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Modern School

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Member since: Sun Dec 12, 2010, 01:09 PM
Number of posts: 794

Journal Archives

Occupation of ITOCHU in SF in Support of Longview ILWU

Modern School has been reporting on the ILWU's battle in Longview, WA for some time now. The most recent development has been the deployment of the U.S. military to protect the interests of private capital (EGT) and the threat of using the War on Terror against union members.

Last week, activists in San Francisco occupied ITOCHU in support of the ILWU in Longview.

Check out the following video from the Labor Video Project:

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/occupation-of-itochu-in-sf-in-support.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 12:03 AM (0 replies)

http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/tens-of-thousands-protest-education.html

From the Teacher Solidarity Blog:http://www.teachersolidarity.com/blog/soanish-protests-against-education-cuts/

Over 40,000 took part in the demonstration in Alicante, calling for an increase in the numbers of teachers, increased funding for school resources and the end of prefab classrooms.

In Valencia, protestors demanded that the Generalitat paid the €50 million it owes to schools.
One of the region’s education unions – UGT-PV – is also taking the ex-President of the local authority to court over misuse of public funds.

Education International reports that as a result of the missing money, some schools in the region are facing closure, and teachers have been asked to take cuts in salaries and go without Christmas bonuses. But this is not an isolated case, with schools in other autonomous regions suffering similar financial difficulties.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/tens-of-thousands-protest-education.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 12:01 AM (0 replies)

The Rise and Fall of Arlene Ackerman

Former Philly school Superintendent Arlene Ackerman gave a $7.5 million no-bid contract to cronies at IBS Communications to install surveillance cameras. IBS was given the no-bid contract despite previous work with the district that involved cost overruns 12 times what they had originally estimated. She then scapegoated underlings for the scandal and squeezed the Philadelphia school board for a $900,000 buyout package to get her to resign and go away.

Now, in a civil-rights lawsuit, John Byars, the school district’s former head procurement officer, is saying Ackerman personally directed the awarding of the IBS contract and tried to pin it on him, according to Philly.com. He is also accusing the district of suspending him and trying to fire him for speaking to the FBI about the matter. Five other administrators were also disciplined in the scandal. Ackerman continues to deny directing anyone to give the contract to IBS.

While four of the six administrators who had been suspended were ultimately allowed back to work, Philly.com reports that Francis X. Dougherty, former deputy chief business officer, has filed papers indicating that he plans to sue for wrongful termination under the state's whistle-blower law. Augustine Pescatore, a School Safety commander who was suspended and allowed back to work filed documents in Court indicating he also plans to sue Ackerman for slander and libel.

Ackermen’s corrupt and autocratic stint in Philadelphia was no mere aberration in an otherwise stellar career. In San Francisco, Ackerman secured herself a $250,000 salary, plus a $2,000-a-month housing allowance and $375,000 severance package, payable even if she quit, which she was forced to do not long after taking over. As superintendent of SFUSD she pretended to clean up the district’s sloppy financial records and the scandals of the Bill Rojas years, while completely missing Trish Bascom’s embezzlement scheme going on right under her nose. This blunder was no doubt due to her obsession with quashing dissent and getting her underlings to toe the line. “I can’t continue to tolerate the dissension,” she said about her SFUSD staff and teachers. Part of her strategy for reducing dissent was to spend $400,000 a year of district money on a PR firm to put a positive spin on her leadership, money that should have gone to classroom instruction.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/rise-and-fall-of-arlene-ackerman.html
Posted by Modern School | Wed Jan 25, 2012, 12:00 AM (0 replies)

Is U.S. Planning Military Force to Suppress Unions and OWS?

As I reported on Modern School recently, the U.S. government has committed Coast Guard ships and helicopters to defending the interests of private capital in Washington State against striking ILWU members. The Coast Guard will supposedly be protecting empty ships as they arrive in the port of Longview, Washington to pick up grain from the EGT grain terminal. EGT, which owns the terminal, has been hiring scab labor to operate the terminal, in violation of prior agreements with the ILWU. EGT has utilized the local police and private goons to intimidate ILWU members and their families, including several hundred arrests and violent assaults on peacefully demonstrating long shore workers and their families.

With Obama’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), any ILWU member accused of committing a “belligerent act” against the United States could be imprisoned indefinitely without charges or trial on the orders of the president. This means that any direct action aimed at interfering with boats arriving to pick up grain in Longview could be considered an act of aggression against the U.S. government now that those boats will be under the protection of the U.S. government.

According to Insurgent Notes, U.S. ports are already semi-militarized by “Homeland Security.” Longshoremen are required to show three electronic “smart card” IDs to enter their workplaces each day, and they are subject to background security checks.

Journalist Chris Hedges has sued the U.S. government to halt NDAA, saying it violates the constitution, as it allows the U.S. military to arrest anyone anywhere in the world and hold them indefinitely without charges. Public interest lawyer Carl Mayer told the Epoch Times that the law violates the 1st and 5th amendments. While lawmakers and the mainstream press continue to insist the law is meant to halt terrorist acts against the U.S., Hedges believes NDAA was designed specifically to be used against dissenters within the U.S., including anyone involved in movements deemed threatening to the “corporate state,” such as the OWS movement. (Click here to read Hedges “Why I’m Suing Obama.”)

The date of arrival of the first Coast Guard-escorted ship to the Port of Longview is a closely guarded secret. However, according to Insurgent Notes, OWS activists in the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland and Seattle are organizing caravans to Longview when the date becomes known. Elsewhere in the United States, Occupy is planning demonstrations at Coast Guard offices and at the offices of the three corporations which jointly own EGT.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-us-planning-military-force-to.html
Posted by Modern School | Fri Jan 20, 2012, 11:14 PM (2 replies)

Is U.S. Planning Military Force to Suppress Unions and OWS?

As I reported on Modern School recently, the U.S. government has committed Coast Guard ships and helicopters to defending the interests of private capital in Washington State against striking ILWU members. The Coast Guard will supposedly be protecting empty ships as they arrive in the port of Longview, Washington to pick up grain from the EGT grain terminal. EGT, which owns the terminal, has been hiring scab labor to operate the terminal, in violation of prior agreements with the ILWU. EGT has utilized the local police and private goons to intimidate ILWU members and their families, including several hundred arrests and violent assaults on peacefully demonstrating long shore workers and their families.

With Obama’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), any ILWU member accused of committing a “belligerent act” against the United States could be imprisoned indefinitely without charges or trial on the orders of the president. This means that any direct action aimed at interfering with boats arriving to pick up grain in Longview could be considered an act of aggression against the U.S. government now that those boats will be under the protection of the U.S. government.

According to Insurgent Notes, U.S. ports are already semi-militarized by “Homeland Security.” Longshoremen are required to show three electronic “smart card” IDs to enter their workplaces each day, and they are subject to background security checks.

Journalist Chris Hedges has sued the U.S. government to halt NDAA, saying it violates the constitution, as it allows the U.S. military to arrest anyone anywhere in the world and hold them indefinitely without charges. Public interest lawyer Carl Mayer told the Epoch Times that the law violates the 1st and 5th amendments. While lawmakers and the mainstream press continue to insist the law is meant to halt terrorist acts against the U.S., Hedges believes NDAA was designed specifically to be used against dissenters within the U.S., including anyone involved in movements deemed threatening to the “corporate state,” such as the OWS movement. (Click here to read Hedges “Why I’m Suing Obama.”)

The date of arrival of the first Coast Guard-escorted ship to the Port of Longview is a closely guarded secret. However, according to Insurgent Notes, OWS activists in the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland and Seattle are organizing caravans to Longview when the date becomes known. Elsewhere in the United States, Occupy is planning demonstrations at Coast Guard offices and at the offices of the three corporations which jointly own EGT.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-us-planning-military-force-to.html
Posted by Modern School | Fri Jan 20, 2012, 11:13 PM (1 replies)

Jindal’s Louisiana Privatization Orgy

Under Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s new privatization plan, virtually every student in the Monroe City School System and those in almost 50% of Ouachita Parish Schools would be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools, the News Star reported this week. Experts warn that the number of eligible students could far exceed the available spaces in existing private schools.

Jindal's plan provides “scholarships” for low income students currently attending poorly ranked schools, exploiting the popular mantra that poor kids shouldn’t be relegated to lousy schools. Like most Ed Deformers, he ignores the fact that virtually every low performing school in the nation is disproportionately filled with low income students and that it is primarily poverty—not the schools or teachers—that causes the low test scores and graduation rates. Rather than desegregating the schools so that all schools have similar wealth distributions, or providing poor schools with greater resources, or working to reduce or end poverty, Jindal, like his greedy cohorts elsewhere, is ignoring the causes of poor academic achievement and using the consequences to justify the redistribution of tax dollars from public schools to private ones.

Jindal’s plan uses a definition of poverty that includes far more students than those currently receiving free and reduced lunch. While there are no doubt many poor students who are either ineligible for free or reduced lunch or who fail to apply for the program, Jindal’s redefinition is most likely a cynical attempt to exploit poor families to facilitate the transfer of state tax revenues to private for-profit schools.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/jindals-louisiana-privatization-orgy.html
Posted by Modern School | Fri Jan 20, 2012, 11:12 PM (1 replies)

Publicly Funded Schools Becoming Things of the Past

Public education implies that all children will be educated without additional costs to the parents. Of course for this to work, everyone must contribute a little through their taxes, whether or not they have kids.

Prior to the anti-tax revolt of the late 70s and 80s and the budget crises of the past several years, the overwhelming bulk of public education financing came from taxes. However, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, K-12 foundations, PTAs, booster clubs and other groups brought an additional $1.3 billion to California schools in 2007, up from $70 million in 1989.

Charitable fundraising has historically been used for “extras” like supplies and equipment. California Watch says that private donations are now being used to simply to keep schools open by preventing teacher layoffs, hiring librarians, and preserving music and foreign-language classes. Additionally, teachers and parents are being asked more and more to fund clubs, band, theater and other programs through donations and student fundraising activities.

The growing reliance on private donations is not simply shift in how schools are funded. Because affluent schools are able to raise considerably more money (sometimes by several orders of magnitude) than lower income schools, this trend has the potential to vastly increase the existing gap in spending and quality between schools.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/publicly-funded-schools-becoming-things.html
Posted by Modern School | Thu Jan 19, 2012, 11:29 PM (0 replies)

America Worse Than Apartheid on Black Incarceration

Michelle Alexander, who wrote the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” was interviewed on Democracy Now on Friday, January 13, 2012. According to the interview, there are more African Americans under correctional control today than there were enslaved in 1850. More African American men are disenfranchised today than in 1870 as a result of felony disenfranchisement laws. And, as a percentage of the total population, there are currently more blacks imprisoned in the U.S. than in South Africa at the height of apartheid.

Alexander points out that the high incarceration rate for African Americans is due largely to the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement (e.g., Three Strikes laws, Zero Tolerance laws, minimum sentencing rules), which have disproportionately affected poor people of color, and which were designed as a backlash against the Civil Rights movement, as they reduce black participation in the political system in much the same way that poll taxes and literacy tests did in the past.

The majority of U.S. prisoners are serving time for nonviolent and drug-related crimes which are committed by middle class and white Americans at a similar rate to poor African Americans, but which are largely ignored in middle class white neighborhoods. Thus, the problem is not entirely due to racism, but is also due to continued class distinctions and wealth inequality.

Racism certainly continues to plague our society and influence police profiling and arrest rates. According to Alexander, over 600,000 people were detained by the police in New York City in 2010, 90% of whom were black or Hispanic. In only 15% of those cases was a suspect even described; thus, 85% of the frisks, searches and seizures had no compelling probable cause, but were the result of racial profiling. Even an affluent African American is more likely to be arrested due to his or her skin color than a white neighbor, as Henry Louis Gates discovered in 2009.

However, the overwhelming majority of prisoners in the U.S. are poor, and communities of color continue to have the highest poverty rates. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 27.4% of African Americans and 26.6% of Hispanic Americans were living in poverty in 2010, compared with 9.9% of white and 12.1% of Asian Americans. As long as people remain poor, they will have few choices other than living in ghettos and other poor communities which have historically been targeted by police, thus increasing their chances of being stopped, detained, arrested and incarcerated. They will continue to find themselves in situations where criminal activities are necessary just to survive. Those who are arrested, whether or not they are guilty, will continue to be dependent on overworked and sometimes low quality public defenders. And if they are poor, especially if they are not white, they will continue to face prejudice and bias in the legal system, increasing the chances that they will do hard time.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/america-worse-than-apartheid-on-black.html
Posted by Modern School | Sat Jan 14, 2012, 09:36 PM (2 replies)

Wisconsin Worker Sent Home For Wearing Union Shirt to Work

An employee of the Lincoln Hills School in Irma, Wisconsin, was sent home without pay last week for wearing a union t-shirt on the job, according to the Waussau Daily Herald. The employee was Ron McAllister, a youth counselor, who was wearing a t-shirt and jacket with an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) logo.

The state Department of Corrections, which oversees the school, opened an investigation into the incident this week and sent a memo to staff members saying that workers are permitted to wear union clothing, despite the fact that their administrators sent a worker home for doing so. Not surprisingly, AFSCME is mistrustful of the DOC and continued with a planned demonstration against the DOC and union-busting governor Scott Walker on Monday. More than 70 people attended the protest outside Lincoln Hills School. AFSCME believes that Lincoln Hills Superintendent Paul Westerhaus sent McAllister home on Walker's behalf. McAllister also happens to be president of AFSCME Council 24.

No Unions Allowed
It was not just McAllister’s shirt that was offensive to management. Last week, he found that someone had gone through his office and removed an AFSCME sign, and he said a supervisor told him that union signs and union clothing were not allowed. So he removed his union jacket and shirt and started to unbutton his pants to remove his “union” underwear, before being sent home.

McAllister may be rekindling an old protest tactic made popular by the Doukhobors, a Russian Christian pacifist sect, many of who migrated to Western Canada in the 19th century (with the help of Tolstoy, Quakers and Peter Kropotkin), who have protested in the nude since the early 20th century. Canada even passed anti-nudity laws in response to the Doukhobors and have arrested hundreds of them for violating this law.

Doukhobors marching nude in Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1903 (from Wikipedia)
Do As The Doukhobors Do
There’s a new tactic to use, my dear
If you have a protest on one wants to hear,
Just attend a rally where the b ig shots meet
Strip to your hide and walk down the street.
Way up in Canada, Doukhobor lads
Were sent to public schools disapproved of by their dads, So the Doukhobor mamas said “That’s enough”
And they went to the meeting in the buff.

Chorus:
Do as the Doukhobors do, honey,
Do as the Doukhobors do.
If public policy gets on your nerves
And no one pays attention to you
Throw away your dresses and your lingerie too,
And do as the Doukhobors do.

Our women hold meetings to stop atom tests,
They’re not afraid of billy clubs, cops and arrests,
They sign those petitions ‘til they’re sad in the face
And still they seem to be getting no place.
The little boat EVERYMAN couldn’t leave port,
Bomb tests continue of every sort
We’ve got to do something that’s wild and new,
And do as the Doukhobors do.

(Chorus)

Of course, down in Cannes on the coast of France,
You’d get no attention minus bras and pants,
If you’d hit the beach in a grin or less,
They’d think you had on last year’s bathing dress.
But up there in Canada at twenty below
People keep covered from head to toe.
Kennedy would send a cup of coffee or two
If we did as the Doukhobors do.

(Malvina Reynolds, 1962).

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/wisconsin-worker-sent-home-for-wearing.html
Posted by Modern School | Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:25 PM (1 replies)

Wisconsin Worker Sent Home For Wearing Union Shirt to Work

An employee of the Lincoln Hills School in Irma, Wisconsin, was sent home without pay last week for wearing a union t-shirt on the job, according to the Waussau Daily Herald. The employee was Ron McAllister, a youth counselor, who was wearing a t-shirt and jacket with an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) logo.

The state Department of Corrections, which oversees the school, opened an investigation into the incident this week and sent a memo to staff members saying that workers are permitted to wear union clothing, despite the fact that their administrators sent a worker home for doing so. Not surprisingly, AFSCME is mistrustful of the DOC and continued with a planned demonstration against the DOC and union-busting governor Scott Walker on Monday. More than 70 people attended the protest outside Lincoln Hills School. AFSCME believes that Lincoln Hills Superintendent Paul Westerhaus sent McAllister home on Walker's behalf. McAllister also happens to be president of AFSCME Council 24.

No Unions Allowed
It was not just McAllister’s shirt that was offensive to management. Last week, he found that someone had gone through his office and removed an AFSCME sign, and he said a supervisor told him that union signs and union clothing were not allowed. So he removed his union jacket and shirt and started to unbutton his pants to remove his “union” underwear, before being sent home.

McAllister may be rekindling an old protest tactic made popular by the Doukhobors, a Russian Christian pacifist sect, many of who migrated to Western Canada in the 19th century (with the help of Tolstoy, Quakers and Peter Kropotkin), who have protested in the nude since the early 20th century. Canada even passed anti-nudity laws in response to the Doukhobors and have arrested hundreds of them for violating this law.

Doukhobors marching nude in Langham, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1903 (from Wikipedia)
Do As The Doukhobors Do
There’s a new tactic to use, my dear
If you have a protest on one wants to hear,
Just attend a rally where the b ig shots meet
Strip to your hide and walk down the street.
Way up in Canada, Doukhobor lads
Were sent to public schools disapproved of by their dads, So the Doukhobor mamas said “That’s enough”
And they went to the meeting in the buff.

Chorus:
Do as the Doukhobors do, honey,
Do as the Doukhobors do.
If public policy gets on your nerves
And no one pays attention to you
Throw away your dresses and your lingerie too,
And do as the Doukhobors do.

Our women hold meetings to stop atom tests,
They’re not afraid of billy clubs, cops and arrests,
They sign those petitions ‘til they’re sad in the face
And still they seem to be getting no place.
The little boat EVERYMAN couldn’t leave port,
Bomb tests continue of every sort
We’ve got to do something that’s wild and new,
And do as the Doukhobors do.

(Chorus)

Of course, down in Cannes on the coast of France,
You’d get no attention minus bras and pants,
If you’d hit the beach in a grin or less,
They’d think you had on last year’s bathing dress.
But up there in Canada at twenty below
People keep covered from head to toe.
Kennedy would send a cup of coffee or two
If we did as the Doukhobors do.

(Malvina Reynolds, 1962).

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/wisconsin-worker-sent-home-for-wearing.html
Posted by Modern School | Fri Jan 13, 2012, 07:25 PM (21 replies)
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