Thursday, February 28, 2008

Los Angeles Educational Equity Leader Karen Bass Rises to CA Assembly Speaker

Congratulations to LA Assemblywoman Karen Bass who Thursday morning will rise from the State Assembly Majority Leader to become California's first African American woman Speaker of the Assembly, the 2nd most powerful post in the State. Bass will be sworn in as Speaker-designate of the Assembly Thursday morning and confirmed later in March by her colleagues.
Bass was elected in 2004 to represent California's 47th Assembly District which includes parts of Westwood, West L.A., Culver City, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, Hyde Park, Crenshaw and Mid-City. She is the former Executive Director of the Community Coalition, a South LA-based grassroots community organization, which she founded in 1990, to change public policy and improve the quality of life in South Los Angeles.
In a 2005 interview with the LA Business Journal Bass described her influences:
Q: You call yourself an activist. How did that happen?
A: I grew up in South Central L.A. during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam era, so being an activist was second nature. In fact, there was a whole group of people who grew up in L.A. when I did who have now moved on to public office, union leadership and the non-profit world. There was Antonio Villaraigosa (city councilman), Gil Cedillo and Gloria Romero(state senators), Mark Ridley-Thomas (assemblyman), Anthony Thigpenn (president of Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education), Julie Butcher and Maria Elena Durazo (union local presidents). We all knew each other when we were in our 20s and early 30s and have worked together for the last 25 years to build coalitions.
In Cal State LA's Women's Magazine LOUDMOUTH Bass described her Educational Justice roots in policy-making and grassroots leadership development just before she joined the state Assembly in 2004 :
What public-policy efforts have you worked on in the past,
and what policy do you hope to work on in Sacramento?
Before I get up there I’m going to have to focus, because there are really a lot of areas of public policy that I’m interested in and that I have a background in. Education reform is one of them. One of the first things I did when I started the Community Coalition is form a youth arm of the coalition. That was really designed after how I was raised as a teenager.
I was active in high school in the anti-war effort and in the electoral arena, and there were always adults around me who helped nurture my activism and also kept me out of trouble. And so that’s what we did with a group of teenagers, because I believe that teenagers absolutely have the capacity to understand and interact in public policy and that if you give kids the opportunity to lead in that way, then they won’t lead in a negative way. In my opinion, gang leaders — gang involvement is negative leadership, but it is leadership. And it is organization. And so the question is, Can you get kids to organize in a constructive way? And being an activist fits in with adolescent rebellion anyway because you’re rebelling, and if you channel that in a proper way, then you really win on several fronts.
You win academically because you really do have to study to be an activist, and you win personally because you gain a lot of confidence and positive skills, and you win in the community because you’re getting involved in positive change. Anumber of the young people that we’ve recruited over the years actually stayed with us throughout their whole adolescence and they’re who I’m handing the organization over to, because they’ve grown up now. Fourteen years later, they’re in their late 20s now, and they’re running things.
So, education reform is an issue area that I’d be involved in.
Foster care is another area. Criminal justice is huge. As I mentioned, when I started the coalition, its origins were a response to the war on drugs. Every issue I just named is related to the drug issue. If you don’t make it in our society, you know, you either participate in the legal economy or you participate in the illegal economy. Certainly the major employer in the illegal economy is the drug industry on one level or another, and when they get pushed out of school, kids are left to the illegal economy.
All of these issues are interconnected. What I have to do in this period is a very serious analysis of Sacramento to see where I can be most effective. I’m in the process of doing that now.

Read the Full Interview!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Free Multicultural Educators Conference: Sacramento

Saturday, April 12, 2008 - 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM

California State University, Sacramento University Union
FREE Admission, Refreshments, and Parking
Sponsored by the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department
California State University, Sacramento and the Bilingual/ Multicultural Education Department (BMED) are pleased to announce its 2008 keynote speaker, Dr. Francisco Reveles. In an educational era that is concerned about closing the academic achievement gap, Dr. Reveles recommends building strong, lasting relationships with our students, our colleagues, our parents, and other community members as a way to collaborate in setting high expectations that lead toward achieving concrete goals. Not all students think they have a future because they have lost hope. Educators who mentor students serve as support systems and role models that encourage them to succeed. Dr. Reveles believes that when students begin to feel successful, they are better able to take a stand, to feel empowered rather than impoverished. Developing students’ literacy is one of the best ways to help students feel successful. Learning how to read and write builds self-esteem and serves as a stronghold in every facet of their lives. Success in school builds momentum for students to head out into the world, not only having the skills to hold down a job, but to find their passion and create a career. Your respect, teaching practices, and own resilience serves as a guiding light.
The BMED department sponsors an annual Multicultural Education Conference to provide an opportunity for educators to join forces in their efforts to promote multicultural education in K-12 public schools in the Sacramento region. Approximately 45 break-out sessions will be presented by faculty, teachers, students, and community activists.

Conference Session Strands:
1) Parent/Community Involvement
2) Leadership and Advocacy
3) Closing the Academic Achievement Gap
4) Effective Multicultural Education in an NCLB Context
5) Social Justice Civic Involvement/Service Learning
6) Multicultural/Anti-Bias/Diversity Education
7) Technology/Technical Integration & Media Analysis
8) Empowerment through Critical Pedagogy
9) Curriculum and Strategies for English Learners

More conference information and Call for Proposals posted at;
or contact Maggie Beddow, Conference Chair, at

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs on the Authenticity of Obama's Leadership - WE ARE THE LEADERS WE'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

[Photo - Grace Lee Boggs and the late James Boggs]
Longtime movement activist/intellectual Grace Lee Boggs from Detroit has a way of analyzing the world in language we can all understand with a goal of transforming our local communities in new and uplifting ways.
Here's her great piece on Obama's leadership and significance. Thanks to John Delloro's Burning Cane Blog for posting this.
Obama is providing the authentic, visionary leadership we need in this period when our challenges are so great and our politics (as he puts it in The Audacity of Hope) so small.
That kind of leadership is very precious.
26 year-old MLK provided it in 1955 when he inspired Montgomery blacks, sick and tired of being sick and tired, to go beyond protest and manifest a more advanced humanity in their yearlong non-violent boycott.
Jimmy Boggs anticipated it when he said in his last speech to University of Michigan students in 1991 "I don't believe nobody can run this country better than me. I'm saying you better think that way. You need to stop thinking of yourself as a minority because thinking like a minority means you're thinking like an underling. Everyone is capable of going beyond where they are."
Liberals and radicals tend to be skeptical of this kind of leadership....
Grace's autobiography Living for Change.

Labor/Change to Win - Fired Up and Ready to Go with OBAMA

The 6 million member strong Change to Win labor federation announced its support for Obama.
Here are Chair Anna Berger's remarks:
Our members and the 40 million workers in our industries are real people who work hard picking the crops, stocking the shelves, preparing and serving our food, building, cleaning and guarding the skyscrapers of our big cities. They drive our buses and trucks.
They care for the sick and elderly and help us raise our children. They are the infrastructure of our society
For them, this election is about changing America to win a better future for our children.
We want a president who shares our vision and is committed to a practical program to translate that vision into action.
Action that will fix what happens at work by:
Protecting the right of workers to have a voice in their workplaces
Health care for every man, woman and child in America
Fair trade policies to promote job growth
Creating good jobs through rebuilding and expanding our nation’s infrastructure
Most importantly, we want a president who shares our dream and unites Americans in building a movement for change. ….a movement with the power to turn that dream into reality.
Today, Change to Win is proud to endorse Senator Barack Obama.
Here's a clip of Obama's speech at Change to Win's Convention in Chicago this past September:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is Obama Progressive? - From Burning Cane/John Delloro

LA Labor leader John Delloro's blog Burning Cane has some great analysis for organizers and activists on the political significance of Obama's candidacy for President for our longer term social movements.
Check out John's views, along with Howard Zinn, Grace Lee Boggs, Bill Fletcher, Scott Kurashige, others.
Delloro is Executive Director, Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and a teacher in UCLA's Asian American Studies Department.

I met John in the early 90's through his student activism in LA and his leadership in APALA [Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance].
Scott Kurashige wonders if there are similarities between the negativity expressed by some of the "Old Left" of the "New Left" in the past with the criticism leveled against the Obama campaign by some of the "New Left. " Howard Zinn argues that the current concerted public attention with the elections is disproportionate to the amount of energy that needs to be given to direct action. Bill Fletcher suggests a measured "critical support" of the Obama Campaign.
Both Howard Zinn and Bill Fletcher raise valid points when one considers Obama's policy positions. However, Scott is also correct when you step back and examine the Obama campaign as a whole. Do we restrict the possibilities for social transformation if we limit our understanding of the Obama campaign to the legislative stands of the candidate? Are there opportunities offered by the Obama campaign to build real movement?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

work hard and get ahead!

In today's NY Times article:
Higher Education Gap May Slow Economic Mobility
In spite of the bad news, they still try to maintain the myth of "if you work hard,
are virtuous, you can get ahead" (with the corollary being that if you don't get ahead you are lazy and/or not virtuous). Here's the spin:

"There is some good news. The study highlights the powerful role that college can have in helping people change their station in life. Someone born into a family in the lowest fifth of earners who graduates from college has a 19 percent chance of joining the highest fifth of earners in adulthood and a 62 percent chance of joining the middle class or better. In recent years, 11 percent of children from the poorest families have earned college degrees, compared with 53 percent of children from the top fifth."

mmm....does that mean of the 11 percent of the poor who do earn college degrees, 62 percent of those have a chance of getting out of poverty? So about 9 out 100 have a chance, because they have worked hard and are smart?

(the conservative authors say that poor people don't do well because of family dysfunction. Paul Krugman has another reason )

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Math and Social Justice Activists Unite! 4/4 Brooklyn

Creating Balance in an Unjust World
Conference on Math Education & Social Justice
April 4 - 6, 2008 · Brooklyn, NYLong Island University, Downtown Brooklyn Campus

Conference Schedule:Friday, April 4th
School Visits
"Justice, Not Just Tests" event, co-sponsored by the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCORE). Featuring: Monty Neill, Executive Director of FairTest; youth slam poets from Urban Word; and 8 mini-workshops led by young people from around the country on alternatives to standardized testing.

Saturday, April 5th
28 workshops to choose from, including: "Beyond the Math Classroom: Financial Literacy as a Social Justice Tool," "Discounting Iraqi deaths: A societal and educational scandal," and "The Mathematics of Marriage Inequality."
Keynote Speaker
Networking Lunch

Sunday, April 6th
Panel focusing on the question: "How can educators, organizers/activists and youth work together to use math towards social justice?" Featuring: Chad Milner and Hector Acevedo of the Young People's Project, Bob Peterson of Rethinking Schools, Elizabeth Yeampierre, from UPROSE, Nahyshene Molina, from FUREE and Rochelle Gutierrez from the University of Illinois
Action Groups
Registration InformationRegistration is FREE to school groups bringing students. Otherwise, the registration fee is on a self-selecting sliding scale from $25 - $300.Limited seats available in the workshops - so register soon!!! Virtual RegistrationCan't attend the conference? Get a DVD with video footage of conference events and electronic versions of workshop handouts by choosing our Virtual Registration. Sign up here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Teaching for Change - Resources for Black History Month and All Year

During Black History Month and all year please support Teaching for CHANGE and social justice teaching. Below are titles from the Teaching for Change on-line catalog. In the DC area you can also purchase these and many more at their bookstores in Busboys and Poets.
For ideas on how to go beyond the “heroes and holidays” approach to teaching about African American history, we offer a free article on Heritage Months.
For Middle and High School
Free Classroom Sets

A Place at the Table
Illustrated stories on historic struggles for equality. Order individual copies or class sets for just the price of postage.

Freedom Song
One of the best films to teach young adults about the Civil Rights Movement.

Freedom Walkers
Finally a book that tells the full story of the bus boycott in which Rosa Parks was one of many heroes.
For Children Ages 7-10

Nikki Giovanni's book is written for young readers without sacrificing the complexity of the story. The illustrations are radiant.

Black Indians
Traces relations between Blacks and Native Americans since the time of the conquest. Filled with inspiring stories.

Africa Is Not a Country
This book celebrates the great diversity of many countries in Africa as experienced by children at home, at school, at work and at play.
For Very Young Children

I Love My HairStunning illustrations, great message about hair and identity.

Shades of BlackBoard book with beautiful photos of children.

The Dashiki/El DashikiBilingual (Spanish/English) beginning reader set.
For Teachers and Parents

Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching
This award-winning text has lessons for all ages and background reading for teachers.

Lies My Teacher Told MeNew 10th anniversary revised and updated edition of this classic critique of US history textbooks.

Young, Gifted and BlackThree essays by noted scholars on promoting high achievement among African American students.
New option: If you want an item delivered that is not in our on-line catalog, you can now order almost any book, film, or CD from this commercial site, and the proceeds benefit the Teaching for Change bookstores. (Note that we do not select or endorse the ads on the commercial site.)

Thank you for ordering from Teaching for Change and supporting their efforts to promote and distribute social justice teaching resources! 800-763-9131 (8am – 5:30pm,
EST) We accept credit cards, checks, and purchase orders.
Help us sustain the catalog and expand our outreach: make a tax-deductible donation to Teaching for Change.