years will offer insight into how well "the infrastructure recovers."
All of this, though, will take work to shift the conversation from fingerpointing to something more productive, said Jeffrey Dwyer, a senior associate dean at MSU's College of Human Medicine, which already was positioned in Flint to work with the community. Funded by a $9-million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, its researchers are focused on the public health problems that Flint residents identified as their most pressing: chronic disease, behavioral health and healthy behaviors.

Let others call for the investigations when it comes to the water issues, Dwyer said — for public health, the most immediate task is buffering Flint's families from the worst effects of lead.

"We can all do the finger-pointing, but at the end of the day, there are people who need our help, and we have an obligation to figure out how to provide that," he said.

A checklist of what you can do
Worried about your child's lead exposure? Here's a checklist of your first steps. A call to 211 can help connect you to services.

  • If your water hasn’t been tested, call the Flint Water Plant  at 810-787-6537 for a free test.
  • No filter or old filter on your faucets? Call 211 for free filters or replacements.
  • Flush taps at least two or three minutes if a tap has not been used for more than 6 hours. 
  • Avoid hot water for cooking or drinking. It increases lead leaching. 
  • Talk to your child’s doctor about possible lead exposure, testing and long-term monitoring. 
  • Schedule blood-level lead tests for your children. Testing may provide only a partial picture of exposure, but it may establish a record of lead poisoning — and follow-up tests may confirm the levels are falling. 
  • If you do not have a doctor who can do the test, the Genesee County Health Department and McLaren Health Plan will hold a lead testing clinic for children younger than 5 from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Health Department’s Burton Clinic, 3373 S. Saginaw St.
  • Provide a healthy diet for your family. Iron, vitamin C and calcium help get rid of lead in the body. Visit and search “fight lead poisoning with a healthy diet.”
  • If you don’t already receive WIC, food assistance or other services that can offer better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, check to see if you're eligible. If you already receive these programs, make sure you’re getting the full benefits.
  • If you're concerned your child still isn't getting a healthy diet, talk to your doctor about a multivitamin. 
  • Consider breast-feeding new babies to avoid tainted water in formula. 
  • To build resilience against the worst effects of lead poisoning, stimulate and nurture your children. Read with them, play with them and spend time with them. 
  • Be aware of other sources of lead exposure, such as old, chipping paint and lead in soil and dust. Mop floors and window sills. Teach your children to wash their hands. 
  • For more information about lead, visit and search “lead.” For more information about assistance, visit or call 211. 
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

How Privatization of Child Welfare Ruined Detroit Public Schools

Allow me to present another approach of understanding as to why education in Detroit is deplorable.
The Privatization of Detroit


Yes, the "P" word is the reason why Detroit schools suck.

First it began with the privatization of child welfare programs in Michigan.  No one was paying attention and it slipped its way into mainstream policy making by presenting financial incentives of "revenue maximization" for the one and only type of entity which could contract with the state:  non-profits.

Non-profits are exempt and excluded from any form of external, public scrutiny as they are exempt and excluded form audits, meaning no state oversight.

Then, hone this category of non-profits down to an even more exclusive group, religious, and you have a faith-based model of fraud because you cannot audit God.

Besides, God would never use children to profit because non-profits maximize revenue, remember?

Then you have those annoying little factors called the ills of poverty, mainly housing in Detroit and the pervasiveness in developmental disorders of children.

With the extra "revenue-mazimization" of these religious non-profits, financing of politicians who, whether knowingly or willingly, turn a blind eye to the fraud, get to remain in office to continue the lack of oversight authority of these privatization schemes in the name of God.

Predatory lending, land speculators, targeting of poor children for federal funding under fraudulent child welfare services, pathetic local and county governance of public works and administrations, deplorable upkeep of schools and phantom educational programs for special needs students, and artificially astronomical property taxes were the makings of the great escape from Detroit.

As a result, population declined, particularly the enrollment of children.

The great conquest of an international port was a success.  If all worked out, it would become a national model of the great policy experiment.

Then the DOJ worked to provide Detroit with a little stimulus of the Hardest Hit Fund to assist the residents who were victims to the aforementioned schemes, only to face a collective of state and local pseudo-quasi-governmental-authorities which decided in the back rooms of Lansing and email groups that the best way to redistribute these federal funds was to shove it in their pockets by establishing such extreme barriers for anyone to access housing and this federal assistance, that no one wanted to move back, or could afford to move back to the inner city.

I call privatization "trickle-out economics".

Trickle-out economics, the current regentrification model, so far does not work; it defies gravity, logic and a whole bunch of federal laws.

In the end, there is not much that will be done because non-profits are immune from oversight, anything dealing with the welfare of children, education is protected by law from any public scrutiny and the U.S. Department of Justice is too much of a docile monk to stand up and defend childhood in Detroit.

Privatization is nothing more than selling chattel, the oldest form of survival.

Why Michigan lost shot at $45M for charter schools

The U.S. Department of Education has rejected a $45-million grant request from Michigan to boost and expand charter schools, largely because the state lacks oversight of the authorizers who approve and oversee them.

The state also scored poorly when evaluated on the academic performance of charters and the state's plan to improve achievement among disadvantaged students in charters.

The loss will impact efforts by grassroots organizers to start charter schools — the very people the charter law was designed to encourage when it was enacted more than 20 years ago. But the loss of the grant could have even broader implications in Michigan.

"This sends a message to policy makers that we've got to get more serious about quality," said Lou Glazer, a charter advocate and president of Michigan Future, a nonpartisan think tank that helps fund the start-up of high schools in Detroit, most of them charter schools.

It also mirrors findings in a Free Press series — "State of Charter Schools," published in June 2014 — that found Michigan spends $1 billion on charters, often with little accountability, transparency or oversight.

The Michigan Department of Education has received the multiyear federal grant six times altogether — and  twice  in the last decade: $23 million in 2007 and $44 million in 2010. But the criteria this year were more focused on oversight.

Three outside experts reviewed applications, awarding points in each of 11 criteria established by the federal agency. The MDE application was awarded just 17 of 45 possible points for oversight of public chartering agencies, and 21 out of 45 points for high-quality authorizing and monitoring.
"There are no uniform and high expectations of authorizers," one reviewer said.

Reviewers also were concerned that the only oversight initiatives are voluntary, with one saying. "There is no guarantee that those who need it the most will be participants."

"I don't think this is a Department of Education problem. This is a policy maker's problem," Glazer said.

Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, said,  "Just because there aren't words within the law doesn't mean there aren't good practices going on in the state of Michigan."

"We're doing things that are hopefully leading to better outcomes," he said.

Burkhart said Michigan's law also clearly gives the state superintendent the ability to suspend an authorizer that isn't providing proper oversight.

That provision of the charter law wasn't tested until last year, however — after the Free Press series was published. MDE put 11 authorizers on notice that they were at risk of suspension; seven were later removed from the list and four remain on it.

Burkhart's organization has pushed for a voluntary accreditation system — one it wants to have become part of state law. AdvancED, an agency that accredits K-12 schools and districts nationwide, conducts the reviews. So far, Grand Valley State University has gone through the process and received accreditation. Central Michigan is currently undergoing it. The two universities are the largest authorizers of charters in Michigan.

The reviews looks at criteria such as whether an authorizer is ensuring its schools are audited annually by a certified public accountant, whether it is ensuring schools are posting transparency documents, and whether it's ensuring schools that perform in the bottom 5% academically for multiple years are either being closed or restructured.

"My vision is that all authorizers would be able to have to prove that they are somehow fit to be part of the profession of authorizing," Burkhart said.

'Ghost' schools

The federal grant allows the state to disseminate small grants for planning and implementation of new charters. They start at $100,000 for initial planning and can increase if a school receives a charter, said Tammy Hatfield, manager of the public school academies unit at MDE. Michigan charters are referred to as public school academies in state law.

Not all of those schools end up opening, a fact that was criticized in a report released this week by the Wisconsin-based progressive group Center for Media and Democracy. The report highlighted 25 charter school grants issued in 2011 and 2012 in Michigan for schools that never opened.
"These 'ghost schools' exist only on paper," the group said.

But Hatfield said that's part of the process: A large part of the planning grants, for instance, is exploring the idea of opening a charter and determining whether it's feasible. Some don't open because they can't find an authorizer. And in some cases, the developers decide on their own not to pursue the charter.

Those grants can be crucial for some. And without a new round of funding, "they'll have to look toward other sources," Hatfield said.

Burkhart said it will mean authorizers will have to step up by providing more assistance to those trying to start charters.

Low state scores

Michigan's charter law allows school districts, community colleges and universities to authorize charter schools, but the MDE has limited oversight of them. Hatfield said a more detailed analysis of the review comments will be done to look at how other states that received or lost out in the grant competition were rated.

The changes in the criteria clearly had an impact.

"This year’s selection criteria focused on supporting the creation of high-quality charter schools, strengthening public accountability and oversight of authorized public chartering agencies, and supporting and improving academic outcomes for educationally disadvantaged students," said Dorie Nolt, press secretary for the federal education department.

The reviewers weren't just critical of the lack of authorizer oversight. They also scored the state low for the academic performance of charters, awarding 15 out of 30 points in that area. One of the reviewers said the percentage of charters ranked in the bottom 5% of schools in the state "is unreasonably high." Another questioned why, after two decades of charters, "student outcomes are still just 'comparable' to traditional public schools."

The state also was scored low in identifying what's working in charters and making that information available to schools statewide.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Justice Department Finds No Political Targeting at IRS

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 23, 2015)—Today, Rep. John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statements regarding the Department of Justice’s letter finding no evidence that the IRS targeted conservative groups for political reasons.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conuyers, Jr.
Ranking Member Conyers stated:

“The Department’s findings confirm what we have known since the self-proclaimed ‘conservative Republican’ manager in Cincinnati explained more than two years ago that the IRS did not target conservative groups for political reasons and took no direction from the White House.  This is also consistent with the conclusions of two Inspector General reports and multi-year House and Senate Congressional investigations, including a recent bipartisan report from the Senate Finance Committee.  It is time Republicans end this partisan witch-hunt and focus on matters that impact the lives of the American people.”

Ranking Member Cummings stated:

"Today, the Justice Department confirmed the same conclusions we had years ago.  Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes – IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi – with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity.  I believe the American people have higher expectations for their elected officials, and they want Congress to start doing its job and focusing on issues that matter instead of these ridiculous, partisan, taxpayer-funded attacks."

The IRS reported on June 3, 2015, that it has spent nearly $20 million responding to requests relating to this investigation:

“More than 250 IRS employees have spent more than 160,000 hours working directly on complying with congressional investigations, at a cost of approximately $20 million.”  

As of March 25, 2015, the IRS had produced more than 1.3 million pages of documents in response to Congressional requests.  The Oversight and Government Reform Committee alone has conducted 54 witness interviews, and the Inspector General has conducted multiple inquiries, the most recent of which included interviewing 118 witnesses and reviewing more than 20 terabytes of data. 

According to today's letter from the Department of Justice:

In collaboration with the FBI and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Department's Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions conducted an exhaustive probe.  We conducted more than 100 witness interviews, collected more than one million pages of IRS documents, analyzed almost 500 tax-exemption applications, examined the role and potential culpability of scores of IRS employees, and considered the applicability of civil rights, tax administration, and obstruction statutes.  Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment, and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.  But poor management is not a crime.  We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.  We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice.  Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the Department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges."

In June 2013, a self-proclaimed “conservative Republican” Screening Group Manager who worked at the IRS for 21 years as a civil servant and supervised a team of Screening Agents in the Cincinnati field office denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to target conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, or that their actions in screening tax-exempt applicants were politically motivated:

Q:        Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?

A:         I have no reason to believe that.

Q:        Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?

A:         I have no reason to believe that.

He further stated:

Q:        In your opinion, was the decision to screen and centralize the review of Tea Party cases the targeting of the President’s political enemies?

A:        I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development.

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Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Full Committee Hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation”

“Today, we welcome Director James Comey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his second appearance before the House Judiciary Committee since taking office on September 4, 2013.

“The FBI’s mission is a complex undertaking: to protect the United States from terrorism, to enforce our criminal laws, and to lead the nation’s law enforcement community.

“And yet, as vast as this mission seems, I think nearly all of the discussion we will have here today can be distilled into one word: trust.

“Trust in the executive branch to respect and secure our privacy and our civil liberties.  Trust in the FBI as an institution.  Trust in the state and local agencies that police our communities.

“In many respects, Director Comey, I think we agree on this point.

“For example: you have spoken powerfully about ‘the hard truths’ we must keep in mind when we discuss race and policing—and particularly when we discuss the use of force by police officers.

“I am told that you require all new agents to study the FBI’s interaction with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to visit his memorial at the Tidal Basin.

“I am also told that you keep on your desk a copy of Robert Kennedy’s approval of J. Edgar Hoover’s request to place a wiretap on Dr. King. 

“These are powerful reminders of a troubling and not-too-distant history.  It is not difficult to draw a line from that era to recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, and Cleveland.

“And that is why your work to build trust between police and our communities is so important. 

“Nowhere is that effort more apparent than in your call for better data on the use of force by police. 

“Although the FBI is the national custodian of crime statistics, that data is reported voluntarily and inconsistently. 

“You have been honest in your assessment that official statistics in this area are so incomplete as to be ‘embarrassing and ridiculous.’

“We need a better understanding of what drives police use of force, and we cannot study the problem without reliable data.  I urge you to continue to press your state and local partners for consistent and accurate reporting to the National Incident-Based Reporting System.

“Just as we must rebuild trust in certain state and local law enforcement units, we will look to your testimony today to reassure us about a number of programs and activities at the FBI.

“Earlier this year, the public noticed a small plane flying in a tight pattern directly over the site of unrest West Baltimore.  Other reports from other parts of the country—including my district in Detroit—raised questions about similar aircraft. 

“The FBI has since confirmed the existence of its aerial surveillance program.

“On June 3, fifteen members of this Committee wrote you to ask for more information about this program.  Your team provided our staff with a briefing soon thereafter.

“But the public still has many questions about aerial surveillance, and you have said that there is a great deal of misinformation about this program.  I would like you to use your testimony to explain, from your perspective, how this program works and why we should trust the Bureau to operate it.

“Similarly, I think we would benefit from a fuller discussion of encryption and what you have called the ‘Going Dark’ problem.

“Over the past year, you have called for a congressional mandate to give the FBI special access to otherwise encrypted data.

“I have a difficult time understanding this proposal.  Every technical expert who has spoken on this issue has concluded that it is technically impossible to provide this access without also compromising our security against bad actors.

“Even if it were technically feasible, it would cost our technology sector billions of dollars to implement the scheme—and perhaps billions more from loss of business overseas, where U.S. government surveillance programs have already taken a toll on the industry.

“And even if it were technically feasible and easy to implement, a new rule for U.S. companies would not succeed in keeping bad actors from using unbreakable encryption—which is open source, free, and widely available from companies based overseas.

“As Chairman Goodlatte argued when we had this debate in 1999: ‘Only by allowing the use of strong encryption, not only domestically but internationally as well, can we hope to make the Internet a safe and secure environment.’

“I agree with that sentiment, you have made similar public statements, and I hope that you can help us to reconcile that view with your call for special access.

“Finally, because rigorous oversight is necessary for public trust, I hope that you will commit today to full compliance with the Inspector General Act.

“For the past five years, the FBI has resisted the clear mandate of that law.  The Inspector General of the Department of Justice is to have timely access to every document he requires to carry out his duties. 

“Noncompliance has real consequences.  This Committee waited until February of this year to receive a report about the FBI’s use of Section 215 orders from 2007 to 2009.  The public waited until May for the unclassified version. 

“In the middle of a national debate on government surveillance, we waited six years for critical information.  This delay is unacceptable.
“I understand that there are other interpretations of the law.  Congress will soon clarify the matter, likely in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion. 
“But in the meantime, Director Comey, I hope that the Bureau will step away from its litigating position and give the Office of the Inspector General the access it requires and deserves.

“Your job is a complex and demanding one, Director.  We appreciate your being here today.  I look forward to your testimony, and I yield back.”

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