Saturday, January 30, 2016

Manager that Created Flint's Water Crisis Is Now Manager of Detroit Schools.

Flint’s water contamination crisis began in April 2014 after Darnell Earley, an unelected emergency manager appointed by Snyder, switched Flint’s water source to the long-polluted and corrosive Flint River in a bid to save money. Earley is now the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools. This week, Detroit’s teachers have staged a series of "sickouts" to protest the vast underfunding of the public schools, which have black mold, rat infestations, crumbling buildings and inadequate staffing

Feb.2, 2015.  Darnell Earley has been removed. 
See post below. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Detroit Teachers Strike Against Appalling, rat infested, Schools

President Obama visited Detroit on January 20th, 2016 to tout the city’s resurgent auto industry, which, after the federal government’s bailout, has seen a spike in job growth.
Detroit’s educators have taken advantage of the President’s visit to bring attention to the city’s “toxic” schools suffering from years of neglect. They are holding “sick outs,” a protest strategy that bypasses Michigan’s anti-strike laws by having  teachers collectively call in sick.
As the New York Times reports, the district recently had to close over 60 schools when teachers didn’t show up for work on a Monday. The teachers demand the district and state alleviate the financial problems of the school system, which appears headed toward bankruptcy. Instead of addressing the teachers’ demands, the district sought a court injunction to prevent further sick-outs. The judge refused to act, and the sick-outs spread, causing nearly every school in the 100-school district to close.
Pictures of the moldy, rat-infested, freezing cold buildings have been shared by teachers on the ground. After a recent visit to one of the schools, American Federation of Teachers’ president Randi Weingarten summarized: “dedicated and caring staff teaching kids in appalling conditions.“

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Teachers: We Need Chicano History in the California Textbooks - Act Now.

By Duane Campbell
The Mexican American Digital History Project and a broad group of allies have been working for over a year to add Chicano history to the California History/Social Science Framework, the document that determines what goes into textbooks in California. 
For  example see here.  and numerous posts on this site. 
 The Quality Instructional Materials Commission of the California State Board of Education have posted their proposed revised framework and it includes most of what we proposed.  
Comments from teachers and community members are welcome. 
The IQC approved the draft History–Social Science Framework for California Public Schools for its second review on November 20, 2015. The approved draft is posted on the History–Social Science Curriculum Frameworks Web page at 

Going forward, any new public comments will be submitted as part of the second review process. 
Members of the public are invited to submit comments on the draft History–Social Science Framework through February 29, 2016, via e-mail to Comments may be submitted in any format, but if a commenter is seeking revisions to the draft it is recommended that the comment include the chapter, page, and line number(s), the text as it is currently written in the draft, and the exact language of the suggested change.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ruling in Favor of Friedrichs Will Hurt Children and Education

By Jeff Bryant
Earlier this month, news about a US Supreme Court case Friedrichs v California Teachers Association raised concerns for progressives everywhere – and for good reason. As my colleague Dave Johnson writes, the case is about “making every state a ‘right-to-work’ state, and suppressing unions and wages.” So this case is another example of right wing conservatism siding with concentrated wealth and power to undercut the abilities of working people to organize and demand better wages and work conditions.
 So a month or so from now, if  you hear about the court has decided to uphold the plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case, and not the teachers union, as many expect will happen, please understand the judges’ decision won’t just hurt teachers’ paychecks and their rights to organize and speak out. It will hurt our children’s education.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Friedrichs v CTA- an Assault on All Public Sector Unions

Steven Greenhouse, a former labor and workplace reporter for the New York Times, is a visiting researcher at the Russell Sage Foundation.
On Monday, during oral arguments in the most important labor case to come before the Supreme Court in years, the court’s conservative majority gave every indication that it will rule that government workers cannot be required to pay fees to the unions that represent them. If it does, the high court will deal a punishing blow to U.S. public-sector unions, whose full consequences may become clear only in the next economic downturn.
Such a ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association might well turn out to be good for Americans as taxpayers, but not so good for Americans as workers.
In education, the tradeoffs are particularly thorny. Teachers unions look out for the interests of teachers, and in doing so, their interests often parallel — but also conflict with — the interests of working people who want a good education for their children. Labor’s critics say Friedrichs could improve education by weakening teachers unions that, for instance, vigorously support tenure and oppose charter schools. But undermining teachers unions could also harm public schools, because those unions push to increase education spending and often cooperate with school officials on vital workplace issues, such as school safety. By weakening unions, Friedrichs could ultimately mean lower compensation and larger workloads for teachers. And while that might lower school taxes, it might also mean that fewer talented young people go into teaching, ultimately hurting middle-class and low-income children who need good educations to get ahead.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. - Economic Justice for Our Times

In 1968, a united black community in Memphis stepped forward to support 1,300 municipal sanitation workers as they demanded higher wages, union recognition, and respect for black personhood embodied in the slogan “I Am a Man!” Memphis’s black women organized tenant and welfare unions, discovering pervasive hunger among the city’s poor and black children. They demanded rights to food and medical care from a city and medical establishment blind to their existence.

That same month, March 1968, 100 grassroots organizations met in Atlanta to support Martin Luther King’s dream of a poor people’s march on Washington. They pressed concrete demands for economic justice under the slogan “Jobs or Income Now!” King celebrated the “determination by poor people of all colors” to win their human rights. “Established powers of rich America have deliberately exploited poor people by isolating them in ethnic, nationality, religious and racial groups,” the delegates declared.
So when King came to Memphis to support the strike, a local labor and community struggle became intertwined with his dream of mobilizing a national coalition strong enough to reorient national priorities from imperial war in  Vietnam to domestic reconstruction, especially in America’s  riot-torn cities. To non-poor Americans, King called for a “revolution of values,” a move from self-seeking to service, from property rights to human rights.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Friedrichs' Promise to the Far Right

by Bill Rraden 
Last July, 2,000 conservatives and Tea Party activists gathered in Las Vegas for the annual FreedomFest, which featured GOP presidential frontrunners Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. But it was a fourth grade public school teacher from Orange  County named Rebecca Friedrichs who promised the far right a prize that neither Trump nor Rubio could offer. Friedrichs and nine other California school teachers are part of a lawsuit now before the U.S. Supreme Court that could deliver a severe blow to the nation’s public-sector unions. It would radically upend the political power of labor — and also, conservatives hope, of the Democratic Party — across the United States.
Friedrichs’ message last summer was the same as she has told audiences elsewhere: “Supposed [union] benefits are not worth the moral costs.”
The “moral dilemma,” she claims, is over such union collective bargaining practices as securing pensions and workplace protections for public school teachers, and taking positions on issues like school vouchers, that run contrary to her Christian beliefs.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which is scheduled for oral arguments before the high court today, seeks to invalidate California’s agency shop law that requires all teachers in a union bargaining unit to pay “fair share” fees for collective bargaining, whether or not they are members of the union and disagree with the union’s policies. It also seeks to outlaw a process that requires teachers who don’t want a portion of their fees to go to union political activities to “opt out” of funding those activities. (At present teachers are automatically enrolled in such funding mechanisms, unless they choose to opt out.)

CTA’s fair-share payers, who include Friedrichs‘ 10 teacher plaintiffs, represent just under 10 percent of the union’s roughly 325,000 members; their fees are translated as payroll deductions of annual fair-share fees amounting to $641, which gets divided among the local union, CTA and its parent organization, the National Education Association. Full union members pay an additional 35 percent that supports the lobbying efforts that give teachers a voice at the education policy table.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Teacher Unions Under Assault

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that asks whether all workers in public sector unions, be they members or not, have an obligation to contribute to the union’s costs to represent them in grievances and at the bargaining table.
The court has already ruled that unions have an obligation to represent non-members and that is not likely to change. It also ruled that non-members have an obligation to contribute to the costs of representation and bargaining. If the court now rules in favor of the plaintiffs in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, the justices would be overturning a nearly 40-year precedent.

Joshua Pechthalt, president, California Federation of Teachers 

California Federation of Teachers California Federation of Teachers
This may seem like a technical issue with little impact beyond public employee unions. But the implications of this decision could be far-reaching. If the court ends “fair share” union dues, it would hurt our unions’ ability to represent our members and weaken our ability to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.
For those of us in education, it could also undercut our ability to improve learning and teaching conditions by advocating for smaller class sizes, restoring art and music programs and improving teacher training and evaluation. While non-members do not contribute to the political program of their unions, the erosion of union funds will have an impact on our ability to organize in all aspects of union work.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Obama Admin. Appalling Home Raids

antiracismdsa: Obama Admin. Appalling Home Raids: President Obama once said this about his administration’s deportation priorities: “We’ll keep focusing enforcement resources on actual th...

Bernie Sanders and "The Big Short"

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Bernie Sanders and "The Big Short": Larry Cohen Campaign for America's Future Hollywood stars play all the major roles in the film, but it is no puff piece for the 1 perce...

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Governor Proposes More Money for State Schools

Governor's Budget Proposal

Invests Significantly in K-12 Education
The budget boosts school spending per student to $10,591 in 2016-17 - an increase of nearly $3,600 compared to 2011-12 levels. The budget provides a fourth-year investment of more than $2.8 billion in the Local Control Funding Formula, which focuses on students with the greatest challenges to success, bringing the formula to 95 percent implementation. The budget also proposes a $1.6 billion early education block grant that combines three existing programs to promote local flexibility, focusing on disadvantaged students and improved accountability.  

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on Governor Brown's proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year:

"This is a good news budget for our students, teachers, parents, communities and businesses. The Governor is continuing to devote more revenues to high-quality learning that prepares children for 21st century careers and college, including an additional investment of $300 million in career technical education that emphasizes hands on learning.
"The ongoing economic recovery in California will increase the Proposition 98 budget guarantee for schools up to $71.6 billion, a dramatic improvement from the $47.3 billion budget share in the depths of the recession five years ago.

Building Myths on the Border

Building Myths on the Border

Republican racist myths, from Pete Wilson to Donald Trump.

by Harold Meyerson.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Business "Leaders" Fail at Public Education

Diane Ravitch. 
Let’s state a simple fact: there is NO EVIDENCE that Common Core will improve education or test scores. It was launched in 2010. It has been tested in many states, and test scores have collapsed. Why the stubborn insistence that it will raise American test scores compared to the rest of the world or prepare all students for college and career? There is no evidence for this stubborn belief. If businessmen acted this way in their own corporations, every one of their products would be untested. Their gasoline would cause engines to explode, their buildings would collapse, their software would be fraught with bugs, and their hardware would melt. And they wouldn’t understand why. They would keep insisting that we have to keep doing the same things over and over. At least their customers would have a choice, unlike American parents and children, who are forced to endure Common Core despite their protests.

First, our schools are NOT failing. Test scores on the NAEP are at their highest point ever, for all groups of students, including whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Scores on NAEP rose steadily since the 1970s until NCLB went into effect; then the rate of gains slowed. But in 2015, the NAEP scores went flat or declined, when the full force of NCLB , Race to the Top, and Common Core converged. Repeat, our schools are NOT failing, but our policymakers have rained chaos and disruption on them since 2001.

Second, we have heard this claim about “our failing schools” since 1983, when the Reagan-era report “A Nation at Risk” was published to moaning and groaning. We have been warned again and again that the schools were harming our economy. Yet our economy has grown since 1983. The biggest harm to our economy has come not from our schools but from major corporations outsourcing jobs to other countries where labor is cheaper, not better.

This is What Oligarchy Looks Like

“I like to give on a scale where I can see impact...” - David Koch
Earlier this year, a number of Republicans flew to California to make fundraising pitches to more than four hundred wealthy conservative donors attending a private conference hosted by the Koch brothers.
It’s worth taking a moment to ask the question, who are the Koch brothers, and what do they want?
The Koch brothers are the second-wealthiest family in America worth $82 billion. For the Koch brothers, $82 billion in wealth apparently is not good enough. Owning the second-largest private company in America is apparently not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.
This issue isn't personal for me. I don't know the Koch brothers, but I do know this. They have advocated for destroying the federal programs that are critical to the financial and personal health of middle class Americans.
Now, most Americans know that the Koch brothers are the primary source of funding for the Tea Party, and that’s fine. They know that they favor the outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and that’s their opinion. It’s wrong, but that’s fine as well.
But it is not widely known that David Koch once ran for Vice President of the United States of America on the Libertarian Party ticket because he believed Ronald Reagan was much too liberal. And he ran on a platform that included the following:
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
  • “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws…”
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Rein in Wall Street

Bernie Sanders
WALL STREET is still out of control. Seven years ago, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department bailed out the largest financial institutions in this country because they were considered too big to fail. But almost every one is bigger today than it was before the bailout. If any were to fail again, taxpayers could be on the hook for another bailout, perhaps a larger one this time.
To rein in Wall Street, we should begin by reforming the Federal Reserve, which oversees financial institutions and which uses monetary policy to maintain price stability and full employment. Unfortunately, an institution that was created to serve all Americans has been hijacked by the very bankers it regulates.
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