Saturday, August 26, 2017

Some students face daily hardship because of hunger and lunch-shaming

by Marit Vike
Every educator dreams of a classroom and school where all students are in rapt attention. Sadly, this is not possible when students come to school hungry and cannot manage to muster the focus needed to learn. The need for food can be all consuming, and “it’s like the pain of the hunger is like eating at you. You’re mostly thinking about food because all you want to do is eat, get rid of the hunger feeling. You can’t really do your work,” says Mario, a 13-year-old student. Educators see many students like Mario, according to a new report.


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No Kid Hungry’s report, titled “Hunger in Our Schools,” provides a look at the daily hardship some students face because of hunger. Food insecurity creeps into the lives a majority of families, with 59 percent of parents admitting that their families’ food supply would run out and they could not afford to buy any more. Many parents and children live in constant fear of what happens when that food runs out.
Currently, one in every six kids is facing hunger. Students across the country, in every community, are facing this hardship and carrying it into the classroom with them. And educators can tell.
Many educators have to watch as they see the toll on their students.
  • 80 percent of teachers see those students not concentrating
  • 76 percent see them drop-off in academic performance
  • 62 percent see behavioral problems develop.
Educators, often of the last line of defense for students, can’t help but get involved. In fact, 57 percent of teachers regularly buy food for students who come to school hungry. Compassion and concern for their students has always pushed educators to do more than required or even expected for their students.
“For some of our kids, Monday is a rough day, not knowing how much food they had that weekend. But it’s never the child’s fault that they’re hungry,” Joslyn Waldron, a Fairfax, VA, elementary school social worker told No Kid Hungry.
Sixteen-year-old Don puts into sharp focus what it’s like to be hungry while at school. “My focus is different when I’m hungry. Of course I’m gonna be thinking about food. I’m gonna be thinking about which one of my classmates got food. I’m gonna be thinking about which one of them might share their food.”
While educators regularly step up to help hungry children, some lawmakers have also taken notice and decided to step in to right a consequence of not being able to afford food at school: lunch shaming. Currently, there are state policies that force school cafeteria staff to throw out a student’s lunch or give them a weak alternative such as a cheese sandwich when a child has meal debt rather than extending credit for meals.
“It is completely absurd that students would be shamed at school based on their inability to purchase food,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, a sponsor of a bipartisan bill, the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act, to prevent lunch shaming. “I am confident that this legislation will do its part to stop students suffering from humiliation for circumstances outside of their control. This is bullying and I am saddened that we have to write legislation to ensure it ends.”
The Anti-Lunch Shaming Act prohibits shaming tactics by requiring schools to direct communications regarding meal debt to the parent, not the child. The bill also aims to make the process for applying for free and reduced price lunch applications simpler by expressing that it is the sense of Congress that schools should provide these applications more effectively to the families who need them, coordinate with other programs to ensure that homeless and foster children are enrolled for free meals, and set up online systems to make paying for meals easier for parents when possible.
Lack of reliable access to nutritious food is not limited to K-12 schools. Food insecurity – the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food – is common at colleges and universities across the country, concludes a report last year from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. Among the report’s findings:
  • 48 percent of survey respondents reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including 22 percent with very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry.
  • Food insecurity occurs at both two-year and four-year institutions. Twenty-five percent of community college students qualified as having very low food security, compared to 20 percent at four-year schools.
  • Food insecurity was more prevalent among students of color. Fully 57 percent of Black or African American students reported food insecurity, compared to 40 percent of non-Hispanic white students.
  • More than half of all first-generation students (56 percent) were food insecure, compared to 45 percent of students who had at least one parent who attended college.

Friday, August 25, 2017


A newsletter of workplace safety and labor issues

God, Does it Ever End?

Russert last night on Larry King:
RUSSERT: One other political point: The Republicans achieved control of the United States Congress for the first time in 70 years, of both houses, under Ronald Reagan.
Look, I'm fine with the Peggy Noonan footworshipping. I'm fine with all the "Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union singlehandedly" nonsense. I'm fine with all of these types of things because they're opinions. Some are silly opinions, and there should be some balance to them, but they are still opinions.
What I'm not fine with is all the factual errors that creep into the coverage by supposedly "unbiased" reporters.
  • The House and Senate did not both come under Republican rule during Reagan's time.
  • The Berlin Wall did not come down when Reagan was in office.
  • Reagan is not the president who left office with the highest approval rating in modern times.
  • Reagan was not "the most popular president ever."
  • Reagan did not preside over the longest economic expansion in history.
  • Reagan did not shrink the size of government.
  • Reagan did preside over what was at the time the "biggest tax cut in history" but it was almost instantly followed up by the "biggest tax increase in history."
  • Reagan was not "beloved by all." He was loved by some, liked by some, and hated by some with good reason.
Those concerned about the safety and health of Americans who go to work every day believing in their freedom to come home alive and healthy have good reason to hate Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Criminalizing Dissent is Bad for Democracy

There aren't shortcuts to building true power so we aren't taking any in our DC work to win this simple policy change: the US should treat Palestinians and Israelis as equal people entitled to equal rights.
And this month, we crossed a major milestone for our still young Legislative Organizing Program: our 100th in-person legislative action of 2017! That means almost 3 times a week Congress is hearing from you at town halls, in-district meetings, and protests.
And during this August recess we've flexed the power of that simple message to re-shape the debate over AIPAC's Israel Anti-Boycott Act that seeks to criminalize boycotts of Israel or the illegal settlements, and shield the Israeli government from international grassroots pressure to abide by basic precepts of international law and human decency.
The best case scenario? The Senate might not even take up this bill at all, meaning we win (or rather, free speech and the movement for Palestinian human rights wins).
But there's definitely also a worst-case scenario: Republicans in Congress, increasingly desperate for any legislative win they can muster, force this unconstitutional attack on free speech and Palestinian human rights through to a vote as quick as they can when they get back to DC after Labor Day.
I trust this won't surprise you to read: we can't match AIPAC's legislative firepower... yet. If they really, really want this to pass, I'm not sure we can stop them today. But I believe we definitively won the August Recess already, in no small part thanks to you.
And we've increased the cost to AIPAC dramatically, by peeling back progressive support for this terrible legislation.
We've turned Members of Congress and Senators against the bill through basic organizing: working the phones, generating media, and most of all, showing up again and again at town halls.
Working with partners at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, here is some of the progress we've made:
  • Convinced Senator Elizabeth Warren to take a public position against the bill, the first time (!) this progressive giant has taken a stance with us and against the status quo in Israel/Palestine.
  • In a town hall exchange at the end of July, a JVP member took Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to task for co-sponsoring the bill. Audience support was so loud (and pressure from activists up and down the state so strong) that she did the unprecedented and nearly unbelievable: as a Democratic Senator from New York State, she took her name off this AIPAC-sponsored bill.
  • At a town hall in Seattle, there was also enough pressure that Representative Adam Smith pledged to take his name off the bill too.
  • Finish Town Hall outreach strong with hundreds more outreach phone calls to help drive turnout. One of the most impressive facets of these town halls hasn’t just been JVP members getting up there to speak— it’s been the applause afterwards, showing these elected officials that equality in Israel/Palestine is something the progressive movement is getting behind.
  • Be ready in September to continue pushing our representatives in DC with Capitol Hill visits, phone calls, emails, and more— making sure Gillibrand, Warren, Smith, and everyone else who’s woken up to the dangers of this bill stays firm in their commitment to free speech and the right to boycott.
  • Get in front of progressives who should know better than to keep their names on this legislation and show them the changing tide— Senators like Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Maria Cantwell (WA), and Representatives like Ted Lieu (CA 33) and Richard Neal (MA 1). They need to hear from you that as they position themselves to claim progressive credibility, sticking with AIPAC is a bad choice.
Because that's what this is really about: creating an alternative power base that elected officials can lean on when AIPAC comes knocking with their tired proclamations that support for Israeli policy is somehow a bipartisan issue.
We're building a progressive movement around the simple idea that Palestinians and Israelis are equal people, entitled to equal rights, and everyone is invited to join in.
But we're also not doe-eyed idealists here. We know that elected officials will get on board, just as soon as we apply enough pressure to make it worth their time.
Thanks for all you're doing,
Ari Wohlfeiler
Deputy Director

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Federal lawmakers are back home; pay them a visit!

Congress has begun its August recess, which means you may have opportunities to connect with the people who represent you in Washington while they are back home.
We hope you will take advantage of this time by meeting with your Members of Congress. We are asking members to focus on two issues during the August break:
  1. Oppose ANY Trump/DeVos budget cuts to public education. NEA believes in a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures that all students can succeed regardless of their ZIP code. Tell Congress to ensure that public schools have the resources necessary to provide the education our students deserve. Click here to find out more.
  2. Oppose private school vouchers, no matter what they are called. The Trump/DeVos budget proposal drastically slashes education funding by $9 billion in order to fund private school vouchers that harm students and communities, and undermine the public schools that educate nine out of 10 students. Click here to find out more.
Our message is straightforward: Do not cut funding for public education and students most in need. Do not shift tax dollars into private school vouchers, including through tax reform. Regardless of what they’re called, vouchers, education savings accounts, and tuition tax credits rob public schools of vital funding and resources.
When lawmakers return to Washington on September 5th, we expect months-long fights on the upcoming budget plan and on efforts to advance private school vouchers.  Given our shared success in beating back multiple efforts to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act (thank you for your amazing work!), let’s keep the fight going on these other critical issues.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WFTU solidarity statement with the political prisoners in Thailand

The World Federation of Trade Unions, representing 92 million workers in the 5 continents, condemns the increasing phenomenon of imprisonments, based on the expression of people’s opinion in Thailand.
The incidents of attacks against freedom of speech is an overt violation of the rights of the people of Thailand. Those practices mainly undermine the action of the working class and aim to the subjugation and manipulation of the popular strata, minimizing the possibility of the class oriented struggles.
The international class oriented trade union movement denounces these phenomena which are integral parts of the generalized anti-labour policy. The WFTU expresses its solidarity to the working class and the people of Thailand and demands the immediate release of all the political prisoners in the country without terms and exceptions. The silencing of the people is unacceptable and is always doomed to fail under the impact of militant struggles for the covering of the peoples’ contemporary needs.
The Secretariat