Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fwd: Statists' Smearing of the Freedom "Ideology"

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Americans for a Free Republic - Nelson Hultberg" <>
Date: Mar 28, 2013 5:45 AM
Subject: Statists' Smearing of the Freedom "Ideology"
To: <>

AFR Viewpoints 
March 28, 2013

The Anti-Ideology Syndrome
Nelson Hultberg

Modern intellectuals are anti-ideology. They shun its use like kings and high priests shun voting. One of the first putdowns a student receives from a liberal professor when expounding the basic principles of capitalism in a college classroom is, "Oh, that's too ideological. Your thinking is too rigid. You're trying to label things! You must be more open to progressive experimentation and creative government. The Constitution is a living document. The use of any strict ideology or rigid set of political principles is impractical and reactionary. In a modern world, we must be flexible, pragmatic, willing to tolerate a new and ever changing role for government."

Such is the usual response given to any student daring to declare that government's functions should be limited to a Constitution that is strictly, i.e., literally, interpreted. Or that capitalism is the only socio-economic system that is capable of protecting the individual's rights. Or that without upholding the principle of "equal rights under the law," there can be no true or lasting freedom, etc.

It's not difficult to understand why our liberal-dominated intellectual establishment opposes ideology and its use of labels to define government's role in society. Precisely because it does just that - it defines government's role in society! The statist mind wants a vaguely and loosely defined government, unfettered by the restrictions of theory or principle or rights or labels or moral judgment. He seeks blanket power over men and their production. Thus it is only natural for him to be antagonistic toward the use of an overall ideology that labels his approach dictatorial, statist, neo-fascist, authoritarian, etc. and backs it up with rational arguments. Such intellectual labeling inhibits his power.
Defining Our Terms

Webster's Dictionary defines ideology as: the integrated assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a socio-political program.

To expand the concept further, it could be said that an ideology is a set of political principles and ideas that define the way the individuals, institutions, and governments of a country should interact and be organized. It is a basic framework of rules and guides that set the course for a nation's individuals and their government, establish the limits of that government's power, and clarify what rights (if any) the individual is to retain.

As an example, America, for the first 125 years of her history (1787-1913), operated under the individualist ideology of laissez-faire capitalism with the principles of "private property," "equal rights under the law," and "individual sovereignty" predominant throughout her culture.

Most of the world today operates under the collectivist ideology of authoritarian statism (labeled by various terms such as socialism, social welfarism, corporatism, liberalism, etc.). The collectivist ideology's undergirding principles are "public property," "corporate-state collusion," and "equal results in life" predominant throughout their cultures.

Labels and Identification

Some points to consider about ideology and labeling:

1)  If you don't label things, you can't identify things; and if you can't identify things, you can't possibly know what is happening around you.

2)  Labeling is defining, and defining is the establishment of distinctions, and distinctions show one what is right or wrong, strong or weak, beautiful or ugly about what is being labeled. Such distinctions require that we make judgments.

3)  Labels clearly identify the policies of statism as dictatorial. Naturally, those who wish to establish such policies frown on the use of labels.

4)  Today's anti-ideology thinkers are advocating the initial stages of a dictatorship! Do they think because they refuse to label it as what it is, it somehow means it is not what it is? Hiding from the reality of one's convictions and advocacies will not change their nature. Evil, evaded, is still evil.

It's easy to see why liberals oppose ideology and labeling. It defines in clear terms what they are up to. They would prefer to muddy up the intellectual waters with backdoor socialism. Clarity is not their friend.

But unfortunately many conservative intellectuals also oppose the use of political ideology and its concomitant of labeling? These are the followers of Russell Kirk. Why do they adopt the same antagonism as liberals? I believe it is because of an erroneous syllogistic process that takes place in their brains. They see the evil of socialism. They realize that socialism is an ideology, and thus they reason that since socialism is evil, ideology is evil.

This, of course, is a non sequitur. It's not the use of ideology that is evil. It's the use of irrational ideology that is evil. Ideology itself is not responsible for the tyranny in the world. False ideology is. The false ideologies of socialism, welfarism, liberalism, corporatism.

What is needed is not to abandon the use of ideology in the structuring of society, but to devise a rational ideology based upon right principles. Ideological principles are crucial theoretical guides for men's actions. Without them and their concomitant of labels, we would be nothing but a nomadic assortment of subhumans with no rules or laws or theories or ideals to direct us.

No society in the history of man has ever existed, nor will one ever exist, without the use of some form of ideology and its building blocks of terms (i.e.,  labels). Even primitive tribes have their body of thought, theories, and definitional terms that guide their way of life. Granted, their ideology is usually ritualistic dogma and voodoo. But nevertheless, they do make use of some system of ideological thought and labeling to guide them, irrational though it is.

What Ideology Is Proper?

Therefore, we must ask: if ideology itself is good, but socialist, welfarist, liberal, and corporatist ideology is bad, where are we to turn? What ideology should we adopt as our guide? The answer lies in the wisdom that we have forsaken - the great principles that first created America. Our founding fathers were ideologues that posited a rational idealism in governmental affairs. This is what led to the Declaration of Independence and its enshrinement of the "rights of mankind."

The ideology that we must utilize is the individualist ideology of the founding fathers and their philosophical mentors, John Locke, Thomas Aquinas, and Aristotle. The framers of the Constitution were not flexible advocates of d├ętente with King George when it came time to design the type of government they wanted. They were men of intensely held political convictions. They adhered to clear-cut ideological principles and strict rules of law based upon those principles. They knew that this was the only way to preserve the rights of the individual, which in turn was the only way to maintain a free society.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution resulted from the American revolutionaries' adherence to an overall political ideology. The creation of these documents would have been impossible without formulation of ideological principles. Thus the creation of America herself would have been impossible without such a formulation. And just as it would have been impossible to create America without ideological principles, it will be impossible to preserve her without them.

So beware. When a professor or politician tells you that he's against the use of labels and political ideology, he's setting in place the destruction of the proper guidelines and governmental limits requisite for a free society to exist. That is what ideology and labeling give to us: guidelines, definitions, and limits for our rulers. Most importantly, such a professor or politician is telling you that he prefers a government that is not limited or defined by any of those old fashioned ideological notions such as "inalienable rights," or "equality under the law." He's telling you that he doesn't like being labeled a statist or a collectivist or a liberal because it identifies the evil of his beliefs if he's a professor, or the evil of his ambitions if he's a politician.

The Choice Before Us

Ideology is theory, theory is thinking, and labels are our tools to construct proper theory. The man who wants to erect a government and oversee society without thinking and labeling is a thug or a fool, or both.

The choice before us is not ideology or no ideology! It is which ideology do we employ? Socialism or capitalism? Collectivism or individualism? Statism or freedom? Liberalism or conservatism or libertarianism?

The collectivist ideology (along with its welfarist variants) has ruled the world since the early twentieth century, and its brutal irrationality is directly responsible for the tyranny that prevails over three-quarters of the globe. It is time to restore the only rational ideology that exists - laissez-faire capitalism. The socialists and the liberals have had their chance, and they have failed.

Libertarians and true conservatives advocate laissez-faire capitalism. Liberals and neo-conservatives advocate authoritarian statism. Freedom cannot be defended without identifying the essentials of these ideologies and the intellectuals and politicians who advocate them. Without political-philosophical-moral clarity, tyranny wins.

Modern day tyrants want a vague pragmatism that is not defined (i.e., labeled) as to what it is. In this way, they can violate our rights and say that they are only implementing necessary policy for the emergency of the moment, or the good of the group, or to serve the will of the people. They can seek arbitrary, unfettered power and feel justified in doing so. Freedom demands clear labels and rational ideology. Never let the statist mentalities take these intellectual tools away from you.

Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, TX and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic His articles have appeared in such publications as the Dallas Morning News, The American Conservative, Insight, The Freeman, and Liberty, as well as on numerous Internet sites. He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. Email him at:

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fwd: Everything Afterschool! TOMORROW!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Neighborhood Learning Alliance" <>
Date: Mar 27, 2013 3:07 PM
Subject: Everything Afterschool! TOMORROW!
To: <>

View this email in your browser
Union Project, Great Hall
801 N. Negley Ave.
Everything Afterschool is a FREE Out-Of-School-Time Enrichment Fair, organized by Neighborhood Learning Alliance and University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, supported in part by a Spark Award from The Sprout Fund

This event is a networking opportunity for youth-serving nonprofits to build relationships and enhance their programs through partnerships with enrichment providers.  In other words, our goal is to connect organizations who provide resources and enrichment to the youth-programs who need them!

Funding agencies, arts programs, STEM programs, and many others have registered as Resource and Enrichment Providers.  To see a full list, check out our website!

Registration opens at 8:30AM along with a complementary light breakfast.  At the end of the event, Everything Afterschool will raffle off prizes including gift certificates to local cafes so you can continue your conversations over a cup of coffee!
Copyright © 2013 Neighborhood Learning Alliance, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a partner organization or an attendee of a Neighborhood Learning Alliance event.

Our mailing address is:
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fwd: Stephanie Corby & David Glaser in Friendship April 28

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Friendship House Concerts" <>
Date: Mar 25, 2013 7:52 PM
Subject: Stephanie Corby & David Glaser in Friendship April 28
To: "altesj" <>

Friendship House Concerts

is delighted to present

Stephanie Corby & David Glaser

Sunday, April 28

4:00 pm

"Here's what Stephanie Corby brings to the party: heartstopping vocals, appreciation for smart language, a buoyant sense of melody and more than a little bit o' soul!" - Marilyn Rea Beyer, Music Director, WUMB

Stephanie Corby possesses a rich, powerful voice that transcends the borders of musical style. This songstress has successfully fused her classical, jazz, and blues backgrounds into a distinct R&B-flavored acoustic sound. Singer/Songwriter Ellis Paul said about Stephanie: "she has the kind of voice that makes the waters part; loud, sweet, and soulful…..she could have saved Moses a lot of trouble."

David Glaser is an Americana acoustic recording artist known for his unique voice, instrumental skill, and deft, evocative songwriting. "...each time you listen, you will find yourself turning over something that you missed before - a new insight, a new story, or a new harmony, and it is always a joy…truly captivating." - Mary Bryan, Chesapeake Music Guide.

An award winning songwriter and instrumentalist, David Glaser has been recording and playing live music from the 70's forward, either as a solo artist, a band member, or a side man. You may have seen him on the Main Stage at the Kerrville Folk Festiva or Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. His versatile guitar, mandolin, and harmony singing skills have made him a sought after side man and studio musician.

For more about Stephanie, check out
For more about David, check out

Seating is limited. For information and/or an invitation, call or email:
LLouise & Jim Altes

Suggested donation: $20.00. All proceeds go to the performer.
After the concert, there will be a pot luck dinner. Please bring an entree, an hors d'oeuvre, a salad, a side dish, or dessert to share.

We are proud to be a unionized house concert series!  We have a Collective Bargaining Agreement with Local 1000 of the American Federation of Musicians.

Upcoming events of interest:

Apr 12 Steve Hicks and Laura Goulbourn @ Curt & Annie's
Apr 18 Ken Kolodner @ Cindy & Rick's
Apr 26 Ken Whiteley @ Anne Feeney's 412-877-6480
Apr 26 Ben Hardt of New Victorians @ Music Beacon
Apr 27 John & Kathie Hollandsworth @ Cindy & Rick's
Apr 28 Stephanie Corby & David Glaser & @ Friendship House Concerts
May 11 Tom Cunningham FiddleTales @ Cindy & Rick's
May 11 Andrew McKnight with special guest Brenda Jean @ SongSpace at First Unitarian
May 18 Doug & Telisha @ Music Beacon
May 26 Linda McRae Friendship House Concerts
Aug 17 Cindystock 10 in Wexford
Sep 15 Martin Swinger & Jud Caswell  & Friendship House Concerts
Sep 28 We're About 9 with special guest Chana Rothman @ SongSpace at First Unitarian
Oct 13 Twangtown Paramours @ Friendship House Concerts
Nov 3 Donna & Rick Nestler @ Friendship House Concerts
Nov 16 Zoe Mulford & Brad Yoder @ SongSpace at First Unitarian

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fwd: Everyone Graduates-Get engaged-Know how to engage-Increased positive outcomes

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Monday, March 25, 2013
Subject: Everyone Graduates-Get engaged-Know how to engage-Increased positive outcomes


Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Summer Work as Swim & Waterpolo Coach and Lifeguard

Subject: Summer Work as Swim & Waterpolo Coach and Lifeguard

Apply for a job below:


On Friday I depart with my son, Grant, 9th grader, to Las Vegas for his Waterpolo Tournament as part of the USA Waterpolo Olympic Development Program. Then comes spring break. But, right after that, I'll want to touch base with you to do a phone conversation or two about working with our summer program.

This year's Swim & Waterpolo Camp as part of Pittsburgh Public Schools' Summer Dreamers is going to expand to 160 kids. But there are changes from the past, as always is the case with PPS.

Our activity is going to be at FIVE different sites:
Homewook's Faison
West End's PCA / Classical / Greenway
Hill District's U-Prep
South Hills at Carmalt 
and Downtown's CAPA.

Some sites have pools. Others we'll have to walk/run. One we get a daily bus to and from a pool / running site.

Running is going to be more of an emphasis at most sites this year. Start a running / jogging program for yourself now. Get good sneakers. Stay in shape. We'll be out in the afternoons. Runs will then hit the pool for a swim / cool off. So, waterpolo might be less important at some sites as public swim will be happening and getting out the balls and goals will be not possible. On colder days or when the pool is empty, that is another story / opportunity.

Camp starts on July 1. It goes for 28 days. The sixth week is with days of M-T-W and then the official camp ends.

We'll be starting early and ending late however. Plus, each day, we'll have some training opportunities in the morning. This way swimmers can train for themselves from 9-11, have lunch and then help others in the afternoons.

We'll have a literacy element too. I'm thinking of 3-foot tall A-B-Cs that are word specific and art filled. This will help in transition times, rain dates, with less active / injured kids, etc. More on that later. But, some research will be involved and group efforts. 

Each site has 20 kids per team. Some have 2 teams. Most do. Not CAPA. 

Each team has 3 of our staff people and 1 PPS teacher. So, do the math. I need a lot of workers. And, we need subs too as all can't work every week. 

Stay tuned. Feel free to call or email me whenever -- especially in a week or so for more insights.

I'm getting ready to order some equipment / balls/ caps / a digital clock to share among sites for race days / some blow-up goals perhaps / goggles.

We are going to make a towel and trunk drive and try to collect donations so we have a bag at every pool for those without to get on loan. 

I'll have a movie night or two this summer and we'll also have some meetings in advance of the camp for parents.

Our computer software will get a facelift too so all the sites will take attendance and those at the central office will know who we have where -- at all times. 

More news soon. 

This will be an exciting summer. Thanks for your interest in working with the kids of Pittsburgh.

Most of the kids are going to be just out of 3rd grade. We'll have some "training" to talk about the levels of progression and such too. 

Get your clearances together. All who are 18 and older need to get those to me soon enough. Give me only copies, of course.

It is okay to tell your friends and have them apply too. I still need some folks to come aboard. 


Mark Rauterkus  
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fwd: [wplug] PRESS RELEASE: Beth Lynn Eicher to present Computer Reach free software initiatives at Harvard University

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Dave Sevick" <>
Date: Mar 20, 2013 12:10 AM
Subject: [wplug] PRESS RELEASE: Beth Lynn Eicher to present Computer Reach free software initiatives at Harvard University
To: "General user list" <>

Chicago IL, March 19, 2013
Beth Lynn Eicher, a free software expert with fourteen years of free software support experience nationally and abroad, will be a featured speaker at LibrePlanet's conference at Harvard University, March 23-24.
This annual conference brings together global free software community developers, activists, academics and computer users to promote the distribution of free software throughout the world.
She will be representing Computer Reach, a nonprofit organization based in Pittsburgh that refurbishes used computers and places them in underserved communities all over the world in an effort to bridge the digital divide. She was a key player in developing the Ubuntu Linux program at Computer Reach.
Beth Lynn Eicher was invited to speak at the conference because of her extensive international work through Computer Reach, including a recent trip to Ghana during which 100 refurbished computers loaded with Ubuntu Linux software were installed in schools in several cities.

Beth Lynn serves as the Free Software Director for Computer Reach.
To date, Computer Reach has provided over 4000 computers to schools and community centers in seven states and twelve countries. For more information about Computer Reach, please visit


wplug mailing list

Monday, March 18, 2013

Post Debate group photo without the cut off heads.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Erik Rauterkus" <>
Date: Mar 18, 2013 3:39 PM
To: "Mark Rauterkus" <>

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Post debate photo

Photo after the debate.

D-party candidates for mayor, seated, left to right include:
Jake Wheatley, Jack Wagner, AJ Richardson, Bill Beduto, Michael Lamb
and Darlene Harris.

The lone R-party candidate, Josh Wander, is stading in the back row at
the right. He will be on the general election ballot and is running
without opposition in the R-primary in the spring of 2013.

Standing in the back row are some of the student organizers for the event.

Photo from states

  Erik and I on the pool deck.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 08, 2013

Fwd: Briefing Sessions on Real Estate Taxes in Allegheny County - Session Date Change 3/19 to 3/22!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Benjamin Hemmings" <>
Date: Mar 8, 2013 2:40 PM
Subject: Briefing Sessions on Real Estate Taxes in Allegheny County - Session Date Change 3/19 to 3/22!
To: "Mark" <>

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The Forbes Funds

Briefing Sessions for Real Estate Taxes in Allegheny County

To Our Friends in Allegheny County,

As many of you may know 2,800 letters were mailed to organizations designated tax-exempt as Institutions of Purely Public Charity requesting information related to how the organization meets the criteria for tax exemption. The triennial review of all tax-exempt property in the County, pursuant to Ordinance 49-07, is underway. Each organization will be required to submit a cover sheet and review application within 60 days. Failure to do so may result in the loss of the tax-exempt status.

Accordingly to previously-published reports, Allegheny County distributed the letters to all owners of tax-exempt property  demanding verification that the land is, indeed, being used for tax-exempt purposes.  If your organization owns tax-exempt property in the County, you may have likely received a letter for each such parcel.  We encourage you not to panic.

We understand that you may want to engage counsel; but, before you do so, take advantage of the briefing sessions being held by the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership.  We're organizing meetings with the County's solicitor so that you can hear directly from him what you need to do. Also, we're preparing instructions that will guide you through the five-step HUP test so that you can explain to the County the charitable uses and purposes for the properties your organization owns.  We can't provide you legal advice but we can offer some guidance.

To that end, we have scheduled two optional briefing dates:

- Thursday, March 14, 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. - Cardinal's Great Hall in O'Connor Hall at St. Paul Seminary, 2900 Noblestown Road, Crafton, PA 15205. To register for this session, please click here.

- Friday, March 22, 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. - Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, 5738 Forbes Ave  Pittsburgh, PA 15217. (*Please note, this is a reschedule from Tuesday, March 19) To register for this session, please click here.

Please email Benjamin Hemmings at Please feel free to invite your colleagues and Board members.


The GPNP Advisory Board

Register Today for the 2013 Nonprofit Summit!
To download a Summit Agenda, please click here!

Is your organization a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP)? Having a GPNP membership enables you to attend the 2013 Nonprofit Summit on May 23, 2013 at discounted rate of $125 ($225 for non-members). Click here to register/renew your 2013 GPNP Membership to take advantage of this discounted rate along with the many other member benefits provided by the GPNP! Contact Benjamin Hemmings with any questions.
Copyright © 2013 The Forbes Funds, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because your contact information is on record at the Forbes Funds.
Our mailing address is:
The Forbes Funds
5 PPG Place
Suite 250
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Add us to your address book

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fwd: Volunteer at 2013 Constellation Senior Players Championship for The First Tee

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Marc Field <>

Dear Friends of The First Tee of Pittsburgh:

The Constellation Senior Players Championship is returning to Fox Chapel Golf Club June 24th thru June 30th, 2013. The First Tee of Pittsburgh will be marshaling the tenth hole this year and we will need at least 30 volunteers, partners and friends to be inside the ropes with the top senior players in this Champions Tour major tournament. We are a primary beneficiary of their charitable donation and we are excited to have them back in Pittsburgh and want to support this major golf event.

Volunteers are asked to register and purchase their own uniforms for $65 and you will receive admission all week, an extra weekly pass and lunch on the days you work. 

If you are interested in volunteering for the event, and helping to support The First Tee of Pittsburgh, you can volunteer online at Please remember to designate The First Tee of Pittsburgh as the club affiliation in the field provided on the application.

In order to assess staffing needs and facilitate scheduling, we ask that you please complete the registration process by April 1st. (Please also think to invite your spouse, neighbors, golfing buddies, and friends to join you.  It it great fun to be inside the ropes, you'll get additional access and passes and well as a great volunteer party. . . and your support really helps The First Tee of Pittsburgh provide our programs to children throughout our region.)

For more information please contact our First Tee co-captains - Jeff Schlegel (412) 600-1075, or Bruce Stephen (412) 979-3205, 

Marc Field
The First Tee of Pittsburgh
5370 Schenley Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15217 
412-682-2405 (fax)

The mission of TFTP is To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.

The First Tee of Pittsburgh is a United Way Donor Choice Agency.  You may direct your United Way contribution to #1436656 Please consider the environment before printing this email. 

South Side Parking, coverage in the P-G

The root problem is that those that live here rejected the permit parking petitions, and we defeated the process. Meetings unfolded. Huge objections came to light. We who said "No thanks," won. It was dead. 

Then a few weeks later, the permit parking paperwork arrived in our mailboxes from city planning offices. The citizens got hoodwinked. There is no way we wanted it, and we still got it. The process sucked. Our city council person did not help one bit. 

Parking has always been a big issue, but there was no consensus and it was tweekeked and killed fully. They lied. We were suckers. Coming back from the dead is not just an Easter thing.. ..... 

Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

PPS School Boards - and a long-winded invite to a meeting for March 11

Meeting called for 6:30 to 9 pm on Monday, March 11, 2013, at U-Prep to talk about PPS School Board Candidates and Races.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yinzercation <>

YinzerThing posted: "Pittsburgh's school board is about to get a major shake up. Four of its eleven spots are open this year, and several districts have multiple candidates. Because of the nature of city politics, many of these seats are likely to be decided in the May primar"

New post on Yinzercation

School Boards Matter

by YinzerThing
Pittsburgh's school board is about to get a major shake up. Four of its eleven spots are open this year, and several districts have multiple candidates. Because of the nature of city politics, many of these seats are likely to be decided in the May primary, so we just have a couple months to get to know those who are running.
Making this election cycle more confusing, the city has just re-drawn school board lines, moving entire neighborhoods into new districts. [See Post-Gazette, 11-12-12 for list of changes.] And the new map does not align with other political boundaries such as those for city council, state representatives, or even school catchment areas. But these are extremely important races and it's worth taking a minute to make sure you know which district you are in.
New board members will be making crucial decisions about school closings. (And we know for sure Pittsburgh will see more devastating loss of neighborhood schools in the next couple years.) Board members also sign-off on accepting grant money from foundations and approve contracts with consulting firms. [Remember "PPS: Planning a Privatization Scheme?"] And they approve new charter schools, which are frequently opened to replace the public schools that just closed.
In fact, charter schools and the use of high-stakes-testing for teacher evaluation are two of the hottest school board issues across the country right now. In Los Angeles, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried to take over the school board in 2006 as several other large cities have done (called "mayoral control," this has been a key strategy to remove power from democratically elected school boards, allowing for swift imposition of the corporate-reform agenda, especially school closure). When his attempt failed, Mayor Villaraigosa switched to backing school board members who support corporate-style reforms. He solicited donations from New York's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave a whopping $1 million, and from Michelle Rhee, whose StudentsFirst group gave another $250,000. [New York Times, 3-4-12]
We need to seriously question why these wealthy individuals and astro-turf groups are dumping millions into the Los Angeles school board races. The good news this morning is that it appears all those dollars did not work: with returns now in, it looks like school board member Steve Zimmer, a moderate who dared to question privatization, has retained his seat against an opponent who was backed by the mayor, Bloomberg, and Rhee, as well as the Los Angeles Times editorial board and billionaires Eli Broad (of the Broad Foundation that trains school superintendents) and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. [DianeRavitch, LA Upset] That's a major victory for public education advocates in California – and a lesson for us in Pennsylvania.
School board elections matter. They matter a lot. And one of the benefits of being in Pittsburgh, say, and not Los Angeles, is that – at least so far – we don't have ultra-wealthy outsiders tromping in with their dollars and agendas, trying to trounce on our democratic process. So please do your part and get to know your local candidates. Here's the perfect chance to ask questions and learn where your future school board members stand on privatization, school closures, charter reform, high-stakes-testing, and sticking up for adequate state funding: at 6:30 pm on Monday, March 11, 2013, PIIN will host a town hall meeting with all the school board candidates at University Prep 6-12 at Milliones, in the Hill District (3117 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219).
In advance of this town hall, Yinzercation has been working with a coalition of education partners to develop a vision statement for Pittsburgh public schools, including a pledge for school board members. Members of the coalition include PIIN, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Action United, OnePittsburgh, and A+Schools. We want school board members who are more than just fiscal watchdogs in these challenging financial times. With the district scheduled to run out of money in 2015, it will be too easy to let budgets drive decision-making.
In other words, we need school board members with vision, who are:
  1. Careful policy makers and objective evaluators of data and research-based reforms
  2. Wise stewards of public school resources
  3. Promoters of public education as a public good
  4. Fearless advocates for restoring adequate State funding for our schools
  5. Advocates for enhanced revenues and fair executors of the school board taxing authority to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.
  6. Committed to achieving equity by supporting teachers, parents, students and community members in developing school specific plans to implement the District's Equity Plan.
  7. Real partners with all stakeholders to set the highest professional standards and nurture collaboration across our school system
  8. Leaders who engage parents, educators, administrators, and community members in authentic, ongoing dialogue that improves our school and enriches our democracy
  9. Committed to implementing community driven solutions that come from real engagement and collaboration between parents, students, educators, administrators and community not outside consulting firms.
This is some of the language we have been working on. What do you think? Please come to the town hall on Monday and get this crucial conversation going. Keep the grassroots in our elections so there's no room for the billionaire corporate-reformers to play with Pittsburgh's school board.
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