Archive for December 2013

Educate Thyself

December 31, 2013

Some time ago I mentioned in a post that I am trying to educate myself about labor, progressive political-economic, and social movement issues. Some of the issues that I am interested in, concerned about, and want to learn more about include immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, community organizing, the campaign for a living wage, the growing income inequality gap, the right to belong to and form unions, working class and working poor issues, and worker rights. The primary resources for my self-education are progressive books and material I find on the web.

I am in the process of building a Progressive reading library. The books in the picture are those that comprise my library, thus far. BooksI do not have many, and I admit that I have not read them all, but I am slowly making my way through them. I am currently reading The Future Of Our Schools – Teacher Unions and Social Justice by Dr. Loir Weiner.

There are several websites on which I find excellent articles that contribute to my self-education about Progressive issues. I typically download, print out, and take those articles with me to work each  day and read them as I have the opportunity. Some of the sites that I depend on for good material are Dissent, Dollars & Sense, Labor Notes, Truthout, United Steel Workers, and the Working-Class Perspectives blog. I do visit and benefit from other websites; many of those can be found on the right side-bar of my blog.

I would note that when time and schedule permits, I try to listen to Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News broadcasts for an alternative perspective on news and issues.

The reason that I am sharing this post with you is because I believe it is important to be well-informed about and involved in what is happening in the political, economic, and social world around us. If I am going to be truly informed about the critical labor, political-economic, and social issues that confront America, I must know more than what a corporate-dominated media serves up each evening on the world news. That’s why I choose to read books and articles and listen to radio broadcasts that are unashamedly Progressive in perspective and content.

******************************

 “‘Educate yourselves because we’ll need all your intelligence. Agitate because we’ll need all your enthusiasm. Organize yourselves because we’ll need all your strength.”

(Antonio Gramsci)

They Want To Buy The Government

December 15, 2013

What was said then can be said today. Hear Harry Truman on Republicans –

Truman on Republicans

National Day Of Action For Public Education

December 10, 2013

Today was National Day Of Action, a day called by community, education, faith, labor, and social justice organizations for the declaration of our support of the nation’s public education system – its students, teachers, families – and the communities in which we educate our children. DOA_picnet_3

On the Reclaim The Promise Of Public Education – Our Schools, Our Solutions website that is promoting the National Day Of Action, we read this statement:

“We are parents and caregivers, students and community members.

We are educators and school staff. We have come together around a common commitment to public education. We believe that the only way to give every child the opportunity to pursue a rich and productive life, both individually and as a member of society, is through a system of publicly funded, equitable and democratically controlled public schools.”

The organizations that joined together to call this Day Of Action share a “vision for public education” that is  distinguished “from that of the current corporate agenda. They say that:

“Now, more than ever, access to good public schools is a critical civil and human right. We are committed to working together to reclaim the promise of public education as our nation’s gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.”

There are seven principles that undergird this Action:

  • Public schools are public institutions
  • Our voices matter
  • Strong public schools create strong communities
  • Assessments should be used to improve instruction
  • Quality teaching must be delivered by committed, respected, and supported educators
  • Schools must be welcoming and respectful places for all
  • Our schools must be fully funded for success and equity

The sponsors of the National Day Of Action have issued A Call To Action to all of us who care about the education, learning, encouragement of creativity, and preparation of our children for the living of lives that contribute positively to the well-being of others and society at large.

“Our schools belong to all of us: the students who learn in them, the parents who support them, the educators and staff who work in them and the communities that they anchor. No longer will we allow ourselves to be divided. We have developed these principles and are committed to working together to achieve the policies and practices that they represent. Corporate-style reforms that disregard our voices, and attempt to impose a system of winners and losers, must end. None of our children deserve to be collateral damage.
 We call on our communities, and commit the power of the organizations that we represent, to pursue these principles in our schools, districts and states. Together, we will work nationally to make this vision of public education a reality.”

Support your local public schools, teachers and staff, students, and their families for a better world, today and tomorrow.

The Right To Stay Home

December 9, 2013

In my last post, I shared about a book I was looking forward to purchasing and reading through. The book is The Future Of Our Schools – Teacher Unions And Social Justice by Dr. Lois Weiner. I would note that I ordered this book last week and received it in the mail on Friday.

There is a second book that I have been wanting to read. That book is The Right To Stay Home – How US Policy Drives Mexican right to stay homeMigration by David Bacon. I have wanted to read it because immigration and immigration reform is a major issue in the United States that must addressed and dealt with. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the States. They are often made the scapegoat for many of America’s ills. They are accused of everything from taking American’s jobs to taking advantage of and draining our social services and tax dollars.

In The Right To Stay Home, David Bacon, noted journalist, photographer, and union activist, addresses immigration, especially from Mexico, and writes that United States’ foreign policy and our free-trade agreements with Mexico are largely responsible for the impoverishment and migration of many Mexicans to the United States.

This overview of the book is found on the inside of the book’s dust jacket:

“People across Mexico are being forced into migration, and while 11 percent of that country’s population lives north of the US border, the decision to migrate is rarely voluntary. Free trade agreements and economic policies that exacerbate and reinforce extreme wealth disparities make it impossible for Mexicans to make a living at home. And yet when they migrate to the United States, they must grapple with criminalization, low wages, and exploitation.

In The Right to Stay Home, journalist David Bacon tells the story of the growing resistance of Mexican communities. Bacon shows how immigrant communities are fighting back—envisioning a world in which migration isn’t forced by poverty or environmental destruction and people are guaranteed the ‘right to stay home.’ This richly detailed and comprehensive portrait of immigration reveals how the interconnected web of labor, migration, and the global economy unites farmers, migrant workers, and union organizers across borders.”

I am very concerned about the men, women, and families who have been displaced from their homes in Mexico and other Central American nations because of the economic policies of the United States and free trade agreements we have entered into with our Central American neighbors.

I believe The Right To Stay Home will make me more knowledgeable of US economic and trade policies and their role in and impact on Mexican immigration to the United States for work and the improvement of their lives. But I do now want to just be more knowledgeable of these matters, I want to be better equipped to serve as a voice and advocate for the rights and welfare of these undocumented working men and women.

******************************

See my post, Immigration Reform: Facts Vs. Myths.

Teachers, Unions, And Social Justice

December 2, 2013

I’m not a teacher but I work for a local independent school district. Our district is not unionized but I support labor unions and would join a teacher’s union if I had the opportunity. And, I am concerned about social justice issues, especially worker’s rights, immigration reform, and living wages for working men and women.

I have recently learned of a book that addresses the issues of democracy in the classroom, teacher’s unions, and how teachers united Future of schoolsin unions and collectives can positively impact and make a difference in social justice causes, both inside and outside of the classroom. The book is The Future Of Our Schools – Teachers Unions and Social Justice. It was written by Dr. Lois Weiner, an educator, union organizer, and social justice activist. Weiner teaches at New Jersey City University.

Dr. Weiner had written and published an article in the New Politics magazine entitled “Should We ‘Play Nice’ With the NEA and AFT?“.  I read the article and emailed Dr.  Weiner, expressed my appreciation for the piece, and asked her some questions that pertained to union membership and my work at a local high school. Dr. Weiner was very gracious, replied to my email, and answered the questions I had posed to her.

In her reply, Dr. Weiner mentioned The Future Of Our Schools and suggested that it would be a good book to be read by teachers who are interested in forming a teacher’s union or collective and becoming involved in social justice campaigns.

It is my intention to purchase Dr. Weiner’s book, read it, and then seek out teachers who would be interested in reading through and discussing it, collectively, with a view toward the possibility of forming a teacher’s collective in our area or even forming a local that would affiliate with an established teacher’s union. The purpose of the collective would be to bring before local school and district administrators, and the general public, local school district and social justice issues that need to be addressed.

There is one teacher at the high school where I work who is a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) that I will approach about being a part of a reading group. I am under the impression that she became a member of AFT primarily for the legal coverage that membership provides rather than out of any commitment to rank-and-file, union-political-social movement purposes and activity. The teacher has shared with me that there are other teachers in our district and the one in our “twin city” who are members of AFT. I would like to contact those folks, and a history teacher at my school who has mentioned that he often refers students to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and  invite them to be a part of the reading group.

I look forward to acquiring and reading The Future Of Our Schools by Dr. Lois Weiner. I believe it will be a very encouraging and informative book as I seek to become more involved in the issues of our local school district, rank-and-file teacher unionism, and the social justice issues of worker’s rights, immigration reform, and a living wage for working men and women at a grassroots, community level.