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By DAVE EGGERS and NÍNIVE CLEMENTS CALEGARI
New York Times, April 30, 2011
WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.
No Future, No Peace
by Allison Kilkenny | April 30, 2011
New York City organizers from the anti-tax dodging movement US Uncut today staged two peaceful teach-ins at Bank of America branches. Carl Gibson, the founder of the original US Uncut chapter in Jackson, Mississippi, joined the NYC protesters. Gibson was in town after playing a major role in the Washington, DC Power Shift flash mob  that successfully shut down a BP gas station, and the GE-oriented prank  pulled on the media in tandem with the Yes Men.
The bank is a familiar target for the tax dodging movement, and has been an object of the group’s outrage since US Uncut’s inception. “Bank of America hasn’t paid taxes on earnings in the last two years,” Gibson explains. “While they’re getting away with not paying taxes, we’re getting budget cuts.”
Video by Dylan Greene
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by Allison Kilkenny | April 21, 2011
Many people assume Americans are prone to apathy and oftentimes diffident to hit the streets in protest. To this, I reply that labeling US citizens as impassive requires completely overlooking the rich tradition of activism on campuses nationwide. Particularly, students in California could run clinics on how exactly civil disobedience should be done, so it’s no surprise that the students at California State University, Fullerton , spent a second night in the school’s administration building last night in protest over cuts to the university’s system budget.
The sit-in began Monday night after CSUP President Milton Gordon refused to sign a symbolic declaration in defense of public education. (Photos of the occupation can be viewed here ). Cal State faces at least $500 million in cuts during the next fiscal year.
By Allison Kilkenny, at Nation Magazine online. Read article here:
Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It? (Hint: It's About Fixing Our Democracy)
by Stan Karp
The short answer to this question is that far too many people are bashing teachers and public schools, and we need to give them more homework, because very few of them know what they’re talking about. And a few need some serious detention.(Illustration: David McLimans)
But the longer answer is that the bashing is coming from different places for different reasons. And to respond effectively to the very real attacks that our schools, our profession, and our communities face, it’s important to pay attention to these differences.
The parent who’s angry at the public school system because it’s not successfully educating his/her children is not the same as the billionaire with no education experience who couldn’t survive in a classroom for two days, but who has made privatizing education policy a hobby, and who has the resources to do so because the country’s financial and tax systems are broken.
Government must stop doling out ever-larger tax breaks to the superrich and vast corporations.
Have you heard? America is broke, according to many governors and lawmakers.
They're calling for deep cuts in teacher pay, firing cops, slashing medical services for working-class kids, and scrapping other essential services to narrow state and federal budget deficits.
There's a better and fairer way to tackle this situation. Government must stop doling out ever-larger tax breaks to the superrich and vast corporations.
Around the country, states and towns are gutting their budgets, undermining the quality of our lives.
Want Better Schools? Exalt Great Teachers
Thursday, March 24, 2011
When we demean teaching, we perpetuate mediocrity; when we exalt teaching, we bring about great education
by Zoe Weil
If at First You Don't Secede ...
Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D. | Wednesday 09 March 2011
Progressive eyes rightly have been transfixed on Wisconsin of late, with the en masse display of "people power" directly confronting attempts to erode public infrastructure and eviscerate the leverage of collective bargaining that so many have struggled for over the decades. Coming on the heels of popular uprisings in Egypt and across the region, and with the potential for an ensuing general strike in the offing if austerity measures persist, the "Whisky Rebellion" has captured the imagination of workers and activists, spawning solidarity actions around America and inspiring people in other states to push back against comparable right-wing machinations.
40 Md. Legislators Ask Congress to Move Money from Pentagon to Communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 4, 2011
Fund Our Communities: Bring the War Dollars Home
WHEN: Monday, March 7, 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: House Ways and Means Committee Conference Room, # 131 House Office Building, Annapolis
WHO: Forty state senators and delegates; leaders of supporting Md. justice and peace organizations
WHAT: Press conference to publicly release their letter to the 10 members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation asking them to cut the military budget and use the savings to fund local and state needs.
The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It
The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It is a 150 page handbook-guide for both newcomers and seasoned observers to cope with the often byzantine nature of defense issues. It is available for free electronic download at several Web sites, including the Straus Military Reform Project's at http://www.cdi.org/program/index.cfm?programid=37 and the Project On Government Oversight's (POGO) at http://dnipogo.org/labyrinth/.
The book contributors who will talk at this event are Tom Christie, Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey. (Bios below.) Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), will moderate the discussion.
The formal program starts at 6:30 p.m. and will end at 7:30 p.m. Afterwards, there will also be an opportunity for more informal discussion.
by Michael Moore
Monday, March 7, 2011
Speech delivered at Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, March 5, 2011
America is not broke.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot.
The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.
Laugh, O Revolution: Humor in the Egyptian Uprising
By Anna Louie Sussman
February 23, 2011
Revolutions can be messy. They can be tragic. As long as the Internet is working, they can be tweeted. And, as Egyptians demonstrated during their 18 days of protest, they can also be funny.
In the English-language press, the post-game wrap-up of Egypt's uprising has largely focused on the role of new media tools (as well as old ones, namely satellite television), which allowed people to connect, organize and inform. Absent from most of this analysis was an examination of one of the oldest and most subversive political tools there is: humor. The steady stream of comedy flowing throughout the square functioned much as Twitter and Facebook did: to build community, strengthen solidarity, and provide a safe, thug-free outlet for Egyptians to defy the regime.
The World Becomes What We Teach
by Zoe Weil
February 19, 2011 www.CommonDreams.org
At the end of this school year approximately three million students will graduate from U.S. high schools. They will not be ready for what awaits them. These are the students who have passed their No Child Left Behind tests year after year. They are verbally, mathematically, and technologically literate. They have been successful at meeting the requirements of our educational system. Yet, for the most part, even our highest performing graduates are unprepared for the important roles they must play in today’s world.
Teaching: The Most Noble Profession
Published on Friday, March 4, 2011 by www.CommonDreams.org
by Zoe Weil
I just heard from a friend of mine, a middle school teacher in Wisconsin. She is an extraordinary educator, one of the most innovative, inspiring, dedicated, passionate, successful, loving and beloved teachers I have ever met. I only wish I’d had a single teacher during middle and high school as good as she is. She has been attending rallies at the Capital and reported that the state and future of education in Wisconsin are looking very bleak, and that it was wearing her down.
$1.2 Trillion: The National Security Figure No One Wants You To See
by Chris Hellman
Published on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by TomDispatch.com
What if you went to a restaurant and found it rather pricey? Still, you ordered your meal and, when done, picked up the check only to discover that it was almost twice the menu price.
Welcome to the world of the real U.S. national security budget. Normally, in media accounts, you hear about the Pentagon budget and the war-fighting supplementary funds passed by Congress for our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That already gets you into a startling price range -- close to $700 billion for 2012 -- but that’s barely more than half of it. If Americans were ever presented with the real bill for the total U.S. national security budget, it would actually add up to more than $1.2 trillion a year.
US Military Spending Marches On
How on earth do you get a bipartisan consensus against cuts and for stimulus? Call it the defence budget
by Mark Engler
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by The Guardian/UK
With a new Congress with a House controlled by Republicans who have trumpeted deficit reduction as one of their central priorities, it would be logical to expect that there might be trimming in one of the largest and most bloated areas of US government spending: the nation's $700bn military budget. However, the realities of Washington, DC are different than the rhetoric. While spending for the Iraq war should be decreasing, as planned, in coming years, recently released budget proposals by both Democrats and Republicans show that base levels for Pentagon funding continue to rise.
How You Can Boycott the Kochs
By Lauren Kelley
February 28, 2011
Over the past few weeks, the billionaire Koch brothers and their front groups have steadily increased their involvement in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. The Kochs' outsized wealth and influence are forces to be reckoned with; that's why we should all be grateful that a Koch backlash, including a boycott of Koch Industries' products, has started picking up steam.
Wisconsin Is Making the Battle Lines Clear in America's Hidden Class War
The brazen choices of the Republican governor shows the real ideology behind attacks on unions – in the US and beyond
by Gary Younge
Monday, February 28, 2011 by The Guardian/UK
You can tell a great deal about a nation's anxieties and aspirations by the discrepancy between reality and popular perception. Polls last year showed that in the US 61% think the country spends too much on foreign aid. This makes sense once you understand that the average American is under the illusion that 25% of the federal budget goes on foreign aid (the real figure is 1%).
Similarly, a Mori poll in Britain in 2002 revealed that more than a third of the country thought there were too many immigrants. Little wonder. The mean estimate was that immigrants comprise 23% of the country; the actual number was about 4%.
Anatomy of a Protest: From a Simple March to a National Fight
by Dan Simmons
Published on Monday, February 28, 2011 by The Capital Times (Wisconsin)
MADISON, WI - On Feb. 7, with Wisconsin united in the afterglow of a Green Bay Packers victory in the Super Bowl, brand-new Gov. Scott Walker convened a dinner meeting of his Cabinet at the Governor's Mansion.
Walker held up a photo of President Ronald Reagan, who had famously fired striking air-traffic controllers, and said his plan to sweep away decades of protections for state public employees in a stop-gap budget bill represented "our time to change the course of history."
"It was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb," he said.
The budget-repair bill, which would strip most collective-bargaining rights from 175,000 public-sector workers while imposing immediate benefits concessions, went public four days later. Walker, a Republican, called for passage in the GOP-controlled Legislature within a week.
Anger After a Day of Lockdown in Madison
by David Dayen
Published on Monday, February 28, 2011 by FireDogLake
With a lot of the media pulling up stakes yesterday in Madison as protests entered their third week, and with one day until Governor Walker’s budget presentation to a joint session of the legislature, it was an opportune time for a serious crackdown on access to the Capitol. And that’s what happened today. Capitol police only allowed in constituents with appointments with members of the legislature, and refused access for anyone who wouldn’t show ID, including a state Representative.
State Rep Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, says she was denied access to the Capitol at several entrances this morning because she refused to show her Capitol ID card.