Thursday, March 31, 2016

Celebrate Cesar Chavez - Workers Rights

antiracismdsa: Celebrate Cesar Chavez - Workers Rights: Today, March 31 is Cesar Chavez' birthday. On this day throughout the nation there are many observances honoring Cesar’s work. We are ...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Democrats for Education Reform" and Fake School Reform + anti union drives

DFER's Gloria Romero Joined with Koch-Connected Groups to Attack Unions

Gloria Romero 
Democrats for Education Reform's California arm was led by Gloria Romero, a former state legislator from Los Angeles, who was termed out from running for re-election after leading the state senate.
Romero failed in her bid to become the state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2010, and then, like so many other failed politicians, she was welcomed as a leader for DFER.
DFER began filing election disclosure forms in California in 2012. Some of its most high-profile activities under Romero were in partnership with other secretive groups.
Ultimately, it turned out that Romero was not just fronting for the ERN/ERNA/DFER hedge funders but also for non-profits closely tied to the controversial billionaire Koch brothers. And as the Center for Media and Democracy has documented, Charles and David Koch's antipathy toward public schools and unions runs deep and is part of their multi-decade agenda to re-shape America.
To try to win Prop 32, DFER's Romero worked with a group called "Americans for Responsible Leadership" (ARL), which received more than 97% of its $24 million in funding from another group called the "Center for Protect Patient Rights" (CPPR).
As noted by Open Secrets, ARL:
"spent nearly $9.8 million in the 2012 elections, including $3.2 million against President Obama's re-election bid, according to reports it filed with the Federal Election Commission. The rest was spent supporting Obama's rival, GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and 20 other Republican candidates, most of whom were running for Senate seats ... ARL also gave $11 million to a group working on a California ballot measure and nearly $1.4 million to organizations fighting two Arizona ballot initiatives," including one on redistricting.
So, a major Republican-backing operation spent millions aiding the objectives of a group with the word "Democrats" in its name to thwart unions? No wonder some in labor created "Democrats in Name Only for Education Reform" or

Teachers' Unions Survive Another Attack

Teachers and our unions in California, along with the rest of organized labor dodged a bullet (maybe a nuclear missile is a more appropriate metaphor) in yesterday's split decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.  But I would caution against getting too happy about it or viewing the decision as a victory for organized labor on this issue.  

For one thing, the ruling will not stop anti-union cases that are already in the pipeline or the filing of new cases that aren't in the courts yet. Because of the split decision, no new precedents have been set, so labor remains just as legally vulnerable as it was before. Also, labor's enemies have been racking up major victories at the state level. 26 states are now right to work, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that public sector unions could see their collective bargaining rights curtailed further in more states.
(see below)
What now? "The plaintiffs in the case, led by the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative nonprofit, will file a motion for rehearing and pray that a Republican gets elected president in November."
(from Politico’s Morning Report)
Leaders of major public sector unions, meanwhile, say the case created a lasting resolve to organize and strategize together. SEIU's Mary Kay Henry, NEA's Lily Eskelsen Garcia, AFT's Randi Weingarten, and AFSCME's Lee Saunders all held a joint press call after Tuesday's decision, and "all four of us understand the importance of working together and combining our resources, working on a political agenda, legislative agenda," Saunders said. "We were doing that before Friedrichs but obviously Friedrichs pushed us to do more."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Moneyed class proposes new ways to steal from working people

The excellent blog Capital & Main has an important piece up about the proposal to create a new retirement system in the state for workers who do not have a pension system.

As the writer Judith Lewis Mernit well describes, California ( and the nation) is facing a growing retirement crisis and more and more jobs no longer have pensions.  This is an emerging crisis.

For comparison, here is the Sacramento Bee version of the same story.

The Capital and Main piece is a good piece on important issues. But, do we really only want to consider the neoliberal finance approach?  For example, the proposal calls for employers to insist on participation, but apparently does not require employers to contribute- as does social security.
Then, the advocates claim it is progressive because of the pooled IRA project.  But, IRA's are still invested in the markets. This is like the Peterson Institute arguing for the privatization of social security.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Why I Am Pessimistic About the Future of Public Education

Mark Naison
March 11, 2016
The Washington Post - The Answer Sheet
Public schools in recent years have sustained assaults from believers in the privatization of the public education system. The powers that be plan a data-based reinvention of teacher education that will require the closing, or reinvention of colleges of teacher education. If these plans go through, a majority of the nation's teachers and teacher educators could lose their jobs in the next 10 years, replaced by people who will largely be temp workers-making minimum wages


As a student of history who has watched how the financialization of capital and the expansion of technology has affected labor markets, housing markets and the political process, I am incredibly pessimistic about the future of public education.
After the 2007-2008 financial crisis in the United States, a growing number of those with investment capital seeking profitable outlets are seeing education - and educational technology - as growth areas. Resistance by students, parents and educators to high-stakes standardized testing and the Common Core State Standards confronted them with a temporary setback, but now they are poised to make an end run around the Opt Out movement by concentrating on "personalized learning" which requires a huge investment in computerization of classrooms as well as software.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Remembering Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rebellion

And neocolonialism today
Conn Hallinan 

Standing on the front steps of Dublin’s general post office a century ago, the poet Padraig Pearse announced the Poblacht na hEireann — the “Irish republic.”
He was reading from a proclamation, the ink barely dry, of a provisional Irish government declaring its independence from British rule. It was just after noon on March 24, 1916, the opening scene in a drama that would mix tragedy and triumph, the twin heralds of Irish history.
It’s a hundred years since some 750 men and women threw up barricades and seized key locations in downtown Dublin. They would be joined by maybe 1,000 more. In six days it would be over, the post office in flames, the streets blackened by shell fire, and the rebellion’s leaders on their way to face firing squads against the walls of Kilmainham Jail.
And yet the failure of the Easter Rebellion would eventually become one of the most important events in Irish history — a “failure” that would reverberate worldwide and be mirrored by colonial uprisings almost half a century later.
Colonial Parallels
Anniversaries — particularly centennials — are equal parts myth and memory, and drawing lessons from them is always a tricky business. Yet while 1916 is not 2016, there are parallels, pieces of the story that overlap and dovetail in the Europe of then with the Europe of today.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lead in the Water, Mold in the Detroit Schools:

 An Anatomy of a Free Market Disaster
March 13, 2016\\
David Bacon, 
A very conservative group has controlled Michigan since the election of Governor Rick Snyder and a Republican majority in its legislature in 2011. At the heart of their policies has been a concerted effort to remove control over cities and communities by the people who live in them, and to impose austerity and free market measures on populations who are mostly African American and people of colour.
Some of the key opponents to that threat to democracy, however, have been Detroit's teachers. This January, the Detroit Federation of Teachers filed lawsuit, and some educators even staged a walkout of the city's schools, to protest against the "deplorable, dangerous, unhealthy and unacceptable" conditions for children that have emerged from the wreck of Michigan's autocratic rule.
The key to the conservative's strategy has been the emergency manager law. While a version of it was passed in 1988 under a Democratic administration, new Republican office holders passed Public Law 4 in 2011, which was much more radical. It gave virtually unlimited powers to unelected managers appointed by the governor in times of financial distress, while elected city councils and school boards lost all decision-making power.
With none of the constraints of public accountability, emergency managers in several cities then proceeded to nullify union bargaining agreements and sell off public assets. Detroit itself was forced into bankruptcy in July 2013.
In nearby Flint, Governor Snyder appointed Darnell Earley as emergency manager in October 2013. Over the next 16 months, Earley laid the groundwork for switching Flint's water supply from the municipal utility that serves Detroit to pumping water from the Flint River - a waterway that is highly-polluted as a result of decades of toxic waste dumping by auto plants and other heavy industry.
Earley, a Democrat, justified the move as a measure to reduce costs. It has since become clear, however, that his action was connected to a plan to drive Detroit even further into bankruptcy.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has operated with budget deficits that averaged US$57 million a year; debt servicing took up half of its budget. Bondholders, facing the loss of Flint as a customer, pressured for cutting off delinquent customers and raising rates to avoid writing down their investments in bankruptcy proceedings. The French waste and water management multinational, Veolia, was waiting in the wings.
Flint is the biggest customer for Detroit's water
When Detroit's water agency offered to halve its rates to keep supplying the city, Earley and his successor refused. Instead they signed an agreement to put Flint into the hands of a new water supplier connected to Veolia.
Without Flint as a customer, Detroit residents now have to pay higher rates. Detroit itself may have to sell its public water system - one of its main assets - to private investors.
One year ago, under the decree of Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr, the water district began to shut off water services to poor residents behind on their bills. Only a global outcry stalled the move. At the same time Orr began negotiations with Veolia.
In February 2015 Veolia was then hired by Flint to study its water, after the switch in sources had been made. Public health doctors were already warning state and federal authorities that the level of lead in the drinking water pumped from the Flint River was alarmingly high. Lead is a recognised cause of learning disabilities in children, and the damage to their cognitive development is permanent.
Veolia announced that Flint's water was safe. It echoed similar false safety claims by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, an agency under the control of Governor Snyder. However, last year even General Motors stopped using Flint water in its car manufacturing plant because it was causing corrosion.
Eventually Snyder was forced to admit that corrosive river water was dissolving the lining of Flint's ancient lead pipes, causing a spike in the metal's concentration.
Embarrassing emails revealed knowledge by state authorities of the lead contamination, at the same time they were ridiculing parents and public health officials who warned of the danger.
Eventually a state of emergency was declared, and President Barack Obama offered US$80 million in relief, although replacing the city's pipes is likely to cost over US$1 billion.
Emergency in Detroit's schools
After leaving Flint, in January 2015 Earley was appointed by Governor Snyder as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools (DPS) - the system's fourth emergency manager in seven years.
The main program of all four has been the privatisation of Detroit schools. By the end of the 2009-2010 school year, 36 per cent of students (50,139 students) were already attending private charter schools, and another 41 schools (30 per cent of the district serving 16,000 students) were converted into charters.
The Deficit Elimination Plan - agreed between managers and the state of Michigan in a bid to erase DPS' US$20.4 million deficit by the end of 2021 - required the district to close a further 70 schools over two years, and raise class sizes to 60 students at high school level.
Voters rebelled and repealed Public Law 4 in the 2012 election. The legislature moved even further to the right, however, passing a law forbidding contracts that require union membership as a condition of employment (a so-called "Right to Work" law), and then passed Public Law 4 again in a slightly modified form, as Public Act 436.
In a recent opinion piece, Pamela Pugh, treasurer of the (elected) State of Michigan Board of Education, wrote: "After more than six years of a failed state takeover, Detroit Public Schools have deteriorated into a destabilised education system, marred by decreased academic outcomes and increased deficit, upward of US$3.5 billion. Just as Flint's water crisis occurred under emergency management, so did the demise of the Detroit school district."
Last month, the Detroit Federation of Teachers finally filed a lawsuit to force Earley to resign, and to return the schools to control by an elected school board. "Asking a child to learn or a teacher to instruct in classrooms with steam coming from their mouth due to the cold in the classroom, in vermin-infested rooms, with ceiling tiles falling from above and buckets to catch the rainwater, or in buildings that are literally making them sick, is more than what is legally or constitutionally tolerable", the suit says.
Other conditions named in the action include black mold, bacteria, freezing cold or boiling hot classrooms, rats and insects, exposed wiring and falling debris.
At the beginning of this February Earley finally resigned, telling Governor Snyder he'd completed his work of "comprehensive restructuring" months ahead of schedule. And as hundreds of teachers staging a'sickout'rallied in front of the school district offices, Snyder announced he'd appoint a 'transition leader' to move the schools back toward local control.
"Educators and parents have been raising the red flag for years about dangerous school conditions, only to be snubbed, ignored and disrespected by DPS and the emergency managers, including Earley", said Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, in a statement. "The state has brought the school district to its knees, and now it's time to give up the reins."
Michigan cities like Detroit and Flint have been used as a laboratory for market-based policies and the most extreme forms of austerity. The results have been deadly.
Detroit remains in bankruptcy and emergency managers still wreak havoc in several other cities. Detroit schools, even without an emergency manager, will take many years to recover from the devastation caused by disinvestment and privatisation. The water in Flint still has lead, and the children damaged by its pollution will never fully heal.
As Americans go to the polls to vote this year, they must remember that conservative candidates all over the country are proposing to extend policies like those enacted in Michigan. The actions of politicians shouldn't just be debated in the abstract; when people are forced to suffer the very real consequences of political negligence such as that wrought on Flint and Detroit, individuals must be held to account.
David Bacon is a California writer and documentary photographer. A former union organizer, today he documents labor, the global economy, war and migration, and the struggle for human rights. His latest book, The Right to Stay Home (Beacon Press, 2013). discusses alternatives to forced migration and the criminalization of migrants.
Reposted from Portside.
- See more at:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Forum : The American Way of Poverty

And, Bernie campaign.
The American Way of Poverty ;
How the Other Half Still Lives
Author.  Sasha Abramsky. Speaking at the 7thannual  Progressive Forum.
March 17, 2016.  3 PM.  Folsom Hall 1063. 
Sasha Abramsky is a widely published journalist, who specializes in social justice and poverty reporting. His work has appeared in the Nation, the American Prospect, Salon, Slate, the New Yorker online, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Village Voice, and many other publications both in the US and the UK.
The Abramsky lecture will be followed by speakers from a number  of local organizations encouraging the student vote in 2016. 

Duane Campbell, (DSA) The Left and the Sanders Campaign.  Student Votes Matter; Presentations by student activists and others.  Free.
Sponsors:  Sacramento Progressive Alliance, Campus Progressive Alliance,  Democratic Socialists of America, California Faculty Association,

Monday, March 14, 2016

We Must Talk About Race to Fix Economic Inequality

American Way of Poverty

American Way of Poverty: The American Way of Poverty ; How the Other Half Still Lives Author.   Sasha Abramsky. Speaking at the 7 th annual   Progressive For...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Education and the presidential primaries

Jeff Bryant 
Numerous observers have noticed K-12 education has finally gotten some meaningful attention in the presidential primary debate – at least in the Democratic Party.
The subject had been virtually a no show in the contest until the debate in Detroit, earlier this month. It finally arose when, according to a transcript, a Detroit parent asked the candidates about the poor conditions in her child’s school.
First to respond was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who questioned, rhetorically, why we “can’t come up with the money to make sure that Detroit has good and qualified teachers” and “somehow we can not make sure that there are summer programs … and after school programs” for children?
“We have got to change our national priorities,” he said. “We’re not going to give tax breaks to the wealthy. We’re going to ask them to start paying their fair share of taxes so we can raise the money to make sure that every child in this country, in Detroit, in Vermont, gets the quality education that he or she deserves.”
When the question pivoted to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she proposed to “reinstate a program we did have during the 1990’s where the federal government provided funding to repair and modernize public schools … to force the Governor and the state to return the schools to the people of Detroit … [and] to set-up inside the Department of Education, for want of a better term, kind of an education SWAT team, if you will. Where we’ve got qualified people, teachers, principals, maybe folks who are retired, maybe folks who are active, but all of whom are willing to come and help.”
Whether you agree with the candidates’ responses or not, the subject – the conditions of struggling schools in Detroit and elsewhere – is what urgently needs to be addressed by the candidates.
Unfortunately, both in that particular debate – as well as in the larger debate among all the candidates in the primary – the attention often veers away from the issue of adequate and equitable resources for schools to a host of other distractions.
Something Rotten In The State Of Michigan

Friday, March 11, 2016

antiracismdsa: Tenemos Familias | Bernie Sanders

antiracismdsa: Tenemos Familias | Bernie Sanders: Many of these workers can not vote. It is up to us to vote for them. If you cannot vote, you can still campaign for candidates and assis...

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The American Way of Poverty

The American Way of Poverty ;
How the Other Half Still Lives

Author.  Sasha Abramsky. Speaking at the 7thannual  Progressive Forum.
March 17, 2016.  3 PM.  Folsom Hall 1050. 
Sasha Abramsky is a widely published journalist, who specializes in social justice and poverty reporting. His work has appeared in the Nation, the American Prospect, Salon, Slate, the New Yorker online, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Village Voice, and many other publications both in the US and the UK.
The Abramsky lecture will be followed by speakers from a number  of local organizations encouraging the student vote in 2016. 
Duane Campbell, (DSA) The Left and the Sanders Campaign.  Student Votes Matter; Presentations by student activists and others.  Free.

Sponsors:  Sacramento Progressive Alliance, Campus Progressive Alliance,  Democratic Socialists of America, California Faculty Association,

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