Insight News

Feb 14th


Smarter on crime

The nation’s decades long war on drugs and ‘tough on crime’ posture has failed to reduce crime rates and control the rising prison population.  Additionally, our current crime fighting strategy puts us at a disadvantage in other critical sectors, namely education.  Knowing what we now know, it is clear that it’s beyond time to take a different approach on crime…a smarter one.

Obama’s tightrope: What about the workers?

President Barack Obama is adept at walking a tightrope.  That’s what he did last week when he talked about the budget, chastising both Democrats and Republicans.  He spoke to the need for government to stand in the gap for the needy even as he understood the ramifications of the Ryan budget.  Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, is bound and determined to reduce the size of government.  He will do it on the backs of the poor and the needy, and he will, if he has his way, eviscerate the role that government plays in providing a safety net for those at the bottom.

Dr. David French: Pioneering physician

“This was a man who lived a life of urgency, but never an urgency in the service of self, but rather in the service of the society, of mankind, of others.”  So said Howard French at a memorial service for his father, Dr. David French who passed away March 31 at age 86.  I was blessed to have him, his wife Carolyn, and their children as friends over many decades.  As one of the founders of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Dr. David French helped organize fellow medical professionals during the Civil Rights Movement to provide first aid to marchers and protesters.  His civil rights work was a turning point in a lifetime of pioneering professional work, from becoming one of the first Black board-certified surgeons in America to establishing innovative community health clinics in the United States and Africa.

Manning, Malcolm and meaning

Dr. Manning Marable made his transition a few days before his Malcolm X biography was released on April 4.  The community of scholars that admired him was saddened by his death, and also anticipated the work that would be the product of his decades of research.  In many ways, the product did not disappoint.  Manning Marable interpreted Malcolm X through a lens that is both familiar and unfamiliar.  He decoded Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X like a surgeon with a scalpel, finding inconsistencies, reinventions, and hard truths.  At the same time there were questions that remain unanswered, suggesting that Dr. Marable, much like Brother Alex Haley, could not totally crack the code called Malcolm X.

From Head Start to Harvard

The colors were brighter than any she had seen before. Shapes, letters, and lots and lots of colors adorned the walls; around the room, children worked together building high rises with colored blocks and “read” colorful picture books.  “I had never seen so much color,” Angelica Salazar recalls of her first days as a Head Start preschooler in Duarte, Calif.  She remembers the discovery of library books and spending hours curled up on the reading rug.  Head Start was Angie’s first formal experience learning English. Her parents, who spoke mostly Spanish, enrolled her in the program knowing that their little girl would need English to succeed in school.

Investigate standardized testing

For several years, ever since the No Child Left Behind Act took effect, students, teachers, and school districts have felt the pressure that comes from living in a nation that uses standardized tests as its sole method for measuring student proficiency.  When too many students at one school perform poorly on these tests, teachers can be fired, principals replaced and schools closed.  Hundreds of teachers were fired in D.C. schools because of poor performance by students on test.  The stakes are high.  But, no one would have guessed that the pressure would lead to alleged cheating on these exams.

Celebrating and protecting health reform for children

A year ago President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Affordable Care Act”), guaranteeing access to health coverage for 32 million uninsured people in America including 95 percent of all children. Racial minorities are disproportionately uninsured today and the Affordable Care Act will have a particularly positive impact in communities of color if allowed to go forward.
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