Wednesday, January 30, 2019

New Wave of Teacher Strike Activity

New Wave of Teacher Strike Activity.
Virginia.  Oakland prepares.

The Debate in Los Angeles Over Charter Schools

LA School Board Vote.
The vote that received far more attention, drawing hundreds of protesters and hours of public comment, was more symbol than policy: a resolution calling on the state to enact a moratorium on new charter schools while studying their impact. 
The resolution has no legal impact; only the State Legislature has the authority to enact a moratorium or any other strict limits on charter schools. Ever since the deal was announced, charter school supporters have been playing defense, making a huge effort to persuade the school board to defeat the resolution. Such a defeat would have undermined Austin Beutner, the superintendent, who has consistently said he supports charter schools, but was willing to agree to the side deal on charter schools to end the strike. 
“I do support strongly school choice for families and recognize charter schools are one of the options for a high-quality education,” Mr. Beutner said before the vote. “There is nothing in this resolution to close any existing charter schools or reduce the many choices available to families.” 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

UN Security Council Debates the Future of Venezuela

UN Security Council Debates the Future of Venezuela: Excerpts of the UN Security Council's debate on whether countries should recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the self-declared president of Venezuela exposed important geopolitical and ideological rifts among world leaders

Monday, January 28, 2019

Denver Schools Threaten Immigrant Teachers

DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS THREATEN TO REPORT STRIKING IMMIGRANT TEACHERS: The Denver public schools' human resources department sent an email to school administrators last week that threatened to report to immigration officials teachers receiving H or J visas who chose to participate in a potential upcoming strike, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CBS Denver . More than 5,600 teachers organized by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association were slated to walk out this morning for the first time in 25 years, but that's now likely delayed into next week due to intervention with the state's labor department, according to The Denver Post.
Denver Public Schools said Friday that the email was an error resulting from "a misinterpretation of the information that we received from our immigration firm," adding "the communication was in no way intended to cause fear for our educators on visas." But Denver public school teachers said "the damage has already been done" in a late Friday post to In These Times. Read it here.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

5,600 Kids Still Held in Texas "Shelters"

5,600 migrant kids in Texas shelters

Even after Tornillo tent city’s closure, more than 5,600 migrant kids are living in Texas shelter

In Texas, and nationally, the number of unaccompanied migrant children being held in government-funded shelters declined in January, according to the latest state and federal data.

Most of the drop can be attributed to the closure on Jan. 11 of a temporary tent shelter in Tornillo, near El Paso. However, the Trump administration also announced in late December it would relax screening policies that immigrants rights groups have blasted for slowing placement of migrant kids with relatives and other sponsors.
As of Jan. 16, state data show there were 5,601 children living at the 34 remaining shelters across the state for unaccompanied youth.
Teachers Against Child Detention

Friday, January 25, 2019

Statement on Democracy in Nicaragua

DSA Statement of Support for the Struggle for Democracy and Justice in Nicaragua

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supports the working people and the society at large in Nicaragua in the struggle to restore democracy and to establish justice in that country. Since April 2018 when peaceful protests over a reform of the social security system began, the Nicaraguan government has engaged in an increasingly violent repression of the opposition movement that has led to the virtual abolition of all political and democratic rights. Hundreds have been killed, thousands have been jailed or imprisoned, and while in custody many have been tortured, while tens of thousands have been driven into exile. The repression has particularly affected students, farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, and the middle classes, but also the wealthy.
We Hold the Ortega Government Responsible for Violence
Nicaraguan human rights groups — before they were suppressed — and international organizations that have investigated the situation have placed responsibility for the violence on the government of Daniel Ortega. They have also strongly condemned the Ortega regime for its violations of human rights and its suppression of the democratic rights of assembly and peaceful protest, its closing down of the free press, radio and television, and its arrest of the leaders of non-governmental organizations, the seizure of their computers together with data about their activities and membership. Many of those who have been arrested have suffered beating and torture. Many longtime members of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, the ruling party, have also placed responsibility on Ortega, as have many others on the left.
We Oppose U.S. Intervention
We recognize that the United States as the dominant imperial power in Latin America for decades has often worked directly or indirectly, through outright imposition of governments or through the subterfuge of support for phony revolutions. The most reliable international investigations, as well as the testimony of former Sandinista leaders, find no evidence of the United States having caused, directed, or controlled the popular uprising that began in April 2018. Since the uprising, President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Democratic Party leadership, the U.S. State Department, and no doubt the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. government agencies have attempted to intervene in and direct political developments. Their involvement does not in any way discredit the legitimacy of the initial popular protest or of continuing protests and demands for democracy and justice, though it leads us to oppose all U.S. government intervention in Nicaragua. We oppose U.S. military or diplomatic intervention as well as the imposition of economic sanctions that will affect the Nicaraguan population as a whole.

The Air Traffic Controllers Even the Score- End Shutdown

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: The Air Traffic Controllers Even the Score: The Air Traffic Controllers Even the Score : Reagan fired their predecessors for striking in 1981. Today, they got sick, stayed home, and fo...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Congratulations to UTLA and the People of Los Angeles

Start at 15 minutes.

Today we all have more spring in our step because the members of the United Teachers Los Angeles ended their strike yesterday and ratified their new contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
It’s a good day for public education—a paradigm shift, thanks to UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, the other UTLA officers, the bargaining committee and UTLA members.
One contract can’t change decades of disinvestment, but this agreement reorders priorities. It makes a clear commitment to invest in L.A.’s neighborhood public schools and to provide the resources and conditions necessary for teachers to teach and for kids to learn.
The agreement provides:
  • Lower class sizes—immediately in 2019-20, with more improvements every year after. 
  • A nurse in every school five days a week, and a teacher librarian in every secondary school five days a week. 
  • Investment in community schools. 
  • A pathway to charter moratoriums and/or caps. 
  • A 6 percent pay raise with no contingencies. 
  • Hard caps on special education caseloads and release time for testing.
I am so proud of the hard work, dedication and courage of UTLA members and their leaders. They made this victory possible. And their commitment to Los Angeles’ parents and students resulted in unprecedented support from the broader L.A. community. More than 80 percent of people in Los Angeles supported the strike.
At its heart, the L.A. strike — like those last year in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and elsewhere — was about confronting years of disinvestment and scarcity in education, and prioritizing public education as an opportunity agent for all children.

Teachers to Vote on Tentative Contract in Los Angeles

Here is the news story.

It is only two paragraphs in the Sacramento Bee this morning,

More: L.A. teachers end six-day strike after the majority approve contract deal. CNBC: “L.A. teachers overwhelmingly approved a new contract Tuesday and planned to return to the classroom after a six-day strike over funding and staffing in the nation’s second-largest school district. Teachers overwhelmingly approved a new contract Tuesday and planned to return to the classroom after a six-day strike over funding and staffing in the nation’s second-largest school district.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Teachers Win a Tentative Contract in Los Angeles

Teachers Win a Tentative Contract in Los Angeles.  Union members vote today!
Progressive Organizing for the LA Teachers Strike

Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK and the Poor People's Campaign

“The emergency we now face is economic, and it is a desperate and worsening situation. The dispossessed of this nation — the poor, both white and Negro — live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against the injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty. There are millions of poor people in this country who have very little, or even nothing, to lose. If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.” 
--(Martin Luther King Jr., Massey Lectures, November-December, 1967)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Los Angeles Teachers On Strike -testimony

Every day this week, Carly Towne, 25, has pulled herself out of bed in the morning dark to walk a 7 a.m. picket line at Venice High School for two hours before heading to work. The bespectacled staff member of left-wing activist organization Code Pink is not a teacher, a parent nor a former L.A. Unified School student. Like the 100 to 150 other members of Democratic Socialists of America  who have showed up to schools every day this week in support of the L.A. Unified teachers strike, she’s simply a devoted socialist.
Members of DSA Los Angeles, part of an organization that has emerged in national politics as the burgeoning progressive wing of the Democratic party with robust New York City and Chicago bases, have become some of the most visible non-education-related participants in the teachers strike that has thrown LAUSD’s near 900 schools into disarray. For many of these mostly millenial age anti-capitalists, in full swing Friday morning leading a “solidarity forever” tune on the banjo and supplying teachers with free burritos, this “fight for the soul of public schools” at the center of national attention is a rare and meaningful opportunity to act on their leftist politics in real life. “Their demands are aligned with what we believe,” said Towne over blaring picket chants and car horns.

Solidarity With Striking Teachers - Sanders

Today, for the first time in 30 years, more than 30,000 Los Angeles public school teachers are on strike fighting for smaller class sizes and decent wages, for nurses, counselors and librarians in their schools, and against a coordinated effort from billionaires on the right to make money privatizing public education.
Public education is fundamental to any functioning democracy, and teaching is one of its most valuable and indispensable professions.
So how is it that the top 25 hedge fund managers in this country make more money than the combined salaries of every kindergarten teacher?
How is it that the billionaires of this country get huge tax breaks, but our teachers and children get broken chairs, flooded classrooms and inadequate support staff in their schools?
That is what a rigged economy looks like.
In the richest country in the history of the world, our teachers should be the best-paid in the developed world, not among the worst-paid.
So I stand in solidarity with the United Teachers of Los Angeles. Because a nation that does not educate its children properly will fail, and I applaud these teachers for leading this country in the fight to change our national priorities. Today, I am asking you to do the same:
But what we really need in this country is a revolution in public education.

What Would End the LA Strike ?

My colleague Jennifer Medina talked to Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, just before Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that negotiations between the union and the district would resume today.  NY Times.
A meeting is scheduled for noon at City Hall, with the mayor’s staff serving as a mediator between the two groups. 
Mr. Caputo-Pearl, said that neither he, Mr. Beutner nor the mayor would be at the table for the negotiations. “We’re going to let our teams dig into it and then we’ll be involved soon enough,” he said late last night. He did not make any predictions about when the strike would end. 
“We’re going to continue to strengthen our picket lines, which have been growing with the support from our community and parents,” he added. “We’re going to pursue both tracks, both picketing and bargaining at the same time.” 
The interview has been condensed and lightly edited. 
Jennifer Medina: How long do you expect the strike to last? What would end it? 
Alex Caputo-Pearl: In the bigger picture we need to see a real commitment to reinvesting in neighborhood public schools. We need to see that there is willingness to substantially invest in that, to use the $140 million from the governor. We need to see that there is really reinvestment in class size reduction, staffing issues, counselors. We want to see some regulation on the charter industry, so that it does not just keep growing without limits. We need to know they have some basic rules of engagement and accountability. Those are some of the key issues. 
You’ve talked about making the picket lines even stronger to make the attention to Los Angeles public schools really make a difference. What do you want the wider public — particularly those without a connection to the schools here — to understand? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Billionaires Vs. Teachers in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles teachers' strike isn't all about wages. At its core, the strike is a fight against a hostile takeover of public schools by the superrich.

People rally in the streets of downtown in the pouring rain during a United Teachers Los Angeles strike on January 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. , Barbara Davidson / Getty Images

Unlike many labor actions, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike is not really about wages or benefits. At its core, this is a struggle to defend public schools against the privatizing drive of a small-but-powerful group of billionaires.
The plan of these business leaders is simple: break-up the school district into thirty-two competing “portfolio”networks, in order to replace public schools with privately run charters. As firm believers in the dogmas of market fundamentalism, these influential downsizers truly believe that it’s possible to improve education by running it like a private business. Not coincidentally, privatization would also open up huge avenues for profit-making — and deal a potentially fatal blow to one of the most well-organized and militant unions in the country, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). As union leader Arlene Inouye explains, “This is a struggle to save public education; the existence of public education in our city is on the line.”
It’s always important to “know thy enemy.” But this is especially true for the educators’ movement in Los Angeles, which is directly challenging an unholy alliance of the some of richest individuals in the United States. Here’s a short primer on the corporate “who’s who” aiming to destroy public schools in LA — and across the nation.
The Walton Family
In a watershed moment for the drive to take over Los Angeles public education, pro-charter billionaires spent an unprecedented $9.7 million to buy the 2017 Los Angeles school board elections. A key funder of this campaign to elect charter school acolytes was none other than the Walton Family, best known as the founders of Walmart.

Why The LA Teachers’ Strike Matters

3 reasons to pay attention to the LA teacher strike. The Conversation: “The first mass teacher labor action of 2019 is unfolding in California as the United Teachers Los Angeles walked out for the first time in 30 years. This strike, which began on Jan. 14, isn’t just important to people in Los Angeles. Here are three reasons the nation should pay attention. With 640,000 students, and about 500,000 enrolled in the district’s public schools, Los Angeles represents the second largest school district in the United States. The only bigger district is New York City. Like strikes in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and North Carolina, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike is essentially about greater investment in public education. For the Los Angeles teachers, this includes a 6.5 percent salary increase to make up for what the union calls ‘stagnant wages.’ The average teacher makes almost 19 percent less in wages than comparable workers. But beyond wages, teachers have begun to demand a greater commitment to investment in public education from their governing bodies, either school boards or state legislatures. The Los Angeles teachers strike suggests that the wave of teacher protests is not over. Teacher strikes and work stoppages have been preceded by a nationwide teacher shortage that continues to grow across many states, which do not have enough certified math, special education, science, and in increasing cases, elementary teachers – to meet the needs of their students. In California 80 percent of districts reported a teacher shortage in the 2017 to 2018 school year. Teacher shortages are most often blamed on low teacher pay, one of the commonalities across teacher strikes. As long as public schools remain underfunded, the nation can expect to see more teacher strikes in other school districts and states in the near future.”

Progressive Breakfast 

Quality essay on the Strike - here.  for Labor Notes here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Win a Teachers Strike

You need a movement to win a strike.

DSA members on this morning's picket line.

30,000 Teachers On Strike in Los Angeles

Teachers and employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system, say that working conditions have become untenable. Despite California’s reputation as a progressive bastion, the state still spends relatively little on public education — about half as much as New York spends on the average child. 
Now, educators are demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support staff like counselors and librarians.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Los Angeles Teacher _ The Strike

My brothers and sisters, the 31,000 UTLA teachers who will strike, do so at great risk of their personal and professional well-being. There is every indication the Los Angeles Unified School District will make every attempt to prolong the strike in an attempt to weaken the union’s attempt to improve the school and classroom environment for the over 600,000 students who attend classes in the district’s schools.
Although 98% of us authorized this strike and are prepared to go the long haul to guarantee its success, a strike of this magnitude brings along with it a number of challenges. Teachers will be on the picket line each and every day without pay for the duration of the strike.
Like too many of us are all too familiar with, my comrades live paycheck-to-paycheck, have pressing healthcare issues, and children of their own, also students in LAUSD public schools.  Any amount you can contribute will help in any of a number of ways to alleviate some of the stress teachers will inevitably encounter. Thank you for supporting UTLA teachers and this crucial moment in the history of public education.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Teachers to hold "Teach In" at Tornillo Detention ...

 Teachers to hold "Teach In" at Tornillo Detention ...: In February, educators will gather outside a massive detention camp for migrant children and stage a 24-hour "teach in."  ...

Note; The Los Angeles Teachers' Strike date has been postponed until Monday. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Los Angeles Teachers Strike Approaches

The Los Angeles school district has $2 billion in reserves, but it’s not willing to use the money to create the conditions educators need to help students succeed.
Educators in L.A. have been bargaining for 20 months, fighting not just for fair salaries but for every child in the city to have a safe and welcoming place for learning, and against the austerity measures for public schools the district’s superintendent continues to promote.
The members of United Teachers Los Angeles are fighting for issues that, sadly, are too familiar: adequate funding for public schools, full-time counselors and nurses in every school, smaller class size, fair compensation and community schools.
And the boss? Superintendent Austin Beutner is intent on dismantling the school district and prioritizing charters, which syphon off $600 million a year. What he doesn’t prioritize—20 months after the contract expired—is neighborhood schools or a fair agreement with the district’s educators.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Why the Los Angeles Teachers Strike Matters

The January 10 strike date announced by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) has heightened tensions in an already contentious dispute with Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner, who represents the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in negotiations. However, far more is at stake in Los Angeles and for the rest of us than a traditional contract struggle.
Given how many students LAUSD educates, the possibility of a strike by its union is huge news. LAUSD has 694,000 in its schools. The entire state of Oklahoma educates about that same number of students in its public schools.
The reforms LAUSD has demanded in Los Angeles schools are based on the bipartisan project to convert public education into a lucrative market for wealthy investors. Merrill-Lynch heralded this change in a 1999 report for prospective investors: “A new mindset is necessary, one that views families as customers, schools as ‘retail outlets’ where educational services are received, and the school board as a customer service department that hears and addresses parental concerns.”
Networks of wealthy billionaires and the foundations they create have advocated and imposed reforms nationally, even globally, we see today in LA schools: using standardized tests to control what and how children learn; creating charter schools to weaken neighborhood schools and undermine parent loyalty to public education; creating new revenue sources for corporations to profit from education; and weakening teachers unions. The “portfolio model” LAUSD has announced it will adopt fragments the school system into networks operated by private charter management organizations.

Los Angeles Teachers Prepare for a Strike

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the union president, center, at a rally in December.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, the union president, center, at a rally in December.
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press
Los Angeles public school teachers are preparing to strike on Thursday — the culmination of months of failed negotiations and what educators say is years of disinvestment in the nation’s second-largest school system. 
District officials have said that the money simply isn’t there and that the frustration should be directed at the state. 
My colleagues Jennifer Medina and Dana Goldstein reported in this piece that the strike will affect 900 schools, 30,000 teachers and more than 600,000 students. That’s where you come in. 

The impending strike highlights the fact that despite California’s reputation as a center of liberal policy, it spends relatively little on public education. School spending levels, about $11,000 per student in 2016, are far below those in other blue bastions; for example, California spends about half as much as New York on the average child.

Education advocates on all sides of the labor impasse in Los Angeles say that it is the neediest students who are hurt most by funding constraints. More than a fifth of public school students in California are still learning English, the highest percentage in the country.
“California has been underfunding its schools for many, many years,” said Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has worked closely with Los Angeles and New York public schools.

The state has only recently begun to restore deep cuts made during the last recession, when California was hit particularly hard. “It’s not even close to where we should be,” Professor Noguera said. “I would not say that the state has deliberately starved the schools, but there has been no leadership from the state.”
Underlying the debate between the two sides is a situation they agree is a major problem: that high-needs school districts like Los Angeles, where 82 percent of students are low-income, bear the brunt of the burden from the state’s low education spending.

With many wealthy and white families opting to choose charter or private schools, or move to other surrounding school districts, the Los Angeles school district is disproportionately African-American and Latino. A study from U.C.L.A.’s Civil Rights Project found that Latino students in Los Angeles are more segregated than anywhere else in the country.
In other districts in California — Oakland, in particular — as well as in Virginia and Indiana, teachers angry over pay and limited resources have raised the possibility of protests.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Problem of Border Security

antiracismdsa: The Problem of Border Security: On December 11, President Donald Trump hosted an  Oval Office sit-down  with incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Min...
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