February 13, 2008

Paul Mann Honored Posthumously by the NEA

We are proud to announce that one of our caucus pioneers, Paul Mann, who was taken from us suddenly Friday, September 29, 2006 will be honored posthumously at this year's NEA Human and Civil Right's Dinner at the NEA RA in Washington, DC.

Paul Mann, a nationally recognized NEA and ISEA leader from Des Moines, Iowa will be honored with the presigious Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award.

Paul's life-long best friend and wife, Lola Mann, will receive the award in Paul's name. Special thanks go out to Nancy Porter, NEA Peace and Justice Executive Committee Member, for her work in nominating our friend for this honor. Nancy's friendship with Paul is truly inspiring.

Irmavae Applegate, who served as 1966-67 NEA President, was a member of the Executive Committee of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (now Education International). Sidney Dorros was the staff consultant to the NEA Bicentennial Committee.

NEA presents the Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award to an NEA member, NEA local affiliate, and/or NEA state affiliate whose activities in education contribute to international understanding and motivate youth to work for world peace. To be eligible for this award, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria:

1. Serve as a leader in efforts to further international understanding among Americans.

2. Make lasting contributions to the cause of international peace.

3. Inspire youth to study and become involved in methods for realizing international peace.

4. Promote international understanding, peace, and cooperation among the nations of the world.

The NEA Peace & Justice Caucus will also be honoring students for their contribution to Peace & Justice with the Paul Mann Youth Activism Award. Also notable is the work being done to build a Chiapas School named for Paul--the Paul Mann Teacher Training Center.

Take a moment to view this short piece that we've dedicated to our dear friend Paul.

Paul Mann

Paul W Mann died suddenly Friday, September 29, 2006 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. He graduated from East Monona High School in 1965. Paul earned his BS in Education at Central Missouri State University in 1969 and a Masters of Public Administration from Drake in 1981.

Paul taught in the Des Moines Public Schools from 1969 until present. He had been a social science and English teacher, a School Within a School Work Advisor, In-School Suspension Advisor, and currently was a world civilization and government teacher at Central Academy. He had served as President of the Des Moines Education Association (8 years), National Co-Chair of the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus, NCUEA Midwest Regional Director, NEA and ISEA Resolutions Committees, NEA Congressional Contact Team, and ISEA PAC Vice President. He also served as a member of the DSM Teacher Retirement System Advisory Board. Paul was a delegate for the NEA Representative Assembly for the past 30 years. He currently served on the DMEA and ISEA Executive Boards. Paul was a national delegate to the National Democratic Conventions (1976 - 1984). He was also a member of the Iowa Democratic Party Central Committee and was active in the Democratic Party.

"...Did you ever know that you're OUR hero..."

In 1977, Paul accepted President Carter's invitation to attend his White House Reception following his 1977 Inaugural Address (and Paul played Peter Gunn on the piano in the White House)! In 1980, Paul attended a White House Briefing on Strategic Arms Limitation Talks by US Secretary of Defense, Zbigniew Bryzezinski. In 1981, Paul was one of 2 people nominated by Drake University to be a US Presidential Management Intern. In 1989, he received the DMEA Ruth Foster Award.

Paul worked tirelessly to improve conditions for students and educators alike. Paul dedicated his knowledge and leadership to Des Moines Public Schools for 37 years. He was an effective, creative, caring, fun loving, and enthusiastic teacher.

Whatever Paul pursued, he did with passion and joy which is evident by his love of spending time with his family and numerous friends, helping others, creating simulations for his classes, traveling, astronomy, archeology, geology, history, politics, canoeing, multiple personal collections, biking, bocce ball, soccer, RAGBRAI, woodworking, puzzles, animals, singing and music.

We will miss you at the microphone sir... I think that our assembly will be quiet in your absence. That is why we will celebrate you...and why we will miss you.

Memorials may be made to the Paul W. Mann Peace and Justice Fund or the Paul W. Mann Memorial Fund.

CLICK HERE to contact Paul's wife, Lola, if you are interested in making a donation in our fallen friend's name.

February 12, 2008

Midwest Peace & Justice Caucus Minutes

The Midwest Peace & Justice Winter Meeting was held at the NEA Midwest Regional Conference in Minneapolis, MN January 19-21, 2008.

CLICK HERE to access a Word version Midwest Caucus Minutes, 08.doc



Introductions were made, and the following were in attendance for the Saturday afternoon meeting:

Tom Wolfe, Midwest regional director,
Nancy Porter, secretary
Members & Guests: Corey Mattson, Jodi Tupper, Chris Bern, Tom McLaughlin, Kim Mata, Marsha Williksen,, guest (ESP).

NEA Peace and Justice Membership Form.doc


Midwest P&J Blogspot First Annual Report Handout.doc

Tom McLaughlin reported on BLOG issuing a report saying there have been 400 articles and 3400 hits so far this year. The report covers monthly hits.

Please note that in May, October, and November Tom must direct musicals and fall plays and is pressed for time, so please send Tom articles to post or post your own.

Return visitors, 266 (loyal reader base)…googlable so we have readers from Thailand and all over. First timers: 1,911; unique visitors, 2,177; and page loads 3,670.

People thought that his sending a report out once a month was too often and quarterly was not quite enough. He’s trying to hit a happy medium.

Newsletters sent … so pick your own news, but be encouraged and people in every Midwestern state should be in charge of sending in articles to the Midwest blog. A discussion about readability and content followed.

McLaughlin finally coaxed three people to participate in his chat box for an online meeting. He thinks it’s a great medium for people to communicate, but not many appear interested now.

During the months of April, May, Oct, Nov, and Dec, it would be nice for McLaughlin to have help in original or any kind of help with articles. burning issues, or whatever, send to Tom and he can post also.


Tom Wolfe said that the major issues from the P&J Executive Board meeting in November were to end the Iraqi war and get rid of NCLB. He also wrote items for resolutions and NBIs for Iowa Caucuses which were passed by several caucuses and will be looked at by the county platform committee. The three proposed in the various caucuses were:

We oppose the use of torture by the U.S. Government as an instrument of persuasion.

We oppose the war in Iraq and urge the U.S. Government to remove its troops as soon as possible.

We support the repeal of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The following was the explanation given for the Military Commissions Act.: The Military Commissions Act allows the government to detain and imprison people without charge, a violation of the right of habeas corpus, and it allows the use of torture because it gives the president the right to define torture his or her own way, a violation of international law.

These same items were written as new business items for last year’s Iowa Delegate Assembly but were shot down in a big way. The torture resolution was debated and beaten badly while the other two were defeated through the fascistic object to consideration.

After last year’s Executive Board meeting, Tom Wolfe crafted a new business item on NCLB that called for the NEA to lobby Congress for the removal of all NCLB language from the ESEA law. It passed Iowa’s Delegate Assembly but ran into trouble in Philadelphia. The P&J leadership was not unified in supporting it, but it appeared very early in the RA. A few minutes before the motion was to be presented on the floor, leadership of NEA approached Tom and asked to have language changed slightly or it would be ruled out of order. Members were confused about what the language said, and it was defeated. Now Joel Packer from NEA has presented the NEA viewpoint that has a good direction, but there is a fear that doing anything during an election year could be dangerous. Even Senator Kennedy, a major force behind the original bill, has said this is a failed bill that needs to be addressed!


The former Chiapas initiative of contributing to certain schools in that oppressed Mexican province has been replaced this year by contributions to a teaching center being built that will be named the Paul Mann Teacher Training Center, in honor of a former national P&J chair and treasurer as well as being a close friend of some of us. The construction will be watched and possibly directed by P&J member on the scene, Peter Brown. The January newsletter contains information about this.

The newsletter also mentions The NEA Peace and Justice Paul Mann Youth Activist Award, an honor our caucus wishes to bestow annually on a deserving young person. If you belong to a philanthropic organization, please encourage money toward this recognition of youth, and the building of the Teacher Training Center.

Newsletters: Let us know if you don’t get newsletter. It will be posted on the Blog

A discussion of various speakers P&J has had at the summer RAs followed. Some said that Dr. Neal was, but Jonathan Kozol was the greatest. We are always looking for a good speakers and draws for the NEA RA.


The agenda was the same as the previous day’s meeting, but the attendance was greater. Candidate Donna Nelson from Indiana, who is running for ESP at large to the NEA Board if and when a spot opens, spoke to us first. She welcomed us with concerns of the ESP’s income and materials needed for the classroom by listening.


Those present were the following:

Tom McLaughlin
Shirley Moore
Cindy Wiese
Jan Holta, MN
John Barker, IA
Eva Barker
Oscar Ortiz, (happy birthday)
Kevin Ericson
Jean Seeland
Jean Agbese
WI..Sue Fulkerson
WI Kathy Peterson
WI, Charlie Clark
Kim Muta


Candidates: Becky Pringle, NEA Exec. PA congratulated us as a caucus and the important focus we give to the NEA of the importance of Human and Civil Rights


We have about 147 members and the hits show that double that amount hit our site on a regular basis. Please consider submitting information to the Web site that Tom will be happy to post…or you can post it yourself.

Goals: Iraq war and NCLB issues….end the war fast, NCLB…eliminate but work through the ESEA….

3 resolutions for last spring‘s DA…

Use of torture

We oppose the war
We oppose NCLB
Military Commissions;

Mission statement read.

Continued intro for the potential officers for ISEA: Jean Seeland and Tom McLaughlin both complimented the questions and the thoughts that had to go into the answers…..

The rest of the meeting proceeded the same as the Saturday gathering except that more people braved the early morning hour to attend.


Nancy Porter

Nancy Porter
NEA P&J Secretary

February 2, 2008

Secrets and Rights

New York Times

President Bush's excesses in the name of fighting terrorism are legion. To avoid accountability, his administration has repeatedly sought early dismissal of lawsuits that might finally expose government misconduct, brandishing flimsy claims that going forward would put national security secrets at risk.

The courts have been far too willing to go along. In cases involving serious allegations of kidnapping, torture and unlawful domestic eavesdropping, judges have blocked plaintiffs from pursuing their claims without taking a hard look at the government's basis for invoking the so-called state secrets privilege: its insistence that revealing certain documents or other evidence would endanger the nation's security.

As a result, victims of serious abuse have been denied justice, fundamental rights have been violated and the constitutional system of checks and balances has been grievously undermined.

Congress — which has allowed itself to be bullied on national security issues for far too long — may now be ready to push back. The House and Senate are developing legislation that would give victims fair access to the courts and make it harder for the government to hide illegal or embarrassing conduct behind such unsupported claims.

Last week, Senator Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, and Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, jointly introduced the State Secrets Protection Act. The measure would require judges to examine the actual documents or other evidence for which the state secrets privilege is invoked, rather than relying on government affidavits asserting that the evidence is too sensitive to be publicly disclosed. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and an important supporter of the reform, has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Feb. 13. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, expects to introduce a similar measure in the House.

Of course, legitimate secrets need to be protected, and the legislation contains safeguards to ensure that.

To allow cases to go forward, the bill gives judges the authority to order the government to provide unclassified or redacted substitutes. It also gives those making claims against the government a chance to make a preliminary case using evidence that they have gathered on their own.

In October, the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to rein in the administration’s abuse of state secrets claims and establish new procedures for dealing with potentially sensitive evidence.

The justices declined to take up the case of Khaled el-Masri, an innocent German citizen of Lebanese descent who was kidnapped, detained and tortured in a secret overseas prison as part of the administration's extraordinary rendition program. Lower federal courts had dismissed Mr. Masriâ's civil lawsuit, reflexively bowing to the administration's claim that proceeding would compromise national security.

Since the Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility, Congress must now act. Too many laws have been violated, and too many Americans and others have been harmed under a phony claim of national security.