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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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

SCUSD Ends 2019-20 with $23 million surplus, reserve fund grows to $93 million

SCUSD Ends 2019-20 with $23 million surplus, reserve fund grows to $93 million: In 2012-13, the State of California introduced a new way of financing K-12 education with the introduction of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).  It was implemented beginning in the 2013-14 school year. A look at the budget projections of the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) one year prior to the implementation of LCFF, …

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Memo to Democrats: 2020 Elections Show Progressive Vision, Not Centrist Restraint, Is Winning Message for the Future

Memo to Democrats: 2020 Elections Show Progressive Vision, Not Centrist Restraint, Is Winning Message for the Future

Funding of Public Schools

Public Advocates’ Statement on Proposition 15 Outcome

The defeat of Proposition 15 by wealthy corporations shows just how far we have to go to truly advance equity in California. But rest assured that the fight for adequate funding for our schools and communities is far from over. Poll after poll showed widespread public support for the measure, and the total vote, with more than 7.5 million in favor, is cause for optimism. Californians know that there is an unacceptable gap between the haves and have-nots in our state. Now, the fight for progressive sources of new revenue turns to the Legislature where we can build on this momentum.

The measure’s narrow defeat is nevertheless a tragic setback at a time when our state grapples with multiple crises: a pandemic, wildfires, record unemployment, surging homelessness, and chronically underfunded public schools that are struggling to educate over 6 million school children under unprecedented conditions. An influx of Proposition 15 tax dollars would have provided much-needed relief to school districts and local governments.

Today, our fight for progressive revenue sources continues. Alongside our community partners, we will advocate for every new or existing dollar needed to provide all students with a quality education, to protect families from eviction, and to establish a robust safety net for all Californians.

We call on Governor Newsom to take three immediate steps: (1) close a loophole allowing school district to misallocate billions of dollars intended to benefit high-need students, (2) pass an eviction moratorium to keep families home during the pandemic, and (3) work with the Legislature to secure new and equitable sources of funding. Now is also the time to pass a California Green New Deal which envisions an abundantly-funded public sector that can meet the needs of all our communities.

Public Advocates is proud to have served as a member of the Proposition 15 steering committee and we thank all our partners who worked tirelessly to build the growing movement behind the campaign. 

Sunday, November 01, 2020

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