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Posts published in “Day: April 10, 2007”

Race and schools, II

Discussion over race and schools, and the Seattle School District's formal declaration that racism is institutionalized there, continues on - probably a good thing, since accusations that racism sprouts in every corner (like most broad accusations of the sort) flourish too easily when out of sight.

At Crosscut, Knute Berger's Crosscut column sided with the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat on the point (see our post below on Westneat's take): "The school district does have problems with racism, just like the rest of American society. But it also has a problem with a kind of institutional political correctness that sees racism at the bottom of everything — and this feeds a culture of aggrievement. It's at the point where everything in the schools is seen as racist. Two-tiered learning is racist. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning is racist. Closing schools is racist. Recess is racist. Summer vacation is racist. Even white charity to raise money and help fund enhanced programs is racist. No teacher, parent, or staff member, it seems, is ever accused of having good intentions, such as a simple desire to do the best for children in a flawed world."

Elsewhere, Berger follows up on a news item initially observed by Sound Politics, that the Seattle School District this year is sending high school students to a Colorado conference on "white privilege." The district cites this from the description of the conference: "The annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy and oppression." Along with the "negative historical implications of 'Whiteness.'"

(Do they have any idea how close in tenor this sounds like a reverse-image come-on to an Aryan Nations get-together?)

Just getting along together - you know, as in citizenship - is sure going to be easier after the kids return from that one.

Making the numbers fit

The Idaho Supreme Court's annual report on court activity over the last year (actually, with a year-end that stopped in 2006) is mostly unremarkable, except for a few numbers we're at some loss to reconcile.

From the report:

A total of 20,992 cases were filed in the district courts of Idaho, an increase of 1.5% from 2005. The total number of district court cases in 2006 indicates a 26% increase in filings from ten years ago. A total of 471,478 cases were filed before magistrate judges in 2006, a 4.1% increase from 2005.

Felony DUI cases increased by 26% over the number filed in 2005. Misdemeanor DUI filings were up 14.7% from the last year. Overall, the number of juvenile cases rose to 13,669, a 5.2% increase from the previous year. Showing a steady decline for the fourth-consecutive year, the number of domestic violence petitions filed in 2006 dropped 8.6% from those filed in 2005.

From 2005 to 2006, district court cases overall increased 1.5% - which seems about right for a single year - but felony DUIs (which would be heard in district court) were up 26%. That's an enormous jump for a single year. But at the same time domestic violence petitions, which so often show up somewhere in the neighborhood of alcohol abuse, were down.

Thoughts on this will be welcome.

By any other name

Does it matter whether Washington or Oregon pass laws allowing, for gay couples, to enter into "marriage" as opposed to "civil unions" as opposed to "domestic partnerships"?

We'll leave the question debatable but note the issue. The Oregon House Rules Committee seemed to think it significant enough to change the original name of the proposed legal took - "civil union" - to "domestic partnership." This to create an institution, whichever it is called, with many of the characteristics of marriage, but which cannot be called that either, since the state's voters amended the constitution in 2004 to bar same-sex marriage.

The issue may be moot in Idaho, where voters banned not only same-sex marriage but also anything resembling it. Washington and Oregon are different stories, as is California, where a more sweeping measure is being debated today. The Washington House may vote on its domestic partnership bill, Senate Bill 5336, today (likely passing it; it passed the Senate 28-19). California's, like Washington's, is called a "domestic partnership" provision.

Both of those states use that phrase as a descriptor. Oregon's bill, House Bill 2007 (odd we've seen no big references to the bill number), started out with "civil union." But the House Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rules changed the terminology to "domestic partnership" before agreeing 5-2 to kick it out to the House floor. The change had the support of one of its key backers, Representative Tina Kotek, D-Portland.