RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #157
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

1/13 @6:30: Celebrate Council Swearing-In
1/31: RPA General Membership Meeting
Bias for Charters in Poll
1/4: Celebrate progress on Cuba
1/20: Bring in New Year with Richmond Food Policy Council
Links to National Media

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,


Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.


1/13, 6:30pm: Gayle, Jovaka, &  Eduardo invite you to join them.
Our electeds will be sworn-in, & then a reception!
As Gayle McLaughlin recently put it: "One more chance to celebrate our collective victories, and then it's time to roll up our sleeves and make more progressive change!"


Save the date: Sat. 1/31/15, 2-5pm, at BBPC, 1021 Macdonald!
RPA General Membership Meeting!
RPA Logo
All Richmond Progressive Alliance members are invited to the first general membership meeting of 2015.  Greet our newly sworn-in City Councilmembers.  Results from the survey of volunteers will be presented.  We will have an opportunity to evaluate the recent election campaign and talk about how we can work together to continue to build on the progress of the last decade. 

Light refreshments will be provided.  New members can join at the door.  Or, if you prefer, follow this link to the membership form.  Print and complete the form and mail it in with a check for your dues, which start at $12/yr.  Alternatively, you can:
  •  send an email to info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form &
  • go to the  RPA web page & press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a payment for dues. Any additional contribution is greatly appreciated and helps us keep dues low for those with low income.
An overview of our core beliefs and activities is offered at the link noted above, and there's a history of the RPA (up until early 2013) in the article by Mike Parker at the end of this newsletter.

Wording & implications of poll question challenged:
Teacher notes misleading claims for Charters.

This article was submitted as a Letter to the Editor, in response to one of the questions included in the poll of voters reported on in the last issue of the RPA Activist.  (The full poll can be read here.

Here is their question regarding Charter Schools: 

"Charter Schools
According to a Stanford University study, poor students, and those who speak English as a second language faired [sic] better in charters schools, do you support Charter schools in Richmond to better prepare students to take advance [sic] of the Richmond scholarship fund?
62% Yes
38% No"

This misleading question is clearly designed to elicit a response to promote charter schools.

What Standford study claims that ELL students benefit from Charter Schools?
"A 2009 Stanford Study at Stanford led by economist Margaret E. Raymond, analyzed data from 2,743 charter schools ...and found that 37% had learning gains significantly below those of local public schools, 46% had gains that were no different, and that only 17% showed growth that was significantly better. 
More than 80% of the charter schools in the study preformed the same or worse than the local public schools..." (The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, 2010, p 142.) 
Diane Ravitch quotes a 2007 study by Jack Buckley that reports, "the vast majority of charters have proportionately fewer Special Ed and English Language Learning (ELL) students"... Ravitch writes that in many instances, charters avoid students with high needs... (Ibid, p 134)

As I am sure you are aware, charter schools promote a pernicious two tier system of education, leaving children with learning disabilities, emotional problems, behavior issues, etc. in one poorly supported school, while the charters skim or "cherry pick" the high performing students with parents who advocate for them. 
Charters' teachers and staff are not unionized.  By state law, charter schools must have their facilities maintained first, and district funds must be allocated to the charters off the top, meaning that regular public schools take the cuts.  
Charters are heavily promoted by corporate interest who approve of the privatization of public education, and are able to turn a profit from tax payer funds for education.

I teach at Nystrom Elementary, on the same block in West Richmond as Richmond Children's College Prep Charter School. I see daily the two tier system of public school v.s. Charter, and I know it is detrimental to the education of my students.

Charters are not held accountable to the state. Many financial and administrative scandals regarding charters have surfaced, because there is no one overseeing the charter schools.

With a pro-charter majority of candidates on the WCCUSD School Board, we need to be informing voters of the negative issues of charter schools in Richmond.

For these and other reasons, I am dismayed to see this wording of this poll, and I hate to think that the outcome of this poll would be used to promote the expansion of Charter schools in WCCUSD.

Mary Flanagan
United Teachers of Richmond 
Sun., 1/4, from 5:30pm, at La Pena* in Berkeley:
Celebrate Return of Cuban 5 & Restored Relations

 Put yourself back in 1961, if possible think Eisenhower/Kennedy: 

Che: "Fidel will we ever have relations again with the yanquis?"


Fidel: "Sure, at the same time as the President of the US is black and the Pope is Argentine like you."



The Richmond-Regla, Cuba Sister City Committee invites you to:

  • Doors open at 5:30 pm with the outstanding Mexican cuisine of Los Cilantros and a special Cuban dish
  • 6:30 pm Program of brief statements and artistic presentations
  • 7:30 pm Dance a la Cubana to celebrate our 54 years of effort to make this happen!!!!!!!

Co-sponsored by many Bay Area organizations. 

* La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley 
Tu., 1/20, 6-8pm, at Richmond Community Foundation*
A New Year with Richmond Food Policy Council

From the meeting announcement: We need your input in developing bold and creative strategies to build a healthy local food system for the Richmond community. Food fuels our very existence and the ability to access it for our community, and to benefit from the systems it creates both socially and economically is important. Join us at our next Richmond Food Policy Council meeting as we continue to engage, support and build with one another on food policies and food access issues that will ensure a sustainable food system for us and our children.

RFPC meets on the 3rd Monday of each month (unless that Monday is a holiday) from January to November. Note that January 19, 2015 is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service.  During monthly meetings we discuss local food policy issues, and using a collective impact model  find creative ways to highlight common policy barriers we face in Richmond.

RSVP now.  All meetings of the RFPC are open to the public. If you need translation during the meeting please call
Laneisha Whitfield at 209-303-8808 
or send her an email.

*1014 Florida Ave, Suite 200 Richmond, CA 94804
Recent national media:
We are not alone.

Doesn't this sound familiar?  "...in city halls across the country, they are now trying to deploy the limited resources of local government to fight poverty, inequality and environmental degradation at a moment when higher levels of government have failed to address such problems or made them worse. To maintain public support, these reform-minded mayors, city councilors, county commissioners and allied civil servants must be as concerned about street paving and policing as saving the planet from global warming."  Read Steve Early's report on the Local Progress gathering earlier this month in New York in this piece from The Nation: "Meet the Group of Feisty Urban Progressives Who Want to Transform the Country One City at a Time."

And Richmond is cited very favorably in Rebecca Solnit's article in Salon/TomDispatch, on why we are on the verge of a paradigm shift.  Its theme (from Ursala K. Le Guin): "Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings."  And its title:  "The Age of Capitalism is over."

Some History and Understanding of the RPA
  Social Policy Article

Long article with pictures 

--have patience in downloading


RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the authors, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Patsy Byers, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.