In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Green Party’s 2012 Vice Presidential candidate is taking a leading role in public school parents’ challenges to high stakes standardized testing. Cheri Honkala, the parent of a child in the Philadelphia public school system, is also the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.
The 17th Annual Homelessness Marathon is set to air. If you’ve never seen or heard it, it is, literally, like no other broadcast in the world (except for our daughter broadcast, the Canadian Homelessness Marathon). This is the world turned upside down and looked at from the perspective of the poorest-of-the-poor, and featuring their voices as they speak for themselves.
The broadcast will start tomorrow (Tuesday the 17th) at 7p.m., eastern time, and it will run for fourteen hours until 9a.m., eastern time, on Wednesday the 18th.
Today we stand in solidarity with our dear friend Rev. Edward Pinkney who was sentenced yesterday to serve 2.5 to 10 years on election fraud charges. He was convicted by an all-white jury in Benton Harbor, Michigan that was presented with no evidence of Pinkney’s guilt. His conviction relates to a recall petition for Benton Harbor’s mayor. He has been locked away for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING other than wanting to change the corrupt system we live under.
Homelessness is a major national issue, as well as a local one in the city of Rochester. That is why the Social Work Department at the College at Brockport brought Cheri Honkala to campus to speak about her firsthand experience as both an activist and former homeless mother.
“I’ve lived a very surreal kind of life,” Honkala said. “I live in, like you guys do, one of the richest places in the entire world and I consider myself to be fairly educated and smart and resourceful and yet I found myself living in a car with my 9-year-old son driving around trying to figure out where I was going to sleep on any given night.”
To prevent herself and her son, Mark Webber, from freezing, she began taking over abandoned government properties, like vacant houses.
On Monday, October 6th, the School Reform Commission (SRC) cancelled the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ (PFT) contract, costing teachers their health care benefits. This is yet another destructive act in a long line of attacks on Philadelphia’s public schools. The SRC and Governor Corbett have eliminated jobs, school programs, plus 24 schools. Yet, at the same time, Corbett is advocating for $1.7 billion in tax breaks for Shell Oil. The big business plans to build a plant in Beaver County that is expected to rank in the top ten air polluters. Philadelphia schools and our environment are breaking under the burden of these big business tax breaks. Teachers are being told it is their time to make sacrifices but they have been sacrificing all along with limited resources, over crowded classrooms and fulfilling extra roles such as counselor and nurse due to lack of funding for full time staff.
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign along with Moffet School parents, students, and teachers will be holding a mock auction inside of the Governor’s office (200-South Broad Street, 11th floor) this Thursday (October 9th) at 4pm in response to the news of the SRC’s decision to cut teacher’s heath benefits.
Pushing back against a wave of legislative and judicial action seen as targeting the rights of women, the grassroots organization “We Are Woman” will lead a Constitutional Day Rally in Washington on Saturday, September 13th, launching the return of a demand for the ERA to fully enfranchise women into the United States Constitution. The organizers have included a special tribute to military women and are expecting thousands of supporters from across the nation to attend the rally scheduled from 9:30am-4pm on the west lawn of the Capitol. The rally comes just weeks ahead of the fall elections in which women are projected to be the key voting demographic.
Bringing Equitable Participation into Sustainable Development Decisions
Initiative for Equality is calling for more equitable participation in the discussions and decisions surrounding sustainable development. The United Nations is in the process of adopting new Sustainable Development Goals to supplant the Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015. Initiative for Equality, or IfE, is a global network of civil society groups and individuals advocating for greater social, economic and political equality. IfE’s global Field Hearings project will be presented at the UN’s DPI NGO conference at UN HQ in New York this week.
Jerry Jones the director of the National Coalition for the Homeless has expressed a desire to learn from the LGBT community about how they started out as an obscure minority and yet have won rights in various states and nations over the past 25 years. Jerry has drawn parallels between them and the homeless: Both make up about 1% of the U.S. population and both have been looked down on by the vast majority of people. So, Jerry wants to use the tactics and techniques of the LGBT community to gain similar victories for the homeless. At least that’s what David Pirtle told me. He’s often right.