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Crist vetoes Senate Bill 6 – victory for students, teachers and anti-privatization forces--And See What Else BAMN Is Doing

Susan Notes:

NOTE: Here's a reminder about BAMN. You're going to be hearing a lot more from them. The article below by Danny Weil puts BAMN in the context of national mobilizing. For example, see the announcement of April 16 BAMN Picket and Press conference in Detroit.

It is. . . appropriate that the latest challenge to the Obama administration's assault on the public schools is centered in Detroit, headquarters of the organization called BAMN -- By Any Means Necessary. BAMN heads up a national coalition that will converge on the U.S. Education Department, in Washington, on April 10 under the banner, "Our children are not for sale." Education Secretary Arne Duncan, say the organizers, plans to create a national network of 5,000 "publicly-financed, privately-run, minimally-regulated charter schools." The $4 billion dollar Race to the Top competition is just the bait for the planned big switch. The "race" is the cruelest kind of contest, creating a "mad scramble to abandon all tried-and-true reforms to get desperately needed federal funding and the insane competition of school-against-school, state-against-state."

According to BAMN activists, "If Arne Duncan were a Republican, every progressive force in America would be demanding his resignation or firing.... For any real pro-student educational reforms to occur, Duncan must go now."

But, of course, Duncan is not a loose cannon. He's Barack Obama's basketball buddy from Chicago, where Duncan closed Black and brown schools and fired Black teachers with abandon. When demonstrators gather at the Department of Education on Saturday, April 10, they will be denouncing Arne Duncan, but the policies are Barack Obama's.
--by Glen Ford
Black Agenda Radio

As you read this description of Florida teacher activism below, remember that they were doing this against union orders not to call in sick.

And salute BAMN for its most important work of educating a new generation of young organizers and community activists hell-bent on assuring they get the opportunities they deserve to become healthy and productive adults.

Kudos to BAMN. Kudos to Danny Weil for covering all this so assiduously.

by Danny Weil

We won! Governor Charlie Crist of Florida Vetoes SB 6, merit pay/testing trap

After huge teacher call-ins (at least 6,700 teachers in Miami/Dade school district alone) and scores of student walkouts, along with a huge rally and other actions, including a "sit-down" (turned meeting with Governor Crist) at the Governor's office which BAMN carried out with 11 students and teachers from Miami yesterday, Governor Crist announced today that he had vetoed the legislation that would tie teacher pay to students' standardized test scores, penalize teachers who work in inner-city schools, burden students with more high stakes standardized tests and promote the further privatization of public education.

The struggle has been a long and arduous one but the fact that students and their teachers beat back the onerous bill is a sign of growing coalition building and increased organized struggles to end the privatization of education. Arne Duncan should be sitting up and taking notice as should Randi Weingarten (AFT) for teachers and their students are finding their voices and in no small way through the efforts a radicalized and furious student body.

The pressure clearly began on Monday the 12th of April when 25% of Miami public school teachers called in sick that the system began to grind to a halt. Apparently, elementary school teachers were the most frustrated with the potential merit pay bill that passed last week in the state legislature and was known as Senate Bill 6 (SB6).

If you wish to see a list of the schools and the amount of teachers that showed for work you can go here. But to take just one example, only four of the 46 teachers at Wesley Matthews Elementary school showed up for work Monday. That percentage is similar to Village Green Elementary, where 31 of 34 teachers decided it would be a nice day to stay home and boycott (ibid).

CBS 4 online did not mention BAMN when they reported on the meeting in the governor's office with students and BAMN members. The cite only noted:

A group of teachers and concerned students who arrived in Tallahassee to stage a sit-in outside Governor Charlie Crist's office were instead welcomed by the Governor himself to listen to their concerns on the teacher merit pay bill.

They may be small in numbers, but they carried the message of thousands of voices around Florida: Veto Senate Bill (ibid).

One member of BAMN told a woman worker at the Governor's office that:

We're delivering messages from several teachers from Dade County for the governor (ibid).

A Florida Norland Senior High School teacher,
Ceresta Smith, also a member of BAMN, stated to the press:

I feel it's an insult and a smack in the face to tell me this credential that I acquire, and I worked hard for, and that I've worked for to develop my skills for all these years means nothing. He works for us, and he needs to answer to us. We're here for him to listen to our demands(ibid).

Turns out they did not have to wait long for Crist invited them into his office and they made their case. One student told Crist:

My name is Shateria Grant, I go to New World Performing Arts School in Downtown Miami(ibid).

Palmetto High teacher Wendy Worther told Crist at the meeting:

Our teacher of the year last year said that if they sign this bill, she's going to become an optometrist. Science teachers can do other things (ibid).

The group of 11 students and many teachers who met with Crist this morning left with no answers. Crist had until tomorrow to sign or veto the bill but the news just in is that he has vetoed the bill; this has been confirmed by Donna Stern of BAMN. Crist did the right thing. Most Floridians agree. Too bad for Joel Klein Chancellor of NY schools and another Broad pawn, who commented last week that it would be great for the nation if the bill passed. Sorry, Joe.

BAMN is mobilizing nationwide

This is definitely one of the first big wins in the anti-privatization and hostile take over attempts by the union busting Florida state legislature and their big business backers. The action was also prompted by the organizational power of the Florida Education Association (FEA). But it is BAMN that is on the march and appearing as one of the foremost leadership organizations in the country in the effort to fight the privatization efforts of the Arne Duncan administration. City by city they mobilize. They will be at the conference in Fresno on April 30th and May 1st (see my article on the Fresno conference.

I have written extensively on BAMN's efforts to beat back the REALM charter school that tried to smuggle itself into Berkeley, but failed due to similar tactics by BAMN. I have also written extensively for www.dailycensored.com on BAMN's efforts in Detroit where Eli Broad graduate Robert Bobb, Governor Granholm's appointee to be the Financial Manager of Detroit, is closing schools faster than banks can carry out foreclosures on private residences. His paw prints reveal the same formula for school takeovers crafted by the Walton Family, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, the Skillman Foundation, the Fisher Family and other tyrannical and autocratic philanthropists who are displaying so much interest in our kids these days.

BAMN also worked successfully to get rid of the Wal-Mart internships scheduled for four Detroit high schools and they have joined with Detroit Federation of Teachers, as indicated in today's news, to seek an injunction stopping Bobb from making any more academic decisions, be they regarding the penal testing he is implementing to assure student tracking and failure or the school closures he seems to be delighting in announcing.

As I have informed readers, BAMN organized the Washington D.C. march in front of Arne Duncan's office this last April 10, 2010 sending seven high school students up one week ahead during their spring break to enter DC high schools and inform students and teachers of the plans for DC by the billionaire boyz club.

Ironically, it was the same day week that the Walton Family ponied up $25,000,000 in an attempt to get DC teachers to sign a merit pay contract. They have been at an impasse with Chancellor Michelle Rhee, another Eli Broad graduate like Bobb, for months. The private $25,000,000 put on the negotiating table by the Walton family was not only an historical first in union negotiations but was only a portion of the $65 million in private funds anted up by the billionaires to close the deal with teachers so they could implement their horrid merit pay schemes. (You can see my articles on all this by going to Author Archive. I have written extensively about these struggles for months).

BAMN has shown its prowess and the secret of its success by organizing young people, like the young man Jamal whom I wrote about in the Detroit Wal-Mart internship articles. By working with urban youth, both in Florida, Berkeley, Detroit, DC and other cities, BAMN is educating a new generation of young organizers and community activist hell-bent on assuring they get the opportunities they deserve to become healthy and productive adults. They are finding that not only can they organize and struggle, but they can win! They have, they will!

What the privatizers are now seeing is something I do not think they expected. Not only are teachers stepping up to the plate but more importantly young people are finding out the ruthless plans for their future lives being hatched in corporate suites and they donât like it and are letting their representatives like Crist and others know it. More importantly, the students themselves are generally young and in high school and thus are learning and acquiring the critical literacy skills they need to formidably challenge the power structure to secure their human rights. They are out informing other students and organizing within their schools.

This is a big victory for Florida, its teachers, students and parents. It shows the resiliency of mass mobilizations and a tireless commitment to assuring that the privatization of education, especially in the form of Race to the Top, is met with force and massive resistance.

For all of you readers who read the saga of the fight in Florida and to any of you who either attended Floridaâs rallies or wrote letters or faxed or e-mailed, I just wish to say thank you. I know that the students of Florida and the student leaders of BAMN also thank you.

However, as you know the party is hardly over and the fight really just beginning as city by city the privatizers pillage and close schools. The good news is that with so many victories in the past and so many struggles for the future, we can look the issue in the eye now and state unequivocally: we can win, we will win!. The billionaires may have more money, valets, butlers and servants, but there are more of us and our voices are now being heard.

Keep tuned for an article by 'Jamal' soon, for he has promised that he will address Dailycensored readers in the very near future and I know I am looking forward to it and I hope you are too!

— Danny Weil
Daily Censored


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