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Emergency California Education Conference: Let’s Fight for Quality & Free Public Education

Saturday, April 15, 2017
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Event Type:
Labor Rising
Location Details:
UC Berkeley, 155 Dwinelle

Emergency California Education Conference: Let’s Fight for Quality and Free Public Education for All Students, Faculty and Staff
Blueprints for a Future: Transforming Education Conference
Emergency California Education Conference:
Let’s Fight for Quality and Free Public Education for All Students, Faculty and Staff

April 15th, 2017

A strong public education system is the foundation of every just and democratic society. Yet for most working families—especially those from black and brown communities— the right to free, high-quality education seems further than ever: early childhood education is inaccessible to children whose parents can’t afford it; k-12 schools are starved of resources while the imposition of high-stakes tests penalizes low-income districts and the explosion of charters exacerbates segregation and inequality; college and graduate students are drowning in debt as tuition at the UC and CSU systems continues to rise; black and brown students are terrorized by police violence, constant raids, and ongoing deportations; LGBTQI students are brutally bullied for their sexual and gender identity; and most students today are delivered an education that does not embrace their histories and experiences and does not educate them for liberation.

9:30AM - 6:00PM
UC Berkeley, 155 Dwinelle

Moreover, education workers are under attack, as universities insist on replacing tenure and tenure-track positions with precarious, contingent jobs and the prospect of right-to- work legislation threatens to weaken teachers’ unions, thereby undermining their working conditions and ability to advocate for themselves and the needs of their students. Now billionaire and privatization lobbyist Betsy DeVos begins her tenure as Secretary of Education, and she is planning to escalate the oppression and corporatization of the current education system.

For us, it’s time to propose another path: if we tax corporations and billionaires in our state, and if we get students and teachers to democratically run our schools, we can build the kind of education system we need. In order to get these things, we need to build a movement that takes mass action for our education, and we need to organize democratically and independently from the Republican and the Democratic Party, so we rely in our power and we have the final say of what needs to be done.

To this end, we call on all California students, parents, and education workers to join us in building a collective vision and strategy for transforming public education. We need a system that guarantees free, high-quality education from pre- school to doctoral degrees as a universal right; provides just working conditions for all teachers and education employees; and centers the needs of our most vulnerable and marginalized students while openly combating racism, islamophobia, sexism, homophobia and all forms of oppression.

It’s time to go on the offensive! Our education labor unions and students have a key role to play and we need to unite across sectors and build power through independent and grassroots action! We want to propose to all education workers and students to join in the May 1st General Strike, to support immigrant rights and workers, to defeat “right-to- work” legislation and to demand the education we need!

At the Conference we will:

• Discuss the multiple factors that have led to the current crisis at all levels of public education.

• Hold teach-ins and workshops on how to build collective power in our education workers’ unions and schools.

• Discuss strategies for taking action (including May 1st), in particular labor action, to fight privatization and create an education system that gives all people a future worth fighting for!

Workshop Proposals

WE ARE ACCEPTING WORKSHOP PROPOSALS UNTIL APRIL 1: we encourage facilitators to submit workshop proposals on specific aspects of the education crisis, educational activism, and/or visions for the future of public education.

To submit a workshop proposal, please indicate your interest in the form below, and follow up by emailing your proposal to ever.upward.march [at] with the subject header [Your Last Name] Conference Proposal!

Your proposal should be for a workshop of about one hour, and include:

• Facilitator(s) name(s)

• Title of Workshop

• A short blurb about the workshop main idea (2-3 sentences)

• A quick outline of your workshop (4-5 sentences)

Please use the survey to RSVP and submit your workshop proposals! While the workshops are open to all

who’d like to facilitate, we especially encourage high school students, university students, teachers and education workers, university instructors, and parents to apply. People of color, women and queers, differently abled folks, immigrants, and the working class to the front!

SURVEY: viewform
Added to the calendar on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 1:34PM
§DeVos, Privatization And Profits
by Labor Rising
The conference will examine the history of DeVos and the role of charters and vouchers in privatization and increasing profits from public education as well as bring religion into publicly funded schools.
§Audio To Publicize 4/15/17 CA Emergency Public Education Conference
by Labor Rising Against Trump
Listen now:
Copy the code below to embed this audio into a web page:
USE: Immediate TFN
Time: 45 Seconds
Organization: Labor Rising Against Trump

Labor Rising Against Trump invites California education workers, students, parents to:
Blueprints for a Future: California Emergency Education Conference on Saturday, April 15th at 155 Dwinelle at UC Berkeley from 9:30am to 6:00pm.
Let’s defend public education against privatization and guarantee free, quality education as a universal right. Knowledge and Imagination is POWER!
Conference is wheelchair accessible, interpretation and childcare provided.
For more info:
# # #
Contact: Elizabeth Milos: 415-260-2565

Comments (Hide Comments)
4/15/17 Emergency CA Education Conference & The Fight To Defend Public Education
Blueprints for a Future: Transforming Education Conference Program

Labor Rising Program to Confront the Crisis of Public Education

For decades Democrats and Republicans have increasingly turned public schools over to corporate interests. These so-called “reforms” have severely damaged public education, especially for those the privatizers claim to help: Black, Brown, and poor people. President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos plan to make things even worse. Labor Rising fights against fake school reform and for policies to truly provide high-quality public education for all.

4/15/17 Emergency CA Education Conference & The Fight To Defend Public Education
Blueprints for a Future: Transforming Education Conference Program
UCB Dwinell 155
9:30 AM-6:00 PM
Schedule of the Day:
9:30 - 10am: Welcome and introduction to the conference
10am - 11am: Opening Plenary on the State of Public Education
11am - 12.30pm: Session 1 of workshops
12.30 to 1:15: Lunch
1.15 - 2.45: Session 2 of workshops
2.45 - 3pm: Break
3pm - 4.30 pm: Proposals for action and organization on May 1st and beyond and discussion
4.30pm - 5pm: Break /
[Facilitation committee will consolidate proposals to prepare a clear vote]
5pm - 5.45pm: Vote on action and organization proposals (majority rule)
5.45 - 6pm: Closing of the Education Conference
Opening Plenary:
Main ideas: the destruction of public education and the need to build an independent base (teachers, students, community) to fight back
K-12 teacher: UTR/OEA Kristyn Jones (UTR)* DFPN
UAW 2865:

Parent: Nina Deerfield, Palomar Community College Board Member
Student activist: UWU, John Penilla *
What is Labor Rising, what are our goals: Blanca Missé *
SESSION 1: 11am - 12.30pm

1) Profits for Betsy DeVos and the Loss of Public Education
Betsy DeVos, the millionaire appointed as the new secretary of education has a very conservative agenda and has promised a full and blunt attack against public education: from furthering the expansion of charter schools, the voucher program, promoting ultra-conservative religious evangelic education to supporting the increase of student fees in universities and undoing any relief on student debt. This panel will analyze who is Betsy DeVos, what is her real agenda and why unions, students and community united front to defeat her and the Trump administration.
Kathy Carroll - fired lawyer Commission on Teacher Credentialing Whistleblower
Nina Deerfield - Parent and Palomar Community College Board Member, Defend Public Education Now!

2) Where Is The Money And How We Can Fight to Make The Wealthiest State In The World Provide The Best Education
There are over 140 billionaires in California and there is growing wealth accumulation for the oligarchy that really runs California through the Democrats and Republicans. Despite this massive wealth the UC Regents and CSU Trustees are raising tuition and public schools are being starved while privatizers hive off the public education system for big profits.
This panel will look at where the wealth is in California and why unions and supporters of public education have to beg for crumbs. We look at how the Democratic party controlled legislature and executive branch have colluded with the billionaires to let them profit off the privatization of education and allowed the crooks to steal from the public.
It will also discuss how unions and supporters of public education can fight for redistribution of corporate wealth to fund public schools and services. We will look at the history of efforts to demand this redistribution here and elsewhere to fund public schools and services and prospects for building that struggle at this time.
Steve Zeltzer - UPWA KPFA Work Week Radio
George Wright - AFT 1493 Retired Skyline College and Chico State CFA
Craig Gordon - Oakland teacher and Oakland Education Association Rep
Jack Gerson - retired teacher and Oakland Education Association leader

3) What Are Charters and Vouchers and How Are They Being Used To Destroy Public Education
The AFT/CFT and NEA/CTA have argued that we have to reform charters in order to make them more transparent and less corrupt. This panel will look at the history and the role of today of charters including online charters, deregulation of education and using public money to fund religious charters such as the Gulen chain and the Christian Escondido Charter High in San Diego. This panel will also look at the role of the AFT and NEA in not only supporting good charters but taking money from the Walton Foundation, Broad Foundation and Gates Foundation to help push "Common Core" and labor management collaboration in public schools. It will also look at how Teach For American (TFA) has been used to undercut public education by providing financial incentives to get rid of senior teachers and is being used to set up a two tier contract system weakening teacher unions while undermining the California STRS pension system. Finally it will look at the racist resegregation by charters and the California Charter School Association which is funding by union busting billionaires and the targeting of African American. Latino public school teachers and senior teachers.
Carlos Taboada - United Teachers of Richmond, Retired
Michael Dominguez - UTLA forced retirement
Deb McCaffrey - Community Voice For Education Richmond
Morris White - Oakland Education Association
Michael Shane - Oakland Education Association / former teacher at KIPP

4) Swarm for Reform: Building Fighting and Democratic Unions
Public education and the labor movement is at a historic crossroads. Teachers and their unions have been under attack for the past decades, a new round of cuts and regressive measures is coming under Trump. We need a labor movement than can fight back and refuse concessions, in order to do that local unions need to mobilize and involve its members in a democratic fashion to build a real resistance, and they also need to unite across sectors to defend each other. In 2011 Academic Workers for a Democratic Union won the elections at the UAW 2865 local, and since then the student-workers union has grown its base, politicized its membership and gone on strike at each contract negotiation to increase pay and rights. Now the UC-AFT has also a new leadership and several groups of teachers and public sector activists are looking towards union reform too. Bay Area K-12 teachers have also been organizing at the grassroots level to change the priorities of their union leaderships. This panel wants to bring together the different experiences, ideas and gains achieved through this Bay Area wide reform movement and caucuses and build a network to continue doing this work through Labor Rising.
Blanca Missé - CFA (San Francisco State), former AWDU/UAW 2865
Michelle Koerner - UC-AFT, UC Berkeley
Nick Palmquist and Nick Parker - Classroom Struggle, Oakland Education Association
Masha Albrecht and Linnette Robinson - Berkeley Schools Labor Caucus
Kristyn Jones - United Teachers of Richmond, Defend Public Education Now!

5) Defending Immigrant Students and Workers, Enforcing Sanctuary Campuses and Building Solidarity Across Oppressed Sectors
The election of Trump and his anti-immigrant measures has sparked a wave of resistance across youth, immigrant communities (especially Muslim and Latino one), including student walkouts and protests in the streets and airports. March 8th was also a key moment that continued the mobilization and the momentum going, by bringing to the forefront women and LGBTQI rights. This workshop wants to bring together the experiences of organizing against racism, anti-immigrant and islamophobic campaigns in schools and campuses to advance in building a real solidarity and a network of resistance in the Bay Area, to push for action on may 1st and beyond.
Saleem Shehadeh - General Union of Palestinian Students, San Francisco State
Adrian Hernández and Mukund Rathi - Berkeley Against Trump
Sagnicthe Salazar - Xicana Moratorium Coalition and Oakland Sin Fronteras
Asad Kabir- Contra Costa College Teacher
Fatima García - Executive committee of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement in Sacramento

6) No Coal Curricula Hack-a-Thon
A workshop by and for educators to learn about the campaign to stop a coal export terminal from being built in Oakland and to collectively develop curricula on coal that explores the intersection of environmental justice, climate disruption, race, class, and community health that can be deployed in classes at various grade levels – from K-12 to university classrooms. Oakland developer Phil Tagami is trying to bring a coal export terminal to Oakland, not only accelerating climate change, but also spewing toxic coal dust in working class neighborhoods and communities of color already suffering from high incidences of asthma and cancer. Last fall, in a one-for-the-history-books kind of epic campaign, we succeeded in getting the City of Oakland to ban the storage or handling of coal in Oakland, effectively killing the plans for a coal terminal. However, Tagami is now suing Oakland to saying the ban violates his constitutionally protected right to bring coal to Oakland. If he succeeds, it is not only bad news for the environment and community health, but also sets a dangerous precedent for other communities trying to regulate toxic projects, so communities across Oakland are organizing to get Tagami to drop the lawsuit. Tagami sees himself as a champion of youth/students.
Brooke Anderson - Climate Workers
Brittany King - No Coal in Oakland

7) The Plan to Privatize Higher Public Education In California and How They Are Getting Away With It
California used to have the best schools in the United States and were fully funded. Today our higher public education is being privatized and outsourced for profit.
This panel will look at how outsourcing and corporatization of public education is taking place at California Community Colleges, CSU and the UC system. While registration fees are raising and students are in massive debt pauperizing them while billionaires are profiting and they are sitting on the boards that run our higher public education system appointed by Democratic and Republican governors.
Hank Chapot - AFSCME 3299 UCB member
George Wright - AFT 1493 Retired Skyline College and Chico State CFA
Charles Schwartz - UC Berkeley, Professor retired
Rick Baum- AFT 2121 CCSF Lecturer

8) Organizing Student Action for Public Education and Labor Rights
Student activism has been a key component of any fight back against the privatization of schools and universities. This has been the case everywhere, but lately in the fight to “Save CCSF” which ended in an offensive campaign to make the college tuition free. The new round of tuition hikes at the UC and CSU level has also sparked a new wave of activism at the UC and CSU level that has the potential of bringing back the state-wide strikes and mass occupations of 2009 and 2010 in California. Yet students are not only mobilized for free public education, the vast majority of students work and are in debt. For student-workers labor issues and debt cancellation are also the burning student issues of today, like the dining commons worker activists at UC Berkeley showed by forming the Undergraduate Workers Union weeks ago. The panel will bring together these different experiences with the goal of mobilizing students for a statewide strike on May 1st for free education and labor rights and create the organizing infrastructure for a sustained joined work across sectors.
John Penilla - Undergraduate Worker Union at Cal
Celia LoBuono González - San Francisco State University
Win-Mon Kyi - CCSF Solidarity Committee
Loubna Qutami and Alborz Ghandehari - 2018 Student Strike Campaign

SESSION 2: 1:15 m - 2.45pm

9) International Union Struggles Against Privatization of Education
Free quality public education is under attack everywhere in the world, not only in the United States. Actually the main driving force for privatization of education is the neoliberal plans pushed by the U.S. all over the world, like it was the case in Chile and Mexico. This panel will bring together different experiences of struggle against the attacks on education, drawing on key historical experiences to argue for the need of an international solidarity and the need to build a network to coordinate our struggles. Speakers will address the privatization wave and the student and teacher fight back in Chile over the last decade, and the still ongoing fight of the CNTE in Mexico against the so-called education reform. The panel will also reflect on the neo-colonial relation the U.S. government entertains with Puerto Rico and the experiences of struggle of the teachers in the island.
Guadalupe Ibeth Luquin Montaño - CNTE, Sección IX (México)
Felipe González - UAW 2865 (Chile)
Javier Cordova - Puerto Rican University Faculty Union (Puerto Rico)
Mehmet Bayron LaborNet(Turkey)
Michael Noonan - Berkeley City College (Palestine)

10) Academic Workers for Academic Freedom and Against Hate Speech
In recent years, there have been numerous attacks on educators of Southwest Asian and North-African descent and educators who teach courses related to Palestine, Islamophobia, and critiques of U.S. foreign policy in the region. Our campuses have seen in particular strong campaigns against advocates for justice in Palestine. This panel discuss the need for the labor movement to organize against these attacks, thinking about academic freedom and the absence of workplace hostile environments as labor rights. How can educators, in their position as workers, organize to truly win rights such as academic freedom and other workplace rights and bring an end to these attacks? How can unions organize and educate the rest of the workforce in a defense campaign of those who have been singled out?
Alborz Ghandehari - UAW 2865, UC Berkeley
Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University
Saleem Shehadeh - General Union of Palestinian Students, San Francisco State
Jaime Veve - former lecturer at SFSU, and retired from Transport Workers Union New York (Local 1000)

11) Organizing to Build Power: How to Prepare for a Strike in your Contract Campaign
A fundamental part of a vibrant and democratic union culture is to be able to involve members in contract negotiations, building a base to take action and having since the beginning a fighting campaign. We know that major wins and victories are never won at the table only. Most of the time they are the result of member’s mobilization and through the shifting of the existing relations of forces with management, and especially through strikes. In order to win cost of living increases, more protections for women, immigrants and other sectors, and to defeat the attacks on healthcare and pensions, any union needs to prepare for a real fighting, which includes building a base or a strike if necessary. When contract campaigns are organized in a democratic manner and from a strong refusal to take concessions, usually members get involved and transformed through this experience. This workshop will bring together different strategies and ideas on how to build for that in your local.
Garrett Sishido-Strain - UAW 2865 (UC Berkeley)
Paul Bissember - UC-AFT (UC Berkeley)
Ann Robertson - CFA (San Francisco State)
Joel Jordan - Co-coordinator of California Alliance for Community Schools Retired LAUSD teacher, former UTLA Director of Special Projects

12) New Grassroots Organizing Efforts From Below: The Undergraduate Worker Union at UC Berkeley and the Notre Dame University Campaigns
The UWU formed because student-workers face exploitation on two fronts: first, from the university as it increases tuition and decreases the amount resources allocated to students, and second is in the workplace since student-workers have been historically excluded from unionization. UWU will present the next steps of their struggle to have our demands met. At Notre Dame de Namur University faculty also organized in a grassroots campaign to win a union. This panel will reflect on these two very important experiences of independent new union organizing
Lucy Nguyen - Undergraduate Worker Union at Cal
Grace Lin- Undergraduate Worker Union at Cal
Marianne Kabir - Notre Dame de Namur University (Belmont)

13) Fighting for Immigrant Youth and Families
Newcomer immigrant students, DACA classified students, and the children of undocumented parents are dealing not only with the challenges of assimilating into a new, politically hostile society, but the vicious terror of ICE raids in community spaces including schools, a border wall meant to deepen the separation of families, and as the working poor having the least access to the most needed legal resources. Centro Legal de La Raza, based out of the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland, serves these students by providing free legal assistance in schools. This discussion based workshop for parents, students, and teachers will provide resources available to those in the immigrant community, provide a safe space for people to discuss the issues these students are facing and how to be effective advocates, and a Know-Your-Rights presentation. This workshop will also address concrete ways that teachers and their unions can provide a safe and supportive place in their classrooms for immigrant students.
Veronica Garcia - Centro Legal de la Raza
Judy Greenspan - United Teachers of Richmond

14) Winning Experiences of Resistance: The Occupation of Lakeview Elementary School
The occupation of Lakeview Elementary is an underrated treasure in the history of the Post-“Occupy” Left in the Bay Area. After an assault on the community by the OUSD Administration, 5 relatively healthy schools were shut down against the wishes of local parents. The OEA was paralyzed and on its back. How can we fight back? OCCUPY!
In this workshop, key participants in the Lakeview school occupations of 2012 will share stories, lessons learned, and critiques of their actions so that future organizing work can learn from and be inspired by their experience going forward.
Michael Shane - Oakland Education Association, Classroom Struggle
Frankie Little - volunteer teacher at Lakeview
Joel Velasquez - parent organizer
Gerald Smith - Oscar Grant Committee
Jack Gerson - Oakland Education Association, retired member

15) Teacher Like Me: Solidarity is More than a Word
The purpose of this workshop is to stimulate the ongoing organization of the defense of teachers unfairly fired by the administrations in the various school districts. East Bay school districts such as OUSD & Berkeley Unified have been notorious for firing teachers for their political beliefs, and this panel will feature local teachers who have experienced this treatment or are engaged in active struggle against this oppressive action from school administrators. From this point, it is hoped that conference participants can learn about this struggle and provide a platform to discuss support for existing and future defense campaigns.
Josh Cadji - Oakland Education Association - Fired from Edna Brewer
Morris White - Oakland Education Association

We oppose

• Privatizing public education through charters, vouchers, contracting out jobs, etc.

• Corporate-driven curriculum and high-stakes testing requirements

• Cuts to public schools and services and attacks on school workers and unions

• Using underpaid, contingent faculty and growing numbers of overpaid administrators

We fight to transform schools to empower students, families, and communities by

• Prioritizing education to prepare students for democratic participation, as well as for college and any type of work they may choose

• Creating school-based programs to provide vital services for families and communities and to defend communities under attack

• Making all education free, pre-school through higher education; cancel all student debt

• Democratizing governance in all public educational institutions

• Democratizing unions and ending their collaboration with administration and privatizers to the detriment of members and students

• Creating programs relevant to students’ cultural and class backgrounds

• Increasing the number of educators from Black, Brown, and working class communities

• Improving school workers’ conditions, compensation, security, & collective bargaining power

None of the above is possible without the resources necessary to meet the diverse and complex needs of all students, especially in schools and communities of greatest need:

• Small class size & caseloads, especially for Special Ed, low-income, Black, & Brown students

• Adequate time to plan, collaborate, support students, govern schools, & improve skills

• High quality facilities, tools, and materials to support teaching and learning

• Sufficient support staff to address students’ academic and extracurricular needs

Creating these conditions requires a drastic increase in the amount now spent on public

education. Even then, educational inequality will continue as long as students lack adequate

food, housing, health care, safety and economic security. The money to meet these needs

exists: in banks and other corporations and military, police, and prison spending. As Martin

Luther King Jr. said fifty years ago, “We must recognize that we can't solve our problem until

there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”
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