Monday, October 05, 2015

Bernie Sanders : Seizing the Moment to Build

 By Kurt Stand
  “I did not say anything.  I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain.  We had heard them … and had read them … now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. … Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the number of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.” Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929, Shocken edition 1969 p. 185)
As Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign continues to gather support, he comes under ever sharper scrutiny – not only by Republican and Democratic Party opponents, but by others who are themselves working to address the social inequities that abound in our society.  Some such criticism is itself destructive; the tendency to view every insufficient step forward as a form of betrayal is a charge that every alternative candidate from Eugene Debs to Jesse Jackson has faced.  Yet criticism and debate is a healthy and necessary part of the process of building a social justice movement that is rooted in the diverse and unequal experiences of our society.  The idea that unity can be created solely by seeking to overcome economic inequality — as a goal shared by all working people — while putting all other concerns on the backburner is false; all such attempts have come to grief on the realities of how people understand the world they inhabit.  As the history of organized labor has repeatedly shown, division is not caused by those who have challenged racism or sexism, those who have challenged discrimination in any form – rather division is caused by the reality of such discrimination and perpetuated by those who wish to close their eyes to truths others know to be true through experience.
The importance of incorporating that experience in the Sanders campaign was expressed in an article by Bill Fletcher Jr. “The suggestion that race can be resolved through an appeal to class and economic justice alone suggests that economic justice will equally resolve the racial differential,” Fletcher wrote.
 “It is not simply a matter of ‘a rising tide raises all boats’. The reality is that all boats may rise, but who finds one’s self in which portion of each boat? Or, to use the metaphor of the Titanic, who is in steerage and who is closer to the main deck?
“When movements like #BlackLivesMatter and many in the immigrant rights movement point to this matter of racial injustice, they are not suggesting attention for a ‘special interest.’ Rather, they are pointing out that there can actually be no economic justice in the absence of racial justice. There can be no unity without a commitment to the fight for equality and justice. These struggles are interlinked.  The sort of ‘political revolution’ that the Sanders Campaign proclaims has been a long time coming. Yet it will never arrive if there is not a full recognition that the class struggle overlaps that of racial justice. The ruling elites, for several centuries, have appreciated that race is the trip wire of U.S. politics and social movements. When will progressives arrive at the same conclusion?”

Saturday, October 03, 2015

NEA Endorses Clinton

From: Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday. 
The union’s campaign arm had indicated that it was recommending the endorsement earlier this week, as Politico first reported. Members of the 3-million-strong union who support Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have already protested the move, just as Sanders supporters from the American Federation of Teachers did when Clinton secured that union's endorsement in July.
"Clinton is a strong leader who will do what is best for America’s students. For more than four decades, Clinton has fought to make sure all children have a fair opportunity to succeed regardless of their ZIP code," said Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, president of the NEA, in a statement. "Clinton will continue to advocate on behalf of students, educators and working families because she understands the road to a stronger U.S. economy starts in America’s public schools.”
“As a lifelong fighter for children and families, I am deeply honored to have earned the endorsement of the National Education Association and their nearly 3 million members," Clinton stated.
The NEA’s campaign arm had said that it believed Clinton was the candidate best positioned to win in the general election next year. But both Clinton and Sanders had received “A” ratings on the group’s congressional legislative scorecard.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Arne Duncan Resigns

A major leader in the fake school reform crowd.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to Washington to reform K-12 schooling. But as he announced Friday that he plans to leave office in December, it appeared more likely that his legacy would be defined by the unprecedented distress among millions of Americans struggling to pay back student loans.
The Debt Collective, a pro-borrower group, said it hoped that the next secretary "has the wherewithal to clean up the department's mess and do what's right."
Duncan will be replaced by John B. King Jr., a senior adviser who has been doing the job of deputy secretary since January even as President Barack Obama has declined to nominate him for the post. Multiple news outlets reported Friday that Obama would not formally nominate King to be secretary either, avoiding a Senate battle. Like Duncan, King has spent most of his career so far focused on K-12 issues.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teachers Object as NEA Considers Early Clinton Endorsement

Rank-and-File Teachers Object As Nation's Biggest Union Weighs Early Clinton Endorsement

Mirroring similar rifts within other unions, National Education Association members prepare to protest Sanders snub
An early NEA endorsement for Hillary Clinton would ignore the 30,000 members who have shown support for Sen. Bernie Sanders, say protesting union members. (Photo: Hillary Clinton/ Facebook)
An early NEA endorsement for Hillary Clinton would ignore the 30,000 members who have shown support for Sen. Bernie Sanders, say protesting union members. (Photo: Hillary Clinton/ Facebook)
A rumored presidential endorsement by the nation's largest union is exposing a rift between rank-and-file members who are "feeling the Bern" and leadership who appear more willing to err on the Clinton side of caution.
Various news reports have indicated that an announcement by the 3-million strong National Education Association is expected sometime this week.
According to an email obtained by Politico, the NEA PAC, the union’s political arm, is planning to hold an upcoming vote "recommending Hillary Clinton for the presidential primary" on the grounds that the former Secretary of State "is the best positioned candidate to win both the Democratic primary and general election," citing her "unmatched organizational strength, ground game, and fundraising ability to defeat the candidate of the Koch brothers."

CTJ Statement: Trump Tax Plan Would Cost Nearly $11 Trillion Over 10 Years | CTJReports

CTJ Statement: Trump Tax Plan Would Cost Nearly $11 Trillion Over 10 Years | CTJReports

The Surprising Things Seattle Teachers Won for Students by Striking

Author:  Valerie Strauss

Friday, September 25, 2015   Washington Post

Seattle teachers went on strike for a week this month with a list of goals for a new contract. By the time the strike officially ended this week, teachers had won some of the usual stuff of contract negotiations — for example, the first cost-of-living raises in six years — but also less standard objectives.

For one thing, teachers demanded, and won, guaranteed daily recess for all elementary school students — 30 minutes each day. In an era when recess for many students has become limited or non-existent despite the known benefits of physical activity, this is a big deal, and something parents had sought.

What’s more, the union and school officials agreed to create committees at 30 schools to look at equity issues, including disciplinary measures that disproportionately affect minorities. Several days after the end of the strike, the Seattle School Board voted for a one-year ban on out-of-school suspensions of elementary students who commit specific nonviolent offenses, and called for a plan that could eliminate all elementary school suspensions.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Broad Plan : How to Take Over Public Schools in Los Angeles

Deirdre Fulton
September 23, 2015
Common Dreams
Last week the Los Angeles Times obtained a secret 44-page proposal drafted by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and other charter advocates, that according to one critic would "do away with democratically controlled, publicly accountable education in LA." With the aid of a billionaires’ club of supporters, the plan is designed to charterize 50% of LA public schools. 

More than 1,000 teachers, students, parents, and community members protested at the opening of the Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles Sunday. , Mayra Gomez/UTLA Facebook photo
A California billionaire is enlisting other wealthy backers in a $490 million scheme to place half of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District into charter schools over the next eight years—a plan at least one critic says would "do away with democratically controlled, publicly accountable education in LA."
The Los Angeles Times obtained a confidential 44-page proposal, "The Great Public Schools Now Initiative," drafted by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and other charter advocates.
"Los Angeles is uniquely positioned to create the largest, highest-performing charter sector in the nation," the executive summary reads. "Such an exemplar would serve as a model for all large cities to follow."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

Our Kids: The American Dream In Crisis.
Robert D. Putnam.
Review by Duane Campbell
This new book is an insightful and well researched analysis  of on the achievement gap, which Robert Putnam  correctly calls an opportunity gap for the current generation of young people.  I was drawn to the book by respect for his prior writing,  Bowling Alone . This new work  is of equal value in synthesizing social science research.  Perhaps it is of more value since we have major institutions-schools- in positions , that could contribute to the rebirth of equal, democratic opportunity.

In Our Kids, Putnam   describes major developments in our schools and our communities - the growing inequality of opportunity for the working class and the poor.
Educational writers have long chronicled several of the key concepts, the role of tracking, of concentrations of poverty and of race. This work excels because it is a very well informed outsiders sociological viewpoint of these issues.  Putnam and research associate Jen Sliva bring together extensive social science data and research to support the  many interpretive suggestions.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.