Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top 5 ways anti-immigrant hate makes its way into media and policy

Support AB 1750- Ethnic Studies in Schools

Re: Support AB 1750 (Alejo)
Dear Assemblyman Alejo:
As Director of the Democracy and Education Institute, I write in support of AB 1750 –Ethnic Studies, and to offer assistance in this work.
Given California’s increasing diversity, it is vitally important that students receive knowledge of the various ethnic groups in our state and that they learn to work together toward building our democracy.
The Democracy and Education Institute has been working on this issue since 2009, and I have been working on the issue since 1986.
As a part of the effort to include Ethnic Studies I encourage you to concentrate on expanding  Ethnic Studies in the History/Social Science Framework for California public schools.  This state document determines what is taught in our schools and what is included in the textbooks.  There is almost no Mexican American history in the document.  There is a 9th grade elective course that could be offered.  Your bill should assist in that the CDE should report on the number and the nature of Ethnic Studies offerings.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Márquez- On the Left

Gabriel García Márquez taught us how to live with loss, and he told us, over and over again, that other utopias are possible.
Gabriel García Márquez in March, 2014, credit: Eduardo Verdugo, AP // The Nation,
by Greg Grandin

Born in 1927, Gabriel García Márquez was 87 when he died last week. According to his younger brother, Jaime, he had been suffering from complications caused by chemotherapy, which saved his life but accelerated his dementia, a disease that apparently ran in his family. He’d call his brother and ask to be reminded about simple things. “He has problems with his memory,” Jaime reported a few years back.
Remembering and forgetting are García Márquez’s great themes, so it would be easy to read meaning into his senility. The writer was fading into his own solitude, suffering the same fate he assigned to the inhabitants of his fictional town of Macondo, in his most famous novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Struck by an insomnia plague, “sinking irrevocably into the quicksand of forgetfulness,” they had to make signs telling themselves what to remember. “This is a cow. She must be milked.” “God exists.”
The narrative of that book is straightforward. Macondo is founded, it grows, catastrophe strikes. Its people, though, experience time not as progressive motion but as circular repetition, engaging in ever more desperate efforts to ward off the forces of oblivion. Life and history are lineal, García Márquez seemed to want to say, but memory, which makes us human, is reiterative. Or, as he wrote at the beginning of his memoir, Living to Tell the Tale, published in English in 2003, “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers in order to recount it.”
The climax of One Hundred Years of Solitude is famously based on a true historical event that took place shortly after García Márquez’s birth: in 1928, in the Magdalena banana zone on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, not far from where the author was born, the Colombian military opened fire on striking United Fruit Company plantation workers, killing an unknown number. In the novel, García Márquez uses this event to capture the profane fury of modern capital, so powerful it not only can dispossess land and command soldiers but control the weather. After the killing, the company’s US administrator, “Mr. Brown,” summons up an interminable whirlwind that washes away not only Macondo but any recollection of the massacre. The storm propels the reader forward toward the novel’s famous last line, where the last descendant of the Buendía family finds himself in a room reading a gypsy prophesy: everything he knew and loved would be “wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men...because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reclaim the University- Administration and Faculty Failure at Sacramento State

by Duane Campbell
I just returned from a panel discussion at Sac State by faculty and students on Reclaim the University.  The event was sponsored by Students for Quality Education an organizing group with years of experience.  There  were strong positions on the need to hire new ethnic faculty made by both faculty and students.  Student after student reported that they had few contacts with ethnic faculty.   While there are some 22% of the students who are Latino, less than 6 % of the faculty are Latinos - less today than in 1974.
 African Americans are similarly under represented.
In 1972 the Government Dept. at Sac State had 2 African American faculty members and one Latino.  Today that department has 1 African American faculty member.  A parallel decline in Chicano/Latino faculty has occurred in the History Department and in the College of Education.

A major contributor to the problem in the College of Education has been the elimination of the Department of Bilingual/Multicultural Education.
When the BMED department existed from 1994- 2010,  Mexican American/Latino credential students in the College constituted some 34 % of the total students enrolled.  Since the elimination of the department Mexican American/Latino students constitute some 6% of the students in teacher preparation.  Latino students make up more than 40% of the students in local k-12 schools. Who will be their teachers?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Alejo bill moves California toward offering Ethnic Studies

by Roque Planas
A bill introduced last month by California Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) would require the state's Department of Education to develop a model for implementing a standardized, statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high schools.
Although controversies over Mexican-American studies have roiled conservatives in Southwestern states, Alejo's bill could put California on the path to adopting one of the most ambitious ethnic studies program for public schools in the country.
Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California schools by far, making up 53 percent of the student body, according to the California Department of Education. They are followed by non-Hispanic whites, at 26 percent, and Asians, at 9 percent.
But though people of color make up the solid majority of California's schools, ethnic studies proponents say their history and culture remain largely absent from classrooms and textbooks.
"We have probably one of the most diverse student populations in the country," Alejo told The Huffington Post. "We recognize those unique values and history, language and literatures -- all of that should be included in California’s high school curriculum."
See the well researched article here.  
This is an important step in the direction urged by the Mexican American Digital History Project for years. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Texas- One step toward Ethnic Studies.

by Roque Palanco
Texas took a step toward instituting ethnic studies courses in public schools across the state on Wednesday, with the State Board of Education voting 11 to 3 to create instructional materials for such classes.
Activists had pushed since November for the Texas SBOE to create a statewide Mexican-American studies curriculum, arguing that such courses would help boost student achievement and foster cultural awareness in the state’s majority-Hispanic school system.
Instead, the more modest measure approved Wednesday mandates the adoption of textbooks for elective classes on Mexican-American studies, African-American studies, Native-American studies and Asian-American studies. Courses will be developed locally and schools will be able to adopt successful models developed in other districts using the state-approved instructional materials.
ed.note. What about California????
The idea won bipartisan support, with conservatives applauding the approach of giving local districts control over which curricula to adopt, while ethnic studies advocates looked forward to taking a greater role in developing the courses than if the state had been charged with the task.

Texas School Board Ducks Mexican-American Studies Vote

By WILL WEISSERT Associated Press  April 10, 2014. 

The Texas Board of Education bypassed voting Wednesday on a hotly debated proposal to create a statewide Mexican-American studies course as a high school elective, instead simply asking publishers to submit textbooks for such a class and several other ethnic studies topics by the 2016-2017 school year.
Democratic member Ruben Cortez of Brownsville had promised to call for a vote on creating a stand-alone Mexican-American studies course, and supporters maintained it was key to truly understanding a state that was once part of Mexico and where Hispanics make up 51 percent of public school students.
But opponents dismissed the idea as reverse racism, arguing that it would inject leftist ideology into the classroom. Cortez said when it became clear that the board's 10 Democrats and five Republicans weren't ready to support his proposal, he settled on an alternative approach.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Immigration Uprising: How Change Happens


By David Bacon

Two weeks ago hundreds of people inside the Tacoma Detention Center launched a hunger strike against its private operator, Geo Corporation, demanding better conditions and a moratorium on deportations. Activists, who have held vigils outside the center for years, now gather every day to support those inside. A week later the strike spread to another Geo facility in Texas. According to Maru Mora Villapando of Latino Advocacy in Tacoma, in both locations the company has isolated the strikers and in Tacoma threatened to force-feed them.

Immigrants, workers, union members, people of faith and community activists demonstrate in front of the Mi Pueblo market in East Palo Alto, California, calling for a moratorium on deportations and on the firing of undocumented workers because of their immigration status. (Photo: David Bacon)

This is only the most dramatic action of a wave of activity around the country, in which community and labor activists, and now deportees themselves, have refused to quietly endure increased immigration enforcement. They are mostly young, deriving much of their inspiration from the Dreamers who forced the administration two years ago to begin providing legal status to some of those who’d otherwise be deported. These activists refuse to wait for Congress to enact its immigration reform proposals, and in fact many reject them as fatally compromised. Instead, they’re organizing actions on the ground to win rights and equality:

Yes We Can. NYTimes Editorial

"Yes He Can, on Immigration" - NYTimes Editorial  

If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it - soon and on his own. It has been frustrating to watch his yes-we-can promises on immigration reform fade to protestations of impotence and the blaming of others. All Mr. Obama has been saying lately is: No, in fact, we can't, because Republicans and the law won't let me.
Mr. Obama is correct when he complains that long-term immigration repairs have been throttled in Congress. Neo-nativist Republicans fixated on mass deportation have blocked a worthy bipartisan bill. But Mr. Obama has compounded this failure by clinging to a coldblooded strategy of ramped-up enforcement on the same people he has promised to help through legislation that he has failed to achieve.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Deportations Hurt All Workers

Photo from Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
Liz Cattaneo. Jobs with Justice
Although President Obama has called deportations “heartbreaking,”immigrants in the United States continue to be separated from their families at a record pace. Nearly two million deportations have taken place under the Obama administration to date. On March 13, the President finally ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review its deportation practices but has rebuffed calls to use his executive powers to halt deportations for individuals who haven’t committed serious crimes.
A growing chorus of civil rights, faith, legal and human rights advocates are criticizing the administration’s deportation policy as unjust, arbitrary and counter to the spirit of immigration reform supported by the president and an overwhelming majority of Americans. There are myriad reasons why deportations should be curbed, but to start, the system makes it too easy for workers to be susceptible to abuse on the job.