California Bill Would Make Ethnic Studies Classes Mandatory

California Assemblymember Jose Medina says that he would have introduced his latest bill regardless of who is in the White House, but the fact that Donald Trump is President “adds to the impetus” for doing it now.

The measure, known as AB 2772, would mandate that the roughly 1.7 million high school students throughout the state complete an ethnic studies course in order to graduate, just as they are required to study biology, geography and physical education. If the bill becomes law, the requirement will begin in the 2023-2024 school year.

“Without knowledge of other cultural experiences and the history of those ethnic and cultural groups,” says Medina, a Democrat from the Riverside area who previously worked as a teacher, “I don’t think you can call yourself an educated person.”

The measure comes at a time when other jurisdictions around the country have been adopting—and fighting over—such curricula, which zeroes in on the history and perspectives of minority groups such as Native Americans and Latino Americans. In 2017, Oregon became the first state to require K-12 students to learn such material. As of last year, high schools in Indiana are also mandated by law to offer ethnic or racial studies courses. In Arizona, Republican lawmakers tried to ban such material through a controversial law, which a federal judge ruled in December to be unconstitutional.

Those who support such courses have argued for decades that history classes in America are too often biased toward a white, male, Eurocentric perspective. People like Medina position ethnic studies classes as a correction to that, as well as a way for every student to see themselves in the material they encounter at school. In California, the majority of students in public schools are Latino — around 55% — while about one-quarter are white. “A student’s learning about their own history, their own culture,” Medina says, “that’s empowering.”

Critics of such classes, like the Republican lawmakers in Arizona, have argued that such curricula can foment racial tensions, drawing thicker lines between ethnic groups and teaching students to view individuals around them as either the oppressed or the oppressors. As an official working on ethnic studies curricula in California put it, the field “gets this sort of bad rap for being pigeon-holed as a form of ‘oppression studies.’”

It’s an especially loaded debate these days, …read more

Source:: Time – Politics


Robert Mueller Adds Tax Evasion to Charges Against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

(WASHINGTON) — Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors filed additional charges Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a business associate.

The charges are contained in a new indictment brought by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia.

The new indictment, which had been expected, adds allegations of tax evasion and increases the amount of money Manafort is accused of laundering through offshore accounts to $30 million. The additional charges involve much of the same conduct Manafort and his longtime associate, Rick Gates, were charged with last year in an indictment in Washington.

The new indictment comes a week after Mueller filed charges against 13 Russians, accusing them of a vast conspiracy to undermine the U.S. presidential election.

The charges against Manafort and Gates don’t relate to any allegations of misconduct related to Trump’s campaign. They are accused of directing a covert Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests.

Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty after they were initially charged last October.

…read more

Source:: Time – Politics


Legislation aiming to protect whistleblowers takes effect in March

Legislation taking effect March 1 will better protect whistleblowers who report misconduct by elected officials, says Alberta’s labour minister.

“One of the most basic freedoms is the freedom to speak up without fear,” said Labour Minister Christina Gray at a Thursday news conference.

Bill 11, introduced in May, expanded whistleblower protection to include staff in the offices of Alberta MLAs and the premier, she said. They will be able to report complaints directly to Alberta’s public interest commissioner.

“It will now be illegal to fire or punish these employees for reporting serious government wrongdoing.”

Under the new rules, the commissioner can investigate individuals or public sector organizations allegedly involved in a culture of bullying, harassment or intimidation.

But publicly releasing details will be determined on a case-by-case basis, said commissioner Marianne Ryan.

“If it’s something we believe is in the public interest to disclose, we will do so,” she added.

That could include disclosing allegations against an MLA before an investigation is complete, she said, noting she’ll be “making sure we’re not damaging someone’s reputation unnecessarily or without merit.

“There’s a lot of careful treading for everyone,” Ryan said.

After receiving a complaint, the commissioner will have 20 days to launch an investigation.

“If it’s an individual complaint … we always want to encourage the workplace environment to address that through their human resources policy and establish that layer first.”

Gray said amid the Me Too movement that has hit Canadian politics, the new legislation helps to protect those who come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

In January, allegations were levelled against Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie and Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who stepped down from their posts. Last week Brown applied to run in the leadership race for the position he left.

Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr also came under fire in January after facing sexual harassment allegations. He resigned from federal cabinet.

“(There) may be a role for the commissioner in a situation like has happened in Ontario,” Gray said.

Ryan is developing a protocol with the Speaker of the legislative assembly, who will be notified of any alleged wrongdoings by an MLA or the premier, she said.

…read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Politics