Tag Archives: students

Students nationwide walking out of class to protest Trump

Within 100 hours of the inauguration, thousands of students across the country walked out of class in protest of Donald Trump and his billionaire cabinet.

The walk-out comes just two days after millions mobilized in Women’s Marches around the world.

Students on dozens of campuses across the country are demanding administrations resist and reject Trump’s climate denial cabinet by divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in solutions to the climate crisis.

“In the face of Trump’s dangerous climate denial, youth are rising up,” said Greta Neubauer, director of the Divestment Student Network. “For any chance at curbing the worst impacts of climate change, our universities must stand on the right side of history with students and take action now against Trump’s climate denial. We won’t allow Trump and his fossil fuel billionaire cabinet to foreclose on our future.”

Today’s day of action, dubbed #ResistRejectDenial, is said to be the largest youth-led mobilization in the history of the fossil fuel divestment movement.

“I need my university to stand up for our futures under Trump’s dangerous and corrupt climate denial,” said Samantha Smyth, sophomore at Appalachian State University. “We must disavow the blatant disregard for our well-being and future by climate deniers in office. We must stand up for the millions of people who are dying at the hands of powerful, morally corrupt individuals who deny climate change.”

Beyond fossil fuel divestment, young people are taking action to ensure elected officials take necessary action on climate and against Big Oil. In an ongoing lawsuit, 21 young people from across the United States filed a landmark lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to address the effects of climate change.

“This is a wake up call to Donald Trump; there are almost 75 million people in this country under the age of 18,” said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians and a plaintiff in the federal climate change lawsuit. “We didn’t have an opportunity to vote in the past election, but we will suffer the consequences of climate inaction to a greater degree than any living generation. Our right to a just and livable future is nonnegotiable.”

Just last week, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record and the second hottest year in U.S. history surpassing records of 2015 and 2014.

Extreme weather, including storms, floods and droughts, are impacting communities at a pace and magnitude far exceeding previous predictions, making it even more crucial that institutions divest and take meaningful action on climate.

“Hope is something we must create. In this moment, the best way to do that is by taking action and showing that we will rise to this moment,” said Neubauer. “When it comes to climate change, time is not on our side. This is just the beginning of the opposition that the Trump’s administration should expect from young people.”

Fed Chair Yellen cites income gap among long-term risks

The U.S. economy is on solid ground now but it faces long-term risks posed by slow productivity growth and the widening income gap, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says.

Speaking recently to a gathering of teachers, Yellen said that she sees no major short-term risks facing the economy.

However, sputtering productivity growth and growing income inequality are serious long-term concerns.

The Fed chair said both challenges are outside the scope of the Federal Reserve to handle with its interest-rate tools, so it is important for other policymakers to address them.

She cited a recent study that included a “very shocking finding” — death rates in the 45-to-54 age group are actually rising.

Yellen said there appeared to be a link between this increase and higher rates of suicide and health issues related to substance abuse.

“The thought is that this is a reflection of greater economic insecurity,” Yellen said. “Obviously these are very disturbing trends.”

To promote the study of economics, Yellen held a national town hall meeting with teachers gathered at the Fed’s headquarters in Washington and in groups listening in at Fed regional banks around the country.

In prepared remarks, she said the study of economics can help students manage their personal finances and also provide them with the skills for analytical and critical thinking needed for success later in life.

“Economics provides knowledge and skills of practical use in college and in the workplace and it also provides skills to plan and make wise financial decisions,” Yellen said.

Asked in the question period how an introductory course on money and finance should be designed, she said she would make a number of changes to how she taught such a course many years ago, incorporating the lessons learned in dealing with the 2008 financial crisis, the worst since the 1930s.

She defended the bolstering of the safety and soundness of the financial system brought on by the Dodd-Frank Act that Congress passed in 2010 to prevent a future crisis. Republicans in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump have said they want to roll back some of the changes to make regulation less burdensome.

In her remarks, Yellen said that economics training can play an important role in improving the capabilities and creativity of the workforce.

“Everyone is engaged in and depends on the economy and nothing is more critical to a healthy and growing economy than the capability, creativity and productiveness of its workforce,” Yellen told the teachers. “Whenever I am asked what policies and initiatives could do the most to spur economic growth and raise living standards, improving education is at the top of my list.”

Yellen said that consumers, whose individual spending decisions account for two-thirds of economic activity, can better weather hard times if they have the proper training.

“Stronger household finances overall can help sustain growth, stabilize the economy and mitigate an economic downturn,” she said.

Yellen also put in a plug for what she called the most important teaching aid the Fed produces, a 182-page book called “The Federal Reserve System: Purposes and Functions.” She urged the teachers to check out the new 10th edition of this book on the Fed’s website.

Survey shows post-election spike in bullying of young people

A post-election survey of youths found 70 percent witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment, with racial bias the most common motive cited.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, released the online survey of 50,000 young people on Jan. 18.

More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth said they have been personally bullied or harassed since Election Day — compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth — with transgender young people most frequently targeted.

Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx respondents were 20 percent more likely than other youth to report having been personally bullied, with harassment targeting both immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.

“Whether the threats come in their schools or from those holding the country’s highest offices, no young person should be bullied or made to feel unsafe,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a news release. “The alarming results of this groundbreaking survey underscore our fears about the damaging effect the recent election is having on our nation’s youth, and serve as a call to action to all of us committed to helping our young people thrive in an inclusive and supportive society.”

Young people reported feeling nervous and hopeless after the election, with almost half of LGBTQ youth saying they have taken steps to hide who they are by delaying coming out, dressing differently or questioning their plans for the future.

Hispanic and African American young people also reported changing their appearances and routines out of fear of harassment and Muslim, Jewish and Hindu youth all described concealing symbols of their faith to avoid being targeted.

In responses to open-ended questions on the survey, many young people shared stories of how  campaign rhetoric encouraged harassment and bullying.

Wrote one Hispanic 18-year-old from Illinois: “My family and I go shopping and wash clothes at 2 a.m. to avoid seeing and hearing people’s comments.

Findings include:

● 70 percent of respondents reported witnessing bullying, hate messages or harassment during or since the 2016 election.

Of those, 79 percent said such behaviors have been occurring more frequently since the onset of the presidential campaign.

● Among young people who reported seeing bullying and harassment, 70 percent witnessed incidents motivated by race or ethnicity, 63 percent saw incidents motivated by sexual orientation, 59 percent saw incidents motivated by immigration status and 55 percent witnessed incidents motivated by gender.

● Over the past 30 days, about half of transgender youth reported feeling hopeless and worthless most or all of the time and 70 percent said these and similar feelings have increased in the past 30 days.

About 36 percent were personally bullied or harassed and 56 percent changed their self-expression or future plans because of the election.

● Before Election Day 2016, more than half of survey respondents reported thinking about  the election every day and a third thought about it several times each week.

Respondents were solicited through HRC’s social media channels and other organizations, including Mental Health America, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Southern Poverty Law Center, True Colors Fund and The Trevor Project.

Gay members of Congress raise concerns about DeVos’ record on LGBT issues

Democratic U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Jared Polis of Colorado and Mark Takano of California are raising serious concerns about Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos’ views on issues affecting LGBT students and parents.

The reps — all openly gay and co-chairs of the  Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus — this week sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) urging them to closely examine DeVos’ record.

“It is unfathomable that the next Secretary of Education would oppose basic protections for LGBT students and roll back the progress we have made to ensure all students feel safe and supported in our schools,” Pocan said in a statement to the press. “Ms. DeVos’ history of opposing equality for LGBT individuals is deeply troubling, and the public deserves to know whether she will work with us to improve lives or continue to advocate an extremist agenda that bullies our students.”

The letter mentions the millions of dollars DeVos and her family have contributed to organizations and candidates that oppose equality for LGBT families and actively promote dangerous practices like “conversion therapy.”

The text of the letter

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

            As Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we write to express our deep concern with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of the United States Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. While Ms. DeVos’ stances on a number of public education issues raise concerns, we cannot hold our silence regarding her opposition to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

Betsy DeVos’ career has been marked by repeated attempts to undermine the rights of the LGBT community. She and her family have donated extensively to groups which promote the idea that students who identify as LGBT must undergo “conversion” therapy and have also affiliated with groups that oppose anti-bullying legislation. The next Secretary of Education must represent all students in our country. Anyone who promotes such fervently anti-LGBT viewpoints is wholly unqualified to serve as the Secretary of Education.  

            Since 1998, Betsy DeVos and her family’s foundations have donated at least $6.1 million to Focus on the Family, a right-wing organization which has spent millions of dollars attempting to defeat marriage equality amendments at the state level. Even more troubling, this organization supported by the DeVos family promotes “conversion therapy,” opposes the right of LGBT parents to adopt children, and has referred to transgender individuals as “mentally ill.” This organization has even gone so far to oppose anti-bullying policies and opposes basic workplace protections for LGBT individuals. The DeVos family’s support for anti-LGBT groups and policies extends beyond just this organization to many other groups known for their anti-LGBT activities, such as:  

·         $1,000,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which has claimed that the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act amounted to a “fatwa;”

·         $15,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has opposed adoption with same-sex couples;

·         $433,750 to the Council for National Policy, a highly secretive group that is led by extremists like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson among other extremists; and 

·         $13,498,000 to the Heritage Foundation, which has stated that “Despite activist judges’ opinions, the majority of Americans continue to affirm the reasonable conclusion that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” 

The DeVos family does not stop with contributions to intolerant organizations as they also support anti-LGBT politicians. For example, the DeVos family – including Ms. DeVos – were top contributors to Michigan State Representative Andrea LaFontaine, who sponsored legislation allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT parents and deny them the ability to adopt a child. 

            The LGBT community has made significant and long overdue advancements when it comes to equality in education. During President Obama’s tenure in office, the Department of Education took important steps to combat bullying and ensure that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, appropriately reflects the rights of transgender students. It is imperative that the rights of LGBT students are adequately protected moving forward. 

            As you move to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos, we strongly encourage you to seek out answers regarding Ms. DeVos’ stance on important education equity issues, including her views on protecting LGBT students from bullying and discrimination in K-12 and higher education spaces. We are particularly troubled by Betsy DeVos’ past support for inhumane “conversion therapy” treatments and believe it is imperative that any Secretary of Education nominee denounce such practices before being confirmed. 

            As Members of the LGBT community, we know our schools must be a safe place for all children. As you consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, we strongly encourage you to stand up for the civil rights of LGBT students and ensure the next Secretary opposes any action to roll back our progress toward equality.

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UW tuition increases, raise request get regents OK

University of Wisconsin System officials have approved raising tuition for out-of-state, graduate and professional school students by hundreds of dollars at more than a half-dozen campuses as they grapple with a Republican-imposed freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition.

The plan calls for increases at UW-Eau Clare, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stout and all the system’s two-year institutions beginning next fall.

The increases range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for professional schools at UW-Madison, the system’s flagship campus.

That school’s plan includes raising nonresident undergraduate tuition by $4,000 to $35,523 per year. Increases at the school’s professional schools are even steeper. A master’s degree in global real estate will now cost $43,387 per year, an increase of $11,116. One year of medical school will now cost $46,387 for nonresidents, an increase of $7,751. Wisconsin residents will now have to pay $34,478 annually for medical school, an increase of $5,828.

The campuses and system leaders contend they need the extra money in the face of the resident undergraduate freeze, which entered its fourth year this fall and a $250 million cut Republicans imposed on the system in the current state budget.

They also maintain the increases would bring nonresident rates more in line with peer institutions and dollars generated by the graduate increases will stay in those programs.

The plan represents a third round of nonresident and graduate tuition increases at La Crosse, Milwaukee and Stout and the second at UW-Madison since 2015.

The Board of Regents approved the increases on a voice vote.

Discussion lasted less than 15 minutes. Regents Bryan Steil and James Langnes, a UW-Whitewater student, were the only dissenters. Steil said the increases were “too much, too fast.”

System President Ray Cross and regents President Regina Millner countered that the increases represent an investment in the system’s future and UW-Madison’s professional schools are the only such public schools in the state and are crucial to providing doctors, veterinarians and lawyers for Wisconsin.

Raising nonresident and graduate tuition risks alienating those students and losing them to other schools. But system officials said in a memo to regents that schools aren’t concerned about losing those students because the rates are still competitive with peer institutions. A preliminary system report shows the overall number of nonresident freshmen fall enrollments has increased since the 2013-14 academic year.

The regents this fall approved a separate plan to keep undergraduate resident tuition flat for 2017-18 and raise it by no more than the rate of inflation the following year if Republicans lift the freeze. GOP Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants to continue the freeze for at least one more year but hasn’t committed beyond that.

Vote for employee raises

The regents also unanimously approved seeking an additional $78 million from the Legislature to bulk up employee raises over the next two years.

System leaders argued in a memo to the board that other public universities’ salary increases have been outstripping the UW System. UW-Madison’s faculty salaries, for example, were 18 percent lower than peer faculty elsewhere after adjustments for geographic costs of living in fiscal year 2014-15, the memo said.

The vote sends the request to the Legislature’s employment relations committee.

The request comes on top of the system’s request for an additional $42.5 million in state aid in the next state budget.

Anti-Trump protest planned for Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park

Demonstrators marched in a number of major U.S. cities Nov. 9 to protest the election of Donald Trump.

A demonstration is set to take place in Milwaukee on Nov. 10, organized by Occupy Milwaukee and the student-led Progressive People of Milwaukee.

The action will take place at 5:30 p.m., with demonstrators meeting up at Red Arrow Park, 920 N. Water St.

The demonstration is an “Emergency March Against Trump.”

An announcement on PPW’s Facebook page said:

“With Trump’s stunning victory, we now have to confront an administration of misogynists, or racists, of homophobes, and of white nationalists.

We do not know the struggles ahead of us but we must fight and unite all working people, all oppressed communities, against the coming Trump agenda.

We’ll be meeting at Red Arrow Park.

We are stronger.”

UW-Madison statement calls Obama noose costume ‘despicable’

At the University of Wisconsin weekend football game against Nebraska, a fan wore a President Barack Obama mask and a noose around his neck.

The fan took off the noose when asked by Camp Randall Stadium staff.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank says that once the noose was removed, the rest of the costume fell within the stadium’s costume policies.

Blank and athletic director Barry Alvare have issued this statement on the incident:

To the Badger community,

What we saw Saturday night at Camp Randall was despicable and caused an immense amount of pain throughout our community. And it should have, as a noose is a symbol of one of the vilest forms of racial hatred and intimidation in our country’s history.

As many have noted, thousands of African-Americans were lynched in the United States from 1882-1968. We can’t ignore the significance of this history and we can’t underestimate the symbolism of a noose to all those who see that image today.

A noose displayed in this fashion has no place on campus. Together, the Athletics Department and the University’s Office of Legal Affairs are initiating a review of stadium policies with the goal of ensuring that symbols of this type are not displayed in our stadium again.

We have work to do at UW-Madison on campus climate issues, and an incident like this only deepens the divides across campus. Both the University administration and Athletics Department are committed to doing this hard work, while being acutely aware that we are a long way from where we want to be.

To those who have spoken out about this, we hear you and we thank you for your feedback and concern. Together, we will continue to strive to make UW-Madison a place where all Badgers can thrive.

Rebecca Blank, Chancellor

Barry Alvarez, Athletic Director

Remembering Tom Hayden as activist who helped shape the 1960s

When news broke that Tom Hayden had died, many remembered him as the Vietnam War protester, former husband of Jane Fonda or the California legislator. But classmates and fellow activists at the University of Michigan still think of the impassioned and eloquent student who more than anyone shaped a signature document of the 1960s: the Port Huron Statement.

“He was intensely alive, hardworking, indefatigable and courageous,” said Todd Gitlin, who later wrote “The Sixties,” “Occupy Nation” and several other books about activism. “He exhibited this capacity to put a name on things and invoke the possibility of changing the world.”

Completed in 1962, the Port Huron Statement was the manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society, one of the leading youth groups and representatives of the New Left for much of the decade. The statement’s language had an urgency and historical consciousness that recalled the Declaration of Independence and other foundational American texts, beginning with its opening statement: “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

A 25,000-word rejection of the so-called silent generation of the 1950s, the statement captured the hope and anxiety of the new decade, the awareness of material comfort and the distress over a society the students viewed as complacent, unjust and misguided. The Port Huron paper linked the civil rights movement to the nuclear arms race and other causes and advocated participatory democracy, whether through voter registration, peaceful protests or through candidates who would challenge political machines.

“When we talk about the ‘spirit of the ‘60s,’ you have to think of the Port Huron Statement. It was idealistic and aspirational, but also practical. And one of the extraordinary things about it was its elevation of political language,” Gitlin said.

Authorship of a group statement is often disputed, but friends of Hayden, who died Sunday at 76, agree that his was the essential voice and liken his role to that of Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. Both documents were critiqued and altered by quarrelsome peers, but both needed an individual capable of synthesizing and making poetry out of collective ideals.

“He was the best writer among us and was able to articulate so well all the ideas and philosophies we had been debating,” said Sharon Jeffrey Lehrer, another University of Michigan student who worked on the Port Huron Statement.

“A lot of work was done on that statement after Tom first wrote it,” says former SDS member Robert J.S. Ross, a research professor of sociology at Clark University. “There were a lot of sentences pulled out, and others pulled in. Everybody had a hand in it. But Tom was channeling us all.”

The statement was widely circulated and championed, but it was tested as the decade’s traumas accumulated, from the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to the growing and seemingly endless U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. By the mid-1970s, the SDS had broken apart, and many young people had despaired that peaceful change _ or any change _ was possible.

But Hayden’s friends say that he never gave up on civic engagement and that the document remains vital, even if few current students have read it.

“I was on a panel with Tom once that was well publicized and had about 70 there. And half of them were old,” Ross said with a laugh. “But I think the statement really speaks to democracy being an active, not a passive process. And in that regard I see it as a living document.”

Lehrer, who became a leadership coach and co-owner of an art gallery in Northern California, said Hayden was deeply committed to democracy.

“What stands out for me about Tom, fifty plus years ago, was his commitment to a lifetime of participatory democracy,” she said. “I remember him getting up and saying he wasn’t only going to be in activist for this period (as a student). I can still see him saying that, and I remember saying, ‘Right on.’ “

Kids count: Hillary Clinton wins K-12 vote

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is the winner of the presidential contest among students in grades K-12.

Approximately 153,000 students across the country cast their ballots in the 2016 Scholastic News Student Vote.

Clinton  received about 52 percent  of the student vote while Republican candidate Donald Trump received 35 percent.

Thirteen percent of student voters wrote in “other” choices.

Write-in votes were cast for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson (2 percent), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (1 percent, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein (1 percent).

Students also voted for “Mom,” Kanye West, Harambe the gorilla, Spider-Man and “bacon.”

Votes in the 2016 Scholastic News Student Vote were cast by students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Since 1940, the outcome of the Scholastic News Student Vote has mirrored the results of every presidential election, except two: Thomas E. Dewey versus Harry S. Truman in 1948 and John F. Kennedy versus Richard M. Nixon in 1960.

Students who voted for Clinton explained their decisions:

  • “I voted for Hillary because she will be the first woman president. Hillary is showing all women young or old you can do anything.” sixth-grade student in Arizona.
  • “Hillary will make good decisions and do good things for America. She has the experience.” fourth-grade student in New York.

Students who voted for Donald Trump stated:

  • “I would choose Trump because he would be good for business.” fifth-grade student in Georgia.
  • “I voted for Donald Trump because he says that he will make America great again.” sixth-grade student in Arizona.

Scholastic News Student Vote results from key states: 

  • ColoradoClinton 59% Trump 28% Other 14%
  • Florida: Clinton 48% Trump 39% Other 13%
  • Iowa: Clinton 41% Trump 42% Other 17%
  • Michigan: Clinton 49% Trump 36% Other 15%
  • Nevada: Clinton 59% Trump 28% Other 13%
  • New Hampshire: Clinton 50% Trump 31% Other 18%
  • North Carolina: Clinton 49% Trump 40% Other 11%
  • Ohio: Clinton 43% Trump 42% Other 15%
  • Pennsylvania: Clinton 48% Trump 41% Other 10%
  • Virginia: Clinton 50% Trump 37% Other 13%
  • Wisconsin: Clinton 46% Trump 40% Other 14%

“In this unprecedented and contentious presidential race, students have made their voices heard by casting their votes in our mock election for president,” said Elliott Rebhun, Editor-in-Chief of Scholastic Classroom Magazines.

He continued, “The Scholastic News Student Vote is the culmination of a year of coverage in our classroom magazines and Scholastic News online, bringing the election to classrooms nationwide to inform students about the electoral process and the positions taken by the candidates on complex issues — from immigration and the economy to the environment. Our job at Scholastic is to support teachers with age-appropriate content that not only engages students and teaches them about the democratic process, but also helps them think critically about the issues.”

On the Web

To see the full results, visit www.scholastic.com/vote.

 

ITT Technical Institute flop puts Madison students in limbo

The shutdown of ITT Technical Institute’s 130 campuses has left former students at the for-profit college’s Madison campus in educational limbo.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports students’ questions about whether, or how, to continue their education still linger since the Sept. 7 announcement that it was closing.

In August, the U.S. Department of Education barred ITT from enrolling new students who used federal financial aid, saying the company had become a risk to students and taxpayers. ITT blamed the closure in part on that action.

Over 40 students were enrolled at the Madison campus. Another 250 were at a campus in Greenfield.

Those who took out loans to pay tuition can apply for a loan discharge from the federal government, but the move will also require them to forfeit their class credits.

Students’ other option is to keep their loans and credits and try transferring to another college.

Chris Crandall was only six credits away from graduation when ITT closed its doors.

“Infuriated,” Crandall says when he recalls the day he found out about the closure. “Then all the worries came through: Are my credits going to transfer? Where am I going to go from here? Am I going to be starting all over again?”

Keith Cornille, Madison Area Technical College’s senior vice president for student development and success, said students need only provide the college with their transcript to get the process started. She was surprised by the difficulty Crandall faced.

“We’re here to support any of those students and answer their questions … whether (they are from) ITT or any other institution,” Cornille said. Three former ITT students have enrolled at MATC so far, he said.

Although state regulators have sought to provide students with information about their options, several said their former school has not been helpful.

“ITT, in my eyes, is not helping anybody,” said Jerry Field, a student from Watertown who, like several others, said his calls and emails to the college haven’t been returned. “It’s like all the faculty and the school itself disappeared overnight.”