Minutes for MPJC Meeting of July 20, 2020

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Glenda Rae, Reynaldo, Lois, Wanda (Zoom meeting).

Old business

    1.  Approval of Minutes for June 15: The minutes were approved as corrected.

    2. Progress Reports:

        a. Topic of the Month: Public vs Private Education. Reynaldo has done research on this topic and has prepared a draft which he shared with us. Peter had done some research on Charter schools which he shared. Glenda Rae claimed that charter schools are publicly funded and accountable to the university that sponsors them but not to the local school board. This is not completely accurate. Charter schools in Indiana can be authorized (sponsored) by one of the following: (1) a governing body such as a school board or common council, (2) a state educational institution that offers a four year baccalaureate degree, (3) the executive (as defined in IC 36-1-2-5) of a consolidated city, (4) the Indiana Charter School Board, or (5) a nonprofit college or university that provides a four year educational program for which it awards a baccalaureate or more advanced degree. The school is accountable only to the authorizing entity. Unlike many states, Indiana's legislation does not place a limit on the number of charter schools that can open in the State. The authorizing body cannot be for-profit and the charter school cannot charge tuition and cannot levy local taxes, but they can apply for grants. State and Federal subsidies follow the student in Indiana, so if a student transfers from a public to a charter school, the public school loses that funding. Charter schools must take students on a first-come, first-served basis, using a lottery if more students apply than can be accomodated. Only 17% of charter schools in Indiana have out-performed public schools in educating students.

Private schools get their funding from state vouchers and tuition. The group was concerned that private religious schools would use these funds to teach religion, but the courts have ruled that they are entitled to the state vouchers. There are non religious private schools (e.g., Montessori schools). Public schools are required to provide activities that support education, for example, special education, subsidised lunches, counseling services, sports, etc., which private and charter schools are not.

We pondered where to go with this topic of the month. Glenda Rae mentioned that the situation in education today is similar to the education process in the 50's where whites were educated in elite schools and blacks and minorities were educated in poor, resource-scarce separate but "equal" public schools. Today, private schools are educating rich white kids and the rest are entering the school to prison pipeline in underfunded public schools. Peter pointed out that some Catholic schools have a mission to provide good education to black and minority students. It is a clearly complex problem. Reynaldo offered to try to prepare a more coherent document for the next meeting and Peter offered to help.

Lois mentioned that this issue has split the Church of the Brethren, but she has not lost her foundation of faith. It is a free country, but a basic principle should be to speak truth in love. She mentioned several hymns about including all God's children in public policy. Jesus loves all the children of the world.

        b. Book of the Month report: Glenda Rae is reading "Slaves in the Family" by Edward Ball. People got rich because they bought and worked slaves. The book looks to find the descendants of these slaves. Wanda is reading "Roots" by Alex Haley. She noted that it is a large book and was surprised to learn that there were villages in Africa that had slaves. Reynaldo is reading "Color of Compromise" by Jamar Tisby, which traces the history of christian complicity in racism all the way back to the Jamestown colonies. The slaves were called servants back then, but everyone who came from Africa were really slaves. Lois mentioned a WNIT program on the rise of Hitler, but we could not find it when looking through the schedule.

       c. Immigration Coalition Report: There has been no meeting of the Coalition since our last meeting. Wanda attended a rally against Trump's revocation of the DACA program. It is good news that the Supreme Court ruled against him and soon the program will be open to new applicants.

       d. Tax Day and Earth Day Events: We held our Monday vigil on July 13th in opposition to military funding as well as Black Lives Matter. Some of the signs read: Divest from the Pentagon, Invest in people, Don't use my tax $ 4 Killing, and If you work for peace, stop paying for war. There were more folks than usual since we held the vigil at Karl King towers. The Karl King residents kept coming and going, but it was good to have them.

       e. Restarting Weekly Vigils: We have held 5 weekly vigils with good response from the cars passing by. On July 20, there were about 13 participants as it was the day to Strike for Black Lives, and Peter had registered the vigil on the Action Network website which a number of folks active in the Poor People's Campaign saw. We were able to display all our new Black Lives signs that Peter and Reynaldo had prepared. Glenda Ray was interviewed for a facebook video.

       f. Updating our social media profile: Reynaldo has continued to monitor the site and post non-political entries and photos.

3. Treasurer's Report: $97.14 with $20 in petty cash. Reynaldo had spent money on poster-making supplies.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We incorporated this topic into other discussion

    2. Topic of the Month: We will continue with the Public vs Private Education topic.

    2. Hiroshima and Nagasaki Days, August 6 and 9: We will hold signs about nuclear weapons at our August 3rd vigil.

    4. Other Topics and Issues: The common council has approved the police discipline matrix which lays out the parameters for police behavior and the consequences for violations. They are still debating the makeup and mission of the citizen complaint board. The local Black Lives Matter group has the defunding of police as part of their agenda. This means that part of the police budget would go to pay for appropriate expert mental health professionals as well as counselors to help with domestic abuse, drug and alcohol problems, etc. When folks call 911, police should respond to violent situations and these other professionals to non-violent situations. BLM held two meetings recently, one for black members and one for non-black allies. The result of the second meeting was to encourage education on racism. There was some mention of resurrecting the Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) group.

There will be a Community Forum for Economic Justice Zoom meeting on June 21 at 6pm to discuss the role of school resource officers. Reynaldo will send the link to those on the call and try to send it to the MPJC list.

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    5. Next meeting: Monday, August 24, at 2:30pm. We will try to hold the meeting outside Lois' facility depending on the weather. Otherwise, we will hold the meeting via Zoom. Ellyn will initiate the meeting in that case.