What an Inmate, a Dictator and a Superintendent Have in Common

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Why you should care

They don’t get much mainstream press (yet), but these people and trends are reshaping our world. 

In case you missed it, OZY continued its regular segment on PBS NewsHour to discuss ideas and people who aren’t in the headlines but could reshape the ground beneath our feet. A rundown of the latest segment:

Schoolhouse Rocky

He’s the superintendent of schools in Oakland, California, not a job for the faint of heart. In fact, Antwan Wilson spends a lot of his time dodging spitballs. And, more seriously, death threats. Wilson is one of the last of the “reform superintendents,” and Oakland’s schools have proven difficult terrain. It’s not just the 67 percent high school graduation rate (in much of the country, it’s in the 80–90 percent range), but also the peculiar politics of the place: left versus very left. Which means Wilson’s pragmatic approach has come under fire. Read the OZY story here.

Training Inmates to Tame Wild Horses

More than 2 million Americans are in prison. As cities and states around the country begin to rethink criminal justice practices, this Arizona program offers an example of what emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment looks like. Here, the prisoners work to tame wild horses — there are tens of thousands in the West — and begin to heal. The inmates work for four to six months at a time, day in and day out. It’s too soon to tell in Arizona, but other such programs have found drastic drops in recidivism rates. Read the OZY story here.

The Worst Dictator You’ve Never Heard Of

Since taking power in a 1994 coup, President Yahya Jammeh has ruled the Gambia through fear and force. Anyone who speaks up against his cruel, outlandish ways risks kidnapping, torture (as was suffered by dissident Imam Baba Leigh) and murder. In all this, Jammeh has made his country the neighborhood freak. The rest of West Africa has taken big strides toward democracy over the past decade, but the Gambia, 50 years independent, is where human rights go to die. The latest coup attempt, in December 2014, was led by two Gambian-Americans with some military training. It failed miserably. Read the OZY story here.

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