Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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Hello Teen Resisters!
We hope you've had a good week. There's lots to cover this week. A couple things that you should be aware of:
- The results of the Mueller probe into Trump/Russia relations came in this week and the report was summarized in a 4-page letter by Trump's Attorney General, William Barr. Barr's summary reported that Mueller charged Trump with no crimes but also did not "exonerate" him from possible obstruction of justice. Trump has been shouting victory since, while Congress has demanded that the entire report be released to at least Congress, and ultimately the American public, by April 2nd.
- News also came in today that the Trump admin is cutting funds to numerous programs, including that DeVos wants to defund Special Olympics programs and Trump is once again cutting aid to Puerto Rico. The news came in too late for us to cover it in this week's list, but we'll cover it next time. Also coming up: a full-length feature about understanding the White Nationalist movement and what it means.
Sending you lots of light in these first wonderful weeks of Spring!
What Went Down
Background Check Expansion Act: In late February, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require background checks for almost all private gun sales. Representatives voted 240-190 to extend the background checks requirement to sales made at gun shows or over the internet. If passed in the Senate, the law will become one of the most significant gun safety measures to go through Congress in decades - and a long-past-overdue national legislative response to the rampant gun violence in the U.S.’ schools and streets.
While eight Republicans in the House voted to pass the bill - and popular opinion on universal background checks is positive across the board, at 97% - Republican Senators refuse to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. While passage of the bill, even if brought to the floor, is unlikely, floor votes are important - they set precedent for future debate and action, and they force our representatives to go on record for supporting or opposing an issue, allowing us to hold them accountable at the ballot box. We need to fight for a vote on this bill.
What You Can Do:
NYC School Segregation: Last week, as thousands of New York City 8th graders received letters regarding which high schools they were accepted into, the New York Times reported that only 7 Black students were accepted into Stuyvesant High School, an elite public school in Manhattan. This means that although Black and Hispanic students make up 67 percent of the NYC public school population, they only make up 10 percent of the specialized school population. NYC's public schools are the most segregated in the nation.
Stuyvesant High School along with seven other specialized high schools require the SHSAT, an annual standardized test to be taken in the fall of students’ eighth-grade year, as the sole means of admission. This is not the first time the test and its biased results have come into question. In 2013, Mayor Bill De Blasio's campaign platform included scrapping the SHSAT, but it wasn’t until June of 2018 that he proposed an alternative to the test. His proposal consisted of two main parts: to expand the Discovery program, as well as to eventually replace the test with a program that offers seats in specialized high schools to the top seven percent of every middle school. The expansion of the Discovery program would aim to reserve 20% of seats in specialized schools to low-income students whose scores were just below the cutoff for admission. This proposal would need to pass in Albany and has already received pushback from many specialized high school alumni. This issue of systemic racial segregation in schools is far bigger than this test and the eight associated schools. So despite what many politicians would hope, it’s not an issue that can be solved with one bill or in a year. As representative Ocasio-Cortez pointed out during an education town hall a few weeks ago, “why isn’t every public school in New York City a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school?”
If this issue interests you, here are a few ways to get involved.
See you soon!
Peace and Power,
These lists include featured organizations, scripts, numbers, news updates and inspirational activists.