IN MEMORIAM: ‘American Idol’ runner-up killed in car crash at 23
ROLLING OUT — A family member said that Spence had a flat tire but allegedly got it fixed as he was coming home to Atlanta from Tennessee. Willie crashed into a semi-truck that was parked on the side of the road.
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The singer was traveling back to Atlanta from Tennessee
By Malik Brown | RollingOut.com
Singer Willie Spence, who finished in second place on Season 19 of American Idol in 2021, died in a car crash in Tennessee on Oct. 11. He was 23-years-old.
A family member said that Spence had a flat tire but allegedly got it fixed as he was coming home to Atlanta from Tennessee. Willie crashed into a semi-truck that was parked on the side of the road.
Willie posted a video of himself singing on the same day of the crash.
Willie is known for his amazing vocals on “American Idol,” singing songs such as “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Georgia on My Mind.” He made it all the way to finals and came in second place behind Chayce Beckham.
Many people offered their condolences and showed love to the singer on social media.
May 29, 2023 – Welcome back to another episode of The Conversation with Al McFarlane! We bring you inspiring discussions …
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No Labels Endorses Bipartisan Deal to Resolve US Debt Ceiling Debate
NNPA NEWSWIRE — “We have always emphasized that there should be common sense bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems that are supported overwhelmingly by the majority of the American people,” No Labels National Co-Chairs Joe Lieberman, Larry Hogan, and Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said in a joint statement issued on Sunday, May 28.
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By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
No Labels, a growing national movement of what the organization calls “common sense Americans pushing leaders together to solve the country’s biggest problems,” announced its support of the bipartisan deal that President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have agreed upon in principle to avoid the United States defaulting on its national debt before the June 5 deadline.
“We have always emphasized that there should be common sense bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems that are supported overwhelmingly by the majority of the American people,” No Labels National Co-Chairs Joe Lieberman, Larry Hogan, and Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said in a joint statement issued on Sunday, May 28.
Chavis also serves as president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association of the more than 230 African American owned newspapers and media companies in the United States.
After months of uncertainty and verbal sparring, an “agreement in principle” has been reached to spare the United States from its first-ever debt default.
But now comes the hard part: convincing both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to agree to pass the measure.
After President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced that they’d reached an accord to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default, Congress has just a few days to approve the deal.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a deal needs ratification by June 5, or the United States would breach its $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.
If approved by Congress, the deal would raise the debt ceiling for two years, punting it to the next administration.
The GOP originally proposed a one-year deal but conceded to Democrats’ demand for two.
In the agreement, spending – except for the military – would remain at 2023 levels for next year, with funds being earmarked for other federal programs.
Biden also agreed to a $10 billion cut to the $80 billion he had earmarked for the IRS to crack down on individuals cheating on their taxes.
Instead, the funds will go to other programs that Republicans sought to cut.
Additionally, with billions remaining from pandemic relief funds unspent, both parties agreed to claw back those funds to the federal government.
“Avoiding America’s default in paying our national debt is vital to the future of our nation. We thank President Biden and Speaker McCarthy for their leadership to achieve the debt ceiling deal,” the No Labels leaders continued.
“We encourage Republican, Democratic and Independent members of both chambers of the US Congress to pass this agreement expeditiously because it is so important for every American.”
Three Years After #DefundThePolice, Schools Are Bringing Cops Back to Campus
SAN DIEGO VOICE & VIEWPOINT — As of January 2023, there were about 60 SROs remaining in D.C. schools, down from its peak of more than 100, according to the Washington Post. However, the progress made toward reducing law enforcement presence in D.C. schools appears to be in jeopardy. In what seems like a backtrack from the progressive momentum generated during “America’s racial reckoning,” four D.C. council members now support a proposal to retain officers in schools, citing an uptick in violence and crime in school vicinities.
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In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, calls to defund the police rang across the nation during the summer of 2020. While few cities took swift action, many school districts — integral community hubs where young minds are nurtured, and where kids spend the bulk of their time — began to reevaluate the presence of armed personnel patrolling the hallways.
In September 2019, eight months before Floyd’s murder, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported nearly 25,000 school resource officers were assigned to primarily K-12 schools.
Those numbers slowly started to change in districts around the country as a response to calls to defund the police.
In Washington, D.C., for example, the D.C. Council unanimously voted in 2021 to reduce the number of SROs in both public and charter schools beginning July 2022, with the plan to end the Metropolitan Police Department’s School Safety Division in 2025.
As of January 2023, there were about 60 SROs remaining in D.C. schools, down from its peak of more than 100, according to the Washington Post. However, the progress made toward reducing law enforcement presence in D.C. schools appears to be in jeopardy. In what seems like a backtrack from the progressive momentum generated during “America’s racial reckoning,” four D.C. council members now support a proposal to retain officers in schools, citing an uptick in violence and crime in school vicinities.
On the other side of the country, the Denver Public School District Board of Education unanimously voted to bring SROs back to schools through June 2023. Similar to D.C., the decision followed closely on the heels of a shooting at Denver’s East High School. And 18 SROs were brought back to 17 schools in the district.
Schools around the country are running into roadblocks trying to remove SROs.
The roadblocks don’t look the same in every situation.
In D.C., for example, ACLU DC policy associate Ahoefa Ananouko cites Mayor Muriel Bowser as the biggest barrier. Bowser has been vocal about keeping SROs in schools, going as far as to say that removing SROs is “the nuttiest thing.”
And, like in D.C. and Denver, politicians, policymakers, and some educators nationwide cite violence in the area as a reason for keeping SROs, but there is little evidence to support that SROs actually do make schools safer. In fact, in a 2020 report, the Justice Policy Institute said, “rates of youth violence were plummeting independent of law enforcement interventions, and the impact of SROs on school shootings has been dubious at best.”
Plus, it’s been proven that SROs exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline, especially for Black students.
The Center for Public Integrity analyzed U.S. Department of Education data from all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico in 2021. The investigation found that school policing disproportionately affects students with disabilities and Black students. Nationwide, these two groups were referred to law enforcement at “nearly twice their share of the overall student population.”
But it doesn’t stop many adults on the school campus from differing discipline to SROs, says Adonai Mack, the senior director of education at Children Now. This happens when there is either a fear around addressing disciplinary problems or concerns, or feeling they aren’t able to handle it.
“What we often have seen is that the teachers or classified staff who feel that it’s not within their ability to handle certain situations automatically defer to the SROs,” Mack says.
This is where the call for additional non-police safety officials comes in, like nurses, counselors, or psychologists, who “certainly do more help than harm,” Mack says.
But, like teachers and other educators, there’s a shortage of these professionals. But Ananouko says this shouldn’t be a barrier if policymakers decided it was more important to have mental health professionals or restorative justice interventionalists — people who are trained to handle trauma, behavior, and underlying issues.
“I believe they could and should shift those resources to incentivize those professionals being hired instead of investing more in police,” Ananouko says, “which have been shown to be harmful to students in a school environment, generally.”
A Detriment to Mental Wellness
Though it’s too early to have concrete data on students’ mental health without SROs, there are, anecdotally, reasons to believe it’s a positive change.
Aside from students leading police-free school groups, there are other historic factors that lend insight. For one, whenever there are fears around deportation, not only Black students, but Latino and AAPI students experience negative mental health impacts, Mack says.
The feelings, like with the Defund the Police movement, are split across racial lines. Black, Latino, and AAPI students don’t always feel safe with police around.
“With kids of color, what you often have is this alienation,” Mack says. “There are decreased feelings of safety. Now, I would say that’s different for white kids and white families. They often will feel that having police on campus makes the campus safer.”
And, Black and Brown students are more likely to attend a school patrolled by an SRO. A 2023 Urban Institute study found that schools where the student population is at least 80% Black and Brown, students are more likely to have an SRO compared to schools with a high population of white students, regardless of income levels. And, 34%-37% of schools with high populations of Black and Brown students have an SRO, compared to 5%-11% of predominantly white schools.
But it’s clear that there’s “a detriment to kids of color” with police on campus, Mack says.
“From that perspective, with any decrease, what we see is that it automatically improves the mental wellness of students from those communities,” Mack says.
‘A Critical Point’
While the roadblocks might be tougher or the headlines have fizzled out, Ananouko says the police-free schools movement “isn’t slowing down at all.”
And now, D.C. is at a critical point. It’s budget oversight season, meaning it’s the time when funding for SROs could be restored. But, every year since the initial 2021 vote, students, school administrators, teachers, and advocates have continued to push for the phase-out, Ananouko says.
“Our messaging has not changed,” Ananouko says. “We’ve stayed consistent in saying that police don’t keep students safe. And none of that has changed in these past three years.”
The bottom line is that all kids deserve to feel safe and nurtured, Ananouko says.
“They should be able to feel like they can go to school with that fear,” she says, whether this fear comes from other students or armed officers in the building who can use their gun “at any point at the discretion of the law is on their side.”
“A lot of the issues that students are dealing with are not going to be addressed by somebody with a gun.”
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