Jan 152015
 

Our foster care system places minors which have been made wards of the court into institutions, group and private homes. These residences are headed by a state-certified caregiver called a foster parent. The placement of a child is usually arranged through a social-service agency and the foster parent is provided compensation for expenses. Foster children may be orphaned, abused, neglected or delinquent Americans who cannot live with their biological families. In 2010, there were more than 400,000 American foster children. About half of these children were living in non-relative foster homes, about 25% were living in foster homes with relatives, 10% were in institutions and 5% were in group homes. Most children spend less than 2 years in foster homes before they are reunited with family, adopted, emancipated as minors or aged out of the system. About 15% of these children spend more than four years in a foster home. Advocates say the challenges are great for these children, both when growing up and after leaving the system at the age of 18.

Pending Legislation:

S.1047 & H.R.2149 – Families for Foster Youth Stamp Act of 2013

H.R.102 – Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current foster care policy and wish to defeat S.1047 & H.R.2149 and H.R.102

I support requiring the United States Postal Service, for a period of at least four years, to provide for the issuance and sale of a semipostal (postage stamp) in order to increase funding for effective programs targeted at improving permanency outcomes for youth in foster care; divides the amount received from such sales equally between: programs and activities under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978 that specifically target improvement in permanency outcomes for youth in foster care through adoption, guardianship, or kinship care; and the program for state courts to assess and improve handling of proceedings relating to foster care and adoption, and wish to pass S.1047 & H.R.2149

I support requiring the state, within 90 days after making a placement decision, to provide notice of the decision and the reasons for it to each parent of the child; allowing the attorney for the child to petition the court involved to review the decision; requiring the court to commence such a review on the record after receiving such a petition, and wish to pass H.R.102

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Most instances of violence in our schools are still limited to fisticuffs between students. However, serious school violence does occur in both suburban and urban schools. Although most gun violence occurs at large high schools, middle school students are more likely to bring weapons to school. A recent study found that 95% of students said they felt safe in school. However, nearly a quarter of these students also said they knew students who regularly carried weapons to school. Surveys of high school students found that about 6% of all students had carried a gun or knife to school within a month of the survey. Nearly 8% reported being threatened or attacked with a weapon in the previous year. In 2003, teachers were targeted in about 5% of violent school crime events, while school bus drivers were attacked the most often. Many communities have responded to school violence by training school staff in emergency procedures and increasing school security –often by hiring armed guards. As a result, many schools have instituted “zero tolerance” policies in response to student misconduct. These policies call for extreme disciplinary measures such as suspending or expelling offending students. Some advocates are now calling for fewer school guards and more moderate discipline policies. A recent study found that the more police are placed in our schools, the more minority students are arrested. A theory called “From Schoolhouse to Jailhouse” suggests that one reason a disproportionate number of minorities are now incarcerated is because many of these offenders were suspended or expelled from school and subsequently got into trouble while on the streets. Supporters of this theory say that students who have not committed egregious offenses are better socialized by remaining in school. Applying this theory, some schools have greatly reduced suspensions for fighting, stealing, talking back or other disruptive behavior. Before resorting to punishment and automatic suspensions, students are being asked to listen to each other, write letters of apology, work out solutions with the help of parents and educators or engage in community service. These solutions are referred to as “restorative justice.”

Pending Legislation:

S.145 – Save Our Students Act

S.148 – A bill to safeguard America’s schools by using community policing strategies to prevent school violence and improve student and school safety

I oppose reforming current school safety policy and wish to defeat S.145 and S.148

I support providing funds to states submitting specified plans for using National Guard personnel to: perform administrative functions normally performed by state and local law enforcement personnel in order to enable such law enforcement personnel to be dispatched to keep schools and students safe from violence; help conduct school security assessments and safety plans; conduct capital improvements related to enhancing school and student safety, and wish to pass S.145

I support making grants to local governments and Indian tribes to provide for school resource and safety officers, who are career law enforcement officers, at schools; requires establishing guidelines for programs that train school resource and safety officers; and ensure an equitable geographic distribution of grants among regions of the United States and among urban, suburban, and rural areas, and wish to pass H.R.148

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill funding pilot projects to evaluate restorative justice methods; determining the effectiveness of these methods in solving student behavior problems as an alternative to student suspension or expulsion; encouraging states to direct their local educational agencies (LEAs) to adopt these methods if found effective

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our Constitution’s Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibits government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Nearly 100 years later, the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibited government from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Patriots claim these iconic laws affirm the same basic principle -that our Constitutional right to vote is essential to our democracy. They also say these voting laws are needed to protect this sacred right from constant threat. In 2013, our Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b), the heart of the Voting Rights Act. This section required states with histories of voter suppression to receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department before any changes could be made to a state’s election procedures. The Court ruled these pre-clearances are not longer needed and told Congress to pass a law updating Section 4(b) -but few give this Congress much chance of doing so. Supreme Court opponents claim states will now be free to enact previously-illegal voter suppression laws which are designed to restrict minority, elderly, disabled and student citizens from voting. Indeed, several states passed such laws within days and weeks of the Court’s controversial ruling.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current Voting Rights Act policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to update Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act

 Posted by at 12:00 am