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Member since: Mon Apr 20, 2015, 05:44 PM
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Virtual only schools should return to classrooms, Whitmer says

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in an interview Thursday that Michigan school districts that are currently offering only virtual instruction should return students to classrooms for in-person learning.

“98% of our districts in Michigan are in person right now," Whitmer said during an appearance on WDET's "Detroit Today." "We’ve got some big ones that are not. I want to work with those districts to help support them so they can get kids back in school."

The governor made the comments the day after her fourth State of the State address, in which she said students "belong in schools." The subject has become the topic of intense political debate with Republicans attempting to tie school closures to Whitmer as she seeks reelection.

During her State of the State address on Wednesday, Whitmer said remote learning is "not as fulfilling or conducive to a child’s growth." "In-person learning is critical to social development and mental health," she said during the speech. "That’s why we will do everything we can to keep kids in the classroom."


Detroit lawmakers to sue redistricting commission, allege violation of Voting Rights Act

The maps adopted by Michigan's citizen-led, independent redistricting commission eliminate majority-Black congressional and state Senate districts that currently run through Detroit and reduce the number of Detroit majority-Black districts in the new state House map.

Expected plaintiffs in the lawsuit called on Democrats during Monday's briefing to support the legal challenge, arguing that Michigan Democrats should not embrace maps that give them a chance to win congressional and legislative majorities at the expense of Black voters' representation.

"Don’t leave us out in the rain because you simply want a majority," said former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, an expected plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Before it began drawing its maps, Adelson advised the commission to fix Detroit districts that packed Black voters, referencing a form of gerrymandering in which one group of voters is heavily concentrated in a handful of districts where they are all but guaranteed to see their preferred candidates elected but their influence is removed from surrounding communities.

"We could potentially have people representing our community that don’t have the commitment to our city," said Gay-Dagnogo. "Detroit deserves to have Black leadership."


Detroit lawmakers plan to challenge redistricting maps over racial fairness

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, approved by voters in 2018, changed the way the once-in-a-decade redistricting process is done by giving that responsibility to a 13-member citizens panel made up four Republicans, four Democrats and five non-partisan members.

“Unfortunately, the problem lies in the largest African American majority city in the nation has received the very short end of the stick,” said filing attorney Nabih Ayad. “The new redistricting map lines have unfairly discriminated against the city of Detroit, its residents and its elected officials.”

Overall, the maps adopted by the commission last week decreased the number of majority-Black districts in the proposed maps by stretching Detroit districts into the suburbs. African Americans are an influential voting bloc in the Democratic Party. The spoke-like districts were drawn as such in an effort to increase partisan fairness and "unpack" past efforts to isolate the Democratic vote to certain districts.

While some Detroit Democrats remained disgruntled with the new maps approved last week, larger Democratic groups weren't quick to criticize the maps.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, now chairman for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, praised the commission's work as a "success" that shows independent commissions can "produce a fair result.


Nicholas Sandmann reaches settlement with NBC

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against NBC by Covington Catholic graduate Nick Sandmann.

Sandmann announced the settlement in a tweet, saying the terms of the agreement are confidential. This is Sandmann's third settlement with a major news outlet following media coverage of a viral video featuring him at the Lincoln Memorial in January 2019.

Documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky show both parties agreed to dismiss the case without a judgement from the court.

Court records show Sandmann has filed suit in federal court against eight major news outlets including The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, CBS News, ABC News, Rolling Stone and Gannett. In January 2020, CNN settled. In July 2020, The Washington Post settled.


Opinion: Vaccine mandates may be only remedy for Detroit's disrupted classrooms

Long-term, only a vaccine mandate for employees and students will allow for consistency of learning," Nikolai Vitti wrote in an email to the Free Press this week. "... If we do not move to a vaccine, the challenges disrupting school ... will not end."

Statewide, 61.5% of Michiganders of all ages have gotten the first shot; in Detroit, it's 44%. Broad public access and literal vaccination house calls haven't moved the needle much. (Any Detroiter older than 12 can receive the shot at home by calling 313-230-0505. Vaccines for kids are also available at the Detroit Health Department) The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for teenagers this spring, and for children 5-11 last month. But just 17.5% of Detroiters aged 5 to 19, and less than 5% of Detroit kids 5-11 have received their first shot.

Vitti listed mask requirements, the expense and operational distraction of testing, quarantines triggered by COVID-19 outbreaks, and employee burnout among the chronic pandemic contingencies that continue to disrupt classroom instruction. It's those last two that prompted the district to switch to virtual learning every Friday this month, after outbreaks shut down multiple school buildings.

The closures will also allow time for deep cleaning of school buildings, Vitti said; When I pointed out that public health authorities have long since debunked such cleaning rituals as an effective COVID-19 mitigation tactic, he conceded the point, but added that the community has "continued to raise concerns about cleanliness after positive cases and outbreaks were identified." Vitti had hoped to encourage vaccination by offering staffers $500 bonuses, but it hasn't been enough. National teacher unions have supported vaccine mandates, but the Detroit Federation of Teachers hasn't embraced that position.


Gov. Whitmer says President Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate a 'problem,' report says

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in her strongest public remarks to date about President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for employers, said Monday that the requirement is "a problem" for her and state government, according to a published report.

The Daily News in Greenville reported Whitmer as telling business leaders in Montcalm County that she had the same concerns as some of them that the mandate, if enforced, could lead to workers, including those in state government, walking off the job.

"We’re an employer too, the state of Michigan is," Whitmer was reported as saying. "I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees. That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we’re waiting to see what happens in court."

“But we have a lot of the same concerns that you just voiced and it’s going to be a problem for all of us,” Whitmer added.


New maps spark debate over majority-minority districts

DETROIT (AP) — Adam Hollier is a lieutenant in the Army Reserves, a paratrooper, Detroit native, a Democrat and a Black man. He is also a state senator who represents a majority-Black district that stretches across the northeastern edge of his economically battered and resilient hometown. That critical mass of Black voters, Hollier argues, ensures he has a chance to be elected and give voice to people who have long been ignored by the political system.

For Hollier’s 2nd Senate District, that means some of its Detroit neighborhoods would be grafted on to mostly white districts, and his own seat would stretch across Eight Mile Road, the infamous boundary between Detroit and its first-ring, majority white suburbs. Its Black voting-age population would drop to 42%.

Hollier, like other Black lawmakers, is furious, saying that move jeopardizes Black elected officials. “By and large, Black people vote for Black people and white people vote for white people,” Hollier said. “It’s just the reality. It’s got nothing to do with me. Draw maps that majority-Black communities can win.”

Increasing competition is one of the goals of Michigan’s commission, which voters created in 2018 after decades of partisan gerrymandering controlled by Republicans. The commission also is tasked with considering representation of minority communities and following the Voting Rights Act. “What we have done is taken those areas and divided them into multiple districts so that there’s actually more districts where minority voters will be able to elect their candidates of choice, which should actually have the effect of increasing the representation among the African American community,” Szetela said.


GoFundMe pulls page aimed at raising $5M bail for Waukesha Christmas parade suspect

I hope this James Norton who tried to start the GoFundMe for Darrell Brooks was just trying to be an agitator and wasn't really serious. False Flag ?

GoFundMe pulls page aimed at raising $5M bail for Waukesha Christmas parade suspect, as victim’s cancer diagnosis is revealed after her death

A medical examiner determined that one of the victims, Jane Kulich, was battling uterine cancer, but had not been diagnosed with the disease, CBS News reported.

During a court appearance on Tuesday, Brooks was ordered held on $5 million bail — sparking swift backlash given prosecutors previously admitted Brooks was only able to rip through the parade route after being sprung on an “inappropriately low” bond. At the time of the parade massacre, Brooks was out on $1,000 bail after he was arrested earlier this month for allegedly attempting to run over the mother of his child with his car.

According to screengrabs first shared by Law Enforcement Today, the bail also spawned a fundraising effort on Brooks’ behalf. Set up by a person going by the name, James Norton, the page insisted Brooks was a victim of a “racist” justice system and used hashtags including #RacismIsReal and #BLM.

“On November 21st, 2021 our dear friend Darrell Brooks was arrested for allegedly driving his car into a parade, as someone who knows Darrell personally I can tell you that he would NEVER do such a thing and I know he is innocent of what he was charged with,” Norton wrote, per the screengrabs.

“Clearly there is more to the story the media is not telling us and I am seeking to raise the bail so Darrell can be released and speak his truth to his side of the story in this tragic situation that sees another black man behind bars in a purely political and racist trial.”

A spokesperson for GoFundMe on Wednesday confirmed to FOX Business that the page has since been removed from the platform. The person attempting to raise money for Brooks has also been banned from using GoFundMe for future fundraisers.


District Attorney files charges against teens in racially motivated SEPTA attack


The District Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged four teen attackers with multiple crimes for what SEPTA Police claim was a racially motivated attack on the Broad Street Line, which was captured on video Wednesday.

SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III said Thursday authorities were able to identify the four suspects through the transit system’s network of 28,000 cameras, a slew of public tips, and a parent who reported their own child as someone involved in the incident.

Hours after the attack, the District Attorney’s Office charged each of the four teenagers, whose ages range from 13 to 16, with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct, an office spokesperson said. One of the alleged attackers was also charged with robbery for trying to steal one of the victim’s Airpods.

Nestel previously said there was no sign that the victims provoked the attackers in any way. SEPTA police have been in touch with the suspects’ families, he said. According to the transit agency, the attack took place around 3:30 p.m. near the Erie Station on the Broad Street Line while the train was in transit. In a video, which was later posted on social media, a group of Black girls is seen yelling at a teenager, whom the Philadelphia School District said was a Central High School student.

Nestel said the suspects were yelling at a total of three teenagers, all Asian students from Central, when a fourth teen stepped in to defend her peers. The attackers turned their attention to the fourth teen, banging her head against the subway doors and continuing to hit her as she lay on the train floor.

More than half of Detroit public school students are considered chronically absent this school year

"More than half of Detroit public school students are considered chronically absent this school year from district schools.

The district's chronic absenteeism numbers have dropped a few percentage points from pandemic levels last year, when 59% of Detroit students were chronically absent. But 57% of students are still considered chronically absent, compared with 45% before the pandemic. A student is considered chronically absent in Michigan if they miss 10% or more days of school. "This continues to be, in my mind, our greatest challenge," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said during a Nov. 9 school board meeting.

The slightly improved numbers this year were expected because the district has resumed in-person school after more than a year of conducting school virtually. But the high rate of chronically absent students is notable for the district, which once held the highest rate of chronically absent students of all big districts in the country.

Nearly 58% of students were chronically absent in the 2013-2014 school year. Under new leadership, the district worked to get more students in their seats more often, reaching a 45% chronic absenteeism rate before the pandemic hit.

Chronic absenteeism is a complex problem for school districts. Students often don't show up for reasons that aren't willful: Some struggle with getting a ride to school. Other, older students may unexpectedly have to watch young siblings.

"Chronic absenteeism, for us, has not been a new challenge because it is directly linked to poverty," Vitti told the Detroit Free Press in an interview in August. "The pandemic exacerbated what was already a challenging situation."

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