Friday, December 30, 2016

Girding For The Education Fight Ahead

Girding For The Education Fight Ahead

Trump and education.  Note: some 82 % of school funding in California is from state or local funds.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Teaching Civics in the Time of Trump

Teaching Civics in the Time of Trump
Panyin Conduah 
Date of Source: 
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Moyers and Company

Many Americans are still going through a whirlwind of emotions as they process November’s election results and the dawning of Donald Trump’s presidency. Although, by the time the official tally is finished, Trump will likely have lost the popular vote by 2 full percentage points[1], the Electoral College will place him in the Oval Office when a joint session of Congress formally counts the votes in January [2]. Many feel hopeless when it comes to the future of America and criticize the outcome as the result of a broken system [3].
But while Trump may have won the big seat in the Oval Office, officials in other branches of government at the federal, state and local levels have the power to stand up to Trump’s agenda. For American voters to effectively push these levers of power, however, they’re going to have to understand how government works.
Studies show that at the moment, many Americans lack that knowledge. In one 2014 study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center [4], more than one-third of respondents (36 percent) could not name all three branches of the federal government. Fusion’s 2015 “massive millennial poll” reports an even more frightening statistic: 77 percent of people aged 18 to 34 [5] were unable to name a senator from their home state.
In a different time and in a different tune, Americans were able to do just that on Saturday mornings with Schoolhouse Rock! The program started airing on ABC in 1973. David McCall, a concerned dad (and well-known advertising executive), wanted to create a way for his son to learn multiplication that he hoped would resonate better than classroom lectures: rock music. McCall enlisted the help of George Newall, a colleague at his advertising agency, and jazz songwriter Bob Dorough, and together they wrote the first song, “Three is a Magic Number [6],” which kicked off the soon-to-be-popular series. The tune explains how well things work in a trinity — three tricycle wheels, three table legs — while also teaching multiplication tables.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Can American Fascism Be Stopped? @alternet

Can American Fascism Be Stopped? @alternet: Trump's win was both a perfect storm and the culmination of long term trends. Can American fascism be stopped?

Yes, it can happen here. The first part already has.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

Russia and Trump Hack the U.S. Elections

Of all the horrible things that happened this year in politics, the fact that our election was hacked by Russia, and in response the GOP president elect  is staffing his administration with pro-Russia sympathizers, is just totally bananas. 

We just let a second rate power steal our presidential election (not to mention all of the House races that were tipped by the DCCC hack and leak) and we're not going to at minimum increase sanctions!?! 
And now, Donald Trump is bragging about the hack, claiming that the Russians did the US a favor.
Do the corporate robber barons, conservatives and Tea Party minions  so love tax cuts that we overlook being captured by a hostile foreign power?

Here is the story on the hack.

There were, of course, many reasons why Clinton will lose the vote in the Electoral College. ( She won the election by 2.5 million votes) Her own campaign, dissing millennials ,not having  much of a  ground game in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and more.
See prior posts on this.

Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta wrote a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post Thursday calling for the FBI and its director James Comey to be held responsible for what he characterized as a mishandling of evidence that Russian-backed hackers sought to influence the election.
“The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets,” Podesta began, before quoting Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA who called the hacks "the political equivalent of 9/11.”
Podesta, whose emails were stolen during the campaign and posted online by Wikileaks and other websites, referenced a New York Times investigation published this week that found that FBI agents didn’t notify the Democratic National Committee in person that their emails had been hacked until months after the fact.

Read more on the hacking scandal.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trump Appointment to Education - A Cause for Concern

Jeff Bryant
Donald Trump’s election to the US Presidency left education policy experts at a complete loss to explain what this would mean for the nation’s schools. During his campaign, Trump had given few clues about what would inform his education leadership, only that he had some antipathy for the US Department of Education, that he was no fan of Common Core, and that he would advocate for more “school choice.”
After his election, experienced education journalists at Education Weekpredicted Trump would embrace conservative Beltway think tanks and state education policy leaders who had bristled under the rule of Obama’s education department, and he would reject the influence of teachers unions, civil rights groups, and politically centrist education “reform” groups.
Many who pointed out “personnel is policy,” speculated Trump would pick an Education Secretary from the ranks of his transition advisers who came mostly from the above mentioned DC-based circles and state government centers. Other knowledgeable sources predicted Trump might draw education policy knowhow from “outsider” sources, such as the military, big business, or the charter school industry.
No one – not a single source I can find – anticipated Trump would look for education expertise in the deep, dark well he repeatedly seems to draw from – the extremist, rightwing evangelical community.
The DeVos Nomination
The first clue that Trump would embed the extremist views of radical Christian orthodoxy in the White House’s education policy apparatus was his nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the nation’s next Secretary of Education.
As Politico reports, DeVos is a “billionaire philanthropist” who “once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to ‘advance God’s Kingdom.'”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Critical Budget Cuts Coming

The California Budget and Policy Center is hosting its annual budget preview on line.

A major crisis is approaching as the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress promises to cut the Affordable Care Act.  Some 4 million in California will loose their health care and be pushed to county clinics- a true disaster.
All health care services for this 4 million will be drastically reduced. this will produce a $16 Billion shortfall in the state budget.
This is a crisis in health care greater than the crisis in state school spending during the Great Recession.
Note: For those of you who did not vote- millions of your neighbors and family members will now lose their health care and other support programs as a consequence of the House Republican budget.
It is difficult to predict how and where the cuts will come.
At the same time, the House budget and the Trump proposals will produce big tax cuts at the federal level for high income individuals and corporations.
The crisis of the repeal of the ACA ( or Obama Care) will produce a crisis in the California state budget.  All budget programs and areas will be subject to cuts. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

U.S. Press Has Promoted Fascists Before !

How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal”, because his leadership reflects the will of the people?
These are the questions that confronted the US press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.
Benito Mussolini secured Italy’s premiership by marching on Rome with 30,000 blackshirts in 1922. By 1925, he had declared himself leader for life. While this hardly reflected American values, Mussolini was a darling of the American press, appearing in at least 150 articles from 1925-1932, most neutral, bemused or positive in tone.
The Saturday Evening Post even serialized Il Duce’s autobiography in 1928. Acknowledging that the new “Fascisti movement” was a bit “rough in its methods”, papers ranging from the New York Tribune to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Chicago Tribune credited it with saving Italy from the far left and revitalizing its economy. From their perspective, the post-first world war surge of anti-capitalism in Europe was a vastly worse threat than fascism.
Ironically, while the media acknowledged that fascism was a new “experiment”, papers like the New York Times commonly credited it with returning turbulent Italy to what it called “normalcy”.

Yet some journalists, such as Ernest Hemingway, and journals including the New Yorker rejected the normalization of anti-democratic Mussolini. John Gunther of Harper’s, meanwhile, wrote a razor-sharp account of Mussolini’s masterful manipulation of a US press that couldn’t resist him.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Questions to Ask of Betsy DeVoz

Five Questions You Should Ask about Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy Devos

Five Questions You Should Ask about Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy Devos…
Julian Vasquez Heilig.

An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos

Patrick Kearney, 
Dear Ms. DeVos,
I don’t think we’ve really met yet; we are America’s public school teachers. There are about 3.1 million of us. We teach in large urban areas, we teach in the suburbs, we teach in small rural communities, and we teach in some really remote parts of our country. The most important thing to recognize is that we teach every kid who shows up. We don’t pick and choose the types of kids that we will teach, we teach ALL of them.
Because we haven’t really had much interaction, we thought it might be nice to share a little bit about the public schools we teach in. First of all, we are very proud of our schools. Public schools today have the highest graduation rate in American history. The Gallup Poll says that the rate of parents who are satisfied with their public school is the highest in American history. We are also very proud that our public schools offer more services to students with low socioeconomic backgrounds and special education needs than ever before. Not to be redundant, but we are proud that we serve ALL of the students in our communities.
Our communities are very important to us. We are taxpayers in our local communities and many of us have children of our own who attend the public schools that we teach in. We care deeply that our schools are safe and that they are providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum to EVERY student who walks in the door. We recognize that each of our communities have different needs and sometimes get frustrated with a “one size fits all” mentality.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Los Angeles, Sacramento School Districts Declare Themselves Safe Zones for Immigrant Children

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento City Unified School District trustees voted unanimously Thursday, Dec. 8,  to declare district schools “safe havens” that protect students against deportation and hate speech.
The resolution is a response to the “intolerant rhetoric made over the course of the 2016 presidential race” and reports of increased hate speech at district schools, according to the document.
The three-page resolution specifies that immigration officials cannot enter campuses without written permission of the superintendent and that the district will restrict sharing of student files that could help determine the legal status of students. It also calls for activities on all campuses to promote tolerance and urges investments in programs to promote the “values of a multicultural society.”

Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school system sent a message to President-elect Donald Trump: Los Angeles’ public schools will continue to be “safe zones” for students in the U.S. illegally.
The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to approve a resolution reaffirming L.A. Unified’s current policy, which directs school staff members not to allow federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents onto school campuses unless their visit has been approved by the superintendent and the district’s lawyers. Board members also seconded a policy that protects the immigration information and identities of students, family members and school staff.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hillary Clinton won the election, Trump won the Electoral College

Hillary Clinton  won California by 4.3 million votes. Turnout over 75%

Bill Fletcher: “It is important to approach any examination of the November election with a degree of nuance. As widely noted, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by what now appears to be at least two million votes. The Libertarian and Green Parties received far more votes than the margin of victory in no less than eleven states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

This election was decided by a razor-thin margin due to the undemocratic Electoral College.” Read the excellent piece, Fighting Against the White Revolt of 2016, “ by Bill Fletcher and Bob Wing below this post.

Duane Campbell.

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. 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.

David Bacon has a new piece on the current situation.

If you prefer video, here is a good piece Hate Rising.

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.

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”.

This short list, and similar ones including the privatization of public education ( see below), show that the political terrain upon which we operate has dramatically shifted. Doing more of the same, or being more confrontational alone is not an adequate response.

We need a re-evaluation of our basic strategy and how we fit into developing a left resistance to the rise of neo fascism and Trumpism.

I see that Freedom Road has a piece out on this relating this period to the imposition of terrorism that ended the first Reconstruction era.

Best case scenario: Trump is elected, the Republicans gained control of all three branches of government.

Worse case. Trump is elected, Republicans gain control of all three branches of government. They use their power to organize a substantial power shift and the creation of an authoritarian, racist state.

The difference between the best case and the worse case is how we organize and resist.

Duane Campbell

Defeat Racism campaign.

Read more here:

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