Teachers Emerge As Strong Political Force for the Public Good in States with Austerity Budgeting

Hoping New Mexico teachers step up too as my brother is a high school history teacher near Albuquerque. Wages are terrible there.

janresseger

In an extraordinary NY Times piece, Dana Goldstein profiles the plight of public school teachers in Oklahoma, where salaries are third-lowest in the United States. Only in Mississippi and South Dakota are salaries lower for teachers. Oklahoma teachers are preparing to strike as their West Virginia peers did earlier this month.

“When teachers… (in Oklahoma) last went on strike, in 1990 for four days, they won a raise and limitations on class sizes. But that was the last time the Oklahoma Legislature raised taxes. In 1992, anti-tax activists successfully organized a ballot referendum to require a three-quarters majority in both the state House and Senate to raise new revenue and today, Oklahoma is one of 13 states that require a supermajority to impose new taxes… (E)ver since the referendum passed, it has become an insurmountable barrier for attempts to increase school spending.  The 1990 class size reductions were scrapped for…

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New Study: After Years of Brownback Tax Cuts, Kansas Schools Need Massive Infusion of Money

janresseger

You may remember that when he was governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback and the legislature conducted what Brownback called a live experiment with trickle-down economics. Massive tax cuts in 2012 and 2013 depleted the coffers of the state, until finally last June (2017)  the Republican-dominated legislature rebelled and raised taxes. Brownback vetoed the tax increase, but the legislature voted to override Brownback’s veto of their action.  There was hope that the new taxes would restore enough money that the state could afford to provide a range of expected services and at the same time invest in the state’s long-neglected public schools.

Then, in the first week of October (2017), the Kansas Supreme Court ruled on the appeal of the long-running school finance lawsuit, Gannon v. Kansas. The justices found the state’s school funding once again unconstitutionally inadequate and inequitable, ordered the legislature to pass a new funding law by April…

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Church in Wyoming, MI declares itself a Sanctuary for those Targeted by ICE

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Earlier today, a United Church of Christ, in Wyoming, Michigan declared itself a Sanctuary Church in response to the ongoing repression of immigrants, especially those that are undocumented.

The Rev. Justo Gonzalez stated:

Immigrants always have been and will be welcome here! The United Church of Christ (UCC) is an Immigrant Welcoming Church.  IUC Ministerios Ríos de Agua Viva / Joy Like a River UCC is rooted in Love and Extravagant Welcome for all of God’s Creation. It is with Holy Boldness that we declare ourselves the first and only Sanctuary Church in the Grand Rapids Metropolitan area. 

We are clear, no matter who you are or where you have been on life’s journey, you will welcome here. Within this church anyone who needs it will find a warm welcome in a Safe and Sacred Space. We do not care about your immigration status. We care about you.  Let it be…

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Journalist’s Resource:Research on today’s news

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Violence against women crossing the border
Every year, hundreds of thousands attempt to cross the southwestern border into the United States. These migrants face a journey fraught with violence and danger, especially for women. While statistics fail to capture the extent of this violence, academics have given voice to these experiences through research, describing aspects of the perils women face on the migrant trail. http://bit.ly/2FSNtrU

Ban the Box laws: When employers can’t ask about criminal history
“Ban the Box” is a national campaign led by civil rights groups to prevent employers from asking about criminal histories on job applications. In recent years, numerous cities, counties and states have adopted or considered policies that prohibit employers from requiring applicants to check a box to indicate whether they have been arrested or convicted of a crime. We’ve gathered the most recent research on this trend, including potential impacts in areas such as crime and employee discrimination. http://bit.ly/2pt3T3t

5 takeaways from First Draft’s identifying misinformation course
How do you know if a video you found online is authentic? Is there a tool to help verify where a photo was taken? A new online course from First Draft — our partner at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center — shows journalists how to use free tools to track down, source and verify information found online. The one-hour course, which is free, is divided into multiple lessons. Journalism faculty can integrate parts of the course into their own lesson plans. http://bit.ly/2GK3bag

Dual enrollment students more likely to earn college degrees
The number of high school students taking college courses has risen sharply in recent decades as education leaders nationwide promote dual enrollment as a way to help more Americans earn college degrees. A recent study suggests community college students in Tennessee were 2.5 times more likely to complete an associate degree within two years if they had participated in dual enrollment during high school. http://bit.ly/2IybUN4

Visit JournalistsResource.org

Poverty, Eviction, Homelessness and Spiraling Inequality = An Income-Inequality Achievement Gap

Food pantries.
Rent subsidies.
Band-Aids.
Sigh.

janresseger

Last Thursday evening, about 2,000 greater Clevelanders drove downtown to attend a free program at the State Theater, the largest of the old movie palaces now restored to become a theater district. The program was supposed to be at the much smaller Ohio Theater, but ticket distribution exceeded all expectations—for a book discussion. As the culmination of a region-wide One Community Reads project—a collaboration of all of the public libraries in Cuyahoga County and the City Club of Cleveland—author and Princeton University sociologist Matthew Desmond had come to Cleveland to present the book everybody had been reading, his 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.  As I watched the crowd look for seats in the huge old theater, I was amazed that so many people had come to hear an ethnographer talk about poverty, homelessness, and eviction.

Desmond launched his presentation by…

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Fifteen things about the 15th Anniversary of the US Invasion/Occupation of Iraq

20 March 2003…

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

In some ways it is hard to believe that 15 years has already passed, since the US militarily invaded and occupied Iraq. Fifteen years ago there was non-stop coverage of the invasion and occupation, but Iraq has faded from the news cycle for years now and is generally viewed as an outpost for the terrorist organization known as ISIS.

US news media generally fails to provide adequate contextual information about US foreign policy and for most Americans Iraq continues to be framed through whatever the US State Department has to say about it.

Here are fifteen things we think are important to know about the US and Iraq over the past 100 years.

  1. Iraq was essentially a creation of European Colonialism, with the British drawing the borders and suppressing numerous attempts for Arab and Kurdish self-determination throughout most of the first half of the twentieth century.
  2. European and US…

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Fine “Washington Post” Piece Traces Collapse of Michelle Rhee’s D.C. Legacy

John Merrow did a credible exam of Rhee and her DC initiative too. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/examining-michelle-rhees-legacy-in-education-reform

janresseger

In January of 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law, establishing a high stakes testing regime with all children tested in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Test-and-punish school accountability meant annual testing and also a set of punishments for so-called failing schools and their staffs. The punishments eventually put in place were closing schools, firing teachers and principals, and privatizing or charterizing schools. States were eventually required to use students’ standardized test scores as a significant percentage of their formal evaluation process for teachers. The assumption behind all this was that incentives and punishments would make educators work harder and that standardized test scores would rise and achievement gaps would close. But test scores didn’t rise and achievement gaps didn’t close.

No school district epitomized this sort of data-driven, standardized test-based school reform like Washington, D.C.  In 2007, Michelle Rhee was brought in as…

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Title IX Retaliation: What to Know When Filing a Claim  by thecatalystsforchange

“Over forty years ago, Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) to eliminate sex discrimination in educational institutions. Though much progress has been made since Title IX’s enactment, gender equity issues continue to plague colleges and universities. While responsibility for ensuring full and effective compliance with Title IX requires institutional support and engagement at all levels, teachers and coaches play a particularly important role in ensuring effective enforcement of Title IX, as they are often in the best position to identify discrimination and bring it to the attention of administrators.

Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for teachers or coaches to face pushback from their educational institutions if and when they complain about sex discrimination. While such retaliatory acts can be intimidating, teachers and coaches should not be deterred from making Title IX complaints because of fear of retaliation. Indeed, because reporting incidents of discrimination is so vital to Title IX enforcement, the Supreme Court has held that Title IX’s private right action encompasses suits for retaliation – see Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ., 544 U.S. 167, 174 (2005). That means that institutions covered under Title IX are prohibited from terminating or otherwise discriminating against a teacher or coach because he or she opposed or protested sex discrimination.

Though the statute of limitations within which you must bring a Title IX retaliation claim varies by state, all Title IX retaliation complaints require proof of three elements that teachers or coaches considering filing a complaint should be aware of. Stated simply, these elements are:

Protected activity
Adverse action
Causation

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by thecatalystsforchange

Gun Control Is as Old as the Old West:Contrary to the popular imagination, bearing arms on the frontier was a heavily regulated business 

Dodge City in 1878It’s October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, and Arizona is not yet a state. The O.K. Corral is quiet, and it’s had an unremarkable existence for the two years it’s been standing—although it’s about to become famous.
 
Marshall Virgil Earp, having deputized his brothers Wyatt and Morgan and his pal Doc Holliday, is having a gun control problem. Long-running tensions between the lawmen and a faction of cowboys – represented this morning by Billy Claiborne, the Clanton brothers, and the McLaury brothers – will come to a head over Tombstone’s gun law.
 
The laws of Tombstone at the time required visitors, upon entering town to disarm, either at a hotel or a lawman’s office. (Residents of many famed cattle towns, such as Dodge City, Abilene, and Deadwood, had similar restrictions.) But these cowboys had no intention of doing so as they strolled around town with Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles in plain sight. Earlier on this fateful day, Virgil had disarmed one cowboy forcefully, while Wyatt confronted another and county sheriff Johnny Behan failed to persuade two more to turn in their firearms.
 
When the Earps and Holliday met the cowboys on Fremont Street in the early afternoon, Virgil once again called on them to disarm. Nobody knows who fired first. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne, who were unarmed, ran at the start of the fight and survived. Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, who stood and fought, were killed by the lawmen, all of whom walked away.
 
 

Does Doug DeVos and the West Michigan Policy Forum really want to change the prison system in Michigan?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

We have been monitoring the West Michigan Policy Reform (WMPF) group, ever since it came into being in 2008.

This group is made up of the West Michigan power structure, like the DeVos family, Peter Seechia, John Kennedy, Michael Jandernoa and other CEOs and politicians that have been supporting and lobbying on state policies since they were founded in 2008. 

The West Michigan Policy Reform has already been instrumental in pushing through state policy that benefits businesses on taxes, they were a force in making Michigan a Right to Work state, pushing for education policies that expand Charter Schools and last year got legislation passed to eliminate traditional public sector employees and public teacher pensions.

Now the group is taking on what they refer to as Criminal Justice Reform.

Over the past several weeks, the West Michigan Policy Forum has been posting pieces on their Facebook page, pushing what…

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