Immigrant justice was not served by new GR City Equal Services Policy

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Consequently, the violence enacted on those bodies that have been displaced by imperialist and capitalist foreign and trade policy is further enabled through the deliberate making of migrant and undocumented workers as perpetually displaceable by colonial and capitalist immigration policies. The state processes of illegalization of migrant and undocumented workers, through the denial of full legal status that forces a condition of permanent precarity, actually legalizes the trade in their bodies and labor by domestic capital. Harsha Walia – Undoing Border Imperialism

On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids City Commission voted to exclude the GRPD from having to practice what many are referring to as an Equal Service Policy.

Beginning last December, the city and local immigration advocates had met to discuss Grand Rapids becoming a Sanctuary City.  At that meeting, it became clear that the city of Grand Rapids was unwilling to declare themselves as Sanctuary City, in part…

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Tips for Survivors on Consuming Media by RAINN

The Catalysts for Change

Para leer en español, haga clic aquí.

“The media can be a great tool for increasing public awareness about sexual violence, but it can also pose challenges for some survivors. Portrayals of sexual violence in movies, television shows, the news, and social media can prompt negative reactions, from flashbacks and anxiety to feelings of sadness or irritability. Below are a few ways to help limit your exposure to media that could prompt these uncomfortable experiences.”

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Many Mass Shooters Have A History Of Domestic Violence

Many Mass Shooters Have A History Of Domestic Violence
by thecatalystsforchange
By Peter Aldhous | BuzzFeed News Reporter

“Many mass shootings involve family members. Women in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun. But no one knows whether abusive partners are at a higher risk of shooting unrelated people.”

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The Catalysts for Change

By Peter Aldhous | BuzzFeed News Reporter

“Many mass shootings involve family members. Women in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun. But no one knows whether abusive partners are at a higher risk of shooting unrelated people.”

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Educating Ourselves About Betsy DeVos—Three Essential Articles


Tim Alberta’s profile of Betsy DeVos at POLITICO Magazine humanizes the Secretary of Education. I encourage you to read it, but only if you also read two other recent articles—Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s piece on public education’s real purpose (that Betsy DeVos doesn’t understand)—and Jack Schneider’s analysis of what Betsy DeVos fails to grasp about why the marketplace cannot improve education.

Alberta traveled with DeVos on her beginning-of-school tour in September and has interviewed her on several occasions. He describes two principles on which DeVos has, “fought and funded a generation’s worth of education wars… that parents should be free to send their children wherever they choose, and that tax dollars should follow those students to their new schools.”  He explains that DeVos believes bureaucracy in the Department of Education “smothers creativity, blocks innovation, and slows change to a glacial pace.”

He tells us that DeVos blames her poor performance…

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Constitutional Protection of Equity and Adequacy: A New Frame for Testing Charters and Vouchers


Last week, at the Education Law Prof Blog, Derek Black, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, posted a short summary of his new paper to be published soon in the Cornell Law Review. The paper presents new and, I hope, promising thinking about legally challenging charter schools and private school tuition voucher programs under the fifty state constitutions.

Black is an academic, not a litigator, and he is realistic. He devotes the last section of his paper to some of the challenges that will likely arise if his ideas become the basis for actual litigation. Nonetheless, given the failure of previous attempts to challenge school privatization, Black argues for significant reframing: “The question now is whether the constitutional debate over school choice can be reframed from one premised on an all-or-nothing approach to a more nuanced one that relates to how choice programs…

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Ohio’s Legislative Democrats Challenge ECOT’s Claims in Amicus Brief Filed with Ohio Supreme Court


At the end of last week, explains Jim Siegel of the Columbus Dispatch, all nine Democrats serving in the Ohio Senate along with 30 of the 33 House Democrats signed an amicus brief urging the Ohio Supreme Court to find for the state and against the notorious Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), the state’s biggest charter school. ECOT has been challenging the state all year to let it collect state per-pupil funding without documenting that students are actually attending school.

The Ohio Department of Education has been trying to claw back $60 million over-paid to ECOT for the 2015-16 school year and another $19 million for 2016-17.  ECOT has continued to claim that state law does not require the school to document that students are actually logged in for 920 hours each year—working with the curriculum the school provides—but merely that the school provides the curriculum to the students…

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The West MI Policy Forum’s ongoing war against the public sector

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

The West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF) has only been around since 2008, yet its impact has been tremendous in terms of influencing state policy that attacks working people and benefits the capitalist class.

A creation of the of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the has used its lobbying power over the past decade to promote neoliberal economic policies and austerity measures. The WMPF has been relentless in its war on working people, public sector employees, unions, public education and the privatization of government.

Since their founding, the WMPF has reduced the business tax in Michigan, pushed through Right to Work legislation, further privatized public education, diminished the power of local governments and taken away public teacher pensions.

Now the WMPF wants to eliminate public sector employee pensions, pensions that government employees fought for decades ago and pensions that those same employees are hoping to retire on.

Recently, the…

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Betsy DeVos’s Calendar Confirms Her Lack of Interest in the Public Schools


Most of us define K-12 public schools as the civic institutions where, by law and through the democratic process, society can best protect the rights and serve the educational needs of 50 million of our children. Public schools are owned, governed, and funded by the public. They are also required to be accessible for all. Most of us believe society ought to strive to operate excellent public schools as a public responsibility.

But, according to a new profile by Washington Post reporter Moriah Balingit, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is intent on redefining public education. Balingit quotes DeVos: “The definition of public education should be to educate the public. That’s why we should fight less about the word that comes before ‘school.'” Here are the words DeVos believes we ought to ignore: public school, charter school, voucher school, religious school, private school.

Most of us understand the federal…

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Astroturf School Board Electioneering


In many communities across the United States, school board elections are a local, grassroots affair. In my own community, for example, we will elect three new members to the board of education. I have signs in my front yard for three of the four candidates who are running for office and I have modestly donated to one of the campaigns. My choice of candidates is based on considerable conversation with one of the candidates and a careful study of the priorities of each of the others. I spent three hours last week at a local candidates’ night listening to candidates for local offices including all of those running for school board. My choices are based on my grasp of the issues in our local schools and personal information I’ve been able to gather.

But in a growing number of mostly bigger cities, school board elections are being dominated by Astroturf…

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