Tag Archives: Colorado

With Walkout and Rally Planned for Monday, Teachers’ Anger Over Low Pay and Lack of Funding Spreads to Colorado

“Educators are fed up…Colorado has, year over year over year, significantly underfunded our public schools.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-15-2018

Teachers in Arizona last week wore red during a “walk-in,” preceding a possible walkout, to demand school funding. Colorado teachers plan to do the same on Monday. (Photo: @SenQuezada29/Twitter)

Colorado’s teachers’ union expects more than 400 teachers at a rally that’s planned for Monday at the state’s Capitol in Denver.

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Before the US approves new uranium mining, consider its toxic legacy

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Warning sign at Kerr-McGee uranium mill site near Grants, N.M., December 20, 2007. AP photo/Susan Montoya Bryan

Stephanie Malin, Colorado State University

Uranium – the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons – is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department’s Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as “critical minerals.”

What would expanded uranium mining in the U.S. mean at the local level? I have studied the legacies of past uranium mining and milling in Western states for over a decade. My book examines dilemmas faced by uranium communities caught between harmful legacies of previous mining booms and the potential promise of new economic development. 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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UN: Americans’ Right to Protest is in Grave Danger Under Trump

At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attack the right to protest since Donald Trump’s election as president

By Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2017

Demonstrators in Arizona, such as these workers striking for higher wages at a Walmart in Phoenix, could face racketeering charges and asset forfeiture under the law passed by the state senate. (Photo: Deanna Dent/UFCW International Union/flickr/cc)

At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attack the right to protest since Donald Trump’s election as president, an “alarming and undemocratic” trend, U.N. human rights investigators said this week.

Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression respectively, are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the “alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Continue reading

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‘Resounding Win for Economic Equality’: 4 States Vote to Boost Minimum Wage

The results offer ‘a strong message to all of Washington: If you’re not working to create a fair economy, we’ll do it ourselves’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-9-2016

The results, said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, "mark a new moment in American politics where voters will no longer wait for politicians—who have failed them time and time again—to fix our broken economy." (Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/flickr/cc)

The results, said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, “mark a new moment in American politics where voters will no longer wait for politicians—who have failed them time and time again—to fix our broken economy.” (Photo: Wisconsin Jobs Now/flickr/cc)

Voters in four states—Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington—said yes on Tuesday to ballot initiatives that will boost their state’s minimum hourly wage, offering hope, advocates say, of an increased standard of living for roughly 2.1 million workers.

According to Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, the results “mark a new moment in American politics where voters will no longer wait for politicians—who have failed them time and time again—to fix our broken economy.” Continue reading

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Colorado Readies for ‘All Out War’ as Anti-Fracking Measures Advance to Ballot

Citizen-led efforts to override the government and fossil fuel industry could be devastating for Big Oil in the state

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-9-2016

Colorado has 73,000 wells with tens of thousands more planned for drilling. (Image: Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission)

Colorado has 73,000 wells with tens of thousands more planned for drilling. (Image: Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission)

The government of Colorado has so far managed to quash efforts to halt the spread of fracking in that state, but come November, residents will finally have the chance to overpower the will of politicians and Big Oil and Gas.

Petitioners on Monday submitted more than 200,000 signatures backing two separate initiatives to amend the Colorado constitution, specifically in regards to the controversial drilling method. Continue reading

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Rights Groups Demand DOJ Probe Abortion Clinic Violence as ‘What It Is: Domestic Terrorism’

“These attacks on clinics are part of a long history of ideologically-driven violence. They’re perpetrated by an extreme minority that’s committed to ruling through fear and intimidation.”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-2-2015

Screenshot via YouTube

Screenshot via YouTube

Reproductive rights groups are formally calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate recent attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics, including last Friday’s shooting in Colorado, as acts of domestic terrorism—sparked by “hateful rhetoric” from Republican leaders and anti-choice organizations.

“These attacks on clinics are part of a long history of ideologically-driven violence. They’re perpetrated by an extreme minority that’s committed to ruling through fear and intimidation,” a coalition of advocacy groups comprising NARAL, UltraViolet, CREDO Action, and the Courage Campaign wrote in a recent petition to Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding the inquiry. “Let’s call it what this is—domestic terrorism.”

Just 48 hours before a gunman opened fire in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last Friday, killing three people and wounding nine, the coalition had also asked the DOJ for help protecting patients and staff from death threats. Since the shooting, the petition has garnered over 300,000 signatures and the support of more than 140 reproductive rights groups and abortion providers. Continue reading

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More AP Hysteria

Picture from Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)

Picture from Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)

Last week, we wrote a piece about the Jefferson County, Colorado school district and the teacher sick-ins/student walkouts taking place there over what they see as censorship and revisionist history.

To recap, the conservative school board thought that the new AP curriculum developed by the College Board – a private company that produces the AP tests, the SAT and other standardized exams – emphasized a “leftist” view of American history, and wasn’t teaching “American exceptionalism” as the board thought they should be. So, the district had proposed a curriculum review board.  This review board was supposed to ensure that U.S. history materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in U.S. history should present balanced and factual treatments of the positions.” They also scrapped the existing teacher pay system, putting in place one where teacher evaluations by the board determined the pay.

The teachers and students had issues with this blatant attempt to censor and rewrite history, as well as the new compensation package, so they acted. The teachers closed two schools by calling in sick one Friday, and the next week, the students began walking out. So, what’s happened since our last post?

The students have had daily walkouts over the last week. Then yesterday, Golden and Jefferson High Schools closed for the day as over three quarters of the teachers had called in sick the night before. A social studies teacher who didn’t take part in the sick-in said about the school board;s proposal: “My feeling is it’s an attack on teachers and public education, and a disregard for the needs of our students. It’s really, really scary to be a teacher in Jefferson County right now,”

The protests have divided the county. The three conservative board members and those who side with them say that the walkouts and sick-ins are a union plot. The union denies any involvement, saying that the protests are strictly a grassroots movement.

Dan McMinimee, the district superintendent, said that each teacher absence would be independently reviewed, and teachers could be docked a day’s pay if their absence falls outside of the collective bargaining agreement. The students for their part say they’re planning a district wide walkout this week.

Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the teachers and students of Jefferson County. We call on the school board to stop their attempt to rewrite history, and to negotiate with the teachers over compensation issues. Those children are our country’s future – they deserve the best education we can give them. Teaching revisionist history is not the way to give them that.

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AP Hysteria

Picture by Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)

Picture by Rachel Zenzinger (@Zenzinger_AtoZ)

There’s a lot of things going on this country that bother us, as you’ve probably noticed by now. The defunding and dumbing down of the educational system by our conservative brethren has to be near the top of the list of things that get us going on a rant, though.  We did a piece on this earlier this year, as well as touched on it in numerous posts; it’s a subject we could probably write about every day.

The latest target of conservative activists is the new Advanced Placement U.S. history test and its 125-page “framework” of suggested classroom topics. Now, you’d think that this wouldn’t spark controversy; after all, the test and guidelines are produced by the College Board – a private company that produces the AP tests, the SAT and other standardized exams – and not some “big government” agency. So, why the outrage? Because, according to the critics, they aren’t teaching “American exceptionalism.”

The Republican National Committee denounced the new framework, claiming that the program depicts American colonists as “oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country.” Stanley Kurtz wrote in the National Review that the new curriculum “will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective.

“The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to ‘internationalize’ the teaching of American history. The goal is to ‘end American history as we have known it’ by substituting a more ‘transnational’ narrative for the traditional account.”

The state of Texas, as is to be expected, agrees wholeheartedly with this position. Last week, the Texas Board of Education moved to ignore the AP’s new framework and continue teaching students as if they were taking the old test.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, the school district proposed setting up a curriculum review board. The proposal said that the committee would make sure that U.S. history materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in U.S. history should present balanced and factual treatments of the positions.”

This did not go over well with students and teachers at the district schools, who saw the proposal as an attempt to censor what was taught in school as well as teach revisionist history. Last Friday, teachers shut down two high schools for the day by calling in sick. On Monday, 250 students walked out of Evergreen High School. CBS Denver reported that yesterday, “approximately 500 students walked out at Arvada West High School and 400 at Arvada High School. Approximately 300 students walked out at Golden High School and about 200 students went to the school offices in connection with the protest.”

Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the students and teachers of Jefferson County. We have to wonder whether the people who are against the framework really think they’re doing our children a favor by having them learn revisionist history instead of what actually happened. A whitewashed version where our founding fathers were epitomes of perfection instead of the flawed human beings they actually were. Teaching about an imaginary dreamscape where free market economics and America are always right, instead of teaching about income inequality, slavery and the darker moments of America’s heritage.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it…

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