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


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


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
Retrofit buildings to improve energy efficiency
Expand mass transit and freight rail
Construct smart electric grid systems
Increase the capacity for generating power from wind and solar energy
Place utilities under municipal/state control for the benefit of the communities they

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
Reduce the amount of mandated testing; use multiple forms of assessment
Eliminate sanctions; provide targeted assistance to low performing schools
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

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.

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