After a county school board in Colorado proposed to rewrite the district’s high school U.S. history curriculum to stop teaching about civil disobedience, students and teachers have responded with acts of civil disobedience of their own. Classes have been canceled twice in Jefferson County as teachers stage mass sick-outs and students walk out of classes. At a protest last week, hundreds of Denver-area high school students held cardboard signs with slogans including, "Don’t make history a mystery" and "Keep your politics out of my education." The protests began after the school board announced it was considering reviewing the curriculum of Advanced Placement history courses and adding more material to "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights." The proposed changes also call for the removal of classroom materials that "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." In addition, teachers are protesting a pay-grade system that ties their salaries to performance reviews. We are joined by two guests: John Ford, president of the Jefferson County Education Association and a social studies teacher at Moore Middle School, and Ashlyn Maher, a Chatfield High School senior and one of the students protesting the proposed curriculum changes.
We look at the incredible story of how a 16-year-old high school sophomore from the Bronx ended up spending nearly three years locked up at the Rikers jail in New York City after he says he was falsely accused of stealing a backpack. Kalief Browder never pleaded guilty and was never convicted. Browder maintained his innocence and requested a trial, but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. Near the end of his time in jail, the judge offered to sentence him to time served if he entered a guilty plea, and warned him he could face 15 years in prison if he was convicted. But Browder still refused to accept the deal, and was only released when the case was dismissed. During this time, Browder spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement, a juvenile imprisonment practice that the New York Department of Corrections has now banned. We are joined by reporter and author Jennifer Gonnerman, who recounts Browder’s story in the current issue of The New Yorker. We also speak with Browder’s current attorney, Paul Prestia, who has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, the Bronx District Attorney, and the Department of Corrections, on Browder’s behalf.
The American Civil Liberties has filed a federal lawsuit against Scott County, which is about 25 miles from the capital of Jackson, over allegations that it has held prisoners for nearly a year without formal charge or access to an attorney. The two plaintiffs in the case are Octavious Burks, held for more than 10 months without formal charge, and Joshua Bassett, held for eight months. Burks was arrested for armed robbery, and Bassett for grand larceny and possession of methamphetamine. Overall, the ACLU estimates at least 50 people are being held in the Scott County in a similar situation — no indictment and no access to a lawyer. We are joined by Brandon Buskey, staff attorney with the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and lead attorney on the case in Scott County, Mississippi.