Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) Annual Fundraiser Party December 4, 2010

UCLA Community School
3201 W. 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90005
Saturday, December 4, 2010 from 6:00 — 10:00 PM

CMO Corporate Charters discriminate against SWD, Special Ed, and ELL students! Support CEJ in its struggles for educational justice!
Information for this event
Informacion en Español tambien

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Coalition for Educational Justice NEEDS YOUR HELP! We've been fighting for educational justice for over a decade, and the political and economic struggles we face in public education have never been so intense. At the same time that we are fighting the privatization of our schools through charter give-aways and campaigning to obtain more desperately needed school funding, foundations that used to support CEJ are tightening their belts and not giving as generously as before. We have had to go from having a full time director to a part time organizing director. We no longer have an office and we are being as frugal as possible with our limited funds. PLEASE RESPOND TO THIS LETTER WITH A GENEROUS DONATION TO CEJ. THANK YOU!

The good news is that our part time organizing director, Frances Turner, is awesome! She started as a student organizer 7 years ago at Crenshaw High School's CEJ chapter. She now inspires and helps guide new CEJ students at LA High, Crenshaw, Dorsey, Jordan, and YOU. Frances brings her dynamic personality and powerful leadership skills to our organization and we are very excited and pleased to have her as our staff person. Byron Gudiel continues to volunteer as a steering committee member of CEJ and Frances' husband, Jesse Turner, is also a very active and contributing steering committee member.

Another piece of CEJ good news is our upcoming annual Fundraising Party in December. It will be held, as it was last year, at the:

UCLA Community School
3201 W. 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90005
Saturday, December 4, 2010 from 6:00 — 10:00 PM

We're Bringing Back Old School and will highlight the Left's victories through the decades, from the 50's up through the 90's.

We'll never be able to build the movement we need without parents and students in the lead. CEJ is one of the few organizations of parents and students that is working directly with the teachers' union, specifically on a comprehensive anti-privatization strategy. Many other parent and student groups have become part of different anti-union and quasi-privatization efforts. But in CEJ we are exposing the bottom-line motives behind the move to privatize and de-unionize our schools. We have been steadily gaining allies and making progress in our efforts and we continue to stand strong.

Since our last fundraising appeal, we went through the first round of Public School Choice, which we describe as a school give-away to charter companies, and we won a significant battle by keeping 32 out of 36 schools within LAUSD. Three of our schools went to the Mayor's Partnership (PLAS) within I-Design of LAUSD, and 3 others went to various charter organizations. Surprisingly, the LA School Board overwhelmingly supported home-grown school reform plans that CEJ members, in some cases, helped create, and that all of CEJ supported. Through community forums with strong CEJ parent participation, we were able to build support for our plans. In the advisory votes that were later taken last winter, the support for the home-grown reform plans was tremendous and clearly influenced the School Board.

All our CEJ chapters joined a state-wide Day of Action on March 4, '10, and demonstrated with thousands of students, pre-k through adult school, including university students who led the effort throughout California, in Pershing Square, in downtown Los Angeles, one of many locations throughout the state where large mobilizations were held. A Dorsey CEJ student spoke on the podium in front of thousands of demonstrators and a vibrant and enthusiastic group of CEJ students, parents and teachers marched and chanted alongside our sisters and brothers in the struggle, holding our CEJ banner aloft.

Last spring, and during the past two years, CEJ, along with its allies, was very involved in the fight against budget cuts, and was a part of making sure there were minimal RIFs (lay-offs) in order to prevent further deterioration of the teaching profession and the quality of student learning in Los Angeles. CEJ teachers are assisting UTLA in formulating the union's strategic plan and are involved in the Teacher Effectiveness Work Group that is proactively recommending progressive alternatives to evaluating teachers that do NOT include the use of student test scores, but WILL improve the quality of teaching and learning.

This past summer, CEJ developed its own strategic plan which we have begun to enact this fall. We have two city-wide campaigns with which our 6 CEJ chapters and our steering committee have engaged. The first is our State Budget Justice campaign where CEJ members, including many CEJ parents and students, spent more than 100 hours phone-banking and precinct-walking in targeted neighborhoods, promoting two state propositions: 24 and 25 earlier this month. We were unsuccessful in passing Prop 24, which would have closed corporate loopholes and redirected 2 billion dollars to our schools, but we DID help pass Prop 25, a HUGE victory, changing the way California will handle its annual budget from now on. By allowing 50% +1 to pass the state budget, instead of requiring 2/3rds as it has been in the past, Republicans will no longer be able to hold the process hostage, forcing our state to borrow at a high rate of interest for months beyond the budget deadline in order to stay solvent, and compelling the Democrats to cut deals that help the rich and hurt those most in need.

Our second campaign is Social Justice Schools, not Privatization, in which we are actively highlighting our best practices in education, like Crenshaw High School's Social Justice Academy and the UCLA Community School (a pilot school) where CEJ teachers are finely tuning their craft, and working on writing REAL school reform plans for schools on the give-away list this year. We are also preparing the fight for our schools that have just come out on the list for next year, 3 of them being CEJ schools: Dorsey, Los Angeles and Jordan High Schools! We're planning community forums to help educate folks about charter schools and privatization and to inform the community about the teacher/administration/community school plans that should be supported and voted for in community votes in January. We'll hold the forums in the targeted neighborhoods we phoned and then walked in, door to door, during the election campaign, and residents, who indicated their interest earlier, will be invited. After the final School Board decision, determining which school plans will be accepted, CEJ members will once again engage the same communities in promoting a pro-student and pro-teacher school board member in the School Board elections in March, 2011. We have worked closely with UTLA and PEAC (Progressive Educators for Action) in both these campaigns, as well as with the state-wide California Alliance.

CEJ parents, as well as students, have been hugely involved in these two campaigns. UTLA officers, leaders and staff have been very impressed with the grass-roots nature of our organizing. CEJ is unique in its ability to bring parents and youth into this work, side by side with teachers.

Our CEJ chapter work, which is overseen by Frances, is continuing to thrive. Our 5 high school chapters meet regularly and have been instrumental in helping us meet the goals of our two campaigns. At Allesandro Elementary School, in addition to maintaining our fruit and vegetable bars at lunchtime and planting a new batch of vegetables and flowers in our greenhouse, the students, parents and teachers of Allesandro CEJ are teaming up with the Sierra Club in an effort to get Los Angeles off of coal by 2020. At their recent Halloween festival, Allesandro CEJers helped run a booth that gave prizes of LA Beyond Coal tee shirts and buttons to folks who signed petitions and letters to move the campaign forward.

So, as you can see, CEJ remains a strong force in support of public education and in support of equity and racial and socio-economic justice in our communities. We are in need of your support. Please send us a donation, using the form below, and/or come to our annual fundraising party at the UCLA Community School on 8th Street, west of Vermont. See you there!

December Fundraising Committee of Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ)


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