Tag Archives: Milwaukee

Keystone XL Delay Demonstrates Power of Resistance Movement

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On Friday the Obama Administration announced it would once again delay the decision on whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. This is a clear sign that Obama is feeling the heat of popular opposition to the project.

That opposition continues to grow. Nearly 100,000 people have signed an online Pledge of Resistance to engage in non-violent civil disobedience if needed to stop the pipeline, and over 100 actions are ready to deploy on short notice across the country. Last month nearly 400 students from around the nation were arrested at the White House, where many of them zip tied themselves to the fence. This coming weekend the Cowboy Indian Alliance will be setting up camp in Washington DC to protest the pipeline.

Prominent individuals are also speaking out against the project. Recently ten Nobel laureates called on Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL. Not long ago over 200 business owners, venture capitalists, and other prominent leaders in the business community did the same.

In the words of Bill McKibben, “Three years ago this pipeline was a done deal, and thanks to you it’s come steadily undone.” This is something that all those fighting the pipeline can be proud of.

The Keystone XL would transport tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, crossing America’s heartland and much of the country’s fresh water supply. In addition to posing a threat to communities and ecosystems along its route, the pipeline would allow the extraction of vast quantities of the Alberta tar sands, some of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel on the planet. In the words of top climatologist James Hansen, burning those reserves would mean “game over” for the climate.

While this delay is a victory for opponents of the Keystone XL, they haven’t won yet. After perhaps a brief pause to enjoy the Easter weekend with their family and friends, there is no doubt that they’ll keep fighting the good fight to protect our planet, our children and our future.

 

Yet Another Wisconsin Voucher School Exposed

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Milwaukee, WI - Yet another failed voucher “academy” sucking vital funds from our public schools. Learning Bridges Kingdom Academy joins LifeSkills Academy and Washington Dubois Christian Leadership Academy as all publicly-funded private voucher schools that have been identified in the last four months as total failures. VOUCHERS = SCAM

How many more voucher schools will rip off Wisconsin taxpayers before we stop using public dollars to fund them? Learning Bridges Kingdom Academy collected over $1 million dollars, LifeSkills Academy, which recently closed its doors after taxpayers forked over $202,278 followed Washington Dubois Christian Leadership Academy, which closed in mid-December, costing taxpayers another estimated $200,000. And it’s not even just about the money – two of these schools closed their doors in the middle of the school year, disrupting students’ learning and creating hardship for their families. Not to mention the public schools that absorb the displaced school’s population without receiving funding in return. That’s just plain irresponsible.

These three newest voucher school revelations are just the latest in a long string of failures. Before them came Mandella School of Science and Math, Harambee Community School, and the New Hope Institute of Science and Technology charter school, to name just a few.

It’s way past time to contact your Wisconsin State Legislators to say NO MORE SCHOOL VOUCHERS!

Voucher School Takes Money, Dumps Student

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Voucher schools have long been known to “dump” children with special educational needs and at-risk behaviors, even after accepting taxpayer money to educate those students. The public rarely sees this happen, or is faced with the hardship this creates for children and their families. However, the letter below provides a glimpse into how voucher schools inflate their reputations by ridding themselves of unwanted students.

In contrast, public schools must educate ALL children, including those experiencing academic, behavior, or parental issues. Increasingly, they are also forced to pick up the students expelled by outfits like Mount Olive, without any compensation from the state because the school already cashed the voucher.

This is unfair. It hurts the expelled students and their families, humiliating them and forcing them to change schools. It hurts public schools, both financially and by concentrating the share of at-risk children. Finally, it hurts the public, as taxpayer money is siphoned off for private gain.

A common argument of voucher school proponents is that these schools create competition for public schools, thereby increasing achievement across the board. However, when your “competitior” can skim the cream off the class crop, that’s far from a level playing field. It’s hard to imagine how this type of “competition” would be healthy for anyone.

With their unfair advantages, you’d think that voucher schools would at least appear to be doing better at educating students than public schools. However, often that’s not even the case. The same MPS school that enrolled the student identified in this letter received another student from a different voucher school that same week, which had been closed down because its operators left for Florida to start another voucher school. The closure forced MPS to absorb its 66 students, only one of whom tested “proficient” on the most recent Wisconsin State Concepts and Knowledge Exam (WKCE).

The result for MPS is an overall special needs population of well over 30% and decreasing financial resources. Public school educators do their best to provide quality education for their students, but this becomes more challenging with every passing year. Though voucher school proponents love to talk about “choice” and “achievement,” the real story is that these schools do a serious disservice to students, families, educators, public school districts and state taxpayers.

Despite these glaring problems with the Wisconsin voucher program, legislators in the state capitol continue to look for ways to expand it. It’s time Wisconsin taxpayers stand up and tell them no! How many more students will we let schools like Mount Olive dump before we fix the problem?

Light Brigade and Projection Activist Networks Organize Against the NSA

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On Tuesday, Internet activists from around the world joined “The Day We Fight Back” placing nearly 80,000 calls and sending nearly 160,000 e-mails to their representatives in Congress to protest the NSA’s tactics and use of mass surveillance. Part of that push came from the Light Brigade Network and the Projection Action Network, who used their creativity in lights, projections, and videos to help bring greater visibility to the NSA’s spying program.

In New York City, the NYC Light Brigade made a trip to the Verizon Building with The Illuminator, where a projection of a moving eyeball was beamed over a “DON’T SPY ON ME” rooftop message.

 

The group in New York also held this message, alluding to George Orwell’s famous novel on authoritarian social practices entitled “1984″.

In San Francisco, the Bay Area Light Brigade was joined by the San Francisco Projection Department in this gathering. They were joined by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, who leaked several internal AT&T documents in 2006 that showed that the NSA was collecting data from the company.

 

The Overpass Light Brigade was out with a message in Milwaukee that included a collaboration with the DIY Drone Brigade. This enabled OLB to be able to film a video of their message from the sky, courtesy of a video camera mounted to the bottom of the remote controlled drone.

Drone Brigade: NSA Don’t Spy On Us! from Overpass Light Brigade on Vimeo.

The Atlanta Light Brigade raced out to beat a winter storm to shine their opposition to the NSA mass surveillance program.

The Atlanta Light Brigade

The Atlanta Light Brigade

The Occupy Hilo Light Brigade made sure to get out and shine for Hawaii.

Activists with the Occupy Gainesville Light Brigade occupied a busy street corner in Florida.
Occupy Gainesville Light Brigade

Occupy Gainesville Light Brigade

It is hard to tell if Tuesday’s actions will be as successful as the 2012 SOPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act) protests, but it doesn’t hurt to have networks like the Light Brigade Network and the Projection Action Network helping get the word out.

Milwaukee Community Comes Out to Defend Hopkins Lloyd School and Others From Privatization Plans

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Milwaukee, WI - Wisconsin state legislators have been circulating bills that could privatize dozens of public schools and bankrupt school districts. These bills are NOT about improving schools – they’re about taking control away from communities and families, and giving it to private businesses so they can turn a profit.

However, the people of Milwaukee aren’t taking this threat lying down. On Thursday night parents, students, neighbors, educators and community members braved sub-zero temperatures to stand up for one school at risk of privatization. At Hopkins Lloyd Community School over 100 people came together to voice their opposition to the plan, holding the message “DEFEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS” high in the winter air.

Hopkins Lloyd Community School is one of those identified by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction as “failing.” Rather than give the under-resourced school the support it needs to serve its community, however, some Wisconsin legislators seem to think the answer is to turn it into a for-profit business. On Thursday the assembled crowd firmly rejected this faulty logic, and instead demanded real solutions that benefit their children and keep control of the school in the hands of the community.