Archives for category: Elections

If you live in Michigan and you want to stop the privatization of public school funding, the Network for Public Education Action urges you to support Sarah Schultz for the House of Representatives, District 98.

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Sarah Schultz for the Michigan state House District 98.

Sarah, who was born and raised in Flint, is married to a public school teacher. Sarah’s children attend public schools. She strongly supports increases in school funding.

Recently she quoted a Network for Public Education study while criticizing the charter sector, which she referred to as a “Wild West model where for-profit charters aren’t held accountable to the standards of public schools.”

She has also noted that her opponent has taken money from the DeVos family. Sarah is against school privatization. 

We urge your support for Sarah Schultz when you vote on November 3.

No candidate authorized this ad. It is paid for by Network for Public Education Action, New York, New York.

Derek Black, Jack Schneider, and Jennifer Berkshire wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the future of public education is on the ballot on November 3 (for the record, I got a credit for doing some minor editing).

Should Trump be re-elected, you can count on him and Betsy DeVos to continue their brazen assault on public schools and to continue their demand to transfer public funds to private and religious schools as well as to pour hundreds of millions of federal dollars into charter school expansion. Draining public dollars away from public school has been Betsy DeVos’s life work and she would have four more years to staff the U.S. Department of Education with likeminded ideologues who hate public schools.

The authors write:

When Trump selected Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, many took it as a sign that he wasn’t serious. After all, DeVos seemed to know little about public schools. But that was a product of her extremism. Over the last four years, she has been crystal clear that her primary interest in the public education system lies in dismantling it. For evidence, look no further than her proposed Education Freedom Scholarships plan, which would redirect $5 billion in taxpayer dollars to private schools.

Unmaking public education is a long-standing goal of libertarians and the religious right. Conservative economist Milton Friedman conceived of private school vouchers in 1955, and four decades later was still making the case for “a transition from a government to a market system.” As they see it, public education is a tax burden on the wealthy, an obstacle to religious instruction, and a hotbed for unionism. Rather than a public system controlled by democratic values, they’d prefer a private one governed by the free market. If they had their way, schools would operate like a welfare program for the poor while the rich would get the best education money could buy. The result would be entrenched inequality and even more concentrated segregation than now exists.

This extreme view has never caught on, largely because public education is a bedrock American institution. Many states created public education systems before the nation even existed. Massachusetts, for instance, was educating children in public schools long before tea was dumped in Boston Harbor. In 1787, the federal government explicitly mandated that the center plot of land in every new town in the territories — land that would become states like Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois — be reserved for schools, and that other plots be used to support those schools. After the Civil War, Congress doubled down on that commitment, requiring readmitted Confederate states, and all new states, to guarantee access to public education in their constitutions. In each of these foundational periods, leaders positioned public education at the very center of our democratic project.

The founders and their successors recognized that public education is essential to citizens’ ability to govern themselves, not to mention protect themselves from charlatans and demagogues. Public education is the surest guarantee of individual liberty, the founders understood — no less essential than a well-trained army to the survival of the nation. That’s why they recognized that the education of American citizens couldn’t be left to chance...

We are here to sound an alarm to Republicans and Democrats. The future of our nation’s public schools is at stake. And insofar as that is the case, the democracy envisioned by our founders — one with universal, tax-supported schooling at its core — hangs in the balance.

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse Melissa Romano in her campaign to become Superintendent of Public Instruction in Montana.

Romano, a 16-year career elementary math teacher and the 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year, has been recognized as a leader in her field. 

This is Romano’s second race against opponent Elsie Arntzen. In 2016 Romano lost the election by a narrow 3% margin. Arntzen, a voucher supporter, was a state legislator prior to becoming State Superintendent. As a legislator she voted consistently for school choice legislation, and as Superintendent has continued to support school choice initiatives.

The Billings Gazette recently reported that school choice is a “line in the sand” for Romano. She has been endorsed by three prior State Superintendents who served from 1989-2017. In their endorsement of Romano, they accuse Arntzen of “attending private school rallies, applauding budget proposals that would cut millions from Montana’s public schools, mismanaging her office, and illegally diverting aid to private and for-profit schools.”

Romano is a strong supporter of a robust public preschool program, but opposed state funds flowing to private preschools.

Please be sure to cast your ballot for this career educator and public school supporter on November 3rd.

You can post this endorsement using this link.

No candidate authorized this ad. It is paid for by Network for Public Education Action, New York, New York.

Oakland has been a playground for the privatization industry for many years. The state took control of Oakland in 2003 because of a budget deficit and removed its school board. Billionaire Eli Broad selected its new superintendent (and his successors), and reformers took charge, opening charter schools and promising revolutionary improvement. Their goal was to turn the public schools into a “free market.” Five years after the takeover, Oakland had 32 charter schools and 111 regular public schools. Needless to add, there was no dramatic improvement in Oakland. Today, Oakland has the highest proportion of students in charter schools of any city in California.

Tom Ultican wrote here about the saturation of Oakland by billionaire privatizers, who just can’t leave the district alone and are determined to pour in more resources until there are no public schools left.

Four advocates of public schools are running for the school board.

They are: Sam Davis (District 1), VanCedric Williams (District 3), Mike Hutchinson (District 5) and Victor Valerio (District 7).

Tom Ultican posed this question:

Community based schools run under the authority of an elected school board have served as the foundation for American democracy for two centuries. Feckless billionaires operating from hubris or theological commitment or a desire to avoid taxes or a pursuit of more wealth are sundering those foundations.

Will activists of good will be able to throw off the yoke of billionaire financed tyranny and defend their public schools in Oakland?

If you live in Oakland, please support these candidates.

In the first debate, Trump was so rude and arrogant that he was unwatchable.

In the second debate, he was relatively restrained (a very low bar after the first one). He was still unwatchable. As he looked at Biden, his face expressed his disgust for his opponent.

He lied and lied. He treated the pandemic as no big deal and insisted that 99% of those who got it recovered quickly and fully. (Lie.)

He attacked Biden and his family as criminals. He was slinging the mud as often as possible. Biden could have but did not talk about Trump’s family.

When the subject turned to race, Trump boasted that he’s done more for black people than any president since Lincoln (he never heard of LBJ or the Voting Rights Act, which Republicans have eviscerated). And of course he reiterated the ludicrous claim that he’s the least racist president or person ever.

When the subject was healthcare, he lied about the great plan that he has never revealed.

He kept trying to bait Biden, but Biden refused to take the bait. Trump kept trying to paint himself as an outsider, running against Obama and Biden.

Trump continually reminds us that in every setting, whether it’s a debate or an interview, he lives in a fact-free world.

The happiest thought I had at the end was that I may never have to listen to this man again, other than an angry, bitter concession speech (if he concedes). In two weeks, I pray, the American people will sweep this fraud out of the White House. I’m hoping for a blue tsunami to restore sanity, honesty, and intelligence to our government. I look forward to having a president with empathy, integrity, and experience. I am hoping for a president I can respect. President Joe Biden. Vice-President Kamala Harris.



Stephanie McCrummen wrote this story in the Washington Post about what happened when Kevin Van Ausdal ran against a member of QAnon in a Congressional district in Georgia.

There was a time when Kevin Van Ausdal had not yet been called a “loser” and “a disgrace” and hustled out of Georgia. He had not yet punched a wall, or been labeled a “communist,” or a person “who’d probably cry like a baby if you put a gun in his face.” He did not yet know who was going to be the Republican nominee for Congress in his conservative district in northwestern Georgia: the well-known local neurosurgeon, or the woman he knew vaguely as a person who had openly promoted conspiracies including something about a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Anything still seemed possible in the spring of 2020, including the notion that he, Kevin Van Ausdal, a 35-year-old political novice who wanted to “bring civility back to Washington” might have a shot at becoming a U.S. congressman.

So one day in March, he drove his Honda to the gold-domed state capitol in Atlanta, used his IRS refund to pay the $5,220 filing fee and became the only Democrat running for a House seat in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which Donald Trump won by 27 points in the 2016 presidential election.

He hired a local campaign manager named Vinny Olsziewski, who had handled school board races and a couple of congressionals.

He came up with a slogan — “Save the American Dream” — and posted his first campaign ad, a one-minute slide show of snapshots with voters set to colonial fife-and-drum music.

He gave one of the first public interviews he had ever given in his life, about anything, on a YouTube show called Destiny, and when the host asked, “How do you appeal to these people while still holding onto what you believe in?” Kevin answered, “It’s all about common sense and reaching across the aisle. That’s what politics is supposed to be like.”

All of that was before August, when Republican primary voters chose the candidate with the history of promoting conspiracies, and President Trump in a tweet called her a “future Republican Star” and Kevin began learning more about Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose first major ad featured her roaring across a field in a Humvee, pulling out an AR-15 rifle and blasting targets labeled “open borders” and “socialism.”

He read that she was wealthy, had rented a condo in the district earlier in the year to run for Congress, and that before running she had built an online following by promoting baseless, fringe right-wing conspiracies — that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been involved in murders, that President Obama is a Muslim, and more recently, about the alternate universe known as QAnon.

“I’ve seen some mention of lizard people?” Kevin said, going through news articles to learn more about QAnon. “And JFK’s ghost? Or maybe he’s still alive? And QAnon is working with Trump to fight the deep state? I’m not sure I understand.”

He plunged deeper, reading about a world in which a cryptic online figure called Q is fighting to take down a network of Democrats, Hollywood actors and global elites who engage in child-trafficking and drink a life-extending chemical harvested from the blood of their victims. He read about an FBI memo warning that QAnon followers could pose a domestic terrorism threat, and the reality sank in that the only thing standing between Marjorie Taylor Greene and the halls of Congress was him. Kevin.

“I’m the one,” he said. “I’m it.”

That was how the campaign began. Thirty-one days later it was over, and within those 31 days is a chronicle of how one candidate representing the most extreme version of American politics is heading to Congress with no opposition, and the other is, in his words, “broken.”

It is an outcome that was in some ways years in the making, as all but the most committed Democrats in northwestern Georgia had long become Republican, or abandoned hope of winning the mostly White, mostly rural district of gun shops and churches, leaving the Democratic Party so weak that in 2018, the nominee for Congress was a man who had run a nudist retreat.

But as Greene gave a victory speech railing against the “hate-America left” and calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “b—-,” Kevin sensed an opening. He would counter her extremism with moderation. He would talk about jobs and health care. He would double down on civility. As he told Vinny soon after hiring him as campaign manager, “People say I’m a nice guy, and I am. I think that’s the best approach.”

His team urged him to become more forceful, to respond with anger and outrage to her charges against him. He wasn’t used to that tone. Greene launched a fierce attack on Kevin.

“We have had enough,” she began, launching a tirade against “the radical left” and “Marxist BLM” and “these thugs, these domestic terrorists, these anarchists, these insurrectionists” and the Democrats’ “globalist plans, their open-border plans, their take your guns away plans, their abortion kill babies up to birth and maybe even afterwards plans.” She urged people to enter a raffle to win the AR-15 she’d used in her campaign ad because “socialism does not belong in America” and “we need to blow it away.” And then, for the first time, she addressed Kevin.

“I’m running against a radical Democrat. A Democrat socialist. He’s an AOC progressive — that really means communist — candidate,” Green said, referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), “who absolutely loves AOC and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, you know, king of the basement dwellers. So, help me beat this Democrat in November. Help me go on to Congress.”

Below the video, her supporters began posting comments.

“WWG1WGA,” one wrote, using QAnon code for “Where we go one, we go all.”

“Gloves are off,” another wrote.

The comments kept coming, and Kevin, trying to calm his nerves, went into a spare bedroom, shut the door, and stayed there long enough that his wife finally texted him from another part of the house to see if he was okay.

“She is calling for a civil war!” he texted back, referring to Greene. “And I am expected to call her out tomorrow!”

Greene ratcheted up her attacks by posting a photo on Facebook, this one showing her in sunglasses and holding an AR-15 rifle next to a photo of three of the four Democratic congresswomen known as “The Squad,” titled “Squad’s Worst Nightmare.”

The race gained national attention but Kevin’s life began to fall apart. He made a video to respond to Greene. Donations began flowing in. The national media was watching the race. But his wife asked for a divorce. She couldn’t deal with the stress anymore. On Day 28 of the campaign, a sheriff’s deputy served him with divorce papers and told him he had to leave the house.

Kevin was homeless. He headed to his parents’ home in Indiana and moved into the basement. He gave up the campaign.

Marjorie Green ran unopposed.

A week later, Marjorie Taylor Greene was arriving in her Humvee for a pro-gun rally at a rural amphitheater not far from where Kevin once lived.

Alongside county sheriff’s deputies, the Georgia III% Martyrs provided security: a dozen or so men and a few women equipped with AR-15s, earpieces, camouflage and bulletproof vests. One man had a battle ax dangling from his belt. They fanned out around the fenced perimeter of the park while a hundred or so Greene supporters milled around, a few wearing little patches that read “WWG1WGA” or “Q Army” and others who said they didn’t know or care about QAnon but just knew that Greene “shares our values.”

“Marjorie was all there for us, one hundred percent,” said Ray Blankenship, who had in August started a new gun group called the Catoosa County Civil Defense League to guard against everything he believed Democrats stood for, including gun confiscation, rioting and socialism. “People will step up when it’s time,” he said.

Onstage, a guest speaker was talking about “a time when you will be asked to shed another man’s blood because he is a threat to your very way of life.” Another talked about “the communist Democrats.” Another said that vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris “wants to come to your house and take your guns away.” Another began his speech by yelling into the microphone, “FREEDOM!!!!” and out in the audience, a man wearing a hat with a “Q Army” patch was listening.

“I think people are waking up,” said the man, Butch Lapp.

“The silent majority is silent no more,” said his wife, Rebecca, and now the Martyrs were radioing each other for “backup,” and forming a protective huddle around Greene as she made her way to the stage with no opposition anywhere in sight.

“I am so proud and so excited to represent northwest Georgia!” she began.

Back in Indiana, Kevin reflected on what happened:

“I wanted to be the voice of reason against fear. I wanted to draw attention to big issues in the district,” he said during a walk one afternoon, thinking back to the beginning.

“My opponent, unfortunately, embraced QAnon beliefs. I saw her disgusting comments. I thought, ‘She is basically talking like a terrorist,’ ” Kevin said.

“When I had to do that statement, I was scared,” he said. “I’m being told I need to make a direct attack on groups who respond to people with violence. Who glorify violence.”

“My staff had monitored backchannels and seen where Q people were making threats, and we talked about what to do about death threats,” he said.

“I felt out of control. I had no control. I felt unreal. I didn’t know what to do with myself in the quiet. I felt uneasy. I felt I was on the rails and floating through,” he said.

I was breaking down,” he said. “I was just broken.”

But now all of that was over, and he was walking down a street in Indiana describing the person he had become in the fall of 2020.

“I’ve not really been eating. I’ve been sleeping a lot. Avoiding news. I blocked anyone talking ill about me. One or two said they want to punch me in the face,” Kevin said.

“I’m worried the political situation is not going to get better. I worry we may not be able to turn it around. I knew Trump was a fascist, and I knew he was going to destroy this country, but I didn’t know how much. And Marjorie’s only going to make it worse.”

In the Trump era, voices of reason became targets.

Joyce Elliott is running for Congress in Arkansas. She is a wonderful, dynamic woman, and I ask you to send whatever you can to help her win the election.

Joyce was born in Willisville, Arkansas (population 152). She was only the second black student to integrate the local high school (her older sister was first). She was a high school English teacher for thirty years. In 2001, she was elected to the State Legislature, where she eventually became chair of the Education Committee.

Joyce is a member of the Network for Public Education. She has attended our conferences. Right now, she is running to become the first black person ever elected to Congress from the state of Arkansas. She is running against an incumbent who is a wealthy Republican banker.

Although Joyce has been outspent, the polls show that they are in a tie.

She needs and deserves your help. Send a teacher to Congress!

Senator Gary Peters is in a close race for re-election. He is a strong supporter of public schools. He has shared reports of the Network for Public Education with his colleagues. He needs us. I just sent him a contribution. I hope you will do the same. Gaining the majority in the Senate is crucial. Gary Peters deserves our support.

Four years ago, Donald Trump won Michigan by only a few thousand votes — and immediately, Democrats here got to work. Thanks to a swell of grassroots support, two years later we made massive progress with victories across Michigan.
And now once again, our battleground state of Michigan is in the spotlight as all eyes turn here to re-elect Senator Gary Peters. And this race couldn’t be more important — analysts at CBS News are reporting that Democrats can’t win the Senate majority if we don’t first win here in Michigan.
Here’s the bad news: far-right billionaires like Betsy DeVos’ family are trying to buy Michigan’s Senate seat, and now Gary’s officially been outraised for four of the last five quarters. That’s because the GOP is dumping millions of dollars to try and defeat Gary — and if they succeed, we can say goodbye to the future of the Supreme Court and hello to at least two more years of Mitch McConnell calling the shots in Washington.
Gary is in the final two weeks before Election Day, so he reached out to ask me if I could help him close the gap on his $20,000 goal for today — and right now, we’re still falling $13,582 short. Can you chip in $100 (or whatever you can) to make sure Gary doesn’t get outraised again so we can send him back to the Senate?
If you’ve saved payment info with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:Click to donate $100Click to donate $200Click to donate $400Or click here to donate another amountIt’s never been more important for us to elect Democrats like Gary Peters who are going to continue fighting the good fight to move Michigan forward. And with control of the Senate and the future of the Supreme Court on the line, we need a fighter like Gary standing up for Michiganders in Washington. So I’m asking one more time — with a recent poll showing Gary down by nearly two points, I’m asking you to donate $100 today to help secure victory for Gary Peters in Michigan to help us win back the Senate.

Sincerely,

Gretchen Whitmer
Governor of Michigan  

The children of prominent politicians are causing mighty waves. Kellyanne Conway’s daughter Claudia has one million followers on TikTok, Twitter and other social media outlets, where she regularly excoriates Trump and her parents. The niece of Donald Trump, Mary Trump, wrote a bestseller about the dysfunctional family that produced The Donald and regularly appears on cable news to denounce his policies.

But the latest shocker is this article in Vanity Fair by Caroline Rose Guiliani, daughter of Trump’s personal attorney and former Mayor of New York City. She argues with her father’s political views and urges readers to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Caroline is a political activist, and she speaks out eloquently against her father and his famous client.

The article is titled: “Rudy Guiliani Is My Father. Please, Everyone, Vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

She writes:

I have a difficult confession—something I usually save for at least the second date. My father is Rudy Giuliani. We are multiverses apart, politically and otherwise. I’ve spent a lifetime forging an identity in the arts separate from my last name, so publicly declaring myself as a “Giuliani” feels counterintuitive, but I’ve come to realize that none of us can afford to be silent right now. The stakes are too high. I accept that most people will start reading this piece because you saw the headline with my father’s name. But now that you’re here, I’d like to tell you how urgent I think this moment is.

To anyone who feels overwhelmed or apathetic about this election, there is nothing I relate to more than desperation to escape corrosive political discourse. As a child, I saw firsthand the kind of cruel, selfish politics that Donald Trump has now inflicted on our country. It made me want to run as far away from them as possible. But trust me when I tell you: Running away does not solve the problem. We have to stand and fight. The only way to end this nightmare is to vote. There is hope on the horizon, but we’ll only grasp it if we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Around the age of 12, I would occasionally get into debates with my father, probably before I was emotionally equipped to handle such carnage. It was disheartening to feel how little power I had to change his mind, no matter how logical and above-my-pay-grade my arguments were. He always found a way to justify his party line, whatever it was at the time. Even though he was considered socially moderate for a Republican back in the day, we still often butted heads. When I tried to explain my belief that you don’t get to be considered benevolent on LGBTQ+ rights just because you have gay friends but don’t support gay marriage, I distinctly remember him firing back with an intensity fit for an opposing politican rather than one’s child. To be clear, I’m not sharing this anecdote to complain or criticize. I had an extremely privileged childhood and am grateful for everything I was given, including real-world lessons and complicated experiences like these. The point is to illustrate one of the many reasons I have a fraught relationship with politics, like so many of us do.

Even when there was an occasional flash of connection in these disagreements with my dad, it felt like nothing changed for the better, so I would retreat again until another issue I couldn’t stay silent on surfaced. Over the years other subjects like racial sensitivity (or lack thereof), sexism, policing, and the social safety net have all risen to this boiling point in me. It felt important to speak my mind, and I’m glad we at least managed to communicate at all. But the chasm was painful nonetheless, and has gotten exponentially more so in Trump’s era of chest-thumping partisan tribalism. I imagine many Americans can relate to the helpless feeling this confrontation cycle created in me, but we are not helpless. I may not be able to change my father’s mind, but together, we can vote this toxic administration out of office.

Trump and his enablers have used his presidency to stoke the injustice that already permeated our society, taking it to dramatically new, Bond-villain heights. I am a filmmaker in the LGBTQ+ community who tells stories about mental health, sexuality, and other stigmatized issues, and my goal is to humanize people and foster empathy. So I hope you’ll believe me when I say that another Trump term (a term, itself, that makes me cringe) will irrevocably harm the LGBTQ+ community, among many others. His administration asked the Supreme Court to let businesses fire people for being gay or trans, pushed a regulation to let health care providers refuse services to people who are LGTBQ+, and banned trans people from serving their country in the military.

Women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people of color are all also under attack by Trump’s inhumane policies—and by his judicial appointments, including, probably, Amy Coney Barrett. Trump’s administration has torn families apart in more ways than I even imagined were possible, from ripping children from their parents at the border to mishandling the coronavirus, which has resulted in over 215,000 in the U.S. dying, many thousands of them without their loved ones near. Faced with preventable deaths during a pandemic that Trump downplayed and ignored, rhetoric that has fed deep-seated, systemic racism, and chaos in the White House, it’s no surprise that so many Americans feel as hopeless and overwhelmed as I did growing up. But if we refuse to face our political reality, we don’t stand a chance of changing it.

John Merrow warns readers not to commit the eighth deadly sin: the sin of indifference.

Merrow begins:

I imagine that almost everyone has at least a passing acquaintance with the Seven Deadly Sins, even if their names don’t roll easily off your tongue. For the record and to jog your memory, the Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

If you’re like me, you have known most (maybe all) of them intimately, although hopefully only occasionally.

But my point is not to confess my own transgressions or to list how the current occupant of the White House seems to embody all Seven Sins. 

Instead, I hope to convince you that, in this Elections Season, an 8th Deadly Sin is the greatest and most offensive of all. Let’s call this sin ‘Indifference,’ although it is often expressed in other terms, like ‘I’m So Tired of Politics,’ ‘Pandemic Fatigue,’ ‘I’m Sitting Out The Election,’ or even the absurd ‘Trump and Biden are Two Peas in a Pod so I say “A Plague on Both Their Houses.“‘ 

Indifference is a Cardinal Sin because this November the future of America is at stake. 

In his post, he delineates the crucial differences between Biden and Trump.

They are not small. They define the future of our society.