Earlier this month our team from Jobs to Move America (JMA) attended the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Annual Meeting in San Francisco. We were there to learn the latest in transit trends, from sustainability planning to high-speed rail. We were also an outspoken advocate on behalf of American labor and taxpayers amongst 1,500 attendees. Unfortunately, even with the presence of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), domestic labor was largely left out of the conversation, since most participants were public transit officials, manufacturing company representatives, and private sector consultants focused on stretching the dollar.
Despite this bottom-line focused crowd, we were encouraged by the plenary session’s appearance of DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. He argued that with the right configuration, transportation can connect workers to sustainable jobs and living wages, and transportation as an industry can also generate employment opportunities for disadvantaged Americans seeking second chances.
If there were still any doubt about Eli Broad’s desire to gut traditional public education, it has been erased by his much-discussed “Great Public Schools Now” initiative, a draft of which LA Times reporter Howard Blume obtained last month.
Broad’s 44-page proposal outlines plans to replace half of LAUSD’s existing public schools with charter schools. “Such an effort will gather resources, help high-quality charters access facilities, develop a reliable pipeline of leadership and teaching talent, and replicate their success,” states the document. “If executed with fidelity, this plan will ensure that no Los Angeles student remains trapped in a low-performing school.”
According to the proposal, Broad wants to create 260 new “high-quality charter schools, generate 130,000 high-quality charter seats and reach 50 percent charter market share.”
(Actually, LAUSD has 151,000 kids in charters now: 281,000 out of 633,000 LAUSD students is 43 percent. This isn’t the only imprecision in the proposal.)
The estimated cost of this LAUSD transformation would be nearly half-a-billion dollars.
The recently ratified agreement between the City of Los Angeles and the Coalition of LA City Unions, representing 20,000 City workers, is much more than a deal on wages and benefits. And the road to getting there included much more than a series of meetings with two sides passing proposals across a table. This process and resulting agreement reach far beyond the walls of City Hall and take significant steps to address the broad needs of all Angelenos and our neighborhoods, which have been suffering in the wake of the recession.
Los Angeles was not immune to the damage caused by Wall Street’s crashing of the economy. In an effort to stabilize the City budget, L.A. officials turned first and foremost to its workforce for cost-saving solutions. City workers stepped forward and made very real sacrifices, such as increasing worker pension contributions to the highest in the state; accepting more costly healthcare co-pays in order to lower healthcare costs;
Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released striking data about the rapid turnover of charter schools. CMD’s state-by-state list of closed charters shows that, since 2000, these schools have failed at a much higher rate than traditional public schools. And over this time, millions of federal dollars went to groups planning to start charter schools that never even opened.
Instead of giving children the ‘disruption’ of a school closure, we should do everything we can to give every child access to a great school.
Earlier this month, teachers and school staff in Seattle did just that. After a five-day strike, they won a better education for students at traditional public schools across the city. Elementary school students now have guaranteed daily recess, which many parents had wanted, and special education teachers will teach smaller, more individualized classes.
Sometimes religious people tend to be slower to adapt to changes coursing through the culture, especially with concerns about human-caused climate change. Even though polling shows Catholics, for example, to be slightly ahead of the national curve of global warming awareness, further inspection reveals that only 53 percent of white Catholics think climate change is a critical or major problem, although 73 percent of Hispanic Catholics do. These figures were measured a year ago, but there are signs that most church members aren’t even aware of the Pope’s environmental Encyclical, released this past June.
Those figures still fall short of the nation as a whole. Some 91 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and even 51 percent of Republicans think the government should be doing more about climate change. One would think that’s too awesome a majority for a deadlocked Congress to ignore.