Sunday, February 27, 2022

On the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

 Statement of DSA North Star Steering Committee on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked act of aggression, the deed of an authoritarian regime and revanchist imperial power seeking to subjugate by force a weaker neighbor. It is the waging of war that can only result in needless death and devastation on a massive scale.

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Critical Race Theory: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The Value of Public Schools

 t's Public Schools Week! Let’s take a moment to celebrate the promise and purpose of public schools in America. Let’s celebrate the students who learn in them, the people who work in them and the entire education community that supports preparing our next generation for college, career, civic participation and, most importantly, their lives. 

Public schools are central to our communities, and to the ongoing effort to help our kids recover and thrive, academically, socially, and emotionally. And Public Schools Week is an opportunity for us to show our commitment to our students and everyone who makes our schools tick, and for all of us to recognize the essential role of our nation’s public schools and the people who educate our kids. They are foundational to our democracy and key to our post-COVID-19 recovery, renewal, progress, and connection.

Throughout the pandemic, teachers and school staff have been herculean. They have worked hard to help our students recover—overcoming challenges, accelerating learning and bouncing back from disruption and anxiety. That’s why this year’s theme is “creating safe, equitable and engaging public schools.”

I’ve visited 95 schools across America since April last year, and I have witnessed firsthand the joy happening in our public schools. I’ve seen students reading, laughing, and playing; learning how to be informed citizens and critical thinkers; and developing new skills in music, languages, art and coding. 

And this is happening while extremists attempt to politicize our schools and scapegoat educators. It’s been the hardest year for educators—dealing with frustrations and anger, navigating through an ever-changing COVID-19 landscape and curricula and safety protocols, and coping with the staff shortages.

Everyone has an educator, bus driver, cafeteria worker, custodian, or other school staff person who they know and love. Will you join me in celebrating the work of the teachers and school staff you know by sharing our graphic online?

Public School Proud

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This week and always, the AFT is proud to join educators, parents, community advocates, businesses, and others in celebrating the schools that 91 percent of U.S. students attend. We celebrate not just the great things happening in our public schools, but to remind our elected officials and others that our public schools can be transformational when they are well-resourced, recognized and respected for the important incubators they are.

At their best, our public schools provide a ladder of opportunity; a place where young people develop the muscle of civic participation; and a safe and welcoming place where our diverse country forges a common identity. Public education is indeed foundational to our democracy.

In fact, according to our recent poll, 72 percent of parents say their schools provide excellent or good-quality education, and 78 percent say they are pleased with the quality and performance of teachers.

We know there is more to do. That’s why we’re continuing to work with school districts across the country to ensure our school buildings are safe and welcoming and remain open for in-person learning during this pandemic. But it’s more than just remaining open safely―it’s the aspiration to provide an equitable education for all.

It’s funding our kids’ future beyond the status quo, so schools can tackle shortages and continue to recruit and retain diverse educators; secure more nurses and counselors; keep bus routes running and meals being served; and fulfill the promise and purpose of high-quality, equitable public education. 

It’s not an easy time to be part of the public school community, but it is certainly an important one. So whether it’s a classroom greenhouse in Toledo, Ohio, or a marching band in Miami, Fla., this week, we recognize the brilliant things happening in our schools, and we commit to working together as a nation to protect and sustain them. 

We are public school proud.

As part of this week of celebration, our Reading Opens the World campaign is giving away 1 million free books to students for their personal libraries, encouraging them to access the joy, adventure and possibility that come with a good book. And as we celebrate, we promise to keep up the fight for the resources and support necessary so that every public school is one where parents want to send their kids, educators want to work, and students can truly thrive.

In unity,

Randi Weingarten

AFT President

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Wednesday, February 16, 2022



Rethinking Schools Editors 
August 15, 2021
Rethinking Schools
These laws require educators to lie to students through omission, euphemism, and sanitized accounts of the past and present. Wherever possible, educators should challenge them and, if necessary, defy them.


As of the middle of August, more than two dozen states have introduced — and 11 states have enacted — bills or rules to restrict the teaching of history and contemporary social realities. Right-wing activists have mounted similar attacks at school board meetings throughout the country. This stunning barrage of legislation and policies aims to ban teaching critical race theory (CRT), and supposedly “divisive topics” in the curriculum.

But the real target is the truth.

The anti-CRT campaign echoes the Big Lie that Trump won the election. It is the curricular counterpart to the wave of voter suppression laws promoted by the same far-right political forces that have tried to rewrite the history of the 2020 election and cover up the attempted coup on Jan. 6. Although the particular framing of these laws and penalties varies across states, they are all part of a coordinated campaign of repression meant to enforce a single emphatic message to educators: Shut up or else. The Republican sponsors of these measures fear that in the wake of last summer’s massive Black Lives Matter protests, the anti-racist debates and discussions that have permeated society are seeping into the classroom. With scary buzzwords and misleading framing, both right-wing and corporate media have amplified and spread the perception that classroom teachers are poisoning the minds of children, inviting a wave of harassment against them.

Some provisions of these laws are so sweeping one can imagine teachers finding it virtually impossible to follow the law even if they wanted to. In Tennessee, teachers are prohibited from even including any material in the curriculum that promotes “division between, or resentment of, a race, sex, religion, creed, nonviolent political affiliation, social class, or class of people.” This law would make it impossible to teach Thomas Jefferson’s letter proposing colonization of formerly enslaved people outside the United States or Andrew Jackson’s justification of the Indian Removal Act or Franklin Roosevelt’s “second bill of rights” speech. The penalties for violating these teaching bans range from fines levied against individual teachers and revocation of their teaching licenses, to withholding state funding and rescinding accreditation of school districts, to the threat of lawsuits by parents.

City Journal article by Christopher Rufo (the architect of the current right-wing culture war against critical race theory) placed the blame for more than 100 consecutive days of Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, Oregon, at the feet of the city’s schoolteachers, naming several individuals and inciting a doxing campaign against them. After the Zinn Education Project (coordinated by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change) invited educators across the country to “pledge to teach the truth” (“We, the undersigned educators, refuse to lie to young people about U.S. history and current events”), the right-wing website The Daily Wire published the names of the roughly 5,000 educators who signed the pledge, and organized this hit list by state and community. Since then, we have heard from dozens of teachers who have received hate mail, online harassment, complaints to their administrators, and calls for their dismissal. A longtime teacher in Tennessee was fired in June after teaching two lessons about racism: a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and Kyla Jenee Lacey’s spoken word poem “White Privilege.” We fear and expect that he will not be the last casualty of this war on anti-racist teaching.

Educators have a duty to teach young people uncomfortable truths about the past and present, including the histories, legacies, and current manifestations of systemic oppression. But the Right gets it backward when they paint educators as agents of indoctrination. The demand that our classrooms become sites of discussion and inquiry about racism, sexism, and the long struggle for freedom does not come from the top down. Anyone who has spent time with young people knows that interest is organic, urgent, and comes from students themselves. Young people are not blank slates; they live in the real world. They see the viral videos of the murder of Black people and the anti-Asian racism and violence that escalated in sickening relationship to the pandemic. They see the segregation in their own schools. They see how COVID infections have disproportionately decimated Black and Brown communities. They see these “savage inequalities” in every corner of their daily lives, and they want to know “Why is it like this? How did we get here?”

Sunday, February 13, 2022

The Second Insurrection is Coming :


The Second Insurrection is Coming – Are We Ready?
Portside Date: 
Author: Bill Mosley
Date of source: 
Washington Socialist 

By now it’s commonly accepted in even the most mainstream of media that the Republicans are planning a ruthless campaign to win back the House and Senate in 2022 and the White House in 2024. If they can win fairly, fine for them; if not, they plan to use manipulation, voter suppression, threats — and, if necessary, violence. Only GOP apologists deny this. This has implications not only for the Democratic Party, and not only for the survival of constitutional government, but for the broader left/progressive agenda as well.

The irony of the Trumpists’ slogan “Stop the Steal” was that in reality it was Trump and his cronies trying to steal the 2020 election, while Democrats — and a few Republicans — were trying to deliver an honest count of the results. Although Trump et al. ultimately failed in 2020, they began writing a playbook that they can repeat and expand on in the future.

While some see Biden’s eventual taking of office as evidence that the system worked despite the effort to undermine it, analysts not on the payroll of Fox News or the One America Network look at the machinations of Trump and his allies before and after the election and see how they might have worked — and might work next time to undercut and corrupt an election in his favor. One of the earlier and most comprehensive forecasts came in a December article by Barton Gellman for the Atlantic, who wrote: … The next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the desired effect.

The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already. Manipulating the vote to partisan advantage is nothing new in the United States but rather goes back to the Constitutional Convention. The Electoral College and the Senate, two massively undemocratic institutions, were partly a response to demands from slaveholding states that gave them disproportionate power. In the Jim Crow era, the South’s advantage in those two institutions helped deny full citizenship to Blacks for a century after the Civil War. The Democratic Party was once the principal perpetrator and beneficiary of Jim Crow laws, but the party’s embrace of civil rights in the 1960s made it a champion (if an imperfect one) of voters of color. The Republicans, under Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” rushed in to appeal to racist Whites and have built on it ever since.

The Republican campaign to manipulate elections expands on the Jim Crow playbook and has been in operation for some time. The key elements have been voter suppression and gerrymandering. In GOP-controlled states the age-old practice of voter suppression has gone on steroids, with Republican-led legislatures in at least 19 states having passed laws making it harder to vote, surgically targeting communities that are heavily Democratic and/or populated by people of color. The restrictions include reducing the number of polling places, limiting early and mail voting, and cutting back in-person voting hours. The Biden Justice Department has sued Florida and Texas over their voting restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, but there are many more potential targets for litigation.

Both parties have long been guilty of gerrymandering, the practice of drawing state and congressional voting districts to their advantage — among blue states, Maryland is the champion — but Republicans have embraced the practice more aggressively and are pushing it further in advance of the 2022 vote. This is due partly to Republicans’ grip over more state governments, but also because several mostly blue states have turned over the drawing of boundaries to nonpartisan commissions. This unilateral disarmament by Democrats in the name of good government combined with unabashed Republican partisanship will strengthen GOP control in state legislatures and likely clinch their takeover of the House in the midterms.

By now we know of Trump’s efforts to overturn the verdict of the 2020 election: Trump’s bullying call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; the move by Republicans on the Wayne County, MI, Board of Canvassers to block certification of the county’s vote until angry voters forced them to back down; the long-running Arizona vote “audit” in which the state GOP looked under every rock for fraud and found none; and, of course, Trump’s incendiary Ellipse speech unleashing his hordes on Congress while they were counting and certifying the electoral vote.

Trump failed to overturn the 2020 election for a number of reasons. One was the size of Biden’s win — 51.3 to 46.9 percent of the popular vote and a 74-vote margin in the Electoral College: not a landslide, but big enough that it would have required somehow flipping the vote in at least three states to change the outcome (not that Trump and his enablers didn’t try). Second, while many Republican officials were willing to abet Trump’s scheme, enough of them recognized reality and were committed enough to constitutional government to refuse to go down that path — and that includes the minority of GOP members of Congress who voted to certify the election results despite Trump’s bullying and threats; Vice President Pence, who chose to preside over the Senate count of the vote as directed by the Constitution and not arbitrarily throw out Democratic votes as Trump and his allies urged; Raffensperger and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who had a stake in demonstrating their competency in administering the election in their state; and even Trump’s usually lickspittle Attorney General William Barr.

Third, Trump no doubt considered imposing martial law, using his lever as commander in chief of the armed forces — supporters and advisors such as his former national security advisor Michael Flynn urged it — but he did not. The military option was surely part of the reason he sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had refused Trump’s demand to invoke the Insurrection Act during the DC protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, and replaced him with the presumably more pliant Acting Secretary Christopher C. Miller.

A violent clash between his January 6 mob and counter-demonstrators would have been an excuse for Trump to call out troops under the pretense of restoring order. Still mobilized from counter demonstrations which occurred in November and December, DC's local anti-fascist networks were preparing to show up on January 6 but ultimately resolved to stand down. It was the right call: the threat of violence would have given Trump an excuse to involve the military. Another factor was the likelihood that the military brass would refuse to go along. As detailed in Bob Woodward’s book Peril, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, felt burned by Trump’s manipulating him into joining his June 1, 2020, photo-op at St. John's Church just after protestors had been violently removed from Lafayette Square. After that, Milley became determined not to let the president use him to undermine a democratic transfer of power.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

antiracismdsa: A Day Without Immigrants

antiracismdsa: A Day Without Immigrants:   National Day of Action Join a grassroots day of action for immigration reform - A Day Without Immigrants - Valentine’s Day on Monday, Febr...

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Freedom to Teach

Freedom to Teach


Across the U.S., educators are being censored for broaching controversial topics. Since January 2021, researcher Jeffrey Sachs says, 35 states have introduced 137 bills limiting what schools can teach with regard to race, American history, politics, sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Sachs has been tracking this legislation for PEN America, a writers organization dedicated to free speech. He says the recent flurry of legislation has created a "minefield" for educators trying to figure out how to teach topics such as slavery, Jim Crow laws or the Holocaust. One proposed law in South Carolina, for instance, prohibits teachers from discussing any topic that creates "discomfort, guilt or anguish" on the basis of political belief. 

"That means that a teacher would have to be very, very careful about how they discuss something like, let's say, fascism or racism or antisemitism," Sachs says. "These are political beliefs, and it means that teachers are going to have to second-guess whether they can describe that political belief in as forthright and honest a way as we wish for fear of falling afoul of this bill."

Why education was a top voter priority this election


Why education was a top voter priority this election

Critical race theory, an academic approach that examines how race and racism function in American institutions, has inspired a backlash in conservative circles across the United States. In one of his first acts in office, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of Virginia, established a hotline to allow parents or members of the community to report critical race theory in the classroom. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a conservative mom's group is offering a $500 bounty to catch teachers who break a state law prohibiting certain teachings about racism and sexism. 

"I think it must be a very terrifying time to be an educator at any level in higher ed or in K-12," Sachs says.

Read more. 

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