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US Students Walk Out To Protest Gun Violence

In response to Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left at least 17 people injured, 19 elementary students and two teachers dead, students and teachers across the United States walked out of school Thursday to protest gun violence. Several walkouts occurred at schools where memories are still fresh from their own tragic experience with mass homicidal violence, a routine phenomenon in capitalist America. At Oxford High School, located on the outskirts of the Detroit, Michigan metro region, where a school shooting last December left four students dead, hundreds of students walked out of school and amassed on the football field, where they formed a “U” in support of Uvalde.

Teachers At The Blue Man Group’s ‘Progressive’ School Strike

In its long-running off-Broadway show, the Blue Man Group is known for offering up innovative performance art through creative uses of paint, food and drums. But when it comes to dealing with its workers, the popular theater troupe sticks to the same-old union busting strategies routinely used by corporate employers like Amazon and Starbucks. In the face of these anti-labor tactics, teachers at the Blue School — an independent private school in Manhattan founded by the Blue Man Group — held a one-day walkout on Tuesday to demand that management recognize their union, which won a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)-supervised election earlier this year. “We are striking because we want Blue School to stop abusing the legal process and come to the bargaining table,” said Ari Bloom, a middle school math teacher.

Graduate Student Workers Across The Country Help Each Other Unionize

As a first-year master’s student and associate instructor in the School of Music at Indiana University (IU), Chelsea Brinda was forced to sell her blood plasma to survive. Her stipend of just $9,000 was far below Bloomington’s living wage. Eventually, she stopped selling her biofluids, got her first credit card and took out student loans. Brinda, now a Ph.D. student at IU earning just $16,500 a year for teaching one or two courses a semester, told Truthout that she struggles to balance her own hefty workload as a student with her personal life, the courses she teaches and her part-time job as a COVID tester on campus. “I feel like I’m shortchanging my students. I’m not giving them the best that I could,” Brinda said.

No More ‘Normal’

In Abbott Elementary, an ABC sitcom about an underfunded elementary school in Philadelphia, Quinta Brunson plays Janine Teagues, an enthusiastic 2nd-grade teacher who attempts to overcome every obstacle with her grit and determination — a flickering light in the back hallways, the perpetual lack of basic school supplies, a complicated reading software program. Barbara and Melissa, the older, more experienced teachers, remind her “to just worry about what you can control.” And for years, that’s what teachers have done. We’ve made do. Having kids paint with water, like Barbara, when there’s no money for paints. Ponying up pieces of our salaries to buy books for classroom libraries, highlighters for writing activities, pencils, food for hungry kids, printers, microphones, even textbooks. You name it, we’ve bought it.

DC Substitute Teachers Win Big, Continue Struggle

Substitute teachers in District of Columbia Public Schools have won their first raise in 14 years. This comes after five months of picketing outside D.C. government offices under the banner of Washington Substitute Teachers United, demanding higher wages and benefits amid rapidly rising costs of living in the city caused by gentrification. Although having promised wage increases since February 2022, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chairman of the D.C. Council Phil Mendelson blamed the delay on computer issues, which resulted in only a few substitute teachers receiving a raise. During the bureaucratic mess, Washington Substitute Teachers United decided the only way to win was to struggle and launched their weekly pickets outside the John A. Wilson Building, D.C.’s city hall.

How The Attack On Teachers Threatens The Future Of Public Schools

Two years ago, Nicole McCormick was so passionate about teaching that she ran for vice president of the West Virginia Education Association. A music teacher for 11 years, McCormick “always had high expectations of what a music teacher should do,” and on top of lesson planning and caring for her family, she put in extra hours after school to make her union stronger, too. But now she has left the classroom and is unsure if she will ever return. The increasing workload, the uncertainty and pressure of the pandemic, the combined stress of parenting her own four children, looking after her ill mother, worrying about the health and safety of her students, and the low pay and constant disrespect drove her out.

US Boarding School Investigative Report Released

The U.S. Department of Interior released its investigative report Wednesday on the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. It’s being called the first volume of the report and comes nearly a year after the department announced a “comprehensive” review. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, Deborah Parker who is the chief executive officer of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and James LaBelle Sr., a boarding school survivor and the first vice president of the coalition's board, spoke at a news conference in Washington announcing the report’s findings. “The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies—including the intergenerational trauma caused by the family separation and cultural eradication inflicted upon generations of children as young as 4 years old — are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Haaland said in a statement.

No Half Measures, We Need Biden To Cancel All Student Loan Debt

On September 1, 2021, Hurricane Ida hit Southeast Louisiana, temporarily displacing thousands of New Orleans residents, including myself and most of my family. Residents who had the means evacuated early, leaving others to fight for limited resources while simultaneously seeking refuge in neighboring cities. On top of their pre-existing bills, evacuees were forced to front the costs of hotels, food, gas and repairs or even replacement of their own homes. Natural disasters produce an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety — you simply don’t know if you will have a house to live in until you are able to return home. I don’t know how my family would have made ends meet if I was forced to cover my monthly student loan payments while struggling to meet these other, unanticipated expenses.

Defending The First Amendment

Speaking as a historian, I believe that the work of UFF-UF officers, delegates, volunteers, and allies during the global pandemic will be remembered as among the finest moments of unionism this nation has ever witnessed.  Under duress and constantly bullying by forces outside of our campus, we continued to grow as a union. We also continued to support a plethora of causes that the membership believes are essential to sustaining a democratic society. I believe that UFF’s consistent and public support of academic freedom was a factor in the federal court’s preliminary injunction against UF’s repressive speech policies in January. Our struggles are far from finished. Members of the Florida State Legislature continued their assault on the First Amendment by passing House Bill 7, the so-called “Stop Woke Act.” 

The Full Story Of How Louisianans Defeated The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Baton Rouge, Louisiana - On May 3, the Louisiana House of Representatives Education Committee struck down this state’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by a seven to four vote. This decision came after a mass upsurge of students, parents, teachers, social workers and LGBTQ+ community members demanding to shut the bill down. HB 837, the “Don’t Say Gay” or “Classroom censorship” bill, attempted to prohibit all discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in K-8 classrooms. On top of this, it was an effort to ban teachers from disclosing their gender identities or sexual orientations to students. Once a legislator introduces a bill in either chamber of the legislature (House or Senate), it must meet the approval of a legislative committee before going for a full floor vote.

The Price Kids Pay: Schools And Police Punish Students With Costly Tickets

The courthouse lobby echoed like a crowded school cafeteria. Teenagers in sweatshirts and sneakers gossiped and scrolled on their phones as they clutched the yellow tickets that police had issued them at school. Abigail, a 16-year-old facing a $200 penalty for truancy, missed school again while she waited hours for a prosecutor to call her name. Sophia, a 14-year-old looking at $175 in fines and fees after school security caught her with a vape pen, sat on her mother’s lap. A boy named Kameron, who had shoved his friend over a Lipton peach iced tea in the school cafeteria, had been cited for violating East Peoria’s municipal code forbidding “assault, battery, and affray.” He didn’t know what that phrase meant; he was 12 years old.

Grinnell College Becomes First Fully Unionized Undergraduate School

Grinnell, Iowa - On April 26, student workers at Iowa’s Grinnell College elected to create the first wall-to-wall undergraduate student union in the country, expanding their Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) to include all hourly student workers. On March 4, UGSDW and Grinnell College signed “a first-of-its-kind neutrality and election agreement,” which, members of the union explained in Labor Notes, “legally binds the College to respect the results of an election.” On the night of the 26th — delayed from April 21, the original ballot-count date, after a toxic gas leak at the local National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) offices — the UGSDW voted to expand, with 327 voting for the expansion and 6 voting against.

School Privatization Movement’s Scheme To Undermine Public Education

Last August, when the school year began at Tyner Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, nearly 100 students walked out to protest the conditions at their public school building. These students were demonstrating because the freshman building had closed due to structural problems, while other parts of the school faced issues of mold, rust and leaky ceilings. Marching across the campus, students held signs reading “Fix our school,” “Water is dripping on our food” and “Stop diverting our funds.” While local officials approved funding to construct a new school building for Tyner by 2024 after meeting with student protest leaders, the problem is widespread—more than half of public school buildings in the county have been rated either fair, poor or unsatisfactory as opposed to “good” or “excellent.”

IU Graduate Workers Continue Strike, Faculty Float Vote Of No Confidence

Bloomington, Indiana - As the graduate worker strike at Indiana University extends into finals week, some faculty members and students plan to take bold measures against the administration to show their solidarity. On Tuesday, graduate students who are part of the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition voted to extend the graduate student workers' strike through May 3. The extension was supported by 867 votes, a 95.7% majority. Since the strike's beginning on April 13, graduate workers have been requesting union recognition from IU and an outlined process on how to discuss benefits, higher wages and fee reduction with administrators. Around this time of year, graduate workers such as Cole Nelson would typically be heading into one of their busiest weeks of the semester.

Teaching The Past To Improve The Future

Last fall in Southlake, Texas, a Carroll Independent School District (ISD) school administrator provided baffling guidance to a group of teachers following the passage of a state law banning the teaching of critical race theory (CRT). Heard in a secret recording, she tells the teachers to present multiple viewpoints on contentious subjects and specifically names the Holocaust. “Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing…that has other perspectives,” the administrator says. There are audible gasps. One teacher asks, “How do you oppose the Holocaust?” An author of the Texas bill subsequently argued that school administrators misrepresented what is in the new law.
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