Category Archives: Education

The Defiant, Refugee-Loving History of New Mexico

How the state’s unique and open relationship with Mexico is overshadowing Trump’s immigration policies.

By . Published 7-11-2017 by YES! Magazine

“We’ve been known, historically, to welcome the stranger and offer refuge to persecuted individuals.”
YES! Illustration by Jennifer Luxton.

After two hours of public testimony, Ralph Nava was the last of 60 speakers to testify in favor of the Santa Fe City Council’s resolution to reaffirm and strengthen its welcoming policies toward immigrants. As a native of northern New Mexico whose family’s presence in the region dates back generations, he implored the audience and council members to consider the history. “All of this area was Mexico just a few generations back,” Nava said. “All of a sudden, we’re trying to make all of these artificial barriers and walls that don’t make sense.”

He went on to tell a story about taking his grandmother to Mexico. On their way back over the border, she kept telling the U.S. border agents she was Mexican even though she had lived her entire life in New Mexico. “She wouldn’t say she wasn’t Mexican,” laughs Nava, who insists that for her, it was not a symbolic stand. “She genuinely thought of herself as Mexican.” Continue reading

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US Inequality Crisis Worst in Industrialized World. Trump Will Make It Worse.

If the policies favored by the Trump administration—including massive tax cuts for the rich and reductions in spending on Medicaid and education—go into effect, the U.S. will only fall further in the global rankings

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-17-2017

“Policymaking processes dominated by elites undermine democracy,” Max Lawson and Matthew Martin write. (Photo: Dean Chahim/Flickr/cc)

The United States is already the most unequal industrialized nation in the world, and a new report published on Monday shows that President Donald Trump’s agenda would only make matters worse.

“The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index,” developed by Oxfam in partnership with Development Finance International (DFI), uses several factors to “measure the commitment of governments to reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.”

Compared to other wealthy nations, the report concludes, the U.S. is doing “very badly” in the fight against income and wealth inequality. Continue reading

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The Supreme Court, religion and the future of school choice

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The Supreme Court’s decision in the Trinity Lutheran case is blurring the lines between church and state. aradaphotography/Shutterstock.com

John E. Taylor, West Virginia University

The Supreme Court recently decided that Trinity Lutheran Church should be eligible for a Missouri state grant covering the cost of recycled playground surfaces. Though the state originally rejected the church’s application on grounds of separation of church and state, the Supreme Court ruled that this rejection was, in fact, religious discrimination.

The case’s impact will probably reach well beyond playgrounds.

As a scholar of education law, I’ve been following the Trinity Lutheran case and what it could mean for the hottest issue in education: school choice. Where in the past states have decided for themselves whether religious schools are eligible for school vouchers and scholarship tax credits, the Trinity Lutheran decision likely signals that the Supreme Court will soon require states to include religious private schools in their programs. Continue reading

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Chicago’s Terrible New Plan to Force High School Kids Into the Military

By Alice Salles. Published 7-7-2017 by The Anti-Media

Kelly High School, Chicago. Photo: Frank Buchalski/flickr/CC

Chicago, Illinois, has a chronic inflated state problem disguised as a schooling problem. In order to eradicate the symptom, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to attack those who suffer from it and not the actual root of the problem — adopting a classic “more of the same” approach.

A plan approved in May is set to take effect soon, forcing high school seniors to either be enlisted in the military, have a job, be enrolled in a gap-year program, or have a college acceptance letter before the Chicago public schooling system will give them their diploma. The obvious consequences of this new policy are problematic. Still, Emanuel doesn’t seem to care. Continue reading

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‘Not One Day More’: Massive London Rally Says No to Austerity, Privatization

Jeremy Corbyn: “This is the age of imagination, this is the age in which we will achieve that decency and social justice that we all crave.”

By Common Dreams. Published 7-1-2017

Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Parliament Square. Photo: UnitePolitics/Twitter

Tens of thousands marched through central London on Saturday to protest privatization and austerity that has led to cuts in spending for education and public services.

Many carried signs reading: “Austerity Kills,” “Cuts Cost Lives,” “Not One Day More,” and “Tories Out.”

After holding a minute’s silence in honor of the victims of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London, which killed at least 80 people, those in the crowd also staged a round of applause for the emergency services. Continue reading

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UN Expert Touts Universal Basic Income as “Bold and Imaginative Solution’ to Poverty

“In today’s world of severe economic insecurity, creativity in social policy is necessary.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-23-2017

U.N. special rapportuer Philip Alston says a “basic income offers a bold and imaginative solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions in which the global economy appears inexorably to be heading.” (Photo: Generation Grundeinkommen/flickr/cc)

Amplifying the call for a universal basic income, a United Nations expert has presented a report describing the idea as “a bold and imaginative solution” at a time of growing economic insecurity.

“People feel exposed, vulnerable, overwhelmed, and helpless and some are being systematically marginalized both economically and socially,” Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told the Human Rights Council. “But the human rights community has barely engaged with this resulting phenomenon of deep economic insecurity,” he said. Continue reading

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‘Stunning and Dangerous’: DeVos Memo Reveals Plan to Roll Back Civil Rights

“President Trump and his administration can claim to oppose discrimination all they want, but actions speak louder than words,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-17-2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

In a move decried as “more evidence of backward thinking” by the Trump administration, an internal memo from the Department of Education’s office for civil rights lays out the agency’s plan to roll back investigations into civil rights violations at public schools and diminish Obama-era rules requiring “schools and colleges to overhaul policies addressing a number of civil rights concerns,” the New York Times reported on Friday.

According to the memo, “requirements that investigators broaden their inquiries to identify systemic issues and whole classes of victims will be scaled back,” the Times noted. “Also, regional offices will no longer be required to alert department officials in Washington of all highly sensitive complaints on issues such as the disproportionate disciplining of minority students and the mishandling of sexual assaults on college campuses.” Continue reading

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Trump Administration to Raid Public Ed to Fund School Choice Programs

With key K-12 and higher ed programs on the chopping block, education advocate Diane Ravitch declares: “Don’t agonize. Organize.”

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration is preparing to unveil a sweeping school choice plan that would be prioritized at the expense of student aid and debt relief as well as public education programs that help low-income children, according to news reports.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a wealthy philanthropist who lobbied for voucher programs and charter schools before being tapped to lead the nation’s K-12 and higher education systems, will reportedly announce the school choice proposal Monday at an Indianapolis summit hosted by the conservative group she formerly chaired, the American Federation for Children.  Continue reading

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Trump’s USDA Rolls Back School Lunch Guidelines Championed by Michelle Obama

The nutrition rules were long abhorred by industry groups who now have a friend in the White House

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-1-2017

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, joined by Sen. Pat Roberts (left) & Tom Marshall, Loudoun County School Board, signs a proclamation.. Photo: USDA

In one of his first orders of business, President Donald Trump’s newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took steps to weaken school lunch standards championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

In an interim final rule, announced by Perdue while he visited an elementary school in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Virginia on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is rolling back nutrition rules that were part of Obama’s Let’s Move campaign that was abhorred by food industry groups. Continue reading

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‘We Reject Politics of Fear’: Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

Teacher in Milwaukee said six-year-old student “crawled into her lap crying [and] told her, ‘I am so scared that somebody is going to take my daddy away'”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-27-2017

“Instead of funding President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, we are seeking additional funding for our nation’s public schools.” (Photo: doug turetsky/flickr/cc)

More than 150 advocacy groups sent a letter (pdf) to Congress on Thursday urging lawmakers to reject President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and spend the money on education instead.

Trump’s “targeting of Muslims, refugees, and undocumented immigrants…are eroding the trust built by educators, parents, law enforcement, and communities over decades,” the letter states.

Its signatories include the Center for Popular Democracy, SEIU, and the National Immigration Law Center, among other community groups and labor unions. Continue reading

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