Chad’s Morning Brief: Taliban Members Obama Traded Away Won’t Be Watched Too Closely, Report Says Schools Should Reduce Zero Tolerance Policies, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of June 4, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
Important Election Dates:
Early Voting for the District 3 Runoff Election: June 9-17
Election Day for Lubbock City Council District 3 Runoff: June 21
Taliban Members Pretty Free in Qatar
Remember when the Obama administration told everyone that the five Taliban prisoners were going to be closely monitored in Qatar? According to FOX News, that may not happen.
President Obama's claim Tuesday that the U.S. would "be keeping eyes" on five hardened Taliban leaders traded for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's freedom was immediately challenged by a Middle East official quoted as saying they'd actually be allowed to move freely -- and even "go back to Afghanistan if they want to."
The source, identified as a senior Gulf official, reportedly told Reuters that the five Taliban members would not be treated like prisoners while staying in Qatar, where they were released. Rather, they'd be allowed to "move around freely" in the country and then be allowed to travel outside Qatar after one year.
The official, seemingly contrary to Obama's claims, also said U.S. officials would not be involved in monitoring their movements.
If true, Qatar's plans are likely to stir concerns from Washington, particularly from GOP lawmakers who warned that these prisoners could return to the battlefield.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Tuesday that Qatar has "notoriously played both sides of the street, as far as Muslim extremists are concerned" and cast doubt on the president's assurances.
"Mullah Omar now has his cabinet restored," McCain said of the infamous Taliban leader.
Earlier Tuesday, Obama acknowledged there's "absolutely" a risk that the former Guantanamo inmates will try to return to the battlefield.
"Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely," Obama said. "That's been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantanamo. There's a certain recidivism rate that takes place."
But the president defended the deal, saying: "I wouldn't be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security."
Obama made the comments in Poland at the first stop of his European tour. He claimed the Qataris, who are supposedly watching over the newly freed Taliban prisoners, are monitoring them, as is the United States. He claimed America will be "keeping eyes on them."
The president also responded Tuesday to concerns about Bergdahl's conduct, and questions over whether he had effectively deserted when he walked off his post in 2009, only to be captured by the Taliban.
Obama said they saw an opportunity to bring Bergdahl back and seized it, and that the U.S. government will bring a soldier back regardless of circumstances.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a similar statement in response to concerns about Bergdahl's conduct. On Facebook, Dempsey said those questions "are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity."
"This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him. As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we'll learn the facts," Dempsey said. "Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army's leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family."
In a potential reference to claims that soldiers died during the search for Bergdahl, Dempsey also wrote: "Finally, I want to thank those who for almost five years worked to find him, prepared to rescue him, and ultimately put themselves at risk to recover him."
Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement Tuesday that Bergdahl's health is the first priority -- but the Army will eventually review the case "in a comprehensive, coordinated effort that will include speaking with Sgt. [Bergdahl] to better learn from him the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity."
He said "all other decisions will be made thereafter, and in accordance with appropriate regulations, policies and practices."
Meanwhile, concerns continue to mount about the risk posed by the five Taliban members who were released. Defense Department documents on WikiLeaks detail the violent backgrounds of the prisoners.
One, Mohammad A Fazl, served as the Taliban Army chief of staff and was wanted by the United Nations for possible war crimes, "including the murder of thousands of Shiites." He was listed as a high risk to the U.S. and its allies.
Another, Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, was "directly associated" with Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Usama bin Laden.
Does anyone really have any faith that the United States will keep tabs on these terrorists? After one year they will be allowed to travel if they hadn't already left the country. These men are terrorists. Why do we think they will obey a "no-travel zone"?
End Zero Tolerance Policies?
According to US News a new report says that schools should re-examine zero tolerance policies. The report claims that zero tolerance polices hurt minorities and LGBT students the most.
Schools should change their discipline policies to focus on targeted interventions for students with behavioral issues and to form stronger partnerships with law enforcement entities to reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions and improve learning outcomes for students. Those are some of the findings of a national report designed to serve as a road map for school discipline policy reform.
The 460-page report – released Tuesday by the Council of State Governments Justice Center – puts forth more than 60 recommendations drawn from more than 700 interviews spanning three years. Those recommendations encourage school leaders to reduce the use of "zero tolerance" discipline policies in favor of data-driven responses, such as early warning systems to help with students at risk of failing or dropping out of school, and more training for educators to help de-escalate conflicts. Research has shown that disabled students, minority students and LGBT students are disproportionately suspended and expelled from school.
"Anyone who wants to make students feel safer in school, improve high school graduation rates, and close the achievement gap needs to have a plan to reduce the number of youth who are suspended from school," said Michael Thompson, director of the CSG Justice Center, in a statement.
The CSG Justice Center launched the project in 2011, following a study on school discipline policies in Texas that found nearly 60 percent of secondary school students were suspended or expelled at least once. Nationally, nearly 2 million middle and high school students – about 10 percent – were suspended at least once in the 2009-10 school year, the new report says.
But certain students are more likely to be suspended than others, research has shown. Disabled students, minority students and LGBT students are disproportionately suspended and expelled from school.
African-American, Hispanic and American Indian students have disproportionately high rates, with 1 in 3 African-American males and 1 in 6 Hispanic males being suspended at least once in 2009-10, compared with 1 in 10 white male students.
Students who are suspended and expelled are less likely to graduate from high school, the report says, and the students who are more likely to experience disciplinary action – such as students of color and English language learners – are already at a disadvantage and are most affected by persistent achievement gaps in American schools.
While some suspensions and expulsions are responses to serious misconduct, the majority are for minor offenses, such as disruption of class, disorderly conduct or not knowing students had cold medication in their backpacks, the report says.
The report also makes recommendations for how school staff and educators can foster a positive school climate, which is associated with fewer incidences of school violence, high academic achievement and minimal engagement in "risky behaviors," such as substance abuse.
At Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, for example, a handful of staff members stay at the front entrance of the school to serve as a "welcome team," greeting students who are tardy. But rather than punishing the students, the staff at the entrance talks to them for 3 to 5 minutes to help them develop a plan to arrive on time the next day, according to the report.
The authors of the report also noted that partnerships with local law enforcement should be more clear-cut, so police are not engaged in classroom management. Whether school-based or off-campus, the report says officers should be trained on how to use alternatives to arrest when responding to students.
"Local law enforcement should see a partnership with schools as a key component of any community policing strategy," said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, in a statement. "At the same time, police executives do not want to see law enforcement engaged in routine classroom management." The recommendations put forth in the report give schools and police officials "usable tactics to achieve that balance," he said.
Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, a Republican who also serves as chairman of the Council of State Governments, said in a statement that it's important to note that the report does not serve as a "top-down, one-size-fits-all approach" to school discipline.
"Instead, it's a vision directly from the field about how to move beyond the old way of thinking and establish a variety of proven systems that can fit within any given district with its own unique set of challenges," Norris said.
Other Top Stories:
These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.