The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) went out on strike on Monday, February 10, 2019. It was the first Denver teachers strike in 25 years. Paid 37% lower than the going national rate, teachers were fed up with the underfunding of public education. Many teachers were making less than five years previous. Others had worked with no raise for ten years. The powder keg was ready to blow up.
After the strike was called 75% of Denver Public School District (DPS) teachers walked out. Membership in DCTA jumped from 60 to 68%.
The explosion extended well beyond the bounds of DPS. Even beyond the Colorado state line. Put to the test was the grand educational experiment advanced by some of the “billionaire boys” (as Diane Ravitch dubbed them), the likes of Philip Anschutz tasked with creating a civic organization to press market based reforms from outside DPS. The billionaire boys underwrote the ascendance of Michael Bennet (now junior senator from Colorado) to the superintendency of DPS. Bennett had worked for Anschutz for six years helping to engineer oil and movie theater projects that were part of Anschutz’ business portfolio. Bennet’s charge was to implement the reform regime. He launched in having had no educational experience (unless serving 2 years as Chief of Staff fo bar entrepreneur turned Governor John Hickenlooper counts). Bennet’s guinea pigs for the reform experiment were mostly poor minority children/youth and their families. 70+% of DPS students qualified for free or reduced lunch prices. A majority of DPS students are African-American or Latino.
The core assumption of Bennet and the Portfolio Reformers was that DPS classrooms were populated by bad teachers. To help retrain this crew of incompetents they turned to Michelle Rhee and Teach For America’s Wendy Kopp, at the time national celebrities in the bad teacher rehabilitation movement.
When the Colorado Industrial Areas Foundation (CO IAF) took stock of the situation in the fall of 2018, IAF leaders and organizers discovered that not a single community based organization had weighed in behind teachers. Also sitting on the sidelines were religious institutions of all faiths. The teachers were on their own with both flanks exposed to the Portfolio Reformers who relentlessly demeaned teacher performance while exerting downward pressure on salaries.
Lurking in the background of this drive to disrupt and privatize public education was the growing mound of evidence that the market driven reforms themselves were failing.
The Sydney Alliance: 1901 people. 10 politicians.15 asks.That was last night in stats, but they can hardly capture the energy, emotion and power in the room. Now we look towards the coming elections; whoever forms government, we look forward to working
1. Increase owner-occupied rehabilitation investment in vulnerable neighborhoods. The city is heavily investing in downtown. An equitable investment must be made in strengthening and preserving affected neighborhoods.
2. Establish a city-coordinated homestead exemption enrollment program. Developers are aggressively buying up properties from unaware owners. The city should be leading the charge to educate homeowners about homestead exemptions, tax freezes for those older than 65 and property tax deferrals.
3. Establish a tax abatement program for homeowners. The city creates Tax Reinvestment Zones for businesses, and the same should be done for vulnerable neighborhoods.
4. The city must lead an aggressive land banking initiative to ensure there is property for affordable rentals. The city must also coordinate efforts with all public entities to ensure that land it sells is preserved for affordable housing.
5. Establish a coordinated housing system as recommended by the mayor’s housing task force.
San Antonio Express-News: story here.
who are the power brokers moving San Antonio forward (or backward, in some cases) in 2019? They’re figures who have longevity, a seat of power and the ability to get the ear of decision-makers across governments, business and the community.
COPS/Metro Alliance, community organization
While not a single person, the enduring power of the combination of Communities Organized for Public Service and Metro Alliance lies in its numbers and not having a dependency on a single leader. Those numbers come from church congregations, schools and unions, who first unified in 1974 to demand better drainage, streets and police protection for underserved areas of the city. Story.
Leaders are calling for $500 million in new state funding for public schools, $40 million for an affordable housing tax credit program and improved payday lending enforcement across the state. With two proposals on the table that would cap interest rates on payday loans (which charge, on average, 652% in interest per year) NCG is pushing for better protections for financially vulnerable families. Payday Lending Industry Could See Rate Caps, Database Under Legislative Proposals, Nevada Independent
The very way we tend to think and talk about the decline of people’s institutions has crippled our ability to wrestle with the causes of the decline of our democracy, to assess the consequences for our communities and our country, and, most importantly, to apply the cures required to make our nation whole and healthy again. Thus begins Mike Gecan, the co-director of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation and one of the most profound theorists and successful practitioners of grass-roots community organizing in the country, in this unique and compelling look at what is going on in America right now. Buy it here from ACTA Publications.
Elgin approves $19M project to turn old Larkin Center into affordable housing, homes for people with disabilities; Fox River Valley Initiative/iaf BAcked Project takes off
NOTE NEW TIME OF RESCHEDULED MEETING
Please join VOICE for our
2019 Annual Meeting March 17, 2019 - 3:45-5:45 pm
Vienna Baptist Church
VOICE Annual Meeting will include time together to--
The outcomes for former Yale Park tenants give us a look at living conditions in low-income housing. They moved into apartments with living conditions similar to those they had been forced out of because unsafe housing is pervasive in our low-income housing market. Omaha does not enforce the minimum housing standard without a complaint. Many times, tenants are afraid to file complaints for fear of retribution or eviction. They may not have the extra cash on hand to move. No one is held accountable.
The failure of Omaha’s complaint-based system of code enforcement is evident in a new website, wedontslum.com. Organizations that work with tenants, whose expertise has not been sought by the mayor and City Council, are collecting and uploading photographs from Omaha rental properties with substandard living conditions to show the widespread and devastating nature of the problem. Story from Omaha World-Herald.