Saturday, February 11, 2017

Green Party: Secretary of State DeVos's school privatization schemes are bipartisan: Democrats promoted and enacted the same 'reforms'

Green Party supports public schools, calls on communities to resist charter schools, vouchers, and other programs designed to dismantle public education

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders said today that outrage over Senate's confirmation of patently unqualified Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education was entirely justified -- but the outrage should also be directed at Democratic Party leaders, including ex-President Obama, who worked to enact the same school privatization schemes favored by Ms. DeVos.

"Democrats can hardly claim to lead the opposition to the Trump-DeVos agenda on public schools, when they joined Republicans in facilitating charter schools, vouchers, and other programs designed to transfer public education funding to private businesses during the past two decades," said Aaron Renaud, co-chair of the Green Party of Texas and a high school teacher.

"The movement to dismantle public education is bipartisan," said Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and former school board member in the Denver Public Schools. "The last eight years under President Obama were hallmarked by the imposition of free-market reforms such as charters, 'choice,' vouchers, high-stakes standardized testing, union busting, mayoral control of school districts, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and the closing of public schools, especially those attended by children from poor families and children of color."

Greens noted that Sen. Ted Kennedy was a leading sponsor of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, the premises of which were largely maintained in the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top."

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education under President Obama, used his office to promote Common Core, the use of standardized testing of students to evaluate teachers, and charters schools. Mr. Duncan had a history of mass teacher firings as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. (See "Obama's Public Education Policy: Privatization, Charters, Mass Firings, Neighborhood and Family Destabilization" by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, July 1, 2009.

Mr. Duncan's successor was John King, Jr., founder of the Uncommon Schools charter chain, with the same dedication to Common Core and standardized testing ( "The Obama Education Legacy Part 2: Obama Appoints Another Privatizing Stooge Secretary of Education" by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, Nov. 4, 2015.

Greens noted the widespread low performance and frequent closings of failed charters in many states and said that competition from charter schools and vouchers hasn't improved ailing public schools. Instead, they weaken public schools by drawing funding away from them.

"Those who put students before private profit must take the fight to the state level. The federal government is only responsible for around 10% of education funding for states. Communities can reject neoliberal reforms and the strings attached to federal funding. Public education supporters should work to dismantle local corporate welfare programs such as tax-increment financing, which diverts tax dollars away from public schools but covers the costs of property development that builders should pay for on their own," said Darryl! L.C. Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and co-chair of the party's Black Caucus.

"Education is the first line of defense against disinformation and alternative facts. Greens support public education not just to prepare children for employment, but also to teach them how to be citizens in a democracy. That's more than enough reason to be skeptical of a school reform movement funded by the Broad, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Walmart Family foundations," said Mr. Moch.

- Courtesy Green Party US

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Green Party: Democrats abdicating their role as the "resistance" to Trump

Greens urge Congress to reject Scott Pruitt, nominee for EPA chief

Greens are emerging as the real opposition party

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders said today that Democrats in Congress are retreating from their claim to be an opposition party during Donald Trump's presidency.

"We're seeing this over and over. Just enough Democrats are voting for Trump's appointees to enable their confirmation. In some cases, dangerous and unqualified appointees are getting confirmed with little or no Democratic objection. That's not what an opposition party does," said Laura Wells, 2010 Green Party candidate for Governor of California.

"Democratic indulgence for Trump, more than anything else, proves that we desperately need more than two parties in Congress. The Green Party is emerging as the real resistance to Trump agenda in the sphere of electoral politics," said Ms. Wells.

Four Democrats voted to confirm Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who intends to expand the extraction, burning, and consumption of more fossil fuels at least until 2040. No Republican voted against him. Mr. Tillerson is former CEO of ExxonMobil, which has a long history of attacks against the environment, the rights of workers and indigenous populations around the world, and climate scientists, including suppression of evidence from Exxon's own researchers who warned the company about global warming.

Among Democrats who voted to confirm Ben Carson, who has no qualifications to head the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, is progressive leader Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

"Resistance Leader" Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already voted to approve several of President Trump's nominees.

Green Party leaders noted that many Democrats are likely to confirm Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, despite Justice Gorsuch's record of favoritism towards corporate owners and management over workers and his hostility towards women's reproductive freedom and LGBTQiA+ rights. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has called on Democrats to "give the man a chance".

Greens called on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to reject Scott Pruitt, President Trump's nominee to head the EPA, citing his dangerous skepticism regarding the growing climate crisis.

Mr. Trump has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accords and from efforts to keep the global temperature's average rise to well below 2C.

Greens warned that Mr. Pruitt's appointment and the Trump Administration's climate and energy policies would make the U.S. a global menace as the atmosphere continues to heat up. Greens said that Mr. Trump's denialism made him even more dangerous than the Obama Administration, which the Green Party had criticized for undermining international agreements on climate change.

"We're witnessing indications that many of Donald Trump's accomplishments as president will be the result of bipartisanship. By resisting compromise in pursuit of their agenda, Republicans have made themselves the political center of gravity. They'll continue to pull Democrats towards the right as long as the political field is effectively restricted to two parties," said Andrea Mérida-Cuéllar, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and co-chair of the party's Latinx Caucus.

-Courtesy Green Party US