By Kathy Kelly for Counterpunch. Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions. Despite iron clad determination by U.S. policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions by carrying medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi children, families and hospitals. They also helped organize opportunities for scores of other U.S. and U.K. people to visit Iraq as part of Voices in the Wilderness (VitW). Voices delegations politely but firmly notified U.S. authorities that they would break the economic sanctions by personally carrying duffel bags filled with children’s vitamins, antibiotics, medical textbooks, surgical kits, first aid material and medical relief supplies, all of which the economic sanctions prohibited.
By Students for a Democratic Society Tallahassee. “We are very glad to see our efforts were rewarded tonight, after weeks collecting over 700 petition signatures and campaigning on campus. However, the fight is not over. We need the FSU administration and President John Thrasher to acknowledge our referendum and declare FSU a sanctuary campus. Immigrants on campus are uncertain about their futures and worried about how Trump’s policies will affect them. Declaring our campus a sanctuary is the first step to showing that immigrants are cared for and will be protected here” said Katherine Draken, President of the FSU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.
By Morna McDermott for Education Alchemy. The privatizers are busy at work. Unless you live under a rock (a tempting thought lately…) you probably feel like I do every time you turn on the news; the sensation of riding the Tilt a Whirl while taking ‘shrooms. It’s exhausting at best, and terrifying at worst; trying to untangle what is happening around us. Take Devos and her anti-Grizzly platform as the prime example of current insanity.We’re all made here The most recent effort toward destroying public ed comes in the form of the Choices in Education Act of 2017. I live in Maryland along with Andy Harris (R) who is co-sponsor of this bill. (lucky me). Many activists fighting against education reform are already on top of pushing back and calling for action against this bill, as well they (and we) should be. Like many of my friends and colleagues I am also strongly opposed to a voucher system for school funding and this bill.
By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – Jitu Brown: The Journey for Justice Alliance is a national network of grassroots communities and organizations in 24 cities. We also have a member in Johannesburg, South Africa. These are primarily black- and brown-led organizations with a constituency of low-income families, the people who are actually targeted for school privatization or what they call school choice. Building unity with the Journey for Justice Alliance was actually pretty easy because we all had the same pain. When the press conference ends, when local politicians finish their spin, what they leave in their wake are parents and communities who are suffering. Not only with schools but who have been failed as taxpayers. Parents and communities who have been ignored, who lost their voting rights and have suffered through a system that is gleefully inequitable.
By Janine Jackson for FAIR – Janine Jackson: There were near-countless causes for concern about the appointment of deep-pocketed Republican Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education. She’s given money to 17 of the senators voting on her. She’s never taught or had her children in public school. She seemed to know little about core educational issues, like the debate over measuring students’ proficiency versus their growth, or whether or not the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act is a federal law. In the end, her line about needing guns in schools for grizzly bears might be the least worrisome thing about her. Yet here we are. It’s been said that the Education secretary has less day-to-day power than other agency heads. But what does the DeVos appointment represent in terms of this administration’s potential impact on children and schools, and how do we fight for a different vision?
By Nanette Asimov for San Francisco Chronicle – City College of San Francisco will be free of charge to all city residents under a deal announced Monday by Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Jane Kim that college trustees hope will lead to an enrollment jolt and more state funding for the school. Under the agreement, which is expected to take effect in the fall, the city will pay $5.4 million a year to buy out the $46-a-credit fee usually paid by students. The city’s contribution will also provide $250 a semester to full-time, low-income students who already receive a state-funded fee waiver.
By Steven Singer in Gadfly On The Wall. Unions are facing hard times. We are under attack by the new fascist wing of the Republican party. So-called “right to work” laws are being drafted at the national level to strip us of our rights and transform us into the factory slaves of The Gilded Age. New court challenges at the state and federal level could make it next to impossible to collect dues without allowing countless free riders. And in the mass media criticism of teacher tenure is mounting despite widespread ignorance of what it even means. More than ever we need to be united in our efforts to fight the forces of regression and tyranny. We need each other to protect our public schools and our students from those who would do them harm. But the biggest obstacle to doing that isn’t Donald Trump. Nor is it Mike Pence, Steve Bannon or even Betsy DeVos. It is you. Both of you.
By Karen Dolan for The Real News Netowrk – Dolan said what we’re likely to see is a charter school to prison pipeline. “Children in charter schools – Black, brown, Latino, LGBTQ, and children with disabilities – are over-disciplined in rates even significantly higher than they are in public schools,” Dolan explained. She said that children of color, even pre-schoolers, are between four and six times more likely to be expelled than white children for the same behavioral offenses – from scribbling on desks, to wearing distracting jewelry. Expulsions increase children’s chances of coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. And those who have contact with the justice system in their youth have “very high – up to 70% higher” chances of reoffending, Dolan said.
By Paulina FIirozi for The Hill – “Keep giving money to senators and buying your way to the position,” one man holding a Black Lives Matter sign says to her, according to a video from ABC reporter Sam Sweeney. “I hope you’re proud of yourself.” “Go back,” the protestor yells and she enters the car. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” DeVos was reportedly able to eventually enter the school for an event that included D.C. schools chancellor. Crowds of protesters gathered ahead of DeVos’s visit to the school, according to reports. Her visit, her first as secretary of Education to a public K-12 school, was reportedly organized by the Washington teachers union, which did not support her nomination.
By Allison Nielson for Sunshine State News – If you see a sea of teachers dressed in black this week, there’s a reason why. Teachers and supporters of public education are donning all-black outfits this week to protest the confirmation of U.S. Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, sending a message of resistance against Trump’s controversial pick for the country’s top education job. Badass Teachers Association organized the blackout protest via social media, calling on teachers, educators, parents and supporters of public education to wear all black to encourage lawmakers to vote against her confirmation. “We want our senators to dump DeVos,” the group wrote on Twitter.
By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – Sometimes, when ruling class competitors collide, the villainy of both factions is made manifest. Donald Trump did the nation’s public schools a great service by nominating Betsy DeVos, the awesomely loathsome billionaire Amway heiress, for secretary of Education. In turning over that rock, Trump exposed the raw corruption and venality at the core of the charter school privatization juggernaut. Only an historic tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence saved DeVos from rejection by the U.S. Senate. Two Republicans abandoned their party’s nominee, joining a solid bloc of Democrats, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, a school privatizer that crawled out of the same ideological sewer as DeVos and has long been her comrade and ally.
By Emma Whitford for Gothamist – Several hundred NYC high school and college students walked out of class at noon on Tuesday and gathered in Manhattan’s Foley Square to protest President Donald Trump and his administration’s policy proposals on public and higher education as well as, more broadly, “bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.” The walkout coincided with the Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos, who became the first cabinet nominee in American history to be confirmed following a tie vote. Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie, according to CBS. DeVos has been derided by charter school and public school advocates alike, for her apparent lack of basic education policy knowledge and numerous conflicts of interest.
By Staff of Education Alchemy – A psychologist named Michael Kosinski (see full report) from Cambridge developed a method to analyze Facebook members, using the cute little personality quizzes or games. What started as a fun experiment resulted with the largest data set combining psychometric scores with Facebook profiles ever to be collected. Dr. Kosinski is a leading expert in psychometrics, a data-driven sub-branch of psychology. His work is grounded on the Five Factors of Personality theory which include something called OCEAN: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. So many people volunteered their personal information to play these games and take these quizzes that before long Kosinski had volumes of data…