November 24, 2009

Problems with Race to the Top

Everyone needs to read Yong Zhao's recent book, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization.

It is tremendous!

Here is a link to Yong Zhoa's blog where you find this recent satirical post on how to win at the RTTT game.

November 21, 2009

Letter from our Director

These may not be Dickens’ worst of times, but they certainly are not the best either. Not only is our president pursuing an education policy that is sometimes hard to distinguish from his predecessor’s, but it appears he may escalate our troop involvement in Afghanistan, perhaps the worst country in the world for anyone to wage a war and one that our Nobel Peace Prize winner seems determined to wage anyway. If we could accept the notion of a just war, could enough be gained to offset the undoubted fact that more people will die; intolerance will increase; and our economy, already reeling from recession, will have to absorb the additional cost of war at the expense of other more socially pressing needs? During the Bush years, 1,517 young Americans died in that war, and in about ten months of the Obama Administration, at least 509 young people with hopes and dreams for the future have had their promising lives ended. Is this what a peace prize winner should do? I urge everyone to prepare new business items for your state assemblies and for next summer’s RA that would force the NEA to lobby harder for peace in Afghanistan. We must get the attention of our Nobel winner!

The following link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygXW1QnV2pE, leads to a letter to President Obama read by an eleven year old Californian named Ethan Matsuda about education and Afghanistan. It is worth hearing. The boy won the Golden state’s youth activism award four years ago, is the author of two books, and makes a stirring appeal for peace. Please take the time to click on this link. Then prepare that NBI.

Tom Wolfe
P&J Midwest Director

October 8, 2009

Afghanistan by Tom Wolfe, P&J Midwest Regional Director

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” I was a twenty year old collegian when I heard those words from President Kennedy in 1961, and I was proud and thrilled to be an American when I heard it. I was also, I think, mistaken and sadly na├»ve.

Kennedy used those stirring words to justify the growing American military involvement in Vietnam where the survival and liberty of Americans at home were not threatened, and President Johnson continued to use that same argument as we sank into the quicksand of that far off land until we finally abandoned the effort entirely in 1975. Our fundamental problem there was the belief that imperialism was an acceptable basis for foreign policy and that it was perfectly legitimate for our nation to establish hegemony over other people in any manner possible, even militarily.

What did we learn from that experience? Apparently nothing because as I write this it is the eighth anniversary of the American invasion of Afghanistan, where nearly 900 young Americans have died so far, along with the many more lost in Iraq in the last six years and thousands physically and mentally shattered in both wars. Beyond that are the massive numbers of Afghans, Pakistanis, and Iraqis killed in our quest for hegemony.

Now President Obama is trying to decide whether he should send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Secretary of State Clinton apparently favors sending even more than that, and Vice President Biden would have fewer troops but escalate the use of drones and rockets in Pakistan, bringing even more hatred to our nation while killing from on high. They would do this despite having no money to pay for it, no clearly explained reason for it, no agreement on just whom the enemy actually is, and no explanation of how we would ever know when we won so we could all go home again! There is also the unstated premise that we belong there in the first place, that shedding the blood of young Americans and that of countless other people’s blood to extend American dominion over others is actually a good thing.

Does putting Americans in harm’s way in Afghanistan “assure the survival and the success of liberty” for Americans at home? Of course not. This is a watershed moment in American history, and it appears President Obama intends to slide us into another Vietnam. He probably won’t remove existing troops and will more likely add some soon, and Vietnam will be repeated once again. We must voice our opposition loudly and now. Those of you who remember the movie “Network” will recall that Howard Beale stuck his head out a window and screamed, “I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” Please write or call your congressman, your senator, and especially President Obama. One way to write the president is to flood him with emails at this address: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/. Let our voices for peace be heard as we ponder the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."

Tom Wolfe
P&J Midwest Regional Director

September 4, 2009

Fair Trade Curriculum Courses

Win Win Solutions: An Introduction to Fair Trade and Cooperative Economics.
Equal Exchange’s 124-page curriculum provides a link between personal actions and community efforts to create a more just and sustainable world. This interdisciplinary resource is designed for grades 4-9 and addresses standards from a wide variety of subjects. The flexible structure allows teachers to incorporate individual experiential activities into current lesson plans or use all four units. Addresses national curriculum standards from a variety of subject areas. Available online for free download at http://www.equalexchange.coop/educationaltools.

Setting a Higher Bar: Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Cocoa Unit for Kids. This full unit from Global Exchange has nine ready-to-use lesson plans using inquiry-based learning and encouraging critical thinking. The unit was written broadly for grades 2-5, but is suitable for younger and older students with adaptation. While primarily a social studies unit integrating language arts, it also includes art, math, and life science. Designed to be supported by the Global Exchange Fair Trade Chocolate Book. Book AND unit are available for free download at www.globalexchange.org/cocoa

Focus on Fair Trade from TransFair USA . Each unit highlights our global interdependence by focusing on three different Fair Trade foods: Chocolate Explorers (grades K-2), Banana Bonanza (grades 3-6), and Coffee Connections (grades 7-12). Units include lesson plans and address relevant national standards with ideas for accessible, interactive activities on topics ranging from geography, economics, social studies, history, environmental studies, and marketing. Download for free at http://www.transfairusa.org/content/support/classroom.php.

Maya Arts and Crafts of Guatemala /Artes y Artesanias Mayas de Guatemala, Bilingual Coloring Book. Pictures and text illustrate the importance of arts and crafts in the lives of the Maya. Two Teacher and Parent Guides are available online for free download: Kids and Fair Trade, which contains lessons designed to help children understand how Fair Trade helps address some of the injustices inherent in our present trading system, and Learning From the Maya About Diversity, Culture and Ecology. For more information about ordering the coloring book or to download Teacher Guides, visit: http://www.proartemaya.org/

September 3, 2009

Constitution - September 17th

In this day and age, our students are witnessing massive changes in our country, perhaps even larger than they (or we) can comprehend.

On September 17, Constitution Day, schools receiving federal funds are required to integrate the Constitution into their lessons. The day offers an opportunity for all of us to teach students something about the Constitution, the document that unites us as Americans across our various political views. Taking some time to discuss the Constitution in your classroom can help students make sense of this unique historical moment by connecting the rights it protects to current issues like domestic spying, preventive detention, and the expansion of executive power.

Because it implicates so many subjects, the Constitution can be an apt subject for a lesson plan regardless of what you teach, or at what level. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) has compiled and developed a series of resources to make it easier for teachers to bring these issues into their classrooms. Additionally, BORDC has grassroots volunteers in a variety of locations available to serve as guest lecturers.

Please consider a lesson focused on the Constitution and its current relevance on September 17. Several lesson plans are available online. Feel free to use them in any way you wish, and please share feedback on your students' experiences.

Finally, please contact Emma Roderick at BORDC if you're interested in (a) inviting a BORDC guest lecturer to visit your class, (b) helping compile lesson plans or other curricular materials about current constitutional issues, or (c) working with other volunteers to draft a report about troubling and pervasive security measures in schools. In your email, please include your school's zip code and a phone number where we can reach you.

Thank you for your invaluable work preparing our nation's future leaders.

Sincerely,

Flavia Alaya, Bridgeton, NJ
Barbara Ehrentreu, North White Plains, NY
Elizabeth Hanson, Lake Forest Park, WA
Meagan Magrath, Springfield, MA
Bradley Olson, Evanston, IL

and other members of the BORDC Educators Team

P.S. Feel free to share this email with your colleagues, both at your school and in other schools.

Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Address: 8 Bridge Street, Suite A, Northampton, MA 01060
Web: http://www.bordc.org/
Email: info@bordc.org
Telephone: 413-582-0110
Fax: 413-582-0116

Health Care: It's Broke. Fix It, Already!

Lily Eskelsen
NEA Vice President

We’ve now seen that dangerous combination of bad information and sincere people who believe it because they read it on the internet:

Town Hall Q. Do you support death panels that want to murder my grandmother?
Town Hall A. Say what?

Yes, it’s entertaining, and there’s a musical in the works based on the actual transcripts of Barney Frank’s town hall meeting. But for now, let’s be party poopers and stick to facts. Let’s talk about what’s broken and what we could do to fix it.

I’m a teacher. We have pretty good health insurance. So why do we care? Well, we care about our communities. We care that a lot of our students and their families don’t have access to quality health care. Those kids miss a lot of school, and that hurts them academically.

And even if you have good insurance, you’ll notice it’s not as good as it was ten years ago. You’ll notice paychecks are smaller as employers pay ever higher premiums to insurance companies that spend 30 cents out of every dollar on administrative overhead.

Hopefully, you won’t be among the people with insurance who find out what isn’t covered when they get sick and make a claim. Or those who have faithfully paid premiums for years only to find their insurance cancelled just before their prostate surgery as they’re notified they neglected to report an unrelated but previously-existing hangnail.

One man’s job stops providing family insurance, and he can’t afford to pick up the $1,000 monthly premium. One woman can’t get insurance because she’s young enough to get pregnant. Another because she’s old enough to need hormone therapy.

We all need this reform. Without decent coverage, medical bankruptcies will impact more families and local economies. Wages will stagnate as more of our wealth is shoveled into the bureaucratic abyss of insurance companies. It will crash in the end.

And when it does, we’ll reach the critical mass of the motivated that allowed Medicare to pass. In 1965, there were no town hall shouting matches. Why? Because seniors tend to have bad hearts and bad eyes and bad hip joints. Insurance companies didn’t want them. There was no motivation for them to oppose it.

The motivated folks were terrified seniors rejected by health insurance companies as a bad risk whose greatest fear, other than getting sick, was becoming a burden to their families.

The motivated folks were the adult kids of seniors who were desperately caught between helping their parents pay doctor bills and risking their own financial security.

The motivated folks were the hospitals that were left with expensive end-of-life treatments and no one to pay the bill.

When some guy would stand up and call it socialized medicine, the motivated folks would tell him to sit down and shut up. People wanted a public option called Medicare. It isn’t perfect. But it fixed the worst of what was broken.

It’s important that House reform proposals contain a similar public option. If you like your private insurance, keep it. For working people who fit better with a public option, they would finally have the choice.

Premiums would be based on your ability to pay, so everyone can afford reasonably priced insurance. Reform would end the nasty gotcha game of pre-existing conditions – no insurance would ever again be able to deny or cancel coverage because of past illness. All proposals keep choices of private doctors, clinics and hospitals.

The problem is real. And now we have real solutions and a rare opportunity to bring common-sense to our crazy quilt of a non-system.

No more shouting of absurdities. This is too important. Speak the truth. Calmly but with conviction. Call your member of Congress. Your senator. Tell them it’s time to lead our country something that works for all of us.

Links:

TAKE ACTION! Sign up as a Cyber Lobbyists and send your health care message NOW!
http://www.nea.org/home/19546.htm

Health Care Lies Being Spread to Seniors
http://www.nea.org/home/ns/35328.htm

The Price of Private Insurance Overhead
http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=20&p=3

Cancelling the Insured because of Pre-Existing Conditions
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/business/smallbusiness/27sbiz.html

Medical Bankruptcies
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/health-care-reform/2009/06/new_study_shows_medical_bills.html

President Obama on a Public Option to private insurance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGJmi6JB4js

August 6, 2009

News From the Chair

Peace and Justice Caucus
National Education Association

I am Nancy Porter. I am a reading teacher in the Iowa City Community School District. I have a long career as an educator but maintain my parent status with two daughters and their five offspring as an important part of my legacy. I’m not sure where being a mother in law fits, but I do know I have had the joy of my family presence these last weeks. Since they live in NY, I can’t often say that.

The thrilling part of my life is working with all the new and enthusiastic members of Peace and Justice who want to see positive change for the future of our caucus. Many of these members come from Iowa. There are too many for whom I am very thankful and expect great things from in the future. I do want to recognize the colleagues from Iowa who have continued in PandJ on the national level: Carol Kula recently elected floor chair, Tom Wolfe persevering Midwest Regional Director, Tom McLaughlin national blog site web master. I also want to thank all the current Board members and chairs for creating and continuing our caucus. They represent what is great about being an educator.

Like any organization we are only as strong, smart, viable and communicative as our members allow us to be.

You are the member and you are the one I want to hear from. In the near future we will have a web site reflective of the regions, needs, awareness, interests, action needed of our concerns at home and internationally. Hopefully you will be able to focus on what is most important to you and you can let us know if we miss your prime interests for peace and justice.

All input is welcome, new ideas can be implemented, and a forceful means of communication achieved. It is never too early to begin planning for the Delegate Assembly, and working for peace and justice is an ongoing direction for our caucus.

Summer R’s: renew, re-create, get ready to roll

July 13, 2009

Paul Mann: Schools for Chiapas

The Schools for Chiapas is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to bringing schools, classrooms, and education to the indigenous Mayan people in the extreme southern region of Mexico. Specifically they support Zapatista programs in literacy, health, ecological agriculture, and productive community projects. They are truly a grassroots organization that is not connected to any for-profit organization or government.

Thanks in part to the sailboat cruises for Chiapas Schools, the Paul Mann Schools for Chiapas was able to raise over $6,000 during the NEA Delegate assembly in San Diego. A wonderful total, but still short of what is needed for the people of this region in Southern Mexico.

Each school of five classrooms requires $7,500 to build and that doesn't include desks, supplies and upkeep. The schools need our help year-round and here is what you can do to help. At the Schools for Chiapas website you can read about the origin of the the Paul Mann Schools, ideas and lessons for your classroom, as well as the history of the Zapitista people. At the website, you can give a one time donation for any amount, or a monthly donation. You can even buy Zapitista products such as coffee, artwork, dolls and so much more. Go to the Schools for Chiapas website and give whatever you can today.

Mission Statement:
Schools for Chiapas supports the autonomous, indigenous communities of Chiapas, Mexico in their efforts to create a just, democratic, and dignified education including autonomous schools, community health trainings, ecological agricultural studies, and alternative market development. In the face of corporate globalization, we join the Zapatistas and others in the effort to build capacity and skills for healthy, sustainable, and self-reliant communities. We join people of conscience everywhere in promoting alternative models of education and action that challenge and resist environmental degradation and human exploitation.
Written by Schools for Chiapas Coordinators
June 18, 2006

June 19, 2009

Turn Words Into Action

During the campaign, Senator Obama said he will never abandon or turn his back on the people of Darfur; now President Obama appears to be close to unveiling his plan. Our President's plan must be clear and concise in regards to what will be done to end the attrocities that have gone unchecked for far too long. Our President must make saving this region in Sudan a national priority, rather than an issue that we will get to when we can.

Former President Bush didn't take the issue in Darfur seriously and refuese to send aid or troops to the region to help the struggle. He made a last ditch effort on January of 2009 by sending an emergency airlift to the region; too little too late.

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/Americas/2009/jan/Bushs-Darfur-Aid-Plan-Draws-Criticism.html

Our new President cannot follow this strategy. In his campaign, Obama promised to make Darfur a priority and you can help make him own up to his promise. Visit the site below and fill out a form to send a letter to the President urging him to make a plan for the region public and a priority.

http://action.savedarfur.org/campaign/obamarollout/eu7u87k9r737j38w?



April 26, 2009

Stop the Bullies: It is Your JOB!



April 21, 2009

Another Child Suicide Blamed on Antigay Bullying

Family members of an 11-year-old boy who committed suicide in DeKalb County, Ga., on Thursday afternoon say that relentless bullying is to blame for their son's death, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution .

Jaheem Herrera, a fifth-grader at Dunaire Elementary School in the Atlanta area, hanged himself in his room after enduring extreme daily bullying that included antigay taunts. His 10-year-old sister discovered his body.

Herrera’s mother and stepfather say they were aware of the consistent bullying, although their son tried to hide the extent of it. His mother, Masika Bermudez, complained to the school, reports WSB-TV, and she talked with his best friend about the situation.

“He said, ‘Yes, ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So the only way out is by killing himself,’” Bermudez told WSB-TV.

Jaheem was an excellent student who moved with his family to the Atlanta area last year from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, said stepfather Norman Keene.

The suicide of Jaheem follows the death earlier this month of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a sixth-grader in Springfield, Mass., who hanged himself after reportedly enduring relentless antigay bullying.

In March, the parents of Eric Mohat -- a Mentor, Ohio, 17-year-old who shot and killed himself in 2007 following what his parents characterize as months of merciless antigay harassment -- filed a lawsuit against Mentor High School with the U.S. district court in the northern Ohio district; they're not seeking compensation for themselves, but rather an admission that Eric's death was a "bullycide," and they're asking that the school put in place an anti-bullying program to prevent future such tragedies.

Visit the sites below for more stories and books and donate to the suicide hotline. Most importantly, as a teacher/administrator, it is your job to stop bullies in your school. If you think there is something wrong with a student, assume there is and investigate. You never know the difference you can make just by simply asking a child if something is wrong, or how they are doing. Don't turn your head when you see bullying, Stop It!







http://www.jaredstory.com/


http://www.bullypolice.com/

http://www.bullycide.org/


http://www.suicide.org/donate.html

April 15, 2009

Help Pass the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act


The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was passed on July 25, 2006—20 years after Adam Walsh's abduction. The act established a National Sex Offender Registry law, but recent news reports reveal most states will not be in compliance with the law by the upcoming July 2009 deadline. If senators and state representatives don't comply with and fully fund the act, it will expire.

For more information about this Act or to contact your Senator and/or Representative go to:
http://www.oprah.com/article/oprahshow/20090220-tows-adam-walsh-act

To get a sample letter to send your Senator and/or Representative go to:
http://www.oprah.com/article/oprahshow/20090220-tows-adam-walsh-act/2

April 3, 2009

Congratulations Nancy Porter!


The Midwest Peace and Justice Causcus is smiling from ear to ear today. One of our best representatives, and beautiful souls, was awarded with the Charles F. Martin Award from the Iowa State Education Association.

Nancy Porter has been an active Association member at the local, state, and national levels for decades. She has worked as a Reading Recovery teacher in the Iowa City School district for 16 years and has been involved in education for 40 years.

Locally, she's served as President and Vice President of the Iowa City Education Association and received many honors including Eduactor of the Year.

At the state level, she served on the ISEA Executive Board for 13 years, and was a delegate to NEA Representative Assemblies, a delegate to the ISEA Delegate Assembly for over two decades, a member of the ISEA PAC Central Committee, and a presenter and attendee at the ISEA Summber Conference in Storm Lake.

Nationally, she serves as Secretary of the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus.

Nancy has mentored many ISEA members, encouraging them to attend weekly legislative forums, and hosting barbecues at her house to socialize and organize. She has become engaged in the political processes necessary to guarantee students' and teachers' needs are met and to provide the very best education possible for students everywhere.

The prestigious Charles F. Martin Award has been presented annually since 1972 as ISEA's top honor to a member who has made a significant contribution to the teaching profession through Association involvement. It's named in honor of the late Charles F. Martin who served as ISEA president in 1945 and then as executive director from 1946 to 1961.

We are so proud of our very own Nancy Porter. Congratulations to you Nancy, and thank you for all the wonderful work you do on behalf of our Caucus and our students here in Iowa. We couldn't be more proud of you.

Iowa court upholds ruling; marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman

Read the whole story

More information coming soon!

Teacher Resources

Visit DMEA's wiki that was put together by Peace and Justice bloggers Stefanie Rosenberg-Cortes and Joshua Brown. It has a section that has valuable resources to teach Peace and Justice issues in your classroom.

DMEA Peace and Justice Wiki Page

March 9, 2009

101 Tools for Tolerance

Please take advantage of all that the teaching tolerance website has to offer. Here is just a short snap shot of one of the great resources that is available to help us connect issues we are passionate about to our schools

Tools for Tolerance: Ideas For Your School:

41. Donate tolerance-related books, films, magazines and other materials to school libraries. Organize a book drive.

42. Buy art supplies for a local school. Sponsor a mural about the cultural composition and heritage of your community.

43. Volunteer to be an advisor for a student club. Support a wide range of extracurricular activities to help students "find their place" at school.

44. Coach a girls' sports team. Encourage schools to provide equal resources for boys' and girls' athletics.

45. Sponsor a conflict resolution team.

46. Ask school counselors what resources they have for supporting gay and lesbian youth. Offer additional materials if necessary.

47. Assess your school's compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Organize a class project to improve compliance.

48. Donate a tape recorder to a school that is conducting oral history projects. Suggest a focus on local struggles for civil rights.

49. Start a pen pal program. Get students in touch with people in different parts of the community, country or world.

50. Applaud the other team. Promote good sportsmanship and ban taunting.

51. Encourage schools to go beyond the "heroes and holidays" model to develop a rich, ongoing multicultural curriculum. Give Teaching Tolerance materials to educators in your community.

52. Provide confidential methods for students to report harassment or bullying.

53. Encourage school administrators to adopt Internet-use polices that address online hate, harassment and pornography.

53. Discourage the use of divisive school emblems.

55. Ensure that schools comply with the McKinney Act, the federal law mandating educational services for homeless children.

56. Create a bilingual (or multilingual) calendar highlighting school and community activities.

57. Invite bilingual students to give morning greetings and announcements on the PA system in their home languages.

58. Make sure that school cafeterias offer options for students and staff with dietary restrictions.

59. Celebrate "Someone Special Day" instead of Mother's Day or Father's Day. Keep adoptive and foster students in mind when planning family-oriented programs.

60. Ask schools not to schedule tests or school meetings on the major holidays of any religious group. Develop a school calendar that respects religious diversity.


March 8, 2009

Stop the Use of Child Soldiers


The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is an organization that works to stop the use of recruitment and use of children as spies and soldiers for many of our worlds poorest countries. Organized in May of 1998, the organization works in Africa, Asia, Latin America and throughout the Middle East to recruit members to lead the fight against the disgrace that is child soldiers. It's ultimate goal is to establish laws in every nation that would prevent the use of children for any military purpose.

In October of 2008, the coalition celebrated a victory when then President George W. Bush signed into law the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, which allows the U.S. to prosecute any American who knowingly recruits anyone under the age of 15 for military purposes, even if that child is outside the United States. It also allows for the deportation, or denial of entry, for anyone who has recruited anyone age 15 or younger for military purposes.

While the coalition may be celebrating this victory from last October, it is clear that it was not enough. If the United States is just now getting around to address this issue on her soil, there is clearly some work to do abroad. Despite near universal condemnations, the use of tens of thousands of children for military purposes still remains.
The movie "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DeCaprio shows Hollywood's take on the epidemic, but the reality is far worse. Visit the sites below for images, facts, stories, and read the 2008 child soldiers global report. Hear the words of child soldiers themselves and see what you can do to help. If you are fortunate enough to teach geography or global studies, take your students to the coalitions website and educate them about the crises.

http://www.child-soldiers.org/home

http://www.childsoldiersglobalreport.org

February 22, 2009

Teaching About Social Justice

What is our job as teachers? Is our job to simply teach our students about our content area? Is it our job to teach responsibility, citizenship, character, etc.? In my opinion, it is our job to teach students all of the above. We must educate our students using a whole child perspective. In order to best teach our students we must make them aware of the world around them and educate them about what they can do to make the world a better place.

There are many resources available to teach students of all ages about social justice issues. These are just a few examples of websites which provide ready to use information and resources on teaching about social justice issues.

January 27, 2009

P&J Newletter Update

Dear Midwest P&J Members,

As you may or may not know, P&J tries to print at least three and sometimes four newsletters a year, but this year we're going to do at least one of them online only because our income is low. If you would prefer to receive your newsletter online all the time, would you please contact Pat Robertson at topatr@mac.com. If most people did this, we could afford more newsletters, and I know that some of you actually prefer to read things online. Please contact her if this is your wish.

Secondly, I've become aware that many members are not part of the listserv where so much information and opinion is circulated within our P&J membership. If you are not on it and would like to be, please contact Andy Griggs, our national chair, at andyca6@gmail.com.

Thanks,
Tom Wolfe
P&J Midwest Director

January 22, 2009

Midwest Regional Update

Dear Midwest P&J members,

The NEA Midwest Regional was held in Chicago over the weekend of January 16-18, 2009. Two early morning caucuses were held, and the minutes are printed below. We also had a table in the hallway outside the ballroom where we collected $459 from the sale of various materials and the signing of 13 new members. That was way above average, and much of the credit goes to Kimberly Colbert, Minnesota’s state contact, who helped Nancy Porter and me at the table some and did a fabulous job! We always welcome help like hers.

Tom Wolfe
P&J Midwest Director

Tom Wolfe, Midwest Regional Director, brought the meeting to order at 8AM, January 17, 2009, in the Superior B room of Chicago’s Sheraton Towers Hotel. Present were the following people:
Bev Cashman
Jodi Tupper
Stefanie Cortes
Josh Wager
Tom McLaughlin
Josh Brown
Cindy Wiese, NEA Resolutions Committee...let's get our NBIs and resolutions to her for NEA wording
Rich Baldwin, central IL
Brittney Hagmeier
Kim Meyer
Cathy Stringfield, MN
Kim Kearby

Recognition to a youth for the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award, Romen Borsellino received the award last year on the Iowa and national Level... Please help nominate a youth for this year’s award.

Midwest Blog: find the form
Midwest Blog: email Stephanie Cortes at stefanie.rosenberg-cortes@dmps.k12.ia.us The Midwest blog address is www.midwestpeaceandjustice.blogspot.com. If you can’t recall the address, just Google NEA Peace and Justice or Midwest Peace and Justice, and the blog will appear.

The Peace Museum in Chicago has resources for teaching Peace and Justice and we have a goal to post on the Blog resources for teachers to use to teach Peace and Justice or P&J issues...spread the word so our readership will increase and folks will hear about us and use the Blog to build citizenship among our students...public ed to build good citizens.

Len Pierillo, NEA exec...Congressional delegation from WI great. Hopeful that things will get better for Peace and Justice issues and NCLB. Recovery money will help (80 billion$)...current lobby effort on Federal level

Tom McLaughlin is working on the national P & J web site
National P & J issues include

The P&J Executive Board settled on the following broad issues to focus on this year: the economy, healthcare, peace, NCLB and ed funding, civil liberties, and poverty. Tom handed out a sheet including these items and how the National addresses these. (It is a sheet prepared by Rhonda Hanson and Bill Balderston and offers suggestions as to how our P&J could approach these issues. We encourage much discussion on their suggestions. (The handout is printed at the end of these notes.)

Note the article from Chair Andy Griggs in the newsletter.

Discussion of business items included the following:

Escalation of war, prisoners: we need to hold our President Obama accountable...Kim Kearby...at least charge the held captives with something
Employee free union ... only have to show a majority interested without a vote or passing cards....perhaps we will be able to focus on that as an area of support
NCLB still in effect ... craft language to take to the RA, start at DA
We are still forced to work under an unfunded mandate.
Chicago Public Schools work top down...union busting, merit pay based on scores, our new secretary of education is very scary. His last duty included closing 16 Chicago schools.

Any thoughts or NBIs or resolutions that one wants to present at a state assembly, please send the wording around so we can all learn from the ideas and craft them for our own states. State support allows for better chance of passage at the Rep Assembly level.

NAFTA/ KAPTA....hold those countries accountable so we trade with countries which respect human rights.



Peace and Justice Midwest Caucus on Sunday, January 18 began with introductions at 8:30 AM following breakfast, led by Tom Wolfe.

MidwestBlog: Stefanie and Josh, education component added to Blog site; classroom material addition as well as other information. Currently the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award is the main focus. Anyone can be added as a contributor.

Paul Mann Youth Activist Award form on blog: we'd like to see a nominee from each state. Please nominate a student and recognize one at your state assembly. Send the state winners nomination papers to the national chair, Mary Prophet, PO Box26382, LA , CA 90026



Attending...15 people
Jean Agbese, state contact
Nafiseh Vossoughi-Parks
Stefanie Cortes
Josh R. Wager
Rich Baldwin
Julie Pepper
Tom Wolfe, presiding
Kate Ostrozovich
Mary Ann Schwartz
JoEllen Potchen-Webb
Kimberly Colbert
Steve Hinricks
Cathy Stringfield
Nancy Porter, secretary
Jodi Tupper

Introductions

T shirt contest: submit entries or ...student contests

Note Newsletter with mission statement and article concerning NEA P&J areas of concern for this year. Please think about presenting RBIs or Resolutions at your state assemblies. Use your resolutions committee(s) for language

sizmc528@aol.com
JPepper@pkwy.k12.mo.us
wolfeman2@mchsi.com
kostrozo@cps.k12.in.us
kimberlycolbert59@gmail.com
steve_central@hotmail.com
mcstring@nrheg.k12.mn.us
maryann.schwartz@jcisd.org
baldwinr@district87.org
nafiseh@teacher.com
agbesej@waterloo.k12.ia.us

We discussed the importance of using language for our NBIs and resolutions that relates directly to the students in the classroom and our classroom educators.
Cathy: modeling, supporting and promoting our core democratic principals and values to help support the need our students in classrooms have. Using language that reflects this in our resolutions and NBIs at the RA should be a priority to unify our teachers and P&J members.

Focus on the basic democratic principals that we need to use to teach our students, such as patriotism, civic duty, and we would get more support from our colleagues instead of "object to consideration." (Iowa’s rule is the same as that at the NEA-RA, the maker of a motion still can speak to the motion for two minutes after an object to consider motion. It’s helpful, but that’s about all one can say for it.

Nancy Porter, secretary

Below is the suggested action handout prepared by Hanson and Balderston that was distributed at the two caucuses in Chicago.

NEA Peace & Justice Caucus

P.O. Box 26382 Los Angeles, CA 90026
A Progressive Agenda for the
New Administration


The election of Barack Obama opens the possibility of a new progressive era, but it
will not happen without the sustained struggle of a mobilized public.

by Rhonda Hanson and Bill Balderston

The Economy
We now face the worst serious crisis since
the Great Depression. The bailout of the
banks failed because banks will only lend
money when there is a growing economy.
Public investment is the best way to
stimulate the economy and create jobs here
in the U.S. Public investment must include
stringent public oversight.

Bail Out Main Street, Not Wall Street


Enact a moratorium on foreclosures; provide
mortgage relief for homeowners and tax
relief for low-income renters.

Rebuild the nation’s infrastructure (roads
and bridges, schools, airports and drinking
and wastewater systems) and create jobs.
(Thousands of state transportation and education infrastructure projects could be ready to
launch within 90 days of receiving funding.) This should be done primarily through control by
public agencies, with a strict accountability system to weed out excess profits and corruption.

Invest in research and technology; invest in the Green Economy. Build a clean energy
economy that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and address the threat of global
warming.
o
Retrofit buildings to improve energy efficiency
o
Expand mass transit and freight rail
o
Construct smart electric grid systems
o
Increase the capacity for generating power from wind and solar energy
o
Place utilities under municipal/state control for the benefit of the communities they
serve

Pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Make it easier for employees to organize and bargain
collectively to enhance workers’ ability to fight for a fair share of the wealth they help to create.

Raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

Enact comprehensive reform of the financial markets; Bush and Clinton era deregulation has
been disastrous. Financial groups that fail should have to pay back taxpayer loans first.

“Bail Out” the government’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to guarantee the solvency of all
pension funds.
(Continued on reverse side)



Provide Federal Aid to the States so Budget Cuts do not Erode Public Services


These should include programs to support the arts, public media, early childhood education,
community colleges, and other neglected public services.
Secure Health Care for All


Work toward a system of Universal, Single Payer Health Care (such as HR676/Medicare for
All Bill) which would guarantee health care to all families, and improve the efficiency of our
health care system by eliminating private, for-profit insurance companies

Increase funding for Medicaid to avoid state cuts in health care that would lead to a sharp
increase in the number of uninsured people.

Provide federal support to expand S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Provide assistance to jobless workers to afford COBRA health care premiums.
Invest in Public Education


Rewrite NCLB
o
Reduce the amount of mandated testing; use multiple forms of assessment
o
Eliminate sanctions; provide targeted assistance to low performing schools
o
Support high quality professional development and parental involvement

Expand access to child care, Head Start, and early childhood education.

Expand eligibility and funding for Pell Grants.
Revamp Foreign Policy


End the War in Iraq. No permanent bases.

Avoid an escalation of the war in Afghanistan that will result in a new foreign policy quagmire
and drain needed funds from domestic priorities.

Close Guantanamo as a down-payment on restoring America’s tarnished international
reputation; restore habeas corpus—charge and try detainees or release them.

Reject a national security policy based on torture, extraordinary rendition, and warrantless
surveillance.

Support the right of workers everywhere to organize and bargain collectively.
Restore Civil Liberties and Adherence to the Constitution and Bill of Rights


Repudiate the Imperial Presidency (a vision of executive power unconstrained by Congress
or the Courts). Restore Checks and Balances.
Renegotiate Global Trade Rules to Protect the Environment and Ensure that Trade Benefits
Workers in all Participating Countries


Dismantle NAFTA, which has hurt workers in all three countries.

Raising the wages and living standards of workers in third world countries and in surplus
laden economies such as China and Japan would decrease low wage competition and
increase global demand.
Revamp Tax Laws


Repeal Bush tax cuts to wealthiest 1%.

Restore a progressive system of taxation that reverses rising income inequality and produces
the revenue needed for the vital public sector.

Tax capital gains at the same rate as wages.

Create tax policy that will constrain corporate borrowing to pay stock dividends and the
practice of offshore tax avoidance.

Increase Earned Income and Child Tax Credits to reduce poverty.

January 20, 2009

Obama Calls for "hope" over "fear" and calls Americans to action

At the NEA Midwest Regional in Chicago (January 16-18) we learned that the Obama Campaign celebrated over 200,000 campaign volunteers. On November 4, the NEA (one out of every 100 Americans) mobilized membership to elect Barack Obama.

Please enjoy these clips that we have put together of the Inauguration.

PRESIDENTIAL OATH OF OFFICE


"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

OBAMA'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL"

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER'S "PRAISE SONG FOR THE DAY"

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

"AIR & SIMPLE GIFTS"--YO YO MA, Cello; ITZHAK PERLMAN; Violin, GABRIELA MONTERO; Piano; ANTHONY McGILL, Clarinet; JOHN WILLIAM'S ARRANGEMENT OF AARON COPELAND

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.
Click here to access/read the entire script of President Obama's Inaugural Speech.

January 17, 2009

Call to Action: American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill

We need you to call or e-mail your member of Congress to urge them to act swiftly to pass this legislation. To ensure billions of dollars are directed to education in our states, please take action today.

If you call you can leave the following message:

Thank you in advance for voting to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. By making education an important part of the package, you are helping to provide a kick-start to the economy and a new beginning for millions of America's children. Your vote will make a lasting change in the lives of all Americans.

To email go to www.nea.org/lac. Put in your zip code and you will be directed to a webpage that will allow you to send a message after on the clicking economic stimulus package link. You will find everything you need to send a message to your member of Congress.