New Haven Public Schools Parent Community Statement on the Appointment of Dr. Carol Birks

[The following article was sent to PAR in an e-mail from New Haven Public Schools parent community. We have edited it slightly. The organization can be contacted at newhavenpublicschoolparents@gmail.com.]

The organized New Haven Public Schools parent community is disappointed by the Board of Education’s decision to appoint Dr. Carol Birks as Superintendent. The Board made this appointment against the overwhelming objections of parents, students, teachers, and community allies. In two hours of testimony, nearly every speaker echoed the assessment of the Board’s three educators and two student members: in a choice between Dr. Pamela Brown and Dr. Carol Birks, Dr. Brown is the more qualified candidate and the better fit for our district. Over 1000 signers of an online petition, together with hundreds of signers of school-based petitions, arrived at an identical conclusion.

The Board’s vote deepens the perception already held by many parents that “parent engagement” is a buzzword to be deployed when convenient, but not reflective of district practice. We are shut out of our children’s classrooms, not given a defined role in school planning and decision-making, and we have been flagrantly ignored in our expressed preference for Superintendent. …

We question the motives behind last night’s vote, particularly those of the Mayoral appointees. In a recent hearing before the Board of Alders Education Committee, one appointee pledged to represent the interests of parents. That commitment was not upheld in this vote, as the New Haven Public Schools parent community overwhelmingly expressed support for one candidate over another. …

Regrettably, in voting for Dr. Birks, four of the seven Board members — Mayor Toni Harp, District 2 representative Darnell Goldson, Jamell Cotto, and Frank Redente — ignored the expressed preference of students, parents, educators, and the wider community. As parents, our commitment is to our kids. We are not aligned with political factions. We are organized toward the sole goal of improving our schools so that they better serve all of our children. Thus we stand ready to work collaboratively with anyone who demonstrates commitment to this goal.

Money Talks, and So Does Solidarity!

by Melinda Tuhus, New Haven Stands with Standing Rock

[As this issue of the PAR newsletter went to press, we received notice about the following event. We are printing it so people can be aware of the various local banks that are funding fossil fuel projects in the U.S. and other countries. For more information about this rally and future plans for New Haven Stands with Standing Rock, please e-mail nhswsr@gmail.com.]

Rally Wednesday, Oct. 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m., beginning on the New Haven Green, corner of College and Chapel streets. Then walk 3 blocks to visit 3 banks. The reason is that next week, 92 of the world’s largest banks are meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, to discuss environmental and social risk management policies regarding the climate and indigenous people’s rights to “free, prior and informed consent.”

Mazaska Talks (“Money Talks” in Lakota) is calling for global actions on October 23-25 focusing on banks that are funding fossil fuel projects that are endangering indigenous lands, water and cultures, and our global climate. Indigenous groups and the Fossil Free divestment movement started by 350.org have led individuals, organizations and local governments to withdraw billions of dollars from these banks. In the most recent success, in early October, BNP Paribas — Europe’s second largest bank — announced it is cutting funding to tar sands, all tar sands pipelines, fracking, LNG (liquefied natural gas), and Arctic oil projects. This kind of pressure works.

Join New Haven Stands with Standing Rock (NHSwSR) as we focus on banks in our community that are making these destructive investments. We will meet on the Green at the corner of College and Chapel streets, then pay a visit to TD Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank, where we will highlight our campaign asking the city to move its $3 million a day operating budget out of Wells Fargo to a bank that prioritizes investments in our community. Wells Fargo just announced a drastic 18 percent drop in its third quarter earnings related to penalties it’s had to pay for its many unethical practices, putting taxpayers’ money even more in jeopardy.

Questions? Email us at nhswsr@gmail.com.

Creating a Vision for the GNH Labor History Association Nov. 29

by Steve Kass, President, GNH Labor History Association

After a 5-year organizing effort to get labor history taught in the Connecticut public schools, the “labor history bill” was ceremonially signed into law on July 29, 2015, by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The legislation directs the state department of education to make a curriculum available in “labor history and law, including organized labor, the collective bargaining process, and existing legal protections in the workplace.”

Connecticut became only the third state in the nation to have a bill that supports the teaching of labor history in the public schools.

Since then, the GNHLHA has spent the last two years trying to get the labor history curriculum downloaded onto the Connecticut State Department of Education social studies division website.

The final step is to disseminate the labor history curriculum to Connecticut teachers.

Please join us from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the New Haven Central Labor Council (267 Chapel St., New Haven) to discuss the future of our organization. Pizza will be served promptly at 5:30 p.m. This session will be facilitated by SEIU union organizer Steve Schrag. We need your input and energy!!

For more information, go to laborhistory.org.

Hate Has No Home Here: Silent Rally, Milford Green, Sunday, Oct. 8.

HHNHH, Milford Chapter

We — those who oppose racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, hate speech and bullying — will join in silence on the Milford Green to show our opposition to the hate we have witnessed in OUR communities, OUR neighborhoods and OUR schools.

We are an assembly of all ages, colors, religions, genders (and those without), nationalities, political parties (we are absolutely nonpartisan) and sizes.

This is not just a Milford issue, it is a Connecticut issue, it is a national issue. We invite those who have witnessed hate to join us and send a clear message to the world: Hate Has No Home Here. Silent Rally, Milford Green, Sunday, Oct. 8, 11 a.m., 125 N. Broad St., Milford.

CT braces for DACA repeal | YDN

by Jon Greenberg & Angela Xiao

Since President Donald Trump announced earlier this month his intention to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, advocacy groups in the state have rushed to defend those who might be harmed by the loss of the program. DACA beneficiaries are also bracing for the possibility of giving up a future in the country they consider home.

DACA, an Obama-era policy, protects from hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States when they were 16 years old or younger deportation and allows them to acquire work authorizations. Meriden resident Jason Ramos, who counts many DACA recipients among his friends, said losing DACA would upend his friends’ lives.

“The main thing that happens when you lose DACA is it takes away your ability to have a life,” Ramos said. “It just means losing that ability to fend for oneself … one starts to feel helpless.”

Source: CT braces for DACA repeal

Nearly 150 March in Newhallville to End Gun Violence, Seek More Youth Jobs

by Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register, Sept. 23, 2017

Nearly 150 people — including the mother of murder victim Tyriek Keyes — marched through the streets of the city’s Newhallville section Saturday morning, calling for an end to urban gun violence and more jobs for urban youth.

The anti-violence neighborhood march with the theme, Jobs For Youth, Jobs For All, in the Newhallville section of New Haven on September 23, 2017. Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

The anti-violence neighborhood march with the theme, Jobs For Youth, Jobs For All, in the Newhallville section of New Haven on September 23, 2017. Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

The march was organized by New Elm City Dream/Young Communist League, Ice the Beef and New Haven Rising in the wake of a youth survey done over the summer in Newhallville, said one of the organizers, Jahmal Henderson.

Marchers included the organizers, Newhallville residents, city alders and state legislators and members of area unions at Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University.

The march lost its police escort — and some of the reporters and photographers covering it — mid-way through when shots rang out and the shooting of a woman and two police officers was reported on Elm Street.

Source: Nearly 150 march in Newhallville to end gun violence, seek more youth jobs – New Haven Register

Courageous Women of Resistance Tour in CT — Oct. 21-29

by Tree of Life Education Foundation, tolef.org

In the history of popular struggles, a most important chapter will be the role of women who with courage and unflagging determination work for justice and human rights in their communities. Women helped to bring clean water to Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, and women were at the forefront of the encampment at Standing Rock, by the contagion of their spirit helping to build an international community of resistance.

Likewise in Israel and Palestine, in the refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, in organizations such as “Bedouin Women for Themselves” and “Grassroots Jerusalem,” women are helping to build a non-violent resist-ance movement. By refusing to be silenced or compromised by the militarism of settler colonialism, these women are speaking truth to power and in doing so, they are helping to bring enlightenment and engagement in the struggle to build a better and more peaceful future for their children.

This program will be taking place at the following locations: Saturday, October 21, Yale, New Haven – details to come. Sunday, Oct. 29, The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 2 Ferry Street, Old Lyme – details to come.

The Courageous Women speakers: Madonna Thunder Hawk, a member of the Oohenumpa band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has a long history of grassroots activism prior to her formative work for Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP) as a Tribal Liaison. She is co-founder of Women of All Red Nations (WARN), as well as the Black Hills Alli-ance—which prevented corporate uranium mining in the Black Hills and proved the high level of radiation in Pine Ridge reservation’s water supply.

Fayrouz Sharqawi works as the Advocacy Coordinator at Grassroots Jerusalem, a platform for Palestinian community-based mobilization, leadership and advocacy in Occupied Jerusalem. They believe that the challenges and responses of Palestinian communities must be articulated and led by them.

Amistad Committee Celebrates Frederick Douglass | New Haven Register

Clare Dignan, New Haven Register, Sept. 17, 2017

The life and work of Frederick Douglass, the famous African-American abolitionisst who helped rally black solders to fight for the Union during the Civil War, was honored Saturday in recognition of how his work still resonates.

The event, ‘New Haven’s Response to Charlottesville,’ was held in Criscuolo Park, where Douglass once spoke to the 29th Colored Regiment, an all-black volunteer regiment mustered in 1864 out of Fair Haven, according to connecticut-history.org…

Nathan Richardson, who portayed Douglass at the event, said he feels humbled by the opportunity to represent the historical figure. Photo: Clare Dignan

Nathan Richardson, who portayed Douglass at the event, said he feels humbled by the opportunity to represent the historical figure. Photo: Clare Dignan

Nathan Richardson, who portayed Douglass at the event, said he feels humbled by the opportunity to represent the historical figure. He is a poet, author and spoken word per-former on “The Frederick Douglass Speaking Tour.” His performance was a creative portrayal taken from speeches and biographical material of Douglass’s life.

For the complete article go to nhregister.org.

Mary Johnson, March 29, 1922-Aug. 13, 2017

It is with great sadness that the Progressive Action Roundtable Planning Committee informs our readers that Mary Johnson, a founding member of PAR and leader, strategist and active participant in most of PAR’s committees, has passed on.

We dedicate this issue of our newsletter to Mary. Without her guidance, ideas for informing the public and each other of rallies and events, optimism in the struggle for justice and her persistence in fighting for people’s rights throughout the years, there may not have even been a Progressive Action Roundtable. We all owe so much to her.

Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

Mary was directly active in many of the organizations that are PAR-affiliated. She was also active in most of New Haven’s progressive organizations. She most likely was a founding member of many.
She was a great political and personal influence on many. PAR encourages our readers to send in their reminiscences of her. In the words of Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

A memorial is being planned for her with details upcoming.

People’s Congress of Resistance Sept. 16-17

Allan Brison, Party for Socialism and Liberation

Time to Fight Back! Join the People’s Congress of Resistance!

The Trump-Pence regime is waging an all-out assault on the people’s hard-fought rights and vitally needed programs. The US Congress serves the already-rich. It cannot, has not, and will not resist.
A grassroots People’s Congress of Resistance (PCoR) will convene in Washington, DC on Sept. 16-17. Join resisters from LGBTQ groups to Black Lives Matter, to immigrant rights, climate justice, trade union, women’s rights organizations as we unite our communities in real resistance.

A large group of individual conveners and local chapters of peace organizations, Green Party chapters, civil rights organizations such as Showing Up for Racial Justice and Black Lives Matter, anti-fascist organizations and the ANSWER Coalition are endorsing the PCoR.

Individual conveners include:

  • Cindy Sheehan, peace activist
  • Dennis Banks, American Indian Movement
  • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
  • Ben Manski, Liberty Tree Foundation; and many others.

The PCoR recognizes that the US Congress’ agenda is only marginally better than that of President Trump. We will be setting the agenda for the many issues in which we need to build mass movements to resist both Trump and Congress. And we will develop the tools to build these movements.

To learn more, email: allan.brison@gmail.com; or Google People’s Congress of Resistance. You may learn more about it through the ANSWER coalition.

There will also be a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society at 608 Whitney Ave. in New Haven. This meeting is an opportunity to learn more about the Congress and to get involved.

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