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FW: UPDATE: Teachers Threatened with Termination for Anti-war Student Walkout

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  • brian roa
    To: counter-recruitment@yahoogroups.comFrom: bb218@scn.org Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 22:31:21 -0800 Subject: [counter-recruitment] UPDATE: Teachers Threatened
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2007
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      From: bb218@...
      Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 22:31:21 -0800
      Subject: [counter-recruitment] UPDATE: Teachers Threatened with Termination for Anti-war Student Walkout

       
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, November 30, 2007 12:01 PM
      Subject: [NWstudentsantiwar] Great radio report on Teacher defense campaign on Free Speech Radio News!

      Great radio news report on the Tukwila Teachers Defense Campaign on Free Speech Radio News (a national progressive radio station)! 

      Go to this website: 
      http://www.fsrn.org/content/public-opinion-favors-teachers-wa-disciplined-alleged-involvement-student-anti-war-walk-out





      UPDATE: Teachers Threatened with Termination for Anti-war Student Walkout  11/29/07

      Because of student and public pressure, our solidarity campaign has won a partial victory—popular teacher Brett Rogers was TEMPORARILY REINSTATED Tuesday at Foster High School in Tukwila, Washington.
       
      However, the disciplinary investigations continue, and some of the teachers are still in their probationary period.  So pressure must be put on the school district to make sure the Tukwila six teachers keep their jobs not only this year but also next year!
       
      The School administrators also over-reacted and brought in police yesterday to disperse a peaceful student meeting! They have blatantly violated teachers' and students' right to free speech, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly!  We cannot let them get away with this!
       

      ***URGENT CALL FOR SOLIDARITY:
      KEEP CALLING AND EMAILING TUKWILA SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS!***
      PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY!

      On November 16th, more than 125 students  from Foster High School in Tukwila, WA answered a nation-wide call for a student walk out protesting the war and military recruiters in schools. (See student-made video below) In response, the Tukwila School District threatened students with suspension, but their main target was teachers. Disciplinary investigations threaten the firing of SIX teachers and administration placed one of the six, Brett Rogers, on administrative leave. We put out a call for support for the Tukwila Six and students.
      • Hundreds of emails and phone calls of solidarity have had a MAJOR IMPACT on the Tukwila School Board.
      • At a Tukwila School Board meeting Tuesday the 25th, students and community members jam-packed the room, passionately demanding NO repression of students and DROP ALL DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING AGAINST THE TUKWILA SIX! (See below for video clip)
      • Media coverage has brought a spotlight to Principal Ilgenfritz’s REPRESSIVE instincts to the DEMOCRATIC EXPRESSION of students and against ACADEMIC FREEDOM of teachers.
      Because of PUBLIC PRESSURE, the solidarity campaign has won a partial victory—popular teacher Brett Rogers was been TEMPORARILY REINSTATED Tuesday. However, the disciplinary investigations continue and some of the teachers are still in their probationary period, so pressure must be put on the school district to retain the Tukwila Six this year AND next. (See Seattle Times article below)
       
      Also Wednesday, when students tried to meet at the Foster commons after school to discuss the crisis, the principal brought in eight police to break up and disperse the meeting.  Student posters were torn down by the principal, and students were told that they are not allowed to hang up posters. Teachers have been told that they may not discuss the crisis with colleagues or students. One girl talking about teacher Brett Roger’s situation was loudly threatened by Principal Ilgenfritz with suspension. All these incidents are blatant violations of students' and teachers' constitutional rights to free speach, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly!
       
      The phone calls and emails must continue- this is not over. These teachers' livelihoods are still at stake and the students' rights are clearly under attack.
       

      The Tukwila Teachers and Students Solidarity Committee URGENTLY requests that you again FLOOD the administration with phone calls and emails with the following DEMANDS:
       
      1.  Fire NO teachers!

      2.  Drop all disciplinary investigations against teachers NOW!

      3.  Keep all the teachers THE REST OF THIS YEAR AND NEXT YEAR!

      4.  When politicians lie to us and continue their oil-driven war against the people's will, student walkouts and other forms of civil disobedience are justified and necessary.  No discipline for any students who walked out and took a stand against this war!

      ' 5. End attacks on Foster students Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly!
       

      Please call or email NOW!

      Foster HS Principal George Ilgenfritz:  1 (206) 901-7905
       
       
       
       
      And Interim Superintendent Ethelda Burke:   1 , ,
       
       
       
       
       
      Please send copies to Tukwila School Board members:
       
      mfertakis@comcast.net
       
       
      Please also send a copy of protest emails to us at
       
      tukwila.teachers.solidarity@... so we can count how many protest emails have been sent in.
       
      If they refuse to answer your call,  then call Foster HS Assistant Principal Daryl Wright 1 and Foster HS Office Manager Darlene Aguiluz 1 .
       
      VIDEOS:
      Student-made Walkout Film:
      Footage on Foster Walkout, Tukwila Six and After School Board meeting:
      NEWS ARTICLES:
      Seattle Times Article: "Protesting teacher back at Tukwila school"  November 29th
      Seattle Post-Intelligencer Nov. 16th Walkout Article:
      seattlepi.nwsource. com/local/ 340003_peace17. html
      Four articles on walkouts at: 
      socialistalternativ e.org

      BACKGROUND INFO:
      On Friday, November 16th, more than a 1,000 students in Washington State participated in a nation-wide student walkout to protest the war and military recruiters in schools. This included around 125+ students at Foster High School , just south of Seattle ..  Foster is part of the Tukwila School District , of which 71% of the student body is low-income and eligible for the free and reduced-cost school meals. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, the U.S. military has been assigning ever greater numbers of recruiters to lure young people into signing up for this bloody, costly and illegal quagmire in Iraq, especially in marginalized schools like Foster High School.
      ·        With a “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 provision forcing principals to give up the private contact information of young people to military recruiters, students and teachers have the natural right to protest.
      ·       With a bloody and illegal war, where the soldiers that are killed and maimed are disproportionately minorities and victims of the “poverty draft,” students and teachers of Tukwila have the natural right to protest. 
      ·       With more than $500 billion dollars and the lives of more than a million Iraqis having been utterly wasted on a failed war, with schools in marginalized areas falling apart, we should all be protesting with the slogan: “Money for Schools—Not For War!"
      ·       With 75% of the American people polling against the war according to the latest Washington Post poll, and a Democratic Congress still making excuses for why it can’t cut off funding to bring the troops home, we must support the young people who speak out against their future being bombed away. 
      ·       And we MUST support their teachers whose only misconduct was making their lesson plans truly relevant to the lives of their students
      ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------
      MORE BACKGROUND INFO:
      Foster is part of the Tukwila School District, of which 71% of the student body is low-income and eligible for the free and reduced-cost school meals. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, the U.S. military has been assigning ever greater numbers of recruiters to lure young people into signing up for this bloody, costly and illegal quagmire in Iraq, especially in marginalized schools like Foster High School.
       
      The memo from the Interim Superintendent to at least 6 teachers essentially says:
      1. In the next couple days, we will summon you to a meeting because we are “investigating reports of possible misconduct relating to you in connection with the student walk-out.”  There could be disciplinary consequences pending completion of this investigation.
      1. You are not to discuss “this matter with any District students or staff,” or else you could be terminated.
      1. You have the right to have a union representative present with you during the investigative interview in case you feel your rights might be violated.
      The administration is clearly trying to isolate the teachers and students from one another to try to divide them and weaken them.  They are trying to use the tactic of divide and rule.  They are also blatantly violating the teachers’ right to free speech.
      The teachers have been careful to abide by the Interim Superintendent’ s directive not to talk with any District students or staff about these matters.  But nothing in the Superintendent’ s letter said teachers could not talk with their union representatives or community supporters.  In fact, the letter explicitly says they could talk with the union.
      Some teachers who received letters were simply on their lesson planning hour and therefore were not scheduled to teach class when the student walkout happened.  These teachers went outside just to see what was going on when the students walked out, but they did not walk out or promote the walkout.  So the school has no evidence against some teachers who received the threatening letters.
      It appears the administration is targeting these teachers in a political with-hunt because they have spoken their minds in the past over other issues.  For example, two of these teachers were banned in the past from sending out school-wide emails because they spoke their minds in school-wide emails that the administrators did not like.
      Iraq Veteran
      The husband of one of the teachers who received the threatening letters is an Iraq veteran.  He went to Foster High School on November 16th and spoke to the students from first-hand experience about the truth of the Iraq War that the government and corporate media are actively hiding from the American people, and he walked out with the students.
      As the Iraq veteran left the building, he was confronted by a security guard who identified himself as a police officer/veteran/ federal marshall who said: “Don't even start with me, I'm a veteran.”
      The school administration is disciplining a teacher whose husband is a veteran whose life was put at serious risk in Iraq and who has now turned against the war.  This is very disrespectful to the veteran, his family, and the working-class students who are being forced to shoulder the burdens of this war.  The school administrators are more concerned with trying to having power over teachers and students than letting the communities who have been hit the hardest by the war speak out against the war and the predatory military recruiters in their schools.  This—after the American people voted the Democrats into Congress to end the war, but the Democrats are still making excuses about why they cannot cut off funds for the war and direct those funds toward education and other desperately needed social services.  When the leaders of our country will not end this unjust war, then it becomes up to ordinary workers, parents, students, and soldiers to end the war.
      The attendance secretary at the school also refused to excuse the absences of students who had permission slips signed by their parents to miss school, which is a flagrant violation of parent and student rights. 
      Principal George Ilgenfritz also told one student that she didn’t know anything about war.  (Ironically, the student is from an immigrant Somali family who has family in the war-torn country of Somalia.)
      On the Tukwila School District’s website, the following message has been posted by Interim Superintendent Ethelda Burke: “We believe in the historic mission of public education within our democracy…  Our schools are expected to encourage and prepare students to be productive citizens.   We believe the challenge is to transform every child – to give every student a chance to become an autonomous, thinking person and a self-governing citizen.  We are all here to work together to provide the best education for the most prized commodity of our fine city – the students of the Tukwila School District.”
      Yet when the students participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience in the best traditions of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement who challenged unjust segregation laws, now the Superintendent is hypocritically trying to discourage students from being “self-governing citizens” and standing up for what is right. 
      We need to match the determination of these courageous teachers, students and the Iraq veteran with all the support we can!  Please take a few minutes now to call and email the Principal and Superintendent at the numbers and emails at the top of this email!
      YouTube video of Foster High School student rally for peace: www.youtube. com/watch? v=cOuLz3kKExI 
      Report on Washington State Nov. 16th student walkouts against the war:  http://yawr. org/nov16/ seattle.html
      Please forward this email widely to supportive organizations and individuals who might be able to help!


      SAMPLE PROTEST LETTER:

      Dear Principal Ilgenfritz,
      I am writing to demand that the Tukwila School District support the initiative and moral fortitude
      of students who took a stand against the effects of the Iraq war on their communities.  The student
      march and rally on November 16th were student-generated and entirely peaceful.

      With a “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 provision forcing principals to give up the private
      contact information of young people to military recruiters, students and teachers have the
      natural right to protest.


      With a bloody and illegal war, where the soldiers that are killed and maimed are
      disproportionately minorities and victims of the “poverty draft,” students and
      teachers of Tukwila have the natural right to protest.


      With more than $500 billion dollars and the lives of more than a million Iraqis
      having been utterly wasted on a failed war, with schools in marginalized areas
      falling apart, we should all be protesting with the slogan: “Money for Schools—Not For War!"

      With 75% of the American people polling against the war according to the latest Washington
      Post poll, and a Democratic Congress still making excuses for why it can’t cut off funding
      to bring the troops home, we must support the young people who speak out against their
      future being bombed away.

      These teachers only misconduct was making their lesson plans truly relevant to the lives
      of their students.


      On the Tukwila School District’s website, the Interim Superintedent posted the following message:
      “We believe in the historic mission of public education within our democracy…  Our schools are
      expected to encourage and prepare students to be productive citizens.   We believe the challenge
      is to transform every child – to give every student a chance to become an autonomous, thinking
      person and a self-governing citizen.  We are all here to work together to provide the best
      education for the most
      prized commodity of our fine city – the students of the Tukwila School
      District.”


      Yet when the students participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience in the best traditions
      of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement who challenged unjust segregation
      laws, now the school district is hypocritically trying to discourage students from being
      “self-governing citizens” and standing up for what is right?
      You should immediately:

             1. Reinstate the teacher Brett Rogers who has been put on administrative leave!

             2. Drop the disciplinary hearings against all six teachers who face investigations!

             3. Take no disciplinary action against students who participated in the walkout!

      Please write me back saying that upon further investigation you realize that there is no
      need for disciplinary action against these students or teachers.

      Sincerely,

      Ramy Khalil
      Youth Against War and Racism
      Socialist Alternative


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