Friday, April 27, 2018

Arizona teacher strike: it not just about a raise. Its about defending public education. - Vox

Arizona teacher strike: its not just about a raise. Its about defending public education. - Vox

Arizona Teachers On Strike

Teachers' Strike in Arizona/Colorado 2

TEACHERS WALK OUT IN ARIZONA, COLORADO: "Thousands of teachers in Arizona and Colorado walked out of their classrooms on Thursday to demand more funding for public schools, the latest surge of a teacher protest movement that has already swept through three states and is spreading quickly to others," Simon Romero and Julie Turkewitz report in the New York Times. 
"Widespread teacher protests have in recent months upended daily routines in the conservative-leaning states West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky," the Times reports. "But the sight of public workers protesting en masse in the Arizona capital, one of the largest Republican strongholds in the country, and demanding tax increases for more school funding, spoke to the enduring strength of the movement and signaled shifts in political winds ahead of this year's midterm elections."
"Educators in both states want more classroom resources and have received offers either for increased school funding or pay, but they say the money isn't guaranteed and the efforts don't go far enough," Melissa Daniels and Anita Snow write in the Associated Press. "Most of Arizona's public schools will be closed the rest of the week, and about half of all Colorado students will see their schools shuttered over the two days as teachers take up the Arizona movement's #RedforEd mantle." More from the Times here and the AP here.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Teacher Strike in Arizona and Colorado

This year, fights at state capitols across the country are looking different than ever before. Educators are tired of the budget cuts to schools, tired of low pay, and tired of being ignored or disparaged. And they are willing, like never before, to act collectively to fight for their kids, their schools, themselves and their communities. 

From West Virginia to Oklahoma, Kentucky, and, this week, Arizona and Colorado, educators are walking out of their classrooms to protest low pay, austerity budgets, and the threat of privatization and closing schools. 

And they have the support of parents, students and their communities. A new poll says that 78 percent of Americans support increasing teacher pay and more than 50 percent would support raising their own taxes to pay for it.  

Today, teachers in Puerto Rico will rally at the Capitol and create a human shield around it to show they will protect public education. Demonstrate your support by joining their shield virtually in solidarity on Facebook and Twitter

The usual Republican playbook isn’t working anymore. Economist Paul Krugman gave a great analysis this week of why. He said that tax cuts sharply reduce revenue, wreaking havoc on state finances, which forces states to cut spending. And since education is central to state and local budgets, that puts educators in the crosshairs. 

No Muslim Ban

The Muslim ban is a symptom of a much deeper rot in American ideals, and we must take on hate to address the violence ripping our communities apart. #NoMuslimBanEver

TRAVEL BAN AT SCOTUS: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at 10 a.m. today in a case over the legality of President Donald Trump's travel ban. In October the administration rolled out the third iteration of the policy, placing a variety of restrictions on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as North Korea and Venezuela. Chad was dropped from the list earlier this month after administration officials said it had met security benchmarks. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Republican Candidate for CA Governor Makes Sanctuary Legislation His Key

John Cox is a businessman and a Republican with a shot, after the June primary, of being one of the two candidates on the November ballot for governor. California Today has been doing occasional question-and-answer sessions with candidates for office. 
This interview, with Mr. Cox, was edited and condensed for clarity. 
Q: How does a Republican win an election in a state like this? 
A: The biggest issue is the sanctuary state. The politicians seem to be favoring criminals over law-abiding citizens. The politicians are ignoring the rule of law in favor of political expediency. The other big issue is the tax burden — the gas tax in particular. They enacted this tax increase using a lot of political games to get it accomplished. 
Q: Does the Republican Party need to expand its appeal to become more competitive here? 
A: I’m a Jack Kemp Republican. I think that’s the kind of Republican we all have to be. Jack would always speak positively about things. I want people to get away from harsh language. 
Having said that, it is absolutely objectionable for people like Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown to say they are not going to adhere to the federal law on immigration. Jerry Brown should not be acting like George Wallace in front of the schoolhouse in Alabama.

From California Online. of the NYT. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tax cuts for the rich, or essential public services for all?

by Randi Weingarten 

What do basketball legend Charles Barkley and the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. have in common? An understanding that taxes fund things that we need and value.
Holmes told a law clerk who complained about paying taxes, “I like to pay taxes. It’s what we pay for a civilized society.” More than a century later, Barkley came to a similar conclusion. He used to say he did not like paying taxes, until he got a call from basketball icon Bill Russell. Russell pointed out that money from taxes paid for the public schools Barkley attended growing up, and for police officers and firefighters in his community. Russell said, “Now that you got money, you don’t want to help other people out, but when you were poor other people took care of you.” Barkley replied, “You will never hear me complain about my taxes again.”

Randi WeingartenWeingarten with AFT members in Oklahoma marching to the state Capitol April 2. Photo by Adam Derstine.
But many people do complain about paying their share for essential public services. Some wealthy Americans calculated that they could pay more in campaign contributions in order to pay less in taxes. The Republican-controlled Congress responded with a tax overhaul last December that lavishes the wealthiest 1 percent with 83 percent of the cuts. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last week reported that the plan will increase the deficit to nearly $1 trillion in fiscal 2019, and that, by 2028, the national debt could equal nearly the entire value of all the finished goods and services produced in the country.
Republicans claimed that these massive tax cuts would pay for themselves and benefit all Americans. But retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately backtracked on that pledge. Ryan said Congress would now “tackle the debt and the deficit” the tax cuts create, providing the GOP an excuse to make deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and other programs the neediest Americans depend on.
Americans are not fooled. A recent AFT- Democracy Corps poll found that most respondents have not personally benefited from the tax plan and are unhappy their wages are not keeping up with rising costs. They are angry the GOP plans to pay for tax cuts they don’t benefit from by shredding the social safety net. And they feel strongly the funds being redistributed to the rich should have been invested in public schools, healthcare or infrastructure.
Such investments are vital. Twenty- nine states still spend less on public education than they did before the Great Recession. And many states have seen devastating consequences after sharply cutting taxes. Kansas enacted an extreme form of trickle-down economics, on the premise that it would usher in an economic boom. Instead, state revenue plummeted, the deficit exploded and officials slashed spending on everything from road repair to Medicaid and public education. Kansans across party lines railed against the decimation of public goods and services, prompting the Legislature to pass a $1.2 billion tax increase last year, but the state is still struggling to fund essential public services.
Officials’ choices to cut taxes for the wealthy rather than invest in essential services lie at the heart of the teacher walkouts now gripping the country. In Oklahoma, income tax cuts and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry deprive the state of $1.5 billion a year. West Virginia lawmakers have cut taxes by more than $4 billion in the last decade.
These irresponsible tax cuts have made it impossible to, in Justice Holmes’ words, “pay for a civilized society.” In Oklahoma, textbooks are held together with duct tape, and, while a student was excited to be issued a textbook once used by country singer Blake Shelton, her mother was horrified to realize Shelton had used it nearly 40 years ago. Teacher pay in West Virginia and Oklahoma ranks 48th and 49th lowest, respectively, in the nation.
One of the starkest current examples of disinvestment is in Puerto Rico, where the governor is proposing to close 450 public schools in less than one year. In the wake of the devastation caused by recent hurricanes, this will further tear at the fabric of community life and promote the continuing exodus from the island.
Teachers, students and parents are standing up to prevent this catastrophe.
Meanwhile, it’s testing season in America’s schools. And while many so-called education reformers fixate on algorithms, outputs and accountability, the teachers waging these walkouts offer a reminder that, before anything else, we have to take care of the basics—investing in and supporting our students, their educators and their schools.
We all benefit from safe communities, great public schools and a civilized society. And we all have a responsibility to contribute our fair share to make that possible.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ethnic Studies to be Required in California ?

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2016, which is set to create the first statewide model curriculum on ethnic studies by 2019. No other state had ever approved such a bill to help standardize the courses that arose 50 years ago out of the Third World Liberation Front strikes at San Francisco State and UC Berkeley in 1968. 
This year, Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, himself a former ethnic studies high school teacher, is championing a bill to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement in all California public high schools.
Medina has introduced AB 2772, which would require public high schools and charter schools to offer a course in ethnic studies beginning in the 2021–22 school year. It also would add a course in ethnic studies to high school graduation requirements in social studies commencing with the 2023–24 school year. Last month, the Assembly Education Committee gave the bill its first approval with a bipartisan 5-1 vote. It now must get out of the Appropriations Committee.

Texas education board approves course formerly known as Mexican-American studies

* Update, April 13: On Friday, the State Board of Education gave its final approval to development of the Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent course.

Texas advocates for Mexican-American studies classes won a bitter victory Wednesday, gaining approval to move forward with the class they wanted but losing the course title.

The State Board of Education had been debating more than four years over how and whether to offer teachers materials and guidance to teach Mexican-American studies. In a preliminary vote, the board voted nearly unanimously to create curriculum standards for the elective class. But now it will be called “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.”  

A final vote on the issue is scheduled for Friday.

The class will be based on an innovative course Houston ISD got state approval to offer in 2015. Texas Education Agency staff will make any needed changes to that set of curriculum standards and then bring it back for the first of two public hearings and votes in June.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Syria War Dead

In seven years, the casualties of Syria’s civil war have grown from the first handful of protesters shot by government forces to hundreds of thousands of dead.
But as the war has dragged on, growing more diffuse and complex, many international monitoring groups have essentially stopped counting.
Even the United Nations, which released regular reports on the death toll during the first years of the war, gave its last estimate in 2016 — when it relied on 2014 data, in part — and said that it was virtually impossible to verify how many had died.
At that time, a United Nations official said 400,000 people had been killed.
But so many of the biggest moments of the war have happened since then. In the past two years, the government of President Bashar al-Assad, with Russia’s help, laid siege to residential areas of Aleppo, once the country’s second-largest city, and several other areas controlled by opposition groups, leveling entire neighborhoods. Last weekend, dozens of people died in asuspected chemical attackon a Damascus suburb, prompting the United States, Britain and France to launch retaliatory strikes against Syrian targets early Saturday.
In addition, American-led forces have bombed the Islamic State in large patches of eastern Syria, in strikes believed to have left thousands dead. And dozens of armed groups, including fighters backed by Iran, have continued to clash, creating a humanitarian catastrophe that the world is struggling to measure.

Historically, these numbers matter, experts say, because they can have a direct impact on policy, accountability and a global sense of urgency. The legacy of the Holocaust has become inextricably linked with the figure of six million Jews killed in Europe. The staggering death toll of the Rwandan genocide — one million Tutsis killed in 100 days — is seared into the framework of that nation’s reconciliation process.

Without a clear tally of the deaths, advocates worry that the conflict will simply grind on indefinitely, without a concerted international effort to end it.
“We know from conflicts around the world that we can’t have any sustainable peace if we don’t have accountability,” said Anna Nolan, director of The Syria Campaign, a human rights advocacy group. “The most critical thing to understand in that situation is who is being killed and who is doing that killing, and without that information we can’t expect the people involved in resolving this conflict to come to the right decisions.”

A Syrian man evacuated an infant from the rebel-held town of Hamouria after heavy bombardment in February. As the seven-year Syria war drags on, growing more diffuse and complex, many international monitoring groups have stopped counting casualties.
New York Times 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How Schools Deal With Immigrants

State Superintendent Torlakson Applauds New Guidelines for Undocumented Students and Families

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today applauded new guidelines to protect the rights of undocumented students and their families at California’s more than 10,000 public schools.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra developed the Promoting a Safe and Secure Learning Environment for All: Guidance and Model Policies to Assist California K–12 Schools in Responding to Immigration Issues guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), to help schools develop policies to safeguard the privacy and personal information of students.
“This guide gives students, parents, educators, and the public, valuable information about the laws and the limits of immigration enforcement,” said Torlakson. “It’s a big step forward in support of all of our efforts to make sure students and their parents, regardless of citizenship status, feel safe and welcome at public schools.”

Friday, April 06, 2018

Unstable Trump Creates Another "Crisis" on the Bor...

antiracismdsa: Unstable Trump Creates Another "Crisis" on the Bor...: By Duane Campbell President Donald Trump announced on April 3, 2018 that he'll deploy troops to the U.S.-Mexico border pending c...

Oklahoma Teachers Strike Against Austerity

Oklahoma teachers proudly marked themselves absent from school since Monday, and they had an excellent excuse: They made themselves present in politics instead, with a historic march on the Capitol in hopes of finally capturing the legislature’s undivided attention
Lawmakers thought they could eke through another austerity budget with the last-minute addition of a $6,100 wage hike. But an estimated 30,000 educators stopped work starting Monday to force some 200 schools to shutter, in order to send the message to elected representatives that their gesture is insufficient. The planned raise paled against teachers’ demands for a fully funded school budget, as part of a $3.3 billion package to restore massive cutbacks across state agencies, as well as the basic dignity of a living wage for all state workers.
Following a decade of bruising austerity, the numbers still don't add up for Oklahoma schools. They lead the nation in annual budget cuts, and rank 45th in funding equity levels and 46th in academic performance, according to recent national rankings. With pay scales for teachers statewide frozen since the recession, salaries have declined in real terms to rank near dead last in the country.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Teachers' Strikes are a Sea Change

Kentucky Teachers,  March 8,2018
Harold Meyerson,
Around seven years ago, I had a standard wisecrack to explain the standing of workers in the world’s two dominant economies: “China has strikes but no unions; America has unions but no strikes.”
Seven years later, it’s clear we’re becoming more like China every day.
The remarkable upsurge of teachers in Republic-run, largely non-union states that has swept through West Virginia and is now sweeping through Oklahoma and Kentucky, and is poised to descend on Arizona, has returned the mass strike to the United States after decades of relegation to the history books. In each of these states, the teachers unions have something between limited and no legal rights to bargain collectively, and, correspondingly, represent just a hard core of members whose commitment to their union is more a matter of belief than of anticipated reward. And yet, able to mobilize even in non-union terrains through the use of social media, and outraged at their states’ continued opposition to funding public education, the teachers have leapt beyond law and formal organization to press their case.
Union leaders and members have played a key role in these actions, which have ballooned into statewide strikes. But so have rank-and-file teachers who haven’t been members, some of whom established the Facebook pages that they and their co-workers have used to develop their demands, organize their actions, and mobilize their peers. The fact that West Virginia’s teachers refused to go back to work after a preliminary deal was struck, persuading their leaders and colleagues to stay out until the deal was sealed, and then won their demands has clearly prompted their fellow teachers in other states to turn their righteous indignation at their state government’s decade-long starvation of public education into solidaristic militancy.
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