Friday, June 26, 2020

Predicting Next Week's COVID Death Numbers — The Final Death Toll Will Be Trump's Legacy

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND CORONAVIRUS and how it behaves has proved difficult, even for the experts. Knowing how the disease works and what practices are best to prevent its spread has been hard to figure out.

But we do know that social distancing measures have proven to be effective. Wear a mask — wash your hands, often — stay six feet away from other people, if you have to venture out at all — and limit your travel to only necessary trips outside of the home.

Unfortunately, with many states relaxing their social distancing rules (either on purpose, like Florida and Texas have, or by judicial decree, as what happened in Wisconsin), the disease looks to be making a strong comeback. People aren't following social distancing rules that are advised by the CDC. Coronavirus hasn't disappeared, but many Americans, nevertheless, are acting like it has.

Disturbingly, we're now seeing cases go up to their highest levels ever. On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 40,000 new cases in a single day for the first time ever. With more than 127,000 deaths so far in the U.S. (as of Friday night), invariably this means that number will go up even higher in the next coming weeks.

How much higher is impossible to know for sure. But we can make an educated guess, based off of two different weeks of the crisis so far.

From April 1 to 7, there were 30,133.3 cases of coronavirus identified per day. From that number, nine days later (from April 10 to 16), we witnessed 2,228.1 American deaths on average.

So we can say that, for every case that was identified, there were 0.07394 deaths that happened. That number may seem weird at first glance, but stick with me here: it becomes important for our equation later on.

More recently, from June 9 to 15, there were less cases, about 21,825.1 on the average day during that time. Again, we look nine days later (June 18 to 24), and witness 598.1 deaths per day during those dates.

From that, we can say, for every case we saw, there were 0.02740 deaths.

Now, those numbers give us a way to sort of predict a range of what to expect within the next couple of weeks, because we have the 7-day average for the past week. That number is 33,244.3 new cases of coronavirus being identified per day (from June 19 to 25).

So, we can take those weird numbers from above, and multiply it by that number, to create a range, an idea of what we can expect, in terms of deaths per day from coronavirus, from June 28 to July 2.

Between those dates, we should prepare for between 910 deaths per day at the very low end, to 2,458 deaths per day at the high end.

Looking objectively, that's a very wide range. But even at the low-end estimate, it's a 52 percent increase from the devastating loss of life we've seen just over the past seven days.

Truthfully, the number will likely be on the lower end of things, for a couple of reasons. One, treatment of the disease is getting better. Doctors know better than to use drugs like hydroxychloroquine now, and they've studied the effects of ventilators, too, to know when it's appropriate (and when it's not necessary) to use those types of instruments. There's also promise about a steroid medication that has shown real results in treatment for patients who are seriously ill.

If we take the average of the extremes in that range, we come up with around 1,684 deaths per day during the end of June/beginning of July. I'm willing to bet, though, that it will be lower than that number, around 1,300 to 1,500 deaths per day over the June 28 to July 2 period.

But, is that really something to celebrate? Of course not. Why am I writing a huge blog post, then, trying to predict what the death numbers will be next week? To highlight just how awful things still are, and how a lack in federal leadership on coronavirus has mucked things up in a serious way.

President Donald Trump has not provided any plan for combating the disease, other than to say he did a good job (which, he did not). He urged people to protest against stay-at-home orders, and gloated about it when states began to reopen. 

The disease didn't go away. But the president has called this a success, nevertheless.

From June 28 to July 2, if between 9,000 to 10,00 Americans die during that time, as I'm predicting, it will be nothing short of a travesty. We'll be above 135,000 deaths overall in the country by the end of that seven-day period, and possibly above 140,000 deaths.

Other nations have demonstrated they're capable of eradicating the disease. So why haven't we? It's entirely Trump's fault. He didn't lead; he just watched as the United States saw more of its own people die.

And more will, of course, unless new actions are taken. One model suggests that, based on what we're seeing now, another 60,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by the time we reach October. I'm hoping to God those numbers are wrong.


I'm sick and tired of writing about this disease. But mostly, I'm sick and tired of seeing how our nation, supposedly the best in the world, is failing so badly at handling it.

Our nation is a joke. Other countries are barring us from traveling to them.

In short, we must always remember that this will be Donald Trump's legacy. He did nothing to stop the disease, did nothing to prepare for its impending arrival in February, and barely did anything at all, other than continually make false claims at press conferences, once the disease was here. Hell, he even encouraged others to engage in actions that probably spread it more.

This madness has to stop. Unfortunately, all signs point to more damage being wrought by the time we can remove him from office.

Featured image credit: BagoGames/Flickr

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Thoughts On The 'Forward' Statue, Tim Carpenter, And Protests In Madison

IN THE WAKE OF Tuesday night's events in Madison, after protesters tore down well-known statues on the Capitol Square and assaulted a lawmaker, I decided not to say much of anything right away about my feelings on the matter.

I wanted them to be hashed out, and to understand other people's perspectives first, before formulating my own.

That's sometimes important to do, especially during uprisings that have everything to do with inequities and the unjust society that we live in. My privileged opinion should not be shouted out loud from the get-go — and, having read the statuses and statements of others before me, I feel I can adequately address what happened, and my opinion on things, with a clearer mind.

As with everything that's going on these days, there are no "blanket statements" that can be made about what happened. Not every protester engaged in the uprising last night was involved in actions that brought down statues of "Forward" or Hans Christian Heg, and certainly only a select few were involved in the assault of state Sen. Tim Carpenter. To say otherwise is foolish; to suggest the actions of protesters, who are attempting to not only change our policing standards, but also governance and society itself, are all uniform in thinking and action is nonsense, and you should disbelieve anyone who tries to make these types of statements. 

Addressing the statues, we should recognize that they're just that: inanimate objects. A lot of what I read on Wednesday morning was downright furor over their removal and destruction, but we should temper those emotions and realize that the bigger problem in society is not these acts of destruction.

Even Martin Luther King Jr. recognized, while uprisings were not pleasant things all of the time, that "a riot is the language of the unheard." And he urged us not to be more mad at the destruction that occurred than the actions that inspired them to happen.

Seeing "Forward" in the streets made me upset, but it also drew attention to the larger problem. While I wouldn't say that it was an action that should have happened, or should ever happen again, the amount of anger it has generated should be examined. In short, if you're mad about that happening, ask yourself: how mad were you about the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many more Black lives this year or in years' past? If your level of anger about those events is equal to that of the statues being torn down, I seriously question your morals.

"Forward" falling down has particular meaning to me, especially reading some Facebook comments earlier today. The state's motto is about continuing toward progress, toward making Wisconsin better for all. But this state is not progressing at the same speed for everyone in it. Wisconsin is a racist state, and what progress does occur is exponentially better for white communities than it is for BIPOC ones.

Reverence toward a statue that tells us we're moving forward when many are not, then, should not be guaranteed. It's akin to saying "All Lives Matter" in response to "Black Lives Matter." If you tell someone who is struggling, who has faced challenges based on their identity, that, "well, at least things are better than they were before!" in an optimistic tone, it's clear you have not been really listening to what's happening in our society. Yes, we SHOULD be moving Forward TOGETHER — but we are not.

Addressing the actions against Sen. Carpenter — rather than examine them in the deep way I did the destruction to the statues, I will simply say this: there is absolutely no excuse for what happened to him. From what I've read, Carpenter was apparently taking photographs of what was happening. That frustrated some protesters, who didn't want to be photographed.

Their anger is understandable. Their response is not. Engaging in a physical altercation with any person, lawmaker or not, over a matter that can be resolved more peacefully, isn't right.

One more thought before I conclude here: I've seen a few people saying online that they're "questioning supporting the movement" after seeing what happened last night. Regardless of what these individuals, within the larger protest, ended up doing, it should not cause someone to question whether society needs to change, or needs to address inequities and injustices that exist for BIPOC communities. That, to me, reveals more about your character than anything else — that issues of justice or fairness depend upon how comfortable you feel regarding those speaking out.

Protests aren't supposed to be comfortable things: when traffic is stopped, it's supposed to be frustrating. When marches disrupt your ordinary routine, it's supposed to make you mad. That, in turn, draws attention to the causes that are happening. Protest serves a purpose, even if it's not polite.

But that is not a blanket endorsement of all types of protest. There are certainly unjust ways to demonstrate. Destruction of property is in that gray area; causing physical harm to others, particularly those not causing physical harm to anyone else, is not, and shouldn't occur as part of a demonstration.

I will continue to support the Movement for Black Lives, and continue to engage in activities that seek to drastically alter our society. The harm caused to Sen. Carpenter will not cause me to step back from this movement, as I suspect he will continue pursuing the same goals, in some ways, himself.

Featured image credit: James Steakley/Wikimedia

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Trump Campaign Pushes Lie Of Protesters Blocking Entrances To Explain Empty Seats

Reporters on the ground saw no evidence of demonstrations preventing access to Trump's "big" campaign event in Tulsa

The campaign team for President Donald Trump are trying to explain away his low attendance numbers by blaming protesters outside of his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday evening.

Getting people to go to the event should have been a cinch. Trump won the state in 2016 by more than 30 points. Presently, Trump is leading Biden by around 20 points. The president is clearly popular in Oklahoma.

Trump had expected the campaign event, the first he's held since March due to coronavirus concerns across the country, to be a huge event. He even claimed five days ago that a million individuals had requested tickets to be there.

Having so many seats noticeably sit empty on Saturday evening was an embarrassment, to say the least, for him and his campaign team. It necessitated a response, even if it was based on a flat-out lie. 

"Sadly, protestors interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally," campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. "Radical protestors, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President's supporters."

Others from the Trump campaign echoed those sentiments, and his supporters bought it hook-line-and sinker. Problem is, it's not based on facts.

Videos from the event purport to show protesters blocking entries, but those same videos...don't show anything like that, upon further inspection (seriously, watch the video...there's no blocking happening).

This was not how observers saw things on the ground, either.

"I didn’t see a single person being blocked from entering the rally and was outside for about 5 hours," Oliver Laughland from The Guardian said.

Other news agencies confirmed that they had not seen protesters blocking entryways:
Trump campaign officials said protesters prevented the president's supporters from entering the stadium. Three Associated Press journalists reporting in Tulsa for several hours leading up to the president's speaking did not see protesters block entry to the area where the rally was held.
Other messaging from the Trump campaign also seems to contradict that this ever actually happened, too. Just one hour before the rally was set to take place, the campaign sent a mass text to its supporters, telling them that there was "still space" available to see the president speak.
If the campaign "knew" that there was blocking of entrances happening, why would they invite more people to come? It goes against conventional wisdom. Why put people in supposed danger, why upset those individuals who would make the last-minute trip?

Even though most of his supporters will buy this line from Trump and his campaign, no rational human being should believe it. It's hogwash, and that's putting it mildly.

The president lies multiple times daily to the American people. It should come as no surprise, to be honest, that he and his campaign would try to push this lie, too, as it's his modus operandi.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr; The Lincoln Project/Twitter 

Monday, June 15, 2020

American Pride Falls To Lowest Levels In Gallup Poll History — Is Trump To Blame?

Even among Republican respondents, American pride has never been lower.

If you've ever been to a festival in Wisconsin during the summer, you've probably heard the Lee Greenwood anthem dedicated to American pride called "God Bless the USA."

And if you've heard the song, you probably fit into one of two camps: you either believe it to be the epitome of what it means to be truly American, or you think it's one of the most cringe-worthy songs ever written.

American pride isn't a song, of course, so even those who don't like Greenwood's screed can appreciate this country. But according to a new poll from Gallup, there appears to be a downward trend of people who say they are "proud to be an American," running counter to the lyrics of Greenwood's famous song.

A strong majority of citizens are still "extremely" or "very" proud to be American, with 63 percent in this year's poll saying as much. But a decade ago, that number was much higher — in 2009 it was 82 percent, and in 2013, it was 85 percent who said they had such levels of being proud to be American. 

In fact, that 63 percent figure is the lowest number that Gallup has ever polled since it started asking the question in 2001.

There seems to be a common denominator in this lessening of pride: Donald Trump. In every year that he's been president, American pride has gone down. Here's a look at how things have changed in the past four years: 

Year            U.S. Extremely/very proud

2017                    75%
2018                    72%
2019                    70%
2020                    63%

Some might ascribe this drop to liberals and progressives being "down on Trump." The poll from Gallup didn't look at ideologies, but it did look at party ID — and while Democrats did indeed drop in a substantial way the amount of pride they had after Trump took office, the drops seen over the past year have been bipartisan.

Indeed, looking at just Republican numbers, last year 76 percent said they were "extremely" or "very" proud to be American. This year, only 67 percent of Republicans said as much, a 9-point drop.

The number of Americans saying they're not that proud — or, to use Gallup's language, are "only a little" or "not at all" proud to be American (PDF) — is also on the rise, especially under Trump's leadership. Twenty-one percent said they weren't proud to be from this country in this year's poll, and while that sounds like it's a small number, it's almost double what the rate was in 2019 (when just 12 percent said that).

Double-digit numbers in not being proud to be American are sort of a new thing altogether that started under the era of Trump, per Gallup's data. Indeed, in no year under the Obama presidency did "only a little" and "not at all" proud numbers combine to exceed 6 percent. In 2017, Trump's first year, those combined numbers climbed to 9 percent; in his second year, it was up to 10 percent, and as already mentioned, this year it's already up to 21 percent.

So why are Americans losing their pride? This president doesn't give us much to brag about. Locking kids up in cages and separating them from their parents for several years; blatant racist remarks, toward immigrants as well as toward members of Congress; a blatant abuse of power that led to his impeachment; ignoring warning signs about a pending pandemic; a refusal to recognize racial strife in this country, and the gassing of his own citizens to get a photo op in front of a church.

The short of it is this: when the president of the United States acts likes a dictator from a third-world country, it's going to result in a larger share of the population losing their proudness in being American. When we know we can do better, we tend to be sad about the poor excuse of a commander-in-chief that we do have — and that, in turn, perhaps understandably, results in lower levels of American pride.

Featured image credit: torbakhopper/Flickr; Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Friday, June 12, 2020

'These Aren't My Voters' — Donald Trump Only Wants To Be A President For Some (The Ones Who Worship Him)

A new report suggests the president doesn't actually care about millions of his constituents' concerns.

The office of the president has commanded respect from the citizenry for many years.

Even during periods of vast partisanship, it was understood that the president of the United States was meant to be a president for all, was supposed to push politics aside during times of crises, and at least try to understand the concerns of the people they served, even those who didn't vote for them.

Donald Trump is the exception to the rule. He does not seem to care about anyone but himself, and through that lens, he only cares about the constituents who plan to support him, even when it's time for him to be the healer-in-chief.

During this trying time in our nation's history, when the struggle for racial equality has literally hit the streets of dozens of cities across the country, the current occupier of the White House doesn't seem to give a damn. He has contempt for those asking for change. The reason why? They won't vote for him anyway, and thus aren't worth giving a damn over. 

This, according to a report from NBC News:
“These aren’t my voters,” the president has said repeatedly, dismissing protesters in discussions with aides about how to respond over nearly three weeks of unrest, according to three people familiar with the comments.
Think about that for a moment.

Thousands, probably millions, of Americans have taken to the streets demanding action on racial disparities in policing, and racial inequities in society in general. A majority (54 percent) of Americans also support the protests, whether they take part in them personally or observe them from home.

Trump's solution to their concerns, his answer to what the American people want to see happen, in the wake of George Floyd's death?

Screw them.

We should perhaps be unsurprised by now at the actions of this president. He did, after all, spray tear gas at peaceful protesters in Washington D.C. last week, just so he could walk to a church uninterrupted for a photo op (those who were hit with chemical agents included clergy of that same church).

Yet, surprising or not, Trump's indifference to his constituents, based on whether they plan to vote for him or not, is telling of his character.

What a shameful chapter in our nation's history, these past three years.

Screw us? Screw him.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

WISGOP Lawmaker Shrugs Off Aide's Ignorant Comments On The KKK And Black Lives Matter

Rep. Janel Brandtjen dismissed her aide's ignorance as a mere Facebook squabble.

On Thursday, I posted an article decrying Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for saying COVID-19 was more rampant in one of the counties he represents because, in his words, it had more of an "immigrant culture." The blatantly racist statement by Vos is not, however, the only one made within the Republican Party of Wisconsin this week.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that an aide to Republican Rep. Janel Brandtjen named Bill Savage was engaged in a Facebook debate with a church leader from Milwaukee by the name of Marty Calderon.

Calderon said that the Ku Klux Klan ought to be labeled a terrorist organization. Given its history of violent harassment, and yes, killing people of color in the United States, it's hard to understand why Savage decided to become a KKK apologist in that discussion. But lo and behold, that's exactly what he did.

Savage responded that he "wasn't even aware that they existed." In an email to the Journal Sentinel, he tried to clear things up: what he meant by that was statement, he tried to assure everyone, was that he didn't realize the KKK was in existence "in any significant way" today. 

That point was not made during the back-and-forth between him and Calderon.

"I haven’t heard about anything about them Being involved in any of these issues," Savage went on in the Facebook dialogue, "unlike black lives matter that kill police officers."

And there's the second problem with what Savage wrote: there's actually scant evidence that the movement for Black Lives has been involved in any killings whatsoever. Usually when right-wing ideologues say as much, what they mean is that a Black person may have killed someone, and they decide it links somehow to the organization in what's usually a convoluted way.

Conversely, the KKK is still very much around, and still behaving violently. Just last week, a man who rammed his vehicle into a crowd of protesters in Virginia admitted to police he was a leader of his KKK chapter. The Ku Klux Klan is also still burning crosses in front of churches and Black people's homes as part of an intimidation campaign. And the Klan had a presence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

The KKK isn't the organization it once was, to be sure, but its hate-mongering and violent tendencies come about every now and then. In short, to put things the way that Savage did — and to somehow compare it to Black Lives Matter — is wrong in the most abhorrent way possible.

What did Savage's boss, Brandtjen do about these statements of his, when they came to light? Not much, according to Calderon, who contacted her directly in order to address them.

"The conversation I had with the representative was garbage. All she kept falling back on was he has the First Amendment to say what he wants," he said of their talk. 

Discussing the matter to the Journal Sentinel, Brandtjen's words weren't that much better. "I’m not wading into a Facebook fight between two grown men," she said.

Perhaps a state lawmaker's time is better spent on more important things than internet squabbles, even ones that involve one of her employees. But when those squabbles include false notions about the movement for Black Lives, or diminishing the terroristic role that the KKK has played in the U.S., pretending to be an adult is actually not the right action to take. Acting like one is a better move, which neither Brandtjen nor Savage showed themselves capable of doing here. 

Featured image credit: Anthony Quintano/Flickr  

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Vos Should Apologize, Educate Himself, Over Blatantly Racist Comment About His Constituents

The Assembly Speaker says it's just "science" in a cringing way that's reminiscent of Ron Burgundy.

Well, there appeared to be a reason why Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was so indignant about being secretly recorded by a staffer for Gov. Tony Evers — they caught Vos saying something incredibly racist.

During the May 14 meeting between Republican leaders and the Democratic governor, in which the two sides came to no decision on how to address coronavirus in the state, Vos made clear what he thought was the main driver of coronavirus in Racine County, part of which he represents.

It was immigrants' faults, he said.

"I know the reason at least in my region is because of a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture, where people are living much closer and working much closer," Vos said. 

Discussing his comments with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Linda Boyle, co-president of the Racine Interfaith Coalition, decried Vos's recorded statement.

"Most of our immigrant community are essential workers and they have no choice but to go to work," she said.

Her comments are more in-line with why people of color are more likely to contract the disease: systemic racism has made it so white workers are more likely to have jobs where they can work from home, while BIPOC workers are more likely to be "essential workers."

Darryl Morin, president of Forward Latino, expressed dismay at Vos's words.

"I understood it to be a rather dismissive remark that immigrants and immigrant lives aren’t as much a concern for the speaker," Morrin said.

Other groups' leaders went further.

"He should resign his leadership position because of his disregard for the lives of immigrants and working people," Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said.

Vos, for what it's worth, told the Journal Sentinel that "there's no need to apologize." And in a tweet, he said his views were backed by scientific fact.

"Listen to what was said and not the sensationalist headline. Facts show communities of color are disproportionally impacted," Vos wrote. "That's science."

The conclusion is right, but Vos is wrong to suggest the Latinx "lifestyle" somehow makes them more susceptible to the disease. Again, the issue here is that Latinx workers were more likely to be frontline workers during the stay-at-home order in the state, which resulted in a higher likelihood of contracting the disease.

Vos needs to educate himself on the matter, and become more aware of why his words are not only wrong, but offensive. But then again, that's a tall order to ask for, given that he's the same person who said it was safe to vote during a pandemic — while wearing PPE gear from head-to-toe.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Trump's 'Race Relations' Speech Will Likely Feature Racist Dog Whistles, As Stephen Miller Is Writing It

The adviser to Trump has demonstrably racist viewpoints, and was the chief architect of the family separation policy.

One of President Donald Trump's favorite and most-trusted non-familial advisers, Stephen Miller, is reportedly writing the president's planned speech on race relations in the United States. 

Trump's comments on the subject as of late, which were prompted after the police killing of George Floyd in late May, provides ample evidence to demonstrate this speech will be an epic disaster — but Miller's inclusion as the principal author will mean it will likely be full of racist dog-whistles that will placate Trump's base and do little to help further the current conversation of police brutality and societal racism in general toward Black Americans. 

Miller is, after all, a noted racist himself. This is not the simple opinion of a person sitting behind a keyboard — leaked emails of his have demonstrated that the presidential adviser has a belief in the discredited notion of white genocide. Other emails of his shows he has a blanket viewpoint that immigrants are criminals, and even believes in the racist/discredited "science" of eugenics

Miller was the architect of Trump's family separation policy, the rule that was in place in 2018 that split children away from their parents if they crossed into the U.S. together, resulting in heartbreaking images of children being kept in cages at the southern border. Many families remain separated to this day due to that policy

Still need convincing that Miller's racism is real? Consider this: In high school, Miller ended a friendship with a fellow classmate in part because his peer was Latino

That's the person who is writing Trump's pending speech on race relations in America. So be prepared for that train-wreck, coming to your television set within the next few days or so. 

One of the bigger problems with Trump's response to the uprisings across the nation these past two weeks has been his inability to comprehend that brute force to stopping them isn't what's desired among the American populace. Indeed, new polling out today found that 50 percent of Americans want their next president to address racial inequalities in a better way, while only 37 percent want "security" to be upheld. 

And while Trump has lambasted the protests in general, 69 percent of Americans support them, with only 29 percent disfavoring the uprisings. 

Unless Trump makes a complete 180 on how he views these protests — and disavows his main adviser on them — his planned speech is going to be a flop, to say the least. 

Featured image credit: The White House/FlickrGage Skidmore/Wikimedia

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Madison Teachers Inc. Announces Support For Goal To Remove Police From Hallways

Research doesn't demonstrate any tangible benefits for having police in schools; conversely, evidence shows such disciplinary action toward students is structurally racist.

Amid the uprisings across several cities in the United States in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd late in May, some communities are announcing actions intended to reimagine what policing should look like.

Madison is no different. Protesters for the past week or so have called for drastic changes in order to ensure that policing is less structurally racist.

Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) is joining that call, announcing over the weekend that it wants to see the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) move away from having police officers, called school resource officers (SROs), in their hallways.

The teacher union organization emphasized that a police presence can sometimes be detrimental to the mental health of some students of color. It also said that it didn't want to see officers removed until other resources were made available for students in need.
We call for the removal of all School Resource Officers from the four comprehensive high schools with the caveat that this only occurs when all four high schools are properly staffed with counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and mental health specialists according to the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommended levels.
There is understandably going to be a knee-jerk reaction to this plan. How can schools adequately make sure students are safe and prevent bad behavior if cops are out of the building, one might ask.

But the evidence for such fears is lacking.

There are about 14,000 to 20,000 SROs across the country, in about 30 percent of the nation's schools. There's no evidence, however, that their presence actually makes them safer, according to experts like Marc Schindler, who heads the Justice Policy Institute.

"In fact, the data really shows otherwise — that this is largely a failed approach in devoting a significant amount of resources but not getting the outcome in school safety that we are all looking for," Schindler told NPR in 2018.

That same NPR article pointed out that some students get disciplined in major ways for what appear to be minor violations. A former Chicago public school student by the name of Antonio Magic detailed how he was arrested by an SRO, for instance, after he led a protest among his peers. Magic agreed to an 18-month probation deal, after learning from the judge he encountered that his action could result in five years of jail time.

Evidence is also lacking to show SROs can prevent violence from entering the schools, including school shootings, from happening. While some anecdotal evidence here and there demonstrates that an SRO has stopped such shootings, it's important to remember that other SROs haven't prevent shootings elsewhere — including in Columbine or at Parkside.

"For someone to suggest that SROs prevent school shootings is absolutely unfounded in in terms of science. There’s no support for that statement at all," criminal justice researcher at Bowling Green State University Tom Mowen has said.

There's also the racial component to keep in mind here. Black students and other students of color are more likely to be disciplined in schools than are their white counterparts. One study found that Black boys in schools receive such disciplinary action at a rate that's three times higher than white boys, for instance.

Another study found that Black middle- and high-school boys were more likely to be viewed as "troublemakers" than white boys were, even accounting for students in both groups acting out in similar ways.

Tyrone C. Howard, professor of education in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at UCLA, thinks there's a better way to treat students — one that doesn't involve SROs, but instead pushes for resources to be dedicated toward hiring professionals more equipped with handling things.
"Instead of punishing students, schools might be better served allocating limited resources to provide additional supports for mental-health services and programs instead of SROs. Much of what is seen from students who engage in conflict is a need for intervention for depression, anxiety, bipolar issues, or untreated trauma. More schools are adopting restorative-justice practices, which in some cases are showing positive outcomes. More resources should be devoted to such programs that seek to help and heal students as opposed to criminalizing them."
This isn't to say that police might not be needed at schools, but when they are, what should schools do? If a student behaves in a way that requires a police presence, schools should do what businesses or households do: call them. It's really that simple.

For all other problems, it's probably best for schools to handle things on their own, instead of possibly seeing an SRO go too far with how they respond to a kid that just needs someone to listen to them.

Having a police officer in a school building sounds like a nice thing to a lot of people. For students of color, however, it may be viewed differently, and those concerns must be addressed. More resources allocated to helping every student, without prejudice, should be the goal of school districts across the nation — and it appears that's what MTI has in mind with this announcement.

Featured image credit: Madison Teachers Inc/Wikimedia 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Trump Brags That Lower Unemployment Numbers Help Black Americans — But Unemployment Just Went Up For Them

Trump assuming that George Floyd is "looking down" on him, and thinking he's done good for race relations, is beyond the pale of distaste. Even for Trump's standards.

President Donald Trump received an enormous amount of criticism today, and for good reason: he tried to suppose what George Floyd was thinking in regard to what his administration's response to his own death might be.

"Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying there’s a great thing happening for our country. It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody," Trump said at the White House on Friday.

A lot of news organizations messed up on this quote, saying that Trump was talking about the economy when citing his belief on what Floyd might be thinking. But trying to say that Floyd, who died early last week after having a knee compressed on his neck by Minneapolis police officers for more than 8 minutes, would be impressed by Trump's actions so far is, in itself, completely tone-deaf and insensitive.

Trump has done nothing to advance the cause of Black Lives in the past two weeks. He's offered no legislation to address racial disparities in policing, for instance, and no realistic goal for how to fix the crisis that has existed for years, decades, and even centuries.

The president tried to say he was working to improve Black Lives — however, his solution to doing so misses what this moment is all about.

Trump's main plan, according to his own words, is to improve the economic station of Black Americans. How that affects racial discrimination in policing (or in other facets of society) is hard to tell, as the president wouldn't elaborate on THAT point.

"Our country is so strong. And that’s what my plan is," Trump said of his plan to improve things in America for minorities. "We’re going to have the strongest economy in the world. We almost are there now."

He also cited the latest jobs report as evidence that his plan was working, calling it "the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African-American community, or the Asian-American, or the Hispanic-American community for women, for everything."

If we're being completely honest, yes, improving the economic situation for Black Americans is part of the equation to making sure Black lives are better. But it appears to be the only thing Trump is willing to do — in spite of clear disparities that exist which are not economic, and continued evidence of discrimination that occurs in American workplaces and beyond.

Additionally, Trump flubbed up in his comments on Friday for another reason: citing the improved jobs numbers, he failed to take into account that numbers for Black Americans actually worsened. In April, 16.7 percent of Black workers were unemployed; in May, it was 16.8 percent who were without work and still looking.

When confronted by journalist Yamiche Alcindor about the difference in outcomes between white Americans and Black Americans on the jobs front, from April to May, Trump had a short and bitter answer:

"You are something," he said to her.


Featured image credit: The White House/Wikimedia

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

How Can Anyone Support This President After He Sprays His Own Citizens With Tear Gas...For A Photo Op?

Republicans must reconcile with the fact that they are supporting a dangerous man to lead our nation — or better yet, end their support for him altogether.

Dear Republicans, conservative friends, and relatives, thinking about voting for Donald Trump this year:

I do not understand.

When the president of the United States has citizens tear-gassed or hit with rubber bullets,

When the president takes religious leaders, who are engaged in non-violent protest on the property of their own church, and physically removed from that location,

When he does these things just so he can hold up a Bible for a photo op,

How do you support that? How do you support any of that?

This is not family values. This is not strong leadership. This is not a man adhering to the tenets of our nation's founders.

This is not anything you allegedly stand for.

So why do you? Stand up against these actions. Decry them. DEFY him. Do not continue to support a man who is threatening to use the United States military to "dominate" United States citizens.

I'm not asking you to like protests or demonstrations right now, though I wish you'd at least try to understand them. From your conservative perspective, I'm sure you're upset or confused over why they're happening.

But what should have you equally outraged are the actions of this man, our current commander-in-chief, using his presidential powers to use tear gas on his own constituents, so that he can walk a mere 500 feet, unimpeded from non-violent protesters, to hold up a Bible and to take a picture of himself doing so.

What should have you equally angered are the many ways in which Black Americans and other people of color are discriminated against every day, how centuries of oppression and systemic racism have caused harm and in some cases unjust deaths, before and during these protests.

America is supposed to be better than this. I do not doubt your love for your country.

But supporting a man like Donald Trump for another term in office is not a show of love — it's an endorsement of his selfishness, his narcissism, his violent rhetoric, and his hatred toward millions of your fellow citizens.

I do not believe you support those ideals. So do not support him any longer. Give him up like a bad habit — because Donald Trump is bad for your health, and bad for the health of this nation.

Featured image credit: The White House/Flickr