Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Betsy DeVos Would Dismantle Public Schools

By nominating Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, Donald Trump has shown he is serious about decimating public education.

For the last 30 years, DeVos has spent millions of her family fortune on a destructive mission to destroy public education and lobby for using taxpayer dollars for unregulated vouchers and for-profit charters without regard to quality. And just this morning, the Wall Street Journal broke news that the DeVos family is involved in a hedge fund that is making money off federal student loan debt.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and I have sent an open letter demanding that our secretary of education and every elected official respect and uphold the American vision of high-quality public schools for every single student.

We need your support. Add your name to the open letter right now.

It’s not surprising that Trump and DeVos, both billionaires who never attended or sent their children to public schools, fail to understand the importance of public education in fostering pluralism and opportunity—but it is deeply troubling.

Our public schools are the way the United States fulfills a collective promise: to take and teach every child seeking an education. Public education isn’t a partisan issue; 90 percent of American children attend public schools, and they deserve leaders who will strengthen those schools, not destabilize or defund them.

Sign this open letter demanding better for our children.
In 2000, DeVos and her husband bankrolled a multimillion-dollar ballot initiative to create school vouchers in Michigan, and voters overwhelmingly shot it down. DeVos then shifted her focus to the expansion of publicly funded but privately run charter schools.
Her push—and deep pockets—has resulted in an explosion in the number of for-profit charters in her home state, which now has the most in the nation. As a result, a yearlong investigation into two decades of charter school records was conducted, bringing to light the consequences of Michigan charter schools’ lack of oversight, transparency and accountability. And last spring, the DeVos family funded efforts to defeat a bill that would have placed both Detroit’s charter schools and its neighborhood public schools under the same oversight authority.
During his campaign, Trump proposed a $20 billion voucher plan to shift taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools. With DeVos at his side, this could easily become a reality. 

Stand up to Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos—and for public education—by adding your name to the open letter.

America has always prided itself on its promise to provide a high-quality public education to all students, regardless of where they live. We must reclaim that promise and stand up to those who wish to dismantle public education, which we have worked so hard to advance.

Start by adding your name to this open letter.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

Monday, December 05, 2016

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Friends Block the Pipeline

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Statement on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Decision to Not Grant Easement

Portside Date: 
December 4, 2016
Dave Archambault II
Date of Source: 
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Cannon Ball, N.D.- The department of the Army will not approve an easement that will allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. The following statement was released by Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.
"Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes. We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.
We want to thank everyone who played a role in advocating for this cause. We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us, and the tens of thousands who donated time, talent, and money to our efforts to stand against this pipeline in the name of protecting our water. We especially thank all of the other tribal nations and jurisdictions who stood in solidarity with us, and we stand ready to stand with you if and when your people are in need.
Throughout this effort I have stressed the importance of acting at all times in a peaceful and prayerful manner - and that is how we will respond to this decision. With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones, many of whom have sacrificed as well. We look forward to celebrating in wopila, in thanks, in the coming days.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Vulture Capitalist to be Appointed by Trump to Treasury

by Peter Dreier
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized Wall Street bankers for their excessive political influence and attacked hedge-fund managers for getting away with “murder” under the current tax code. “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,” Trump said on Face the Nation. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.”
Now, however, Trump has tapped Steve Mnuchin, a 53-year-old Wall Street hedge-fund and banking mogul—and, since May, his campaign-finance chair—to be the nation’s secretary of the Treasury.
Trump’s earlier rhetoric aside, it’s actually a good match. Both Trump and Mnuchin earned their first fortunes the old fashion way: They inherited them. Trump took over his father Fred’s real-estate empire and expanded it through questionable business practices. Mnuchin, also the scion of a wealthy and well-connected family, graduated from Yale in 1985, started his career as a trainee at Salomon Brothers and soon wound up working at Goldman Sachs, where his father Robert had been a general partner.
Both Trump and Mnuchin have run businesses accused of widespread racial discrimination and other predatory practices. They both represent the excessive wealth and greed of the billionaire developer and banker class. And both men have hedged their political bets, donating big bucks to Democrats as well as Republicans.
While Mnuchin ran OneWest Bank, based in Pasadena, California, the lender engaged in a variety of predatory practices that government bank regulators scrutinized and trial judges condemned. As Treasury secretary, Mnuchin would no doubt be one of the Trump administration’s key advisors in trying to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank law strengthening regulations on the financial industry, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in its short life has already protected hundreds of thousands of consumers from bank abuse.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


The Reality Check: IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES BRACE FOR TRUMP: IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES BRACE FOR TRUMP By David Bacon The American Prospect, November 22, 2016 http://prospect.org/article/immigrant-commu...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trump and Resistance

Hillary Clinton won the election by 2 million votes, but Donald Trump won the Presidency in the Electoral College.  What’s that you say about democracy ?
During the last year the according to the Southern Poverty Law Center the militant, fascist, militarist, racist terrorist group Storm Front has grown to over 300,000 members.  ( one of several such groups).
These and parallel developments may require that we reconsider and adjust our basic  political strategy as developed in the strategy document.  We need a serious new analysis because the terrain of our struggle and our activity has shifted significantly.
Some 2 -11 million immigrant workers in the US now face terrorism and possible deportation.  Over 2 million U.S. citizen children face the possibility that their parents will be deported and they will be placed in foster care.
I had a piece on the Democratic Left blog on the possible consequences of a victory by Trump and Trumpism.  http://www.dsausa.org/trump_s_racially_divisive_politics_must_be_exposed_and_opposed_dl
If you prefer video, here is a good piece  Hate Rising. http://antiracismdsa.blogspot.com/2016/11/hate-rising-with-jorge-ramos.html
This video is also up on YouTube.
The labor movement faces its most difficult assault since the passage of the Taft-Hartley act which changed the nature of organized labor in the U.S.
 Labor will be shaken to its core.  Harold Meyerson has a good piece on this on the DSA blog, Talking Union.  https://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/trump-and-the-crisis-of-labor/
The Trump administration’s chief military advisor advocates siding with Asad and Putin in Syria, and usually recommends U.S. military interventions in troubled areas.
This militarist approach could well set us back to the decades of U.S. intervention  from 2000- 2010. The U.S. anti war movement , or what remains of it, will have their backs to the wall.
The ecological justice movement now faces a regime that take us back to the 1970’s on ignoring climate change. – while the environmental crisis grows.  As Nomi Klein said, “This Changes Everything”.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Trump and School Privatization

Diane Ravitch. NY Review of Books. Nov.27,2016.
In early September, Donald Trump declared his commitment to privatization of the nation’s public schools. He held a press conference at a low-performing charter school in Cleveland run by a for-profit entrepreneur. He announced that if elected president, he would turn $20 billion in existing federal education expenditures into a block grant to states, which they could use for vouchers for religious schools, charter schools, private schools, or public schools. These are funds that currently subsidize public schools that enroll large numbers of poor students. Like most Republicans, Trump believes that “school choice” and competition produce better education, even though there is no evidence for this belief. As president, Trump will encourage competition among public and private providers of education, which will reduce funding for public schools. No high-performing nation in the world has privatized its schools.
The motives for the privatization movement are various. Some privatizers have an ideological commitment to free-market capitalism; they decry public schools as “government schools,” hobbled by unions and bureaucracy. Some are certain that schools need to be run like businesses, and that people with business experience can manage schools far better than educators. Others have a profit motive, and they hope to make money in the burgeoning “education industry.” The adherents of the business approach oppose unions and tenure, preferring employees without any adequate job protection and merit pay tied to test scores. They never say, “We want to privatize public schools.” They say, “We want to save poor children from failing schools.” Therefore, “We must open privately managed charter schools to give children a choice,” and “We must provide vouchers so that poor families can escape the public schools.”
The privatization movement has a powerful lobby to advance its cause. Most of those who support privatization are political conservatives. Right-wing think tanks regularly produce glowing accounts of charter schools and vouchers along with glowing reports about their success. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing organization funded by major corporations and composed of two thousand or so state legislators, drafts model charter school legislation, which its members introduce in their state legislatures. Every Republican governor and legislature has passed legislation for charters and vouchers. About half the states have enacted voucher legislation or tax credits for nonpublic schools, even though in some of those states, like Indiana and Nevada, the state constitution explicitly forbids spending state funds on religious schools or anything other than public schools.
More: Read it on line. 
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