Pay to Play: The Creeping Privatization of Public Education

Anyone with a child in a California public school knows how thoroughly riddled with private-school fundraising many schools have become. But without such stopgaps, public schools have no art, theatre, debate, music, robotics, sports, or field trips—and some public schools lack all of these! Generous and public-spirited parents try to fill the enormous gap left by Proposition 13, but inevitably, when a small group coalesces around a favored activity, the precious cornerstone and sign of democracy—universal access— is eroded.

Affordable Housing Rally, San Jose

San Jose has the nation’s largest unsheltered homeless population. In response to San Jose’s homelessness crisis, the Sacred Housing Action Committee led a rally at city hall last week to inform and persuade the public and elected officials to pass a fee to raise funds for affordable housing.

Glory, Fame, and Ambition: the Custer Model

This achievement-compassion nexus can make one’s head spin. A writer friend, Tarn, however, has an approach I admire: she always seems to consider her writing in a spiritual light, as part of her service and connection to others, not just a race for acclaim.

Politics, Humility and Homophobia: The Strangest Bedfellows of All

Does Outrage Work?
When I consider how my own mind has changed, it was never because someone attacked and judged me harshly. It almost always arose from the surprising response of someone I respected. One example: I grew up literally and genuinely homophobic, one of those who are called “haters” though it was not true that I hated homosexuals.

Sustainable Solidarity: Now Appearing in Wisconsin

Remember those long, long, Reagan-Bush years? For me, one toxic byproduct of that time was a continual sense of rage and despair. My pattern at the time was this: flash of outrage, flurry of activity, desperate waiting, defeat, despair. Repeat until burnout. Since then, I’ve thought long and hard about an activism that continues past fury to true solidarity with the power to inspire and sustain over the long haul. And I recently had a chance to experience this at the Solidarity Singalong in Madison, Wisconsin.

What the Right Understands About Poverty and Dependency

David Azerrad in a recent post at the Heritage Foundation’s site, “What the Left Misunderstands about Poverty and Dependency” offers a long list of right wing assumptions: that housing, food, and medical assistance prevent people from marrying and working, that government assistance “erodes the virtues that allow people to flourish,” and most astonishingly, that “all Americans – conservative and liberal alike – believe in a strong safety net.” I sent him an email with several questions (if he answers, I’ll provide that in an update). Here is the first:
When you mention, “the virtues that allow people to flourish,” which virtues do you mean and what would be “flourishing”? From what I can gather, when conservatives talk about flourishing, they mean working hard (but not in any public or government position, Republican politics excepted), going to college, getting married, starting a business, buying a house, etc.. If you’re really flourishing, you live in a gated “community,” go to a private school, own high-end cars, play golf, travel by air, help out with the Boy Scouts (while your sons are in a troop), and perhaps donate your old clothes to charity.

Salvation at the Animal Shelter

Seventy percent of cats at the shelter have to be euthanized. Who shall be saved and who shall be damned? We didn’t want to think of it that way. Who deserves to escape the burning fiery furnace? What do you bring as currency to buy salvation? Your suffering? That seems right, but suffering can create an abyss. That big surly cat growling from a cage might have suffered more than most, but we didn’t want her bites and scratches, her hissing and fleeing under the bed. Your good deeds? But how can we know the past from what we see in the present? Your love?