Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who’s Stealing Our Jobs? • NAFTA and xenophobia

Who’s Stealing Our Jobs? • NAFTA and xenophobia

Teaching lessons for school about trade, free trade, and prejudice.  From Rethinking Schools.

California Comeback: How a Ballot Measure Brought America’s Largest Public School System Back From the Brink – Capital & Main

Four years ago California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 30, the emergency ballot measure that Governor Jerry Brown and state education leaders had argued was needed to rescue public schools and community colleges from the fiscal free-fall of the 2008 Great Recession.

The good news, according to the California school teachers and officials, parents, college professors, health-care advocates and economic researchers interviewed by Capital & Main for this series, is that the initiative not only performed as advertised, but it may be the most spectacularly successful ballot initiative in the state’s notoriously uneven history of direct democracy.

Proposition 30 averted thousands of new teacher layoffs during the Great Recession.

By raising income taxes on the wealthy and the sales tax on everyone, Prop. 30 dramatically stabilized school funding in the wake of the recession, averting thousands of new teacher layoffs while beginning the work of restoring the jobs and programs lost during the first years of the crisis. It was also instrumental in allowing the state legislature to balance its budget for the first time in years without slashing social programs.

Debate is Over: Trump Lost

Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Monday, September 26, 2016.
   Harold Meyerson
Hillary Clinton had to do three things in last night’s debate, and she did roughly 2.8 of them very well. First, she had to actually make sounder, and more appealing policy points than Donald Trump did. On the whole, she succeeded—though she still doesn’t really have a good comeback to Trump’s criticism of the past several decades of trade policy (that’s why I only give her a 2.8 of three). Second, she had to get under his skin, so he’d feel compelled to defend himself, which is to say, defend the indefensible. Third, she had to know when to let him go, to rant, to be Donald Trump, and not step on it by interrupting or trying to refute the absurd. On points two and three, she was brilliant. Getting under his skin, she handed him the rope. Letting him rant, she let him hang himself. (So, I might add, did Lester Holt, who obviously went into the debate believing that he’d let the candidates be themselves, largely free from his own interruptions, before the largest audience they’d yet faced—journalistically, absolutely the right call.)
The three issue areas that were actually discussed—as opposed to those that fell victim to Trump’s incoherence, which worked to Clinton’s favor—were the economy, our relation to the world, and the intersection of race relations and police practices. On the last, Clinton was clearly, and I thought effectively, reaching out to young minority voters—a group whose turnout she clearly needs to encourage. Her discussion of the massive over-incarceration of the past decades, and the ongoing racial bias that affects, and in many places, dominates police practices, threaded a needle: Showing her understanding of the urgency behind Black Lives Matter while at the same time making police reform sound unthreatening to moderate white voters—at least, those moderate whites who don’t believe, as Trump would have it, that we’re in a 1968 moment when cities are going up in flames. Trump’s one-note law-n-order shtick, by contrast, doubtless played well with his base, but there’s no way it put any new votes in his column. Clinton’s move to mine her potential base for more votes, by contrast, probably did enable her to win some friends and influence fence-sitters.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why We Are Protesting in Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C. —
William Barber. Chair, N.C. NAACP.
 Since a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday afternoon, the ensuing protests have dominated national news. Provocateurs who attacked police officers and looted stores made headlines. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard joined police officers in riot gear, making the Queen City look like a war zone.
Speaking on the campaign trail in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Donald J. Trump offered a grave assessment [1]: “Our country looks bad to the world, especially when we are supposed to be the world’s leader. How can we lead when we can’t even control our own cities?” Mr. Trump seems to want Americans to believe, as Representative Robert Pittenger, a Republican whose district includes areas in Charlotte, told the BBC, that black protesters in the city “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not [2].”
But Charlotte’s protests are not black people versus white people. They are not black people versus the police. The protesters are black, white and brown people, crying out against police brutality and systemic violence. If we can see them through the tear gas, they show us a way forward to peace with justice.
On Thursday, I joined 50 Charlotte-area clergy members who were on the streets this week. Yes, a few dozen provocateurs did damage property and throw objects at the police, after being provoked by the officers’ tear gas, rubber bullets and military-style maneuvers. But as we saw, thousands more have peacefully demonstrated against the institutional violence in their communities.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Left Under Estimates the Danger of Trump

antiracismdsa: The Left Under Estimates the Danger of Trump: By Arun Gupta (September 21, 2016) I know it’s the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, but there is little to celebrate at such...

Monday, September 12, 2016

How Messed Up is California's Charter School Sector ?

Difficult to Believe.
Valerie Straus, 
Ohio and Utah are known in education circles for having extraordinarily troubled charter school sectors, and the same is true in  Pennsylvania, where Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a report this year and declared his state’s charter school law the “worst” in the nation.
But there is another place with a scandal-plagued charter sector that gets less national attention than it should: California, which has more charter schools and charter school students than any other state in the nation, and where one billionaire came up with a secret plan to “charterize” half of  the Los Angeles Unified School District.
There is a never-ending stream of charter scandals coming from California. For example, a report released recently (by the ACLU SoCal and Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group) found that more than 20 percent of all California charter schools have enrollment policies that violate state and federal law. A Mercury News investigation published in April revealed how the state’s online charter schools run by Virginia-based K12 Inc., the largest for-profit charter operator in the country, have “a dismal record of academic achievement” but has won more than $310 million in state funding over the past dozen years.

There was the scandal involving a charter school principal who also doubled as a National Basketball Association scout, traveling first class to basketball games around the country — and charging his travel expenses to his charter school. Don’t forget the one involving a charter school that closed in 2014 after state auditors found a number of issues, including indications that administrators funneled millions of dollars in state funds to the schools’ operator and her family and friends.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Yuba City teachers on strike

Yuba City Teachers on Strike

District’s Bad Behavior, ‘Take It or Leave It” --
Negotiations Blamed As Cause For Strike

The 700 teachers in the Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD) will be on strike as of Thursday, September 8, 2016 because the district prefers to hoard millions in state funding rather than resolve a crisis over competitive pay that will attract and retain qualified teachers in the midst of a teacher shortage. 

The strike notice provided by the Yuba City Teachers Association (YCTA) to the district cited both the disagreement over finances and unfair labor practices as the causes of the strike. “The district’s own actions have put us in this crisis,” said YCTA President Dina Luetgens.  This Yuba City strike will be the first in the area since the Stockton strike in January of 1990. Luetgens noted the response to the strike date announcement from YCTA teachers and community members has been overwhelmingly positive and heartwarming.

“We’re in this crisis because this district continues to ignore the desperate need to attract and retain quality, qualified teachers,” she said.  YCUSD teacher salaries are 13.4% below the state average. YCTA proposed a 13% salary increase to address the pay gap and the exodus of teachers leaving to neighboring districts for better pay and working conditions. The last, best and final offer YCTA received for the 2015-16 school year was essentially 0% on the salary schedule plus one-time pay for extra duties. This from a district that received $17 million in additional state funding that year, which is over a 15% increase in the general fund for 2015-16. Because of its healthy financial status, YCUSD transferred $3.5 million into other accounts, rather than making those funds available to teachers and students.  

Luetgens says the district can afford the teachers’ proposal.  YCTA has also filed unfair labor charges against the district alleging bad behavior, including intimidation, and ignoring information requests or providing inaccurate or incomplete information.

Moonlighting Teachers Learn Hard Lessons from Uber – Capital & Main

Moonlighting Teachers Learn Hard Lessons from Uber – Capital & Main

Parent Revolution (pRev) Repackaging Itself — PS connect

Parent Revolution (pRev) Repackaging Itself — PS connect

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Prop 30 Saved the Schools: Proposition 55 is essential

New Report Shows the Significant Impact of Proposition 30

Nearly four years since California voters approved Proposition 30, a new Issue Brief from the California Budget & Policy Center looks at what Prop. 30 has meant for the state’s fiscal picture and investment in key public services. This brief highlights how Prop. 30’s boost to state revenues has helped California reinvest in schools and community colleges and other systems while also increasing the state’s capacity to build its budget reserve and pay down debt.

Passed in November 2012, Prop. 30 raised the personal income tax rates for very-high-income Californians (single filers with taxable incomes above $250,000 and joint filers with incomes above $500,000) through 2018 and raised the state sales tax rate by a quarter-cent through 2016.

Overall, tax rate changes in Prop. 30 have boosted state revenues by $7 billion to $8 billion annually. The effects of Prop. 30 revenues, which predominantly come from California’s wealthiest residents, include the following:
Prop. 30 has helped California reinvest in preschool, K-12 schools, and community colleges. Prop. 30 and a growing state economy together boosted Prop. 98 spending (dollars provided through the state’s minimum funding guarantee for preschool, K-12 education, and community colleges) by more than half (52 percent). Prop. 98 spending has increased from $47.2 billion in 2011-12 to $71.9 billion in 2016-17. Due in part to this boost in spending:
Prop. 98 K-12 spending per student has gone up from $9,168 in 2012-13 to $10,493 in 2016-17 (inflation-adjusted), an increase of more than 14 percent.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Labor Day and Farm Workers

Arturo Rodriguez, 
While a few short years ago a $15 minimum wage seemed like a moonshot, today municipalities and states across the country are standing with workers and adopting a minimum wage that will ultimately lift 35 million hard-working American families out of poverty.
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration expanded overtime pay protections to more than 4 million working Americans.
And in California we are on the cusp on progress that builds on what the President has accomplished and paves the way for reforms that have the potential to put millions of working Americans on a pathway to the middle class.
Last week, California lawmakers passed first-of-its-kind legislation that allows farm workers to get paid overtime like all other workers.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

To Fight the Right, We need to Understand It Better

To Fight the Right, We Need to Understand It Better

At a Donald Trump rally, Dallas, Texas, September 14, 2015 (Jamelle Bouie) 

It crystallized for me the other day when I was listening to a radio interview with Glenn Beck. With complete disgust and surprising nuance, Beck attacked Donald Trump and, in so doing, demonstrated the very real differences that exist within the right, differences that many of us on the left all but ignore. Beck called Trump a fake conservative; instead, he insisted, the Republican nominee is a populist, a socialist, and a nationalist. The “socialist” charge was surprising, but the others were predictable. What I found most intriguing, however, was Beck’s critique of Trump as a man who allegedly doesn’t believe in adhering to the Constitution. 
Too many of us on the left treat the right as a monolith. We spend little time trying to distinguish various right-wing currents, let alone disentangling the differences between neoliberalism and right-wing populism. And our failure to do so is hampering our efforts to fight back.
Over the last half-century there has been a demonstrable shift to the right among the political establishments of the global Northern capitalist states. With the global restructuring of capitalism, beginning in the late 1960s, and the rise of what has come to be known as neoliberal globalization, there came an assault on progressive movements and their gains over the preceding decades. Privatization, casualization, tax cuts for the rich, anti-worker offensives, and an increasing restriction on democratic liberties have added up to a slow-moving strategic defeat for the global Northern working class. The blunting of social movements, including but not limited to the women’s movement and the black freedom movement, has gone hand in hand with an increase in a polarization of wealth not only between the global North and the global South, but also within each.
To defeat the working classes of the global North, there had to be a combination of active repression and active disorganization. The active disorganization involved the promotion and toleration of various right-wing social movements that aggressively revolted against the gains of their progressive counterparts. The active repression included military and paramilitary-style repression of the left (varying from country to country), the militarization of law enforcement, and the rise of various forms of preventive detention and extra-constitutional imprisonment, along with mounting, if subtle, restrictions on the parameters for “acceptable” discourse under democratic capitalism (for example, in mainstream television debate). As a result, what was considered “left” kept moving rightward. That conservatives can get away with describing former President Bill Clinton as a leftist shows just how far we’ve come.
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