HEJE Overview 1-27-18: Environment


Children playing feet away from open pools of raw sewage; drinking water pumped beside cracked pipes of untreated waste; human faeces flushed back into kitchen sinks and bathtubs whenever the rains come; people testing positive for hookworm, an intestinal parasite that thrives on extreme poverty.”

Thinking Haiti, or El Salvador, or some random African country?

Well, you’d be wrong. Today’s quote characterizes a county in Alabama, U.S.A.

Today’s HEJE Overview returns to environmental issues. Of note: Puerto Rico, four months after Hurricane Maria, is privatizing its power system; the richest men in the U.S. want to “save” the Rust Belt, their way; Pueblo, Colorado is contemplating going 100% green, but can a poor city afford environmental awareness?; dicamba update in advance of the 2018 planting season; the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site in East Chicago, IN: environmental justice advocate Catherine Flowers fights for water and sewage justice in rural Alabama, and finally (whew), some good environmental news for Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

There’s a wealth of environmental injustice recounted below the fold. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 1-27-18: Environment”


HEJE Overview 1-20-18: Education


Ed reforms = failed reforms

What is the ultimate goal of public education? Do we genuinely want our citizens to be able to embrace an active role in American civic life, from neighborhood watch volunteers to Congressional representatives? Is every child in America equally deserving of a good education?

If the answer to these questions is “Yes,” then we’re doing something terribly wrong.


We’re back to our regular HEJE coverage, and today review recent education developments, including: ESSA/NCLB (hint: they’re not all that different); Michigan charters and their funding; rural/urban low minority college attendance; Freezing Baltimore public schools suggest neglect, structural racism and classism; California private schools are subject to zero oversight. Bonus: another piece of poorly-thought-out education legislation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s BTIATM. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 1-20-18: Education”

HEJE Overview 1-19-18: Health Care

About that Medicaid Work Requirement …


My question is this: Who doesn’t deserve dignity and respect? Why should you have to pass a wallet biopsy before a health care provider determines she can talk to you, order a test, figure out what is wrong or decide how to treat you? This is our issue.”

–Dr. Claudia Fegan, speaking on the occasion of MLK’s birthday in Louisville, Kentucky (2011) Continue reading “HEJE Overview 1-19-18: Health Care”

HEJE Overview 11-21-17: Education


“In response to the recent surge of energy on the left, the hedge-funded Democrats increasingly market their agenda items in the language of psuedo-populist reform, while blocking efforts—on housing, education funding, health care, tax policy, and bank regulation—aimed at directly remedying the state’s steepening inequalities of wealth, income, and opportunity.”

–Jennifer Berkshire  on the woes of Democratic ed reformers, writing in the Baffler

DSO: Poverty-remediation efforts: affordable (and integrated) housing, enhanced (public) school funding, single-payer healthcare from pre-cradle to grave, progressive income taxes, a handy Postal bank (and for investment, a state bank in the image of that in North Dakota), not to mention a host of regulations for existing banks—so much could be done.

None of these measures forms part of the doctrine of free markets. But together they would go a long way towards buttressing a free country and citizenry.

It’s a great day for education articles and analyses—meaning that there’s an abundance of disturbing news about education, one of our four HEJE Overview signature areas of coverage. On today’s reading list: The Big Picture on the downsizing of education at the federal level; the Network for Public Education’s just-released study, “Charters and Consequences”; charter school teachers gear up to unionize; our schools’ diversity problem – and a novel solution; Scott Walker and the hollowing-out of public schools in Wisconsin; government schools are not the solution to educational inequality (the view from the other side: vouchers, yeah!). Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-21-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-20-17: Healthcare


“… [I]t’s important to provide publicly funded treatment and comprehensive services to both rural and urban communities. Practically speaking, many people in need of opioid treatment are able to access treatment only using public health insurance programs like the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and block grant programs.”

–“The Opioid Crisis Is at its Worst in Rural Areas: Can Telemedicine Help?”

Our regular HEJE Overview returns to Healthcare after a bit of a break. On the Rx list today: Why everybody will love single-payer (once it’s law); the new nominee to become Sec of HHS (hint: he’s from Eli Lilly); eliminating the individual mandate—in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (aka, tax cut bill); rising obesity among children and the health risks obesity entails, brought to a close by Big Hospital consolidations and closures in rural America (with the Mayo Clinic as chief exemplar), and finally, a cheaper (but not cheap enough to be affordable to many sufferers) approach to opioid addiction: telemedicine. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-20-17: Healthcare”

HEJE Overview 11-16-17: Education


From the Senate HELP committee’s hearings on the nomination of Mitchell Zais (of South Carolina) to become undersecretary of Education…

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Zais about his support for vouchers and whether he was aware of recent research about the impact of vouchers on student achievement. Zais responded: “To the best of my knowledge, whenever we give parents an opportunity to choose a school that is the best fit for their children, there are improved outcomes.”

“To which Franken replied: ‘No, that is not true.’ He then cited a New York Times article from earlier this year about three studies of large voucher programs in Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio, which found vouchers negatively affected test results in reading and math. (Franken did not mention a major 2017 study on the nation’s only federally funded voucher program, in Washington, D.C., that showed similar results.) Zais said: ‘I was unaware of those studies that you cited.’”

–as reported by Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet, Washington Post

DSO: Should this really come as a surprise to anyone? 

Today’s HEJE Overview returns to Education: teaching, as a profession, is inherently political; the Washington Monthly brouhaha between Thomas Toch (pro-reform) and John Merrow (who’s seen the light) about the Michelle Rhee reformist era in the DCPS; a Philadelphia university faculty member has been studying  poverty among college students; a group of homeless persons, including schoolchildren, is evicted across the street from where the Zuckerbergs will build a private school for—you guessed it—poor students in East Palo Alto (not to be confused with Palo Alto).   Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-16-17: Education”

HEJE Overview 11-15-17: Justice


As illogical as it sounds, courts routinely suspend the drivers’ licenses of those who are too poor to pay their fines and fees on time, typically with no notice or opportunity to be heard. It’s illogical because, without a drivers’ license, people lose their jobs and income – making it even harder to pay what they owe. … These policies that punish the poor have created staggering racial disparities and fueled a mass incarceration crisis that has cost billions of dollars and failed to make anyone safer.”

–“An Arkansas Town Agrees to Criminal Justice Reform to Ensure That the Poor Are Not Jailed

? There are some 3,140 counties and county-equivalents in the United States. Is this issue going to have to be re-fought 3,139 times?

In today’s survey of developments in (in)justice, we look at an interview with a man who successfully defended a death-row inmate in Texas (and got him exonerated), at the ongoing war on workers/unions (two links, one on the rather low-key Ricketts family, which shut down DNAInfo and Gothamist the second their reporters unionized, and a historical primer on Janus v. AFSCME), at a piece about why it might be preferable to sue polluters rather than attempt to legislate their infractions away, and finally, at a small city in Arkansas that’s agreed not to jail poor people for the crime of being poor. Continue reading “HEJE Overview 11-15-17: Justice”