Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SF - On Thanksgiving Day - Celebrate Native and Indigenous People's Resistance and Give Thanks for Survival and Social Justice

See Monthly Review for the full story [An Occupation Worth Supporting] of the November 20, 1969 takeover of Alcatraz off San Francisco's Bay.
International Indian Treaty Council presents
33rd Annual Alcatraz Island Sunrise Gathering
To Celebrate our Resistance and Give Thanks for our Survival
- A special tribute and honoring of the Shell Mound Walkers, Elders, and the Veterans of Alcatraz.
THURSDAY - 11/22/07
UnThanksgiving Indian Ceremony
Date/Time: Thu., November 22
Price: free-$12
Contact Info: Event Website

Special guests, speakers and performances include:
MC: Bill Means, IITC Board Member
(Oglala Lakota), Mike Flores, IITC Board Member
(Tohono O’Odham), Ann Marie Sayers
(Ohlone); Radley Davis, Iss-Ahwi (Pitt -River);
Pomo Dancers; Shingle Springs Rancheria
Miwok Dancers; Aztec Dancers; Arigon Starr
(Kickapoo); Goodshield (Lakota); One Struggle;
and the All Nations Singers.
Tickets $12 per person, children 5 and under
free. Advanced tickets can be purchased online
at or by phone at 415-
981-7625. They can also be purchased the day
of the event at the Pier 33 Ticket Booth. This
event is wheel chair accessible. All are welcome.

• 4:00 am Alcatraz Cruises ticket office opens.
• 4:45 am First boat departure.
• 5:00 am Boat departure.
• 5:15 am Boat departure.
• 5:30 am Boat departure.
• 5:45 am Boat departure.
• 6:00 am Final boat departure.
• 8:00 am Boats begin return

About the 1969 Occupation, Mickey Z of Monthly Review writes:
"The occupiers," writes Ben Winton in the Fall 1999 issue of Native Peoples magazine, "were an unlikely mix of Indian college activists, families with children fresh off reservations and urban dwellers disenchanted with what they called the U.S. government's economic, social and political neglect."

"We hold The Rock," proclaimed Richard Oakes, a Mohawk from New York. Oakes became the occupiers' spokesman . . . and his words became their motto. "The occupation of Alcatraz was about human rights," said Winton. "It was an effort to restore the dignity of the more than 554 American Indian nations in the United States."
Over the course of the occupation, over 5,600 American Indians took part -- some for a day, some for the entire 18 months. Twenty-three year-old John Trudell, a Santee Sioux from San Bernardino, California heard about the occupation, packed a sleeping bag, and headed to Frisco. "He became the voice of Radio Free Alcatraz, a pirate station that broadcast from the island with the help of local stations" explains Winton. "When he hit the airwaves, the response was often overwhelming. Boxes of food and money poured in from everywhere-from rock groups such as The Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival (who staged a concert on a boat off Alcatraz and then donated the boat), Jane Fonda, Marlon Brando, city politicians, and everyday folks." For the first time in modern American history, the plight of Native Americans was making headlines.
The fledgling American Indian Movement (AIM) visited the occupiers and soon began a series of their own occupations across America. AIM would soon become a powerful multi-tribal protest organization . . . just one of the many important outcomes of the Alcatraz takeover. More.

From the SF Weekly -

They Fought the Law
By Silke TudorIn 1969, a group of young Native Americans led by charismatic SFSU activist Richard Oakes successfully occupied and held Alcatraz Island for 18 long months, citing the 1868 Fort Laramie treaty which stated that abandoned federal land must be ceded to Native peoples.
Initial attempts to starve the activists off the Island failed because mainland supporters risked arrest by rowing out supplies under cover of darkness. By the time the activists were forced off Alcatraz, public awareness had been raised and US policy toward indigenous people had been affected. It was a start. For 33 years, the Indigenous People's Thanksgiving Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz has commemorated its occupation (radical graffiti from the time can still be found on the island). Often referred to as the "Unthanksgiving Ceremony," indigenous spokespeople will readily dispel any myths you may have been fed as a child (according to John Two-Hawks, the first official day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop in 1637 to celebrate the safe return of his men from a massacre of Pequot) but the Sunrise Ceremony will not be wrapped in a fog of resentment. The transition from night to morning on this rugged outcrop is far too inspiring; as the sun rises over the water, the Native tribes will offer music, dance, and prayers of thanks to the wind. This year, with the recent adoption of the "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" by the United Nations General Assembly, there might be a little something to be thankful for.

More - here and here on Indigenous People, Self-Determination and Solidarity.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Achievement Gap Summit: limits

November 13.
The California Dept. of Education and Jack O'Connell are hosting a major conference on the Achievement Gap at the Sacramento Convention Center on Nov.13 and 14. There is a wide diversity of speakers. Attendees, like myself, have a great deal of choice.
Perhaps I am just picking poorly. But, after the first day I observe that there are a great number of presenters claiming to be experts, each with a fix, and very few teachers making presentations.
Here is a part of the problem. You can not reform schools without bringing teachers along in the reform. Most speakers agreed that there is little evidence of improved scores in California.
So, 14 years of standards based reform. And, 14 years of test based reform. Little or no improvement in scores. Russlynn Ali of Ed trust west provided again the data.
If you want to influence teachers you will have to listen to teachers. You will have to know their views well.
So far, I have seen endless panels of experts and very few teachers. That is a part of the problem.

I recognize that this may be only a selection bias. Perhaps I just picked the wrong presentations. I tried to get into one panel described as teacher centered but it was full.
It was a good choice to have a debate between Chester Finn and Richard Rothstein.

Duane Campbell
The Achievement Gap Summit has spurred some media commentary on the problems of the schools. The letters to the Sacramento Bee were mostly people responding with their solutions without listening to the problems. This was a pattern at the summit also.
I have a solution, now where is the problem.
I attended the event and went to a number of presentations.
In a Morning Report on Capitol Public Radio this morning I heard Jack O’Connel say that perhaps the first step forward might be racial sensitivity training for all California teachers. This is another example of applying the solution without knowing what is the problem.
Perhaps for the hundreds of superintendents and associate superintendents and principals, racial sensitivity training would help. They need to learn to pay attention to the real problems.
However, for teachers, this is poor direction. California teachers since at least the early 1990’s have taken one or more courses in multicultural education and one or more courses in assisting English Language learners. Of course the quality of the courses varied. I have taught these and other courses.
A basic truth is future teachers want to do well, they want to teach kids and be successful. And then the data on NAEP, state tests, etc. show an achievement gap.
As pointed out by Russylnn Ali at the conference, most California kids do poorly. We rank at the bottom of the states in reading and near the bottom in math. This data was widely shared at the conference and accepted by almost all. It is up on the web sites of the conference.
Teachers, particularly new teachers, need a support in creating a positive productive classroom environment. This requires resources, time, support networks, and sufficient counselors in the schools. And, they need coaches who are successful teachers and experts in helping kids such as English Language learners. New teachers have non of these. Instead they enter a failing system, try to do well, get frustrated, fail more, and become less effective and more defensive. Richard Rothstein spoke to the resources failure. Lack of resources is a political failure.
Sensitivity training for teachers will not resolve any of these issues.
Next post: some limits to the white privilege argument.
Duane Campbell : Sacramento

Sunday, November 04, 2007

U.S. Senate puts off NCLB: apparently

Associated Press -- November 2, 2007
by Nancy Zuckerbrod

Washington -- The top two lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee are putting off consideration of a new No Child Left Behind law until next year, congressional aides said Friday.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., have decided that there's not enough time this year to complete work on the legislation, which has not yet been formally introduced.

The five-year-old law, up for a scheduled rewrite, requires math and reading tests in grades three through eight, and once in high school. Schools that miss testing benchmarks face increasingly stiff sanctions. The law, originally passed in 2001, is among President Bush's top domestic policy priorities.

Kennedy, the panel's chairman, had previously said he wanted a bill before the Senate this year. He now is aiming, however, to bring a bill up for consideration early next year, the aides said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations over the content of the legislation are ongoing and sensitive.

It may be even more difficult to pass a rewritten No Child bill next year because it is a presidential election year. It is harder to get the bipartisan consensus needed to pass major legislation against the backdrop of an intense presidential campaign.

House lawmakers have not decided whether to keep trying to bring a bill to the floor in what little time is left in this calendar year. They, too, say time is running out.

``It is growing less likely that we will get a bill off the House floor in 2007,'' said Tom Kiley, a spokesman for Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House education committee. ``We continue to work hard on the bill. Discussions with Republicans and education organizations continue.''

Lawmakers in both parties - along with the Bush administration - are pushing for important revisions to the law. If the law isn't revised by Congress, the existing law stands.

There is broad agreement that the law should be changed to encourage schools to measure individual student progress over time instead of using snapshot comparisons of certain grade levels.

There is consensus, as well, that the law should be changed so that schools that miss progress goals by a little don't face the same consequences as schools that miss them by a lot.

Deep divisions remain over some proposed changes, including merit pay for teachers and whether schools should be judged based on test scores in subjects other than reading and math.