SCHOOL SEGREGATION LONG GONE, RIGHT? RIGHT?
According to a new report from VCU and Penn State, school segregation is getting worse in Virginia, not better. And one driving factor is segregation within school districts. The report calls on state leaders to advocate more boldly for school integration, to define segregation, and to measure it.
“School boundaries matter. The lines separating school districts and school communities within those districts continue to shape racial and economic segregation and educational opportunity. They are also subject to change, and with some regularity,” said one of the researchers involved in the study. “Each process related to change offers school officials a chance to confront segregation and inequality — or make it worse.”
The report makes a number of recommendations, concluding that “School segregation is a fundamental barrier to equitable educational opportunity and outcomes. It is also antithetical to preparation for citizenship in a multiracial democracy. After decades of neglect, policymakers should urgently confront this issue, starting with raising awareness and followed by concrete policy action and accountability.”
We can’t correct what we don’t see. And systemic racism is something that has escaped our view for far too long.
SEN. AMANDA CHASE DEFENDS CONSPIRATORS
State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, advanced unfounded allegations of widespread election fraud last week, going further than even Donald Trump’s campaign, as she rallied support for her own gubernatorial campaign outside the Virginia Department of Elections. She criticized Virginia’s new state laws that expanded early voting. “Through the legislation they passed this year, they created an opportunity to steal the election.” Trump lost the Commonwealth by more than 400,000 votes; no Republican has won a statewide election here since 2009.
two of her supporters were arrested in Philadelphia on weapons charges outside a vote-counting center. Initially denying any relationship with the two individuals, Chase acknowledged she knew them. In a display of pure unreality for a law enforcement advocate, she called the charges against them “complete and total bullcrap.” She also criticized her GOP colleagues for adhering to mask and social distancing guidelines. “I don’t do COVID, by the way,” she said, to cheers from the crowd of about 100. “I’m the only legislator in the General Assembly who does not wear a mask.”
Such proud disdain for a deadly virus surely frightens the little bugs. What respectable viral cell challenges an armed politician?
VIRGINIA IS FAILING ITS UNEMPLOYED
According to the latest data from the Virginia Employment Commission, the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance program now ranks worst in the country in timely processing claims that require staff review — a backlog that has risen to more than 90,000 cases. In addition, nearly 1,000 more Virginians filed first-time unemployment claims during the week ending October 24 compared with the week prior . . . another 12,352 initial claims. This does not include those receiving pandemic-related assistance. Virginia’s unemployment rate is holding at a flat 6.2 percent.
Applicants caught in bureaucratic limbo awaiting claims adjudication have been on hold as long as five months while the state decides the claims are valid and begins issuing payments. At the current rate, according to U.S. Department of Labor data, it could easily take more than a year for an applicant to exhaust the appeals process. While a surge of business closures beginning in March stressed unemployment insurance programs around the country, Virginia’s inability to keep up with new applications and benefits programs is beginning to stand out. The commission blamed delays on difficulty programming its 1980s computer system. Further, the commission maintains that most of the 90,000 cases outstanding involve disputes as to whether the employee quit or was fired for cause. Ah, blame the applicant!
“People are falling into a black hole where they’re waiting a tremendously long time and have a hard time getting answers or information about their claims,” said an attorney with the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center, who specializes in public benefits and has been helping clients with claims.
Blame is never an answer. But a response is needed–and soon.