fresh voices from the front lines of change







Red-State Teacher Rebellion Grows

Red-State teacher rebellion hits OK, grows in AZ. AP: "A teacher rebellion that started in the hills of West Virginia spread like a prairie fire to Oklahoma this week and now threatens to reach the desert in Arizona. In the deep red state of Oklahoma, the Republican-led Legislature approved money for teacher raises and more school funding, even hiking taxes on the vaunted oil and gas industry to do it. Republican Governor Mary Fallin rushed to sign the measures into law Thursday. Oklahoma teachers were inspired by West Virginia, another red state where a 9-day strike led to 5-percent teacher raises. Oklahoma teachers haven't had a raise in a decade of Republican control and they won raises of between 15 and 18 percent. Now, teachers in Arizona thronged their GOP-run Capitol this week, demanding a 20 percent teacher pay hike. 'West Virginia woke us up,' Arizona Educators Association President Joe Thomas told a cheering crowd at a protest this week in Phoenix."

Sacramento Killing Sparks National Conversations On Race

Sacramento hopes to set national example after Stephon Clark shooting. USA Today: "The cries for justice booming off the walls of the district attorney’s office here echo in places like Missouri, Minnesota and New York, other states where black men have died at the hands of police. 'Say his name!' went the chant. 'Stephon Clark!' came the reply, over and over as a multiracial crowd of protesters with signs saying 'Convict cop killers' vented their anger Thursday. But while the volatile scene packs a painful sameness after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Philando Castile in Saint Paul and Eric Garner on Staten Island, there is hope among some residents here that the March 18 killing of 22-year-old Clark by two police officers will bring changes that can be a role model for the nation. 'It could be up to us to affect change, and we can do it because fundamentally we are a highly diverse, integrated community,' says Joany Titherington, president of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, home to a large part of the city’s African-American population."

EPA Wants Cars To Pollute More, Not Less

E.P.A. prepares to roll back rules requiring cars to be cleaner and more efficient. NYT: "The Trump administration is expected to launch an effort in coming days to weaken greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automobiles, handing a victory to car manufacturers and giving them ammunition to potentially roll back industry standards worldwide. The move — which undercuts one of President Barack Obama’s signature efforts to fight climate change — would also propel the Trump administration toward a courtroom clash with California, which has vowed to stick with the stricter rules even if Washington rolls back federal standards. That fight could end up creating one set of rules for cars sold in California and the 12 states that follow its lead, and weaker rules for the rest of the states, in effect splitting the nation into two markets."

AZ Teachers Prepare To Strike

Arizona teachers, among the nation’s lowest paid, threaten to strike. WaPo: "Arizona teachers, among the lowest paid in the country, are threatening to strike if state lawmakers do not raise their salaries and restore dramatic funding cuts that schools have endured. Teachers, who organized a grassroots campaign on social media, are demanding a 20 percent raise and restoration of school funding to 2008 levels, before the Great Recession struck, according to the Arizona Republic. They are also asking state lawmakers to stop cutting taxes until Arizona’s per-student spending reaches the national average."

KY Teachers Ready For Walkout

KY teachers to skip work after lawmakers' 'bait and switch' on pension reform. CNN: "Several Kentucky teachers won't be going to work Friday after the state legislature approved changes to their pension on Thursday. Educators, who are furious over the pension issue, called out of work in protest. At least nine counties have canceled school, the Kentucky Democrats tweeted early Friday. Kentucky has 120 counties.
The bill, which overhauls the state's pension, passed mostly on party lines and heads to Gov. Matt Bevin, who supports reforming the system. State leaders say it's critical to fix the pension crisis, which ranks as one of the worst in the US."

OK Teachers Demand Raises And Funding

Oklahoma teachers just got a $6,100 raise. They're going to strike anyway. Time: "Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill Thursday giving teachers a $6,100 raise on average, but educators in the state — who rank among the worst paid in the country — are still planning to strike on Monday, demanding higher raises and more education funding. The Oklahoma strike comes weeks after a statewide strike by teachers in West Virginia, which lasted 9 days and ended in a deal granting 5% pay raises to teachers and other state workers. In Arizona, thousands of teachers rallied at the state capitol on Wednesday, calling for a 20% pay raise and more funding per student."

More from

Getting Granular on America’s Income Distribution. Sam Pizzigati: "Between 1979 and 2014, middle class households saw their incomes increase by $9 per week. Top 1 percent households, over the same years, gained on average an extra $450 every week, 50 times more than middle class households — and 64 times more than the $7 dollars per week that average households in the nation’s poorest 20 percent gained. Middle- and low-income Americans have paid a heavy price for those few extra dollars per week. Their schools have become more overcrowded, their streets more potholed, and their college costs much more expensive as tax giveaways to the rich and powerful shrink the budgets for basic public services. Average Americans have a right to be upset. Wealthy Americans like Donald Trump have no right to exploit their anger."

Energy Independence Requires Steel Independence. Leo Gerard: "Shale oil and gas, now fracked from deep underground in two dozen states, is celebrated for delivering energy independence to the United States. But that goal can’t truly be achieved if America depends on China, Korea, even Brazil for the steel vital to drilling. That is why the deal negotiated by the Trump administration to reduce South Korean exports of steel to the United States is so important. South Korea is using subsidized Chinese steel – that is steel sold in violation of international trade regulations – to produce pipe that directly competes with that made by U.S. pipe makers who abide by fair market rules. South Korea agreed this week to export limits in exchange for an exemption from the new 25 percent tariffs the Trump administration has imposed on all steel imports."

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