Friday, June 30, 2006

Beijing - can't read my blogs from here - censorship?

I am in Beijing, Jinan and Shanghai until the 4th of July.
I have been posting to my Jook-sing in the Motherland blog for a few days now. But an interesting thing is I can't access my blogs from here. It must be the censorship of certain sites by China's filtering mechanisms. Very interesting that I can access all the corporate sites likeWal Mart, etc. but I can't read my own harmless blogs, but at least i can post to them...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

sf to beijing

see my other blog - - for more

Flying from SF to Beijing we saw the incredible coastline of Alaska and the barren landscape of Siberia before coming upon the smog-covered metropolis of Beijing.
I awoke to a big fireball of a sun peering through the smog in my room at the Nikko New Century Hotel in the Haidan District.
I am now rested at 6:30am here and ready for our full day of meetings, banquets, etc.Our group of 400 educators from the US are sponsored by HANBAN, China's Office of Language Development.
The trip is called the Chinese Bridge for American Schools.We are going to Beijing Normal University for a campus tour and workshops on Chinese language, history and culture.Later in the Great Hall of the People we will hear from the Chinese Minster of Education - Dr. Zhou Ji, the head of the US College Board and others. Afterwards we head off the modern Landmark Towers Hotel and then to a cultural celebration at the 21st Century Auditorium.It is amazing how fast China has modernized in 50 years, but especially in the past 5-10 years, but the inequalies and contradictions all around me are making my head spin.
Off to see Beijing!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A 'Jook-Sing' Goes to the Motherland

I am going to China for a short trip and shifting this blog to another site - so that I can post photos. [for some reason my blogger site won't let me post photos anymore].

Here's the text from my posting from my new temporary blog -
Jook-Sing in the Motherland

In 2 days I take off from San Francisco to Beijing for a short delegation of teachers, principals and superintendents from around the US.I intend to blog about my experiences as a 'jook-sing' Chinese American guy visiting the motherland for the first time.
To get prepared I watched Hao Wu's documentary Beijing or Bust this evening, a film about Chinese Americans who left the US to work and live in China.

Filmmaker and Blogger Hao was arrested on February 22nd by Beijing authorities. And though he wasn't charged with any crime, the police did not allow access to a lawyer and refused to give any information about Hao's whereabouts to his family. Over 100 days later family, friends, filmmakers, bloggers and many are working hard to Free Hao Wu.

Outside of my look at the Chinese school system and how global capitalism is impacting the cities and rural areas and intensifying inequalities, I hope to get some R&R in as well.

I have also been listening to the music from the Beijing Rock Scene -
Kaiser Kuo, one of the featured Chinese Americans in the film, writes about the growing music scene in Beijing at That's Beijing. Kuo is now a rock columnist, and for a period played with Tang Dyansty, the stadium rock group out of Beijing.I have been listening to 45 year old singer Cui Jian, considered by some to be the Bob Dylan of Chinese Rock. His 80's anthem "Nothing to My Name" has been an inspiration from Tiananmen to San Francisco.
I am giving you my aspirations
And my freedom too.
But you always laugh at me
Because I have nothing
Interestingly, Jian was a classically trained trumpet player [so was I] who gravitated towards the Chinese cultural underground music scene and Western Rock for his influences in the 70's and 80's.

I hope to check out the new music scene while in Beijing, Jinan and Shanghai.
One other goal is to check out the Chinese Basketball leagues - from Yao Ming's Shanghai Sharks to the Beijing Ducks!I have filled my iPod with tunes and am ready to rip....

Go to the other blog for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, June 12, 2006

SF High School Graduations Marred by CA Exit Exam

This week marks the happiest week for teachers like my wife Sandi and others [parents, teachers, adminstrators, but especially the students] in San Francisco Unified School District as schools hold GRADUATION CEREMONIES at all levels of the district.
As a school board member, I always try to attend a number of graduation ceremonies at Elementary, Middle and High Schools and continuation schools throughout our City. My kindergartener Jade also has a advancement ceremony for her class as well! :-)

On one sour note though - this year marks the first when the racist and class-biased California high school exit exam or CAHSEE will bar tens of thousands of students from receiving the diplomas they have earned, including hundreds of high school seniors in San Francisco. Hundreds more of our students have also just simply given up and dropped out as a result 0f the high stakes testing system and a lack of an equal opportunity to learn which impacts them and millions of other of low income, immigrant, special education and students of color up and down the state.

See the student stories from San Jose and Ventura County Schools -
From the Just Schools Education Roundup site from IDEA at UCLA - A daily compilation of education news coverage of statewide interest provided by UCLA/IDEA •Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

Exit Exams Mar Graduations By Luis Zaragoza/San Jose Mercury News
James Lick High senior Cesar Sanchez was determined to attend graduation this week even though he wouldn't be allowed to walk across the stage. And so on Wednesday night, Sanchez sat quietly among friends and relatives of the kids wearing caps and gowns, occasionally catching glimpses of other seniors who, like him, did not qualify for a diploma because they failed the state's high school exit exam.

Lack of diploma may close doors to careers By Jean Cowden Moore/Ventura County Star
What a difference a diploma makes. Without a high school diploma, young adults won't get past the first step in applying for many entry-level jobs. And they won't be able to enlist in the military until six months after they would have graduated. That's the plight facing about 41,750 high school seniors this year _ roughly 10 percent of the Class of 2006.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Election 2006 - It's Time to Smash the Color Line

I really like Roberto Lovato's analysis for the Nation and Alternet. He often exposes the hypocrisy in both dominant political parties in the US and gives voice to disenfranchised communities. See his newest piece in this week's Nation -
Voices of a New Movimiento
- where he looks at some of the emerging leadership in our economic and social justice movements while also challenging the corporate media's narrow framing of the movements.

The mainstream narrative of the movement emphasizes that single-minded immigrants want legalization--and how "angry Hispanics" and their Spanish-language radio DJ leaders mobilized in reaction to HR 4437 (better known as the Sensenbrenner immigration bill, which would criminalize the undocumented). But Zavala and other movimiento leaders across the country say that while it's true that the Sensenbrenner bill provided a spark, explaining this powerful movement of national and even global significance as a reaction to DJ-led calls to "marchar!" leaves many things--and people--out of the picture.

This time, there is no Martin Luther King or César Chávez centering and centralizing the movement. Instead, grassroots leaders like Zavala mix, scratch and dub different media (think and text messaging, radio and TV, butcher paper and bullhorns) while navigating the cultural, political and historical currents that yoke and inspire the diverse elements making up this young, decentralized, digital-age movimiento.

I also like how Lovato stresses that our social movements often are inspired by or directly a result of grassroots or netroots work of previous generations.
"To see those thousands of people marching against Prop 187 was an inspiration," says Ortiz, who heads Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant worker center in the belly of the anti-immigrant beast, James Sensenbrenner's Milwaukee. "I was very impressed that there was that kind of response [to Prop 187]. We used that as a lesson," says Ortiz, who was one of the main organizers of marches of 30,000 and 70,000 people, some of the largest marches ever in a state with a storied progressive past. Ortiz was not caught off guard by the movimiento. "I'm happy to be alive to see this shift," she states from one of Voces's three offices in Wisconsin, "but I'm not at all surprised. We've been building up networks of people over many years."
Keeping the Color Line
In an earlier piece for Alternet Lovato focussed on the lack of representation of people of color within the dominant political parties in the US and most progressive organizations as well. "Why are many progressive organizations, as well as the Republican and Democratic parties, still so blindingly white? "
This lack of concrete non-white power in Republican, Democratic, conservative and progressive ranks bodes ill for social change in the United States. In effect, the central debates of the 21st Century have a "color line" running through them. The "color line" may be less black and white than the one described by W.E.B. Dubois, but it is still with us, and with a vengeance.
The problem in today's struggle is that minorities - white minorities - are running both sides of a fight that will define who succeeds and who suffers, who lives and who dies. ...
With the exception of some labor unions and a few other, mostly local organizations, the internal debates and daily work within 527 organizations like Move-On, within anarchist groups, alternative media and others doing truly important work in left-of-center America also suffer from the lack of voices echoing the new urban majority surrounding their hip workplaces and their ungated but gentrified neighborhoods. The struggle against gated global empire is itself gated off from the majority.
I also like how Lovato points out how a simplistic and single-minded focus on elections can lead to a dead-end when other primary tasks for progressives should be to build stronger multiracial organizations at the grassroots level and strengthen alliances and social movements for longer-term changes in our country.

Viewed from inside, it's clear that too many non-white leaders are placing too much emphasis on mobilizing Latinos and other non-whites to vote, their vision has a horizon that doesn't extend beyond November 2nd. These leaders make too little effort to build leadership in their communities at a time when oppositional movements will need even mightier momentum after November.
...Deep change in this country won't take place until large numbers of non-whites, and whites, are marching, protesting and acting to change priorities. While it may take another Bush victory for most to realize this, some, especially those of us in the non-white community, are increasingly cognizant of our own role in the solution to a problem we must all own up to.
"We need to organize ourselves and then step up to the table to negotiate with Caucasians," says Mallika Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough, a New York-based human rights and social justice organization. She adds, "Only then can long-term change take place." For South Asians and other non-whites like Dutt, race cannot be relegated to the back of the progressive bus because we may, in fact, have to take the bus apart and rebuild it after the elections.

"Even within the so-called progressive movement if you're not actively confronting racism and white supremacy you're building a house of cards," says Michael Novick, a veteran education organizer and author of a book on whites and racism. Novick, a white man whose lessons in activism grew out of helping to organize Vietnam War protests at Brooklyn College, says, "It's not just a matter of pointing your finger at the powerful and saying, 'He's the problem.'"
All of us, white and non-white, must fix a broader problem that will vex us as much as national security long after November's elections. Regardless of who wins, we all lose if we forget the color line.

Friday, June 09, 2006


As Citizens for Tax Justice and others are highlighting the dramatic growth in wealth inequality in the United States, researchers like David Berliner at Arizona State are linking it as well to the challenges of reducing the race/class educational opportunity gap, especially in urban school districts.
At the college level, the American Federation of Teachers is warning that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress' tax cuts for the rich and the recent deficit reduction bill have just tightened the noose around the necks of many of my SF State students and hundreds of thousands of other low and middle income students throughout the country.
College students and their families are just a few weeks away from seeing their student loan costs jump by hundreds to thousands of dollars. A few months ago, Congress passed a deficit reduction bill that made the biggest cuts in federal student loan program history--$12 billion. Under that bill, as of July 1 interest rates for most loan programs will increase by 1 to 2 percentage points, up to a maximum of 8.5 percent. The money those hikes generate, which come at the expense of low- and middle-income students and working families, will help pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, a fact that seemed not to trouble the Republican-controlled Congress. July 1 is also the deadline for students and their families to consolidate their loans. After that date, consolidation options become seriously limited for current and future borrowers. Loan consolidation allows students to pay off current loans that may have variable interest rates, and assume one new loan at a lower, fixed rate.
For an excellent article on progressive tax reform in California see the CA Tax Reform Association's argument for commercial property tax reform - Tax Policy for the 21st Century: Resolving California’s Long-Term Structural Deficit.
The California Progress Report blog calls the article "a must read for any serious student of California's tax and revenue system."

For great analysis of the California Budget - see the CA Budget Project's website as well. I have always liked the popular education approach also of publications like Dollars and Sense and their ability to explain economic concepts in language that we can all understand.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June 6th - this dirty campaign season and disenfranchised communities/voters

I totally agree with the teaching dilema described by Sac State Professor and activist Duane Campbell who tries to foster an understanding of the importance of elections for young people. For me, the difficulty is encouraging a 'serve the people' sentiment in community and electoral work among college and high school students while they know that the electoral system is so tilted towards the wealthy, elite, and affluent communities. The students are also instinctively aware that there are so many remaining barriers to equal and meaningful participation for immigrants, low income folks and communities of color. Campbell says:
It is hard to teach this lesson. Young people say: they are all corrupt. The rich own the politicians. And, of course, they are substantially correct. All you have to do is look at the Enron story, or World Com., and their relationship with the Bush family and you will recognize that the rich have looted our nation’s democracy.
But now the California election is adding to the cynicism. The two major candidates on the Democratic Party side are spending up to $60 million to convince voters (and young people) that the other candidate is corrupt, purchased, and controlled by big money. Now, a $60 million media buy has an effect. It teaches people that our elections are corrupt, purchased, and dirty. After seeing the ads you could well conclude that they are all dirty. I recognize that the campaign managers each think they must do this to compete. They know that negative ads work. But, they are also teaching cynicism, hopelessness and despair. No. This is not OK.
See Campbell's Choosing Democracy blog for more.
How to teach about community service, social movements and political empowerment?
Though I am joining many labor and liberal to progressive groups in supporing Phil Angelides for Governor, this California election has been an embarassment with the flood of developer and big business money and the negative attack ads clogging the mainstream media. What I try to get across to my mostly freshmen SF State students are a few main points in teaching about electoral politics and empowerment struggles today -
  • an understanding of past and present voter disenfranchisement in the US [women, working people, African Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, Asians and Pacific Islanders and immigrants]
  • the proud history of social movements and struggles for voting rights, electoral reforms and efforts to democratize the political system - I find documentaries like Eyes on the Prize and Chicano! helpful in visually and emotionally highlighting some of this information
  • some case studies of local level campaigning models that are issues-focused, build multiethnic and cross-community alliances, and frame single issues in the broader context of a 'common agenda' for social, educational and economic justice

I do like how groups like the May 1st Alliance, Living Wage Coalition, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and ACORN in San Francisco, AGENDA/SCOPE and the Community Coalition in LA, Just Cause in Oakland, and the chapter-based League of Young Voters [aka League of Pissed Off Voters] are approaching electoral political campaigning by reaching out to a new generation of youth, students, immigrants and working people and tying them into broader social movements which view electoral politics as a necessary and key arena of struggle to improve our day to day lives and for the long term to democratize the political system in the United States. But even in this context, my students are overwhelmed, irked and disgusted by this election season.

For a great voter guide - see the SF League's Pissed Off Voter Guide!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The SF State grading ordeal is over for me

As the clock struck midnight I finished entering the last of my Spring 2006 San Francisco State students' grades for this past semester. SF State now uses a web-based grading system where faculty can enter grades via the internet manually.
My 220 or so students will receive their grades instantaneously I believe.
I have been grading hundreds of 10+ page research papers for the past week now. So I am ready for some R and R. But unfortunately, I have to begin preparing for my one summer course which begins this coming Tuesday. I also have to get a passport and a visa for an upcoming educator's trip to the Beijing and Shanghai. We will be visiting schools and learning how the People's Republic of China's education system serves its billion-plus people.
Being free of my grading burden now I can also now see more of my 6 year old daughter who just lost her 3rd tooth today. Off to don my tooth fairy wings...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Haditha is Arabic for My Lai

Most of my San Francisco State students each semester have no consciousness of the Viet Nam war or even of the Reagan era for that matter since many of them were born in the mid-80's.
United for Peace and Justice activist, author and blogger Rahul Mahajan provides a horrifying look into the My Lai Massacre of our era.

The BBC has also dug up a massacre tape that seems to contradict much of the US military reports and BBC reporter Martin Asser suggests a US coverup.

May 29, 2006 Haditha Commentaries (two parts)
Haditha is Arabic for My Lai

One day in November 2005, Marines in Haditha decided to take revenge for the death of one of their comrades from an IED by deliberately murdering 23 innocent, unarmed men, women, and children. They went into their houses and shot them at close range. Adults begged and pleaded and attempted to save their children by shielding them with their bodies, praying to the same god the soldiers pray to. Afterward, the Marines lied to cover up their actions. The eight helpless men they slaughtered became “insurgents.” The other 15, necessarily “civilians” because of age or sex, they first claimed were also victims of the same IED; later, some were supposed to have been “collateral damage” of a supposed “exchange of gunfire” with said “insurgents.”Unluckily for them, a journalism student had taken video of the bodies in the Haditha morgue, with images that showed victims shot in the head from close range in execution-style killings. According to Rep. John Murtha, speaking last week to the press and on Hardball with Chris Matthews, the military investigation of the incident will uphold the above claims.

Empire Notes"We don't seek empires. We're not imperialistic. We never have been. I can't imagine why you'd even ask the question." Donald Rumsfeld, questioned by an al-Jazeera correspondent, April 29, 2003. "No one can now doubt the word of America," George W. Bush, State of the Union, January 20, 2004.
A Blog by
Rahul Mahajan

SF Bay Area Communities organizing to 'Silence the Violence!'

The Oakland-based Ella Baker Center along with grassroots groups like Let's Get Free, SF's United Playaz, Bang4Change and the Filipino Community Center today are calling on all neighborhoods to stand to together today against crime and to begin campaigns to empower youth and low income communities.

SF - VOTE Yes on Prop A on June 6th: Stop Homicides Now!
I am joining a handful of elected officials led by Supervisor Chris Daly [District 6 - South of Market/TL/Civic Center] and a number of grassroots organizations that are rallying at noon today at City Hall to call for support for Proposition A, a local measure that would allocate $10 million a year for local homicide-prevention services from the city’s General Fund for each of the next three years.
Despite opposition from Mayor Newsom and conservative groups, many youth and grassroots people's organizations like SF People's Organization, Youth Making a Change [Y-MAC], Coleman Advocates, and the League of Young [Pissed Off] Voters support SF's Proposition A on the June 6 ballot.

The SF Bay Guardian this week highlighted the emerging coalition of progressives and communities of color that have come together in the Prop A campaign -
The Prop. A campaign is about more than just the relatively modest $10 million. Progressives and communities of color have begun to build an alliance around the
measure that hasn't always existed in the past — which is a polite way of referring to the left's sometime failure to address problems afflicting minority communities.
June 1st to Election Day June 6th - Statewide - Let's silence the violence together.
All day June 1st young people in the Bay Area will celebrate "Silence the Violence Day." It's the beginning of a summer-long campaign to address the skyrocketing homicide rates in Oakland and San Francisco.
The best thing? You get to be a part of it. Tune in at 9 am when KMEL "silences the music" during peak driving hours. At 11, all of Oakland and Alameda County will take a moment of silence. Join us in taking a breath to honor and mourn those we've already lost to violence. Then at 7 pm, join us in person at one of the many "Silence the Violence" candlelight vigils happening in Oakland and San Francisco.
If by coming together, one time, for one night, we can save one child's life, or keep one family from being torn apart, or steer one person away from violence, we will
have changed the world. Let's make this a day of healing.
This is a critical moment, and you have the chance to make a real difference. Please join us tomorrow. Together, we can create a peaceful future for Oakland.
Many thanks,
Venus Rodriguez - Lead Youth Organizer, Let's Get Free 510.428.3939 x244
West Oakland: 7th Street & MandelaEast Oakland: 87th & Macarthur at the Youth Uprising CenterLake Merritt: Grand & MacArthur, across from the Grand Lake TheaterDowntown Oakland: 14th & BroadwayNorth Oakland: 61st & San Pablo Highland Hospital: 14th Ave & E. 31st Street
SOMA: 6th Street & NatomaTenderloin: Leavenworth & EllisSunnydale/Visitation Valley: Sunnydale & SantosMission: 24th & MissionHunters Point/Bayview: Whitney Young Circle & HudsonWestern Addition/Fillmore: McAllister & Webster (Ella Hill Hutch Rec Center)Excelsior: Persia & Lisbon
Venus Rodriguez 510.428.3939 x244
Power to the Filipino Communities- PEP turns 5 - FCC reaches out to youth
I bumped into Terry Valen and folks from SF's 1 year old Filipino Community Center last night. They are holding some great events this coming month for young people, students and community supporters.

"Silence the Violence" - Excelsior Community Vigil
On the Corner of Persia and Lisbon
Stand with the FCC, the Greater Mission Consoritum, United Playaz and other community participants in a 1-day bay-area-wide action to address rising homicide rates and violence in our prisons, on our streets, and even in our schools. Support Proposition A which would increase funding and support for Violence Prevention programs and victims of violence. We have to develop long-term solutions and address the ROOT CAUSES of violence in our community -- lack of economic opportunity and social and political isolation. Silence the Violence Day is the kickoff for the Summer of Non-Violence, a summer-long effort to help youth find positive solutions to the issues they face on the streets.

Friday, June 2nd, 2006
A final show performance by PEP students from Balboa HS, Burton HS, and Longfellow Elementary School.
$5-$20 sliding scale donation
at the FCC
Join the PEP students from Balboa High School, Burton High School, and Longfellow Elementary School as they perform and share what they've learned throughout the school year with support from mga "kuya" at mga "ate" from San Francisco State University. After a year of learning about Filipino and Filipino American history, culture, and community, they will reach out to their local community in this culminating performance show. Don't miss it! All proceeds contribute towards funding Pin@y Educational Partnerships' program.

Saturday, June 10th, 2006
PEP 5 Year Anniversary Celebration!!!
at the FCC
PEP started as a partnership between SFSU and Balboa High School and has blossomed into a 5-school program working with youth and students from kindergarten through college and even graduate school. All this in a matter of 5 years with the leadership of Professor Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales (PEP Director), Program Coordinators Arlene Daus and Roderick Magbual, and all of the PEP teachers, students, and their allies. Celebrate this landmark achievement and honor them at the 5-Year Anniversary Celebration of PEP.

Friday, June 16th, 2006
"Pakaraguian sa Maguindanao"
A Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble (PKE) Performance and Villabrille-Largusa Kali School Demonstration
at the FCC
Join us for an entertainment event of traditional Kulintang music and dance from the Southern Philippines. Witness Master Artist Danny Kalanduyan and the PKE Performance as they keep the Philippine indigenous musical traditions alive in this community-centered cultural sharing event. The Performance Event will also feature a Martial Arts Demonstration coordinated by Guro Many Dragon and the Villabrille-Largusa Kali School's bay area students.

Saturday, June 24th, 2006
The Movement: Roots, Rocks & Resistance
at the FCC
"The Movement: Roots, Rocks & Resistance is a performance documentation of the Filipino/Pilipino-American story telling as told through the eyes, voices, and bodies of the Native born and American born movement artists of this generation. Utilizing the weapons of dance, theater, martial arts, and shadow, take a ride with us as we take you to the past and the present."

More info on the FCC -
Terrence Valen Organizational Director - Filipino Community Center (FCC)
35 San Juan Avenue San Francisco, CA 94112
Phone: (415) 333-6267 Fax: (415) 333-6495