Everybody’s Got a Right to Live: Education, Income and Housing
A number of AROS and Journey for Justice-affiliated local groups participated in this week’s Poor People’s Campaign, on the theme of “Everybody’s Got a Right to Live: Education, Income and Housing.” Here’s a round-up of the activities and events we heard about:
Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition (CEJC) members travelled to the Ohio statehouse on Monday, in the pouring rain, to join public education advocates from across the state. Speakers included representatives of Public Education Partners, the President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers and our own Michelle Dillingham with the CEJC! Here’s a video from the event, featuring Michelle’s remarks! CECJ shared the Journey 4 Justice Failing Brown v. Board" report findings and demanded equitable funding for all public school children.
The following day, CEJC co-hosted a Teach-In in Cincinnati on the J4J report, which exposes deep inequities in public school opportunities across race and class. The Coalition added a comparison of their own - two schools within 8 miles of one another with stark disparities in the kinds of courses and opportunities offered to majority low-income students of color, as compared to peers in a majority white, higher-income school. The Teach-In drew attendees from a variety of backgrounds.
In Trenton, groups from across the state, including PULSE, and the Camden Parent and Student Union tookaction. The day began with organizing and training at Turning Point Methodist Church, where about 200 participants discussed the layout of the day, chanting, songs and logistics. From there, they marched to the State House to rally. Speakers included community, labor and clergyrepresentatives. Eight people took arrest, while others staged a “Die-In” for public education.
The Peoria People’s Project, along with the Peoria Federation of Teachers held a community discussion on education justice issues. Community members and parents asked questions regarding the union’s current and future work and learned more about the teachers union.
Several AFT and MTA (Massachusetts Teachers Association) members joined the PPC at the statehouse in Boston on Monday, then marched through the city stopping at various banks, and ending in the city’s financial district. There, they took over a busy intersection, stopping traffic for three hours while they sang and held up signs. “It was a powerful feeling to know we had caught the attention of so many people,” wrote one participant. “I hope some thought about the many people in our country who go hungry each day, those who don’t have a home, those who don’t feel safe because of gun violence, those who don’t have healthcare or can’t afford an education. We stood in solidarity to make a statement for those who could not be there to speak for themselves.”
In Chicago, members of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) gathered at the Illinois State Building indowntown Chicago to highlight the intersection between education and housing justice. GEM is demanding passage of legislation for both an Elected Representative School Board in Chicago and Rent Control in Illinois.
Members of ACCE in Los Angeles called for rent control and education justice. In Ann Arbor, parents, educators and allies that make up the Michigan Education Justice Coalition braved rainy streets on Saturday, trying to track down Governor Snyder to tell him to stop trying to give public school dollars to private schools, in an action labeled “Babies Over Billionaires.”
In Jackson, Mississippi, AFT-MS joined a rally and protest at the state capitol. Demands included protection for public education, union rights, living wages and funding for safety net programs.
Finally (but not least), a “Truthful Tuesday” event was held in Washington, D.C. featuring Aaron Scott, with Chaplains on the Harbor from Washington State, Jitu Brown, director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, and Professor Cornell West, of Harvard University. The speakers addressed themes of homelessness, housing, public education and justice. Brown talked about the J4J report and issued a call for local control of public schools, noting the nation’s long history of hatred towards Black and brown people. West decried the “greed, running amok” in calling for folks to organize and demand justice. A video tape of the event can be found on the Facebook page of the Journey for Justice Alliance. Watch it!!
Money Can’t Buy a Villaraigosa Victory
The behemoth political arm of California’s charter school industry is smarting this week, after spending nearly $23 million on a candidate who came in third in last week’s primary for the governor’s mansion.
California’s “top two” primary system allows the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election in November, regardless of party. Anthony Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles and an avid charter school supporter, came in third after former San Francisco mayor and Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican businessman John Cox.
The California Charter Schools Association Advocates (CCSAA) had heavily backed Villaraigosa with contributions from big-name donors including Alice Walton (Walmart), Reed Hastings (Netflix) and others. Having run attack ads against both Newsom and Cox, CCSAA is now stuck figuring out which of the candidates to back in November.
CCSAA is one of the most powerful charter lobbies in the country and regularly pumps money in to political races. They are also known for their aggressive lobbying in the state house in Sacramento. They’ve had a stalwart friend in current California governor Jerry Brown, who has consistently vetoed any bills passed that seem in the least bit anti-charter or pro-accountability. Now, with Brown on his way out, CCSAA is looking at the possibility of a decidedly less friendly face in the governor’s mansion. Read more HERE.