Sunday, May 20, 2018

A moral imperative: Ending poverty – Randi Weingarten – Medium

A moral imperative: Ending poverty – Randi Weingarten – Medium:
A moral imperative: Ending poverty
Fifty years since the launch of the Poor People’s Campaign by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 43 million Americans remain in the grips of poverty and 140 million Americans are considered low-income. The number of families living on $2 per person, per day — yes, $2 per day — has grown to 1.5 million American households, including 3 million children.
Think about that: Going years without seeing a dentist. Going to school in dirty clothes. Cleaning soiled diapers in order to reuse them. Selling plasma to buy food. Never having enough food.
I don’t know if President Trump thinks about that, in between his seemingly endless self-congratulatory tweets about his stewardship of the economy. It is true that the U.S. economy has generated immense wealth over the last half-century for those at the top of the economic ladder.
Against the backdrop of soaring economic inequality, a new campaign to protest policies that keep people in poverty has been revived. The new “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival” was launched last week in state capitals and Washington, D.C., to demand federal and state living wage laws, investment and equity in education, protection of the right to vote, affordable high-quality healthcare and an end to mass incarceration.
The Rev. William Barber II, the founder of the Moral Mondays movement, has mapped a path to bring about this “moral revival” that includes policy demands, voter registration and civil disobedience.
Image result for rev. william barber ii randi weingarten
While poverty disproportionately affects people of color, numerically, there are more white Americans in poverty than any other race or ethnic group. The new Poor People’s Campaign builds on the Moral Mondays movement that mobilized across racial lines, finding the common ground of the disenfranchised. This is more important than ever, given the rising polarization in the age of Trump.
The United Nations recently conducted a report that revealed a bleak picture of the extreme poverty in the United States, documenting the terrible circumstances endured by the poor — from unsafe sewage and sanitary conditions, to chronic homelessness, to criminalization and harassment just for being poor. The report concluded that, particularly in a rich country like the United States, “the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” and that “with political will, it could be readily eliminated.”

Compare the political choices made by President Lyndon Johnson, whose War on Poverty enacted anti-poverty, health, education and employment policies and civil rights legislation, with the policies promoted by President Trump. Take the recent GOP tax bill, which is the biggest transfer of wealth to the rich in decades. The wealthiest 1 percent receives 83 percent of the benefits. The tax plan will increase the deficit to nearly $1 trillion in fiscal 2019, and the GOP is already using the skyrocketing deficit as an excuse to make deep cutsto Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, student aid, food and housing assistance, and other programs the neediest Americans depend on.
A recent AFT-Democracy Corps poll found that most respondents have not Continue reading: A moral imperative: Ending poverty – Randi Weingarten – Medium:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

64 years after Brown: How private religious schools are taking America backwards on segregation

64 years after Brown: How private religious schools are taking America backwards on segregation:

64 years after Brown: How private religious schools are taking America backwards on segregation

Thursday marked the 64th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka 1954 decision, which established legal racial segregation in America as unconstitutional.
It was also a time for reflection for civil rights attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union, which played a pivotal role in fighting the Brown case. The organization continues that fight today, as many schools regress toward being nearly as separate and unequal as they were when the Supreme Court made its 1954 ruling.
“There was a long-fought period of states and school districts fighting back against desegregation,” ACLU Racial Justice Program director Dennis Parker said in a phone interview. “We’re now in a period where a lot of our schools are becoming more segregated. You no longer have the racial explicit limitations, but you have other things that challenge explicit integration.”
These newer anti-integration elements include the maneuverings of some religious private schools and voucher programs — two of the more insidious but lesser-known institutions driving school resegregation today.

School vouchers are certificates of government funding designed for low-income K-12 students that allow them to take the government money that would have gone toward them attending a public school and use it to attend a charter or private school instead. The ACLU has routinely sued states across the U.S. for implementing voucher programs that defund public schools in favor of sending students to private ones.
“One of the sad consequences of a lot of voucher programs has been the increasing of segregation,” Parker said. “Having a voucher is not always enough to get you into a private school. It ends up being a way to give tax breaks to middle-class families to have kids go to private schools. The overall effect is public education funding is used by private and religious schools.”
t’s a problem decades in the making. White communities in the South began establishing non-Catholic Christian private schools in the 1960s to keep segregation alive after Brown forced integration. And today, the fallout is not just a Southern phenomenon. Private religious schools in the Midwest and elsewhere have high tuition rates that disproportionately poor parents of color often can’t afford to pay. As a result, these schools are nearly as segregated today as public schools were in the South during Jim Crow, according to Parker.

Elder High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, was founded as an all-male Continue Reading: 64 years after Brown: How private religious schools are taking America backwards on segregation

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