Author: Carmen Shaye (Page 2 of 2)

It Takes a Woman: Learning To Lead On the School Board

Though almost anyone can run for office, there is certain knowledge and skill that makes someone an ethical, responsible politician. The most surefire way to gain that skillset is through hands-on experience. The question is, how does one gain sufficient experience to lead before taking office? Obviously, there is no easy answer or pathway: some deeply qualified candidates never win a single election, while the sitting President won his election despite having no experience as an elected official.

The most reliable means of building a strong political career is through fostering one’s connection to a community. There is a reason that many politicians begin on the local level before expanding to state or federal office; at the local level, a politician can approach issues with personal experience on the issues at hand, and credibly offer solutions to improve them.

There is perhaps no elected office more intimately connected to a community than that of a school board member. While mayors and city council members interact with a diverse range of issues and policy areas, school board members are specifically tasked with providing for the future of the community through the oversight of its schools, and thereby its children. As such, a school board member is entrusted with the responsibility to maximize a city’s resources to ensure that it provides children with the tools necessary for a gainful career and healthy adult life. Furthermore, the members of a community who the school board interacts with most frequently are not the students themselves, but the students’ parents. Needless to say, parents are extremely passionate about their children’s education. To that end, the school board must work in concert with the parents in a community to hear their concerns and implement solutions wherever possible.

School board members are truly on the frontlines of problem-solving, working towards the shared future of a community. A school board’s actions can influence student’s academic achievement, and school board members make decisions that impact future generations by setting policy and allocating resources necessary for student academic achievement.  The board member sets priorities and can hold the district accountable for meeting student expectations.

For all of the above reasons, a school board is a great place to start a career in public service as an elected official, particularly as a woman. Nationwide, 44% of school  board members are women. Far removed from the grandstanding surrounding national politics, school board elections deal with the concrete problems facing a community. They demand that candidates propose solutions to problems, and their success or failure in office rests on their ability to achieve those solutions, or at minimum, to improve the performance of the schools. This sort of solution-oriented strategies, rather than soaring rhetoric or shallow fearmongering, is the foundation for a sustainable career as an elected official.

Take for example, the career of Jackie Goldberg,  a 74-year-old former California assemblywoman , who this week is the frontrunner in a special election for a seat for the Los Angeles Unified School District on the board of education. Goldberg is running because she believes that there is a need for her experience and skills in this critical period of Charter School inundation in California school districts. As a former teacher, she knows firsthand the needs of the classroom and pathways to student success. Goldberg will now face whomever emerges as the second-place finisher–currently a dead heat between Graciela Ortiz and Heather Repenning–in a run-off election. While all of the contenders for the seat are uniquely qualified, Goldberg has the enviable position of a proven track record as a classroom teacher and school board member; Goldberg previously served on the school board from 1983 to 1991, fighting for increased autonomy for teachers and administrators within schools. After 1991, Goldberg went on to serve as an LA City Councilor and subsequently as a California Assemblywoman. While in the state assembly, she studied the budgets of school systems statewide, and authored legislation tailored towards optimizing school performance. Having served on a school board, she knew what sort of solutions would funnel resources to students and improve schools.

Democracy is a tricky business, and there will inevitably be politicians who seek to jump the line. As more women seek elected office, many are choosing to run for legislative positions and skipping school board. But building a strong foundation through community organizing and local action is the best way to ensure that when a politician arrives in office, they can achieve their policy proposals with a realistic and considered idea of how campaign proposals will translate to action and ultimately affect the communities involved. A school board is a fantastic place to build on-the-ground experience and a sense of what it means to lead.

American Women and the Presidency

For many of us, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy for the Presidency was profoundly bittersweet. She was the first woman to win the nomination of a major political party, and she seemed destined to become the first female President. As we all know, that historic achievement was left painfully unfulfilled.

As the field of candidates for 2020 begins to take shape, we are witnessing a different sort of historical moment: for the first time, there are several highly qualified women competing for the nomination. As of this writing, four senators—Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren—have declared that they will seek the Presidency in 2020. Each of these women has distinguished themselves in the Senate and their careers at large, and each will be a serious contender for the Democratic nomination. This marks an enormous step forward, by which women can move beyond the novelty of running as a woman, and can instead center their campaigns on the policies and ideas that distinguish them as candidates.

The history of women running for the highest office in the land does not begin in 2016, however; it stretches all the way back to 1872, thanks to a woman named Victoria Woodhull. Woodhull was a women’s suffrage and “free love” activist, advocating for women’s ability to marry, divorce, and bear children without government interference. She was nominated by the short-lived Equal Rights Party to run for President in 1872. Though Woodhull didn’t receive any electoral votes, her candidacy served to bring women’s suffrage and equal rights into the mainstream.

It wouldn’t be until almost a century later, in 1964, that another woman—a Republican, no less—entered the conversation. Margaret Chase Smith, a distinguished congresswoman who served in both the house and the Senate, was the first woman to be considered at a major party’s convention. Shortly thereafter, Shirley Chisholm was the first black candidate for the office, and the first woman to vie for the Democratic nomination in 1972. Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin were on the ballot as vice presidential candidates in 1984 and 2008, respectively. Women were inching ever-closer to the Presidency, culminating in Hillary Clinton clinching the democratic nomination in 2016. The only obstacle left was to break the final glass ceiling.

Clinton’s loss in 2016 was crushing, made all the worse by Donald Trump’s flagrant disregard for women and particularly women in power. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to neglect the enormous progress that has been made since Victoria Woodhull sought the Presidency in 1872. Generations of women have fought to bring us to this historical moment, and the current array of eminently qualified women vying for the presidency in 2020 is nothing short of inspiring.

Carmen Schaye ©

It Takes a Woman: Universal Human Rights Declaration 1948

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” —Eleanor Roosevelt, American Delegate to the United Nations

This month marks the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which was established on December 10, 1948. The driving force behind the creation of the Commission was The former First Lady of the United States at that time, Eleanor Roosevelt. Throughout her career, Eleanor identified and codified the liberties in the 1948 Human Rights Declaration.

Eleanor Roosevelt began her life as a privileged woman with a remarkable humanistic sensitivity that drove her to a lifelong career in advocacy and social justice for populations in New York City tenements. Through her early commitment to volunteerism in the 1900s, with other New York socialites such as the Harriman’s, she began her career in civic leadership, through teaching English to immigrant families and working with refugees as one of the Founders of Junior League. Early in the 20th century, she married Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, as we know, would be elected the President of the United States in 1933. It was Eleanor who raised her husband’s consciousness and worked toward assisting Depression-era families.

The First Lady of the World

During the Great Depression, she turned her attention to the needs of the poor in the South. Through Eleanor’s influence, the Roosevelt era administration created many modern social programs, including groundbreaking legislation such as Social Security, WPA and immediate economic relief from the Great Depression. Her passion resulted in reforms in industry, agriculture, finance, labor, housing and welfare for families with dependent children. Eleanor changed the previously more traditional role of First Lady, first by joining her husband on the campaign trail, and then by becoming an advocate for Human Rights during and after World War II, so much so that she eventually became the first delegate to the United Nations from 1945-1952, and was known as the “First Lady of the World.”

After the death of her husband (1945), she was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as the First U.S delegate to the newly established United Nations and in 1946 Eleanor was selected to Chair and draft a Declaration for Human rights. The focus of the document was on refugee issues and on creating elements that might prevent another war. She became a forceful advocate for women and children.

In the past 70 years the Human Right Declaration has expanded exponentially and celebrates the following:
∙ 500 languages: UDHR holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the most translated document in the world, with translations ranging from Abkhaz to Zulu.
∙ 18 treaties and optional protocols advancing human rights have been agreed since 1948.
∙ 198 countries now allow women the right to vote, compared to 91 countries in 1948.
∙ 104 countries have now outlawed capital punishment, compared to only 9 in 1948.
∙ 57% of countries have a national human rights institution today.
∙ 111 countries have adopted freedom of information laws & policies, at least 15 of them in the past 4 years

CURRENT HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES:
∙ Global multilateral frameworks for peace and human rights are increasingly under threat.
∙ Climate change: a threat to the right to life, food, water & housing.
∙ Right to work: emerging problems of automation and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
∙ Inequality: global, national, and urban inequalities regarding such factors like gender, socioeconomic status, race, and others.
∙ Women and gender: issues such as sexual assault, rape, exploitation, violence against women, and pay gaps.
∙ Freedom of Expression: complications in the internet age
∙ Migrants and refugees: growing global migrant crisis.
∙ Democracy: under threat around the world.

STILL EXPANDING:

The UDHR has also spawned many other important international treaties, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (179 states); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (189); the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (196); and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (162).

The UDHR continues to inspire new treaties. One of the most recent, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, is also one of the most rapidly ratified, with 175 states signing onto it in its first decade, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which entered into force in 2010, has so far been ratified by 58 nations. (THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 70TH ANNIVERSARY)

Thank you, Eleanor T. Roosevelt, for your tireless work to the end of your life for the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

We should all heed Eleanor’s words. We Know that It Takes A Woman to Make Change.

The Honduran Migrant Women

An invasion of alleged criminals, gang members and “Middle Easterners” was set to spill over the  US southern border and create mass chaos in the United States. Mass fear-mongering proliferated by the GOP as the elections approached, calling for increased security against the unruly mob of refugees approaching our verdant country in order to ignite a robust RED Wave. However, the story of the women and children fleeing violence and economic hardships is overlooked in the broader group.

The Administration and media labeled a caravan of Central American economic refugees with a list of unsavory titles in order to rally support for the approaching elections. The Commander and Chief ordered troops to the southern border with the express purpose of defending against the oncoming horde. However, that gaggle of migrants hundreds of miles away on the southern border of Mexico. In fact, almost a month after initial deployment and those troops have yet to see any engagement and it is unlikely that they will due to the legal status that prevents them from arresting migrants. This caravan of poor families and workers seeking to improve their conditions has proven to be little threat to national security. The danger these women face staying in the countries they have fled is great enough for these women to sacrifice everything, despite the hostile disposition they have received from the United States.

The entire debacle continues to grow now the elections have passed. Around 800 of the refugees are currently in shelters in Tijuana, where they are not popular among the local population. Migrant shelters are their capacity and the main body of the caravan approaches as it makes its way through the Mexican state of Sonora. The women and children in these shelters have already faced extreme hardships to reach this point. Now, the United States President has issued an executive order denying the right of these families to apply for asylum. Having crossed an entire county to escape violence and seek safety, this decree comes as disheartening to those who have uprooted their entire lives.

United States District Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco ruled the administration’s policy that denies the right to asylum for these families is in direct conflict with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Under this law, migrants may seek protection even if they enter the country outside of a legal port of entry. The future of this block is uncertain as the case will be reviewed in December. The threat to these migrant women is great as some they are prime targets to be trafficked after they are denied asylum.  The treatment of those seeking asylum who have fled Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as a single blanket group is a grave mistake with consequences for these vulnerable women and children. Rather than placing a flat ban, they should be considered as families and individuals. If the administration has family values, then it will value families.

This past week end many Hondurans and Central Americans shuddered when they found out the US authorities shut the border down at San Ysidro, one of the busiest border crossings. Tear gas was fired into Mexico at the Central American migrants approaching the border. The Administration has promised that this group of refugees would not easily enter the country.

The crowds have succumbed to panic as the refugees fear they will not be able to enter on US soil and apply for asylum.  In the meantime, the US is tying to negotiate with an incoming Mexican president. The US is fueled by its xenophobic tendencies.  Yet women and children are fleeing for safety and risk life.

We shall see what will become of these new members of society, whether they stay in Mexico or enter the United States, they face uncertainty.

It Takes a Woman

Nancy Pelosi has served as the Democratic Majority and Minority Leader of the House since the era of George W. Bush. Moreover, Pelosi has been a Congresswoman since 1987 and her long held position has lead her to become the personification of the liberal establishment and the center of Republican attacks against the Democratic Party. Republican ads played on television screens across the country in the 2018 midterms, using Pelosi as a rallying cry to oppose the election of Democrats. Despite the attempts to flip to red by linking candidates to Pelosi, the House swayed blue and has thus raised her to the potential position of Speaker of the House. Yet she faces opposition, and this time it is from within her own party.

With many of the newly elected House Democrats surging in the polls on a wave of promising change in Washington, the first place they look for change is Democratic Leadership.  The letter is as follows:

November 19, 2018

Dear Democratic Colleagues:

As we head toward the 116th Congress and reclaim our Democratic majority, we believe more strongly than ever that the time has come for new leadership in our Caucus.

We are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our Country and to our Caucus. She is a historic figure whose leadership has been instrumental to some of our party’s most important legislative achievements.

However, we also recognize that in this recent election, Democrats ran and won on a message of change. Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise.

Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House Floor.

Sixteen potential House Democrats have signed this Letter, just  one vote shy of the margin she needs to win the speaker post and  complicating the path forward for Nancy Pelosi. Nonetheless, these Democrats do not have enough votes to lock Pelosi out of the seat. Furthermore, some of them have not been officially confirmed as a few key races, such as Ben McAdams’ in Utah, are still too close to call. It should be no surprise to see such challenges in a Congress that has required Democrats to be elected from districts that traditionally lean to the right.

Although Pelosi is amidst controversy she still remains a “historic figure”.  She is the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. yet she calls herself a Progressive but the   Progressive platform takes issue with her lack of support of “single Payer” healthcare.  She is a centrist who in the eyes of some represents the “status quo”.  She has been successful in leading the Democratic Party to great legislative achievements.  Why do we need new leadership when we have a winner? Is it because she is a woman?  Are men being measured by the same yardstick.

Pelosi remains confident in securing her position as Speaker. She has even invited competition for the seat, knowing that challenging her will still be an uphill battle. This is not to mention that a true challenge could create additional friction within the party at a time when they need to remain united in combating a Republican President and Senate. Nonetheless, Democratic Representative from Ohio, Marcia Fudge, the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is considering just that.

While it is important to ensure the unity of the party, questions and challenges to the status quo such as these are vital for a healthy democracy. Challenges to party leadership reflect representatives who do not blindly follow the chain of command and instead make decisions based on what they reason to be the best course for those they represent. Ultimately it is highly likely that no serious battle will erupt against Pelosi and the left wing will remain stable at this critical juncture. Yet it is important to consider the changes that may be necessary for the party to reflect a diverse society whose priorities are ever changing.

NWPC South Bay Endorsed Officials 2018

Congratulations to these incredible women!!!

The National Women’s Political Caucus South Bay is proud of their outstanding campaigns and history of achievement in 2018, the year of the woman.

Congratulations to: US Senator Dianne Feinstein, US Representative Nanette Barragan, US Representative Maxine Waters, California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, California State Controller Betty Yee, California Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, Compton Community College District Trustee, Deborah LeBlanc, Torrance Unified School District Board of Trustees Member Betty Lieu, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Hunter, & Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Veronica Sauceda.

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