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Dispatches: Five Essential Reads From the Past Week

A collection of some of our most important and timely stories, from a profile of Billie Sutton, the former rodeo star running for governor of South Dakota, to a report on the growing trend of girls-only trade classes.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke talks to reporters on May 10th, 2017, in Kanab, Utah.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke talks to reporters on May 10th, 2017, in Kanab, Utah.

A rundown of five of our most important and timely stories from the past week.

  1. "Those who posit themselves as most civil are often the people with the most power and privilege, and they're also often the most forgetful of the history of this continent, which was founded in blood." In her first essay as a contributing writer for, Terese Marie Mailhot argues against the invocation of civility as a means of quieting civil discontent by pointing to how the word has historically been used to cloak barbaric policy against minority populations in a sheen of respectability. Read Mailhot's essay here.
  2. "No one is going to out-cowboy Billie Sutton." The disabled former-rodeo star is a four-term Democratic state senator who is running for governor of South Dakota. He's got broad bi-partisan support, small-town bonafides, and centrist political beliefs that appeal across the spectrum. Standing in his way: No Democrat has won a race for governor in the state since 1974. Contributing writer David M. Perry profiled Sutton, who is hoping to defy these historical trends. Read Perry's profile here.
  3. Midland, Pennsylvania, is a small working-class town situated nearly 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. It's an industry town—like so many others—that has felt the vice grip of recession in recent decades. This economic blow quickly transitioned into an educational one, as the local tax revenues used to fund the district's schools dried up with the disappearing jobs. Distressingly, the one avenue of relief that the town could pursue—merging with another, wealthier school district—was closed off. As contributing writer Dwyer Gunn reports, this is no anomaly, as many states have built perverse incentive structures that punish economically distressed school districts by giving them no option for recovery. Read Gunn's piece here.
  4. This week, Ryan Zinke's Department of the Interior accidentally released a trove of documents revealing that department officials ignored the benefits of national monuments while conducting its review of 27 sites last year. This is yet another instance of Zinke's department siding with industry interests over those of the public. After this document release, associate editor Rebecca Worby compiled a round-up of responses to the news from various public lands advocates and groups. Read Worby's round-up here.
  5. Produced in collaboration with the Hechinger Report, Brenda Iasevoli reports on the growing trend of girls-only trade classes, which educators say offer young women more than just job prospects; they're also a source of empowerment. "They feel more comfortable doing this type of work, not so self-conscious, and they don't get overrun by the boys," all-girls construction class teacher Kyle Chalupsky says. "There's no chance a boy will say: 'Get out of the way. I'll do that.'" Read Iasevoli's piece here.

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