Saturday, May 31, 2014

Local Americorps program looking for bilingual tutors

This is a great Americorps program in Austin:

ACE is looking for bilingual tutors next year! If you're a native speaker or you're interested in practicing your Spanish, this is an awesome opportunity for you! Apply now!

Friday, May 30, 2014

More Lifeguards needed for Austin pools

We mentioned on an earlier post that the City of Austin needs more lifeguards for its summer pool hours.  More guards are still needed, according to this article in today's Austin American-Statesman.  It's good work and pays well.  Check out today's job fair!

Austin throws job fair with free pizza to lure more lifeguards

By Julie Chang - American-Statesman Staff
As Austin city workers prepare for expanded public pool hours this summer, an odd sort of shortage has emerged: They just can’t find enough teenagers who want to wear a bathing suit to work.
This year, the parks department needs more summer lifeguards than ever — up to 750 — after the city extended hours and days that city pools will open. It has filled half of those spots.
Friday, city officials are hosting a job fair with free pizza, drinks and dessert in the hopes they can find some more.
“The number of lifeguards that we hire is a large number. It’s a very difficult thing to do every year, but this year with the extended hours and more lifeguards, it’s even more challenging,” said aquatic program manager Jodi Jay.
Most pools will open on June 6, which is earlier than usual and just a day after the last day of school for the Austin district. The department, which heavily relies on students for lifeguards, blames that time crunch for the shortage.
Jay said she is optimistic that they will fill the spots, and said she doesn’t anticipate hours or days of operations to be affected. Instead, the department could close a diving area or a baby wading pool until properly trained lifeguards are available.
Those amenities are essential for Extend-a-Care during its summer program. About 700 children in Extend-a-Care aged three to 12 go to city pools twice a week, and the agency’s state license requires it to go to only city-run pools.
“By taking that away, we’re taking away access to outdoor water time for our preschoolers. Secondly, with diving … our oldest kids, that’s definitely what they enjoy doing,” operations director Jaime Garcia said. “Being physically active and making sure that they’re engaged during the summer is critical.”
She added that lifeguards provide an extra set of eyes from an elevated viewpoint.
City Council approved adding $851, 000 to this year’s parks department budget to expand hours at some city pools, hire two maintenance workers to keep up with repairs (the average age of Austin’s 50 aquatics facilities is 44 years old) and bump up lifeguard pay to $10.75 for those ages 17 and up to be competitive with privately run pools.
Pools are opening from four to 11 days earlier than last year. Most of them close on Aug. 24. Most pools will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends.
“If you don’t have enough lifeguards, you wind up with kids who can’t take part in a fun part of summer,” said Charles Mead with the Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
New city lifeguards must undergo 40 hours of training to become American Red Cross certified. Returning lifeguards must undergo 18 hours of training to be re-certified. They are not required to work full-time, but the department offers incentives with hopes to recruit and retain them throughout the summer.
A lifeguard qualifies for a chance to win $500 if he or she commits to working an average of 15 hours a week until the pool season ends.
Friday’s job fair will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the aquatic office, 400 Deep Eddy Ave.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Operation Recovery: Fort Hood Testimonies

This website just launched over the Memorial Day weekend.  Over a 3-year period, over a thousand interviews were conducted with soldiers and family members stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas by Under the Hood GI Coffee House, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Citizen/Soldier Alliance.  On the website, 31 of these testimonies have been compiled.  These first-hand accounts show the kinds of military realities that are linked to the lack of veteran care recently in the news.  These reports deserve to be widely read.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

LBJ/LASA school visit rounds out the Spring semester

We were glad to have a Spring Semester SOY table today at LBJ/LASA High School, and we were busy during both lunches as students participated in doing the list of 5 tasks for earning a Peace t-shirt: naming the 5 basic rights stated in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, finding Afghanistan on the globe and naming its Capital, voting in the Penny Poll, trying the Peace Wheel of Fortune and trying a Peace Pull-up on the chin-up bar.  One of the students who knew the First Amendment freedoms the best was a student who had grown up in South America.

We always appreciate students discussing the issues that are raised at the table -- such as how militarism affects the environment, why there is not enough funding for education but there is always money for war, who pays the price for war, and how the advances made in civil rights in the US have been won through largely nonviolent means.

We posted several of the new images/quotes from the Fort Hood Testimonials project -- a listening project where more than 1,000 soldiers and military family members from Ft. Hood were interviewed about their military experience.

Once again, it was good to be able to table right in front of the Nelson Mandela quote about education being the most important tool we can use to make positive change in the world.  The Penny Poll results showed that students agree:

Education: 97 penny votes
Health Care: 72 pennies
Military: 57 pennies
Humanitarian Aid: 43 pennies
Environment:  41 pennies

Thanks for participating, Jaguars!

print-outs from the new Fort Hood Testimonials project, as seen on Facebook this morning

Recruiting poster on bulletin board across from our table

Recruiting flier on bulletin board across from our table -- same recruiter advertising at Reagan HS.  Why are Juniors being targeted?  Once again, deceptive advertising: military jobs and job training of choice are not guaranteed, and neither are $40,000 enlistment bonuses or the large GI Bill benefits.

We posted our flier below the recruiting flier, as we are allowed to do by AISD policy.
Photo in hallway display of LBJ talking with Barbara Jordan and Vernon Jordan

Photo in hallway display, LBJ and troops

Photo in hallway display, MLK and LBJ

Friday, May 23, 2014

Veterans for Peace speak out on Memorial Day

Here is a notice from Veterans for Peace for Memorial Day.  A number of VFP members have written messages for this occasion and they can be seen at this link.  Here is one from VFP member, Geoff Millard:

"I hate being thanked on Memorial Day (on Veterans Day too for that matter) because it is a day to remember the dead and I think at the same time we should be fighting like hell for the living. I'll bask in being a veteran the day no more of us are committing suicide, none are homeless, and we stop creating new generations of veterans."
-- Geoff Millard is a lifetime member of VFP Chapter 16 in Washington DC.

Members of Veterans For Peace in over a dozen cities will participate in a wide range of activities to observe Memorial Day. Veterans For Peace is a group of military veterans, family members and friends who are joined in association by our pledge to serve the cause of world peace and abolish war. We bring a different message to Memorial Day than the themes usually promoted by popular media, the government and traditional veterans’ organizations.
We do not seek to glorify either warriors or war. Rather, Veterans For Peace seeks to educate the public about the folly of war and the human, economic, civil rights and liberties and environmental cost of war. VFP members march in parades, lay wreaths, give talks and speeches, recite poetry and vigil to honor U.S. service members who died in and as a result of war, as well as all the civilian victims of war.
Our message for Memorial Day is to remember all who have died in war and to understand that no one wins,” stated Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace. “We understand that those who fight the wars gain the least from them and those who send us to war gain the most from war. There are many people who either profit from war or are misled by war mongers and profiteers. These are the people who seek to block our message to question war and to work for peace.”

San Francisco Pride

It was great to receive notice about the San Francisco Pride festival board passing these two motions, making Chelsea Manning an Honorary Grand Marshal of the 2014 San Francisco Pride Parade and barring military recruiters from having booths at the festival:

Here are the motions as they passed:

San Francisco Pride Board of Directors elects to name Chelsea Manning as an Honorary Grand Marshal for the 2014 Pride Parade and Celebration.
SF Pride applauds the suspension of the U.S. Armed Forces “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, officially ending more than two centuries of anti-homosexual discrimination by that institution.  SF Pride supports and honors the members of our community who are now serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Services.  Nevertheless, because of the ongoing institutional practices of discrimination against transgender people; the use of misleading advertising specifically targeting economically disadvantaged youth, including LGBT youth; and the danger faced by women and men of sexual assault, rape and harassment by other members of the U.S. Armed Services; the SF  LGBT Pride Committee does not deem U.S. Armed Services recruiters an appropriate entity for participation in our exhibitor or corporate sponsorship programs. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Great visit at McCallum High School

Hart, Tami, Susana and I had a rewarding tabling day today at McCallum HS, and we thank all students and staff who came by the table and made us welcome.  We added a 5th item to our list of tasks for winning a t-shirt, and it was great to see how many students worked their way down the table to do every one.  We were impressed that most students could point right to Afghanistan on a globe, and several students could name the First Amendment freedoms right off the bat.  Doing quick research on smart phones was fine, too.  We liked the posters we saw up in the hallways having to do with respect and creativity.  We were set up right under a student poster of the Robert Frost poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay,"  which was appropriately poignant for all the seniors graduating soon.  From our perspective, time is fleeting, and life is very precious.

About 50 students did the Penny Poll, and the Education category won out big time.  If members of Congress really represented the values of their constituents, college would be affordable for all.  After students did the Penny Poll, we offered them copies of the American Friends Service Committee's folding graph showing how much money is allocated to military uses vs. other spending.  Military spending is calculated at 57% of the federal budget and Education at 6%.  The values of McCallum students who did the Penny Poll are reversed:  Education funding got 50% of the penny votes, and Military funding got 13%.

Here are the Penny Poll results from today:

Education: 177 pennies
Environment: 94 pennies
Health Care: 92 pennies
Humanitarian Aid: 73 pennies
Military: 67 pennies

Hart at SOY table

To win a t-shirt ...
Detail of poster for Creative Writing Club

No Place for Hate hall poster

Hall poster