Tag: ADA

The U.S. Justice Department fights a different kind of segregation in Georgia

When most people think of the words “Georgia” and “segregation”, most people in this country think of racial segregation of the Jim Crow era of American history.

However, segregation still exists in Georgia, although it’s a different kind of segregation: segregating schoolchildren with behavioral disabilities from non-disabled schoolchildren and giving the disabled schoolchildren a far inferior educational experience than the non-disabled schoolchildren. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped in, and they’re using the federal Americans with Disabilities Act to try to end this form of segregation in Georgia schools:

The Justice Department has accused Georgia of segregating thousands of students with behavior-related disabilities, shunting them into a program that denies them access to their non-disabled peers and to extracurricular activities and other basic amenities, including gymnasiums, libraries and appropriately certified teachers.

The department’s years-long inquiry into Georgia’s programs, and the pressure it is now putting on state officials to revamp the way they educate students with disabilities, have brought hope to advocates in the state who have long tried unsuccessfully for change.

[…]

Justice did not investigate Georgia’s lapses under the nation’s main law for protecting the interests of special education students — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. Instead, the department focused on the state’s failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a much more powerful civil rights tool, according to legal experts.

Once again, the school system in Georgia is running a separate and unequal scheme, but, this time, it involves giving students with behavioral disabilities an educational experience that is far inferior than the educational experience that non-disabled students receive. That is absolutely disgusting, and I hope that the Justice Department succeeds in its effort to bring an equal education experience to all Georgian schoolchildren.

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Robin Kelly considering run for U.S. Senate in Illinois

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of Matteson, Illinois, who represents a congressional district stretching from the southernmost parts of the City of Chicago to Kankakee County, announced that she is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mark Kirk:

I am focused on serving the constituents of the 2nd Illinois’ Congressional district, but I am doing my due diligence and exploring whether there is a path to run for U.S. Senate in 2016. I have the experience at all levels of government, both elected and appointed, and believe I would be a strong candidate to represent Illinois in the Senate.

Kelly joins three other U.S. Representatives, Tammy Duckworth, Bill Foster, and Cheri Bustos, in considering bids. Of the four, Kelly was the most progressive in 2013 according to congressional vote scores by Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), although the ADA only scored a total of 20 bills in 2013, and Kelly was a House member for 18 of those votes. Kelly earned a 70% ADA score, followed by Duckworth and Foster (both 55%), then followed by Bustos (50%). Kelly usually votes the progressive position on most bills, except on some financial regulation/deregulation, national security, and domestic surveillance bills where she sides with conservatives.

Kelly is best-known for being a staunch supporter of common-sense gun control measures, such as background checks on gun sales. In fact, she ran her 2013 campaign in the special election in the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois, which was held a few months after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, on various gun control measures. Kelly won a multi-way Democratic primary with a majority of the vote and went on to win the special general election with over 70% of the vote.

While I’d prefer that Jan Schakowsky or someone who is politically similar to her run against Kirk the Jerk, I think Robin Kelly would be a good representative of Illinois in the U.S. Senate.