Florida school massacre panel recommends arming teachers
By TERRY SPENCER and CURT ANDERSON
Wednesday, December 12
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The panel investigating the Florida high school massacre recommended Wednesday that teachers who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks and training be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus to stop future shootings.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission voted 13-1 to recommend the Legislature allow the arming of teachers, saying it’s not enough to have one or two police officers or armed guards on campus. Florida law adopted after the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead allows districts to arm non-teaching staff members such as principals, librarians and custodians — 13 of the 67 districts do, mostly in rural parts of the state.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the commission’s chairman, pushed the measure at the Tallahassee meeting. He said most deaths in school shootings happen within the first few minutes, before officers on and off campus can respond. He said suspect Nikolas Cruz stopped to reload his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle five times, all of which would have been opportunities for an armed teacher to shoot him.
“We have to give people a fighting chance, we have to give them an opportunity to protect themselves,” Gualtieri said. He said there aren’t enough officers or money to hire one for every school, but even then officers need backup. “One good guy with a gun on campus is not enough.”
The state teachers union and PTA have previously expressed opposition, saying teachers are hired to educate, not be police officers.
Commissioner Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex died in the massacre, cast the lone vote against the motion. He said the state should focus on hiring more police officers for campuses and allowing non-teaching staff to carry guns.
“We do need more good guys with a gun on campus — nobody understands that and wishes we had more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas than myself,” Schachter said. But arming teachers “creates a host of problems.” The father and wife of other victims, who are not on the commission, also spoke against arming teachers.
After the shooting, Florida law was changed to allow school districts to train and arm employees other than teachers except those who are former or current police officers, current members of the military or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructors.
Currently, teachers in 28 states can carry firearms, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, a conservative nonprofit organization. District approval is required in most states and restrictions and training requirements vary.
The 15-member commission, which has been meeting periodically since April, will present a report to Gov. Rick Scott, incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature by Jan. 1.
The commission includes law enforcement, education and mental health professionals, a legislator and the fathers of two slain students.
Also Wednesday, a judge rejected former Stoneman Douglas campus deputy Scot Peterson’s contention that he had no obligation to confront Cruz.
Refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parent of a victim, Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning found after a hearing that Peterson did have a duty to protect those inside the school. Video and other evidence shows Peterson, the only armed officer at the school, remained outside while shots rang out.
The negligence lawsuit was filed by Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed. Pollack said it made no sense for Peterson’s attorneys to argue that a sworn law enforcement officer with a badge and a gun had no requirement to go inside.
“Then what is he doing there?” Pollack said after the ruling. “He had a duty. I’m not going to let this go. My daughter, her death is not going to be in vain.”
Peterson attorney Michael Piper said he understands that people might be offended or outraged at his client’s defense, but he argued that as a matter of law, the deputy had no duty to confront the shooter. Peterson did not attend the hearing.
“There is no legal duty that can be found,” Piper said. “At its very worst, Scot Peterson is accused of being a coward. That does not equate to bad faith.”
The commission voted Wednesday to condemn Peterson’s actions, calling him “derelict” in his duties.
Cruz, a 20-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student, has pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Why shaming your children on social media may make things worse
December 13, 2018
Author: Brian Edward Kinghorn, Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations, Marshall Univeristy
Disclosure statement: Brian Edward Kinghorn does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Matt Cox knew he would be criticized when he forced his 10-year-old daughter to walk 5 miles to school in 36-degree weather as her punishment for being suspended from the school bus twice for bullying.
“I know a lot of you parents are not going to agree with this, but that is alright, because I’m doing what I feel is right to teach my daughter a lesson and to stop her from bullying,” Cox said in a Facebook Live video that he posted of her punishment in December 2018.
The video quickly garnered over 15 million views. Although some online comments called him a bully, most comments were from parents, educators and others who wholeheartedly supported his actions.
Cox’s video is just one of many in an emergent trend of parents who publicly shame their children on social media as punishment for various misdeeds. For instance, another father recently posted a video holding his son’s hand and walking with him as a “couple” through the middle school hallway as punishment for misbehavior at school.
“I gotta give it to him this way,” the father said, as his son sulked during the ordeal.
In November, a New Jersey mother dressed as a clown and visited her son’s classroom to shame him for acting up in class. The boy’s principal – who calls himself “Mr. Viral Principal” – uploaded a video of the visit on Instagram. And in March, a father posted a video of his 10-year-old son running a mile to school in the rain because he had also been banned from the bus for bullying. “Welcome to ‘You Better Listen to Your Dad 2018,’” the man tells viewers in the video.
While the parents who made these videos – and the many viewers who praise them – may think the videos represent an effective way to discipline children, as a scholar who teaches child development and researches the psychology of social media, I believe the evidence suggests otherwise.
Why punishments fail
The notion that public shaming will work goes against research about the relative effectiveness – or rather ineffectiveness – of punishment as a means of changing behavior.
As Deidre Golash, a noted public affairs scholar and author of “The Case Against Punishment,” put it, “The deliberate doing of harm in the mistaken belief that it promotes some greater good is the essence of tragedy.”
Not everyone agrees. In the American Criminal Law Review, Lauren Goldman, a lawyer working for the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., cited the prevalence of parents publicly shaming their children to bolster her call for judges to pursue similar tactics as penalties for crimes. She asserts that many parents believe that “public shaming punishments generally have the ability to positively affect their children’s behavior.”
Why behavior may worsen
The problem is it could actually backfire. “Harsh parenting,” which can include physical aggression, psychological aggression, humiliation, yelling or threatening a child, is particularly problematic. Punitive consequences can breed feelings of resentment, revenge, rebellion and retreat. Children may simply hide behaviors instead of changing them. Research has shown that harsh discipline by parents significantly increases the risk of behavioral problems in children.
None of the parents in the social media videos described above recorded hitting their kids – a punishment that has been linked to substance abuse and psychological disorders. They were, however, all publicly humiliating their children, which is another form of harsh parenting. Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law concludes that “suffering severe humiliation has been shown empirically to plunge individuals into major depressions, suicidal states and severe anxiety states.”
Parents are rightly concerned about when and how to discipline their children. Social media platforms can provide helpful opportunities to share parenting advice and learn from others. In the process of teaching and learning, however, some parents seem to be seeking validation for their parenting techniques without much thought to how it could impact their children.
As Jon Ronson, author of the book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” put it, public punitive shaming has historically been considered a cruel punishment that destroys self-respect and can ruin individuals’ lives. He added that “well-meaning people, in a crowd, often take punishment too far.” Social media has exponentially increased the size of the crowd available for public shaming, and crowd dynamics are often cruel.
This form of punishment, which essentially amounts to parental cyberbullying, is particularly harmful because of its permanence. When videos are posted online, parents may lose control of the situation as the video takes on a life of its own.
In search of alternatives
There are more effective and gentle approaches to disciplining children than shaming them online. Jane Nelson, a parent educator, suggests that natural consequences, “anything that happens naturally, without adult interference,” are much more effective than punishments in shaping behaviors. When there is not a safe or reasonable natural consequence, Nelson suggests using logical consequences instead. These consequences are seen as reasonable from the points of view of the child and the adult, are clearly related to the problem behavior, and are respectfully and firmly reinforced without shame or pain.
Walking or jogging to school may be an excellent logical consequence to getting suspended from the school bus as long as the intent is not to inflict suffering, humiliation or psychological harm. The video and public shaming – which may actually be modeling the punished behavior – are not needed.
Former HUD chief Julian Castro moves toward presidential run
By PAUL J. WEBER
Thursday, December 13
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro says he’s taking a step toward a possible White House campaign in 2020 by forming a presidential exploratory committee. The Texas Democrat tells The Associated Press that he will announce a decision Jan. 12.
The move Wednesday gives the 44-year-old former San Antonio mayor an early start to what’s shaping up as a crowded Democratic field without a clear front-runner to challenge President Donald Trump.
Castro indicated in an AP interview that his mind was all but made up.
“I know where I’m leaning, for sure,” said Castro, who has said for weeks that it was likely he would seek the nomination.
An exploratory committee usually is a formality before a candidate launches a presidential campaign. It legally allows potential candidates to begin raising money.
But just as important for Castro, the step gives him an early jump on bigger name Democrats who are considering running but are taking a slower approach.
No potential contender is more ascendant than outgoing Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who lost last month in a surprisingly close race against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. O’Rourke has excited donors and activists who are now prodding him to seek the presidency.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, are also potential candidates.
Castro would be among the youngest candidates in the field and the most prominent Latino. He played down the attention that others are generating and pointed to past election cycles in which early favorites ended up faltering.
“People might say right now, ‘Well, hey, you’re way down here in polling that’s taken.’ The most dangerous place to be right now is actually in the pole position,” Castro said. “It doesn’t bother me that in December of 2018 I’m not right up at the top of the list. If I decide to run, it would be because I believe I have a compelling message and I’m going to work hard and get to the voters and I believe I can be successful.”
Castro, who attended O’Rourke’s election-night party in El Paso last month, said O’Rourke doesn’t complicate his own chances.
“He’s talented. He ran a good race against Ted Cruz,” Castro said. “I’ll let him talk about his future.”
Castro said he has not spoken to former President Barack Obama about his potential candidacy but plans on consulting Democratic leaders. Obama has spoken to O’Rourke, who has said he won’t make a decision on 2020 until after leaving Congress in January.
Obama picked Castro to take over the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2014. Two years later, Castro was on the short list of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s potential running mates.
For Castro, running for president would fulfill a destiny that Democrats have projected since he was elected San Antonio mayor at 34, followed by his star-making turn as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
He is the grandson of a Mexican immigrant and son of a Latina activist. His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a Democratic congressman from Texas. Julian Castro said the Latino community has been treated “like a pinata” under Trump and deserved a candidate in the field.
“I’m also very mindful, especially now for the Latino community, that there’s a particular meaning to my candidacy,” Castro said. “We can’t go through the 2020 cycle with nobody on that stage because of what’s happened over the last couple of years.”
Young and telegenic, Castro rose to national prominence early in his career as a Latino leader from a state that Democrats are eager to retake after decades of Republican dominance. But in Texas, O’Rourke has eclipsed Castro after getting closer to a statewide victory than any Democrat in a generation. It now puts Texas in the formerly unthinkable position of having two Democratic presidential candidates in the same year.
The last Texas Democrat to run for president was Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, who had a short-lived campaign in 1976.
Maryland Rep. John Delaney is the only declared 2020 Democratic presidential candidate so far. Others are expected to announce their intentions in the coming weeks.
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber
In 2019, women’s rights are still not explicitly recognized in US Constitution
December 13, 2018
Author: Deana Rohlinger, Professor of Sociology, Florida State University
Disclosure statement: Deana Rohlinger does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Florida State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Over nine decades, efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to recognize women’s rights have faced major challenges.
Congress finally passed such legislation, known as the Equal Rights Amendment, in 1972. The amendment would recognize women’s equal rights to men under the law.
Despite concerted campaigns by women’s rights groups, it fell short of the 38 states that needed to ratify it in order for it to become part of the Constitution. The original deadline for states to ratify was 1979. Congress extended the deadline to 1982, but even then it still fell three states short of passage.
Nevertheless, women’s rights activists have continued working to get states to ratify it.
Many ERA proponents argue that the deadline is irrelevant because the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits changes to the salaries of congressional legislators, was ratified in 1992, 203 years after it was introduced. The same could happen to the ERA, they argue. They maintain that Congress has the power to change the deadline and recognize the 38 ratification votes to approve the amendment.
Some constitutional experts, however, argue that it may be too late, since the deadline passed more than three decades ago. They also suggest that, while its passage would have symbolic importance, the ERA might only make a difference at the margins where the law still allows sex discrimination.
I’m a scholar who studies gender and politics. Here’s a quick summary of how the country got to this point and the barriers that still exist to adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
‘Ladies against women’
Women’s rights advocates argue that sex discrimination is a pervasive problem that could be resolved by the ERA. Even though the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment prohibits states from denying any person equal protection under the law, women’s rights are not explicitly guaranteed.
The push for equal rights heated up in the 1920s after women gained the right to vote. Alice Paul, a suffragette, proposed the first version of an Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. The proposal was adopted and turned into proposed legislation by two Kansas Republicans, Sen. Charles Curtis and Rep. Daniel Anthony Jr., and was brought up during every congressional session between 1923 and 1971 without success.
The idea of an Equal Rights Amendment, however, gained momentum among politicians and the broader public. World War II opened many doors for women, who filled gaps in the labor force while men were off fighting. During this time, women were welcomed into politics, onto juries, openly wooed by educational institutions and encouraged to take up male-dominated majors such as math, science and technology.
By 1970, the Equal Rights Amendment had been endorsed by four sitting presidents – Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, and Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The fledgling feminist group, the National Organization for Women, adopted the passage of the ERA in its 1967 Bill of Rights for Women and began staging massive demonstrations and lobbying politicians in the late 1960s and early 1970s in an effort to get Congress to pass the amendment.
Finally, in 1972, the ERA passed both houses of Congress. The Amendment would have seven years to be ratified by three-fourths, or 38, of the 50 states.
While 30 states ratified the ERA in 1972 and 1973, the amendment ultimately came up three states short of approval by the 1979 deadline.
This was in large part due to the efforts of conservative women’s organizations such as Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America that opposed it. Conservative women regarded the ERA as a threat to the family and child-rearing because it would disrupt traditional gender roles. They also believed women would lose, among other things, their exemptions from the draft and combat duty.
States such as Illinois and Florida became battlegrounds for liberal and conservative women fighting over the amendment. Feminists successfully lobbied Congress to extend the ERA’s ratification deadline to June 30, 1982. The ERA, however, was not ratified by the three states needed to ensure its passage. In 1982, conservative women proclaimed the Equal Rights Amendment officially dead.
A number of recent events have put the ERA back on the political agenda: high-profile allegations of sexual assault, the #MeToo movement and, among other issues, increasing restrictions on women’s access to abortion.
Since 2017, two more states – Nevada and Illinois – have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Supporters are now rallying support in Virginia, hoping it will the next and final state to ratify it in 2019.
At the same time, for a number of reasons, Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, South Dakota and Kentucky rescinded their ERA ratifications between 1972 and 1982. Some state legislators argued that the amendment was too controversial given its potential to upend traditional gender roles and legalize what they called “abortion on demand.”
So, even if Virginia legislators ratify the amendment, the fate of the Equal Rights Amendment is unclear.
The Supreme Court could weigh in on whether these reversals should impact the amendment’s addition to the Constitution. But, it is not clear that it would. In fact, the Supreme Court opted not to rule on a rescinded ratification in 1939 on the Child Labor Amendment whose ratification period had expired.
Likewise, it’s unclear how Congress will respond since the amendment expired decades ago. Congress certainly has the power to ignore the five rescinded ratifications – it has done so in the past. But, in a highly polarized political environment, that may prove difficult.
John Doyle, logged in via Facebook: Very interesting story isn’t it? The Constitution is a very powerful document but fallible in several ways. In this case it does not save women from discrimination hence the battle for regulation/recognition.
Women’s rights are but one of the problems the constitution does not address. There are other rights and duties that matter as well. IMO the most important lack is about the duty of care the federal government should be obliged to undertake on behalf of ALL its citizens. it should mandate healthcare for all, and zero profit making from infrastructure free medication and health care for and no profiting from assets and services the government provides for every bodies’ benefit. The Constitution itself should refute any erosion of rights and duties that will need to be cared for by its representatives.