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Contrary to the multi-million dollar ad campaign put out by the misnamed "Great Schools Massachusetts" charter schools don't function like public schools in their funding, in their accountability, or in their treatment of students.
This year alone, charters will divert more than $400 million from public schools. That's money districts desperately need so they can offer more science, technology, arts and music classes, as well as preschool serves and smaller class sizes. The money should be kept in the public schools for the benefit of all students.
No Local Accountability
Charter schools are not accountable to their local communities. The state often approves them over the united opposition of the communities where they will be located. That's wrong. Local communities should have the final say on what kinds of schools they want.
'Separate and Unequal' Education
Charter schools are divisive, creating a two-track system described by the NAACP as "separate and unequal." They typically underserve English language learners and special needs students, leaving public school with fewer resources to educate a higher-need population.
How You Can Help
While the opposition has millions of dollars from hedge funds and corporate backers, we rely on people power to stand up for children in our public schools. If some of our public schools are falling short, we should fix them - not keep taking money away and giving it to unaccountable charters.
To get involved in the campaign to defeat Question 2, click here.
So the Fight Continues: Reflections on SCOTUS Striking Down DAPA/DACA extension
by Juan Pablo Blanco
In a 4-4 deadlock, the supreme court has killed President Obama’s attempt to provide deportation protections and the ability to work legally in the U.S. to up to 4.5 million immigrants who would have been eligible.
In United States V. Texas, the failure of the High Court to come to a decision means that the ruling of the Fifth Court of Appeals stands and the case will be sent back to a conservative judge in Brownsville, Texas. There is wide acceptance that the judge will rule against these executive measures. While the 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program will continue to be active, both DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and the planned DACA expansion have been halted by the United States V. Texas case.
DAPA, which would have allowed for protections to be granted to parents of American citizens or permanent residents could have protected the 17 million people that currently live in mixed status families according to the Pew Hispanic Center. About 4.5 million children who are born in the U.S. have at least one undocumented parent, and families continue to be torn apart. While president Obama has repeatedly said that deportation should target “violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income.”, during the first six months of 2011 22% of the total number of people deported were parents who had at least one child who was an American citizen.
The court’s decision and subsequent failure of the DACA expansion would have removed the age cap that is currently enforced to apply, expanded the required date of entry from before 2007 to before 2011 and would have granted work authorization for three years instead of the current two. While this program would have offered no path to permanent residency or citizenship, the deportation protections and access to work permits they would have afforded would have been paramount in ensuring undocumented people access to dignified jobs with the same legal protections that most Americans already enjoy. In addition, in more than seventeen states DACA recipients have access to in-state tuition or federal financial aid, something which the people who were not able to meet the requirements of the 2012 program will still have no access to.
While this is definitely a setback, there are other legal avenues available. The case can come up to the Supreme Court again, either if a request of rehearing by the Department of Justice or through an appeal on the decision based on the merits - rather than the injunction that was at hand today. President Obama’s record breaking deportations still continue unabated and the use of immigration raids still continues to terrorize our communities. We need to keep putting pressure on our President to end these injustices against our communities and our people and focus on getting the presidential candidates for this coming election to recommit to these executive actions and provide us with the ways they plan to provide relief and protection to our undocumented brothers and sisters.
Some movements are even looking outside the legislative process to put pressure on our politicians to provide real change to our immigration policies and practices. Organizations and movements like the Cosecha Movement look at civil disobedience, mass strikes, boycotts and public ultimatums as the tools that will ensure this to happen.
No matter which way one thinks is more effective to create a just society in which the needs and dignity of our undocumented people are respected, we all need to be involved in some capacity.
Juan Pablo Blanco is an ardent Immigrant rights advocate active on many fronts with Mass JWJ and ROC Boston. By night, you will find him trying to make the Bass a cool instrument again.
Saturday, June 25Brigham Nurses Stood up for Patients and Their Profession, Ensuring Safe Staffing, Improving Security and Protecting New Nurse Benefits After Voting in Historic Numbers for One-Day Strike
BOSTON, Mass. – The 3,300 Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) nurses, represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), have reached a tentative agreement with the hospital that protects safe patient care, enhances hospital security, successfully fights off attempts to implement non-union benefits for new nurses and includes a fair wage increase.
“This is a huge victory for Brigham patients and the practice of nursing. The ultimate credit for this settlement goes to the 3,300 MNA nurses of Brigham & Women’s Hospital,” said Trish Powers, RN OR staff nurse and chair of the MNA BWH bargaining unit. “Brigham nurses stood together and were ready to hold an historic one-day strike for their patients, for our community and for the Brigham Way of excellent and safe patient care.”
“We are especially proud to have significantly improved security at the hospital for everyone,” Powers said. “Security was our top priority entering negotiations and we prevailed through hard-work, determination and the unity of 3,300 nurses.”
The tentative agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the full Brigham nurse membership, averts a one-day strike scheduled for June 27 that would have been the largest in Massachusetts history and the first in Boston in 30 years. Brigham nurses had planned to strike for 24 hours to ensure that safe patient care and Brigham nurses are valued more than the profits of BWH/Partners HealthCare.MNA/Brigham nurses achieved major safe patient care victories through a months-long, concerted effort by well-organized staff nurses. Brigham nurses built up intense pressure on BWH/Partners to value patients over profits, starting publicly in May with a picket of more than 1,000 nurses and supporters.While continuing to negotiate a new contract with the hospital, the 17-member elected nurse bargaining committee walked the halls of the hospital, talking to nearly all of the 3,300 Brigham nurses about their concerns and their willingness to stand up for their patients and profession by voting for a one-day strike. The resulting vote, on June 13, was the largest and most successful nurse strike vote in Massachusetts history.
“We are by far most proud of our success in standing up for our patients,” said Kelly Morgan, RN labor and delivery and vice chair of the MNA BWH bargaining unit. “Of course, the ultimate way to ensure excellent and safe patient care is maintaining quality core nurse staffing throughout the hospital, but this agreement is a positive step. The research on nurse staffing is irrefutable. When nurses spend more time with their patients, providing specialized care and education, those patients do better and are less likely to require re-admission to the hospital.”See some of the major nurse contract accomplishments:Safe Staffing/NICU AlarmsThe hospital agreed to restore core nurse staffing levels to December 2015 levels, with flexibility depending on patient volume, acuity and other factors. A reduction in nurse staffing earlier this year jeopardized the safe care of some of the hospital’s sickest patients. Patients in the thoracic step-down unit on the 11th floor of the hospital have undergone lung transplant, heated chemotherapy and other serious procedures. They require constant, vigilant nursing care.The hospital also agreed that mobile alarm devices planned for the NICU and devices with similar capabilities in other units would only be implemented after negotiations with and agreement of MNA/Brigham nurses. Nurses have significant concerns about these devices, including potentially dangerous delays in patient care due to alarms bouncing between nurses.
SecurityBrigham nurses were forced to bring improved security to the bargaining table last fall following the tragic shooting death of a Brigham doctor. Nurses were also being assaulted at high rates throughout the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital was not working with the nurses to consider and implement their security proposals, so they turned to contract negotiations and received assistance from the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
OSHA sent two hazard letters to the hospital about security concerns and nurses delivered their message about hospital safety to the press and to lawmakers on Beacon Hill. The hospital ultimately agreed to a lengthy list of security improvements proposed by Brigham nurses, and has said it spent more than $2 million making the hospital more secure.Significant security items included in the tentative agreement and/or improvements already made or pledged by the hospital:
Thank you to all who stood with Verizon workers! The strike proves that when workers stand up together, they win. Solidarity forever!
The nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have officially notified the hospital of a strike, saying that the one-day walk out would begin at 7 a.m. on June 27.
Lowell McAdam visited Boston this morning to speak at the JP Morgan Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, where hundreds of Verizon strikers were waiting in front of the Westin Copley Plaza to greet him. At the conference, McAdam addressed the negative impact the strike is having on Verizon's bottom line. Read more here.
88 Members of the US House of Representatives have just issued a statement urging Verizon to bargain fairly with its workers, stating, “We firmly believe it is in the public interest to protect middle class jobs, reduce outsourcing and offshoring, and ensure high quality telecommunications services to the public.”