Saturday, May 28, 2011

Obama, Progressives, and the White Nationalist Backlash

Bill Fletcher, Jr. 
Task for progressives in 2012:
Monkey-wrenching the white united front

It has been striking that many progressives have said so little about
 race, racism, and the discourse of right-wing populism in the context
 of the upcoming elections.

In the context of the criticisms that many of us have of the Obama
 administration for what it has not accomplished, for its advance of a 
corporate agenda, and for the unacceptable compromises it has made 
with the Republicans, there is something that I have seen few
 progressives address. 

To borrow from a comment offered by television commentator Tavis
 Smiley, the 2012 elections are likely to be the most racist that most
 of us have seen in our lifetimes. Given this, what are the

 It has been striking that many progressives, particularly those who 
have not only written off President Obama but also written off all
 those who offered critical support to the Obama campaign in 2008, have 
said so little about race, racism, and the discourse of right-wing
 populism in the context of the upcoming elections.

We have witnessed the first Black president of the United States
 questioned about his citizenship and birthplace, yet I have seen
 precious little from many friends on the left side of the aisle
(particularly those so critical of Obama) responding to this. If you 
put your ear to the ground, however, you hear the murmurings of Black 
Americans furious that Obama was put in a place where he had to file a 
petition in order to obtain his Hawaii birth certificate.

 The murmurings do not stop there. When Donald Trump and other
 opportunists started asking questions about how it was that Obama got 
into Columbia University and Harvard Law School (i.e., was he REALLY 
qualified to have gotten into those schools?), for most of us enough
 was enough. Because this was no longer about Obama and it had very
 little to do with criticisms of Obama and his policies.

The white nationalist backlash is using Obama as the target but they 
are attempting to create a white united front to, in their minds, take 
back the United States. Part of this agenda means delegitimizing the 
democratically elected President, but it also goes towards tampering
 with election laws and voting processes in state after state.

 In case you have not noticed, in many states where there is a
 Republican majority in control, efforts are underway to restrict
 voting, whether by further limiting ex-felons from voting, to 
eliminating same-day voter registration, to the demand for picture
 identifications at the time of voting, to the shortening of periods of 
early voting.
The objective is to reduce the potential anti-Republican electorate. 
This is being done by demagogically and inaccurately crowing about 
alleged voter fraud. But this happens through the Right racializing 
alleged voter fraud.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rhee's group contributes to anti union efforts in Ohio

The spokesperson for Michelle Rhee's "Students First" organization would have you know it's not that Rhee and Students First really wanted Ohio's SB 5 to pass and eliminate collective bargaining for public employees—it's just that they saw it as an opportunity to slip in some of their own, somewhat more subtly anti-union measures, and hired an ally of John Kasich to work on that:
Between January and April of 2011, StudentsFirst employed Robert Klaffky, the president of firm Van Meter, Ashbrook & Associates and a close adviser to Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) to help push various aspects of education policy.
In particular, the group, established by Rhee after she left the D.C. school system following then-Mayor Adrian Fenty's defeat, had Klaffky work on SB5, the infamous anti-collective bargaining bill passed into law but already facing the likelihood of referendum.
According to the Rhee spokesperson,
"She has never spoke specifically on SB5," said Hobson. "I know our first meeting there when we had a press conference she and the Governor were very clear that there were things she didn't agree on. People think she is against collective bargaining and that just isn't the case."
Gee, it's a mystery why people think Rhee is against collective bargaining just because she works with the most anti-union governors in the country and adds amendments to the most anti-union legislation in the country. It's true that her style is not always the full frontal assault of Kasich and Scott Walker (though bear in mind that she did basically make her name by bragging about firing teachers without due process). But banking on the worst of the worst as a vehicle for passing her own, largely complementary agenda shows where she really stands. See more:

State Budget Crisis- Alternatives Two


MAY 25, 2011: 
At the core of the budget crisis facing states are regressive state tax structures that are unfair, unsound, and unsustainable by design. A report released today by United for a Fair Economy provides a sensible solution: inverting the state’s current tax structure.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Save Our Schools- Sacramento

Educators and families from around the country say they are fed up with so-called “reform” policies that falsely label more than 80% of U.S. public schools as failures. To counter what they call unfair attacks on teachers and public education, a growing coalition of individuals and organizations is mobilizing for a national day of action in support of public schools. 
On Saturday, July 30, 2011, thousands of people will gather at the White House in Washington, DC and at locations around the nation to express their desire to reclaim the right to determine the path of education reform in their own communities. The “Save Our Schools” March and allied events are being organized by a network of teachers, parents and community activists. 
“For too long, public school stakeholders have been treated like second class citizens in our own communities,” said Sabrina Stevens Shupe, a former Colorado teacher, who is a member of the March’s organizing committee. “Teachers’ knowledge has been dismissed because we are falsely presumed to be self-interested and incompetent.  Students and parents who vocally oppose the disruption and destruction of their schools are often entirely ignored.  At the same time, ideologues with little to no experience in public schools have made misguided decisions that devastate educational quality and equal opportunity.” 
Addressing high-stakes “accountability” policies, such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, Florida businesswoman and parent advocate Rita Solnet explained, “A decade of NCLB's incessant focus on high-stakes tests narrowed curriculum in many schools. Each new initiative ratcheting up the stakes behind these tests, has resulted in the abandonment of the very children NCLB sought to serve. NCLB has not improved overall achievement, and it has diminished the quality of teaching and learning. We must reverse this wrong-headed direction.” 

Quiz Time- Republican corporate greed

Pop Quiz: What would CA look like under Rep. Ryan's (R-Wis.) radical, Tea Party-inspired budget? 

A. A typical 65-year-old in CA would spend $6,057.09 more per year out of pocket for health care by 2022 because Medicare's promise would be replaced with underfunded vouchers. (The national average is a $6,359 increase.)

B. At least 2,008,796 CA residents would lose Medicaid health care (at least 15 million nationally).

C. $4.2 trillion in new tax cuts would be handed out mostly to corporations and the rich.

D. All of the above. 

If you answered D, all of the above, you're right. This Tea Party-inspired budget would do all of those things. 

All but four House Republicans voted for this radical proposal. The Senate will consider it this week. How many Senate Republicans will vote to give even more tax cuts to Wall Street and the wealthy and pay for them by cutting deeply into services for seniors, children and low- and middle-income working families?

Let's make sure every U.S. senator knows this "right-wing social engineering" bill--which is what former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently called Rep. Ryan's budget--is not a starting point for a debate over America's future.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More on how the Gates Foundation funds school performers

For starters, take a look at the way the Gates Foundation is commonly portrayed: Paul Hill's A Foundation Goes to School, in Education Next, Winter 2006.

Although the Hoover Institution publishes Education Next, the business office is at Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard Kennedy School. Paul Peterson,Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, is the editor-in-chief. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution is senior editor. Finn also lists himself as "public servant." The Next mission statement takes the high road, professing that the publication "partakes of no program, campaign, or ideology. It goes where the evidence points." That said, in February 2010 the Gates Foundation gave Next $224,030 to support their Charter Initiative.

On June 7, 2007, Bill Gates, at the time, the world’s richest man, received an honorary doctorate from Harvard.

Few Degrees of Separation
Gates operates in a small world of kissing kin. Everybody is inter-connected. Dillon doesn't mention that Monique Burns Thompson, President of Teach Plus, is a co-founder of New Leaders for New Schools. Before that, she was assistant brand manager at Quaker Oats. Heather Peske, National Director of Programs, was formerly Director of Teacher Quality at Education Trust. She launched her career in education as a Teach for America corps member.

There are plenty of Ivy League graduates on their Board of Advisors, which means:
1) They have the connections to make things happen; 2) They have both of Barack Obama's ears. Obama can't seem to say no to Ivy League pundits.

Teach Plus Advisory Committee Members
• Margaret Boasberg, The Bridgespan Group [worked extensively on strategies to increase the philanthropy of high net worth individuals]
• Stacey Childress, Harvard Business School
• Rachel Curtis, Human Capital Strategies for Urban Schools [paid $2,000 a day for services on human capital for Chicago Public Schools when Arne Duncan was in charge]  more.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Taibbi: 'U.S. politics - reality show sponsored by Wall Street'

Economic Balance of Power

Sacramento United Nations Assoc-USA Presents
CSUS Professor Emeritus
"Trade Agreements: Changing
The Economic Balance of Power"
Monday, May 23, 7 p.m.
SMUD Headquarters Bldg.,
6201 S Street, Main Floor
Professor Campbell, currently Director of the Institute for Democ-racy and Education, will bring considerable knowledge of the impact of trade agreements on workers here and abroad. He is Chair of the Sacramento Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and serves on the Editorial Board of Democratic Left. He received his doctorate from Carnegie-Mellon University and at CSUS was Founding Chair of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies Pro-gram from 1972-1994.

Mr. Duncan. You are a shining example

By David Reber, Topeka K-12 Examiner   May 21st, 2011
Mr. Duncan,
I read your Teacher Appreciation Week letter to teachers, and had at first decided not to respond. Upon further thought, I realized I do have a few things to say.
 I’ll begin with a small sample of relevant adjectives just to get them out of the way: condescending, arrogant, insulting, misleading, patronizing, egotistic, supercilious, haughty, insolent, peremptory, cavalier, imperious, conceited, contemptuous, pompous, audacious, brazen, insincere, superficial, contrived, garish, hollow, pedantic, shallow, swindling, boorish, predictable, duplicitous, pitchy, obtuse, banal, scheming, hackneyed, and quotidian. Again, it’s just a small sample; but since your attention to teacher input is minimal, I wanted to put a lot into the first paragraph.

Your lead sentence, “I have worked in education for much of my life”, immediately establishes your tone of condescension; for your 20-year “education” career lacks even one day as a classroom teacher. You, Mr. Duncan, are the poster-child for the prevailing attitude in corporate-style education reform: that the number one  prerequisite for educational expertise is never having been a teacher.
 Your stated goal is that teachers be “…treated with the dignity we award to other professionals in society.”  Really?
 How many other professionals are the last ones consulted about their own profession; and are then summarily ignored when policy decisions are made? How many other professionals are so distrusted that sweeping federal  legislation is passed to “force” them to do their jobs? And what dignities did you award teachers when you publicly praised the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gates Funds education lobbies

Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates
By SAM DILLON  The New York Times.  May 21,2011.
INDIANAPOLIS — A handful of outspoken teachers helped persuade state lawmakers this spring to eliminate seniority-based layoff policies. They testified before the legislature, wrote briefing papers and published an op-ed article in The Indianapolis Star.
They described themselves simply as local teachers who favored school reform — one sympathetic state representative, Mary Ann Sullivan, said, “They seemed like genuine, real people versus the teachers’ union lobbyists.” They were, but they were also recruits in a national organization, Teach Plus, financed significantly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.
In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.
“We’ve learned that school-level investments aren’t enough to drive systemic changes,” said Allan C. Golston, the president of the foundation’s United States program. “The importance of advocacy has gotten clearer and clearer.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

State history textbooks ignore Mexican American/Latino history

Why California students do not understand Chicano/Latino history. 1987- 2011. By Duane Campbell
The morning paper includes an article by Jim Sanders entitled in the print edition, Schools’ history books are so 1998.  Good article. Actually, the books are more like 1986. Assembly bill 1033 by Feuer (D- Los Angeles) encourages a small modification.  According to the testimony, his position was opposed by some Elk Grove teachers of Science. That is not even a start of the problem.
Textbooks for  California schools are selected by the State Board of Education based upon recommendations of their Curriculum Committees and the state frameworks and standards.  It is urgent that the History-Social Science Framework be revised to provide an accurate history of the contributions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinos and Asians to the history of the state and of the nation. The current Framework reflects the historiography of the 1950’s. It was written in 1986 by senior scholars, they in turn were educated in the early 1970’s or before. It is substantially out of date.  Because the Framework is out of date- the text books are out of date.  And, Mexican American/Latino history is not being taught.
 Standards and frameworks are products of the people who make the decisions. Frameworks like  standards pick winners and losers;  the choices which committees make favor one group over another group- choices are based upon the political power of those represented on the committees.  The Framework is  supposed to be revised each 7 years but it has not been revised.  The current Framework reflects the historiography  of the 1970’s  and the political balance of power of the 1980’s.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sacramento Public Schools in Crisis- workshop

Sacramento Public Schools in Crisis:
False Promises; Real Solutions
A presentation and panel discussion on the crisis in public education and what activists can do to prevent the privatization of public education.
Tues. May 24.  6;30- 8: Pm.
Sol Collective. 2574 21st. Street. Sacramento.
Rsvp. Through .

Politicians and editorial writers discuss the school crisis and the  economic crisis as if  the crisis is a neutral act, or as if a natural act.  Like rain or snow.  The school budgets are  a disaster not because of   some natural phenomena.  The crisis was created by people and policies of our government and of the financial system.

"The reality is that we got into this mess because of an overwhelming excess of greed and stupidity on the part of the Wall Street bankers and the people deciding economic policy. We continue to face excessive rates of unemployment because of a continuing reluctance to pursue policies that can restore the economy to health.”says economist Dean Baker.

California will need to extend the current  taxes to fund the schools and to repair the social safety net.  Anti tax radicals and Republicans  oppose any tax increases and they oppose allowing these issues to be placed on the ballot so the people can vote. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Inside Job Trailer 2010 HD

We viewed the film on Friday sponsored by the Progressive Alliance and DSA.  It is a great video.
Many viewers were frustrated.  They asked- well what can we do?
I made a list of possible responses.  I encourage additional ideas.

10 Things you and I can do to turn this state around.
1.     Vote against the Republicans.
2.     Search for progressive Democrats.
3.     Talk to your neighbors about the issues.
4.     Shut off Fox News.
5.     Move your money to a credit union.
6.     Join a union.  Or, a union support group. www.aflcio.org

Friday, May 13, 2011

CTA members arrested in California Capitol- State of Emergency

A Highway Patrol officer prepares to take into custody the first 14 Capitol Insiders who refused to leave the building when so directed slightly after 6PM on Thursday evening. These 14 placed themselves outside the offices of Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, saying they would stay there until she provided a budget proposal that would protect schools.
Among those the Highway Patrol began arresting for trespassing are (from l.) Barbara Franklin, Miriam Aguilar Escobar, and CTA Board Member Theresa Montano.
Meanwhile, at Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton’s office, CTA President David A. Sanchez and other Capitol Insiders were reportedly also being taken into custody by law enforcement officers for refusing to leave until the Senator presented an acceptable budget that included an extension of the state’s temporary taxes.
The arrests came on the day that the Assembly Republicans released a budget proposal that would slash nearly $500 million more from public education.
“Basta, basta (enough, enough),” said CTA Member Aguilar Escobar to Spanish language media prior to her arrest.
Join the teachers in a support rally.  Friday. 4 - 6 PM. Sacramento State Capitol.

Monday, May 09, 2011

State of emergency protests begin in Sacramento

Almost 800 teachers and their supporters rallied in Sacramento today and marched to the state capitol to demand that the legislature pass a budget that adequately funds the schools.
Scores of protests, rallies, teacher sit-ins and grade-ins, and town halls are part of a statewide “State of Emergency” campaign week of actions  launched Monday by the California Teachers Association (NEA) CTA and a coalition of all of organized labor and parent supporters calling on the Legislature to extend current taxes now to avoid the catastrophe of an all-cuts budget.

“We are living in a state of emergency,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Educators, parents and community leaders are fighting back against state budget cuts that are decimating our schools, public safety and health care services. To protect essential public services, the Legislature must finish the job of resolving the state budget crisis by extending current tax rates legislatively. Time is running out for our students and our communities.”

Educators are fed up with endless cuts and will be holding daily sit-ins at the Capitol building in Sacramento. In the past three years, K-12 and higher education have been cut by more than $20 billion. An all-cuts state budget would add another $4 billion in education cuts, the state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst warns. CTA supported the governor’s call for a June special election to extend taxes, but Republican  lawmakers hijacked the process and blocked that vote. The time to protect the revenue we have is now.

Events this week will   show the impacts of budget cuts on students and our communities.  Rallies will be held in  5  California cities on Friday, culminating in a march on the capitol and a potential occupation of the California Capitol.
The campaign website is and features events planned statewide, along with blogs, videos and news coverage about cuts and the growing crisis in California.
What is similar to the occupations in Wisconsin and the demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Free Film - Inside Job

The Friday Night Film Series Proudly Presents

Inside Job

Oscar Winner – Best Documentary

Followed by a stimulating discussion with Dr. Duane Campbell, Chair of the Sacramento  chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America

Free Film!  Free Popcorn!  Free Drinks!

Friday, May 13, 2011

 Hinde Auditorium

Sac State University Union

 Shorts--6:00pm   Feature Film--6:30pm

"Four Stars! An angry, well argued documentary."  -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"A powerhouse of a documentary that will leave you both thunderstruck and boiling with rage." 
-- Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"This cogent, devastating synopsis is the definitive indictment of the titans who swindled America and of their pals in the federal government who enabled them.”
-- Mary & Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

Free Fall- Educational opportunities in California

Summary from the new report of UCLA Accord Center:
California Educational Opportunity Report.

Core Findings from our Surveys and Interviews:
• California high schools are providing less time and attention and fewer quality programs. As a consequence, student
engagement, achievement, and progress to graduation and college are suffering;
• School reform has all but sputtered to a halt due to staff cutbacks and the elimination of time for professional development;
• Even as high schools across the state are impacted by declining budgets, inequality is growing across and within schools;
• California’s high schools face growing demands from families experiencing economic crisis; these demands point to the interrelationship
of California’s education and social welfare budgets.
Rogers, J., Bertrand, M., Freelon, R., Fanelli, S. (2011). Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011.
To access this report online, please visit

Thursday, May 05, 2011

We need an emergency jobs program now !

            We need an emergency jobs program now.
Unemployment and underemployment remain at crisis levels. We need jobs—and we need them now.  Wall Street has gotten its bailouts. Now it’s past time for Main Street to get some immediate help.
Counties, states and cities  are again cutting services; police, fire, health care.  And the state has cut k-12 education and higher education and now will cut more if Republicans continue to block  tax extension on the rich.  These cuts are a direct result of the looting of the economy by finance capital  in the economic crisis.
            At the same time,  GE, Bank of America, Exxon, etc. manages to evade taxes while off-shoring jobs.   In a struggling economy, these companies obtain tax refunds, while bringing in billions (GE earned 14.2 billion and received a tax benefit of 3.2 billion).  Offshore tax havens, tax loopholes and tax breaks (tax expenditures), allow these corporations to rake in billions while you and I   struggle to pay our  taxes. 
            And the shell game goes on –
Taxes have been progressively lowered on the upper 1%, starting with Reagan and continuing to the point where Warren Buffett famously observed that he paid taxes at a lower rate than his secretary.  The justification for these cuts, entirely unsupported by  evidence, is that jobs are created.  In this upward distribution of wealth, 1% of the population tripled their share of after-tax percentage of our nation’s total income from 1980 to 2006, and captured 75% of the economy’s growth between 2002 and 2006 (Buchheit, DePaul University). Meanwhile, the bottom 90% saw their share drop 90%.

            It is past time to tax the corporations and the rich.  We should collect fair taxes and pay for vital services first; fire, police, schools, health care, etc. 
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