Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Texas' losing streak on voter-rights decisions could complicate 2018 primaries

Racisim, partisanship, and incumbents finding every way possible to hold onto power is what is at play here.

Quotes from within:
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa called the ruling "an historic victory for the sacred voting rights of all Texans" and urged state officials to quickly remedy the issues.

"Once again, Texas Republicans didn't just cheat to win a silly game, they used Jim Crow-era tactics to rig our election system," Hinojosa said. "Make no mistake, Republicans have stolen the voice of Texans at the ballot box for years."

Now, us progressives need a long overdue, home-run here.


Texas' losing streak on voter-rights decisions could complicate 2018 primaries

Could state elections wind up back under federal control?

With two federal courts again blasting Texas for "intentional discrimination" against blacks and Hispanics in drawing political boundaries, concern is mounting that voter-rights litigation could upend the state's 2018 elections calendar.
State officials insisted Friday they expect to stop the court challenges on appeal, and reverse Texas' losing streak on the voting-rights lawsuits, legal experts predicted Texas could end up back under federal supervisions of its elections rules if the appeals fail.
In short, the court fight is shaping up as a political game of chicken, with significant consequences no matter how it turns out.
"In both of the cases where there are new decisions, the courts have ruled that Texas has purposefully maintained 'intentional discrimination' in the way it drew its maps," said Michael Li, an expert on Texas redistricting who is senior counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

"That's an important finding that could result in Texas being placed back under pre-clearance coverage. Based on that, there may be a good chance that could happen."
While other legal experts and political scientists agree, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton both insist that the state will win the cases on appeal -- so Texas' voting can proceed uninterrupted through the March primaries.
"These issues (in the congressional redistricting case) have been ruled on previously, and we won at the Supreme Court," explained Abbott, who litigated the case for the state when he was attorney general. "We anticipate winning on appeal."
Thursday's decision by a three-judge panel in San Antonio that nine House districts in Dallas, Nueces, Bell and Tarrant counties were drawn intentionally to dilute the strength of black and Hispanic voters marked the state's fourth court loss on voting rights in nine days.
The San Antonio decision also said that, in some cases, the Legislature also went so far as "to ensure Anglo control" of some legislative districts -- a legal misstep that would violate federal law.
Earlier rulings questioned the legality of two districts on Texas' congressional map, of a voting law restricting language interpretation access at polls and a Wednesday decision by a Corpus Christ federal judge invalidated the state's new voter ID law as discriminatory.
In that decision, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos invalidated the voter ID but went farther, implying that renewed federal supervision of Texas voting laws may be necessary, the process called pre-clearance that Texas has not been under since 2013.
If Texas comes back under federal supervision, it would be the first state to be brought back under federal say-so since a federal court removed the restrictions in an Alabama case.
The prolonged legal battle over the redistricting maps has cost Texas taxpayers upward of $3.9 million, a sum that doesn't include any costs incurred since mid-2014, when the sum was tallied.
"There have been so many rulings of intentional discrimination by Texas Republicans that counting them is trivializing them," said Matt Angle, a veteran Democratic Party political strategist in Texas.
"Rulings by federal courts that Texas Republican leaders have adopted and defended intentionally discriminatory and redistricting laws has become horribly commonplace ... It is a fact established over and over again by federal judges appointed from both parties."
While the Republican leadership has repeatedly denied those accusations, insisting that the state's new voter ID and redistricting maps pass federal muster, they remain hopeful the prolonged litigation that has gone on for six years will not continue until the next redistricting process starts in 2021.
On Friday, Paxton asked the Supreme Court to overturn the lower-court decision on Texas' congressional maps. "We are confident that the Supreme Court will allow Texas to continue to use the maps used in the last three election cycles," he said.
Even so, until that appeal is decided, "we don't expect or anticipate any delay in the Texas election schedule," said Marc Rylander, Paxton's communications director.
Li and other legal experts are not so sure.
First, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Thursday's ruling by the three-judge panel will almost certainly not be decided until after the filing period in November and December for House seats is over.
And if appellate court rulings in other cases go against the state, the schedule could be upended by court orders to redraw political boundaries for candidates running in those elections. And any boundary changes to benefit blacks and Hispanics could mean gains for Democrats, who those groups traditionally vote for.
"There's a good chance that, given the way these cases stand with the courts, that the primary election schedule could be affected," Li said.
"If the district maps have to be redrawn, that will have a cascade effect, especially with the state House maps where changing the lines may affect surrounding districts. It's like shifting around in a conference room with too many people ... You may have to put some in another room," he said.
On Friday, lawmakers in the House -- as well as political consultants whose candidates are running in the nine contested districts -- were huddling to determine worst-case scenarios if the map lines have to be redrawn. They also wondered how new lines, and perhaps new members, might affect the seemingly assured reelection of House Speaker Joe Straus.
Jerry Polinard, a political scientist at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley who has studied Texas redistricting for decades, said that since state officials have turned back suggestions to hold a special legislative session to resolve the map issues, revised maps will have to be drawn if the state's appeal fails.
"This is just the gift that keeps on giving, because there are the potential of major consequences on down the road depending on how the courts rule on these pending issues," he said. "Texas has had more voter-rights litigation than other states ... and these cases will be watched closely because among the issues is partisan gerrymandering that's being raised in Republican-controlled states."
At the same time partisanship is targeted in the court challenges, Republicans and Democrats are paying more attention to local non-partisan elections for school boards and municipal offices, which they see as training grounds for future state leaders. Both parties have plans to endorse and support candidates for the first time.
Amid the continuing political squabbles over voting rights and redistricting, Democrats blame the GOP leadership with using redistricting and the new voter ID law to continue "state-sponsored voter suppression" and a return to election discrimination of the 1950s, labels that Republicans reject as inaccurate invective.
"We hope the primaries next spring are not delayed, but already the sign-ups for precinct chairmen are being delayed and the counties need the district maps by October," said Manny Garcia, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party.
"The state's legal strategy for these discriminatory redistricting and voter ID laws has failed so far in the courts, and we believe it will fail again."
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa called the ruling "an historic victory for the sacred voting rights of all Texans" and urged state officials to quickly remedy the issues.
"Once again, Texas Republicans didn't just cheat to win a silly game, they used Jim Crow-era tactics to rig our election system," Hinojosa said. "Make no mistake, Republicans have stolen the voice of Texans at the ballot box for years."
Like the state's top GOP leaders, Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey disagrees.
"We oppose any identification of citizens by race, origin, or creed and oppose use of any such identification for purposes of creating voting districts," he said. "If lawmakers are forced to redraw these House districts, we ask that they be drawn accordingly."

America was never a white country — here’s why it never will be

Events in Charlottesville recently cascaded into domestic terrorism. Three dead and dozens wounded as neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other “alt-right” members descended upon the university that Thomas Jefferson built; their purpose, it is alleged, to defend a statute a monument to the Confederate Civil War soldier, General Robert E. Lee. These radical rightists arrived from all across the United States upon the college town of Charlottesville to protect, in their words, their “white” heritage. Among the many problems, I have with so-called “white supremacists” is their purposeful mixing of “heritage” with “history,” rhetorically pining for a once proud “white” America.But history proves that America was never white.

That I need to make this statement, and worse, that some may take offense from it, shows the blurring rhetoric between what is Heritage and what is History. I’ll return to this later. For now, some History.
The first successful colonial holding in these current United States was Spanish, at St. Augustine, Florida, established 1565, four decades plus prior to Virginia’s Jamestown.

America was never white.

Speaking of Jamestown, the first Africans were brought into Virginia on a Dutch trading ship in 1619, a year before Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.
America was never white.

And nearly half of those Pilgrims could not speak English. Of the near half that couldn’t, most spoke Dutch, with a scattering of German and French. America from the get go was not an English-speaking nation. When the Puritan, William Bradford, arranged the first Indian Treaty signing in 1621, it was with Massasoit, a Pokanoket of the Wampanoag Confederacy. At this time, depending on which archeologist you ask, the native population of North America was anywhere between 8 to 20 million. English speakers? Less than a thousand.

America was never white.

And it was the Dutch who seemed ascendant, as they settled New Amsterdam and the Hudson River Valley beginning in 1625. English-speaking America was in the minority of the European languages spoken by 1670. The French were firmly in place along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes region, and it may come as some surprise to many Americans, but Green Bay, Wisconsin was once “La Baye des Puants” which is what the French called it when they founded “The Bay of Stinks” in 1634. Spain still reigned in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Even the Swedes set up shop along the Delaware River taking up large swaths of what is today Delaware and Pennsylvania.

And if you were around in the mid-eighteenth century, don’t ask Benjamin Franklin about the indentured Palatines. In 1751 Franklin penned, “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc.” where he openly called German-speakers “swarthy” and “stupid,” that they would likely “Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them” unless there was a change to immigration policies.

Of course, one of the more famous eighteenth-century colonial wars, the French and Indian War, lasted nine years, and only after victory was secured in 1763, did English speakers become dominant among the many European powers that settled North America.

Back to Africans, according to, the activities of the Atlantic slave trade brought 9,507 Africans to mainland America by 1699. Over the next 75-years or a year before the United States declared its Independence, another 220,000 were brought to slave upon the American mainland. The 1790 census (the first undertaken by the United States) proved 740,054 Africans in America or 26.5% of the population just a year after the Constitution was ratified.

America was never white.

And the Revolutionary War was not white on white violence, or English speakers against Mother England. There was the famed Ethiopian Brigade, which General George Washington did his best to avoid. Yes, blacks fought on both sides of the war. And Crispus Attucks was black and he was the first to die at the Boston Massacre of 1770. Indians, too, fought in this war, forced to take sides by both British and colonial forces.

America was never white.

Even when the nation was young, and found a bargain from Napoleon to purchase all of Louisiana – yes, we gained the entire Mississippi River watershed, but since France had only just won Louisiana, a trophy for defeating Spain in Europe, and unable to hold on to Haiti in the Caribbean where slaves successfully rebelled, America received the Midwest which was filled with the indigenous mostly, and some Spaniards too.

America was never white.

Equally, the war of 1812, which once again pitted the United States against Britain, was not wholly a white on white conflict. Again, Native Americans took sides, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh had formed a large multi-tribal Confederacy and played an enormous role in ensuring that the young United States failed at taking Canada. The great United States Navy admiral, Oliver Hazard Perry, along with Daniel Dobbins, a shipmaster, built a fleet from Greenwood on Lake Erie using African Americans to build and then man the fleet. At War’s end, at the Battle of New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson’s fighting force included Choctaw Indians and freed blacks.
America was never white.

Texas, and the Mexican-American War which followed its annexation, obviously entailed the gaining of territory inhabited by Native Americans and Hispanics. When gold was all the rage in California, the world landed upon its shores. People from Europe, South America, and yes, Asia (China, in particular) descended and many remained.

America was never white.

In military history the 54th All Black Regiment of the Civil War, the 369th Infantry known as the “The Harlem Hellfighters” in World War One, and the all-Japanese 442th Infantry during the Second World War, still – to this day – remain some of the most wartime decorated units of our country’s fighting forces.

America was never white.

Which brings us to the topic of heritage and history. For this, I’ll quote famed historian David Lowenthal. Author of The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History, Lowenthal remarks that heritage is not history at all: “it is not an inquiry into the past, but a celebration of it a profession of faith in a past tailored to present-day purposes.”

Monuments, under this definition, are not history. Monuments are memory-makers, celebratory edifices erected to hide History’s complexity, drown curiosity, and feed the simple in the present and in the future.

If we dig past the monuments of the Robert E. Lee’s and the Stonewall Jackson’s erected in the 1920s (Jim Crow era) or the 1950s (Civil Rights era), some in far away Arizona (Arizona achieved statehood in 1912, the Civil War ended in 1865), what we get to is a place called the past were easily traceable demographics prove a country filled with ethnicities from all over the world. What the alt-right desires are an America where whites maintain some semblance of power over anyone of color if not outright ethnic cleansing. Their rhetoric of Heritage is pure myth, a fabrication of a false past, creating memory where none existed.

America was never white, and it never will be.

Joe Krulder, Ph.D., teaches history at Butte College.
This article was originally published at History News Network

How you can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. From Daily Kos.

Angela, what's unfolding in Texas is a tragedy. As much as 50 inches—that's more than four feet—of rain may fall in some areas before the storm passes, an event that the National Weather Service calls "unprecedented ... and beyond anything experienced."

It may take years for Texas to recover from Hurricane Harvey. If you're looking for ways to aid in the recovery, please consider chipping in to these charities:
  • Texas Diaper Bank 
  • SPCA of Texas 
  • Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County 
  • Galveston Bay Foundation 
  • Houston Food Bank 
  • Galveston County Food Bank 
  • Coastal Bend Community Foundation 
  • Nueces County Community Action Agency 
  • Houston Diaper Bank 
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Bend 
  • Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies 
  • Food Bank of Corpus Christi 
  • Gulf Coast Humane Society 
  • Galveston Island Meals on Wheels 
Click here to chip in to one or more of these charities now.

Thank you,
Chris Bowers, Daily Kos

Daily Kos, PO Box 70036, Oakland, CA, 94612.

Houston Schools Chief: Many Students Will Lose Everything

From Superintendent Richard Carranza:

"Out of 325 schools and administrative buildings, about 45 have some water damage, Carranza says, including a handful that have experienced “significant flooding.”

From AFT President Randi Weingarten:

"The Texas AFT has set up a disaster relief fund for impacted teachers, where they can apply for aid to help cover home damage, ruined cars, care for injuries from the storm and lost school materials. It’s also mapped out how to deliver clean water and other supplies to affected areas once the storm subsides."

Also, do consider making a donation to the Red Cross at:

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Houston.


Officials have delayed starting school for at least a week as Houston is pummeled by Harvey.

By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter | Aug. 28, 2017, at 12:08 p.m.

Houston Schools Chief: Many Students Will Lose Everything 

Flood victims are seen at a shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Monday in Houston. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Public school students in Houston won’t be starting school until at least Sept. 5, as the powerful storm dubbed Harvey continues to swirl overhead, dropping epic amounts of rain that’s caused severe flooding and has submerged large swaths of the sprawling city.

“Thank goodness it seems like we’re pulling through, but the flooding is not over yet,” says Richard Carranza, superintendent of the Houston Independent School District. “Probably the most obvious thing is we’ve had to call off the whole first week of school, but our first concern is the safety of our students, teachers and community.”

Monday was slated to be the first day of school for Houston's public school system, which serves about 215,000 students – 76 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged.

At least nine other school districts in proximity to Houston also have canceled classes until next week, including the Alvin, Channelview, Cypress-Fairbanks, Humble, Klein, Pearland, Spring, Stafford and Waller school districts.

Carranza says his district – the largest in Texas and the seventh-largest in the U.S. – is working hand in hand with city and county officials in response to Harvey, which hit the Texas coast last week as a Category 4 hurricane and is now a tropical storm.

School facilities in and around Houston are operating as shelters. Carranza says a handful of libraries are also being used as makeshift shelters, and that the school district’s bus fleet is being used by emergency response officials to transport people to Houston's main shelter site at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects the storm to drive 30,000 people into shelters. The rain in Houston isn't expected to cede until Thursday or Friday.

Out of 325 schools and administrative buildings, about 45 have some water damage, Carranza says, including a handful that have experienced “significant flooding.”

“We felt really good, at least at the beginning, about mitigating some of the flooding,” he says. “I think we’re at a place now with the continued rain, it’s just so much that’s it’s almost impossible to keep up with.”

Carranza says the start of school may be delayed further, depending on the rainfall over the next 72 hours, the assessed damage and the pace of cleanup and recovery.

“If the rain lets up and we’re able to get in and the roads are able to be cleared, then we fully intend to be open and ready for business Tuesday,” he says. “There is a possibility that even on [Sept. 5], depending on the severity of impact to our facilities, we may have a rolling start. It may be that 75 percent of schools are up and ready to go and they’ll get going, and as other schools are able to be cleaned and refurbished, then they will open.”

The biggest needs, Carranza says, are basic items, including clothes and school supplies.

“We know that students and families lost everything,” he says. “Students went back-to-school shopping for school uniforms and clothing and school supplies. Given the amount of flooding that’s happened, many of our students are going to have lost everything.”

Over the weekend, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten held a conference call with local teachers union leaders in Houston and surrounding areas to get a sense of the devastation.

“One thing is obviously clear, that communications are not optimum, and many members are not receiving anything via mobile phone or email,” the Texas chapter of the AFT wrote on its Facebook page. “We'll keep pushing out all we can to help those in need.”

The Texas AFT has set up a disaster relief fund for impacted teachers, where they can apply for aid to help cover home damage, ruined cars, care for injuries from the storm and lost school materials. It’s also mapped out how to deliver clean water and other supplies to affected areas once the storm subsides.

While much of the focus has been on Houston schools, smaller districts were also impacted.

In the coastal town of Rockport, Texas, the storm ripped metal siding off a high school gym and mangled the door frame of the school's auditorium, according to local media.

Support for educators and school officials came pouring in over Twitter, with school officials from Fort Worth and Arlington in Texas – and from farther away in Miami – tweeting their support and offers to help.

“Our prayers are with all those in the path of #HurricaneHarvey,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tweeted over the weekend, adding that her department “stands ready to assist impacted schools.”

DeVos joined a teleconference with President Donald Trump on Sunday regarding the impact of the storm, and department staffers have a meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss the type of assistance the department can provide.

Lauren Camera Education Reporter

Lauren Camera is an education reporter at U.S. News & World Report. She’s covered education policy and politics for nearly a decade and has written for Education Week, The Hechinger Report, Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She was a 2013 Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, where she conducted a reporting project about the impact of the Obama administration’s competitive education grant, Race to the Top.

URGENT: Here’s Why You Should File a Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claim Before Friday

Update to this message:  The following information should be distributed : 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about HB 1774 which made important changes with regard to claims made on property casualty insurance companies for weather related damage.   The bill is effective September 1, 2017.  The bill does not apply to FEMA, a federal insurance program that provides  flood damage coverage.  The bill does apply to other insurance companies providing property casualty coverage weather related damage claims.   If you have experienced property damage and are planning to file a claim, you  file notice of claim as soon as possible and by Friday, September 1, 2017  to proceed under current law.  For more information, contact me or your attorney.  Thank you. 

Gloria Leal 
Attorney at Law & Consultant 
3600C Las Colinas 
Austin, Texas 78731 
(512) 426-1568
"...because of uncertainty in the new law, the trial lawyers association is urging everyone to be safe rather than sorry, and file a notice with their insurance carrier before Friday."

Here’s Why You Should File a Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claim Before Friday

A new insurance law taking effect lowers the penalty on insurance companies for slow storm damage payments.

A Jetski is used to help people evacuate homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated for clarity.

If your home or business has damage from Hurricane Harvey, you should notify your insurance company—in writing—that you intend to file a claim before a new law takes effect on Friday, according to the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Even though the hurricane occurred before the law took effect, a claim filed on Friday or after will likely be covered by a new law that seeks to reduce frivolous insurance lawsuits.

On Friday, the penalty for an insurance company that doesn’t promptly pay a claim as a result of a lawsuit will be determined by a market-based formula that is currently at 10 percent. The former penalty was 18 percent. The new law also gives lawsuit immunity to insurance adjusters who low-ball a claim.

Texas property owners should be aware that House Bill 1774, passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, will change the law regarding how legal actions for certain insurance claims are handled, including some claims for property damages or losses caused by natural disasters. If you need to make an insurance claim related to Hurricane Harvey, you should study how the law may affect you. Claims made before September 1, 2017, will be subject to current law; those filed on or after September 1 will fall under the new law.

Texas Trial Lawyers Association spokesman Alex Winslow said the notice of a claim can be filed directly on an insurance company’s web site, by fax or certified mail, but it is best done in writing and with the policy holder retaining a copy of the filing. Winslow said the claim does not need to say anything more than that the policy holder suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey and intends to file a claim. The notice should contain the name and contact information of the policy holder and, if possible, the insurance policy number.

Winslow said the new law may not affect federal flood insurance or windstorm policies held on the coast by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, a state-run consortium that provides hurricane coverage on the immediate coast. But Winslow said that because of uncertainty in the new law, the trial lawyers association is urging everyone to be safe rather than sorry, and file a notice with their insurance carrier before Friday.

Still, this new law won’t affect the bulk of policy holders. As the Texas Tribune notes, most homeowners’ policies don’t cover flooding in Texas. And the ones that do are usually through National Flood Insurance Program, which is not subject to state regulations.

Monday, August 28, 2017

3 ways to aid new teacher retention

Leticia Skae
August 24, 2017
Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is check Facebook and the current events app on my phone. I read the daily stories as I prepare for work, like how my parents used to read the newspaper while eating breakfast.
Lately, my newsfeeds are filled with stories and statuses about political tension, global warming, healthcare reform and even the Kardashians. As a teacher, I can’t help but notice one striking absence. I don’t see the public absolutely outraged that our public schools are suffering, and I’m not talking about funds, though education always seems to be suffering from inadequate funding; I’m talking about a loss of teachers, especially new teachers.
In my 12 years of teaching at four schools in two states, I have seen my fair share of educator struggles. But now more than ever, I’m worried for our students. In my school district, we lose50% of new teachers within three to five years. For two years, I have been actively participating as my district develops and implements a plan to solve this problem. We’re not the only district struggling to address new teacher attrition. California has seen 20% to 40% of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and the percentage has been increasing.
The fact that our country’s most at-risk schools are filled with our most novice educators should alarm the public. The result is that only wealthy children can afford quality education, our most vulnerable students miss out on valuable educational experiences, and the disparity between the wealthy and poor in this country continues to grow.
Research shows that teacher attrition costs the US more than $2.2 billion each year. That’s billions of dollars we could be spending on additional resources for students: technology, textbooks, meals and additional support staff, to name a few. If we truly care about supporting students, then we need to get serious about the way we prepare and retain our beginning educators.
Though I could argue for better salaries until the day I retire, we must start with the people who are closest to our novice teachers: veteran teachers. Just as teachers have the most influence over student learning, I believe veteran teachers have the most influence over new teacher development and, ultimately, retention. Below, I provide a list of actionable steps I have used to better support new teachers in my school and district.
1. Cultivate meaningful mentorships. Veteran teachers often get so bombarded with grading, lesson planning and classroom management that we forget about the new teachers in our building who could use some guidance. If your school has not set up an official mentorship plan for new teachers, approach your administration with a few ideas, or make your own efforts to welcome new teachers, and check in on them regularly.
Five years ago, when a young math teacher began teaching across the hall from me, I made an effort to keep my door open. This signified that she was welcome to ask me anything she needed. I was not her official mentor, as we were in different departments, but because of our proximity she often walked across the hall to ask me questions. This ritual became so successful that even when I went on maternity leave, she would text me, starting her message with, “Hey, I got a question.”
2. Build committed partnerships. Mentorships are the first step, but then you must build partnerships where both colleagues can learn from each other. For new teachers to feel valued, they need support -- and they need to be heard. Treating our new generation of millennial teachers with respect will allow them to feel like they belong in the teaching profession and to find success in a challenging career.
At a recent Leader U conference, I spoke with the keynote presenter, Ryan Jackson, an executive lead principal in middle Tennessee. He stated, “Education is changing, and new teachers have to be a part of shaping it and implementing it. It is a long road but worth it and purposeful. [It’s] life-changing, when you do it well, for everyone -- teacher, student, community -- but you’ve got to invest.”
3. Spread your teacher voice. I implore you to close your doors at lunch time and email a state representative or a district official at least once a month. For too long teachers have gone silent and let others, who know little about our craft, tell us how to succeed in our profession. The more we advocate for ourselves, our students and our profession, the more we will be heard. My dad always used to say, “A squeaky wheel gets the oil” -- teachers, we better get squeaking.
Leticia Skae is a Literacy Teacher Development Specialist at MLK Magnet school in Nashville, Tenn. She specializes in diverse and urban education and earned a master's degree in education from Vanderbilt University. She believes in all students' potential to learn, and she is an advocate for teacher retention and teacher empowerment in the current educational system. Leticia has participated in many teacher-leader fellowships and served as a story ambassador with the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ). Her most beloved activities are spending time with her family, reading, writing and tweeting. You can catch her on Twitter @LSkae.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tucson’s Mexican Studies Program Was a Victim of ‘Racial Animus,’ Judge Says

Here is New York Times' Maggie Astor's column on the August 22, 2017 Arizona court decision.  Former Arizona schools superintendent John Huppenthal thinks that growing up with Mexican Americans in Tucson doesn't make him racist.  He fails to see just how offensive, and yes, racist, it is to say that he succeeded in school because he had the "right values" growing up—whereas, by implication, Mexicans did not.  Racism consists, in great part, in the making of not only categorical, often stereotypical, blanket, statements like this (see below).  It shows how he really doesn't know or understand the people he arrogantly claims to defend.

Ironically, Huppenthal himself could have saved himself a lot of grief had he had an Ethnic Studies intervention at some point in his life.  Among other things, he would have learned that getting "inoculated" from racism—if it is even fully achievable in a society and world that is profoundly stratified by race/ethnicity and class—doesn't automatically come with having played
 football, run cross-country, and wrestled with Mexican kids that one grows up with.  If there's no curriculum or pedagogy to that effect, then there is no thought process to occur that would have broken it all down for him in a way that would have ultimately saved him from himself.  Same deal with Tom Horne.

Thankfully, a judge thought differently about all of this, too.  You can read my own personal reflection on the matter 
here if you like.

Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D.

Judge A. Wallace Tashima in 2012. He ruled on Tuesday that the decision to end a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson was “motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race-based fears.” CreditPaul Sakuma/Associated Press

Continue reading here.