05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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As the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Head Start this summer, Albina Head Start Director Ronnie Herndon says politics are threatening the effectiveness of the venerated group.

Long considered one of the most effective early childhood development programs in the country, today Head Start faces mandated changes from the federal government and a surprising lack of support from Oregon’s fractured education bureaucracy.

Operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start is considered to be one of the oldest and most successful anti-poverty programs nationally.

Yet in recent years it has been attacked for being ineffective in the wake of studies that showed the gains made by Head Start children “fade” after a few years in the public school system

In Oregon, the new Early Learning Council established by now-disgraced former Gov. John Kitzhaber opted last year not to award Albina Head Start any expansion grant money – the first time that had happened in the history of the organization. 

The Skanner News sat down with Herndon to talk about the program’s status and why it is crucial for kids.

The Skanner News: Last time we spoke, we were examining how the state decided not to give any expansion grant money to Albina Head Start. Your organization appealed that decision but the former director said there was no appeals process. What is the status of that situation?

Herndon: Nothing has occurred since this past summer. We did not get any expansion funding, even people who work at the state and most people involved in social services involved in the county think that was a terrible decision.

We have the state money that we already have, but we did not get any expansion money. So that means, given that we serve the largest number and percentage of Black children, that probably zero additional Black kids got served after the state spent an extra $300 million.

The Skanner News: What do you think about the Obama Administration’s “reform” proposals for Head Start? And why does it seem that the program that has been praised for years is suddenly inadequate?

Herndon:  Children who go through Head Start are more likely to graduate from high school, they're healthier. As a matter of fact, President George W. Bush credited Head Start with lowering the child mortality rate in the entire country because of our emphasis on health care. You have award-winning economist and Nobel Prize winner James Heckman at the University of Chicago who says said Head Start is one of the best investments we could make.

Now they’re saying, for it to work better or you have to make sure that all of your teachers have education degrees. And all this research that they talk about over the first 40 years, the majority of those teachers did not have a degree. They were well-trained; we train teachers on the job. It's like an apprenticeship program.

For a lot of low income women and women of color, college is not an option. Some don't want to go. If I'm already doing a job well, why do you tell me that now I have to go get a college degree?

And interestingly enough – this is almost laughable to me – in Head Start the majority of children are children of color. They're either going to be Black, Hispanic or Native American. You put those three groups together, that's probably 70 or 75 percent of all the kids at Head Start, historically.

Now look at all the early childhood experts in this country and see if they reflect that population. You will travel a long way before you'll see a panel that's made up of people who look like the population of Head Start.

TSN: In terms of politics and Head Start, how have the Republican presidents stacked up to the Democrats?

Herndon: Well, President Bush set up a panel that essentially said, okay, come up with the standards that you want, and we’ll see if you either meet them or don't meet them.

The Obama administration came out initially and said, every year, one third of all Head Start programs will be monitored and reviewed. Then they predicted that 25 percent of those programs will fail every year, and that now 25 percent of all the programs that are reviewed every year to have to re-compete for the funding

Now there are programs that have had perfect scores on their federal reviews but the mathematicians get together and say, you may have had a perfect score on your federal review, but you failed in this one assessment and now you have to re-compete for your grant.

They certainly don't do this in the Defense Department. Take the lowest 10 percent, based upon the number of mortar shells that didn't work, and your corporation will have to re-compete for its contract?

They don't do this in any other part of the government. It's an artificial floor.

In other words it literally undermines the program, which is exactly what Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind did

So here you are 50 years later, 31 million children have been through it including Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. He gives the credit for where he is now to Head Start.  A woman from California, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, she credits Head Start

TSN: What’s the most important thing for the public to know about our education system right now?

Herndon: To me the question is: Why can't we figure out why the system isn’t working? In my mind the reason is that we start out by training teachers very poorly. Education is probably one of the few occupations I know where instructors who have never done well in the subject matter are supposed to be teaching the neophyte teachers.

There is no requirement that an instructor or teacher in the school of education has ever taught a class to grade level, in reading or writing or math or anything. There is no requirement that a graduate of a school of education here in Oregon has learned how to teach a kid to read right – no requirement.

A woman came up to me about six years ago, she's teaching third grade reading – and she said, I was never taught to teach kids how to read.

So this is the fundamental flaw.

Start from the very beginning. You could say, we are going to ensure that during a person's experience in the school of education that 80 percent of their time will be in front of a person who was a successful practitioner, a teacher who had children scoring at or above grade level – pick your number, 90 percent? I'll go down to 80 or 85 percent of their children historically scoring at or above grade level.

To become a principal it's even more hilarious. They are not taught by successful principals -- it's just who happens to be here, get a certificate, another stamp on your butt, and now you’re ready.

Until we fix these fundamental flaws will be going around in circles, around and around. You can change the curriculum. No Child Left Behind, No Child to the Top, Race-Run-Walk to the Top, it doesn't matter.  

Unless you fix the fundamental flaw  -- which is teacher and principal preparation and training -- this is nothing but a shell game.

Find out more about Albina Head Start at www.albinahs.org.

Hear Herndon live on KBOO Community Radio at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 28, or listen to the podcast here

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