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January 18, 2019

KAMALA HARRIS NOT LEFTY ENOUGH FOR THE LEFT?: An opinion piece in the New York Times complains that “Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor.’” The piece contains a litany of ways she fails to measure up to the author’s standard of Progressivism.   Among the complaints is this one:

Ms. Harris also championed state legislation under which parents whose children were found to be habitually truant in elementary school could be prosecuted, despite concerns that it would disproportionately affect low-income people of color.

For me, that would be a reason to support Harris (though I have a feeling I am not the NYT’s target audience for this one). The attack on her is correct that this legislation would disproportionately affect low-income parents as well as African American and to a much lesser extent Latino parents. As I have written elsewhere about Harris’ empirical findings:

Among California students in kindergarten through 5th grade, the African-American rate of chronic truancy (i.e. 18 or more unexcused absences) is approximately five times the rate of white students. For example, former California Attorney General Kamala Harris (who is not among those who ignore the truancy issue) reports that, among kindergarteners, the rates are 7.9% (African American), 2.1% (Latino), 1.4% (white), and 1.1% (Asian). In the 5th grade the rates are 4.9% (African American), 1% (Hispanic), 1% (white), and 0.3% (Asian).

Harris rightly understood that making progress on closing the achievement gap requires making progress on closing the truancy gap. Good for Harris. If these “More Progressive Than Thou” types give a damn about actual low-income and minority students, they might want to cut her some slack on this.