Thursday, November 30, 2006

SF Today - Senator Jackie Speier exits public office, CA School Board Members shmooze in a Chilly San Francisco

The blogging life of a school board member in San Francisco is never dull. 5000 or so school board members from all over the state [there are some 1000 school districts represented] are meeting here for the 75th Annual California School Boards Association conference.
After patting my sleeping daughter on the head at 7am and kissing my elementary school teacher wife goodbye I headed out for the CSBA delegate assembly meeting. We are the 200 or so person policy setting body for CSBA. One of our veteran board members Jill Wynns is our region's representative to the CSBA Board of Directors and I serve on the CSBA delegate assembly.

We voted on our new CSBA officers and heard from Senator Jackie Speier on her last day of her 25-year service in public office. Speier had just lost a close race on Nov 7th for Lt. Governor and is now termed out of office.
"Leadership is tough," she said.
"You are not there to rubber stamp. Work to craft new opportunities for the children. If you are not standing on the edge, then you're taking up too much room," she said to a standing ovation of school board delegates.
Afterwards I went to uesful workshops on parcel tax campaigns [Larry Tramutola and Associates], reflections on governance team: the superintendent's perspective, superintendent searches, and an informal 'table talk' on the do's and don'ts of blogging.
During lunch I had the pleasure of chatting with Pajaro Valley Unified school board members who are part of a 10-district Californians Together lawsuit filed last year against the state of California challenging the state's English-Only testing system and NCLB.
Coachella Valley Unified School District, et al v. State Of California, et al,
I will be having dinner with one of the lawyers in the case this evening to hear an update as well. The conference continues through Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

San Francisco JROTC threats to students that spoke out against Militarism in their Schools

The JROTC phase out and replacement process in San Francisco Unified School District will likely take some time to implement given the recent threats made to pro-phaseout students and advocates. While I and Commissioner Mark Sanchez have had similar email and phone threats, they pale in comparison to the threats that students are facing right now, apparently from JROTC cadets and their supporters.
See Marc Norton's account of the disgusting threats made to Mara Kubrin, a student at San Francisco's Lowell High School after she presented some 800 petitions to the school board supporting the phase out of JROTC on November 14th. see also Marc's piece from Beyond Chron.

"Hey you stupid hatin azz bitch!!!Better watch ur fkn bk ya dumbazz whore!"

This was just one of the threatening MySpace messages directed at Mara Kubrin, a senior at Lowell High School, following the vote by the San Francisco school board to phase the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) out of the City's public schools.

..."God you know how many people you have made cry & how many people hate you!& wanna Beat you up & Slap the Shit out of you!!!!"


"u should stfu." [shut the f@#$ up - eric]

Ironically, when Mara presented the petition at the school board she claimed that many students opposed to JROTC were afraid to come to the meeting, fearing intimidation by JROTC students. The threats she has received since then have proven that point.

When I talked to many teachers and community supporters of the phase out over the past year, they also expressed similar fears for their safety but they also spoke of fears of retaliation from their principals and from the school district's central office.
Last week when I talked to Mara's dad, a longtime progressive activist and teacher's union leader at one of our middle schools, he said that the threats had taken their toll on the family. He said Mara though was in good spirits and out of town for the holiday break. Mara's mom also emailed me from Africa last week to say that they have some ideas of which JROTC supporters sent the threats. The police are following up on the threats after Lowell High School administrators reportedly failed to follow up on the threats to one of their students.

Need for balance in reporting on the SF School Board's JROTC Vote -
To help counter the mainstream press' extremely biased reporting on the board's vote and all the right-wing and conservative websites and blogs, I am listing a few reports and opinion pieces on the SF Board of Education's and community's efforts to phase out the JROTC below:

Tommi Avicoli Mecca's report from Beyond Chron on the 11/14 Board of Ed Vote
Pat Gerber's excellent post from the SF Independent Media Center

Peter Lauterborn's insightful blog posts

More from the American Friends Service Committee on Youth and Militarism

Why Question the Military's JROTC Program, from CCCO CCCO's Military Out of Our Schools Program

Rethinking Schools Article: No Child Left Unrecruited

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who will replace CA Education Secretary Alan Bersin?; Happy 10th Birthday to CA's For Justice

Lobbyists and insiders in Sacramento have been trying to predict who will be replacing the Governor's Education Secretary Alan Bersin, the former US Attorney turned San Diego Superintendent, when he steps down on December 15th.
A reliable source in Sacramento says that Schwarzenegger's short list includes: failed Secretary of State candidate Bruce McPherson; Pete Mehas, Fresno County's Superintendent of schools; Former State Senator Dede Alpert; and possibly Margaret Fortune, the former asst. secretary in the Davis Adminstration and also a Director under Schwarzenegger's previous Secretary of Education Richard Riordan.

Happy 10th Birthday to Californians for Justice!
To celebrate a decade in the fight for racial justice and building power in low income communities of color, CFJ is holding parties in San Jose [Dec 1]; Long Beach [Dec 7]; and Oakland [Dec 9].
The Oakland party is going on at 6pm at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center - 388 Ninth Street, Oakland. More info:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

SF Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony; The Myth of Thanksgiving - "by awakening I pray we may learn to make a better tomorrow"

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My daughter and I will unfortunately be unable to attend the annual Thanksgiving Sunrise Ceremony at Alcatraz this year. It is also unclear to us also whether the labor dispute between the ferry workers and the new company that owns the ferry lines will further hamper the ceremonies.
Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Day Sunrise Gathering - This event is one day on Thursday November 23, 2006 with ferries leaving at 4:45a.m., 5:00 a.m., 5:15 a.m., 5:30 a.m., 5:45 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. The Indigenous People’s sunrise ceremony is a commemoration of the start of the 1969-1971 occupation of Alcatraz by the 'Indians of All Tribes'. Tickets
As a parent I continue to struggle with my now 6 year old daughter about the myths about Thanksgiving. She recently brought home an art project where she 'gave thanks' to her family, her teachers, her friends, and her TV :-()!
I would like to Give Thanks to My Brother Carlos Munoz [UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies/Chicano Studies and LA 13 activist of 1968] for sharing this speech by flute-maker activist White Crow:

"I would suggest that Thanksgiving, go beyond the gratefulness of the harvest and should be dedicated as well to all our ancestors and give thanks for the things they have taught us with their lives of triumph and failure."

Speech by Barry White Crow Higgins

I have been asked here to day to speak of Thanksgiving from the Native perspective. I am grateful for this opportunity. It is a however a difficult story to be told as it shakes the history most of us have grown to know. It had little to do with turkey, potatoes, or pie. Mid winter of 1620 the Americas saw the landing of the Pilgrims in the area known today as Plymouth MA. They were however not the first to land on these shores. In 1614 a British expedition had already landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox, syphilis and gonorrhea behind. That plague swept the so-called "tribes of New England", and destroyed some of the villages totally.
The new 1620 settlers were not farmers so their crop failed miserably. Were it not for the guidance of a Pawtuxet named Squanto they would have surely perished. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty with the Wampanoag people. The next year William Bradford declared a three-day feast after the first harvest. It would later become a part of the myth known as Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims did not call it that nor were the Indians who attended the feast even invited. The invitation was only to Squanto and Chief Massasoit. They then invited over 90 brothers and sisters to the affair much to the distaste of the Europeans.
There were no prayers and the "Indians" were never invited back again. So contrary to popular myth the Puritans were not friends to the Natives. For they believed they were the chosen people of the infinite God, granting them heavenly dispensation for any actions against a people predestined for damnation. Bradford later wrote "It pleased God to visit these Indians with a great sickness though in this regard God was not perfect for 50 of every thousand Indians has survived."
By 1641 things had really begun to deteriorate and the forth coming of the Natives people forgotten. A 1641 massacre of the Pequot's in CT was very successful so much so the churches declared a day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the now heathen first peoples. This was the first real use of the term of thanksgiving to mark a day of celebration. The celebration included the decapitation of the heads of eighty Natives, which were tossed into the streets for the New Settlers to kick about as a sign of power and defiance.
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Also at this time the Governor Kieft of Manhattan offered the first use of scalping as a form of bounty of 20 shillings per scalp and 40 for each prisoners they could use to sell into slavery. Permission was given to rape or enslave any Native women and enslave any child under 14. Law gave permission to "kill savages on sight at will". By 1675 the Native people under Metacomet fought back with vengeance. But even Metacomet would meet his fate at the hands of the Europeans when he was hunted down and killed, body dismembered, hands sent to Boston, head to Plymouth to be placed on a pole on a Thanksgiving Day in 1767.
Early American history goes on to honor those who would contribute to the genocide of the First Peoples of the Americas. George Washington ordered the attacks on the six nations of the Iroquois despite the gift of 700 bushels of corn he and his men at Valley Forge received from the Oneida peoples. Survival of the troops was at the fate of the saviors themselves. Lord Jeffery Amherst the conceiver and first American user of biological warfare with his inspired use of smallpox infected blankets. Andrew Jackson late repeated this action with the Seminoles. Locally (here in New England) we know the massacre at what we now call Wissatinnewaq by Captain Turner against elders, women, and children. This history would repeat itself with the truth poorly documented and rarely spoken. As recent as 1967, the State of Vermont performed involuntary sterilization of Native females without their permission.
5 to 6 Million Jews and Gypsies were decimated by the Nazi regime in World War II. These facts are well remembered and the world mourns these events. Not to minimize these events or the souls of those victimized, these numbers pale in comparison to the events of the Americas. It has been estimated that over 100 million Native Americans were killed by the European invaders during the establishment of the nation we know today.
Thanksgiving was, without the declared name, a tradition of the Native Peoples a time to give thanks to the Creator for the bounty of the harvest and their lives. As the last crops were harvested time was taken to reflect and give thanks. Although short lived, for three days peace and fellowship was shared in New England back in 1621, a gratefulness was shown for the compassion of one peoples to another and the gifts of Grandfather and Mother Earth acknowledged and shared unconditionally.
I do not speak these truths to solicit sympathy or the righting of ancestral wrongs. Histories cannot be changed but truth is tool that will give us an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and use this knowledge to prevent them from happening again. We know genocide is happening in many areas of the world today. We can pray for these victim souls and by living a better example we can effect change. I would suggest that Thanksgiving, go beyond the gratefulness of the harvest and should be dedicated as well to all our ancestors and give thanks for the things they have taught us with their lives of triumph and failure.
By awakening I pray we may learn to make a better tomorrow.

More on White Crow
More on Carlos Munoz
More on San Francisco Alcatraz Sunrise Ceremony/Unthanksgiving commemorations, etc.:

SF Filipino Students Force Mayor Newsom to Address Human Rights Abuses in Trip to Philippines

Congratulations to SF State's League of Filipino Students [LFS] and their chairperson Princess Bustos on yesterday's small victory at the SF Board of Supervisors meeting.
For the details see SF Chronicle political gossip columnists Matier and Ross' report from this morning - Supes add brick to mayor's bouquets for Manila visit
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom jets off to Manila on Saturday for a weeklong sister city jaunt -- but not without a bon voyage present from the Board of Supervisors in the form of a resolution condemning the island nation's human rights record.
Sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the resolution approved Tuesday cites critics' assertion that there have been 765 political killings in the Philippines during the five-year rule of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Mirkarimi and Co. want the mayor to personally deliver the city's human rights condemnation to Arroyo next week and to urge her to order an independent investigation into the deaths.
Mirkarimi offered his resolution at the request of the League of Filipino Students at San Francisco State, which has been working for some time to raise awareness of human rights violations in the Philippines.
"This has nothing to do with the mayor," Mirkarimi said. "It has to do with human rights violations. We just want him to keep in mind while fostering sister city relations that there are problems.''
Mayoral spokesman Peter Ragone said Tuesday he hadn't seen the board resolution and had no comment.
For more info on LFS work and Filipino teachers and community activists in the SF Bay Area -
Filipino Community Center
Bayan USA

Monday, November 20, 2006

New Orleans Schools - More Ethnic Cleansing and Privatization

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Photo - PHRFOC People's Hurricane Relief and Oversight Cmtee
This past Saturday New Orleans and gulf region residents rallied at the state capital in Baton Rouge to demand their right to return to their communities at the "We Want Our Money" action at the Capitol Mall. Mike Klonsky also asks in his Small Talk Blog today:

Where did the money go?
The latest from New Orleans, which has become a Mecca for dozens of new, privately-managed charter schools while nearly half of N.O.'s traditional public schools sit virtually untouched since Hurricane Katrina, says Sunday's Times-Picayune.
So what is happening with the more thant $200 billion that is supposed to be spent on infrastructure? Business Week pointed out over a year ago, the political nature of Katrina spending has met with resistance:
"In reshaping the region, the White House senses an opportunity to push conservative programs to the max. ``Bush wants to try out ideas, under the color of an emergency, that he hasn't had success with so far,'' says Will Marshall III, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist think tank. Voucher-style aid, for instance, for all schools that take in students evacuated from the hurricane zone -- including private schools -- will stir strong opposition from teachers' unions and their Democratic allies."

Despite the ongoing privatization of the school system, the gentrification and ethnic cleansing of African American and other communities of color continues as well. The People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition on Saturday demanded that Louisiana Governor Blanco address the issue of residents' right of return:

Governor Kathleen Blanco has hijacked over $10 billion from the Federal Government. Congress appropriated this money to assist displaced people and to reconstruct New Orleans and other areas damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
To control these funds, Blanco created an extrajudicial body, accountable fundamentally only to her, called the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). The LRA is wholly unrepresentative of Louisiana’s population, particularly of New Orleans, in both its race and class composition. The LRA is a who’s who of Louisiana’s rich and powerful. The LRA represents the interests of major developers, who are intent on preventing the return to New Orleans of its Black working class majority and turning it into the Las Vegas of the South.
The Asian American Movement EZINE - reports that Vietnamese American residents of New Orleans East successfully defeated a City plan that would have created a new toxic waste site adjacent to their community:

New Orleans East is home to the largest Vietnamese community in New Orleans. Despite being overlooked on the aftermath of the disaster, they were one of the first communities to return and resettle in the city.
However shortly after their resettlement, the city planned to create a new landfill Chef Menteur, only one mile away. This landfill would hold the debris, much of which was toxic construction materials such as asbestos, uncontained electronic components, and contaminants from the Katrina cleanup. Community residences feared that if groundwater seeped in or if faced with another flood, contaminated water would leak into the surrounding canals that flow into and around New Orleans East.
Many believe the city insists on dumping near New Orleans East because they want to save money. The contracted dumping company, Waste Management Inc., had romised a 20% kick back to the city of any hauling fees paid to WMI by FEMA.
Despite much controversy and opposition from surrounding communities, city officials still decided to follow through with the landfill plans, their reason being that the urgency of the situation would not allow for a period of public comments from the community.
On April 27, a federal judge had rejected a motion for a temporary restraining order for the dump. Although shocked by this decision, environmental and community groups continued to mobilize and rally against the construction of the dumpsite so close to home.
Finally on July 13, the mayor of New Orleans issued a statement that he would not renew the executive order that allowed the dump to open. It will be officially closed on August 14 in a resounding victory for this immigrant Vietnamese community.
For more info:
Peoples hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Committee
Learning From New Orleans - One Year Later - SF Bay Area commemorations

Nov 20th US Solidarity Actions - Building Education Not Incarceration in SF; Oaxaca Resiste!

“On November 20, blockades will be set up to show the Mexican government we mean business. We are calling upon YOU to join in these blockades. That could mean blockading the consulates’ websites, jamming their phone lines with calls about the conflict in Oaxaca, occupying the offices of the consuls, or shutting down the roads around the consulates in whatever way you see fit.” - EZLN

The Oakland-based national organization Education Not Incarceration [ENI] is in the process of setting up a new chapter in our fair City of San Francisco. School Board Commissioner Mark Sanchez who will likely become our next Board President in January 07 and I are working with ENI to help build ENI in SF.
The local group meets weekly, Saturdays, 2-4 PM at the Hunters Point Foundation, 5015 3rd Street, San Francisco. For more information, conact Valerie Higgins at 415.822.1585 or
ENI, Teachers for Social Justice, the SF Labor Council, Mexico Solidarity Committee and others are calling on communities to stand in solidarity with the people's movements in Oaxaca, Mexico with SF actions which are part of hundreds of similar actions across the globe -

We, Education Not Incarceration, want to emphasize the connection between growing incarceration rates in the United States, which often result from job-lessness caused by globalization of the workforce, and the poverty and uprising against neo-liberalism by the people of Oaxaca. In Mexico people are forced to work and live in extreme poverty conditions, resulting from free-trade laws that enable US corporations to extract human and natural resources from Mexico without any protections on the people or the land. The uprising in Oaxaca began with a teacher strike. ...solidarity actions inside and outside of Mexico will not only show the people of Oaxaca that they are not alone, but also that we will hold the Mexican government responsible for the bloodshed.
Following the call put out by the Zapatistas for a nationwide general strike in Mexico on November 20th, actions have been planned internationally.
In San Francisco activists are calling for a convergence and critical mass at 4pm at the Mexican Consulate (532 Folsom at 2nd Street).
The November 20th actions fall on the same day where Obrador, the candidate who lost the summer elections to fraud, is to be inaugurated by his supporters. Women, Political Parties, Barricades and Autonomy by Barucha Calamity Peller. Meanwhile the Oaxacan Attorney General has blamed APPO for the death of Indymedia journalist and anarchist Brad Will.
What started out as a teachers strike nearly six months ago in the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico has transformed itself into a full blown rebellion against neo-liberal economics and capitalist domination. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets and thousands of barricades have been set up by popular assemblies demanding autonomy and the resignation of the governor of the state. ************************************************************

Last week Labor Activists Frank Martin Del Campo, Alan Benjamin and Dave Welsh authored a SF Labor Council resolution in support of the struggle in Oaxaca -

[Note: The following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Delegates Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council on Monday, November 13, 2006.]

Resolution in Solidarity with the People of Oaxaca
Whereas, 70,000 teachers in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico -- organized in Section 22 of the National Teachers Union (SNTE) -- went on strike in May 2006 demanding that all teachers across the State receive wage increases and wage parity, and that all school children be provided with shoes, breakfast and uniforms to go to school; and
Whereas, in June 2006, the government of the State of Oaxaca, led by Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, unleashed the first brutal attack against the strike encampments set up by teachers and their supporters; death squads working with state authorities assassinated striking teachers; and
Whereas, the people of Oaxaca -- through their labor, community, political, religious and indigenous organizations -- then rallied behind the teachers and formed a Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) to urge the authorities to meet the strikers' just and legitimate demands, and, with the Teachers, to demand the resignation of Governor Ruiz. At that point it became not only a teachers' strike, but a powerful people's strike for justice and against violent repression; and
Whereas, on October 29, 2006, the Federal government of President Vicente Fox sent in 4500 special troops to tear down the barricades and many of the encampments that the Teachers and people of Oaxaca had created to defend their strike; andWhereas, Mexicans across the political spectrum have commented on the not-so-behind-the-scenes role of the U.S. Embassy. The Bush-appointed U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza stated on October 28 that the Fox administration had delayed too long, and needed to send in Federal troops to Oaxaca. An hour later Fox announced his decision to send in troops, which he implemented the following day; and
Whereas, over the first six months of struggle in Oaxaca, more than 20 people have been killed, including a north American video journalist, and hundreds wounded by troops, police and paramilitary forces. Hundreds have been "disappeared" (many of them feared dead). And many hundreds of union and community activists have been jailed. Yet the popular forces in their hundreds of thousands have continued to march.
Therefore Be It Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, joins with labor and democratic rights organizations in Mexico and around the world in urging the federal and state governments in Mexico to seek every avenue to a peaceful solution to the conflict in Oaxaca; and
Be it Further Resolved, that we urge the Mexican authorities to settle the conflict by meeting the legitimate demands put forward by the teachers and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, including: (1) Immediate withdrawal of all troops and paramilitary units from the city and state of Oaxaca, (2) Stop the repression and state-sponsored killings, (3) Removal from office of Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, instigator of the reign of terror, (4) Release all detainees and political prisoners, and (5) Governor Ruiz and others responsible must be brought to justice.
Be it Finally Resolved, that we forward these demands to our Labor Councils, National Unions, State Federations, AFL-CIO and Change to Win Federation,urging them to embrace these demands and to act in solidarity with the teachers and popular movement of Oaxaca.
(Resolution submitted by Dave Welsh, NALC #214; Alan Benjamin, OPEIU #3; and Frank Martin del Campo, LCLAA)

San Francisco Solidarity with Philippines Movement Against Human Rights Abuses

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors tomorrow will vote on a resolution brought to them by many Pilipino community-based organizations that have been fighting for democracy and against human rights abuses in their homeland. The community coalition that has come together to demand labor and human rights in the Philippines is broad-based with representation from youth and student, faith-based, workers' rights, women's rights and many other groups. I am attaching below my letter of support for the coalition...

Dear President Peskin and Members of the Board of Supervisors:
Thank you for your leadership as a Board on Human Rights and Social Justice issues over the years. I am writing as concerned Board of Education member and an Asian American active in human rights and global justice issues in Asia to urge you to support Supervisor Mirkarimi's resolution condemning the political killings taking place against labor and church leaders in the Philippines. The resolution also urges Mayor Newsom to express our City’s concern to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when he travels there as part of the San Francisco-Manila Sister Cities trip next week.
As an activist I have been a supporter for over 20 years of Filipino American organizations that have worked against martial law [Marcos era and today] and for a more democratic and independent Philippines. The issues of human rights abuses, including assassinations of student and labor leaders, today parallel the repression and anti-democratic practices of the Marcos regime in the 70’s and 80’s when I was most active. Filipino immigrant students of mine from San Francisco State often describe in my Asian American Studies classes horror stories of their parents’ generation and of the ongoing repression today in their homeland.
As an immigrant rights activist I am proud of the long history and friendship between our City and that of Manila , the Philippines ' capital. Please do not turn a blind eye to the human rights crisis that is taking the lives of students, workers, priests, women, and anyone who dare to speak out.
By supporting the Mirkarimi resolution you will be ensuring that San Francisco acts in solidarity, along with Amnesty International, business organizations, and faith-based groups, with international efforts to press the government of the Philippines to uphold labor and human rights. Our Mayor's upcoming trip provides a timely opportunity for us to do this.


For more on Pilipino community activism in the Bay -

Thursday, November 16, 2006

San Francisco Board of Education's New Policy to Phase out the JROTC and replace with Non-Military, Non-Discriminatory Alternative Programs

I am posting the full language here of the San Francisco Board of Education's resolution which will phase out the JROTC [Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps] in SF Schools over a 2 year period and set up a task force that will build non-military and non-discriminatory programs to replace the phased out programs at 7 of our high schools. I have already begun dialogue with JROTC alumni, current students and instructors, community agencies and leaders to work together to create better opportunities for the many young people who are served by the program, but we are trying to create concrete educational alternatives for our high school students that are non-discriminatory and non-military oriented. Thanks to the many students, parents and community members who spoke out from different perspectives on this important issue, and especially to Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee for her hard work in supporting the resolution.
Eric Mar, SF Board of Education

Click here for the PDF file of this resolution
Adopted by the Board of Education at its Regular Meeting of November 14, 2006.
Subject: Resolution No. 65-23A1
- Mark Sanchez and Dan Kelly
WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has banned educational partnerships with outside organizations that discriminate against any group based upon sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS: Civilian control of the military, and restriction of military involvement in civilian affairs is a fundamental characteristic of a healthy democracy; and
WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has restricted the activities of military recruiters on our campuses; and
WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has adopted violence prevention and conflict resolution strategies that promote non-violent behavior; and
WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District requires that teachers of all academic courses be fully credentialed; and
WHEREAS: JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm; and
WHEREAS: No other potential employer or recruiter is given such a high profile, nor such extensive contact with students; and
WHEREAS: JROTC instructors are not certificated teachers, and may not even possess a college degree of any kind; and
WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District share of JROTC salaries is provided from central budget, while regular PE teachers are charged against each school’s site-based budget; and
WHEREAS: JROTC manifests the military’s discrimination against LGBT people by offering non-LGBT students preferential enlistment options; and
WHEREAS: JROTC is one of the largest after school activities at some High Schools; and
WHEREAS: The Board of Education has received extensive testimony that JROTC promotes self-esteem, community service, and academic and leadership skills; and
WHEREAS: Many other student extra-curricular activities also develop self-esteem, academic and leadership skills, and a commitment to service; and
WHEREAS: The California Education Code permits, and some SFUSD schools allow, students to receive PE credit for sports participation, independent study, or other classes deemed equivalent.

Therefore Be It Resolved: The Board of Education finds that credentialing requirements for academic instructors and courses are not met by the JROTC, except where specifically allowable as a substitute for Physical Education; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that JROTC programs on campus constitute a form of military recruitment and are in violation of our policy governing fair access for recruiters on campuses; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC program violates our anti discrimination policies with regard to LGBT students and adults; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the funding mechanism of the JROTC creates inequities between High Schools in SFUSD; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC is an inappropriate extension of the nation’s military into the civilian sphere; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education hereby begins a two-year phase out of all JROTC programs in the SFUSD resulting in no JROTC classes in the 2008-2009 school year and beyond; and

Be it Further Resolved: No new JROTC units or programs may be initiated at any SFUSD schools, effective immediately; and

Be it Further Resolved: That SFUSD staff shall not direct or require that students enroll in JROTC as an alternative to PE, or for any other reason; and

Be it Further Resolved: That the Board of Education directs that the current JROTC subsidies be re-distributed, as the program is drawn down, to SFUSD high schools on an equitable basis through the weighted student formula, to support and expand opportunities for all students.

Be It Further Resolved: That the Board of Education calls for the creation of a special task force to develop alternative, creative, career driven programs with the elements of the existing JROTC program that students have indicated important to them, which then will provide students with a greater sense of purpose and respect for self and humankind; and

Be It Further Resolved: That any new programs being implemented beginning academic year 2007-08 are evaluated before the end of the school year to test student satisfaction.

Please Note: Click here for the PDF file.
The original resolution was introduced in May 2006 and discussed in committee in June 2006 before being heard again with a substitute motion in August.
Taken up by the Curriculum and Program Committee on August 23, 2006. Substitute motion accepted by general consent of the Committee. Substitute Motion forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation from Committee, and to be taken up for action at the September 12, 2006 Regular Board Meeting by a vote of 2 ayes (Mar and Kelly), and 1 nay (Lipson).
Taken up by the Budget and Business Services Committee on 10/18/06. Substitute motion, as amended, forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation (2 ayes, l nay (Wynns) ). The Budget and Business Services Committee recommends to the Board that the intention of the original motion to develop an alternative program be addressed.
Substitute motion amended and adopted on 11/14/06.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Unfinished Business for the SF Board of Education - Superintendent Seach, Countering Re-sesegregation, Replacing the JROTC with Better Alternatives

Photo from HBO's WALKOUT.
Now that the November 7th election is behind us, our Board of Education has some serious decisions to make. Tonight I meet with our Superintendent Search Task Force. Outgoing Commissioners Dan Kelly and Sarah Lipson are also on the committee along former Mayor Art Agnos and longtime non-profit leader Jan Masaoka and others. Tonight we are setting out a process and goals to select a community-friendly search firm to assist us in our search for a new superintendent by the end of the academic year.

Tomorrow night we also face some tough decisions on everything from the proposed 'merger' of Burton High School with Leadership High School [which I oppose], to adding race as one of several factors in our student assignment/desegregation/equity plan for our district [which I support], and a proposal to phase out the district's JROTC program [which I support] and use the $1 million we currently spend on it for replacement programs to provide better alternatives for the 1600 high schoolers on 7 campuses who are currently in the program.

The "Equality for All" photo above is symbolic of the Chicano/Latino movement for equality and democracy in Los Angeles and throughout the Southwest US. I like the photo because it represents the easiest part of serving on the school board - supporting the demands for an equal education and equity in school district decision-making from low income communities of color. The hardest part though is managing our budget with huge enrollment declines [1000 this past year] in an era of defunding of public education. Also very difficult often is striving to do my best to listen to diverse communities/points of view during our board deliberations while also doing what I think is in the best interest of social jusitice and equity for all our communities. Tuesday night 11/14 will be one of those difficult evenings.
The meeting begins at 7pm at 555 Franklin, Board Meeting Room, San Francisco, but often folks have to arrive very early [6pm] in order to get a seat, unless you don't mind sitting in the overflow room with an inability to see what is going on at the meeting.
Call 415-241-6493 during the day to get on the speaker's list if you would like to speak at the meeting.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stanford Today - Hundreds of Asian Student Activists & Workers Unite to Challenge Corporate Globalization

gapaction feiyispeaks, originally uploaded by ericmar.

Asian and Pacific Islander Students from around the United States are meeting today to discuss the state of our communities at Stanford's Annual Asian American Activism conference.
Besides Stanford's Asian American Students' Association, SF State's Asian Student Union and many other college student groups, grassroots people's and workers' organizations from Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philly and the SF/Oakland Bay Area and other communities are also in the mix today. Activists are using the weekend to develop closer coordination of national and regional work of our movement-building organizations and activists in the Asian and Pacific Islander Communities.
Direct Action at the GAP
Fei Yi Chen of the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) is pictured above at a summer action at the Gap Store in SF's Union Square area. She and student leaders this afternoon are continuing their direct action protests at the Gap store in Stanford this afternoon.
They are challenging the Gap’s lack of corporate responsibility in San Francisco, the Bay Area and around the world.

Why: In San Francisco today, employment in the garment manufacturing sector has declined from 20,000 jobs in 1990 to under 1,500 jobs today. Over the past 2 years, over 1800 garment workers have been laid off in San Francisco including a local factory, which, until recently, manufactured apparel for The Gap. Outsourcing of garment manufacturing from the US to countries with lower labor standards has led to devastating impacts on local garment workers, their families and the broader community.
The Gap is one of the leading retailers in the clothing industry. Last year, they had $16 billion in sales. While Gap has been a leader in sales, they can also be a leader in supporting local workers. Although Gap has been socially responsible than some other corporations in addressing sweatshops issues abroad, we feel like they can do more to address the “sweatshops in their own backyard” – San Francisco Chronicle. In Gap’s 2004 Social Accountability, Gap admits there are still many issues within their factories. We are asking the Gap to become more socially
responsible by committing jobs to the community that helped it prospered to what it is nowadays.

For more info on the GapSew Local Campaign Campaign or the API Movement Building work - contact the the Chinese Progressive Association - or email Mark Liu at or Alex Tom at

Links to API Movement Building organizations -

Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (Oakland)
Asian American Resource Workshop (Boston)
Boston Progress Coalition of Asian Pacific American Youth (Greater Boston)
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities (New York)
Chinese Progressive Association (Boston)

Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco)
Gidra (Los Angeles) --> Chinatown Collective for Community Action (Los Angeles)

Garment Workers Center (Los Angeles)
J-town Voice (LA)
Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates (Los Angeles)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

SF Bucks the State Again - New San Francisco School Board Voted In Tonight

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Despite the statewide landslide victory of big business interests in the re-election of the governor and the defeat of Props 86, 87 and 89, San Francisco again stood out as the nation's so-called left coast. In addition to the passage of a sorely needed $450 million school bond measure by a whopping 74%, and the strong passage Prop F [the historic paid sick leave measure] and Prop H [tenant relocation assistance measure] grassroots coalitions came together to support progressive candidates and other races too.
Summarizing the meaning of the SF Vote Bay Guardian Editor Tim Redmond blogged:

The big news of the night is that Mayor Gavin Newsom is taking a serious beating. The two candidates he invested the most time and political capital in -- Rob Black and Doug Chan -- are both going down to a clear defeat. In District 4, Chan has pretty much dropped off the map, with Ed Jew, Ron Dudum and Jaynry Mak locked in a close struggle for first place. This race will almost certainly come down to the IRV [instant runoff voting] runoff.
New Day on the School Board - 3 Women of Color Win Races!
San Francisco Schools will be changed for the better as 3 new strong women of color will join our board once they are sworn in at our first meeting in January 2007.
Congratulations to Jane Kim, Kimshree Maufus and Hydra Mendoza and their campaigns for their elections today.
Thanks so much also to outgoing school board members Dr. Dan Kelly who has served our schools for many years, and to my close progressive colleague teacher Sarah Lipson and longtime Chinese community activist Eddie Chin. Both Chin and Lipson did not run for re-election.
The election of Kim, Maufus and Mendoza, 3 new strong progressive women of color, to the board will strengthen our progressive voice in support of equity, immigrant and language rights, and educational justice.
Kimshree becomes the first African American women board member since 1990. She and Hydra will bring a much stronger and experienced grassroots parent voice to the board.
Jane Kim becomes the first Korean American on the board, and the first Asian American woman since Angie Fa's term in the early 90's. Jane is also the second Green Party member elected to a citywide office since Sarah Lipson's election to the school board in 2002.
Mendoza is the first Filipina elected to the Board and the first Filipino American in some 20 years. United Educators of San Francisco strongly backed Maufus and Mendoza. Progressives like fellow School Board Commissioner Mark Sanchez and I and Teachers for Social Justice and the SF Bay Guardian rallied behind Kim and Maufus.

The GOTV [get out the vote] work today was grueling, but I go to sleep tonight knowing that our San Francisco values won out over the right-wing drift of the state's politics.

Bad news for California progressives – political pundits predict even lower turnout!; voting absentee; suggested SF and CA progressive voter guides

Free Image Hosting at Even though the sun is shining very brightly on election day morning here in San Francisco there’s more bad news for progressives and liberals – today’s California election turnout is now expected to be even lower than previous predictions…The SF Chronicle this morning reported on the Field Poll’s prediction of an even lower turnout in CA’s election today [51%] than the Secretary of State’s Office prediction of 55%. More

The expected low turnout could be bad news for [Democratic Gubernatorial challenger] Phil Angelides and other Democrats because the people most likely to vote are older, richer, better-educated and whiter than the state's registered voters as a whole, factors that tend to favor Republicans.
Voters 50 and older make up 40 percent of the state's registered voters, but they are expected to be 59 percent of those voting in today's election, DiCamillo said.
New trends - I am one of the nearly 45% of voters that will be using our absentee ballots to vote.
An estimated 45 percent of California's 15.8 million registered voters are expected to use absentee ballots for this election, up from 27.1 percent in 2002 and 40 percent in last November's special election.
My partner and I usually fill them out the night before the election. After walking my 1st grader to school this morning I brought our absentee ballots to our polling place at our daughter’s school.

On Voter Guides and Other Cheatsheets – to help with voting on long and complex ballots like today's – we usually use a number of local voter guides including the San Francisco Bay Guardian , Harvey Milk Club slate card, League of Independent Voters/Young Voters guides and info from Mobilize the Immigrant Vote – Chinese Progressive Association, PODER, Filipinos for Affirmative Action and others.

To help with statewide issues – see the list of excellent voter guides listed by Frank Russo at the CA Progress Report Liberal/Progressive Voter guides

After the last ditch GOTV [get out the vote] work today, we will probably be joining
many of the labor and grassroots campaigns [SF's Prop F and H, Chris Daly for Supervisor, Pride at Work, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Chinese Progressive Association and PODER’s Progressive Electoral Project, Young Workers United, etc.] at the ‘Victory Party’after 8pm tonight at
Medjool - 2516 Mission St @ 21st, San Francisco’s Mission District.
Hopefully it will be an actual ‘victory’ party, but that all depends on our work today to turn out the vote, especially in immigrant and low income communities of color throughout the City - and to try to prove the pundits wrong about San Francisco Values and voter apathy in our state.

Monday, November 06, 2006

California Low Turnout Predicted - Grassroots Forces in San Francisco Communities Build for the Future

If CA's Courage Campaign is correct and a low turnout in the California elections is a reality on Election Day Tuesday - it will mean not only 4 more years of the Terminator in Sacramento, but more years of defunding of schools and our communities and a pro-corporate, conservative agenda in Sacramento:
From Saladay, The Secretary of State's office is predicting 55% turnout in California tomorrow. That would be the second lowest general election turnout for a governor's race ever, worse only than 2002's turnout when Davis won re-election. Considering the record low turnout in the June primary of
34%, one wonders if 55% is perhaps optimistic. Not to mention the low
return rate
of absentee ballots.
The big question of course is who will
be the ones to stay home: dispirited Dems or complacent Republicans? ....
On the positive side - the grassroots Chinese Progressive Association [CPA] in SF's Chinatown is working with others like PODER in SF's Mission District, the Young Workers United, POWER and May 1st Alliance in the long term to build a stronger progressive electoral base in low income communities of color for the future.
We are anticipating a very strong turnout and vote [perhaps over 75%] for Proposition F - SF's Paid Sick Days Intiative - on Tuesday.
CPA, PODER and others are targeting voter precincts with historically low voter turnout in Chinatown, the Mission, Visitacion Valley, Portolla, the Tenderloin, SOMA, and South East Areas to change the electoral map of our City. Using techniques from Anthony Thigpenn's AGENDA/SCOPE in LA and other SF grassroots strategies, these grassroots groups are building a voter base, progressive policy reforms, and a stronger social justice movement in San Francisco.
After passing Prop F in SF, we will also be working with other grassroots base-building groups in other cities to support economic justice initiatives at the local level.

The Coalition for Paid Sick Days - Prop F in SF - consists of:
Young Workers United
A multi-racial membership organization of young and immigrant workers dedicated to raising standards and improving working conditions in the low-wage service sector through organizing, grassroots policy, and education.
Chinese Progressive Association
The Chinese Progressive Association(CPA) is a grassroots membership-based organization that empowers the Chinese community in the San Francisco Bay Area and promotes justice and equality for all people. CPA's campaigns and programs improve the living and working conditions of low-income immigrants and give ordinary community members a stronger voice in the decision-making processes that affect them.
Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU
The Committee of Interns and Residents(CIR) is the largest union in the country for resident physicians at public hospitals, representing more than 12,000 residents in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. CIR contracts improve salaries and working conditions for interns and resident physicians as well as enhance the quality of patient care.
St. Peter's Housing Committee
St. Peter's Housing Committee is a twenty-year old tenants organization that serves Spanish-speaking tenants in the Mission. It helps them battle illegal evictions and rent increases or for home repairs in case a landlord illegally refuses. The housing committee is a part of Deporten La Migra (Deport the INS Coalition) that protests landlords' use of the INS as a tool to evict tenants.
Service Employees International Union(SEIU), Local 790
SEIU Local 790 represents San Francisco City workers, non-profit workers, dancers, and service workers. It is one of the largest unions in San Francisco and is committed to public service and social justice.
Parent Voices
Parent Voices is a parent-led grassroots organization fighting to make quality child care affordable and accessible to all families. They are a rapidly growing chapter organization of parents in California.

SF/California Elections - This is what democracy looks like?

As the nation debates what “San Francisco Values” are and SF Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi prepares to become speaker of the House of Representatives, my SF State students and I are grappling with the meaning of local, state and national elections to our communities.
For the past few weeks leading up to election day tomorrow, we have been looking closely at what democracy really means in America – especially for immigrants, for Asian Americans, and for other disenfranchised communities. With CA’s Proposition 87 [Clean Energy/Oil Corps Tax] and Proposition 89 [Stop Political Corruption/For Clean Money Elections] and other campaigns we have been studying how corporate domination of the political process really operates in local communities, urban centers and states like California. Randy Shaw of Beyond Chron predicts both of those initiatives to go down to defeat tomorrow because of a corporate and big business onslaught of $ and misleading political ads.
After being pulled into the Pro-Prop 87 hoopla with Clinton and Gore and other celebrities rallying around the issue of global warming - I agree with Shaw's criticism of the Prop 87 camapaign's lack of strategic vision -
I sure wish Hollywood producer Steven Bing had thought of more productive ways to spend $47 million on improving the environment rather than blowing it on Prop 87. Bing could have hired hundreds of grassroots organizers and impacted dozens of political races to build the environmental movement---instead he waged a television war against Chevron and big oil companies that he will lose.
Back to my teaching and my students' learning opportunities - hopefully by plugging into various electoral campaigns, even for a few hours, to learn about how communities “mobilize the immigrant vote”, and work to raise awareness in local races to increase turnout for example in city council, supervisorial or even school board races, students can learn in a hands on manner of the huge barriers that exist for working families, immigrants and English learners, and for people of color and younger votes in our ‘democracy’.
For more on grassroots efforts to use electoral organizing and mobilizing to build stronger social justice movements - see
Nov 7 Elections - 5 ways you can help make progressive change in San Francisco Schools
Sick Kids & Yes on SF's Prop F, the Makibaka Hotel and learning about people's struggle
SF Yes on Prop F - working families deserve sick pay on LA's AGENDA
sf-chinatown-its-about-time-for-prop 89
From the Streets to the Polls [to the streets....]
Election 2006 - It's Time to Smash the Color Line
Linking immigrant rights with voting rights
SF Progressive Organizing Center kickoff

Friday, November 03, 2006

R.I.P. Bao Yen Chan - San Francisco Chinatown leader/activist

One of the most incredible elders from our community in San Francisco's Chinatown has just passed on - Ms. Bao Yen Chan [also known as Bao Yan Chan or Yu], a longtime tenant movement leader with the Community Tenants Association. Some may have met her through the Matt Gonzalez for Mayor campaign a few years ago, while others of us worked with her for years in immigrant rights and tenant rights work in Chinatown.
The photo above was taken of Ms. Chan [second from left] at our annual SF Immigrant Pride Day in 1998 [in the SOMA neighborhood of SF]. She and CTA were honored along with Mujeres Unidas y Activas and their longtime leader Clara Luz Navarro [far left]. In the picture I am in the middle also honoring Manilatown poet/activist Al Robles [on my left] and International Hotel Tenants Association leaders Estella Habal and Emil DeGuzman [on my right].
For many of us in the Chinese Progressive Association, Ms. Chan was a shining light of militancy and activism. Her fighting spirit lives on in the youth activists and many of us that she inspired in her amazing 89 years.
For more on Ms. Chan - see Chronicle reporter Vanessa Hua's article from this week.
See also Norman Fong's piece from Beyond Chron. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 02, 2006

SF Stand Up for Small Schools!

Stand Up For Small Schools!
Wednesday November 8th -
June Jordan School for Equity - 325 La Grande@ Brazil St. (Excelsior District)

*Please arrive at 5:30*
Please join us in this action with over 200 families, students, teachers and community members as we ask San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Gwen Chan and Board President Norman Yee to commit to:

Support for a strong Small Schools Policy and the autonomy of Small Schools by Design

Protecting unique leadership structures and innovative curriculum

A positive working partnership with school communities across San Francisco

In June 2006 the San Francisco School Board unanimously approved the formation of a Small Schools Policy Task Force with the charge of forming a policy for Small Schools by Design for SFUSD. Although San Francisco is one of the higher achieving urban school districts in California it has one of the highest achievement gaps in California.
Small schools by design are a nationally recognized progressive school reform that has a proven track record for closing the achievement gap for urban youth. The policy will be reviewed by the Board on November 14th and this is our opportunity to share why these schools are important to us and get them to commit to our vision.
For more information contact Allison at 415-452-4922
Forward this to as many folks as possible! Power in Numbers!

For more on the politics of San Francisco's small schools advocacy -
From my blog - blogging-from-mission-high-school
Other resources: - may 3 2006 A Study in Size
Mark Sanchez and Eric Mar's original SFUSD small schools policy from June 2006 national resources
Rethinking Schools resources on small schools
June 2002 Asianweek piece on our work with SFOP to bring about our current policies
San Francisco Magazine article with context of politics of SF's reform efforts

SF Chinatown - It's About Time for Prop 89! Stop Political Corruption - Clean Elections Now!

Amidst the pouring rain on Dia de los Muertos in SF's Chinatown this morning I joined nurses, parents, teachers and grassroots community activists who are part of a growing grassroots coalition for Clean Elections in California. Soon to be State Senator Elect Leland Yee and Assemblyperson Elect Mary Chung Hayashi, longtime labor leader Richard Leung, and dozens of others also spoke out in support of Prop 89.

Thanks to the courageous folks from CNA [CA Nurses Association] and many others for building this movement for electoral reform in our state. Excerpts of my comments included:

As a SF school board member, teacher and parent, I support Prop 89 because it will help ensure that our Chinese and immigrant communities will have a chance at electing accountable local and statewide officials, instead of those that are bought and sold by big business interests.

As communities are singing all over the STATE - it’s about time for 89!- we need to work together to stop political corruption in SF and throughout our state.

Prop. 89 creates a level and fair playing field for California elections by: Banning contributions to candidates by lobbyists and contractors. Restricting contributions by corporations, unions, and individuals to candidates and to outside groups running negative ads. Letting candidates who reject contributions from big money donors run for office using “clean money” public grants. And if politicians break the law, they can be thrown out of office and even put in jail.

Prop. 89 will help our schools by creating a dedicated fund, from a small increase in the corporate tax rate, so that resources are not diverted from our classrooms. In fact, more money will be available for education since politicians will no longer have the incentive - like Schwarzenegger has done - to divert billions of dollars in public revenues to corporate tax breaks and pork barrel projects to reward their biggest donors.

The broad grassroots labor and community coalition that has come together to support Prop 89 will not go away after we turn out to vote on November 7th.

This is a pro-DEMOCRACY movement to take back our electoral system from the big business interests that are trying to dominate us and our communities.

Immigrant communities – like Chinatown, Vis Valley, the Tenderloin, SOMA, Bayview and the Mission - face tremendous barriers to political empowerment. Our communities have the lowest voter turnouts not just because of language, immigration and other barriers, but also because of the barrier of corporate control and domination of the political process in CA – WE NEED TO CHANGE THIS and PROP 89 is a very good start in ending political corruption in our state!

...I want my students and young people in our schools and communities to see first hand how the political system in SF and in CA is driven by downtown money and big business interests. Pick any local initiative or candidate race for example, and you can see how money most often determines who will win or lose. Local school board candidates or supervisors are often placed for sale to the highest bidder in our City.
Proposition 89 can help even the playing field at the state level so that our communities can have a stronger voice to improve our environment, our schools and our state.

It’s about time for 89!
Yes on Prop 89 on November 7th!

More info: