Friday, April 28, 2023

RS Seminar- Economic Crisis: AOC :'January 6 Was a Dress Rehearsal' for GOP Cam...

: AOC :'January 6 Was a Dress Rehearsal' for GOP Cam...:   AOC: 'January 6 Was a Dress Rehearsal' for GOP Campaign to Expel Democrats The attack was just one of the first steps of the Repub...

Friday, April 14, 2023

US Fascism Is Spreading Under the Guise of “Patriotic Education” Henry A. Giroux ,

The relentless state-based attacks on Black people in the U.S. and the war being waged against public and higher education are not unrelated.

In the present political and ideological climate, far right political leaders, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) have declared a war on institutions of public and higher education, which they’ve identified as centers of “unpatriotic education.” Most far right Republicans fear higher education as a bulwark against their authoritarianism and hence see students as a threat to their propaganda machines and fascist politics. As a result, the right wing has kicked into overdrive in an attempt to target educational institutions as a site for policing dissent, eliminating unions, indoctrinating faculty and students, and for normalizing white Christian nationalism, white supremacy and pedagogies of repression.

We have seen this in Ron DeSantis’s efforts to take over the progressive New College of Florida and turn it into a haven for white Christian education. DeSantis wants to remodel New College after the reactionary Hillsdale College, a private Christian liberal arts college that Kathryn Joyce states has played a “far-reaching role in shaping and disseminating the ideas and strategies that power the right.”

It’s clear that the far right GOP has deemed education to be the most powerful tool for creating a public that is neither informed nor willing to struggle to keep a democracy alive. This is particularly evident in the right-wing war on education, which aims at replacing public education with charter schools, fashioning public and higher education into centers of far right indoctrination, and destroying higher education as a democratic public good. Central to such an attack is a war on critical thinking, troubling knowledge, historical memory and any form of education that address social problems. Extremists in the GOP fully embrace both white nationalism and white supremacy while simultaneously supporting a culture and society in which the distinction between lies and the truth disappear. What they would also like to see disappear in their reign of domestic terrorism are the educators, institutions, and other public spaces that resist this ongoing tsunami of authoritarian ideas, acts of repression, and war on critical intellectuals, dissidents and educators.

What the far right GOP politicians fear about education is that it is the one site where young people learn the responsibilities of being critical and engaged citizens. As Moira Donegan argues, education at all levels “are foundational to democracy and this is the reason why DeSantis and the far right are attacking education.” She writes:



Thursday, April 06, 2023

Former Teacher, Union Leader elected to Mayor of Chicago

 First of all, let me begin by congratulating Brandon Johnson on being elected as the next mayor of Chicago, and Janet Protasiewicz on her decisive win in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. These are two huge victories for progressives and for our movement. 

If we are serious about creating transformative change in this country — and if we're serious about taking on the powerful special interests that want to protect the status quo — we need to elect more great candidates at the grassroots level. That's why Brandon Johnson and Janet Protasiewicz's victories are so important. 

Our campaign was proud to have played a role in these victories, and I would like to thank supporters like you for all you've done to help make these victories possible. Our team reached out to people all across Chicago to encourage them to turn out to vote for Brandon Johnson, and to attend our GOTV rally with him last week. And we contacted Wisconsinites statewide informing them about early voting and Election Day voting for Janet Protasiewicz in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. 

Brandon Johnson is a former teacher who ran a campaign centered on economic justice and racial justice. What he did during his campaign for mayor, and what we have got to do all over this country, is continue the struggle to build a government that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

Chicago deserves a mayor who will invest in affordable housing, health care, fully-funded neighborhood schools, and good jobs. That's the kind of mayor that Brandon Johnson will be. He understands that we need not only job creation, but jobs that provide workers with decent wages, benefits, and working conditions. 

During the runoff election, Brandon overcame incredible odds after being outspent 2-to-1. The way he was able to do that was by bringing people together in a multi-racial, multi-generational movement. This past Tuesday, large numbers of working people all across the city of Chicago came together to say enough is enough. It is time to finally create a government that invests in the needs of its people. And with Brandon Johnson as mayor, Chicago will now have a city government that supports the working class and unions.

In Wisconsin, Janet Protasiewicz ended the conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the first time in 15 years. Her victory will help protect the future of our democracy and will have an enormous impact on voting rights, abortion rights, redistricting, and potential challenges to 2024 election results in a key battleground state. 

Saturday, April 01, 2023

The Need to Defend Public Education

Randi Weingarten 
March 28, 2023
Common Dreams
Our public schools shouldn't be pawns for politicians' ambitions. Or defunded and destroyed by ideologues. We are at a crossroads: Fear and division, or hope and opportunity. A great nation does not fear people being educated.

Randi Weingarten at 50 State Equity Strategy Rollout in 2014, US Department of Education


The following are the prepared remarks by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten delivered on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at the National Press Club.


Today, we once again grieve for families shattered by senseless gun violence. Please join me in a moment of silence for the lives lost at the Covenant School in Nashville, and for all victims of gun violence.

Today we renew our call for commonsense gun safety legislation including a ban on assault weapons. This is an epidemic that our great nation must solve.

There's a saying: You don't have to love everything about someone to love them. I'm sure my wife doesn't love everything about me, but she loves me. (I, on the other hand, love everything about her.) Nothing is perfect. Banks aren't. Congress isn't. And neither are our public schools—not even our most well-resourced and highest-performing schools. Those of us involved in public schools work hard to strengthen them to be the best they can be. But only public schools have as their mission providing opportunity for all students. And by virtually any measure—conversations, polls, studies and elections—parents and the public overwhelmingly like public schools, value them, need them, support them—and countless Americans love them.

Public schools are more than physical structures. They are the manifestation of our civic values and ideals: The ideal that education is so important for individuals and for society that a free education must be available to all. That all young people should have opportunities to prepare for life, college, career and citizenship. That, in a pluralistic society such as the United States, people with different beliefs and backgrounds must learn to bridge differences. And that, as the founders believed, an educated citizenry is essential to protect our democracy from demagogues.

Thomas Jefferson argued general education was necessary to "enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom." Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "The real safeguard of democracy … is education." And Martin Luther King Jr., in accepting the United Federation of Teachers' John Dewey Award, made clear, "Education is the road to equality and citizenship."

When kids go to school together, they become part of a community; their families become part of a community. That community comes together at school concerts, basketball games and science fairs, and for shelter and comfort, when people are displaced by natural disasters or, far too often, at vigils for victims of gun violence. In good times and bad, public schools are cornerstones of community, of our democracy, our economy and our nation.

But some people want that cornerstone to crumble—and they're wielding the sledgehammers.


Attacks on public education are not new. The difference today is that the attacks are intended to destroy it. To make it a battlefield, a political cudgel. After former President Trump lost re-election, Steve Bannon, his key ally, declared that their fight goes through school boards. In a speech last year, culture war operative and Governor Ron DeSantis' appointee Christopher Rufo put it bluntly, "To get to universal school choice, you really need to operate from a premise of universal public school distrust." To this end, he says, his side has "to be ruthless and brutal."

And, I would add, well-funded, which it is. The DeVos, Bradley, Koch, Uihlein and Walton family foundations and others have poured many millions of dollars into anti-public education, pro-privatization groups like the American Federation for Children and EdChoice.

The Betsy DeVos wing of the school privatization movement is methodically working its plan: Starve public schools of the funds they need to succeed. Criticize them for their shortcomings. Erode trust in public schools by stoking fear and division, including attempting to pit parents against teachers. Replace them with private, religious, online and home schools. All toward their end goal of destroying public education as we know it, atomizing and balkanizing education in America, bullying the most vulnerable among us and leaving the students with the greatest needs in public schools with the most meager resources.

It's an extremist scheme by a very vocal minority of Americans. It's hurting our efforts to do the work we need to do, which is educating the nearly 50 million kids who attend America's public schools. And the urgent work of helping kids recover from learning loss, sadness, depression and other effects of the pandemic.

And it's not what parents or the public want.

Let's start with defunding: This year alone, 29 state legislatures are considering bills to either create or expand existing voucher programs.[i] This is on top of the 72 voucher and tax credit programs in 33 states already subsidizing private and home schooling, costing billions every year.[ii] Voucher programs are proliferating even though research shows that, on average, vouchers negatively affect achievement—the declines are worse than pandemic learning loss. In fact, vouchers have caused "some of the largest academic drops ever measured in the research record."

Proponents of vouchers used to argue that they were a way for low-income and minority families to transfer out of low-performing schools. No longer. Today most vouchers go to families who already send their kids to private schools. And private schools are not required to follow most federal civil rights laws protecting students, so they can—and many do—discriminate, especially against LGBTQ students and students with special needs.

The universal voucher program signed by Florida Gov. DeSantis yesterday will divert $4 billion from the state's public schools. Florida ranks 44th in the nation in per pupil spending, and 48th in average teacher salaries. DeSantis is sending taxpayers' dollars in the wrong direction.

And then there are the culture wars. What started as fights over pandemic-era safety measures has morphed into fearmongering: False claims that elementary and secondary schools are teaching critical race theory; disgusting, unfounded claims that teachers are grooming and indoctrinating students; and pronouncements that public schools push a "woke" agenda, even though they can't or won't define what they mean. Banning books and bullying vulnerable children. School board meetings descending into screaming matches. This is an organized and dangerous effort to undermine public schools.

Over the last three years, legislators in 45 states proposed hundreds of laws placing public schools at the center of culture wars: laws seeking to ban books from school libraries—even books about Ruby Bridges and Anne Frank and Roberto Clemente; laws restricting what teachers can teach and students can learn—particularly about about race, gender, LGBTQ issues, current events and American history; and laws attacking kids who are transgender. Students and staff should feel welcome, safe and respected in school—but the culture wars are fueling hostility and fear.

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