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UnidosUS Applauds Efforts to Rollback Arizona’s English-Only Policy

February 19, 2019


WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) commends Arizona’s House Education Committee today on the passage of HCR 2026, which would give Arizona voters the opportunity to repeal the state’s English-only instruction law. Last night’s unanimous vote is an important step forward for English Learners (ELs) who, under the mandate, are subject to a restrictive approach to attain English-language proficiency.


The Structured English Immersion (SEI) model has been widely criticized for its rigid approach for teaching ELs, including pulling ELs away from their core subject areas and separating them from other students for nearly half of their school day. Additionally, a growing body of research has pointed to the negative effects of SEI when it comes to meaningful English language acquisition.


“The academic success of EL students should be paramount for lawmakers and education leaders alike. As one of the fastest growing segments of our school-aged population, it is necessary that our public schools—in Arizona and across the country—invest in systems and policies that better serve ELs and their path to college and career success,” said Amalia Chamorro, Associate Director of UnidosUS’s Education Policy Project.


“We thank Representatives John Fillmore and Michelle Udall for their leadership in ushering this bill forward and advancing policies that support the achievement of all students,” concluded Chamorro.

NAACP Challenge to Prison Gerrymandering Moves Forward, First Statewide Challenge in the Nation

Federal judge refuses to dismiss suit over discriminatory counting of incarcerated persons

Feb. 19, 2019

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New Haven, CT  — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), together with the NAACP Connecticut State Conference and individual NAACP members, won a key ruling today that allows their federal lawsuit challenging the State of Connecticut’s discriminatory practice known as “prison gerrymandering” to proceed. The lawsuit is the first in the nation to take on a statewide practice of counting incarcerated people as residents of the legislative districts where they are held, rather than in their home districts.


Connecticut’s Redistricting Plan may “compromise . . . fair and effective representation,” Judge Warren W. Eginton wrote in an opinion, issued today, denying the state’s motion to dismiss. His decision allows the plaintiffs an opportunity to prove that “Connecticut’s 2011 Redistricting Plan reflects neither electoral nor representational equality.” The case will now proceed to discovery and potentially to trial.


The suit, NAACP et al. v. Merrill, No. 3:18-cv-01094-WWE, was filed last June in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The complaint alleges that prison gerrymandering violates Connecticut residents’ constitutional rights to one person, one vote by inflating the power of predominantly white rural districts, where many prisons are located, to the detriment of urban districts, where many incarcerated persons maintain a permanent residence. The plaintiffs seek to compel Connecticut to adopt a new redistricting map that counts incarcerated individuals in their home state legislative districts rather than in the districts where they are incarcerated.


“The Equal Protection Clause guarantees that each person’s vote must be equal to that of their fellow citizens,” said NAACP General Counsel Bradford M. Berry. “Today’s ruling is a step towards securing that constitutional right for the people of Connecticut—in a case that will matter for all states that continue to engage in this unconstitutional practice.”


In his opinion, Judge Eginton emphasized that Connecticut’s districting plan might unconstitutionally compromise residents’ representation because of its “reliance upon total population census data when, by state law, incarcerated individuals are not even considered residents of their prison location.”


“Prison gerrymandering is a double punch—it takes away the political power of people of color and gives it to rural districts,” said Scot X. Esdaile, President of the NAACP Connecticut State Conference. “Not only are our communities devastated by mass incarceration, but this practice piles on by taking political equality away as well.”


“With the 2020 elections coming up, I’m hopeful that we’re closer to the day my vote counts equally to those of people who happen to live in prison districts,” said Garry Monk, a resident of Connecticut State House District 92 and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “This lawsuit is about allowing everyone to have an equal voice and an equal vote.”


“It is particularly appropriate that this decision comes in Connecticut, which strives to be a model for the nation of fair and open voting practices,” said Alex Taubes, of David Rosen & Associates, co-counsel for the plaintiffs.


“A basic constitutional principle of our government is that the weight of someone’s vote should not be determined by where he or she lives,” explained Ayoub Ouederni, a law student intern with the Yale Law School Rule of Law Clinic, counsel for the NAACP and other plaintiffs. “But that’s exactly what prison gerrymandering does. The state shouldn’t be allowed to count the bodies of incarcerated persons in a place they have not chosen to live, to the political benefit of the people who live near prisons.”


The plaintiffs are represented by the NAACP Office of the General Counsel, Rosen & Associates, P.C. and the Yale Law School Rule of Law Clinic.

10th Annual Avoice Heritage Celebration

Roots, Return, Remembrance: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Agenda

On February 26, 2019, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) will host its 10th Annual Avoice Heritage Celebration, entitled "Roots, Return, Remembrance: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Agenda." The annual celebration is the CBCF's signature Black History Month program (#BHM) that pays homage to the historic achievements of African Americans while celebrating individuals who have significantly impacted the global Black diaspora.


This year, our awardees include Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Elijah Cummings and Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.


The evening will also serve as a fundraiser for the Avoice Virtual Library Project, an online repository that captures the legislative and political achievements of African Americans in Congress. If you are interested in supporting the CBCF or the Avoice Virtual Library, please visit cbcfinc.org. If you would like to sponsor the 10th Annual Avoice Heritage Celebration, please review the CBCF's sponsorship opportunities here.


Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CBCFinc and let us know about your roots by using the hashtag, #RememberOurRoots.


The 2019 Heritage theme, “Roots, Return, Remembrance: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Agenda,” will honor leaders who have significantly impacted the global Black diaspora through a political, social and historical agenda of empowerment. This year, our awardees will be noted historian and CBCF Board Member, Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and CBC members, Reps. Maxine Waters, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Robert “Bobby” Scott, Bennie Thompson, Elijah Cummings and Karen Bass—the five House full committees chairs of the 116th Congress and the new chair of the CBC. The program will begin with the presentation of awards and a screening of a brief video that will feature the family histories of the honorees. On this momentous anniversary of 400 years since Africans became enslaved in America, Heritage 2019 will remember and reflect on the many diverse stories of migration by Black Americans and how these personal journeys shape the mission of the CBC. The program will end with a panel discussion with the committee chairs, conversing about their life stories related to their roots and black migration. The program’s proceeds support the AVOICE Virtual Library Project, a digital archive of nine exhibits that showcase the CBC’s history and contemporary impact on public policies affecting Black Americans.

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