Law and Disorder Radio – Wisconsin Governor Recall Election – ACLU Tries to Halt Single-Sex Classes in Public Schools – Quebec Students Protest Against Tuition Hikes and Bill 78 – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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Wisconsin Governor Recall Election

As many listeners may know, it’s a crucial week for Wisconsin and perhaps the country. Since February of last year, Wisconsin’s left-leaning capitol city has been filled with demonstrations, mass mobilization, and amazing citizen activism that has led up to the governor’s recall election this week. This also comes after 30,000 volunteers throughout the state gathered more than a million signatures on recall petitions. It’s been framed by United Wisconsin, the group who organized the recall, as the ability of the people in Wisconsin to control their own destiny versus money from millionaires from outside the state. Governor Walker has made deep cuts to public education, he’s taken away public worker bargaining rights, and has moved to take away state legislature open meetings.

Ruth Conniff:

What’s going on here is a grassroots rebellion against a corporate takeover of our state.

It’s been a really dramatic time here since Walker, in his own words, “dropped the bomb” by ending public employees’ collective bargaining rights.

It’s been out and out war on society here.

What we’ve seen in response to this very right wing radical take over is a democratic movement that is almost unprecedented. Hundreds of thousands of people in these mass rallies a year ago and now this grassroots petition drive.

There was so much pressure from grassroots volunteers and neighbors to gather signatures, to recall our governor and now we’re going to have an election.

Governor Walker actually wrote a piece of legislation for pharmacists to decide whether to dispense birth control to women.

He’s pushed through a variety of his agenda items that include closing Planned Parenthood clinics across our state which provide basic healthcare, very often the only healthcare provider to rural women in Wisconsin.

He’s criminalized abortion doctors whose patients fail to jump through some onerous hoops which has made medical abortion a thing of the past in Wisconsin.

He rolled back our pay equity law here.

I think women in particular have been hurt by Walker’s agenda, and have led a lot of the rebellion against Walker.

A lot of these are ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, bills that are being pushed nationally and in states across the country. Walker himself was a member of ALEC; we have a number of state legislators who are members of ALEC, so it’s been quite aggressive.

There’s a sense that the grassroots is really dragging the leadership along on this.

This is really about a fight over democracy and whether citizens have a voice in their democracy.

We’re expecting a turnout on par with a presidential election on this recall race.

It’s a battle between the citizen uprising and the incredible power of all this money. It’s a multi-front attack, the electoral part is a piece of it.

There was a really spontaneous thing that happened; it wasn’t a coordinated, planned event and it was incredibly thrilling to be part of it with my kids and their teachers.

By re-opening the Las Vegas loophole in Wisconsin, which allows corporations to hide their profits out of state and pay no corporate income tax, our state has lost the same amount of money that Walker took out of our technical college system.

We are transferring wealth to corporations. Undoing the damage in Wisconsin is going to take a lot of time.

Guest – Ruth Conniff, political editor of The Progressive magazine and a native of Madison, Wisconsin. She first joined the magazine when she was hired as a summer intern by the late Erwin Knoll after her sophomore year at Yale. Shortly after graduating from college in 1990, she came to work as Associate Editor for The Progressive, later becoming Washington Editor and opening the magazine’s Washington, DC, office in 1997. During the 1990s, Conniff covered welfare reform in Wisconsin and around the country, as well as the drug war in Colombia, women’s sports, and other topics.

ACLU Tries to Halt Single-Sex Classes in Maine

Single-gender classes may violate federal law by relying on gender stereotypes. That’s what the ACLU is saying in several states, including Massachusetts, Indiana, Idaho, Washington, Illinois and Maine. The Maine ACLU is calling for the Sanford school district to stop offering single gender classes which they say may violate Title IX, the federal law that addresses gender equity in federally funded education programs.

Examples of improper gender stereotypes include sixth-grade girls discussing current events over cocoa while boys create an exercise area in the classroom and earn points toward prizes from the National Football League.

The ACLU has made public records requests and is reviewing records or has pending requests in other states, including Alabama, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Zachary Heiden:

  • All children are entitled to equal access to education regardless of their sex; that’s what the law says, that’s what the Constitution says.
  • These same-sex classrooms have a danger of reinforcing stereotypes about learning. They separate kids out by sex, and then apply these outmoded stereotypes.
  • In terms of how they conduct those classes, that does a terrible disservice to both boys and girls.
  • In the boys’ program, the boys have signed up for this exercise program called NFL Experience where the boys could do exercise in the morning and earn different points, depending on how much exercise they do. In the girls’ class, no NFL Experience. The girls have hot cocoa, read the local newspaper and discuss current events.
  • There’s a national organization that’s been promoting these same-sex programs around the country. They have this totally unscientific idea about how brains develop and the scientific literature is very clear, that same-sex classes don’t actually connect well with the physiology of boys or girls.
  • We’re seeing it play out across the country, where people object to these program, because they are being excluded, and that’s what Title IX says – you can’t exclude students from educational programs on the basis of sex.
  • I think what we are seeing, the trajectory of public education in this country has been toward breaking down these stereotypes, of more opportunities for girls who have been traditionally excluded because of these stereotypes.
  • In Wood County, WV, for example, the girls sit in their classroom at circular tables and the boys sit in rows – then you look at the reasoning why they do that.
  • Boys apparently if they have to look at each other in the eyes, they will become aggressive.
  • Girls don’t learn well under pressure, they don’t respond well to deadlines.
  • You start telling girls from a young age, “you don’t respond well under pressure,” guess what? They’re not going to learn how to deal with pressure as well, and that is dangerous.
  • ACLU – Women’s Rights Project

Guest – Zachary Heiden, Legal Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the Maine state affiliate of the ACLU. He received his A.B. from Bowdoin College, his M.A. in English from the University of Florida, and his J.D. from Boston College Law School, where he was the managing editor of The International and Comparative Law Review.

Quebec Students Protest Against Tuition Hikes and Bill 78

Austerity is taking its toll in many countries, as public services are cut, federal jobs are slashed and tuition hikes are pushed onto the younger generations.  Canada is no exception. For the past 3 months, students in Montreal, Quebec have poured into the streets waging a massive strike against rising college tuition fees. Last week, the government proposed an offer to end the strike, but student leaders have so far refused to recommend the deal to students.

Meanwhile, the Quebec government introduced emergency legislation, Bill 78, which would suspend the academic year and make demonstrations of more than 50 people illegal unless police had been served with an itinerary 8 hours in advance. The new law, however, hasn’t stopped the unpredictable “pots and pans” demonstrations as protesters on balconies around the city make noise to express solidarity in opposing tuition hikes.

Guest – Beatrice VaugranteAmnesty International Canada, Francophone Branch Director.