Somewhat overshadowed by events was the release of a statement from the USCCB on the Supreme Court decision overturning Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity, said:
The recent Supreme Court decision necessitates that Congress act swiftly to assure that the right to vote be protected and afforded to all eligible citizens. We urge policymakers to quickly come together to reaffirm the bipartisan consensus that has long supported the Voting Rights Act and to move forward new legislation that assures modern and effective protections for all voters so that they may exercise their right and moral obligation to participate in political life.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Health Association says today that the current combination of exemptions and accommodations within the HHS’s contraception mandate are sufficient.
Campaign-ish notes: Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor of Texas (I didn’t know either), won’t run for that office again, but is reflecting and, yes, praying, about his plans for the future.
Newark mayor Cory Booker is dominating the Democratic polls in his New Jersey senate race. Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, is considering a senate run in Wyoming against the popular incumbent Mike Enzi, creating some interesting tensions within the state’s Republican establishment. And if you like New York City politics, you’ll love the entry of Elliott Spitzer (one of New York’s shortest-serving governors) into the race for city comptroller. He’s already facing serious opposition from Wall Street and organized labor.
In an open letter to Teach for America recruits, progressive education reform advocate Katie Osgood implores them rethink their choice, contending that five weeks of training is not simply insufficient preparation for the classroom, but that any model based on the assumption it is can only serve to harm the intended beneficiaries:
TFA claims to fight to end educational inequality and yet ends up exacerbating one of the greatest inequalities in education today: that low-income children of color are much more likely to be given inexperienced, uncertified teachers. TFA’s five weeks of Institute are simply not enough time to prepare anyone, no matter how dedicated or intelligent, to have the skills necessary to help our neediest children. This fall, on that first day of school, you will be alone with kids who need so much more. You will represent one more inequality in our education system denying kids from low-income backgrounds equitable educational opportunities.
She also looks at TFA’s approach in the context of the corporate-driven educational reform efforts underway across the country.
Two somewhat different trials continue: Those of George Zimmerman, accused in the so-called “stand-your-ground” killing of Trayvon Martin, in Florida, and Whitey Bulger, accused of lots of things, in Boston. (The live tweets of testimony from the trial are pretty good reading. Sample: “Bulger rejected ID when Weeks brought it to him in Chicago cuz Jack's fake mustache looked like caterpillar, Whitey's was thin.”)
Finally, Christian Lorentzen, in the London Review of Books, bucks the consensus trend on Alice Munro in his blunt critique of her work (h/t Matt Boudway), even as the otherwise widely esteemed writer proceeds with what’s beginning to seem like a somewhat choreographed retirement campaign, timed as it is with the paperback release of her final collection, Dear Life.