"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." -- St. Augustine
Monday, 1/23 - Weigh in Now on Atlantic Beach Charter Review Commission
Every 8 years, the city of Atlantic Beach appoints a Charter Review Committee to look at our governing documents and suggest needed revisions. Meeting Monday night, Jan 23 at 6:30, the AB City Council will select 13 people to serve on that Committee from a list of 22 potential nominees. This list includes 10 women, 12 men, a number of previous mayors, several BAM members, and both relatively new and longtime residents.
The city has posted the list of potential nominees (keep scrolling down) with information on their relevant backgrounds. This committee will have an important role in the future of our community. An ideal group would reflect the full diversity of Atlantic Beach. If you see nominees you strongly support or oppose, email the full commission before Monday night's vote and let them know.
Monday 1/23 @ 8 PM - Legislative Briefing
The Democratic Women's Clubs of Florida (DWCF) is holding a Zoom briefing this week to prepare us all for the approaching Florida Legislative Session. As the news already makes clear, DeSantis and the Republican-controlled legislature have plans to unleash an avalanche of bad ideas. At this Zoom Democratic House Leader Pro-Tempore Dotie Joseph will share the planned Democratic agenda, what to expect from the GOP, how we can mitigate our collateral damage, and use the radical nature of the Governor's policies to amplify the danger of a DeSantis Administration in the White House. Click here to register.
Bankrupting Public Education in the Name of School Choice
Speaking of bad legislative ideas, a recent email from our friends at the Democratic Women's Information Network (DWIN) offered this timely warning about Republican-sponsored House Bill 1, titled School Choice. "This bill is the “big kahuna” -- the expanded school voucher program that has been promised for years by the anti-public school forces in Florida. It will essentially decimate funding for public education, the great equalizer in our society, and it is scheduled for its first House committee hearing next week."
DWIN urges us all to contact the relevant committee members and our own legislators to register our objections to this bill - and to reach out to friends, neighbors, and our wider community to educate others in our community about the damage this bill will do. Among their suggested talking points:
The current voucher scholarship program targets children from low-income families and children with disabilities, but this new HB 1 bill wipes out family income requirements and allows ALL Florida students to be eligible if the child does not attend public school.
Even millionaires would be eligible to raid the funds for their expensive private schools or homeschooling services at the expense of the state education budget.
Taxpayers would be funding more voucher schools that are exempt from state rules regarding teacher qualifications, academic standards, and testing.
Public schools serve all students, but voucher schools are allowed to discriminate against gay students and others with disabilities, different religions, and disadvantaged backgrounds.
90% of students in Florida are enrolled in public schools where they are suffering from a teacher deficit and large class sizes. This could be fixed with more money. Why are they and their families being punished with HB 1?
Duval's own Angie Nixon, a champion of public education, is on this committee. Call (850-717-5013) or email her at Angie.Nixon@myfloridahouse.gov. this week and encourage her to fight hard against HB1.
Stop the Book Banning Here in Duval
According to the Times Union's Mark Woods, and Public School Defenders, the Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) has gone too far with its book banning. While some of the Essential Voices books originally held up for examination to ensure they did not violate the Governor's "stop woke" guidance have now been released to school libraries, the review process itself remains far from transparent. And as Woods' article makes clear, at least one book on Martin Luther King was rejected without a formal review. As a group, the rejected books disproportionately eliminate stories with LGBTQ characters, Black history, or other racial minorities.
Public School Defenders has created an open letter to education officials here in Duval. BAM has signed on as an organization. If you believe the purpose of education is to open rather than close young minds, consider adding your voice.
Bigger Than Roe Rallies Nationwide
As thousands of people gathered Sunday in rallies across the nation on the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and Kamala Harris addressed a crowd in Tallahassee, BAM, NOW, DWIN, and a host of other Duval organizations rallied at Springfield Park to demand protection for Reproductive Freedom. Thanks to all who participated.
Though abortion rights promises to be another legislative struggle here in Florida, as VP Harris said, “Let us not be tired or discouraged, we are on the right side of history." Recent polls confirm the majority of Americans support abortion rights. This is a fight we can & will win.
Thursday, 1/24 - 7-8:30 PM - DWIN Zoom Update on Duval Redistricting
Even as we've celebrated a victory of "people over politics" in the Duval redistricting saga, many of us remain confused about the practical details. Whose map are we using? Whose districts have changed? How many polling places have moved and who's running where?
To get some answers, join the Democratic Women's Information Network (DWIN) for a Zoom briefing featuring Andrew Pantazi, founder and editor of The Tributary. As his in-depth coverage of the redistricting process and subsequent court cases has demonstrated, no one understands the details better. Pantazi will explain the evolution of redistricting in Jacksonville since the 2000 census and how the lawsuit results and new "people's map" will impact Jacksonville voters facing the 2023 unitary elections. Click here to register.