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News and reports

May 20, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

Recruiters out of our schools
No death penalty
Black Panther Party reunion

Save Seattle schools
By Vicky Jambor, Seattle Education Association

SEATTLE--Two hundred parents and students filled the Seattle Public School Board meeting May 4 to express their anger about the proposal to close 10 schools and consolidate at least 14 other sites and programs.

Superintendent Raj Manhas announced the cuts April 21, claiming they were necessary to close a $20 million deficit. The cuts would also eliminate the busing program and re-segregate schools by forcing children to attend neighborhood schools.

Parents and students rallied before entering the school board meeting. "Seattle Schools sold our city," they chanted. "Save our schools." Inside, it was standing room only as parents and students spoke out to their elected school board members about the cuts. "I will not allow our school superintendent, our board of directors--anybody--to wager my son's future in their game of craps," said parent Al Boss. "Our children are not crap, and they deserve better."

Since the announcement of the proposed closures, parents, teachers and community members have organized actions throughout the city ahead of the July 13 school board vote on the plan. One important outcome has been the emergence of a citywide coalition, Communities for Public Education, which is fighting to stop the proposed plan to close schools.

About 100 parents and students protested May 14, at a celebration of the completion of the new City Hall, challenging Mayor Greg Nickels with a protest. One of the local schools on the list to be closed is T.T. Minor, which had its marching band play in the ceremony. All of the students wore "Save Our School" buttons, and parents started chanting "Save our school!" when they were done playing.

Another rally was set for the school board meeting May 18, followed by a citywide rally in early June.

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Recruiters out of our schools
By Jesse Hagopian

SEATTLE--More than 60 parents, students, teachers and community members packed the Garfield High School Library for the May 12 Parent Teacher and Student Association (PTSA) meeting to voice their opposition to the presence of military recruiters on school grounds. The overwhelming majority of parents passed an anti-recruitment measure.

"There is no place for liars to come to our campus and recruit our kids to die for an illegal war," argued one PTSA member, citing a New York Times article in which recruiters admitted bending the rules to lure in recruits.

The PTSA resolution states, in part, "There are many reasons why Garfield parents, teachers and students might object to military recruiting on campus. Not all of us agree on every issue. Whether it is because of a desire to protect young students from the life-and-death decision that military service presents, objection to the current war in Iraq, fear that recruiters may not present a realistic picture of military life or disagreement with policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we do agree that public schools are not a place for military recruiters."

While the PTSA's resolution does not legally bind the school to remove the military, it has already energized the anti-recruitment movement in Seattle and could be a significant step in a larger campaign to pressure the citywide school board to eject military recruiters from all Seattle schools.

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No death penalty
By Jessica Hansen-Weaver

SAN FRANCISCO--More than 50 came to a meeting of Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) in Bayview on April 30.

Speakers included Barbara Becnel, advocate of innocent San Quentin death row prisoner Stan Tookie Williams; Charlene Smythe from the Green Party; Mesha Monge-Irizarry of the Idriss Stelley Foundation; and Sandra-Juanita Cooper (CEDP). The event was organized to connect the dots between the violence that is happening in the community with the oppression that is happening on San Quentin's death row and in society at large.

The evening was highlighted by the stories of Doris McClean, mother of a death row inmate who has been denied any communication with her son, who was recently shot in the face by a prison guard, and the family of Julio Ayala, who was killed by five police officers in early April.

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Black Panther Party reunion

SEATTLE--An inspiring tribute to the Black Panther Party's Seattle chapter was held May 14 when a dozen former members of the local Black Panther Party and those from Oakland, Calif., held a reunion. More than 400 people attended speeches, teach-ins, a film festival and musical performances in the first such reunion held outside California.

Aaron Dixon, a former Black Panther Party captain, announced to the crowd, "This is not just a reunion. We have come to set the record straight." Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party in Oakland with Huey P. Newton, called the Seattle chapter "probably the most dynamic and most profound" because of its humanitarian work.

"What's interesting is, in 1968 and 1969, we created these survival programs because all the money was being drained for the war in Vietnam, which is the same thing now," Dixon said. "All the money that should be going to our communities is going to the war in Iraq. It's the same scenario."

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