Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Michael Franti, Power to the Peaceful

We're adding a couple more names to our Peace Wheel of Fortune for this semester, including Michael Franti, who has been touring the country this summer with his band on a "Love Out Loud" tour.  He's got some great videos out there, too.  Here is one of his from last year, "Good to be Alive Today."

Friday, September 8, 2017

AISD district policy regarding military recruiters on campuses

With the start of the 2017/18 school year, the office of the Legal Counsel for AISD is sending out a reminder, as they have in previous years, about the AISD policy regarding military recruiters on campuses.  This is an important policy that is designed to protect student privacy.  Special note should be made of Point 8: recruiters are prohibited from asking students to fill out cards giving recruiters their contact information.   If students or staff witness violations of this policy, they should contact their principals.  If you see something, please say something.

Here is the policy, as stated in the Community Relations section, GKC Local:

The following guidelines shall apply to recruiters on District campuses:

1. All recruiters shall first report to the campus administrative office to obtain a visitor’s badge each time they visit school property.

2. The principal shall designate specific areas on each campus for recruiting purposes. Recruiting may not occur at school athletic events or other school-sponsored events, unless specifically authorized by the principal.

3. Recruiters shall not continue ongoing contact when a student makes it clear by speech or other conduct that contact with the recruiter is unwelcome. In no event may recruiters meet with a student under the age of 18 years off campus without written consent submitted to a campus administrator by the student’s parent or guardian.

4. Evidence of a parent’s or guardian’s intent to provide directory information upon request shall be respected. [See FL]

5. The Armed Serves Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test shall be administered according to the same terms and conditions as other aptitude tests administered within the District. District schools shall select “Option 8” on the ASVAB test prior to the administration of the ASVAB at the school to ensure consistency with the opt-out provisions for release of contact information to the military.

6. Recruiting of any kind shall not be permitted at a time, place, and manner that disrupts classroom instruction. Recruiting in a classroom or other designated space shall be acceptable if it is at the invitation of authorized school personnel and part of a school-approved program.

7. Schools shall allow information regarding recruiting, including recruiting by the military and those advocating alternatives to the military, to be made available to students in an equivalent manner and location.

8. Recruiters shall not solicit student contact information directly from a student or require such information as a condition to participate in an activity or to receive an award or gift.

If a visitor fails to comply with the general rules or guidelines set out in this policy, the principal or other campus administrator may deny the visitor access to the campus. If a military recruiter fails to comply with the guidelines set out in this policy, the principal or other campus administrator may contact the military recruiter's supervisor to report the failure to comply and request that such individual not return to the campus.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dreamers welcome

We stand with Education Austin and United We Dream in opposition to the statements by US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions yesterday regarding DACA.  We support the right to education for all those living in the US, regardless of citizenship status.  This is a legal right.  And for those immigrants who have pursued college and are now working in their chosen profession, it makes no sense to threaten deportation.  In fact, threats of deportation for any immigrant make it harder on families and especially the young people within families who are being made to feel afraid of government policies targeting them.  Threatening young people is cruel.  We appreciate DREAMERS, DACAmented and undocumented students who are sharing their stories and standing together to say, "Here to Stay."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wisdom from a mentor, Ruby Sales

The episode of the radio program, "On Being" that aired today on Austin's KUT station was an interview with Ruby Sales, theologian and civil rights activist.  The episode is called "Where does it hurt?"  Highly recommended.  Check it out at this link.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Speaking truth about racism

Photo from today's Rally Against White Supremacy at Austin's City Hall, photo by Jay Janner of the Austin American-Statesman

Austin held a large, nonviolent Rally Against White Supremacy today at our City Hall.  Powerful speakers held us to our task.  Economic Justice is still not achieved in our city, which has a history and also a present reality of racial segregation.  There is much to be done.  There is a strong commitment to equality, diversity, compassion and justice in our community, though, and many people are working in all levels toward these common goals.  We grieve our history of domestic terrorism that has included lynching, forced removal of people from their homes and neighborhoods, official segregation and systematic denials of access in housing, education, government and business.  Several of today's speakers led the crowd in repeating the names of past and present victims of these crimes.  Many of the names I admit I did not know.  Education is a lifelong process.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

10 Ways to Fight Hate

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a longtime organization in Montgomery,  Alabama dedicated to exposing hate groups and countering them through education and legal action, has published a 10-point guide to action in the wake of the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville this weekend.

Point number 6 in this "Ten Ways to Fight Hate" guide is especially instructive right now.  It encourages people to not engage armed hate groups, and especially not to engage them with weapons.  Such hate groups have stated that they want physical fights.  Don't give them what they want.  Coming armed with chemical sprays or any kind of weapon to a rally heightens fear for everyone, even one's allies, and increases the risk that people will get hurt.  Resist the temptation to yell obscenities back at anyone.  Name-calling can tip someone who is already spoiling for a fight over the edge.  Peace-making is a discipline.  It shows personal strength and discipline when you maintain your own dignity by not repeating the ugly behavior of someone else.

Instead of yelling or fighting directly back at hate groups, the SPLC advises us to hold alternative events in separate locations that focus on upholding the civil rights, equality and dignity of all people, countering the messages of the hate groups.  Many such events were held around the country following the killing in Charlottesville, showing how much power there is in people coming together nonviolently to express their feelings and values.

Check out the complete 10-point guide at this link.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peace Takes Courage

The current US president makes reckless threats of violence that would harm the entire world.  He says he is acting tough.  But, no, bullying behavior is not toughness.  It is tough to sit down and speak directly and respectfully with one's adversaries.  It is tough to admit and apologize for one's mistakes.  It is tough to listen to the pain of others. It is tough to delve into history and educate oneself as thoroughly as possible about the factors that have created different governments, borders, social systems.

Threatening violence to others is taking the cowardly route.  Building peace is what takes courage.  That's one of SOY's messages, and we are looking forward to the upcoming school year, when we meet many courageous students who are working hard in their classes while at the same time dealing with challenges in family life, national policies regarding immigration, worries about college affordability and the everyday tough work of becoming young adults.  We look forward to hearing what students are saying and observing the ways in which many teachers and staff continue to model conflict resolution and positive communication.  We believe in education, not militarization.

(graphic courtesy of Veterans for Peace, which is holding its annual national convention this weekend with this theme)