Category Archives: Education

Over 80 dead in two rocket explosions at Aleppo University as students take exams

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January 15, 2013

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), shows the scene of an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, on January 15, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sana)

At least 82 people have been killed and more than 160 injured in two rocket explosions at the University of Aleppo in Syria’s largest city on Tuesday, city officials reported.

According to a Syrian official quoted by SANA, two rocket shells were fired at the university complex.

Aleppo’s governor Mohammed Wahid Akkad called the rocket strikes a “terrorist attack that targeted students on their first day of exams.”

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed two explosions hit the university. The second blast may have been caused by a burning car, though there has been no independent confirmation, Reuters reports.

The university is located in a government-controlled territory.

Aleppo is Syria’s largest city and has been fiercely contested between government forces and rebel fighters, who have battled to a stalemate in the strategically important region.

Rebels have previously previously carried out bomb attacks against government targets in the city.

At least 34 people were killed last October after a string of blasts ripped through Aleppo’s main square.

A Syrian man stands in the debris following an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, on January 15, 2013 (AFP Photo / STR)

Damaged vehicles are seen outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, following an explosion on January 15, 2013 (AFP Photo / STR)

Syrian’s gather at the scene of an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, on January 15, 2013 (AFP Photo / STR)

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), shows people inspecting the scene of an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, on January 15, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sana)

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), shows the scene of an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, on January 15, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sana)

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FBI harasses anti-NATO activist in Utah

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news organ of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

By Tom Burke
May 12, 2012

Salt Lake City, UT – FBI agents are harassing anti-war and anti-NATO organizers as the big protest against the U.S.-led NATO military alliance approaches on Sunday, May 20, in Chicago. On May 11, Gregory Lucero’s mother awoke him in their family home, saying, “The FBI is here and would like to speak to you.” Lucero came downstairs to find three FBI agents, two white men and a white woman, who wanted to ask him questions about the upcoming protest against NATO.

Lucero is a founding member of the Revolutionary Students’ Union, a group with four Utah chapters affiliated nationally with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In the past year he joined the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and is organizing to raise enough money to caravan across the country to the protest against NATO and the G8 in Chicago.

Lucero said, “I was very tired because I spent hours the day before phone banking in support of veteran Chicano leader and anti-war activist Carlos Montes in Los Angeles. Carlos Montes is going on trial this coming Tuesday, May 15. I was up late because I spoke at an immigrant rights meeting about the FBI frame-up of Carlos Montes.”

In response to a question about what to do when the FBI comes knocking, Gregory Lucero advises, “I think it is wise not to speak to the FBI, to give them the name of a lawyer they can contact, and to then ask them to leave. Nothing good can come from speaking to the FBI. They have a proven record of entrapping activists.”

The FBI agents asked questions about organizations and the people involved with them, but Lucero refused to give any names. They asked about the protest against NATO in Chicago and who was going to it. Lucero said, “It’s not our job to turn in other activists to the police. It’s harassment of the crudest kind and we should avoid talking to the police about our organizations.”

For many, this ongoing harassment of activists and organizers is something new, but for veteran activists it is the revival of repression seen in the 1950s and 1960s. U.S. government repression by the FBI and other agencies is expanding as the Occupy movement and protests against war and poverty are on the increase.

This FBI intimidation is related to 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists and Carlos Montes, raided by the FBI last year. The activists formed a group called Committee to Stop FBI Repression (www.StopFBI.net). When asked what he thinks the FBI is up to, Lucero said, “I think the FBI is harassing me because I fight for immigrant rights and educations rights, and they are ramping up harassment to intimidate activists to not go to Chicago and protest NATO on May 20. They are trying to get activists to give information about other groups and activists so they can incriminate and frame up people.”

Arizona: School Board fires head of Mexican-American Studies

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Arizona anti-immigrant bashing

By Paul Teitelbaum
April 23, 2012

The Tucson Unified School Board, in a 3-2 vote, ousted the director of the Mexican-American Studies Program on April 10.

Program Director Sean Arce co-founded the MAS Program in 1999 and developed it into one of the most successful programs in the district. In 2004, the Mexican-American Studies Department was combined with the Pan-Asian, African-American and Native-American Studies Departments to create the new Ethnic Studies Department. This made the Tucson district the only K-12 public school district in the U.S. with an Ethnic Studies Department.

During the two-and-a-half-hour public comment period prior to the vote, people defended Arce and the program and lambasted the racist cowards on the board. Not one comment was made against the program. Community activist Isabel Garcia expressed the anger and outrage of the people when she told the board, ”I believe you prefer our children in prison than graduating from these high schools.”

Board Superintendent John Pedicone, an opponent of the Ethnic Studies Program, offered no explanation for Arce’s firing, saying only that his contract was not renewed “for a number of reasons.” (Arizona Daily Star, April 11) Arce had refused to go along with the board’s plan to gut the MAS Program, removing all its substance but leaving the name intact. His firing was in retribution for his tireless defense of ethnic studies. It is also seen as a warning to any other teacher who does not bow to the board’s dictates.

Hundreds of supporters of the program filled the board meeting room and overflowed into the streets. They saw the director’s firing as a continuation of the racist war that has been declared against the MAS Program and the Latino/a people by the state of Arizona. Since 2006, when then-Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne unleashed the racist campaign to shut down Ethnic Studies, the community has fought back and defended the program against the most vicious lies and slander.

In 2010, within days of passing the racist, anti-immigrant SB1070 law, the state legislature passed HB2281, which outlawed Ethnic Studies in Arizona and targeted Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies Program in particular.

In January the Tucson Ethnic Studies Program was declared in violation of HB2281. Within weeks textbooks were banned and removed from the classroom, and teaching Latino/a and Indigenous culture became a crime.

Racists step up attacks, acting openly

It did not go unnoticed that the firing of Sean Arce occurred on the National Day of Justice for Trayvon Martin. The demonization of Latino/a youth and their culture, the denial of the right of oppressed peoples to study their history, and the political lynching of the MAS Program’s founder all emanate from the same racist system that led to the murder of Trayvon Martin. The slow dismemberment of the Ethnic Studies Program by the Tucson School Board is another symptom of this racist poison.

Two migrant workers were murdered on April 9 outside the small town of Eloy, Ariz., when a truck transporting migrants was ambushed by a group of armed vigilantes. The mainly Latino/a town of Eloy is home to not just one but four for-profit prisons run by the private profit-making Corrections Corporation of America. It is one of the areas where known vigilante groups, like the Border Guardians and Minutemen, roam the desert.

In Pinal County, Arizona, which borders on Mexico, neo-Nazi J. T. Ready, of the so-called National Socialist Movement, has announced his bid to run for sheriff. Ready’s Facebook page features photos of him and his armed militias on patrol in the desert. Not only has Facebook allowed the page to remain online, but local media soft-sell Ready as an acceptable candidate.

The state of Arizona is preparing to fund an armed, all-volunteer state militia that would patrol the border. Senate Bill 1083 would create the Arizona Special Missions Unit. This is nothing more than putting the racist Minutemen and Border Guardians on the state payroll.

The racist legislators promoting this militia are spewing venom about “an invasion” and “international criminal activity” in a further attempt to whip up racist anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant “frenzy. (statepress.com, Feb. 16)

As the economic crisis deepens, impoverishing more and more workers, racist atrocities occur with increasing frequency. The state relies on this racism to keep people divided and distracted from the true cause of the crisis: the capitalist profit system in decay. That is why, without a shred of evidence, a school program that empowers Latino/a youth is ferociously set upon and targeted for destruction, while an ambush and murder by armed vigilantes is treated as just another homicide. This is why a neo-Nazi like J. T. Ready is portrayed as an acceptable candidate for sheriff.

Workers and oppressed communities need to build unity and solidarity and fight back against the racists, their henchmen and the crumbling capitalist system that is the cause of it all.

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Gainesville Florida SDS Marches for Trayvon Martin

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By Fernando Figueroa
March 27, 2012

Gainesville SDS MC Chrisley Carpio introduced the speakers at Turlington Plaza, firing up the crowd. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Gainesville, FL – Over 200 students, community activists and supporters rallied and marched from the University of Florida campus to the downtown FBI office on March 26, demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Organizers of the rally brought forward two main demands: Arrest George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin and fire the police involved in the case for obstructing justice and covering-up the truth.

Protesters gathered in the blazing sun near Turlington Plaza on the University of Florida campus to begin the event and listen to speakers demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Several local media stations filmed the activists and aired some of the more outstanding speeches. Speaking about the racism and oppression faced by African-Americans, Chief Steward Jose Soto of Graduate Assistants United said, “We are not one nation as our pledge suggests. We are many nations. We gather here today, just as we rallied for Kofi Adu-Brempong two years ago this month, to demand justice and self-determination for African American people.” Kofi Adu-Brempong is an African Graduate Teaching Assistant shot in the face, inside his own home, by a racist campus cop. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized a campaign that led to the racist cop’s firing and a settlement for Adu-Brempong.

Despite the efforts of local law enforcement, the angry crowd marched in the streets, blocking an entire lane of traffic for over a mile (Fight Back! News/Staff)

The rally chanted, “Arrest George Zimmerman! Justice for Trayvon!” Next the students marched to the nearby Institute of Black Culture. There, African American and other student speakers emphasized their demands for the killer and the police to be brought to justice in the Trayvon Martin case. The activists and their allies began a mile long march to downtown Gainesville to deliver their demands to the local FBI field office. Gainesville Area SDS member Skye Schmelzer led several chants: “Jail the killer, fire the cops, without Justice, we won’t stop!”

Despite the intense hostility and best efforts of local law enforcement, the 200-strong chain of people stormed onto University Avenue, blocking an entire lane of traffic. Cops shouted at the protesters to get back onto the sidewalk, but the angry crowd ignored them. At one point, two police cars tried to block the road by turning sideways in front of the march, but Gainesville Area SDS member Conor Monroe bravely jumped out to keep the road from being closed. The police cars came close to trapping Monroe’s leg in between the bumpers of their cars, but the way forward remained just large enough for the crowd to push on through the police cars.

Protestors took University Avenue as they marched downtown to confront the FBI and demand Justice for Trayvon (Fight Back! News/Staff)

After the mile-long march was over, the crowd arrived at the foot of the FBI Field Office in Gainesville. The main doors into the building were locked, but members of Gainesville Area SDS found a secondary entrance. A ten-person delegation made their way upstairs to the FBI Field Office, which was located inside a Wells Fargo bank. Meanwhile, the crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace, no racist police” outside.

Inside the FBI Field Office, the delegation demanded a meeting with a member of the FBI. FBI officials demanded that the delegation leave the building and claimed that the police were on their way. “The police followed us here as we marched in the streets, and they’re standing around outside, what do you mean they’re on their way? We want a meeting to present our demands to the FBI,” SDS member Cassia Laham shouted back.

Standing their ground, the activists pressured the FBI officials into taking their list of demands up to their superiors before they were satisfied enough to leave the building. The organizers called upon the crowd to continue the struggle to win justice for Trayvon Martin by joining them in Sanford, Florida on March 31 for a mass demonstration in the town of the Martin’s shooting.

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Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle banned Mexican-American study books into Arizona

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By Jorge Rivas
February 24, 2012

The Librotraficante Caravan is bringing contraband books—or “wet-books”—to Arizona. The project is also intended to raise awareness of the “prohibition” of the Mexican-American Studies Program and the removal of books from classrooms.

“When we heard that Tucson Unified School District administrators not only prohibited Mexican-American Studies, but then walked into classrooms, and in front of young Latino students, during class time, removed and boxed up books by our most beloved authors – that was too much. This offended us down to our soul. We had to respond,” said Tony Diaz, founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, which has led the charge.

Diaz added, “With their record of anti-immigrant legislation, politicians in Arizona have become experts in making humans illegal. We did not do enough to stop that, thus that anti-immigrant legislation spread to other states such as Alabama and Georgia. Now, these same legislators want to make thoughts illegal. If we allow this to happen, these laws, too, will spread. Other branches of ethnic studies will be prohibited, and other states will follow suit.”

The Librotraficante Caravan will travel from Houston, Texas, to Tucson, Ariz., carrying a payload of contraband books, creating networks of Underground Libraries and leaving community resources in its wake.

With just days away from launching the caravan Libroficante could use your help. A Kickstarter fundraising campaign didn’t work out they way hoped for, so donations are critical. For more information on how you can make a tax-deductible donation visit librotraficante.com/Donate.html.

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Menominee seventh grader suspended for saying “I Love You” in her Native language

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February 3, 2012

Miranda Washinawatok Menominee

SHAWANO, WISCONSIN – What’s love got to do with it? Not much, especially if you say the words “I love you” in the Menominee language in front of a certain Wisconsin teacher.

Seventh grader Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, found this out.

Miranda speaks two languages: Menominee and English. She also plays on her basketball team. However, two Thursdays ago she was suspended for one basketball game because she spoke Menominee to a fellow classmate during class.

Miranda attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin. The school body is over 60 percent American Indian. The school is approximately six miles from the south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation.

“On January 19 I was told by Miranda she was being benched from playing that night. I found out at 4:20 and we were back at school at 6:30 pm so I could get to the bottom of why she could not play,” said Tanaes Washinawatok, Miranda’s mother.

“Miranda kept saying she was only told by her assistant coach she was being benched because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. I wanted to know what she did to make them say she had a bad attitude.”

At the school, the teachers and coaching staff seemed to want to cast blame on each other, according to Miranda’s mother.

“I wanted to talk to the principal, but he was not there before the game started,” stated Tanaes Washinawatok. Being a persistent concerned parent, Washinawatok was back at the school by 7:30 the next morning to speak to the principal.

The principal told Washinawatok that the assistant coach told him she was told by two teachers to bench Miranda for attitude problems.

The alleged ‘attitude problem’ turned out to be that Miranda said the Menominee word

“posoh”
that means
“hello”

and said

“Ketapanen”

in Menominee that means “I love you.”

Miranda and a fellow classmate were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to say “Hello” and “I love you” in Menominee.

“The teacher went back to where the two were sitting and literally slammed her hand down on the desk and said, “How do I know you are not saying something bad?”

The story did not end there. In the next session, another teacher told Miranda she did not appreciate her getting the other teacher upset because “she is like a daughter to me.”

By the time, Miranda was picked up by her mother she was upset for being suspended.

“Miranda knows quite a bit of the Menominee language. We speak it. My mother, Karen Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe. She has a degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona’s College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development Institute. She is a former tribal chair and is strong into our culture,” states Tanaes Washinawatok.

Washinawatok has had a total of three meetings with school officials and was promised Miranda would receive a public apology, as would the Menominee Tribe, and the apologies would be publically placed.

“On Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this apology,” Washinawatok told the Native News Network Thursday evening.

“I still don’t think it was enough.”

Sacred Heart Catholic Academy is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay, which ironically has an option on its answering machine for Spanish, but not Menominee. A call put in late Thursday afternoon by the Native News Network was not returned by press time.

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Chinese VP stresses efforts to arm university students with socialist values

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January 5, 2012

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (R, front), who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, meets with representatives before a national meeting on party-building in higher education institutions, in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 4, 2012. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)

BEIJING, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) — Vice President Xi Jinping Wednesday stressed efforts to arm university students with socialist core values through the reinforcement of on-campus Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations.

Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remark while meeting delegates to a national meeting on party-building in higher education institutions.

Describing universities as a key ideological front for equipping young people with socialist values, Xi said on-campus party-building should aim to cultivate qualified builders and reliable successors for China’s socialist cause

Xi said ideological and political work concerning university faculty should be improved, as their morals and qualities exert a gradual and imperceptible influence on students.

He also urged greater efforts to encourage young university teachers to join the CPC.

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In Washington area, African American students suspended and expelled two to five times as often as whites

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By Donna St. George
December 28, 2011

Across the Washington area, black students are suspended and expelled two to five times as often as white students, creating disparities in discipline that experts say reflect a growing national problem.

An analysis by The Washington Post shows the phenomenon both in the suburbs and in the city, from the far reaches of Southern Maryland to the subdivisions of Fairfax, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

African American students have higher suspension rates in area schools than other groups ­­— especially in the District and some Maryland counties. For example, 12 out of every 100 African American students in the District’s charter schools were suspended. Sources: State education agencies, Washington Post analysis. The Washington Post. Published on December 28, 2011.

Last year, for example, one in seven black students in St. Mary’s County were suspended from school, compared with one in 20 white students. In Alexandria, black students were nearly six times as likely to be suspended as their white peers.

In Fairfax, where the suicide in January of a white high school football player who had been suspended brought an outcry for change, African American students were four times as likely that year to be suspended as white students, and Hispanic students were twice as likely.

The problems extend beyond the Washington area to school districts across the country and are among a host of concerns about school discipline that sparked a joint effort by the U.S. Justice and Education departments in July to look into reforms.

Experts say disparities appear to have complex causes. A disproportionate number of black students live below the poverty line or with a single parent, factors that affect disciplinary patterns. But experts say those factors do not fully explain racial differences in suspensions. Other contributing factors could include unintended bias, unequal access to highly effective teachers and differences in school leadership styles.

In the Washington region, many school leaders said they are increasingly focused on the problem and grappling with ways to close the gap.

In Montgomery, Deputy Superintendent Frieda K. Lacey said the district has trained principals and administrators in new approaches, which include involving a team of administrators in suspension decisions.

Still, she said, much remains to be done. Nearly 6 percent of black students were suspended or expelled from school last year, compared with 1.2 percent of white students. The gap remains even as suspensions are down since 2006 across all racial groups.

She pointed to one unsettling statistic: 71 percent of suspensions for insubordination, a relatively rare offense in the county, were handed out to black students. African Americans make up 21 percent of students in Montgomery’s schools. The goal is to dig deeper into the data, offer more professional development and share best practices, she said. “We don’t try to minimize the data,” Lacey said. “We just try to talk about it the way it exists.”

The Post’s analysis found that in the Washington suburbs alone, more than 35,000 students were suspended or expelled from school at some point last school year — more than half of them black students.

In interviews, many school officials noted successes in reducing overall suspensions during the past several years and cited cultural-sensitivity training and positive-behavior initiatives that are more proactive about discipline.

But along with the issue of disparities in many school systems is increasing concern about the subjective nature of many offenses.

In Maryland and Virginia, as in many other places, one of the most common causes of student suspensions are what many call “soft” — or discretionary — infractions: disrespect, defiance, insubordination, disruption and foul language.

Fairfax Deputy Superintendent Richard Moniuszko said the county recently began probing disparities to determine which schools and offenses produce the greatest gaps. Some offenses, he said, allow educators significant latitude in how they respond.

Suspensions have surged nationally since the 1970s, fueled in part by a zero-toleranceculture. As suspensions ticked up, racial disparities widened between blacks and whites — and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics and whites.

The most recent national figures, from 2006, show that 5 percent of white students are suspended, compared with 15 percent of their black classmates, 7 percent of Hispanics and 3 percent of Asians.

“We associate getting kicked out of school with something really really bad, but there has been a sea change in recent years in what kids get suspended for and how often we use suspension,” said researcher Daniel J. Losen, who recently authored a report on suspension and disparities for the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

In Prince George’s, where a majority of students are black, Karyn Lynch, chief of student services, says that for two years, the district has been working to reduce suspensions overall: scrutinizing data, using suspension alternatives and, recently, expanding a positive-behavior initiative to all middle schools.

Lynch says she thinks that disparities will fall away as the system continues to make progress on suspensions. As for why the race gap exists, “I think some of it is cultural sensitivity, believe it or not,” she said.

For parents and students, the disparities are troubling.

Lea Collins-Lee, an African American parent in Prince George’s, said her eldest son was first suspended a decade ago for placing an extra dessert on his cafeteria tray. Last month, her youngest son, now 18, was suspended for five days after a tussle that she said he did not start.

“I really do think it’s harder for black kids,” she said. “If they get into a fight, it’s a gang fight. If white kids get into a fight, it’s a disagreement.”

In Fairfax — with a suspension rate among whites of 1.5 percent and a suspension rate among blacks of 7 percent last year — “you have a lot of minority families that don’t trust the system, and this is one of the reasons why,” said Ralph Cooper, past chairman of the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee, which makes recommendations to the county’s School Board.

The stakes are high for those who get booted out of school.

Out-of-school suspensions mean lost classroom time and, for some, disconnection from school. A recent landmark study of nearly a million Texas children showed that suspension increased the likelihood of repeating a grade that year and landing in the juvenile-justice system the next year. It also was linked to dropping out.

In that research, African American students were more likely to be suspended for discretionary offenses and less likely than whites to be suspended for severe violations, such as selling drugs or bringing a gun to school.

“If they are not involved with the more-serious offenses as often as whites are, what’s going on with those discretionary offenses?” said study co-author Michael Thompson, of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Experts say disparities arise from an array of issues.

They may be driven by unconscious bias or unequal access to teachers who do better engaging students in learning and managing behavior problems when they occur. The leaders of a school system — or of an individual school — strongly influence how often suspensions are meted out.

Mike Durso, a principal for 32 years in Montgomery, Arlington and the Districtwho is now on Montgomery’s Board of Education, said every school has some teachers who make more discipline referrals than others. “I really think it goes back to the training and expertise of teachers and the approach of the school administration,” he said.

Disparities are common in both suburban and urban districts, although urban schools tend to use suspension more, experts say.

“I think people assume it has to be this way,” said Angela Ciolfi of the Legal Aid Justice Center, which in November published a study probing Virginia’s suspensions. But, she contends, “when schools pay attention to who gets in trouble and why, they find they are able to reduce misbehavior overall and also address the discipline gap.”

An increasing number of studies have looked into whether poverty, family background or other characteristics explain racial disparities, said researcher Russell Skiba of Indiana University.

“It is not just a matter of kids coming from poverty,” Skiba said. “Poor kids do get suspended more. But that does not explain why poor black kids get suspended more than poor white kids and why affluent black kids get suspended more than affluent white kids.”

In the Washington region, Anne Arundel County’s racial disparities led the county’s branch of the NAACP to lodge a complaint with federal officials in 2004. Over the years, school leaders made progress on academic disparities, but with discipline, “we haven’t seen any change or any progress,” said Jacqueline Boone Allsup of the NAACP, which filed another complaint this year.

Next month, the district will begin a formal audit to understand more about how and why suspensions occur and to identify patterns. One focus, said Carlesa Finney, the school district’s director of equity assurance and human relations, is “soft” offenses with more subjective criteria.

“One child from one group may get referred for something that another child from another group doing the very same thing doesn’t get referred for,” Finney said, adding that the school system will move aggressively to tackle the problem.

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SDS holds National Convention, student movement growing

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By Chris Getowicz
November 16, 2011

Participants in SDS National Convention (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI – Students gathered over the weekend of Nov. 12 for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) 6th annual National Convention at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Over 150 students from across the country gathered to participate in workshops, share organizing skills, and exchange experiences about campaigns and strategies practiced on their respective campuses. For over half the students in attendance, this was their first SDS convention.

The host chapter, UW-Milwaukee SDS, led a walkout of over 4000 students in the spring of 2011 during the famous occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest Governor Walker’s anti-union, anti-education and anti-people attacks.

On the campuses, there is an awakening of consciousness and opposition to the corrupt and oppressive economic system and to institutional racism, sexism and homophobia. SDS has risen nationally by building opposition to cuts to education as well as opposition to FBI raids against activists and the wars and occupations abroad. As students respond to the Occupy Wall Street movement, SDS has celebrated new chapters and chapter growth across the country.

SDS chapters traveled from Oklahoma; Milwaukee and Stephens Point, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Rutgers and Montclair University in New Jersey; UIC and Wright College in Chicago; Charlotte and Ashville, North Carolina; Gainesville, Tampa and Tallahassee, Florida and many other places.

Students participated in a variety of workshops and breakout sessions that provided space for education, skill sharing and constructive criticisms. Workshops included “Capitalism 101 for the 99%,” “Sexual and Gender Liberation,” “Coalition and Movement Building” and “Immigrant Rights.”

In the plenary, students discussed and voted on proposals to fight FBI repression, organize against racism and national oppression and to protest the Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. SDS is looking forward to joining protests at the NATO/G8 Summit in Chicago and they endorsed the Coalition to March on the Republican National Convention 2012 in Tampa, Florida. There are plans being made for a student day of action in the spring of 2012.

“All of the students who attended the conference are now deputized fighters in the struggle for higher education. The politicians and administrators who tell us to cut back are already organized. This weekend, students organized themselves to fight back together,” said Dave Schneider of University of Florida – Gainesville’s SDS.

SDS was honored to host speakers Carlos Montes and Stephanie Weiner, who were recently hit by FBI repression. Montes, a founding member of the Brown Berets, founder of Latinos Against War and a national organizer during the 2008 RNC is facing trumped up felony charges from a coordinated FBI and Los Angeles County sheriff raid. Weiner is a Chicago-based activist who organizes with the Palestine Solidarity Group, is an active member of AFSCME 3506 and is an advisor to SDS at Wright College in Chicago who was raided last September by the FBI and is subject to an ongoing grand jury investigation in Chicago. SDS has stood in solidarity with both throughout the last year and participated in national call-ins and days of action in solidarity with these activists and others who have been the subject of FBI attacks.

Kait McCintyre of University of Illinois-Chicago SDS said of the convention, “Overall, the convention illustrated the vitality of the student movement and we are excited to rise in these radical times.”

SDS is a multi-issue national student organization with chapters around the United States and can be found at www.newSDS.org or contacted at students4democraticsociety@gmail.com.

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Occupy Winston-Salem joins Occupy Charlotte in solidarity march

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By B.J. Murphy
November 8, 2011

Charlotte occupiers rallying towards the street between Wells Fargo and Bank of America (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Charlotte, NC – An energetic crowd of almost 300 came together at Marshall Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nov. 5. Protesters marched to Bank of America and Wells Fargo, as Occupy Winston-Salem joined in solidarity with Occupy Charlotte in support of Bank Transfer Day.

The protest urged people to transfer their money from big corporate, for-profit banks to local non-profit banks. Local protesters also held signs against the U.S. war and occupation in Afghanistan and the Middle East and in support of public education and teachers. As the activists made their way between Wells Fargo and Bank of America, a dozen police officers met them outside Wells Fargo Bank.

The protest built upon the mass opposition to big banks introducing ‘account fees’ in the last few months and the growing awareness of these very same banks’ hand in the economic financial crisis since 2008. Everyone cheered the news that 650,000 people transferred their money from Bank of America to non-profit credit unions as a result of the Bank Transfer Day effort by Occupy Wall Street. It is estimated that there is a loss of $4.5 billion for the 1% and a gain for the 99%.

Ghali Hasan of Occupy Winston-Salem stated, “Today was a great day for Occupy Winston-Salem, coming down and joining forces with Occupy Charlotte to show real solidarity to the cause. And I believe, overall, we’re going to be making a difference in Winston-Salem and the state as a whole, with today being proof of that.”

Occupy Winston-Salem marching in solidarity with those of Occupy Charlotte.

At Bank of America and Wells Fargo, chants were heard many blocks away in every direction, ranging from “Stop the wars and corporate greed! Give the people what they need!” and “Money for books and education, not for banks and corporations!” When the bosses and managers at Wells Fargo started staring out their glass door and windows, everyone pointed towards them and chanted, “Tell me what hypocrisy looks like. This is what hypocrisy looks like!”

After the two-hour event ended, everyone marched back to Marshall Park and held a General Assembly. When asked of the possible eviction from the park by police, Yen, an activist in Occupy Charlotte responded, “I believe, like every other Occupy movement throughout the nation, the powers that be are starting to see the true essence of this movement; the true power that it can have. So they’re now beginning to threaten those who participate in true democracy. Whatever may happen, nothing will stop this occupation.”

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