Friday, January 29, 2021

Should California Schools Reopen?


It’s been a month since Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced his Safe Schools for All Plan, in which he aims to reopen schools for in-person learning by February or March.

However, with the Feb. 16 deadline to open schools looming, there’s no telling how many districts have actually signed on to adopt the plan. Education leaders and teachers have openly criticized it, and negotiations over details appear to be at a standstill. Parents, eager to get their children back to in-person learning this year, have organized a campaign to safely reopen schools once case numbers decline.

The debate echoes what’s going on across the country, as President Biden’s push to open schools in his first 100 days has been met with caution from teachers’ unions, who want to tamp down expectations that students will be back in classrooms before the end of the school year.

Here’s what we know about the state of reopening schools so far.

Mr. Newsom’s plan is in danger of failing.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that schools could be opened safely, but the message came with a caveat: It’s safe only if other precautions are made to stop community spread. That means tightening, not loosening, restrictions, as Mr. Newsom did this week.

“Prioritizing schools is going to mean limiting some of those other activities, and deciding that we want to undertake some of those sacrifices to keep schools open, because we’ve decided as a society that schools are important relative to other things,” Dr. Oster said.

The governor’s plan calls for schools to reopen once the rate of infection falls to 25 positive cases per 100,000 county residents.

Although cases in California are declining, hospitalization rates are still higher than they were when the strictest lockdown measures were announced. Currently, most of the state’s population falls under the most restrictive purple tier.

In addition, the plan’s $2 billion grant fund, which breaks down to $450 per pupil, falls short of what’s needed for schools to operate safely, some say. It’s largely because the plan calls for increased virus testing of students and staff, which individual schools would have to pay for.

Leaders of four of the state’s largest school districts criticized the plan in a letter, saying it fails to address the needs of urban school districts, all of which have students who live below the poverty level. They also asked that public health funds, not money that was already slated for education, be used to pay for the additional safety measures and mentioned the lack of clear consistent guidelines coming from leaders.

Parents and legislators are adding to the pressure to open schools.

This month, lawmakers advanced Assembly Bill 10 as emergency legislation that if passed, would require public schools to reopen within two weeks of moving out of the purple tier.

It was created in response to the fact that some school districts didn’t reopen for in-person instruction, despite being eligible last year.

The bill calls for schools to open their doors once they reach the red tier, which means having a significantly lower number of cases than what the governor’s plan calls for.

Advocates of the bill point to the fact that low-income families have been struggling to access the technology needed to sustain virtual learning, leading to a deepening socioeconomic divide. Private schools, like the one Mr. Newsom’s children attend, have been open for in-person learning for months.

Also backing the bill are parents, who recently organized into a group called Open Schools California and have started a public campaign to reopen schools.

They cite studies that show low transmission rates of Covid-19 in schools and anecdotal evidence from their own children, who they say have been hurt by distance learning.

Teachers are demanding more leadership and protection.

Many teachers and school staff members say they won’t go back to in-person learning in the current climate, with cases still at extremely high levels and more variants emerging.

Another sticking point are vaccines, which many say are nonnegotiable for returning to classrooms. The California Teachers Association stipulated the need for vaccines and said no to reopening schools while in the purple tier in a letter to the governor on Wednesday.

Mr. Newsom has said that teachers will be included in the priority list for next month’s shots. However, there are not enough vaccines to go around as it is.

“The virus is in charge right now and it does not own a calendar,” said members of the C.T.A. “We cannot just pick an artificial calendar date and expect to flip a switch on reopening every school for in-person instruction.”

California Today. New York Times. 


Thursday, January 28, 2021

CTA Co Sponsors Ethnic Studies

 California could be the first state in the nation to require all students to take ethnic studies to graduate high school if lawmakers are successful in ushering CTA co-sponsored AB 101 through the Legislature and to the governor’s desk.

Authored by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), AB 101 would make the completion of an ethnic studies class a California high school graduation requirement at a time when educators, students and elected leaders say it’s needed most.

We are poised to lead the nation in educational equality and equity,” Medina said at a press conference today. “The time for ethnic studies is now!” 

Supporters are hoping this is finally the year the requirement becomes a reality after numerous disappointments, including last year when Medina’s AB 331 passed the Legislature and was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. CTA State Council delegates last weekend voted to co-sponsor AB 101, which would go into effect for students graduating in the 2029-30 school year and require each school to offer an ethnic studies course beginning in 2025-26.

Riverside science educator Pia VanMeter said ethnic studies are far too important to be left as an option.

“When students learn to appreciate diverse histories and experiences, it makes them well-rounded individuals,” said VanMeter, a member of Riverside City Teachers Association. “They also become more self-aware, empathetic, understanding and civically engaged citizens of the world. This lesson has always been our mission as educators, regardless of what subject we teach.”



Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Teaching & TikTok: kindergarten teacher goes viral on socia...

SCUSD Ordered. Cease and Desist.

Awards Attorney Fees to SCTA

Today (November 2), the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) unanimously upheld a PERB Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) decision that ruled that the Sacramento City Unified School District violated the law and must reimburse SCTA’s attorney fees in defending teachers from SCUSD’s illegal actions.  You can view the decisions here.

According to the decision, SCUSD contended that it did not violate the law or the contract, “even if–as the [Sacramento County] Superior Court, arbitrator, and ALJ all found–it violated the CBA when it refused to arbitrate the salary schedule grievance.” This decision now adds the full PERB to that list who have rejected out of hand the SCUSD contention.

The PERB decision is the latest SCUSD legal loss. 

This case began when the District backtracked from its agreement to implement a new salary schedule, then took the unprecedented step to sue teachers to try to stop the enforcement of the contract. 

PERB has issued more unfair labor practice complaints against SCUSD in the last 3 years than any other school district in California. 

PERB includes in its decsion orders that SCUSD must:


“Interfering with the right of bargaining unit employees to be represented by their employee organization.”

“Denying SCTA the right to represent bargaining unit employees in their employment relations with the District.”

The decision also requires SCUSD to take other actions, including:


“Make SCTA whole for losses it suffered as a result of the District’s unlawful conduct . . .”

“post at all District locations where notices are customarily posted, copies of [this Notice including] by electronic means customarily uses by the District to regularly communicate with employees in the bargaining unit.”


Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King, Economic Justice, Workers’ Rights, and Multiracial Democracy

by Thomas Jackson

In 1968, a united black community in Memphis stepped forward to support 1,300

municipal sanitation workers as they demanded higher wages, union recognition, and respect for

black personhood embodied in the slogan “I Am a Man!” Memphis’s black women organized tenant

and welfare unions, discovering pervasive hunger among the city’s poor and black children. They

demanded rights to food and medical care from a city and medical establishment blind to their

existence. That same month, March 1968, 100 grassroots organizations met in Atlanta to support

Martin Luther King’s dream of a poor people’s march on Washington. They pressed concrete

demands for economic justice under the slogan “Jobs or Income Now!” King celebrated the

“determination by poor people of all colors” to win their human rights. “Established powers of rich America have deliberately exploited poor people by isolating them in ethnic, nationality, religious and racial groups,” the delegates declared.

So when King came to Memphis to support the strike, a local labor and community struggle became intertwined with his dream of mobilizing a national coalition strong enough to reorient national priorities from imperial war in Vietnam to domestic reconstruction, especially in America’s riot-torn cities. To non-poor Americans, King called for a “revolution of values,” a move from self-seeking to service, from property rights to human rights.

King’s assassination—and the urban revolts that followed—led to a local Memphis settlement that furthered the cause of public employee unionism. The Poor People’s March nonviolently won small concessions in the national food stamp program. But reporters covered the bickering and squalor in the poor people’s tent city, rather than the movement’s detailed demands for waging a real war on poverty. Marchers wanted guaranteed public employment when the private sector failed, a raise in the federal minimum wage, a national income floor for all families, and a national commitment to reconstruct cities blighted by corporate disinvestment and white flight. And they wanted poor

people’s representation in urban renewal and social service programs that had customarily benefited only businesses or the middle class. King’s dreams reverberated back in the movements that had risen him up.

It is widely believed that King’s deep dedication to workers’ rights and international human rights came late in life, when cities burned, Vietnamese villagers fled American napalm, and King faced stone-throwing Nazis in Chicago’s white working-class inner suburbs. But King began his public ministry in Montgomery in 1956, dreaming of “a world  in which men will no longer take necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.” He demanded that imperial nations give up their power and privileges over oppressed and colonized peoples struggling against “segregation, political domination, and economic exploitation”—whether they were in South Africa or South Alabama.


King’s commitments to economic justice and workers’ rights are becoming more widely appreciated today as we continue to confront all of the unresolved challenges King confronted in his day.

Beyond Civil Rights

Around 1964, King announced that the movement had moved “beyond civil rights.” Constitutional rights to free assembly, equality in voting, and access to public accommodations had marched forward with little cost to the nation, he said. Human rights—to dignified work, decent wages, income support, and decent housing for all Americans—would cost the nation billions of dollars. In other speeches, however, King recognized that human rights and civil rights were bound up with each other, part of a “Worldwide Human Rights Revolution.”

The practical experience of building a movement had already made these connections. In

Montgomery’s struggle to desegregate bus seating, for example, King heralded the American “right to protest for right,” but discovered that it was inseparable from the human rights to work and eat.

Why? Hundreds of African Americans were fired or evicted or denied public aid for expressing

themselves politically, and King was intimately involved in campaigns for their material relief.

This pattern continued throughout the 1960s. The southern struggle for rights became a struggle

against poverty long before Lyndon Johnson’s wars in Vietnam and on poverty.

Similarly, in New York City in 1959, King joined A. Philip Randolph and Malcolm X in supporting the white, black and Puerto Rican workers of New York’s newly organized Local 1199. Over 3,000 hospital workers— laundry workers, cafeteria workers, janitors and orderlies—struck seven New York private hospitals. At the bottom of the new service economy they were legally barred from collective bargaining; excluded from minimum wage protections and unemployment compensation; and denied the medical insurance that might give

them access to the hospitals where they worked. Harlem’s black community rallied to their defense. King cheered a struggle that transcended “a fight for union rights” and had become a multiracial “fight for human rights.”

Today We Continue the Struggles

King’s commitments to economic justice and workers’ rights are becoming more widely appreciated today as we continue to confront all of the unresolved challenges King confronted in his day. Joblessness is still pervasive under the official unemployment statistics, and wages remain too low to lift millions of people out of poverty.

Conservative politicians and globalizing corporations have relentlessly chipped away at union rights and workplace safety. Tattered safety nets have become even shoddier for poor people who are not capable of earning. Forty-seven million Americans are, medically, second-class citizens. Unequal landscapes of wealth and opportunity in housing and schools still make the words “American apartheid” a dirty but accurate epithet. And again, in a different part of the world, our military wages a war of empire cloaked in robes of democratic idealism. On the right, complacent religious leaders preach family morality and personal responsibility, while neglecting our collective moral commitments to materially supporting “the least of these.” But across the

country too, citizens are uncovering stones of hope and finding new democratic determination. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go, as King would say. Lost ground and shattered dreams are bearable, he would have preached, as we continue the struggles for multiracial democracy, economic justice, and human dignity that were begun long ago, under even more challenging circumstances than we face today.

Thomas F. Jackson is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and author of the prizewinning From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Struggle for Economic Justice (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007)

Democratic socialists A. Philip Randolph and

Bayard Rustin worked closely with King

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Trump Radicalized the Republican Party and His Supporters


Presentation: Sacramento Poor People's Campaign

SACRAMENTO PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE: Presentation: Sacramento Poor People's Campaign:   Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Statement on the Events of January 6, 2021 Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign Hon...

Response to the Proposed Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for California

 This is in response to the  Ethnic Studies model curriculum draft posted for public review by the California State Board of Education. 


Response by Sacramento League of United Latin American Citizens, Lorenzo Patiño Council, 2862. Sacramento, California.


We offer the following critiques. 


Chapter 4. Bibliography


The proposed bibliography primarily includes theoretical pedagogical publications while lacking content specific materials.   While advocacy pedagogical literature certainly has value, teachers also  need background content.  The bibliography should be expanded to include some content specific recommendations on the history, sociology, and culture of  each of the major groups.  For example, for Mexican American/Latino readings should include Occupied America:  A History of Chicanos, 8th edition or later by Rodolfo  F. Acuña,  From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in the Twentieth-century America, by Dr. Vicki Ruiz,   and Carlos Muñoz, Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement .  Sources providing basic historical background are missing from the bibliography.   Similar suggestions would improve the usefulness of the bibliography  as teachers cover several of the other  major ethnic  groups. 


Appendix A.  Sample lessons and topics


The first model lesson recommends  a lesson on immigration in current Los Angeles.  While this lesson has merit, the sample model lessons should begin with the  forced incorporation of the Mexican people living in the Southwest into the United States  via the Mexican American War of 1846-1848  and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase. 


Respectfully submitted by the Education Committee of Sacramento LULAC , Lorenzo Patiño Council.  2862.

Adopted by the Council on  Jan. 7,2021


Manuel Lares, President of LULAC 2862,


Dolores Delgado Campbell. Professor Emeritus. History, American River College, Sacramento, California.


Dr. Duane E. Campbell.  Professor Emeritus. Bilingual/Multicultural Education, California State University- Sacramento.  Education and Democracy Institute. 


Dr. Susan Nakaoka,  Professor, Division of Social Work,  California State University -Sacramento. 



Monday, January 11, 2021

How Fascism Works: A Warning for the U.S. | Amanpour and Company

Trump, the Big Lie, and Fascism

  Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions.

The American Abyss

A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.

By Timothy Snyder

  • Jan. 9, 2021  New York Times. 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

The Attempted Coup Against Democratic Elections

On Wednesday afternoon, a rally of Trump supporters — after being whipped up by Trump, repeating myths of a stolen election — stormed the Capitol building and stopped the electoral vote certification. Yes, it's an attempted coup.

Let's take a moment to acknowledge the emotional weight of this moment. This is awful and another line crossed by Trump's behavior. He called for the protest, spoke at it, and told his supporters to march to the Capitol. It is outrageous — broken windows, shots fired, explosive devices planted, 13 arrested with weapons confiscated inside the Capitol and one person shot under unclear circumstances. As members of the public, we're feeling angry and disheartened. 

We always said a coup needs legitimacy to be successful. If the goal of today's seizure of the Capitol was to gain legitimacy, the action has backfired spectacularly. 

The pillars of our democratic society are largely standing and supporting our democracy. This coup is not gaining traction or convincing the majority of lawmakers, particularly those required to certify election results. Police have successfully regained control of the Capitol (though questions will need to be answered about their taking selfies with occupiers inside the Capitol and the obvious disparate treatment of black protestors previously and the armed white protestors who just invaded the Capitol).

And it's not playing well in the public arena. In fact, the seizing of the Capitol is being decried widely by the right (some calling it domestic terrorism) — and even by politicians who supported stymying the election. This is a fluid situation.

Some other happenings of note:

You can be sure we are monitoring this situation. We are in discussion with allies around what development might call for a national mobilization. But strategically we think this is a last gasp and the risks are huge if we simply tell people to rush into the streets.

At this moment, we are not calling for mass protest. We think one of the most dangerous cocktails would be violent clashes between civilians. Tonight, we encourage people in the DC area to honor the curfew and stay home. Everyone at the Capitol should go home. 

This violent coup attempt appears to be backfiring on its perpetrators, and they seem to be losing both in the electoral process and in the sphere of public opinion. They look out of control.

Tonight, the most effective action is to let the coup plotters expose how isolated and unsupported they are. Their actions are doing that.

We think it is strategic to get on with certification and finish it. Contact your Representatives to urge them to certify the results of the election ASAP. It's time to end this. 

We are keeping a close eye to see if things change course. Some indications we're looking for are leaders of societal pillars — other than politicians or the Stop the Steal protestors — encouraging taking to the streets to support the coup OR, people successfully occupying the Capitol building and again delaying the vote certification. 

Violence could escalate overnight, so it may be helpful to mentally prepare for that possibility. We think that behavior would only further isolate and discredit their effort to overturn the election.

We don't believe this coup attempt has the support necessary to overturn the election result. We believe we will see a democratic — if not peaceful — transfer of power on the 20th. And we return to the collective feeling: this is bad. This President's lies, urges to violence, and support of a coup attempt have done damage to our democracy that will take all of us to heal.

With gratitude, 

The Choose Democracy Team 

Also see

Also see:
The Insurrection Was Predictable
Yesterday’s events were the expression of a dangerous authoritarian movement that has been long in the making. 
On Jacobin.

Do these attempts constitute a coup? New York Times

Amanda Taub, Jan.7, 2021.

Do the actions of President Trump and some of his supporters — including Mr. Trump’s effort on Saturday to bully Georgia’s secretary of state into overturning the results of the state’s vote in the presidential election, and then yesterday openly inciting a mobthat then attacked the United States Capitol — constitute a coup attempt?

If the question is whether those actions are as gravely serious as a coup, the answer is yes, said Erica de Bruin, a political scientist at Hamilton College who has researched coups for more than a decade.

But the violent, anti-democratic attack on the Capitol doesn’t fit the technical definition of a coup even though the president incited and encouraged it. That matters, experts say, because different actions are required to prevent this type of attack from harming democracy.

A coup is an illegal attempt to take power through force or the threat of force, usually involving at least a faction of the military or formal security forces, though sometimes they are backed by paramilitaries or other armed groups.

That’s not what happened in Washington yesterday.

Although some of the people that stormed the Capitol were armed, they do not appear to be part of any organized military or rebel organization. And while Mr. Trump encouraged his loyalists in his capacity as a leader of their movement, he did not try to call the military to their aid, or otherwise use the formal powers of the presidency to help them, said Naunihal Singh, a professor at the Naval War College whose research focuses on coups.



A member of the mob inside the Capitol on Wednesday.Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

But that is not the end of the story.

These days, democracies tend to collapse from piecemeal backsliding that falls short of the technical definition of a coup, but is often ultimately more damaging. A clear pattern has played out in countries around the world, including Turkey, Russia, Hungary, and Venezuela, in which leaders come to office through elections but then undermine norms, gut institutions and change laws to dismantle any restraints on their power. Eventually, their countries become dictatorships in all but name.

Yesterday’s attack, and Mr. Trump’s encouragement of it, fit well within that category. And to combat that kind of anti-democratic backsliding requires different tactics than would be used against a coup.

“We know how to prevent coups,” said Dr. de Bruin, who literally wrote the book on how to do so. “We have a whole set of actions that international organizations, military officers, individuals can use. But we know far less about how to prevent anti-democratic actions.”

A coup either succeeds or fails, usually within a few hours. Stopping anti-democratic actions like Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol requires political engagement over time. Legal remedies like arrests and impeachment can help. So can political remedies, like political parties cutting off money to those who participate in anti-democratic actions, and party elites speaking out against it.

Subtler responses are also important.

“Authoritarian leaders are desperately afraid of ridicule because so much of their power comes from social connectedness,” Dr. Singh said, and treating them as if they are respectable reinforces that power.

But, he said, treating Wednesday’s attack, and Mr. Trump’s support of it, with the “ridicule and umbrage it deserves” is a way to undermine any suggestion of legitimacy or authority.

Some senior Republican officials did that yesterday. For weeks after the election, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican from Kentucky who is majority leader, had remained silent about Mr. Trump’s spurious claims of electoral fraud. On Wednesday, he said on the Senate floor that overruling the voters would “damage our republic forever.”

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and a former presidential candidate, was even more outspoken.

“We gather due to a selfish man’s injured pride,” he said when the chamber reconvened after the attack, “and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”


Sunday, January 03, 2021

Are Children Falling Behind?

Teresa Thayer Snyder 
December 12, 2020
I sincerely plead with my colleagues, to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they “should be.”

Students line up to have their temperature checked before entering PS 179 elementary school in the Kensington neighborhood, Sept. 29, 2020 in Brooklyn, AP Photo/Mark Lennihan // Politico


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing today about the children of this pandemic. After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world. It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to “catch them up,” I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era. What on earth are we trying to catch them up on? The models no longer apply, the benchmarks are no longer valid, the trend analyses have been interrupted. We must not forget that those arbitrary measures were established by people, not ordained by God. We can make those invalid measures as obsolete as a crank up telephone! They simply do not apply. 

When the children return to school, they will have returned with a new history that we will need to help them identify and make sense of. When the children return to school, we will need to listen to them. Let their stories be told. They have endured a year that has no parallel in modern times. There is no assessment that applies to who they are or what they have learned. Remember, their brains did not go into hibernation during this year. Their brains may not have been focused on traditional school material, but they did not stop either. Their brains may have been focused on where their next meal is coming from, or how to care for a younger sibling, or how to deal with missing grandma, or how it feels to have to surrender a beloved pet, or how to deal with death. Our job is to welcome them back and help them write that history.

I sincerely plead with my colleagues, to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they “should be.” Greet them with art supplies and writing materials, and music and dance and so many other avenues to help them express what has happened to them in their lives during this horrific year. Greet them with stories and books that will help them make sense of an upside-down world. They missed you. They did not miss the test prep. They did not miss the worksheets. They did not miss the reading groups. They did not miss the homework. They missed you.

Resist the pressure from whatever ‘powers that be’ who are in a hurry to “fix” kids and make up for the “lost” time. The time was not lost, it was invested in surviving an historic period of time in their lives—in our lives. The children do not need to be fixed. They are not broken. They need to be heard. They need be given as many tools as we can provide to nurture resilience and help them adjust to a post pandemic world.

Being a teacher is an essential connection between what is and what can be. Please, let what can be demonstrate that our children have so much to share about the world they live in and in helping them make sense of what, for all of us has been unimaginable. This will help them– and us– achieve a lot more than can be measured by any assessment tool ever devised. Peace to all who work with the children!

[Teresa Thayer Snyder was superintendent of the Voorheesville district in upstate New York. She wrote this essay on her Facebook page.]


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