Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Governor Newsom California COVID-19 Update: Schools- December 30, 2020

Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum

 Ethnic Studies Curriculum SBE

At its November 18–19, 2020, meeting, the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) recommended the revised draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum to the State Board of Education (SBE) following a 45-day public comment period. The IQC incorporated edits, including those recommended by the California Department of Education (CDE), that strengthen the content and honor the four traditional disciplines of African American, Native American, Asian American, and Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x studies and better reflect the diversity of experiences and contributions of groups that have been marginalized and understudied. Additionally, the IQC updated and expanded an existing set of resources—where all sample lessons are housed—to further explore communities and raise the voices of identities whose experiences intersect with the core disciplines of ethnic studies, such as Arab Americans, Armenian Americans, Jewish Americans, and Sikh Americans.

This revised draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is in alignment with state law (Education Code Section 51226.7) and the State Board of Education-adopted guidelines, which can be found on the CDE’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Guidelines web page.

The model curriculum draft has been posted for a final 45-day public review period. State law requires the SBE to take final action on the model curriculum by March 31, 2021.

More information on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum can be found on the CDE Model Curriculum Projects web page. Individuals or groups may submit public comment on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

10 Things You Should Know About Socialism | Yes! Magazine

10 Things You Should Know About Socialism | Yes! Magazine: What do we mean when we talk about “socialism”? Here are ten things about its theory, practice, and potential that you need to know.

Sanders Objects !


Last night, the House of Representatives, with a two-thirds majority of 275 to 134, voted in a bi-partisan way to increase the direct payments going to working families from $600 per adult to $2,000 per adult. 

The House did the right thing. I congratulate them. Now it is time for the Senate to step up to the plate and do what the American people overwhelmingly want us to do. 

Earlier today, I spoke on the Senate floor urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring this bill to a vote. Now I am asking you to join me: 

Please add your name to tell Mitch McConnell to let the Senate vote on increasing direct payments to $2,000 for working people across the country. This is important. 

As a result of the pandemic, tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their incomes. In the middle of the winter, families now face the threat of eviction and the possibility of being thrown out in the streets. 

Hunger in America is at the highest level that it has been for decades with moms and dads struggling to feed their kids, and working families lining up mile after mile to get emergency food packages. 

We are even seeing an increase in grocery store shoplifting as desperate Americans try to keep their families from going hungry — all of this taking place in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. 

In the last number of years, as people know, Congress has provided massive tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. That is one of the reasons why we currently have higher income and wealth inequality than any time since the 1920s. 

Inequality has grown worse during this pandemic, with many in the billionaire class seeing their wealth increase by hundreds of billions of dollars while Americans struggle to put food on the table.

Congress has also given enormous tax breaks to large corporations so the biggest companies in this country pay zero dollars in federal income taxes.

We have also passed the largest military budget in the history of our country at $740 billion, more than the military budgets of the next ten nations combined. 

Meanwhile, half a million Americans are homeless, and half of working families are struggling to survive paycheck to paycheck.

In the middle of a horrific pandemic, over 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured and not sure whether they can afford to go to a doctor. 

We are coming to the close of one of the most terrible and painful years in American history. That is a tragic fact. More than 330,000 people have died from COVID-19 and record-breaking new cases have left hospitals overwhelmed with new admissions.

The House has done the right thing by an overwhelming vote. Democrats and Republicans in the House voted to increase that $600 direct payment to a $2,000 payment, and 78% of Americans believe that is the right decision. 

If Mitch McConnell refuses to bring this legislation to a vote in the Senate, I will delay the Senate vote on the National Defense Authorization Act and keep the Senate in session through the New Year. Working families need help now. 

In this historic moment, that is where we are right now. Do we turn our backs on struggling working families, or do we respond to their pain? 

Please sign my petition — tell Mitch McConnell to bring $2,000 payments to a vote in the Senate.

In the richest country in the history of the world, we cannot allow the working class to get left behind. Thank you for adding your name to join me in calling on Mitch McConnell to let the Senate vote on this important legislation. 

In solidarity, 

Bernie Sanders


Monday, December 28, 2020

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Teachers’ Strikes -Conditions for Success

 Teachers’ Strikes -Conditions for Success


At the center of the recent teacher insurgency is one particular form of direct action—the strike. The strike occupies a distinctive place in the popular consciousness of teachers and working people more generally, primarily because of its extraordinary visibility, leverage, and power as a tactic but also because of the mythology and romance that is often associated with it. Despite their success in establishing public-sector unionism and collective bargaining (including teacher unionism) in the 1960s, teacher strikes became increasingly ineffective by the mid-1970s and 1980s and had dwindled to a mere handful by the start of the twenty-first century. The success of the teacher insurgency in reestablishing the strike as a powerful tactic is a welcome development, but to maintain and build on that success, we need to be acutely aware of the approaches that best situate teacher strikes to win.


Far too much of what passes for thinking about strikes in the United States— including teacher strikes—rests on a “field of dreams” theory: Call it, and they will come. We must go beyond such romantic notions, which are recipes for disaster, and consider the different conditions and approaches that have led teacher strikes to victory and defeat, to find a way forward that will continue the success of the strikes of the teacher insurgency.

Complete chapter at


Leo Casey is Executive Director of the Albert Shanker Institute, a think talk affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Over the course of a forty-year career, he has been a rank and file public school teacher, the leader of the union at his school and a Vice President of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers.

This text was adapted from Leo Casey’s book The Teacher Insurgency: A Strategic and Organizing Perspectiveout now from Harvard Education Press. 


Monday, December 07, 2020

No More Children Locked in Cages- Separated from Their Families

 WASHINGTON (AP)  President-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response.

Separately, Biden picked a Harvard infectious disease expert, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And he announced a new role for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert.

If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1 trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.

Biden’s selection of Becerra and Walensky was announced early Monday in a press release from the transition office. People familiar with the decision had confirmed the picks to The Associated Press on Sunday night. Biden also announced other top members of his health care team, though some posts remain unfilled.

Becerra, as the state of California’s top lawyer, has led the coalition of Democratic states defending “Obamacare” from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it, a legal case awaiting a Supreme Court decision next year.

A former senior House Democrat, Becerra was involved in steering the Obama health law through Congress in 2009 and 2010. At the time he would tell reporters that one of his primary motivations was having tens of thousands of uninsured people in his Southern California district.

Becerra has a lawyer’s precise approach to analyzing problems and a calm demeanor.

But overseeing the coronavirus response will be the most complicated task he has ever contemplated. By next year, the U.S. will be engaged in a mass vaccination campaign, the groundwork for which has been laid under the Trump administration. Although the vaccines appear very promising, and no effort has been spared to plan for their distribution, it’s impossible to tell yet how well things will go when it’s time to get shots in the arms of millions of Americans.

Becerra won’t be going it alone. Biden is expected to stress a coordinated response to the virus when he publicly introduces his team this week.

Businessman Jeff Zients was named as Biden’s White House coronavirus coordinator. An economic adviser to former President Barack Obama, Zients also led the rescue of the website after its disastrous launch in 2013. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus task force, is returning to his post as the nation’s doctor, with broader responsibilities.

Biden announced Fauci will be the president’s chief medical adviser, while continuing as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Adding to the group are national security expert Natalie Quillian as co-director of the coronavirus response and Yale public health specialist Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who will head a new working group to reduce health disparities in COVID-19, a disease that has taken a deeper toll among minorities.

The core components of HHS are the boots on the ground of the government’s coronavirus response. The Food and Drug Administration oversees vaccines and treatments, while much of the underlying scientific and medical research comes from NIH. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes the lead in detecting and containing the spread of diseases. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, provides insurance coverage for more than 1 in 3 Americans, including vulnerable seniors, as well as many children and low-income people.

Biden still has not picked the heads of FDA and CMS.

Under President Donald Trump, CDC was relegated to a lesser role after agency scientists issued a stark early warning that contradicted Trump’s assurances the virus was under control, rattling financial markets. The FDA was the target of repeated attacks from a president who suspected its scientists were politically motivated and who also wanted them to rubber-stamp unproven treatments.

As CDC director, Walensky would replace Dr. Robert Redfield, who accurately told the public coronavirus vaccines would not be available for most people until next year, only to be disparaged by Trump as “confused.” Walensky is a leading infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and has devoted her career to combatting HIV/AIDS.

Becerra’s experience running the bureaucratic apparatus of the California attorney general’s office, as well as his success working with Republicans, helped seal the pick for Biden, said a person familiar with the process but not authorized to comment publicly. Becerra had worked with Louisiana’s Republican attorney general to increase the availability of the COVID-19 drug treatment Remdesivir in their states. He’s also worked closely with other Republican attorneys general on legal challenges against opioid manufacturers.

Early in California’s coronavirus response, Becerra defended broad shutdowns Gov. Gavin Newsom had put in place to curtail the pandemic, including limits on religious gatherings. Three churches in Southern California had sued Newsom, Becerra and other state officials because in-person church services had been halted.

Biden’s offer was extended to Becerra on Friday. The president-elect has been under pressure from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to appoint Latinos to the Cabinet.

Previously Becerra had served for more than a decade in Congress, representing parts of Los Angeles County. He had also served in the California state assembly after attending law school at Stanford.

His mother was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and emigrated to the U.S. after marrying his father, a native of Sacramento, California, who had grown up in Mexico.

Becerra often cites his parents as his inspiration, saying they instilled in him a strong work ethic and a desire for advancement. His father worked road construction jobs, while his mother was a clerical employee. Becerra is married to Dr. Carolina Reyes, a physician who specializes in maternal and fetal health.

In an AP profile published last year, a lifelong friend of Becerra’s said he learned to stay calm and self-controlled in high school as a varsity golfer and an exceptional poker player. Becerra studied the advice of famous golfers while practicing with a set of used clubs costing less than $100.


Saturday, December 05, 2020

New NEA Leader Fighting Trump


Nicole Gaudiano 
October 21, 2020
As president, Becky Pringle said her mission is to “lead a movement to reclaim public education as a common good.” She wants to transform the system into one that is racially and socially just and equitable.

Becky Pringle, who became president of the National Education Association in September, speaks at a human rights rally during NEA’s Conference on Racial and Social Justice in Houston in 2019., (Photo: NEA)


Becky Pringle was among the many Black mothers in the mid-1990s having “that conversation” with her teenage son about getting stopped by police: what to say, where to keep his hands, how to stand up for his rights.

Pringle had seen how Black school-age males were disproportionately subjected to suspensions or expulsions while teaching science at Susquehanna Township Middle School in a suburb of Harrisburg, Pa. As her son prepared to get his driver’s license, she knew she had to talk to him “so that he could come home safely,” she said.

“Much of the country is just now paying attention to George Floyd and so many others,” she said during an interview. “But as a Black mother, I've always been paying attention. This is not new. This has been happening forever.”

As newly elected president of the 3-million-member National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, Pringle, 65, is now the highest-ranking Black female labor leader in the country. Only two other Black women have held the job before her, in the late 1960s and 1980s. Personal experience drives her work leading a national rebellion against President Donald Trump’s education policies and systems, which she says continue to marginalize students of color.

Pringle stepped into her role in September amid deep divisions nationwide about whether to reopen schools, pitting teachers afraid of returning to the classroom against the Trump administration and some governors and local officials calling for in-person classes. The crisis has led to budget cuts that have cost some teachers their jobs, has robbed others of their lives and has shined a spotlight on educational inequities across the country.

Pringle said a second Trump term wouldn’t stop the union’s work in states that are supportive of public education or its fight, for example, for the inclusion of ethnic studies in schools. And the union will keep pushing aggressively for safety and equity in schools during the pandemic through strikes, protests and sickouts — or by backing lawsuits, as it has in Florida, Iowa and Georgia, she said.

If Trump wins and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continues in her role, Pringle said, “we will lift up all of the things that they are doing to destroy public education, to dismantle it, to hurt our educators’ rights to organize and have a voice to advocate at work for our students and for their community.”

DeVos, who has been pushing for reopening schools for in-person classes, took her own swipe at teachers unions at a recent forum, saying they are focused on “protecting adult positions, adult power” rather than “doing what’s right for students.”

The union, perhaps unsurprisingly, endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, whose wife, Jill, is a career educator and an NEA member. Pringle has said that Biden will listen to scientists and doctors when making public health decisions and educators and parents on how to support students during the pandemic.

The labor group is running a massive member campaign for Biden with digital organizing, phone banking, texting, virtual rallies and car caravans, said Kim A. Anderson, NEA’s executive director. More than 225,000 members are participating in 2020 election activities so far, almost doubling their numbers from 2016.

Pringle “reminds us every day that we need a new president and we need a pro-public-education United States Senate,” Anderson said.

She has also been speaking out against the Trump administration. Last month, Pringle called for the resignation of DeVos and HHS Secretary Alex Azar over reports of political meddling in school reopening guidance. She is also fighting the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Pringle argues that students’ rights, which have been “dismantled” under DeVos — such as protections for transgender students — are at stake, along with collective bargaining rights and health care.

The disdain is apparently mutual. Responding to Pringle, Education Department spokesperson Angela Morabito stated: “What dismantles students’ rights is denying them the opportunity to effectively learn this school year and instead playing politics. Those are the policies of the union bosses.”

Conservatives question whether teachers unions are exploiting this moment with demands for reopening schools that are unrelated to ensuring safety during the pandemic. During the summer, a coalition including some local unions laid out demands such as police-free schools, a cancellation of rents and mortgages and moratoriums on both new charter programs and standardized testing.

Contracts that give teachers more flexibility or allow remote work are “defensible,” but provisions that sharply reduce the expected workday seem “much harder to justify,” said Rick Hess, director of Education Policy Studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “I’ve got to ask, are these contracts really about protecting staff or are there other demands ... for the convenience or preferences of members?” he asked.

But Pringle argued that local unions are seeking the safe and equitable reopening of schools. “I've seen no instances where they have gone too far,” she said. “Is it too far … to demand that all students have digital tools to learn remotely or in person? Is that going too far? Is it going too far to have class sizes at a level that allows individual attention?”

Pringle’s tenure begins during a national moment of reckoning on racial justice, which is the very reason she became involved in unions.

Lily Eskelsen García, who headed the union before Pringle, said her successor “changed the conversation” within NEA around racial justice issues in education and led that work as the union's vice president.

“As we talked about, ‘How do we get test scores up?’ And she’d say, ‘Shut up about the test scores. Why don't these kids have the resources, the staff, the class size?’” Eskelsen García recalled.

As president, Pringle said her mission is to “lead a movement to reclaim public education as a common good.” She wants to transform the system into one that is racially and socially just and equitable, ensuring teachers and students have the resources they need. The union is offering training on virtual learning but also on practices that focus on conflict resolution and improving school climate and culture so that students — particularly those of color — can feel safe and valued, she said.

Children are seeing and participating in protests for racial justice, and many expect schools to step up and work with them, Pringle said. “We're looking at ourselves first, and we're saying: ‘What do we need to do to build our racial justice muscle?’”

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said Pringle “walked in the door with a level of empathy that's needed, while at the exact same time she's respected among her peers, both in rural and urban school districts.”

Eskelsen García said she and Pringle grew close during times that had “nothing to do with running a board meeting.” The two women cried together over losing husbands. And both have had similar experiences as parents of gay children. Eskelsen García’s son was interviewed on television when he and his husband were among the first gay couples to marry in Utah, and Pringle’s daughter and her wife were the first Black lesbian couple to appear on TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.”

Eskelsen García mentioned at the end of her term that she wanted a mariachi band at some point when the pandemic ends. Pringle made it happen, even with the crisis in full swing, surprising Eskelsen García and her second husband with the band playing in Pringle’s garage as it rained.

“One by one, her neighbors came out with their umbrellas,” Eskelsen García said. “We all danced, 6 feet apart, with umbrellas.

“You have to love this woman, because she is all business right until the minute that she’s not, and then it is all love and friendship,” she said.

Pringle’s all-business side was what caught the attention early on of Kelly Berry, who served as president of the Susquehanna Township Education Association in the 1980s. She remembers Pringle, back then, pushing for fewer students in her son’s kindergarten class during a school board meeting with her new boss, the superintendent. Pringle was a new teacher at the middle school after teaching for a short period in Philadelphia. Berry said she was both concerned and “in awe” of Pringle “because she was not mincing any words.”

After that meeting, Berry told Pringle she had a “big mouth” — in a good way — and then recruited her.

“We needed people who were going to speak truth to power, which she has been doing her whole life,” Berry said.

Racial justice issues also have been a part of Pringle’s life, even before she could understand them as a child growing up in Philadelphia.

She recalled how her class at Kinsey Elementary School “overnight was almost all Black” in the 1960s, when desegregation orders finally took effect in the city, spurring white flight.

Pringle qualified for admission to Philadelphia High School for Girls, a college preparatory school, “and even there, I felt I experienced the racism of a system that did not see my potential. And my dad had to fight for me to major in math and science,” she said.

Pringle’s great grandfather was enslaved, a fact that influenced her father, Haywood Board, who taught high school history and made sure his students — and daughters — knew what the Civil War was “actually” about, as well as the Reconstruction period, the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement.

Despite his own career, Pringle’s father was initially “really disappointed” by her aspirations to become a teacher. It was a traditional career for a Black woman, she said, and he wanted her to be a scientist. “He already saw the lack of respect that he, as a teacher, was experiencing, and he wanted more for me,” she said.

But when she was elected secretary-treasurer of the NEA in 2008, he told her he had been wrong. “You have a chance to actually lead an organization that can make a difference in the lives of every student,” he told her.

“And I will never forget those words,” she said. “And I get up every day ... thinking about my dad and that responsibility.”

Nicole Gaudiano covers national K-12 education policy for POLITICO. She spent 13 years covering Congress and politics for the USA Today/Gannett Washington Bureau, moving from regional to national beats. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Its Over: Democracy Won !

 We want to thank the many people who helped us avoid a catastrophic coup. 

It looks like the worst may be over. Monday likely was decisive. Trump was handed another legal slapdown in his effort to disenfranchise millions of confirmed voters with evidence-free claims. Local organizing in Michigan pushed-back against wayward electorates — ending with Michigan officially certifying election results. And the General Services Administration officially announced its transition to President-elect Biden. 

On that last point, many news sources missed the critical timing. Emily Murphy, the administrator, made the announcement first. She explicitly said she made it without input from the White House. Only after the GSA made its announcement, Trump tweeted that "I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done." It's the closest to a concession we may ever get.

We started Choose Democracy to be prepared if it was necessary for a national resistance to a coup. As an effort, we're not anti-Trump or pro-Biden. We teamed up across political spectrums to be pro-Democracy and stop a coup. Democracy has been severely tested, and is the worse for wear, but it never reached a breaking point that required a large-scale national mobilization. 

We are thankful for the fast-paced local resistance to initial coup efforts. The most dramatic was the organizing work in Michigan after the biggest post-election scandal erupted: two Michigan electorates attempted to thieve millions of votes from majority Black Detroit. Hours of heated testimony organized by mostly black organizers in Wayne County made them switch back (well, before they unsuccessfully tried to switch back again, again).

Michigan's win by organizers was public, but it wasn't alone. From our perspective, one of the biggest stories only got glancing attention: PA's Election Integrity Commission. Before the election, a nebulous commission was proposed by the GOP. It claimed to be prepared to root out fraud. As a GOP-led commission it held the right to subpoena anyone, would start before the election, and, arguably, had the ability to seize uncounted ballots. Organizers on-the-ground — including progressive leftists and moderate Republicans — defeated this effort quietly and quickly. (We look forward to telling more details of these stories!) These and other on-the-ground efforts ahead of time may have proven decisive. Thank you for all the work you did pressuring your own local politicians before the election.

We also want to thank all the groups and people who prepared for severe escalation. We believe these efforts made an impact. As any union organizer will tell you, bosses know when a union is ready for a strike and it is added into the calculation. The hundreds of news articles showing our collective preparation to resist helped — even if we didn't have to follow through this time.

Stopping a coup by a one-off rally is like stopping an army with a pea-shooter. We are thankful to folks who strategized and prepared for more than the same-old tactics. We applaud youth who prepared for a national strike, unions prepping for rolling and general strikes, and those who prepared consumer boycotts to shut down the country.

If we are feeling charitable (and today we are), we might even be thankful that we didn't have a more effective coup effort. The fact Trump was meeting with Michigan Republican leaders this late was a sign of incompetent planning. One reason we maintained such optimism was the coup plotters failed to put together and carry out any organized plan. Jared Kushner was scrounging for a legal team on election night and its legal team never put forward a cogent argument. The political strategy of telling lies didn't translate to political organizing of any coherent approach that would result in Trump staying in office. Ultimately, Trump never seizedpower; he just said he'd stay in power.

This is consistent with Trump's ability to control narrative. He's good at claiming dramatic headlines, poor at the detailed follow-through. A coup in the US is made much harder because political power is widely distributed in local and state governments and courts — and those systems showed their independence from Presidential sway. We want to thank people in those systems who defended that independence — poll workers, election officials, electorates, and all those who kept our election system trustworthy.

We are thankful for those that stood against party line to do the right thing. Despite a polarized climate, a slew of Republicans slapped down Trump's plans. It was a Republican PA judge Matthew Brann who slammed Guliani's legal strategy, rejecting every aspect of their claim. GOP leaders in the state houses of PA and MI explicitly rejected Trump's strategy to endorse alternate state electors — and were true to their word on that. Republican leadershelped kill PA's Election Integrity Commission. Despite pressure, threats to his family, and perhaps a career-ending move, Van Langevelde, a member of Michigan's board of state canvassers and who works for Republicans in the Statehouse, followed the law and voted to certify Michigan's results. And election officials on both sides of the aisles have made clear this was a clean election.

We note this because the polarized rhetoric rarely notes how many people "from the other side" played their role appropriately. Whereas Democratic actors faced no push-back from their base for not supporting the coup, Republicans were tested and faced repercussions. 

We will keep being vigilant until this election is over. We are confident Trump will continue with outrageous headline-grabbing behavior (as we drafted this letter Trump grabbed headlines for his tweet to pardon Michael Flynn and a call-in to a PA GOP event doubling down on his claims the election was rigged). We encourage people to reclaim the space Trump has occupied in their heads and not be click-baited by the outgoing commander-in-chief. 

We will be offering one more webinar to celebrate and share what we've learned about protecting and strengthening our democracy going forward. Please stay tuned.

There are fundamental issues that need addressing. We witnessed a scorched-earth policy, a mass refusal to push-back on falsehoods, and a withering attack on democracy. It is not going away. The distrust and distortions have taken root in much of the country's psyche. So we thank all of you who are preparing for the fights ahead (even as Choose Democracy fully expects to close shop on January 21st, having done our job on helping stop a coup).

For this weekend, it's okay to exhale.

And so we thank you — supporters, friends, colleagues. Those of you who signed the pledge and did your part to be brave enough to prepare for the worst. This was a big lift held by many people.

Choose Democracy

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Poor People's Campaign Calls for Covid Relief for the Poor

Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign Caravan march at Capitol to bring attention to those most vulnerable to COVID-19

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Sacramento group that says it wants to speak for those who have no voice took to the streets in their cars Monday.

The Poor People’s Campaign Caravan was part of a nationwide effort to provide more help to those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

Several dozen vehicles bedecked with signs and memorials to COVID-19 victims paraded in front of the State Capitol, something that was repeated in two dozen states to bring attention to the effects of the disease on the poor.

They were calling for Congress to pass a new stimulus package that includes an extension of unemployment benefits, aid for businesses, and prevention and health services.

“We need monies to come to California. We need monies to come to Sacramento so that we can survive,” said Faye Wilson Kennedy of the California Poor People’s Campaign.

In preparing for the caravan, participants were adamant about making their feelings known, as many know of someone who has contracted or died from the disease.

“We brag constantly about how we’re the richest nation in the world. Morally, we have no standing at all if we can’t take care of those least able to care for themselves,” said Louise Chegwidden, a Poor People’s Campaign supporter.

They are building their case by arguing that the poor are likely to contract the disease because of living conditions and not being able to get access to consistent medical care.

Some in the caravan said they believe poverty is the root of systemic racism along with economic injustice.

“We have to be as relentless for solutions as we have been in creating and stubbornly maintaining the way things are,” said Lisa Zimmer-Chu, a Poor People’s Campaign supporter.

Some were cautiously optimistic about a new direction with a new president, although exactly what direction is still unknown.

“Where do we go from here. I mean, to go forward and not backward,” wondered Brother Kevin Carter of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Both the House and the Senate have recessed until after the Thanksgiving holiday with agreeing on a stimulus bill. They will have just a few weeks to act because unemployment benefits and a rent moratorium expire at the end of the year.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Poor People's Campaign- Sacramento Caravan

 The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will organize Moral Monday caravans to morn the quarter million Americans who have died from COVID-19, demand a smooth and open transition of power and lift up the moral policies we need immediately and in the first days of the new administration. RSVP here:

The caravans will kick-off a "Week of Mourning" to mourn the politics of death that have plagued our nation and to demand a politics of life. This Thanksgiving, a day already marked by many indigenous peoples as a Day of Mourning, families across the country will remember and mourn the loss of loved ones who have died from COVID-19 and poverty. Millions of poor and low-income households also face mounting bills, evictions and hunger, after months of unemployment, cuts in wages, and the government's failure to pass a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package.

End the suffering of out families and communities is a moral mandate to all who are tasked with governance now and in the new year. Calls for cooperation can not compromise with injustice.

For those not participating in a caravan, join us for the online action at 11:30 AM PT at where we will get reports from each of the participating states, launch an online Mourning Wall for victims of COVID-19 and poverty and launch a petition demanding short and long-term action from the White House, Congress and state governments. RSVP here:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The United States Is Not a Democracy. Stop Telling Students That It Is
Portside Date: 
Author: Ursula Wolfe-Rocca
Date of source: 
Hechinger Report

When U.S. voters recently cast their ballots, an unchecked pandemic raged through the nation, uprisings against racism and police violence stretched into their eighth month, and new climate change-intensified storms formed in the Atlantic.

The reactionary and undemocratic system by which we select our president was an insult to the urgency of the moment. Although millions more people voted for Joe Biden than for Donald Trump — the difference is now 5.4 million — it took several days to learn who won, thanks to the Electoral College. To the relief of many, it appears that this time — unlike in 2000 and 2016 — the candidate who got the most votes nationwide also won the presidential election.

If our students only learn about this exceptionally strange system from their corporate-produced history and government textbooks, they will have no clue why this is how we choose our president. More importantly, they will have a stunted sense of their own power — and little reason to believe they might have the potential to create something better.

To review: A voter in Montana gets 31 times the electoral bang for their presidential ballot than a voter in New York. A voter in Wyoming has 70 times the representation in the U.S. Senate as a voter in California, while citizens in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. have none. The Republican Senate majority that recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court was elected by 14 million fewer votes than the 47 senators who voted against her confirmation.

Yet politicians and pundits regularly pronounce the United States a “democracy,” as if that designation is self-evident and incontrovertible. Textbooks and mainstream civics curricula make the same mistake, stipulating the brilliance of the framers, the democratic nature of our system and the infallibility of the U.S. Constitution, so that our institutions seem outside of history and beyond politics.

The district-adopted textbook I was assigned last year in my Portland, Oregon, suburb, “America Through the Lens” (National Geographic, 2019), says this about the 2016 U.S. presidential election: “…Trump won a narrow majority of voters in a number of swing states, or states where the election might go to either party. Even though almost 3 million more Americans cast their votes for Clinton, Trump won the electoral vote 306 to 232.” Since the United States’ status as a democracy is taken for granted, this textbook sees no need to offer any elaboration of a system in which “swing states” are decisive, and in which the person selected by the majority of voters does not win the presidency.

Perhaps the editors of “America Through the Lens” assume students have read a previous section of the text on the Electoral College? No. Paging back to the chapter on the U.S. Constitution, one finds only this anemic paragraph:

But how should the president be chosen? Some delegates thought the president should be directly elected by the voters. Others wanted Congress or the state legislatures to make the choice. The delegates finally arrived at a solution: an electoral college made up of electors from each state would cast official votes for the president and vice president. The number of electors from each state would be the same as the state’s number of representatives in Congress, and each state could decide how to choose its electors.

Students deserve an explanation for the origins of the Electoral College. Instead, the textbook offers mere description, dry as dust. But for whom was the Electoral College a solution? For some among the 55 white men at the Constitutional Convention it solved the problem of giving too much power to the people, lest they use it, in the words of James Madison, to “rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property… ” For wealthy enslavers, the Electoral College solved the problem of how to politically profit off the people they enslaved.

When my textbook matter-of-factly declares that the Electoral College was a “solution,” but makes no mention of the elite and white supremacist interests for whom that was true, nor the exploited and disenfranchised peoples for whom it was a disaster, it does not educate students. It lies to them.

The mock elections and legislative simulations common in U.S. civics classrooms too often encourage students to investigate the swirl of issues inside the container of U.S. “democracy,” but rarely the container itself. Students are commanded to vote, but not to judge the fundamental questions of governance not on the ballot — like the legitimacy of the Electoral College. What if our civics lessons invited students not just to become occupants of an already-built U.S. government, but engineers and architects able to redesign, reframe and rebuild the whole structure?

One way to cultivate this activist sensibility is to offer our students a curriculum rich with an alternative pantheon of “framers” and “founding parents” in the ongoing pursuit of justice. As Angela Davis writes, “freedom is a constant struggle.” When, for example, we teach students about the fight for the 15th Amendment, alongside the movement 100 years later for the Voting Rights Act, alongside current efforts to combat voter suppression, we not only provide evidence of Davis’s words but also invite students into that struggle. By rejecting the glorification of a U.S. founding that meant — and continues to mean — oppression for so many, we can affirm our students’ reality and provide models of activism through which they might reimagine and revise it.

On Nov. 2, 2020, one day before the general election that would deny him a second term, Trump issued an executive order establishing the 1776 Commission. The commission’s mandate? A “restoration of American education” to emphasize the “clear historical record of an exceptional Nation dedicated to the ideas and ideals of its founding.”

President Trump has been defeated, but this commitment to institutionalize the teaching of American exceptionalism has not been. We educators must fight for a curriculum that teaches our students facts, not fables. The United States has never been a democracy, defined by freedom and equality for all.

Nor has there ever been a time when people did not struggle toward a democratic future, dreaming of freedom, risking life and limb to make those dreams manifest, and creating a more just society along the way. Let’s teach civics and history in ways that affirm for our students that there’s nothing sacrosanct in the political and economic status quo, that freedom fighters, past and present, are founders too, and that we all have a right to be framers — to redesign this structurally unsound house to better shelter our lives, safety, comfort and full humanity.

Ursula Wolfe-Rocca is a high school social studies teacher in Portland, Oregon. She is a Rethinking Schools editor, and an organizer and curriculum writer for the Zinn Education Project. She can be reached at or on Twitter @LadyOfSardines.

This story about the Electoral College was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for Hechinger’s newsletter.

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