Friday, December 18, 2015

Students at Confluence charter schools get $12,500 in toys, clothes and gifts from donors : News

Students at Confluence charter schools get $12,500 in toys, clothes and gifts from donors : News

On the Police Officer who aimed his weapon at media and protestors – the saga continues

Ferguson Revelations and Sequiturs...

More on the officer who activists refer to as "Officer Go Fuck Yourself"

Cop Who Threatened To Kill Ferguson Protesters Says His Life Is ‘Ruined’
Ray Albers pointed an assault rifle at demonstrators and said, “I will f**king kill you.”

Lt. Ray Albers | Former Saint Ann Police Officer | FM NewsTalk 97.1

Write to Josh!

Write to Josh!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Letter on the current status of negotiations between WUSTL and the Adjunct Professors' Union

Note from BG (Bret Gustafson).  The following is an update I received on the status of negotiations between Washington University and the new adjunct union (formed by SEIU).  I share it with the interest of making the process more transparent, in the interests of improving the working situation of adjuncts, the quality of instruction, and the quality of life for everyone on campus.  

I reserve assessment – both of the administration and of the union – until later.  In other words, the fact that I am sharing this is neither an indictment of the administration (yet), nor a critique or embrace of the union’s position, strategy, and achievements (yet). 

I received this letter via email on December 2, 2015 and am sharing it with permission.

Dear Colleagues,

You are receiving this message because you signed the petition to Chancellor Mark Wrighton and Provost Holden Thorp requesting that they become as involved as their schedules permit in the negotiations between Washington University in St. Louis and the adjunct faculty bargaining committee. If you do not wish to receive updates about our bargaining, please say so in a reply to this message and we will remove you from the list.

We delivered the petition that you signed to the Chancellor’s and Provost’s offices today, and Student Life may run a copy of the letter this week. We would like to thank you again for your support for this important issue.

We’re writing because our bargaining has reached a critical juncture and we could use help from our allies. For the past eight weeks, during five full days of bargaining, we have been negotiating for appointments longer than one (1) semester for adjunct faculty who have been teaching stable course loads for many years. Our priorities are representative of the national conversation around adjunct working conditions, in that surveys of our bargaining unit provided us with a mandate to prioritize this issue of stable appointments above all else, save higher compensation.

We initially proposed a multi-tiered system of course appointment, where longer terms of service with a stable pattern of teaching resulted in longer appointments of the same course load, beginning at one year and topping out at three years. The University responded with a proposal that essentially codifies the status quo. In the University’s proposal, an adjunct faculty member who taught exactly the same courses every semester for seven years can expect a “good faith” commitment to re-appointment on a per-semester basis, where “good faith” is limited by an itemized list of nine exceptions. Taken together, these exceptions essentially give administration the right to unilaterally deny the re-appointment for any reason that it sees fit.

Since we are in a negotiation process, our bargaining committee’s assumption was that the final agreement would fall somewhere between these two proposals. In the past eight weeks, we have submitted three separate proposals for a path to longer appointments, all of which incorporated language from University counter-proposals, with our final proposal seeking yearlong appointments for faculty who show consistent patterns of instruction over three or more years. The University has responded to our counterproposals by offering back their original appointment language verbatim, with only minor addendums surrounding the issue of teaching evaluation, which does not touch the substantive issues.

In the past five sessions, we have asked for reasons that longer appointments are problematic, to which we have received no response beyond the fact that the University is uninterested, and that they see no tangible benefit to student learning. In our meeting yesterday, we offered several reasons for how contingent appointments harm student learning, including: 1) we are often asked by students to write recommendation letters or participate in extra-curricular mentorship programs but are in the awkward position of being unsure whether we will be faculty at the time in question, 2) when we are offered courses a few weeks in advance, our ability to prep courses and order texts is severely hindered, and 3) a lack of timely appointments forces us to cast our nets as broadly as possible for course assignments, which can result in over-commitment the next semester, drastically reducing our availability for instruction outside the classroom. The University provided no rebuttal to these points while continuing to insist that they saw no need for longer appointments because it works now---they see no problem with the current system.

It became clear to us at this meeting that the University is refusing to negotiate anything other than superficialities over the issue of semester-long appointments, and that they are uninterested in having a dialogue about how to dovetail our interests. So far, we have tried to achieve a fair contract by using the bargaining table alone, but it appears that we can no longer rely solely on negotiations.  

This is why we could use any help you might be able to offer. We have already partnered with the Student-Worker Alliance on a series of direct actions to promote the cause among the student body.

Here are some of the activities for which we are looking for additional support:
1.      Wear stickers on December 9th and 10th supporting the Adjunct campaign
2.      Attend a candlelight vigil around 4:45pm on December 9th at the Arch in Brookings/Quad

If you have any additional ideas about how we can raise awareness among our tenure-track colleagues, we would greatly appreciate hearing them. If you would be willing and able to discuss these issues with more of your tenure-track co-workers, particularly members of any faculty-governance organizations or faculty who also hold college or university-level administrative positions, we feel this could be productive.

Once again, we very much appreciate the support you have offered by signing the petition, and thank you for your help on this important issue facing higher education.

Yours in solidarity,

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sign petition to support fair cost of living adjustment for retired teachers

No raise in almost ten years for retirees?  How would you feel?

Demand a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the Saint Louis City Education Retirees. 


MRTA is initiating and promoting a petition campaign in Saint Louis City and Saint Louis County asking for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the Saint Louis City Education Retirees. 

The Saint Louis City retirees have not received a COLA since 2006 and have lost 25% of their buying power. It is getting difficult for them to make ends meet. This is an issue of respect for their years of public service and of fairness as most education retirees in Missouri have an automatic COLA written in Missouri Statutes. 

 Our goal is 5,000 signatures or more by December 1, 2015. Our purpose is to compel our elected officials of the General Assembly to use their influence or to introduce legislation to remedy this injustice. 

We also want to compel the Saint Louis State Appointed School Board, and the Board of Trustees of the PSRS of Saint Louis City to remedy this injustice. Signatures are best. Supporters may sign the petition online: http://missouriretiredteachers.org/st-louis-city-education-retirees-petition-for-respect-and-fairness/ 

 THE WORLD IS RUN BY THOSE WHO SHOW UP!!! It is up to you. MRTA's strength comes from membership. Thank you for being a member. IF NOT, join MRTA today by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Must See Movie: "This Changes Everything" Fri Nov 13 6:30 PM U City Library

Directed by Avi Lewis, and inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.

Interwoven with these stories of struggle is Klein’s narration, connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.

As part of New Economy Week, join MORE in watching "This Changes Everything" at the UCity Public Library. A short discussion will follow to both recognize St. Louis as a frontline community in our current climate and economic crisises and introduce the PowerBehindThePolice.comframework as an approach to local collective action. 

Free admission. Refreshments provided. 

For more information about the week visit

Monday, November 2, 2015

Corporate CEOs give selves pat on the back for disenfranchising people of St. Louis

I think accreditation has always been a political instrument that reflects only in a very oblique way the quality of what might be happening in SLPS.   Accreditation was taken away for a political reason (to appoint the SAB).  Provisional accreditation was returned for a political reason (to stop the flood of transfer demands and lawsuits that would have followed Turner v. Clayton).  The possibility of accreditation returning is equally political (to justify the dismantling of democratic process and the corporate and mayor-led takeover of the district to promote charters, real estate development deals and other private interests).

We can never really know what accreditation means until there is much more transparency in these processes of evaluation and decision-making.  And, since the takeover was meant as much to shut out the public as anything else, we cannot expect much transparency going forward.

Here's a new note, coming from Susan Turk, regarding the editorial written by Civic Progress and the Regional Business Chamber, St. Louis' two leading capitalist self-interest groups (whose kids definitely do not attend SLPS):

St. Louis Schools Watch

Civic Progress’s Ambition

By Susan Turk

November 2, 2015—St. Louis--The following letter to the editor appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015 Post-Dispatch.

SLPS making progress thanks to superintendent, Special Administrative Board
"We were pleased to read the St. Louis Public Schools' announcement that they have earned enough points to qualify for full accreditation. The progress SLPS has made shows that when a community comes together, we make progress that matters. And, having strong schools is a critical part of our region’s capacity to attract companies that invest in St. Louis.We applaud Superintendent Kelvin Adams, the Special Administrative Board and the entire SLPS team for their achievement. Superintendent Adams has proven what he has been quietly saying since he joined the SLPS in 2008 — that positive change is possible if adults stay focused on the needs of students. His team, working with parents, students, teachers and a wide range of other stakeholders, has addressed the district's most difficult challenges using a data-driven model to develop plans and track progress.Without the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education creating the Special Administrative Board, this accomplishment would not have been possible. Stability, commitment and leadership by Rick Sullivan, Richard Gaines and Melanie Adams are valuable beyond measure. Appointed in 2007, these leaders are unwavering in their determination to improve outcomes for all SLPS students. The region owes them a debt of gratitude for helping the district qualify for full accreditation for the first time in 15 years.  DESE needs to support this effort by leaving the SAB in place.As Superintendent Adams always says, full accreditation is not the goal — it's a milestone in a much longer journey. The work of Adams, his team and the SAB is a model for transforming a failing urban district into one that embodies best practices for high student achievement."
George Paz  •  St. Louis CountyCEO, Express Scripts
Anthony R. Tersigni  •  ClaytonCEO, Ascension

Its authors are Civic Progress President George Paz and Regional Business Council Chairman Anthony Tersigni. Their gauntlet has been cast down.  We now know what their plans for future governance of the SLPS.  No democracy. We know the mayor’s plan.  Limited democracy.
What is your plan?
Please write letters to the editor of the Post and let them know.  Letters can be submitted to letters@post-dispatch.com.
And please sign the petition to return the elected board of education to power at http://wordpress.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=febf37d8c53a262d3cca40d04&id=7a7325e7fb&e=3fe73d6d79
Susan Turk

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Are We Winning? | Jacobin: Testing and the Corporate Education Agenda

Are We Winning? | Jacobin

The Obama administration’s new rhetoric on testing shows the tide may be turning against corporate education reformers.

Friday, October 30, 2015

On SLPS, 'accreditation' and the appointed board, by Susan Turk

BG comment:

I think accreditation has always been a political instrument, that reflects only in a very obligue way, the quality of what might be happening in SLPS.   Accreditation was taken away for a political reason (to appoint the SAB).  Provisional accreditation was returned for a political reason (to stop the flood of transfer demands and lawsuits that would have followed Turner v. Clayton.  The possibility of accreditation returning now is equally political (to justify the dismantling of democratic process and the corporate and mayor-led takeover of the district to promote charters, real estate development deals and other private interests).

We can never really know what accreditation means until there is much more transparency in these processes of evaluation and decision-making.  And, since the takeover was meant as much to shut out the public as anything else, we cannot expect much transparency going forward.

At any rate, here's the take of Susan Turk on all of this, and of course, sign the petition:

Mayor Slay’s Ambition
By Susan Turk

October 29, 2015 – St. Louis --With the good news that the SLPS has earned enough points on its Annual Progress Report to qualify for the state board of education to vote to return its full accreditation, word comes from City Hall that Mayor Slay is giving all the credit for this accomplishment to the SAB.  Not Dr. Adams.  Not the teachers. Not the students.
Although state law only provides for SABs to run unaccredited districts and the SLPS has been provisionally accredited since 2013, the Mayor is in no hurry to see them go.  And state law makes no provision for the removal of SABs.  Once appointed, they serve at the pleasure of the state board of education in possible perpetuity.
Last Friday, the mayor was overheard to say that he thinks the appointed SAB is doing a good job and that if they are replaced it should be by a hybrid board of both appointed and elected members.  That would mean the existing elected board of education will never be returned to authority over the SLPS.
Last spring, the SAB hired the law firm of Lewis, Rice and Fingerish to provide lobbying services for the upcoming 2016 legislative session in addition to their long time lobbyist, Steve Carroll.  Carroll would have gladly taken on the additional work. The assumption is that the additional work is the writing and lobbying of legislation to create a hybrid board.  Such a board was envisioned by the Danforth Freeman committee which recommended the state takeover of the SLPS after Supt Creg Williams resigned in 2006.
The hybrid board would slowly take shape over a period of years involving several elections. The Danforth Freeman envisioned hybrid would gradually become a fully elected board over 3 election cycles or about 5 years.    The Mayor’s idea appears to be a permanent hybrid board.  What shape it would take, how many appointed members and how many elected is anybody’s guess at this point. Legislation begins to be pre-filed in December.
The Legislature is a quirky institution. The final form of the legislation is likely to not resemble the original.  Most bills regarding education are lumped together into one omnibus bill annually which includes provisions regarding charter school, virtual school and tuition tax credit (voucher) expansion as well as such thorny issues as inter-district transfers from unaccredited districts.  The governor has wisely vetoed many of these bills and his vetoes have at times been sustained.  Last year’s education omnibus bill was vetoed because of a provision sponsored by state Senator Maria Chapelle Nadal which would have allowed for vouchers pay tuition at private schools for students from unaccredited districts.  That veto was sustained. So, there is no guarantee that hybrid board legislation will survive the legislative process.
DESE Commissioner Vandeven has indicated that a decision about future governance of the SLPS is coming this spring.  The SABs current term ends June 39, 2016. Vandeven has indicated that whether the elected board returns to authority depends on the citizens of the city demonstrating support for their return.  One way to demonstrate support is to sign an online petition at
Please sign the petition and forward the link for it to everyone you know.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Contribute to keep post-Ferguson reporting going strong at St Louis American (via Chris King)

As you may know, the Huffington Post is raising funds to keep the reporter they share with The St. Louis American, Mariah Stewart, in our newsroom. Between now and when the campaign ends, which is tomorrow, the Huffington Post is matching all contributions.

Donation opportunities range from $10 to $5,000. Here is where people would donate:

The back story:

Last year, The Huffington Post approached us with the loan of a reporter, Mariah Stewart. Mariah is a young, local African-American journalist who was covering Ferguson on her own until the HuffPost adopted her. They crowd-funded her salary as a Ferguson Fellow.

With her editors being in D.C., they wanted a local newsroom for her to work out of, and they approached us. With our very small staff and limited resources, of course we accepted a free reporter. We have enjoyed having Mariah in our newsroom, and she has done a lot of good work for us.

HuffPost has now started a new crowd-funding campaign to renew her fellowship. If they meet their goal, they will keep Mariah on their staff in Ferguson -- and in our newsroom. If they can't fund her fellowship again this way, they will try to move her onto their national team in D.C. -- and we will lose her.

Thanks for any support, and feel free to share with anyone in your network who might be supportive.

Chris King
Managaing editor
The St. Louis American


The most-read story on our site right now is Mariah's profile of Bradley Rayford, the Flo Valley student who became a nationally awarded photojournalist by showing up in Ferguson with his camera:

How Landlords Contribute to the Concentration of Poverty: Sociology Lecture at WUSTL October 27

Tuesday, October 27 – 11:30, Seigle 170 (conference room in the Weidenbaum Center)
Eva Rosen – Ph.D. Harvard University and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Poverty and
Inequality Research Lab, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
Landlords and the Making of the Third Ghetto

Housing policy has long played an integral role in attempts to dismantle concentrated
poverty and segregation. In the 1930s, ghetto slums were razed and public housing was
built. Sixty years later these towers of the "second ghetto" were demolished, and housing
voucher subsidies promised to harness the power of the private market to remedy
concentrated poverty. In theory, the voucher program should be providing opportunities
for poor households to move to better neighborhoods, but it has fallen far short. This third
era of housing policy introduces a new actor who, as I argue, plays a key role brokering
the geography of opportunity: the landlord. Landlords act as gatekeepers between lowincome
residents and the homes they live in. Yet their role in sorting residents in and out
of neighborhoods remains largely unseen, and un-researched. This paper draws on
ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews with 20 landlords and 82 residents in
Baltimore. Findings show that landlord practices contribute to residential sorting patterns
in three steps. First, selection, in which targeted recruitment tactics favor voucher tenants;
second, a sorting process in which landlords match voucher tenants to hard-to-rent units;
and third, the selective retention of tenants who do not have the means to leave. This
results in a process of “reverse selection," where rather than tenants choosing homes and
neighborhoods, landlords are selecting tenants. Together, these practices help landlords
keep voucher holders trapped in units that deliver the biggest profits, in some of the very
neighborhoods the voucher is supposed to afford them the opportunity to escape.
Landlord practices and the policies that support them serve as a powerful mechanism in

the concentration of poverty.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Monumental protest: Activist Percy Green's battle for fair hiring at the Arch

Monumental protest: Activist Percy Green's battle for fair hiring at the Arch

July 14, 1964: CORE demonstrators Percy Green (top) and Richard Daly on the Arch. They stayed on the Arch for five hours.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Teach For America Rejected & Slammed At Professional Standards Board Meeting Last Night **UPDATED**

Teach For America Rejected & Slammed At Professional Standards Board Meeting Last Night **UPDATED**

(This happened in Delaware -- STL still drinking TFA kool-aid)

Ferguson Documentary Screening, and more: October 3 at 2 PM

Arts in Struggle: An Afternoon of Creativity, Community, and Dialogue on the Struggle for Racial Justice in St. Louis Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival Event, organized by the Center for the Humanities October 3, 2 pm Satori Art Studio, 3003 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103 RSVPs appreciated; please follow this link. Join us for an exciting afternoon of art, poetry, film and conversation. The exhibit features the works of Damon Davis and De Andrea Nichols, a poetry performance by Cheeraz Gormon, and a screening of documentary filmmaker Katina Parker’s “Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory.” Following the film, the audience will have the opportunity to engage all four artists in a roundtable discussion about the intersection between art and activism and struggles for racial justice in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. Jonathan Fenderson, assistant professor of African and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, will moderate the discussion. Washington University in St. Louis (314) 935-5576 cenhum.artsci.wustl.edu