Corporate Titans throw millions into the anti teacher campaign in California

by Duane Campbell

VergaraSlider-24Corporate school  “reformers” have raised over $4 million from the very rich during the last week to contribute to the campaign to elect anti union leader Marshall Tuck as Superintendent of Public Instruction in California.  According the Sacramento Bee The fund includes $1 million each from Los Angeles businessmen Bill Bloomfield and Eli Broad, a major financier of efforts to overhaul public education. The Gap co-founder Doris Fisher and Laurene Powell Jobs, philanthropist and widow of Steve Jobs, have each contributed $500,000.

Incumbent Tom Torlakson is a former teacher and is supported by both major teacher unions. He supports extension of Prop. 30 taxes passed in 2012 which have restored funding to California schools after the devastation of the national economic crisis when over 30,000 teachers were dismissed in the state. Schools in other states without new taxes currently continue to reel from austerity budget cuts. Continue reading

Cornel West Arrested in Ferguson

West-en-ferguson-7_642x428DSA Honorary Chair Cornel West was arrested with protestors in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday, Oct 13. Read the report on the weekend campaign here

 

 

 

 

http://www.dsausa.org/yds_report_from_ferguson_obeh3rdztsc4e4sb8jhllcuxkde

We Need the Representative Democracy of Unions

By Leo Casey on October 9, 2014 8:45 AM

LeoCaseyLeo Casey of the Albert Shanker Institute replies to Deborah Meier again today.

Deb: To practice genuine democracy in our schools, our unions, and our communities, we need a different understanding of what it means to be political.

When I taught at Bard High School Early College in New York City, one of my favorite questions on my mid-year exam was: What did Aristotle mean when he wrote that “man is a political animal?”

For most Americans, the term “political animal” would invoke the worst of American political culture: the paranoid ranting of talk radio, the political television shows modeled after wrestling entertainment, the election campaigns dominated by negative attack ads, and the gridlock of a Congress where narrow partisan advantage is everything. No wonder so many Americans run in the opposite direction when they hear “political.” Continue reading

Hong Kong Construction Workers Rebuild Barricades

by Paul Garver

HK Construction workers

Volunteer construction workers rebuilt barricades that had been dismantled by police in Hong Kong.

The workers used a method that uses bamboo stalks similar to those used to erect sturdy scaffolding on construction sites around Asia.

bamboo

Silicon Valley funds anti teacher union efforts in California

ROCKETSHIP TO PROFITS  Silicon Valley breeds corporate reformers with national reach

By David Bacon

Rethinking Schools, Fall 2014

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/restrict.asp?path=archive/29_01/29_01_bacon.shtml

Nearly every metropolitan area these days has its own wealthy promoters of education reform. Little Rock has the Waltons, Seattle has Bill and Melinda Gates, Newark has Mark Zuckerberg, and Buffalo has John Oishei, who made his millions selling windshield wipers.

Few areas, however, have as concentrated and active a group of wealthy reformers as California’s Silicon Valley. One of the country’s fastest-growing charter school operators, Rocketship Education, started here. A big reason for its stellar ascent is the support it gets from high tech’s deep pockets, and the political influence that money can buy.

Rocketship currently operates nine schools in San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley. It opened its first school in Milwaukee last year and one in Nashville, Tennessee, this fall. Its first two schools in Washington, D.C., where almost half the students already attend charters, open next year.

Vergara v. California: Buying a Judgment Against Teacher Tenure

The valley’s most far-reaching intervention took place this year – a successful legal attack on teacher tenure with chilling national implications. In 2012 David Welch, president of Infinera, a Silicon Valley fiber-optic communications corporation, set up another education reform advocacy group, Students Matter. He then filed a class action suit, representing nine children purportedly harmed by “ineffective teachers” to overturn teacher tenure in California. This past June, L.A. Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled against teachers and in favor of Welch and the students in Vergara v. California.

Welch, whose company has revenue of more than half a billion dollars annually, gave half a million in seed money to Students Matter, and then lent it another million. The Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation kicked in more. In 2012 alone, Students Matter spent more than $1.1 million on one of the state’s most powerful corporate law firms, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which fought the Vergara case. Continue reading

The Umbrella Movement in its Second Week

by Paul Garver

28 year old man brings daughter to occupation

28 year old man brings daughter to occupation

“I am bringing my daughter here so she can see what we are doing for her future.”

I have been following the excellent hour-by-hour live coverage of the events in Hong Kong through the superb international English-language blog edition of the South China Morning Post.

Update (October 9): The Hong Kong Government cancelled Friday’s scheduled talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students, denouncing the Federation’s call for a mass rally at Harcourt Road (“Umbrella Square”) while the talks were taking place. Protest leaders said that the government’s cancellation of the talks demonstrated the government’s lack of sincerity, and are planning for new non-cooperation actions.

Admiralty rally 1010

Update (October 10): It is Friday evening in Hong Kong, and over 10,000 citizens turned out for a mass rally to demand that the Hong Kong government negotiate with the Federation of Students over political reforms. Others rejoined the smaller occupation sites at Causeway Bay and Mong Kok to reinforce their numbers and show that support for the protests remained strong.

What strikes me as an outsider most about the movement in Hong Kong is the extraordinary patience and long-term perspective of the mainly young protesters. Even as their barricades and banners are slowly coming down, and as the leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students are preparing for the formal opening of discussions with the government over political reforms, the protesters are maintaining a creative and self-disciplined stance.

Some examples stand out. On Monday, as government workers left for the day, protesters handed them flowers and soup. Disruptive counter-demonstrators were surrounded by nonviolent protesters singing Happy Birthday! And protest art is blossoming – see the collection at

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1607587/illustrate-your-opinion-artists-draw-support-hong-kong-protesters

Each evening the remaining occupation sites are flooded with students who were resuming classes and adult supporters returning from work. The smaller number of protesters who remain behind the barricades day and night are becoming exhausted, but have vowed to maintain their protest until the talks with the government yield at least some kind of progress.

The university student leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students will be the direct spokespeople for the movement, but they are consulting with the high school students of Scholarism and the democratic politicians and leaders of Occupy Central. No one expects many of the core political and economic demands of the umbrella movement to be met, since the Hong Kong government and the corporate elite, staunchly based by the Chinese Communist Party and the mainland Chinese government, remain adamantly opposed to any real concessions.

Nonetheless I believe that the Hong Kong movement can be provisionally regarded as successful. It has been perhaps the first global Occupy movement to formulate a clear set of demands and to rally behind spokespeople for those demands. It has dramatically called attention to the failure of the central government to honor its promises to move towards fuller democracy, while simultaneously asserting the need to reverse growing economic inequality in Hong Kong. Its mixture of audacity and pragmatic commonsense has helped build the institutions of civil society in the city-state and reinforced the popular sentiment of the Hong Kong population that they have something precious to preserve and to contribute eventually to China as a whole.

This video captures the spirit of the Umbrella Movement in song and images.

For a century, student movements have played key roles in signalling major changes in Chinese society. Hopefully this generation of Hong Kong students, with its key leaders ranging from 17 to 24 years old now, will be able to survive and gain more traction with other societal classes. From the comments of protesters that I have read in the press and social media this week, increasingly focused on inequality and economic injustice, I believe that a next positive step could involve greater and deeper interaction with young workers and with the independent unions of Hong Kong.

Support the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong

by Paul Garver

Umbrella Movement

The Umbrella Movement in support of democracy and against growing inequality in Hong Kong persists despite savage attacks on peaceful protesters by thugs that are condoned or even in some cases organized by the police.

Responding with force to this extreme provocation, which includes right-wing thugs groping the female demonstrators, might provide a pretext for the Hong Kong government to violently crack down on the demonstrations. The protesters, mainly university and high school students supported by independent labor unions, civic groups and ordinary citizens of Hong Kong, have been able to maintain a steadfast nonviolent discipline, as illustrated in this photo from Causeway Bay.
Causeway Bay

After consultation between Hong Kong activists and some of their supporters, a consensus was reached on some measures that could be taken to support the Umbrella Movement. These are summarized in an excellent article in Labor Notes by Alexandra Bradbury at http://labornotes.org/blogs/2014/10/students-and-workers-strike-democratic-reforms-hong-kong.

Ways to Support the Hong Kong Democracy Movement

Join or organize a local rally or vigil. A number of international actions have targeted Chinese consulate offices, though key organizers inside Hong Kong have clearly decided to focus their pressure on the Hong Kong government rather than on Beijing. Another possible target: the local Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.

Hold a teach-in or speak-out on your campus or at your organization. Some are also distributing yellow ribbons to show solidarity.

Get your union or organization to send a statement of solidarity. Unions around the world, including Canada’s national union federation, have issued statements of support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also made a statement.

Sign support petitions, either the one sponsored by HKCTU at http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/online_petition.html?id=6
or the other by the IUF at http://www.iuf.org/w/?q=node/3675.

Follow the latest developments and appeals via the Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calling-for-international-support-for-democracy-in-Hong-Kong/275123362684837?ref=hl

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