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You Can’t Organize Alone

I spent a number of weekend mornings in small rooms attending workshops across downtown Chicago in my early 20s, around 2015. In one, abolitionist Mariame Kaba taught some two dozen participants about the legacy of the women in Marcus Garvey’s Black Nationalist movement, connecting their organizing in the 1920s with the framework Black feminist abolitionists were creating a century later. Learning that history was valuable in itself. Equally important was Kaba’s assurance that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel — there was no analysis or strategy we were considering that hadn’t been used in the past. That might sound like reason for despair, but for me it was immediately empowering; white supremacy doesn’t want abolitionist organizers to know how close we’ve gotten to a common goal.

How El Paso Is Fighting Back Against Book Bans In Texas

When El Paso teen Alex Reyes read the “Magnus Chase” fantasy trilogy while in the seventh grade, they immediately identified with one of the main characters Alex Fierro. It wasn’t just because of their shared first name, but because of their shared experience as gender fluid teenagers. “It was the first time I had read a book where I saw something that I kind of felt similar to, relate to,” Reyes said. “It’s stuck with me for so long. They have so much more going on, and the sexuality is just a part of it. … It’s not all that I am, but it’s a part of me.” Rick Riordan’s “Magnus Chase” series, like many of the books Reyes reads, is being targeted by Texas legislators and school boards nationwide.

The Transition Care Farm With Room For All

It all started with four people from a small Transition group and a derelict former farm site. Four people, an old farm, and an idea to grow a bit of food, maybe teach local kids about nature. Today, Greenslate community-run farm is a hive of community activity, with hundreds of people visiting, volunteering and learning each month. It’s home to rescue and heritage animals, a social enterprise cafe, drug recovery service, a community project incubator, a men’s shed and Rhiannon Jones, one of those founding four Transitioners and today, project co-ordinator who lives on the bustling site.

To Resist Push For ‘Parents’ Rights,’ Focus On Youth Liberation

In this season of parent-celebrating days, many of the parents making top headlines are those pushing violent agendas under the mantle of “parents’ rights.” Deep-pocketed groups like Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Education are asserting the rights of parents as a justification for their right-wing, anti-trans, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, ableist onslaught. The Republican “Parents Bill of Rights Act” that passed the House this spring combines an attack on students’ right to gender self-expression with measures targeting curricula and libraries. As Amy Nagopaleen wrote for Truthout, the bill (which, thankfully, is unlikely to advance in the Senate) had “nothing to do with empowering parents, and everything to do with bringing the mounting Republican moral panic over schools to the national stage.”

Punching Down On Libraries

New York City, New York - There’s a public library in every single neighborhood in the city, across all five boroughs. More than 200 locations ­altogether. Whether it be Queens (QPL), Brooklyn (BPL) or New York (NYPL), which encompasses The Bronx and Staten Island, the library’s employees, resources and physical spaces serve the public beyond providing books, free wifi and nice architecture. If you fill out a form, librarians at BPL will personally pick out recommendations for you based on what you like. Using the new Queens Name Explorer, you can find out about the history behind the names of local parks, streets and schools.

New Documents Undermine Supreme Court Student Debt Case

Newly unearthed documents show a major student loan servicer is projecting revenue increases even under President Joe Biden’s debt cancellation plan — directly undermining the argument Republican officials are making in their lawsuit to block the measure. But conservative justices on the Supreme Court appear prepared to strike down the debt relief program anyways, disregarding the evidence and their own legal theories to fulfill the wishes of the dark money network that helped build their Supreme Court supermajority. At issue is the concept of “standing” — a legal term for who is allowed to bring a case to the judiciary. For years, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has consistently shut down cases they don’t like by insisting that plaintiffs are unharmed and therefore do not have standing to be in court.

Agitation By Teachers Forces Latvian Government To Increase Wages

An intense three-day strike by educators in Latvia, led by the Latvian Education and Science Workers’ Trade Union (LIZDA), forced the coalition government headed by Krisjanis Karins to increase their wages. LIZDA organized a major protest march in the Latvian capital of Riga on April 24 and went on a three-day strike until April 27. Subsequently, in a meeting with the union leadership on April 25, government authorities in principle agreed to increase teachers’ pay, with additional funding of EUR 4.168 million (USD 4.59 million). On April 26, an emergency meeting of the cabinet approved the agreement for additional funds for the wage hike.

Stop The War On LGBTQ Teachers

Messages keep coming in to me from LGBTQ teachers throughout the South who have been fired or threatened with firing. These teachers have years of experience and exemplary records. Many have advanced degrees. LGBTQ teachers are increasingly fearful. The Stonewall National Education Project, which educates teachers about inclusive classroom practices, reports that its annual symposium was sparsely attended due to fear of repercussions. One teacher who did attend wore a mask and asked not to be photographed. This trepidation is not new, but it’s been heightened by the current climate.

UK Teachers Aren’t Backing Down

The past year has seen a historic wave of trade union strikes in the UK, with transport workers, nurses, junior doctors, university lecturers, ambulance drivers, Amazon workers, and others walking out. The largest teachers’ union in the UK, the National Education Union (NEU), joined the strike wave on Jan. 16, announcing that its ballot of members had met the required threshold to commence strikes over pay and funding. Earlier this month, the NEU met for its annual national conference—a meeting that took place at a crucial juncture in this ongoing industrial action. The conference opened with the unveiling of NEU members’ verdict on the UK government’s recent pay offer: 98% of the nearly 200,000 NEU members who voted—a record turnout—had voted to reject it.

Veterans Push Back Against Military Recruitment In Schools

March 20 marked the 20th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq. The war took hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, with some estimates of Iraqi casualties putting the number at over 1 million. More than 4,600 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq during and after the invasion, and thousands more have died by suicide. Meanwhile, and not coincidentally, the U.S. military is facing its worst recruitment crisis since the end of the Vietnam War. The Defense Department’s budget proposal for 2024 outlines a plan for the military to slightly cut back on its ranks, but to reach its projected numbers, it will still need to embark on a heavy recruitment push.

Inside The Prisoner-Led Struggle To Win Education For All

Despite increasing recognition that prison education is a key tool for reducing crime, Washington State prisoners were recently forced to gather in a janitor’s closet to organize and facilitate college education for people incarcerated in several prisons across the state. They took this dramatic step because new official restrictions are jeopardizing a liberating, prisoner-led program known as Taking Education And Creating History, or TEACH. Organized by a handful of incarcerated people — including me — over a decade ago, TEACH’s goal is to democratize education for people with long sentences.

Slinghot: Take The High Road

When I ran for president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association I ran headlong into attacks about my character, my competency, and the intentions of our reform caucus. We were accused of being divisive, of being controlled by outside forces, and of cheating. As we campaigned, we tapped into a deep vein of anger and disappointment with the former leadership. We put forward a vision of well-funded schools, autonomy in the classroom, and dignity at work. We invited each other into building a fighting union that would organize to achieve these goals. Instead of proposing their own vision, our opponents pulled out all the stops to discredit me as an individual. Each week, when the campaign committee met, there were new reports of things said about me and us, and new revelations of bad deals they had made.

LA’s Teachers Make Good On Promise To Support Community Schools

Los Angeles, California - “We should have been miserable,” said Emily Grijalva, recalling the first days of the 2019 strike by Los Angeles teachers. Grijalva, who is currently the community school and restorative justice coordinator at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School, joined her colleagues on the picket line in 2019 despite the biting cold and an unusual, prolonged rainstorm that flooded city streets and sidewalks and drenched picketers. Many of them did not wear, much less own, suitable rain gear for their normally sunny, mild Southern California climate. “But even through the rain and cold, we felt togetherness and support from the community.

65,000 Los Angeles Education Workers Are On A Historic Three-Day Strike

Los Angeles, California - 65,000 workers from Service Employees International Union Local 99 and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) began a three-day strike on Tuesday, March 21. SEIU Local 99 workers are striking amidst contract negotiations around higher salaries, more full-time work schedules, better treatment, and more staffing. The SEIU workers represent a broad cross section of school staff, such as bus drivers, custodians, campus aides, and cafeteria workers. The union claims that apart from refusing to budge on key workers’ demands such as a 30% raise and more full time hours, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is also harassing and threatening workers for participating in union activity.

Black Educators Are Reimagining A Better School System

Woodbridge, VA - The plastic sign displayed prominently on De’Ana Forbes’ classroom door is especially fitting this week. In big bold letters: ​“Warning! History Teacher Zone. Your understanding of the past may be corrected at any time.”  It’s early in this sleepy suburb 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C., and the sun is still rising over Freedom High School as students jog inside from late-arriving buses, backpacks half-hung over shoulders with winter coats swinging. They push through crowded hallways and hurry to first period.  Forbes, 28, who teaches U.S. history and social studies, is one of many teachers across the country participating in the annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, held this year February 6 – 10.
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