School Reform Grudge Match: Diane Ravitch vs. Steven Brill

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David A. Walsh: Sure, Ravitch may “cherry-pick” her facts and sound like the tobacco companies, and Brill may be a defamatory admirer of Joel Klein, bosom buddy to Rupert Murdoch, but at least those are creative attacks.

Lethal Injustice

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Diane Lefer: The death penalty means “the State can kill you as long as they give you a trial. The State doesn’t say your lawyer has to be awake.

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Author Spotlight: Diane Lefer

Diane visiting friend Duc Ta in prison.

Dick Price: Aside from writing nine published books, Diane Lefer has picked potatoes, typed autopsy reports, surveyed parolees and drug addicts about their sex lives, and taught creative writing to gang-bangers.

Word To “The Motha:” Isn’t It Nice to Have Landed on the Right of History?

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Anthony Samad: Diane Watson had to be dragged, kicking and screaming the whole way, to the right side of history. And now she’s serving the first African American President and part of a Congress that passed universal health care, something she worked her whole life for in the California legislature and something seven Presidents couldn’t do.

Crime in the California State Assembly

Diane Lefer: We are all shamed, but it’s time to call out the people who belong on the roll call of shame, the Assembly members who so fear being called soft on crime that they couldn’t bring themselves to do the right and rational thing.

Peace Crimes

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Diane Lefer: “Nightwind”–the play we created in 2004 about his experience and his brother’s abduction, torture, and murder by a death squad–has toured the US and the world, including Afghanistan, to raise global opposition to the practice of torture. Performing it for the first time in Medellín, the city where the atrocities took place, Hector was nervous.

Is There a Plan for Longtime Residents in the Master Plan for University Park?

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Diane Lefer: According to Uriarte, speculators aren’t just driving out longtime residents but taking advantage of the students, too. “Where a family used to rent a house, or apartments used to be rented as one-bedroom or two-bedroom, now the property-owners rent by the bed.”

Ready or Not. Here They Come! Youth Reentry from Probation

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Diane Lefer: As our Probation Department moves in the direction of reform, the good news is that the department recognizes the need for reentry services for kids coming out of the system–often traumatized, unable to read and write, set free on the mean streets in an abysmal job market while carrying the stigma of lockup.

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