Archives for category: Resistance

Stephen Dyer was in the Ohio legislature when the state’s Edchoice voucher program started as a small initiative. Since then, it has grown, despite research showing that it provides no education benefit to students while taking money away from public schools.

In this post, he announces the launch of a program to educate the public about how vouchers harm their public schools. Every dollar allotted to a voucher school is a dollar less for public schools.

As districts face huge budget cuts in the coming school years, it behooves them to defend every dollar they can so their students have all they need to succeed. That’s why the folks at Real Choice Ohio, which fought for years to help districts cope with charter school losses to great success, have started a series of workshops to help districts educate and inform parents nd their communities about the dangers of the EdChoice vouchers to their kids and other kids’ futures.

The first pillar of these conferences deals with the overall problem facing districts and the kids theiy serve. I am helping to lead this pillar, complete with Power Point presentations and I will be moderating an all-star panel on the EdChoice and voucher problem next week.

Open the post to learn how to sign up.

Robert Kuttner is editor of The American Prospect. He writes a blog called Kuttner on Tap.

If You Can Stand It, a Little More Optimism.

Now we find out what America is made of. And what we see, a week after George Floyd’s police lynching, is this:

Protests are continuing and they are increasingly peaceful, except for police violence. Protest leaders are working with local governments to contain both police rampages on the one hand and provocations and opportunistic looting on the other.

More than at any time since the civil rights era of the 1960s, white America has some compassion for pent-up black frustrations. A majority of Americans approve of the demonstrations and reject police violence. And 55 percent of white Americans tell pollsters that black anger is fully justified.

Meanwhile, Trump keeps revealing what he is made of, and his own support keeps dropping. And Joe Biden has found his inner Bobby Kennedy and made his best speech ever. I don’t care who wrote it; Biden gave it.

The focus of the election, increasingly, will be Trump’s callous and opportunistic use of a crisis that required healing. He is setting himself up for a landslide repudiation, well beyond the Republican margin of theft.

Also encouraging is the united response of governors and mayors. Trump may have the power on paper to call in the Army and the National Guard. But that is no match for the combined power of an aroused citizenry and resistant local officials. His troops can’t occupy the whole country by force.

We will see more mass demonstrations. They will be peaceful except for the efforts of rogue cops and Trump’s storm troopers to inject violence. And by fall, the consequence will be a mass revulsion against Trump.

As Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, one of America’s finest, wrote in concluding an eloquent New York Times op-ed piece:

“Let us vote against state-sanctioned violence, vitriolic discourse and the violation of human rights. In memory of George Floyd and all the other innocent black lives that have been taken in the recent and distant past, let us commit to registering black people, especially black men, to vote.”

America is stronger, better, wiser than Trump. And America will survive Trump. Then the real work can begin.

For those of us old enough to remember the protests against racism and police brutality in the late 1960s, the outrage of African Americans has a sad and sickening familiarity. It’s sad because yet another black man was killed by police officers although he was not resisting arrest (and even had he been resisting arrest, the officers were wrong to apply lethal force to an unarmed person). It is sickening because so little has changed in 50+ years.

We don’t have to think back to the 1960s for examples of racism and racial profiling. We see it now, with disgusting, appalling frequency.

Some important things have changed: our nation twice elected a black man as president. Yet so much remains unchanged: segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools, persistent inequality and disparate treatment.

And now a federal administration that exploits and encourages racism, as it did in Charlottesville when neo-Nazis marched and brazenly displayed their bigotry and hatred. And a president who appoints federal judges who can’t say whether the Brown decision was correctly decided in 1954.

Black Lives Matter. Colin Kaepernick was right. Symbolic statements and gestures matter but they don’t change injustice. We need change in enforcement.

We need a Justice Department committed to protecting the rights of all Americans and to defending the most vulnerable and to enforcing civil rights laws. We need a president who sets a moral example and stands forcefully against racism in word and deed.

Whoever is president creates a tone and climate that others take as a signal of what is appropriate.

Vote. Vote. Vote as if your life depends on it. It does. Vote for justice. Vote for decency. Vote to defend civil rights.

Well, that was fast!

Only minutes after news broke that Governor Cuomo had asked Bill Gates and his foundation to help “reimagine” education in New York, parent groups responded with a loud NO!

Don’t mess with New York parents! Remember, they started the biggest opt-out from state testing in history.

Here is their public letter:

May 5, 2020

To Governor Cuomo:

As educators, parents and school board members, we were appalled to hear that you will be working with the Gates Foundation on “reimagining” our schools following the Covid crisis. Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have promoted one failed educational initiative after another, causing huge disaffection in districts throughout the state.

Whether that be the high-handed push by the Gates Foundation for the invalid Common Core standards, unreliable teacher evaluation linked to test scores, or privacy-violating data-collection via the corporation known as inBloom Inc., the education of our children has been repeatedly put at risk by their non-evidence based “solutions”, which were implemented without parent input and despite significant public opposition. As you recall, these policies also sparked a huge opt-out movement across the state, with more than twenty percent of eligible students refusing to take the state exams.

We urge you instead to listen to parents and teachers rather than allow the Gates Foundation to implement their damaging education agenda once again. Since the schools were shut down in mid-March, our understanding of the profound deficiencies of screen-based instruction has only grown. The use of education tech may have its place, but only as an ancillary to in-person learning, not as its replacement. Along with many other parents and educators, we strongly oppose the Gates Foundation to influence the direction of education in the state by expanding the use of ed tech.

Instead, we ask that you fund our schools sufficiently and equitably, to allow for the smaller classes, school counselors, and other critical services that our children will need more than ever before, given the myriad losses they have experienced this year.

Yours sincerely,

New York State Allies for Public Education

Class Size Matters

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

Cc: Board of Regents and Acting NYSED Commissioner Shannon Tahoe

Media Contacts:

Ashley Levett, SPLC, ashley.levett@splcenter.org / 334-296-0084

Sharon Krengel, ELC, skrengel@edlawcenter.org / 973-624-1815, x24

Lindsay Kee, ACLU-TN, communications@aclu-tn.org / 615-320-7142

Christopher Wood, Robbins Geller, cwood@rgrdlaw.com / 615- 244-2203

Judge Strikes Down Tennessee School Voucher Law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Public school children in Tennessee won today when Davidson County Chancellor Anne C. Martin struck down the state’s private school voucher law, known as the Education Savings Account (ESA) Pilot Program. Because the law applies only to students in Davidson and Shelby counties, Chancellor Martin ruled that it violates the Home Rule provision of the Tennessee Constitution, which prohibits the General Assembly from passing laws that target specific counties without local approval.

The rulings are a milestone victory for the plaintiffs challenging the voucher law in two separate cases: public school parents and community members in Nashville and Memphis, who sued in McEwen v. Lee, and Davidson and Shelby County governments, in Metropolitan Government of Nashville v. Tennessee Department of Education.

The voucher law was enacted in May 2019 over the strong objections of legislators from both counties. The voucher program was originally intended to begin in the 2021-2022 school year, but Governor Lee accelerated the timeline with plans to issue vouchers starting this fall.

In March, the plaintiffs in McEwen v. Lee filed a lawsuit to challenge the voucher law in Davidson County Chancery Court. The lawsuit argues that the voucher law violates several provisions of the Tennessee Constitution, including the Home Rule provision as well as the Education and Equal Protection provisions and the Appropriation of Public Moneys provision.

When the state began accepting applications for vouchers to be used in fall 2020, the McEwen plaintiffs immediately moved for an injunction to temporarily block the law until the court had the opportunity to rule on its constitutionality.

Davidson and Shelby counties filed a motion for summary judgment in their separate lawsuit challenging the voucher law.

Both cases are before Chancellor Martin in Davidson County Chancery Court. Oral argument on the summary judgment motion was originally scheduled to be heard in late May. However, the McEwen plaintiffs requested that Chancellor Martin hear argument before the state began giving out vouchers for this fall. Accordingly, Chancellor Martin accelerated the schedule for oral argument on all motions in both cases, setting them for late April, and the McEwen plaintiffs secured the state’s agreement that it would not notify voucher applicants until after she issued her decision on the motions.

Chancellor Martin’s decision today, granting the counties’ summary judgment motion, now permanently enjoins the state from implementing the unconstitutional voucher program.

The McEwen plaintiffs are represented by Education Law Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which collaborate on the Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS) campaign to ensure public education funds are used exclusively to maintain, support and strengthen public schools. The plaintiffs are also represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and represented pro bono by the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.

Plaintiff Roxanne McEwen, a public school parent in Nashville, said “I am grateful to Chancellor Martin for safeguarding the resources in Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools, and the rights of all public school children in these districts. Our public schools serve every child who walks through their doors. Especially in this time of crisis, our schools could not afford to have more resources drained away from them.”

“Chancellor Martin’s ruling is an enormous victory for Tennessee public school students,” said Chris Wood, a partner at Robbins Geller who argued for the McEwen plaintiffs last week. “This unpopular voucher program was forced on two communities without their consent, and it threatened to drain public resources from already underfunded public schools. Today, the voices of public school parents and community members were heard. The state needs to adequately fund our existing public schools, which educate the vast majority of students in Tennessee, instead of trying to send our taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private schools.”

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The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, visit http://www.splcenter.org/.

Founded in 1973, Education Law Center is a national leader in advancing the rights of public school students to equal educational opportunity under state and federal law through litigation, policy, advocacy and research. For more information, visit http://www.edlawcenter.org/.

The ACLU of Tennessee, the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union, is a private, non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization dedicated to defending and advancing civil liberties and civil rights through advocacy, coalition-building, litigation, legislative lobbying, community mobilization and public education. For more information, visit http://www.aclu-tn.org/.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is one of the world’s leading complex litigation firms representing plaintiffs in securities fraud, antitrust, corporate mergers and acquisitions, consumer and insurance fraud, multi-district litigation, and whistleblower protection cases. With 200 lawyers in 9 offices, Robbins Geller has obtained many of the largest securities, antitrust, and consumer class action recoveries in history, recovering tens of billions of dollars for victims of fraud and corporate wrongdoing. Robbins Geller attorneys are consistently recognized by courts, professional organizations and the media as leading lawyers in their fields of practice. Visit http://www.rgrdlaw.com/.

I thank reader Catherine King for pointing out this protest by social justice Catholics against New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s pledge of support for Donald Trump.

The letter they signed can be found here.

The strong tradition of social justice within the Roman Catholic faith is at odds with Trump’s craven disregard for human life and human dignity, with his racism and xenophobia, with his preference for “gun rights” over human life, with his cruel treatment of immigrant families and children.

The monthly newsletter of the Grassroots Education Network of the Network for Public Education is out!

Connect with grassroots organizations fighting for public schools, their students, and their educators!

Learn what they are doing in the newsletter.

Together we will have to fight the budget cuts that are in the horizon.

Let’s stand together and demand that the states and federal government invest in our children.

Mitch McConnell is a national menace. He wants states to declare bankruptcy and break all their pension contracts. He brags about being “the Grim Reaper,” the man who kills any legislation that might help regular people.

If states are forced to go bankrupt, it will destroy the retirement security of teachers, police, firefighters, and all public sector workers.

He takes care of his fat cat donors and Wall Street and hurts the men and women that protect us and teach our children. They give their lives for us, and we must stop McConnell from hurting them.

He has stacked the federal courts with unqualified judges who are incompetents and bigots.

Amy McGrath is running against him in Kentucky in November.

She needs our help.

Mitch’s donors are giving him millions to keep their tax cuts coming.

Amy needs millions of donors to combat the influence Of the 1%.

Won’t you send her whatever you can afford?

Kentucky elected a Democratic Governor in 2018.

Now Kentucky needs to get rid of Mitch McConnell.

This is not just a Kentucky issue. Defeating McConnell is a national issue.

Please help Amy McGrath.

Parents, educators, and community activists in San Francisco formed an organization to protest the inequities in over reliance on distance learning. They call themselves StrikeReadySF. This is their manifesto.

distancelearning

This is a message from UnkochMyCampus, an organization dedicated to stopping the nefarious influence of the super-rich on campuses, starting with the Koch family. In this case, the contribution to a Missouri university came from billionaire Rex Sinquefield, a rightwing libertarian extremist. Mr. Sinquefield is a strong supporters of charter schools and vouchers.

Please consider signing the letter of thanks to this brave professor, David Repach.

In an act of protest, a professor at Saint Louis University (SLU) has renounced his Endowed Chair in Economics. In a memo explaining his decision, Dr. David Rapach cites the university’s acceptance of a financial donation “rife with violations of well-established academic norm” as his reason for renoucing the John Simon Endowed Chair. The $50 million donation came from St. Lous billionaire Rex Sinquefield, a local political donor well known for funding campaigns to cut taxes and privatize public goods in Missouri.

Saint Louis University’s decision to accept donor-influenced financial support from Rex Sinquefield is reflective of the ultra-wealthy’s strategy to use colleges and universities to build public support for their private legislative agenda– an agenda that harms working families and public education.

Show your support for Professor Rapach by signing our petition endorsing his courageous action!
“I hope to send the message to students that principles are more important than the money and/or prestige that accompany particular titles. Based on my understanding of SLU’s mission, I feel compelled to renounce the Simon Chair to be true to my principles and to protest what is happening at SLU.” -Dr. Rapach’s March 9, 2020

Sinquefield’s agenda includes pushing the repeal the progressive income tax system, thwarting efforts to secure fair wages for hard-working Missourians, and investing in legislation that weakens Missouri’s public schools. The violations of academic norms in the donation allow Sinquefield to leverage SLU to promote his private interests and legislative agenda. Help us demand that colleges and universisties serve the common good, not private interest!

Sign the Petition
In solidarity,

Samantha Parsons