Very timely, considering U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s announcement that the recent redistricting inspired him not to run again, MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz joined us on Left Ahead. Click the player below for her 33-minute show.
She dealt in three primary areas — redistricting (she was vice-chair of the special joint committee), the transgender-rights bill (she led in the Senate), and preventing school dropouts (she chairs the joint education committee). The short is that:
- She says they punished or protected no pol in reducing US House districts from 10 to 9
- The transgender law was eight years in the making, long before she won her first term, and she’s very thankful for it even without public-accommodation wording
- Her dropout bill (S.185) is part of a diverse effort to reverse the pattern of 8,000 MA high-school student each year leaving school forever
Listen in as she describes the redistricting process. She makes a convincing argument that politics played virtually no part in it. She talks about the high bar they had to reach in balancing the districts down to identical voter counts and keeping communities of interest together. She admitted that the committee members had a pretty good idea looking at the map what the implications would be, but that neither politics nor incumbents factored into the results. She did note that they were proud in the end to increase minority majority communities by 50% (2 to 3) in the Senate and 100% (10 to 20) in the House.
For the transgender law, she heaped praise on the many advocates who worked before her time and the legislators who joined them in the recent effort. She believes the public-accommodations portion will come, but can’t predict how quickly.
A true, continuing passion for this former public-school teacher is education and specifically dropouts. She spoke of one-on-one coaching, abetting parental involvement, early warning signs for intervention, and the role and limits of discipline methods in this effort. She does not look for a magic bullet, but adds that the solutions are known and possible.