Friday, October 26, 2007

Building our Movements with Popular Education! - New Race, Poverty & the Environment Issue Features Grassroots Organizations

One of the privileges of being on a big city school board is my ability to meet with and learn from organizers, leaders and ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in times of crisis.
And, our public school system in SF is definitely in a time of crisis today as the draconian No Child Left Behind law is being reauthorized in the next weeks with even more punitive changes like 'pay for performance' for teachers and a continuation of the high stakes testing system that is destroying education as we know it and furthering the opportunity gap for low income kids of color.
It's also a crisis because of the ongoing de-funding of the public education system while President Bush backed by House Democrats this week have appropriated $46 billion more for the war and the occupation of Iraq. [Hopefully our October 27th Anti-war demonstrations around the country help to counter this]
On the bright side, the 'extraordinary things' going on include many grassroots organizing campaigns and efforts highlighted in the new issue of the incredible journal Race Poverty and the Environment which is published by the Oakland-based Urban Habitat.
SF Freedom School founder Kathy Emery and I contributed a piece on "Democratizing the Public School System" with lessons from our work in the San Francisco Unified School District and our histories as teachers and activists in using popular education to build our people's movements for social change.
The articles are all online but editor extraodinaire Ben Jesse Clark would kill us if we didn't encourage folks to subscribe and support the Race Poverty and the Environment Journal and Urban Habitat's important and strategic work to deepen our understanding of social issues and help build stronger movements for our future.
This past Wednesday night, Kathy and I and my 7 year daughter Jade had the pleasure of sharing food and dialogue with teachers, students, parents and longtime community organizers at the Urban Habitat offices in downtown Oakland to celebrate the new issue. When I am feeling 'beaten down' by No Child Left Behind, Bush's War Spending, and my own teaching load and worsening working conditions, it's community gatherings and anti-war marches that keep me inspired and moving forward.

Monday, October 22, 2007

concert this saturday

Francisco Herrera in concert: "Honor Migrante/Migrante Honor"
Francisco Herrera's new concert is a tribute to working people around the world who enrich their host country with their work and culture. This saturday 10/27 at 8 pm (theater opens at 7), at Teatro Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th st., SF. "We will take this concert wherever people are interested in working with us," affirms the singer-songwriter and veteran organizer. for more info please write: to order your tickets or call 415-643-9362. Tickets 15.00.

Friday, October 19, 2007

SF Chinatown Educational Justice Victory - new community college campus

Early this morning many students, teachers, parents, Chinatown and other immigrant communities celebrated a major victory in our 30 year fight for a high quality community college campus in Chinatown.
With other SF State and City College teachers, students and leaders, my colleagues from the Chinese Progressive Association and Chinese for Affirmative Action and the SF Labor Council, I waited along with dozens of my SF State students for the outcome of the long college board meeting which began at 6pm at the Chinatown/Northbeach campus. At 1:30am the college board finally voted
to approve construction of a permanent City College Campus in Chinatown! Key to the victory was massive community support: over 25,000 petition signatures, 10,000 individually completed postcards, and 3,500 emails sent in three days.
The new Chinatown/North Beach Community College campus will be constructed next door to the historic I-Hotel site which was rebuilt in 2005. We just celebrated the 30 year struggle to rebuild the I-Hotel and the Manilatown Center. So, the new Chinatown College Campus which is scheduled to open in 2010 will be a nice addition to our community.
Summarizing last night's victory Keith Kamisugi of the Equal Justice Society
This represents a major win for a broad coalition, coordinated by Vin Pan and Susan [Hsieh] at CAA, of over 100 community organizations and leaders in support of the campus has collected over 23,000 petition signatures and over 10,000 individual postcards demanding appoval last night.

For over 30 years, the San Francisco Chinatown community has fought for a permanent campus to provide generations of immigrant students with equal access to educational opportunities, such as learning English, preparing for citizenship exams, and acquiring job skills. Classrooms are currently scattered throughout a dozen deteriorating and inconvenient spaces, and at the primary location, students and faculty suffer debris falling on their heads and are forced to use child-size toilets.

Unfortunately, owners of the nearby Hilton Hotel, desperate to preserve their guest-room views, continued to dispatch high-priced lawyers and lobbyists in a ruthless campaign of opposition. Long on cash and short on scruples, they proclaimed “support” for a campus, while at the same time financing endless schemes to derail its progress.

While many longtime activists were involved in the coalition like Henry Der and Ling-Chi [power to the people] Wang, I developed tremendous admiration and respect for City College leaders in the CCSF Asian Coalition and folks like Prof. Minh-Hoa Ta and Andrew Hom for their tremendous leadership as well.

More info: Friends of Educational Opportunity in Chinatown

FEOC has a Good Media List of Articles on the issues .

Also see: Chinatown Campus – One Building or 2 Buildings? Samson Wong Asian Week 10/12/07

CAA Director Vincent Pan – from the SF Chronicle 7/30/07

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Immigrant communities respond to massive sweeps - 1,300 are arrested as Immigration Agents target immigrants in Southern California

Arnoldo Garcia of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights [see also their blog at] says that massive immigration sweeps over the past week are causing terror in many immigrant communities in the Southern California area.

The LA Times reports that massive ICE sweeps are resulting in the deportation of thousands

Federal officers in Southern California over the last two weeks have arrested more than 1,300 immigrants, most of whom either have criminal records or have failed to abide by deportation orders -- part of an intensifying but controversial effort across the nation to remove such violators.Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which plans to announce the operation at a news conference in Los Angeles today, called the sweep the largest of its kind in the U.S.
Nearly 600 of those arrested at homes, workplaces and in jails have already been deported."Where these laws may not have been enforced in the past, that has changed," said Jim Hayes, Los Angeles field office director for ICE...

Officers arrested 530 immigrants in their homes and workplaces and took custody of nearly 800 others from jails in Los Angeles , Orange , Ventura , Riverside and San Bernardino counties.The 1,327 arrests surpassed the 1,297 undocumented immigrants arrested by ICE agents at meat processing plants in six states last December, part of an investigation into identity theft.
The enforcement is the latest example of the how some local law enforcement agencies are cooperating with federal authorities to ensure that criminals are identified and deported, rather than simply released from jail. ..
"The arrests break up families and create an unfair and inaccurate impression of the immigrant community, which is by and large law-abiding, said Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. Enforcement actions also cause fear in immigrant neighborhoods and families that may include U.S. citizens.
"It directs public attention away from the real need to reform the immigration system overall," she said. "This is not going to solve our problems. . . . This is just one narrow-minded, mean-spirited way of trying to fix the immigration problem."
NNIRR has a great KNOW YOUR RIGHTS handout for immigrant communities and supporters.
Garcia and the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights are planning emergency responses and a national conference for immigrant & refugee rights [Una conferencia nacional paralos derechos de inmigrantes y refugiados] for January in Houston.

More information and conference registration will be available October 15, 2007 at
Bringing together immigrant and refugee community leaders and organizations, activists, organizers, advocates and allies to strategize on directions and priorities for an immigrant and refugee rights movement based on justice & dignity.
Help build a shared "Immigrant Rights Platform" for the 2008 elections and beyond!
Limited travel scholarships will be available.

Tentative Workshops, Tracks & Topics:* Border and interior immigration law enforcement* Globalization and Migration* Alliance Building* Promoting the Human Rights of Im/Migrants* Addressing "Root Causes"* Immigration, Labor and Workers Rights* Immigration Policy and Legislation* Organizing Skills Development* Popular Education for Transformative Community Organizing* Immigration, Immigrant Rights and the 2008 Elections* Racism and Immigration* Open Space and Global Cafe/Caucuses

For more information email: