Rallies, Rocking & Rainbows!

Yes, we put the East Bay into Indivisible East Bay this past weekend, with events in Hayward, Berkeley and Oakland all in one 48 hour period!

First up, on September 6, Cal State East Bay students and faculty rallied in downtown Hayward to #SaveIsabel. Dozens of students marched from the Hayward campus through the streets to City Hall, singing “Which Side Are You On?” At City Hall, City Councilmember Aisha Wahab emceed the event organized by the CSU East Bay Associated Students Incorporated, Students for Quality Education and political science professor Danvy Le, at which about 100 people gathered to hear stories about what it means to be a Dreamer and the importance of protecting rights for patients such as Isabel.

Rep. Swalwell speaking at Save Isabel rally, photo by Andrea Lum
Rep. Swalwell speaking at Save Isabel rally

CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell addressed the crowd, expressing his strong support for Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s private bill HR 4225 requesting rescission of the original order terminating the Bueso family’s stay. The Hayward event followed an earlier rally for Isabel organized by the nurses and doctors of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

The next morning, members of Indivisible East Bay convened at Berkeley City College, joining over 150 other local activists at the East Bay Rock the Congress conference led by Ogie Strogatz and Kook Huber, both longtime allies of IEB and outstanding activist leaders. RtC gave attendees new ideas and perspectives to consider while doing the hard work of organizing. Aimee Alison, founder of She the People and Democracy in Color, groups dedicated to advancing people of color in politics, delivered an inspiring keynote reminding attendees that there is a path to the White House among voters of color if we do the work to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai – who readers of this blog may remember from his efforts to get Dublin to fly the rainbow flag for Pride – then facilitated a discussion of issue oriented and electoral focused organizations.

At Rock the Congress: Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai moderating discussion with activist leaders, photo by Andrea Lum
Shawn Kumagai moderating discussion with activist leaders

After lunch, attendees learned about Census 2020, how young people are leading change, and more. IEB Governance Committee members Nancy and Andrea presented a session on member engagement, otherwise known as “A bunch of randos walk into a protest.” 

Rock the Congress conference, photo by Andrea Lum

Click on the link in the schedule to learn more about the presenters for the jam-packed Rock the Congress conference.

IEB capped off the weekend by having a booth at the September 10 Oakland Pride Festival

Everyone enjoyed the excellent weather, reflected in the good mood and high energy of Pride attendees. Festival participants trickled in at first, but traffic picked up quickly and stayed strong for most of the festival’s duration. IEB’s booth was located on Franklin Street, the main thoroughfare of the festival, so we were able to catch a sizable portion of the crowd as they walked past our table. Our “Resist Trump!” whiteboard proved popular, attracting cheers, donations, and visitors who stopped by the table to see how they could get involved in our work.

IEB table at Oakland Pride, photo by Andrea Lum
IEB table at Oakland Pride,

Many had already heard of Indivisible and were familiar with its work. Some regular newsletter readers stopped by to say hello, along with folks who had attended past events and were looking to get re-engaged. We introduced Indivisible to a few new volunteers looking to get involved in activism for the first time. Many thanks to the IEB volunteers who showed up early and stayed late to spread the good word of resistance to the Pride-goers! 

If any of these activities sound like something you’d like to attend or help out with in the future, just send volunteer coordinator Andrea (andrea@indivisibleeb.org) an email to let her know. What a great weekend of good conversations, new newsletter signups, and high energy!

Photographs by Andrea Lum

IEB 7/16/19 Meeting with Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AD-15

Meeting with Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AD-15, on July 16, 2019

PRESENT: Buffy Wicks; Senior Field Representative Uche Uwahemu; one additional staff person and three interns; five IEB members.

This was Indivisible East Bay’s first solo meeting with Assemblymember Wicks, following our May 10, 2019 meeting with her and Asm. Rob Bonta. We gave Wicks and her staff our pre-meeting memo and our list of IEB Priority Bills (many of which are also bills of priority interest statewide). By now bills initiated in one chamber of the Legislature have passed to the other chamber, where they must pass by mid-September, so these were the bills we focused on. With a few exceptions, we did not cover other bills that have died, that have not been included in the Governor’s budget, or that have become two-year bills and will roll over into next year.

ELECTIONS / VOTING RIGHTS:

A unifying theme of our selection of voting rights bills is supporting the major goals of the federal bill H.R.1, the For the People Act: expanding voting rights, campaign finance reform, and strengthening the government’s ethics laws. H.R.1 is an omnibus bill because the most effective changes work in tandem to complement each other. Wicks stated that she cares about voter rights and supports a variety of approaches. She was open to the idea of an omnibus bill and even suggested that she might look at authoring such a bill next session. We also discussed:

  • ACA 6, which expands voting rights to people on parole to re-enfranchise over 50,000 Californians. IEB is working with the community co-sponsors of ACA 6, including Initiate Justice, All of Us or None, and our community partner Open Gate. This is now a two-year bill. It still needs to be voted on in this Assembly this year, but will not reach the Senate until next year. Because it is a constitutional amendment it will require a two-thirds vote to pass. We asked Wicks to become a co-author, and she said she would be happy to.
  • We thanked Wicks for supporting AB 1217, which requires issue advertisements to disclose the top three funders. The bill is now in the Senate. SB 47 is another important bill for transparency, requiring ballot initiative signature gatherers to disclose the top three funders. We asked her to become a co-author. 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE:

  • Wicks supported AB 32, which prohibits the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with private for-profit prisons. The bill, which is now in the Senate, has a long list of community co-sponsors, including California StateStrong; and one opponent, the CA State Sheriffs’ Association.
  • Wicks supported AB 1185, establishing a sheriff oversight board, on the Assembly floor (the bill is now in the Senate). However, more needs to be done in this arena – right now, there is no term limit on sheriffs. In response to IEB’s asking if she would consider introducing a constitutional amendment to switch from elected to appointed sheriffs or introducing a bill allowing counties to set term limits for sheriffs and district attorneys, Wicks responded that she is interested in an approach that would change the requirement that a person have a law-enforcement background in order to run for sheriff. She told us that either she or Sen. Nancy Skinner will author a bill to do that. 

STATE BUDGET:

  • Wicks joined us in being glad that Medi-Cal was expanded to include some undocumented immigrants (SB 29), but disappointed that it didn’t include seniors because of stated budgetary concerns.
  • Likewise, we were disappointed that the budget did not expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) program to include holders of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, though we’re glad the income threshold was expanded.

IMMIGRATION/LOCAL COOPERATION WITH ICE:

  • Just before the meeting, we learned that Oakland Airport has been one of the top airports used by ICE in California. Wicks said she had also been unaware of this. When we asked if she had any thoughts on what might be done to end that cooperation, she said that the Governor has a broader ability to do things and we may need to get to him.
  • Since our meeting, IEB testified at the Port of Oakland commissioners meeting on July 25. In response, the Port said in the coming weeks, they are committed to developing recommendations and a definitive response to the events that occurred. 

ENVIRONMENT:

  • Wicks agreed with AB 1276, a state-specific “Green New Deal” aimed at addressing the climate crisis in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, technology and infrastructure, as well as economics, education, and civil rights. She specifically supported resilient infrastructure with AB 1698 (infrastructure investment and financing).
  • SB 200, which Wicks voted for, establishes a fund to secure access to safe drinking water. It was signed into law by the governor on July 24th.

EDUCATION:

  • Wicks co-authored SB 37 with Sen. Nancy Skinner to increase the tax rate on large corporations in order to fund child care, public schools and higher education. Though it didn’t pass the Senate, she emphasized that the need for it remains. She supports Prop. 13 reform (the Schools and Communities First initiative will be on the ballot in 2020) but noted that it only provides $11 billion towards the $50 billion she believes is required to fund schools.
  • Wicks voted in support of bills that reformed how charter schools are formed and operated: AB 1505, which passed both houses of the Legislature; AB 1506, which did not; and SB 126, which has already been signed into law. She stated that she believes there are good charter schools but that more accountability is needed.

HOUSING:

Housing is a major focus of Wicks’ legislative interest. She stated that we need 3.5 million units of housing at all income levels and at higher density levels and noted the need for housing at moderate income levels, where costs are too high but people do not qualify for assistance. She is a co-author of:

  • AB 724, which was intended to create a registry of rental properties (though it did not pass the Assembly).
  • AB 1482, which would prohibit rent gouging and eviction without just cause.
  • SB 50, which provides incentives for streamlining approval of housing development.

POVERTY:

We didn’t discuss poverty with Wicks because she is already very strong on the issue. We had several priority bills on issues of poverty and hunger, and she has either authored or voted for all of them:

FUTURE WORK:

Wicks asked that we stay in touch going forward. She is developing bills for next year’s session that she would like our feedback on and support with, touching on a number of topics, including housing, hunger, privacy concerns, and reproductive rights.

By IEB Governance Committee members Toni Henle and Ion Y

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

Make the candidates speak out

Deadline: through June 26, and even after – Do you have a favorite Presidential candidate yet? Do you know where the candidates stand on the big issues – and if you do, do you know it from their own statements?

Many of the candidates, to our dismay, haven’t taken a stand or enunciated a plan on some of the major issues facing us: climate change, endless war, women’s or LGBTQ+ rights, and more. We know: you’d probably vote for Godzilla over the Current Occupant. But we’re betting you’d rather make a more refined decision.


What you can do:

Let’s call (or email, or tweet, or your platform of choice) them on it.

Step one: Check what they say – or don’t say.

Below you’ll find a list of some of our top priorities – not meant to be exclusive! – and a list of the candidates’ websites. Do some cross-referencing. Start with your own favorite candidate, if you have one, and move on to others from there: What do the candidates say about your key issues, in how much detail, and how easy is it to find? A general rule for candidates’ sites: the easier something is to find on a site, the more important it is to the candidate.

Step two: Tell the candidates what you think.

To say what we all know: Candidates have been known to change their positions based on pressure. Are you pleased with the priority they’re giving your issues and what they’re saying? Thank them. Have they failed to address an issue? Demand that they address it, and tell them what you hope they’ll say. Have they taken a position you don’t like? Tell them. Especially tell the candidates if their position, or lack of a position, makes the difference between you supporting them, opposing them, or considering supporting someone else. After all, it’s all about getting your vote!

We’ve made it easy for you to contact the candidates. Click on their names in the list below to get to their campaign websites, which have ways you can contact them; we also list their campaigns’ facebook pages and twitter accounts.

Step three: Get your friends involved.

Got friends who don’t like the Current Occupant? Of course you do! Invite them to join you in the research. Encourage each other to speak up. You don’t even have to favor the same candidate to all support the work of pushing the candidates to take positions you want on the issues you care about.

And use your own social media. Try this cool tool from Indivisible National: you record a video telling the presidential candidates what you want to hear from the debate stage, and they’ll format and subtitle it and send you a link that you can spread by email and on your social media.

Step four: Let us know how it’s going!

We’d like to know who you’ve contacted on what issues, and if you hear back from them. Email us at info@indivisibleeb.org


Our (non-exclusive) list of priority issues, in alphabetical order:

  • Climate change
  • Cybersecurity
  • Economic justice
  • Education
  • Election security
  • Endless war
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration
  • Impeachment
  • Incarceration
  • Judiciary
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Reproductive rights
  • Science and technology
  • Social justice
  • Voters’ rights
  • Women’s rights


The
candidates, in alphabetical order (their names are links to their campaign websites).

 

Graphic “Debate picture” by Blok Glo

 

 

Get REAL about education funding & education behind bars

By Elizabeth Douglas

Editors’ note: This piece contains both a powerful first-person narrative and important information about the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, H.R. 2168 in the House and S.1074 in the Senate, which could provide funding for education for literally hundreds of thousands of prisoners. Please read to the end to find out how you can support this important legislation.


Last week, the Education-Buster-in-Chief
announced that he wanted to “redirect $1.9 billion from a Pell Grant surplus to jumpstart other projects, primarily a NASA initiative to put astronauts back on the moon.” Pell Grants, in brief, are federal government aid for students who need financial assistance for college; and this budget request is not the first time Trump has tried to take away money from poor kids who rely on Pell Grants.

Poor kids like me. I was able to start my college career in large part because of the Pell Grant. The Bachelor’s degree that was mostly Pell Grant-funded provided the path to get my Master’s Degree, and this changed my life. I reflect back on the young woman I was then, determined to get an education, but with no viable means or way to get one. I was incredibly poor, despite 50-60 hour workweeks cobbled together from two different jobs. I had no family support: I left home the day I turned 18 due to several years of abuse from my parents, and became estranged from them for many years. No spousal support, either: I married far too early to someone who was essentially a leech, financially, emotionally, and physically (we later divorced). I was struggling to survive, and I was alone in this struggle.

I decided that I could only afford to take one year between high school and college to save up what little I could to make my education a reality. But that little didn’t cover it, so I applied for the Pell Grant – and got it. I still remember that moment I received my award letter as transcendently joyful and overwhelming. I shed many happy tears. I decided to enter the lowest cost but highest quality college that was close to where I lived; I couldn’t afford to move, and couldn’t afford more than two college application fees. I was lucky enough to be living close to a Junior College with ties to William and Mary in Virginia. The Pell Grant covered both my tuition – a steal at about $900 a semester back in the old-time days of early 2000 – and books for the year. I still had to work insane work hours just to live, but at least I didn’t have to worry about being unable to afford college.

My story is not so different from the millions of students (around 7.1 million, based on the data from 2016-2017) who now receive the Pell Grant. Except now, these students are facing more hurdles, such as the much wider gap between the cost of tuition and the limits of the Federal Pell Grant, as you can see from the chart below from The Pell Institute’s report Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2018 Historical Trend Report. The cap for the 2019–20 award year is a very low $6,195, over fifteen thousand dollars below the average cost of full-time college enrollment – and as the graph shows, the average Pell award is only $3,740, and is likely to stay, thousands below even that low grant cap amount.

Pell Grant article Graph3b1

Thankfully, as in previous years, Congress rejected Trump’s moonshot heist by not giving him one cent of Pell Grant funds. Despite that win, there is an urgent need to protect Pell Grant recipients, and specifically one group of Pell Grant recipients that does not get enough attention: incarcerated individuals. There are no benevolent billionaires that are going to come to their rescue a la Robert F. Smith; no fairy godfather or godmother is stepping up to pay for their education. Yet getting a degree with the assistance of the Pell Grant is an essential way to change the lives of people behind bars and give them the opportunity to succeed and obtain employment post-release (see this Rand report for more details). According to the Department of Education, a recent study by the Vera Institute showed that “incarcerated individuals who participate in prison education programs are 43 percent less likely to return to prison than those who do not.”

On May 21, 2019, Betsy DeVos approved the expansion of the Obama administration’s Second Chance Pell Experiment (formally called the Second Chance Pell Pilot), allowing “up to 12,000 incarcerated individuals to receive Pell Grants in order to pursue a degree or credential.” But this is only a bandaid measure to right the wrongs of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (VCCLEA), a provision of which revoked Pell Grant funding “to any individual who is incarcerated in any federal or state penal institution.” Studies show that “if the ban on federal financial aid for inmates were lifted, about 463,000 prisoners would be eligible for a Pell Grant.”

Now, the bicameral and bipartisan Restoring Education and Learning Act (the REAL Act of 2019), H.R. 2168 in the House and S.1074 in the Senatepaves the way for exactly that. The House bill is already cosponsored by our own Representative Barbara Lee, and has a strong chance of succeeding since, as this NPR article points out, we are seeing a trend toward legislation that rejects the early 90s “tough on crime” era that led to prisoners’ rights to education being diminished in the first place. Our other Members of Congress haven’t signed on yet. If you want to help incarcerated individuals get an education, tell them: Get REAL, co-sponsor and support the REAL Act!

What you can do:

  • If your representative is Barbara Lee (email; 510-763-0370), thank her for cosponsoring H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019.
  • If your representative is Eric Swalwell (email; 510-370-3322) or Mark DeSaulnier (email; 510-620-1000), ask them to cosponsor H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019, and support equity in Pell Grant funding for incarcerated individuals.
  • Ask Senators Feinstein and Harris to cosponsor S. 1074 – REAL Act of 2019, and support equity in Pell Grant funding for incarcerated individuals.
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
    • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

 

Image: Equity Indicator graphic

Elizabeth Douglas is a mom, runner, and activist from Alameda. She is also a Climate Reality Leader (Seattle 2017) with a strong interest in protecting our ocean and corals.

 

Sign on! Petition and bills to reform charter school laws

By Emily Filloy

Deadline: Now and ongoing –

Are you sick and tired of billionaires backing charter schools, while public schools scramble to pay teachers a living wage?

The proliferation of charter schools and the disastrous effect they have on our public schools was brought to the public’s attention in the recent Los Angeles and Oakland teachers strikes. In the Oakland Unified School District alone, charters cost the district $57 million a year—plenty to give the teachers the raise they need. Now that former Governor Jerry Brown is no longer blocking the road to any charter law reform, legislators have proposed a package of reform bills that would give Oakland, LA, and other heavily charter-impacted districts some much-needed relief.

We need you to do two things:

  • First, contact your Assemblymember and State Senator in support of these four bills: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. Read on for more info, a call script and contact info.
  • Second, sign the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands five fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. Once the playing field gets leveled, the billionaires creep back under the rocks they crawled out from. When you sign, this petition will automatically send your state reps a notice that you want them to reform the Charter School Act.

Background:

Throughout Jerry Brown’s tenure as governor, he refused to sign almost all charter reform legislation, even bills requiring charter schools to follow the Brown Act and other sunshine and anti-conflict of interest legislation. Now, Governor Newsom has already signed SB 126, dealing with oversight of charter schools! We know that if we can get reform bills passed, Newsom will sign them; but to do that, we need to keep pressure on the legislature. The charter industry is rich and powerful – spending billions to elect pro-charter legislators and school boards and to fight reform legislation. We citizens need to let our reps know that selling out our public schools to privatizers is not okay.

Right now, this package of four bills would reform laws that currently favor charter schools over public schools throughout California:

  • AB 1505 would make the decision of a local school board to deny a charter petition final. Currently, if a local school board denies a charter petition, the operator may appeal first to the county and then to the state. Like bad parenting—if mom says no, try dad.
  • AB 1506 would impose a cap on the number of new charters, allowing a new charter to open only if an existing one closes.
  • AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. Yes, that happens.
  • AB 1508, introduced by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta and coauthored by Senator Nancy Skinner, expresses the intent to allow school districts to take into account the fiscal, academic, and facilities impacts of a proposed charter on the district schools where it is to be located. This means that a school board can say, “No, we can’t afford yet another charter school.” Combined with AB 1505, which eliminates appeals, this would allow local school districts to once again have control over the number and location of its schools.

What you can do:

 Sign the petition: CharterLawReform.com

 Contact your state representative in support of AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.

Contact the members of the Assembly Education Committee, where these bills will be heard:

Spread the word!

What to say:

For your local representatives:

My name is___________. My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember/Senator __________ to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.  This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

For members of the Education Committee:

My name is ________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging you, as a member of the Education Committee, to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

 

Emily Filloy is a retired OUSD teacher whose grown children are graduates of Oakland Unified School District. She and other educators started Educators for Democratic Schools to fight for the survival of public education.

 

Join IEB in Supporting Oakland Teachers

Deadline: today through February 5 – Fresh off the exciting win for teachers in Los Angeles, Oakland is facing the possibility of a teacher strike of its own.

Teachers in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) have worked without a contract for about a year and a half, while dealing with numerous issues such as school closures, sales of land for charter schools, increasing class sizes, and reductions in student support services.

For these reasons, the Oakland Education Association (OEA), the teachers’ union for OUSD, is voting on whether to authorize a district-wide strike in February. Indivisible East Bay stands with these teachers and their colleagues in their struggle for a contract that provides for good pay for themselves and good schools for Oakland’s children. To that end, IEB has signed onto a letter of support to the Oakland City Council, urging them to support a resolution in support of OEA in their demands of the OUSD school board. And we urge you to support OEA too.

If you live in Oakland – whether or not you have children in the Oakland Public Schools – join teachers, families and community members at the rally on Tuesday February 5 to call on your city councilmember to support the resolution in support of OEA. Gather for the rally at 5 PM at Frank Ogawa Plaza, and head into the council meeting at 5:30 PM. Also, please call your councilmember – see the graphic above for contact info for the members of the City Council and a sample message. And if teachers go on strike, you can join them on the picket line, whether or not you’re an Oakland resident.

We’ll publish updated articles as developments occur, so check back. If there is a strike we will also provide information about related activities like Solidarity Schools, which will serve as alternatives so students can still learn during school hours without crossing picket lines.

Don’t Let DeVos Gut Title IX

Deadline for public comments: January 28, 2019 – 

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed regulations that would modify the implementation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs. Well, let’s call it what it is – Betsy DeVos has proposed a scheme to destroy an important part of Title IX. We have a chance to say NO.

The proposed regs, which have the outrageously misleading title “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance” would gut Obama-era Title IX guidance for how schools address sexual violence. Among other changes, DeVos’s proposed regulations would specify how institutions covered by Title IX must respond to sexual harassment incidents, and would also revise the availability of remedies for violations. Hint: all the changes remove protections for women …

You have until Monday January 28 to protest the proposed changes by submitting a public comment. Go to this link and click the “COMMENT NOW” button in the upper right. If that doesn’t work, go to www.regulations.gov and click on “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex…” under “What’s Trending” and follow the instructions to submit a comment. Be sure to reference Docket ID No. Docket ID ED-2018-OCR-0064. See below for suggested language and alternative methods to submit comments.

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments (personalize the language because copied & pasted comments or overly similar comments may be grouped together and not counted separately). Several of these are adapted from the Equal Rights Advocates’ excellent comment guide. Submit your comments by the end of day January 28:

My name is _____ and I am [fill in relevant identifying info, if appropriate – such as teacher, student, advocate, sexual assault survivor, etc.] I am writing in reference to Docket ID ED-2018-OCR-0064.

I oppose the proposed regulations for the following reasons:

  • General:
    • They would allow schools to refuse to investigate online sexual harassment.
    • They provide for dramatically reduced liability for schools, allowing them to turn a blind eye to sexual assault or harassment and shielding them from responsibility if they ignore or cover up sexual misconduct.
    • They would drastically reduce the number of school employees responsible for addressing or reporting sexual harassment.
    • They would encourage schools to reinstate an antiquated mediation process rather than investigating.
    • They would narrow the definition of sexual harassment, requiring schools to investigate only the most “serious forms of harassment and assault,” and only act when the sexual violence or harassment completely denies a student access to education, forcing students to endure repeated and escalating levels of abuse without being able to ask their schools for help.
  • Duty to Report:
    • I am concerned about how the proposed regulations narrow which school employees are required to act on reports of sexual harassment and misconduct in higher education settings (§§ 106.44(a), 106.30), as well as the regulations’ requirement of schools to dismiss reports of sexual violence that happen between students off campus (§§ 106.30, 106.45(b)(3)).
    • These rules would not balance the scales of justice between student complainants and student respondents, but would rather result in students’ reports and complaints being dismissed or ignored, which will very likely decrease reporting overall.
  • Burden of Proof:
    • Proposed regulation 106.45(b)(4)(i) requires schools to apply the higher standard of evidence to Title IX cases – Clear and Convincing Evidence. Application of this standard of evidence is inequitable and impractical, and contradicts decades of legal practice.
    •  The Department fails to consider and address the grave consequences to the victim of sexual assault when compared to other crimes. It is unfair for the Department to apply a higher standard of evidence based on its conclusion that the consequences to the respondent are “grave” without consideration of the grave consequences to the victim, whom the provisions of Title IX were designed to protect.
    • Application of this higher standard is impractical and seems intentionally designed to reduce the overall number of findings of sexual assault.
  • Deadline for comment period:
    • Please extend the comment period for these regulations for a minimum of 60 days beyond the currently scheduled public comment deadline. The proposed 60-day comment period is insufficient to receive meaningful public participation in the rulemaking process.
    • Please schedule public hearings at schools and colleges campuses throughout the country to encourage additional input from students, teachers, administrators, and advocates.

For more information, read the Equal Rights Advocates’ article. Also, this letter from the National Women’s Law Center, joined by more than 100 groups and 200 individuals, points out that the proposed changes are extensive and far-reaching and would drastically alter students’ rights and affect almost every aspect of schools’ obligations to respond to sexual harassment against students, and requests that the Department of Education extend the brief comment period.

Graphic © Equal Rights Advocates

 

 

Turn the Blue Wave into the Green New Deal

By Anne Spevack

The Blue Wave created the new Blue House, ready to begin its legislative session in January 2019 – and a top priority of some incoming members of the Blue House is the multifaceted environmental/economic “Green New Deal.” Like the Blue Wave, this new plan needs all of our voices in order to succeed: We need to let our legislators know it’s a priority, and we need to tell them to tell others. There will be continuing action on this front, and we’ll keep you updated with ways to support specific Green New Deal policies as they develop. For now, you can take action by telling your Members of Congress you want them to publicly support the Green New Deal; asking them to push House leadership to make the Green New Deal a priority in the new congressional session; and asking them to follow the lead of Barbara Lee and others who support the formation of a Select Committee focused on its development and implementation (or, if Barbara Lee is your Member of Congress, thanking her!).

Keep reading for background about the Green New Deal; you’ll find information on how to contact your Members of Congress, and what to tell them, at the end of this article.

What is the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal is a blanket term for a growing set of plans and policies that aim both to transform the economy and fight climate change – in fact, to transform the economy through fighting climate change. The primary environmental goal would be to rapidly eliminate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, while the economic goal would be to reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality through government-sponsored and subsidized jobs.  Though the specific actions and policies are still being defined, initial proposals mobilize the economy by creating jobs, training, and education through investments in climate-resilient infrastructure (like sea walls, smart grids, and mass transit systems) and expansion of renewable energy production. The Green New Deal rejects traditional assumptions that anything that is good for the environment is bad for the economy, instead recognizing that green industries already employ lots of workers of a variety of skill levels, and that we have only scratched the surface of that potential.

While the term “Green New Deal” dates back to the mid-2000s and was used by President Obama to frame some of his platform supporting renewable energy and infrastructure projects, the current push to make a Green New Deal is spearheaded by some of the new progressive representatives recently elected to the House, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the youth-led Sunrise Movement. Taking a progressive mandate from the Blue Wave and understanding the urgency of climate change, these representatives-elect are already working with Democratic and progressive members of Congress to set up the House for action on climate change in the next session.

How do we get a Green New Deal?

Ultimately, the Green New Deal will be made up of individual policies, rules, and funding sources supporting sustainable industries and green jobs, but proponents are currently pushing for a comprehensive plan to guide and coordinate these actions. A proposal by Ocasio-Cortez states that the Green New Deal plan would be a “detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan … for the transition of the United States economy to become carbon neutral and to significantly draw down and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans to promote economic and environmental justice and equality.”

Ocasio-Cortez and the new class of progressives in the House, with help from the Sunrise Movement, support the creation of a new Select Committee on a Green New Deal, which would be tasked with developing a Plan for a Green New Deal by 2020 and would serve as a focal point for related efforts. A Select Committee, unlike permanent or standing committees, is temporary and investigates a particular issue outside the realm of or at the intersection of the existing permanent Congressional committees. Although the Select Committee proposal has gained the most traction, some incumbent Members of Congress argue that maintaining the existing committee structure would allow Democrats to focus on building power and pressure in existing committees that already have the most power over purse strings and authorization.

Whatever the particular structure, Indivisible East Bay-ers know that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and demands immediate and focused action. The current proposal commits the House to make a plan for action on climate change, our economy, and environmental justice by 2020. Support among legislators is growing; our own Representative Barbara Lee recently publicly supported this proposal and we trust her experience to know that this is a viable and effective path moving forward.

What you can do:

Ask your Member of Congress to publicly support the Green New Deal and encourage House leadership to form the Select Committee. Please call to thank Representative Lee for publicly supporting the Green New Deal. Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell have indicated support; please ask them to publicly support the proposal. Ask all of them to pressure House leadership to ensure the Green New Deal is priority in the new congressional session.

What to say:

If you are represented by Rep. Lee:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for supporting the Green New Deal. The United States needs to take immediate action on climate change, and I know it can be done in a way that supports our economy and our workers. Please continue your commitment to sustainability and use your influence to ensure the Green New Deal is a priority in the new Congress.

Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612

If you are represented by Rep. Swalwell or DeSaulnier:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The United States needs to take immediate action on climate change, and I know it can be done in a way that supports our economy and our workers. I ask you to publicly support the Green New Deal, which is the only concrete proposal to ensure action on climate change. Please continue your commitment to sustainability and use your influence to ensure the Green New Deal is a priority in the new Congress.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804

Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Stop the House Reverse Robin Hood Budget

The House Budget Committee just passed a 10-year budget containing over $300 billion in cuts to crucial social services. Why do we need these cuts? To help pay for the staggering $1.5 trillion deficit created by the GOP tax scam giveaway to the wealthiest 1% and corporate donors!

Compare and contrast:

  • The military budget, which consumes 60% of all discretionary spending, is earmarked for only $1 billion in cuts, less than 1% of the total proposed cuts.  
  • The budget for education, which is only 1/10 the size of the entire defense budget, is proposed to be cut by $20 billion – 7% of the total cuts.
  • Critical social services (from both mandatory and discretionary spending categories) like Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and other important social services, will be cut by $150 billion.

Most concerning of all, this budget includes reconciliation instructions to repeal any part of – or all of – of the Affordable Care Act via an expedited process and 51 votes in the Senate. This was the same maneuver the GOP used in their first attempt to repeal the ACA last year, and which they used successfully to ram the #TaxScam through.

We know that our Members of Congress support human services, but we need to tell them that defeating this budget is a priority. We need them to do everything they can to make sure that no California Democrats agree to support this horrible budget proposal, and to work with any House Republicans they can to prevent Paul Ryan from gaining the support he needs to bring this dreadful budget to the floor for a vote. 

Please call your Members of Congress now, and KEEP calling each day. If we wait until Ryan has the votes he needs before we act, it will be too late!

What to say:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Representative _______ to do everything possible to oppose the horrible GOP budget. I’m outraged that the budget cuts over $300 billion from social services in order to pay for the $1.5 trillion deficit that’s going to be created by the GOP tax scam giveaway to the wealthy 1% and corporate donors. I hope that Representative _____ will work to make sure that every California Democrat and any possible Republicans votes NO on these terrible priorities.

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065

Tell the governor: Sign AB 10, put menstrual products in schools

AB 10, which would provide period products to low-income schools, is on Governor Brown’s desk, with rumors that he may reject it. Please speak up!

Providing period products in schools may not sound like a big deal to you, but it can make the difference between girls being successful students or not. A single box of tampons can cost $7. Girls who can’t afford menstrual products may improvise with toilet paper, paper towels, or socks – or they may choose to miss school. When New York City ran a pilot program that provided free menstrual products, attendance rose 2.4%.

Please call (916) 445-2841 and say: “My name is __. I live in __. I want Governor Brown to approve AB10. Lack of access to menstrual products can keep students from attending school or can distract girls from their studies. AB10 will reduce one of the most shameful impacts of deep poverty among school age girls.”

Read this fact sheet for more about AB 10 and the need for free period products in schools. (And while you’re there, take a look at the enormous list of supporters, and the one opponent … and ask yourself why?)