Buffalo schools fail kids when teaching that all White people play part in systemic racism: Rufo - Fox News

Buffalo schools have adopted a curriculum that pushes the controversial idea that all White people perpetuate systemic racism, while 80% of its students fail to reach proficiency in reading and writing, an editor said Wednesday.  City Journal editor Chris Rufo, during an appearance on "The Ingraham Angle," said the "diversity czar" of Buffalo public schools was caught on tape saying she believes that America's sickness leads some White people to believe Black people are less than human.  One of the district's instructional materials also includes the assertion that "all White people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism." He said the narrative of system racism has also spread to schools across the country, which shifts attention away from "their own abysmal failure to educate kids." BUFFALO'S SCHOOL DISTRICT TELLS STUDENTS THAT 'ALL WHITE PEOPLE PLAY A PART IN PERPETUATING SYSTEMIC RACISM' "Woke academics and

Arkansas updates criteria for computer classes - Arkansas Online

Arkansas updates criteria for computer classes - Arkansas Online

Arkansas updates criteria for computer classes - Arkansas Online

Posted: 13 Dec 2020 03:21 AM PST

The Arkansas Board of Education has hit "refresh" on computer-science education for elementary and secondary schools by adopting a revised set of standards and courses for the coming 2021-22 school year and beyond.

The latest revisions include a new emphasis on "storytelling" and on sequencing high school courses by sub-areas of computer science, Anthony Owen, the state's director of computer science, told the Education Board last week.

The latest revisions to the computer-science standards and courses are being made at a time when Gov. Asa Hutchinson -- who has made computer instruction in schools a top priority for his administration -- says he will back legislation early next year to make computer science a graduation requirement for all public school students.

Draft legislation calls for that requirement to begin with students who will enter the ninth grade in 2022.

Arkansas high schools already are required to offer computer-science courses as the result of a law passed in 2015.

Owen said last week that the updates are the result of thousands of hours of work by nearly 50 educators, industry representatives and state agency employees who wanted to ensure that the standards are of high quality, relevant to students and will meet the needs of industry well into the future.

Industry representatives called for ramping up student skills in talking about computer science, Owen said.

"What we were hearing repetitively from industry was that our students are coming out of our high schools and our two- and four-year institutions very technical," Owen said. "But they don't know how to talk to nontechnical people about it. They can't relay that information.

"So we have built in a storytelling strand across all the content areas that we are very proud of," he said. "We think it will assist our students in learning how to communicate information -- that technical information -- to nontechnical audiences in a more appropriate fashion."

Additionally, the revisions at the high school level include the organization of "three-year pathways" or sequences of courses that students can take in a particular facet or area of computer science, including computer engineering, cybersecurity, data science and game development.

Still other courses are in the areas of mobile application development, networking, programming, and robotics. And there are updated opportunities for independent study and internships envisioned by the revised standards.

Work is also underway to develop a pathway of courses for artificial intelligence and machine learning, Owen said.

At the elementary and middle school grades, computer science instruction is largely embedded or integrated into core academic courses and not taught in isolation.

The computer science and computing standards adopted by the Education Board for kindergarten-through-fourth grades and for fifth-through-eighth grades are meant to provide an introduction to computer science and to support classroom-learning activities, according to information provided to the Education Board.

The exception to the embedding requirement is the teaching of coding in grades seven or eight.

The coding standards are designed to be taught in one or the other of those two grades during a stand-alone block of time over the course of four weeks. Schools and districts are to select the program or approach for teaching those standards that works best for their students.

The state computer-science standards are subject to a complete revision every four years with adjustments every two years to keep up with advances in the rapidly evolving field, Owen said.

Now that the standards and courses have been updated, the Education Department's office of computer science and others will work to identify resources and curriculum options for the schools as well as provide for teacher training.

State Education Board member Steve Sutton of Marion commended Owen for his passion. He also asked what the cost to districts will be for the new standards and what the source of that money would be.

The proposed legislation to require students to have a computer-science credit to graduate from high school also would require that every public school employ at least one state-certified computer-science teacher by the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. That would increase the number of such teachers from 500 to 750.

Education Secretary Johnny Key said more details on draft education legislation will be forthcoming in January but that the implementation dates for computer-science changes will provide enough time for funding decisions to be made.

"There will not be a requirement for a teacher until there is a funding stream for that requirement," Key said, adding that the governor has already made money available to incentivize teachers to get training in computer science.

"When it becomes a requirement, it becomes the state's responsibility," Key said, "so you will see budget adjustments to make that happen."

The number of public school students taking computer courses is 10,450 this year, up from 9,800 last year and 1,104 the year the Computer Science for Arkansas students initiative began in 2014-15, Owen said.

This is the first year in which Black students enrolled in computer-science instruction are not underrepresented in the courses as compared with their overall enrollment in school, Owen said.

A gender gap, however, persists among students taking computer science with male students more likely to take the courses than their female classmates. Owen said the push for computer-science instruction in the elementary grades is intended to help narrow that gap.

Information for this article was contributed by Rachel Herzog of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

New Delco Public Defender shaking things up - The Delaware County Daily Times

Posted: 13 Dec 2020 10:30 PM PST

Perhaps one of the longest standing tropes of criminal justice has been the overworked and underprepared public defender that so often blunders across our television screens. You know the one: Flop sweat glistening on the brow, papers spilling everywhere, not even in the right courtroom or aware of the client's name.

"I want it to not be that perception more than anything in the world," said Chris Welsh, who took over as the new director of the Delaware County Public Defender's Office in July. "The best criminal defense attorneys in Delaware County are going to be in my office. They're going to be here, so it's going to be the opposite of that perception."

It's a lofty goal, but one Welsh has already been moving to see realized.

In the five months since he's come on, Welsh has completely reorganized the structure of the office, brought in new management and is close to securing an in-house investigator and social workers, something public defenders in Delaware County have not been able to rely on in the past.

"I think all of his changes have been directed first at making sure the needs of that client population are front and center, and that the lawyers are looking for ways in court, out of court, for better opportunities to represent their clients," said county Councilwoman Christine Reuther, who acts as liaison for the Public Defender's Office with Councilman Kevin Madden.

Reuther said there is a lot of synergy right now between the courts, the Delaware County District Attorney's Office and Welsh's office in reducing recidivism and incarceration rates so the system does not become a dead-end or an endless loop for people.

"I think Chris brings a lot of experience and a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of commitment to that goal, which I do think is very much shared," she said.

Welsh said he is also refocusing the office more on the societal side of criminal defense by helping clients receive treatment over incarceration, or, if they are imprisoned, to help them on the backend by involving more organizations that help with re-entry once they are released.

"One of my goals here is best practices for how we do our jobs but also to raise our profile in the community so people know that's what we're trying to do," he said. "A lot of times, public defenders have a reputation of not being real lawyers, of just working with the D.A. and pleading people out and not doing a good job. I want to change that to let the community know that we're the largest public interest law firm in Delaware County."

Office reforms

Welsh comes to the office after a two-year stint as executive director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prior to that, he worked for nearly 13 years at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where he picked up experience as a trial unit attorney, juvenile defense attorney and mental health attorney. He also spent two years as executive deputy director of operations with the association, making him third in command to the city's 500 public defenders.

Welsh has brought that experience to Delco, where he immediately created a new management structure to better oversee the work being done by the 50 or so attorneys in the office.

He bumped longtime public defenders James Wright and Taylor Dunn up to the positions of adult trial unit chief and pretrial unit chief, respectively. Welsh also hired three women from outside the office for other management positions: Lee Awbry, former chief of appeals for Montgomery County, is now the First Assistant Public Defender; former Philadelphia Assistant Defender Emily Mirsky will now head appeals for Delaware County; and former Delaware County Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Poole is the new chief of the Juvenile Division.

"I think we're now more proactive than reactive," said Wright, who has been in the office since 1996. "I think we're improving. We really did not have a management structure in place in my years prior like we do now and I think that's helping."

Wright said he and fellow longtime defender Stephen Deaver now review files continually and assign cases in an attempt to be a little more hands on.

"I would always say the best part of the job and the worst part of the job was that it was your case, so you didn't have somebody leaning over your shoulder nitpicking every decision that you made, but in the same breath, if you were making some bad decisions it sometimes would go under the radar," said Wright. "There's been more of an emphasis placed upon having one of the managers in the courtroom for each of those jury trials once we start up again, trying to have more of a team effort rather than that individual trying a case on their own."

"So it's not just an individual alone on an island preparing their case, but they have a network of dedicated attorneys here that can work together to provide the best representation," said Welsh. "I intend for us to be one of the best public defender offices in the state. It's going to take a little time to implement and make the changes necessary to get there, but that's the plan."

Welsh said he also intends to have a supervisor for all of the various diversion programs, like the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time, non-violent offenders, mental health court, second chance court and drug treatment court, and the office will take a lead role as part of a new reentry coalition that's forming with a chief on reentry programs.

"I think it's all headed in the right direction," said Mirsky. "Chris is bringing a ton of good ideas and I think ultimately it will be to the benefit of our client base and the community as a whole."

Welsh noted the office has also just hired five new attorneys, most of them straight out of law school, who recently underwent an intensive 10-day training regimen with experts in the field.

"It makes it difficult with COVID because we can't just bring the whole staff together and have a speaker come in and do a training," said Dunn. "But we started with the new lawyers hired doing online training and I believe Chris and Lee are planning on rolling out a more robust – at least for now – online training for all the lawyers in the office to be involved in moving forward, at least until we can get back to normalcy with gathering."

Welsh acknowledged that the office is not as diverse as he would like, currently employing only one person of color, but said he hopes to rectify that in future recruitment cycles outside of a pandemic.

One problem of getting those hires is that there are only so many in any given law school who want to do public interest work and only so many of those who specifically want to do public defender work. Many public defender offices are also now trying to increase their diversity levels, said Welsh, so people of color in that already small pool of potential hires become increasingly sought after and the competition can be tough.

Welsh noted three very accomplished female attorneys do now hold management positions in the office, including the second in command with Awbry, but said the overall staff there should look more like the clientele it is serving.

Welsh also does not think a newly formed Delaware County Public Defender's Union currently in contract negotiations would have much impact on who the office is able to recruit. On the defense side, there are those who come out of law school looking to make money with a private practice and those who go into public work, he said. Welsh is not really competing with the private side, but more with other public defender's offices in Philadelphia or Montgomery County.

While the union has indicated Delco public defenders are classically paid less than surrounding municipalities, Welsh said he hopes to be able to offer competitive salaries that will attract, train and retain only the best attorneys in the state for his office.

Reuther said the office has often times been seen as a "dumping ground" of less qualified attorneys who treated it as an unofficial part-time job, but Welsh has done away with that idea and instituted a culture of constant training, constant improvement and worked to secure more services for what has traditionally been viewed as the under-resourced step child of the county.

"I think the arrangement in Delco has always been that they were underpaid, but it was kind of treated like a quasi-part time job," said Reuther. "When we came in, one of the things we were insistent on was…we really want our attorneys for the county to be full-time employees of the county and I think that's particularly true for the Public Defender's Office because there's always going to be more lucrative work out there if you're representing indigent criminal defendants."

Reuther said she also does not think the newly formed union will be a hindrance to Welsh's aims, as it seems both are committed to the same ultimate goals of having more resources with which to get the job done.

Community impacts

"We defend everyone here at the public defender's office, no matter what they're charged with," said Welsh. "We represent roughly 70 percent of the people who are charged with a crime in Delaware County and, by definition, our clients are indigent – they can't afford an attorney – so all the issues that come with poverty are the issues facing our clients."

He said the vast majority of those are in the system due to some underlying social services gap, be it a drug and alcohol problem, mental health issue or some other unaddressed need. That is why Welsh thinks it is critical to have social workers in place to identify those needs and steer clients to the right resources.

"Our attorneys already are identifying those needs, but (they will) help us know what all the resources are that are available in Delaware County to address those needs, where those resources are, and to connect our clients with those resources," he said. "Whether that's up-front to try to divert the person from the system, to tell the district attorney, 'This person doesn't need a conviction, let's just try to get them help for mental health, for drugs, for X, Y, or Z,' or whether that's to help with the backend of the system like a reentry type program, or even if it's just to try to get someone out early on parole. If they've been sentenced to jail and what we all agree is that really what they need is drug treatment, to help get them into that drug treatment rather than sitting in jail where the need isn't really being addressed."

Welsh said that attitude extends to how public defenders should be looking at arguing sentencing recommendations as well; that the question should not be, "What's wrong with this person?" but rather, "What happened to this person?"

"I think that the public defender's offices that work best are those that do sort of take into account a lot more than just the fact that someone was arrested for a crime," said Mirsky. "Those societal issues, I think, are important to focus on, and I think offices that are able to provide resources to the client base and can get them help and have community outreach and know and understand the relationship between our clients and their community and different issues is very important in representing our client base as a whole effectively, the best that we can."

There will now be three social workers in the office, said Welsh, two on the adult side and one for juvenile cases. One will specifically be directed to oversee diversion programs.

"We haven't really had that in the past," said Wright. "We might have had a person here or there that we had for maybe six months or 12 months on a grant, but for most of the time I've been in the office we have not had any social worker on contract, and so there was always a frustration that we weren't really addressing the problem, we were only addressing the criminal aspect of it and then sending them back out into the community."

Welsh said the Criminal Justice Advisory Board, made up of stakeholders including judges, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, Sheriff Jerry Sanders and representatives from various other legal offices, applied for a grant to secure a reentry coordinator before he was hired to the office. The Board has also formed a "Reentry Coalition" that is set to have a kickoff meeting Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, Welsh said he is courting various reentry programs to come into the county prison and provide inmates with life skills that prepare them to return to life outside in a bid to reduce recidivism.

These programs often teach a specific job skill, like dog grooming or landscaping, then help inmates land a job after they are released. Parolees also must check in with the court to see how they're getting on after release, and Welsh said his office would be the advocate in those situations as well, making it a good fit.

On the preparation side, Welsh said having an investigator in-house will do wonders to free attorneys from having to put in the footwork of building a case so they can focus more on the legal arguments. The office has subcontracted for that position before, but there has not been a dedicated investigator on staff to track down witnesses, get videotape, or any of the other myriad investigation steps one might normally take, he said.

"We have kind of a new file flow structure where files are being reviewed at a greater level, which I think is adding some consistency in our representation across the board," said Dunn, a 10-year veteran of the office. "But I think the biggest change or the biggest positive that Chris is bringing is he's trying to pull away from any bureaucratic issues that would have been there before and allowing the lawyers to do whatever they can to have the best representation of their client."

The difference is that now, public defenders can move on things like hiring an investigator to collect a piece of evidence or an expert to give testimony in much the same way a private attorney could, said Dunn.

"Chris says, 'Go ahead, get it, and let me worry about the backend kind of stuff,' which is awesome," said Dunn. "Attorneys feel like they have the authority to do what they want to do for the best interests of the client."

"There's no shortage of work to do in preparing the legal defense, and how you're going to argue it and the motions you're going to file, so having someone to actually help you put together the factual part of the defense by doing the investigation is critical," said Welsh. "To say it's best practices is almost underselling it, it's like baseline practice. You need an investigator to do this job. To run an office of 40-plus lawyers, you need an investigator."

Zealous advocate

Welsh said the reforms he has already instituted and those he has planned for the future will not only benefit the Public Defender's Office and its clients, but the system as a whole.

"I think everybody in the government here realizes that you can't have meaningful criminal justice reform without a strong public defender's office," he said. "Everyone that I've encountered in the county so far has been supportive of the efforts that I've made. I hope that continues and I have no reason to think it won't."

Welsh said these are not just academic interests, either, but literal life-and-death decisions based in Constitutional law. He said the way he describes it to people is that those attorneys in his office give life to the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments, which prohibit unreasonable search and seizure, provide for due process and the right to legal representation, respectively.

"If you have a really zealous public defender's office with really skilled lawyers fighting really hard, its raising the level of practice, of legal practice, in the criminal justice system here," said Welsh. "So when we start to raises our practice, I know (First Assistant District Attorney) Tanner (Rouse) and Jack (Stollsteimer) want to raise their practice over there. It raises the practice for the whole system and that's a good thing, right? When we're making critically important decisions, that's what we want."

In order to better do that job, Welsh said he needs better data on how cases are being processed. This is not unique to his office, he added – pretty much every office involved in criminal justice across the country wants to improve on case management through information technology.

For instance, Welsh did not know offhand just how many cases are assigned to each of his attorneys. He said he should be able to pull that up at a moment's notice, and be able to see things like how many cases were dismissed this year at the magisterial district court level, how many went to trial and other factors.

"When we talk about moving the whole county forward and moving the criminal justice system forward, that is definitely a goal of mine is to help us do that," he said. "And I was involved in that when I was a deputy defender in Philadelphia. I was in charge of our IT department, that was one of the roles I fulfilled there, so I have ideas as to how we can do that."

It is important to have that information at hand, he said, because every day a client spends in prison could mean the loss of a job, of a home, or that family members with health issues are not receiving the help they used to before that person was arrested.

"My main goal is keeping people out of jail and having their freedom impacted as little as possible, and having the community impacted as little as possible," said Welsh. "A lot of times when there's agreement between the DA and the court and us that someone doesn't necessarily need to be in jail, it shouldn't be a lack of information that is preventing us from getting that person out. And it happens sometimes. It's no one's fault – there's no bad actor here – it's really just having better systems for increasing communication. Increasing communication increase the effectiveness of the system and if the system is more effective it actually impacts people's lives. It's like medical records. You want everyone who's treating that person to have as much information as possible, and while we're not dealing with somebody's health, we are dealing with the health of the community and we're dealing with an individual's freedom, so you really want that information sharing as much as possible."

Welsh said attorneys currently have about 20 to 30 cases each that they are working on, though he noted no jury trials are currently scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so cases are not moving in the typical manner.

Mirsky said her role so far in the office has been somewhat academic, noticing attorneys on various issues they should raise so they can be appealed later, but she would much rather get into the courts to see how jury trials are run in the county.

That likely won't happen any time soon, but it does give the office an opportunity to train up its attorneys for their inevitable return to the courts.

"It is like a double-edged sword, because certainly our clients are suffering by the fact that nothing is happening and a lot of people are just lingering in jail with no end in sight and there's going to be an incredible backlog," she said. "But in terms of starting a new job and new management and coming in and trying to do all these things, it does sort of allow us to sit down and say, 'Well, what do we want to do and what are the first steps going to be and how can we do it?' in a less crazed atmosphere."

"With Chris's vision in mind, I think we're moving in the right direction and I think we're going to be kind of the hub of criminal justice reform moving forward in Delaware County, which is very exciting for me and the office as a whole," said Dunn. "The big hindrance for us is it's hard to throw down without jury trials, because you can't really call anyone's bluff and there's nothing happening. But once that happens … I think there's going to be a lot more litigation out of this office than you're ever seen before."

Ahead of the Curve: Teaching Leadership in Law School - Law.com

Posted: 08 Dec 2020 08:18 AM PST


The Practical Benefits of Resolving Coverage Disputes through Mediation

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Webcast Date : Thursday, December 10, 2020 | "A coverage dispute" is a wide net that broadly captures an array of issues encountered in the context of first-party claims, third-party claims and inter-insurer disputes – each of which, in turn, has various subsets, depending on the parties, policies, facts and damages in question.


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