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Commit Now to Put Any Tax Benefits You Might Get from the GOP Tax Bill to Fighting Its Effects

This OTYCD entry originally appeared in December 2017.

If the GOP tax bill passes, will you benefit from it in the form of lower taxes? Commit now to put any extra money to the work of fighting its effects.

 

Yes, the GOP tax bill rewards the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Not too terribly many people who read this will belong to the group who will benefit if it becomes law.

 

Still. If you are one of those people, think about how you will use that money for good, and use it to fight the ill effects of the bill.

 

The bill treats waived graduate school tuition as taxable income. Fight this by talking to your alma mater, or a favorite public or private university, about how you can help relieve the burden the bill imposes on grad students. In particular, do what you can to assist grad students from marginalized communities, who will be hit hardest.

 

The bill removes a tax credit that employers received if they hired veterans. Look around your community, see which organizations are serving veterans and helping them find jobs, and see about pointing your gains in that direction.

 

The bill removes a tax credit for teachers who buy supplies for their classrooms. Find the neediest public school in your community and commit to underwriting those perpetual costs.

 

The variants are endless, but we should also mention yet again that in addition to what you choose to do, you should also support and elect candidates who will change the laws, fix the flaws, and help the people who will be hurt by the GOP tax bill.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

 

 

Action Alerts · Community Activism · Public Education · Vote with your Dollars

UPDATED: Pay the Meal Debts of Students at Your Local K-12 School and Ask Your State Legislature to Pass an Anti-Lunch-Shaming Bill

Call a local K-12 school in your area and ask if you can pay off the school lunch debt of a student or two. Also, find out if your state has an anti-lunch-shaming bill and if it doesn’t, ask your legislature to pass one.

 

Low-income families sometimes struggle to pay the school lunch bills of their children. Hungry kids have trouble learning, but some poor kids suffer worse than a missed meal. Some have suffered the indignity of having their breakfast or lunch taken from them and thrown in the trash. Sometimes this happens in sight of their classmates.

 

In extreme cases (scroll down for a New York Times article that relays these incidents), students who owe are forced to clean cafeteria tables. The arm of a child in Alabama was stamped with the phrase “I Need Lunch Money.”

 

Being poor isn’t good or bad; it just is. No child should be made to feel shame over not having as much money as their fellow students, or made to suffer socially because their parents fell behind in their school meal payments or simply forgot.

 

One way you can fight back is to call a K-12 school near you and ask if you can pay the bills of students whose families are in arrears. Odds are there’s at least one school in your city or town that has unpaid school meal bills. A 2016 report by the School Nutrition  Association states that roughly 75 percent of responding districts had at least some student meal debt by the end of the school year.

 

This is an admittedly imperfect solution, as it lets the government off the hook for funding a service that minor children should be able to expect, but it does help where help is needed.

 

You can also ask your state legislators if your state has an anti-lunch-shaming bill on the books, and if they don’t, you can ask them to pass one.

 

First, find your state legislators by plugging your zip code into this web tool:

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org/

 

Then look up their biographies on your state legislature’s web site and see if either your state senator or state house rep or both sit on any education-related committees. If they do, it is extra-important for you to pursue this matter.

 

Ask your state reps to pass a bill like the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act, which New Mexico’s governor signed into law in April. It appears to be the first bill of its kind passed by an American state. It outlaws any techniques that have the effect of shaming students, and it asks schools to work with parents to satisfy meal debt or get them on a federal school meal assistance program.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

GOOD UPDATE: A Seattleite by the name of Jeff Lew has made it his mission to combat lunch debt and school practices that shame children whose parents have trouble paying for meals.

 

His GoFundMe is a clearinghouse for schools in need, and it lets you start a campaign on behalf of a school near you:

https://www.gofundme.com/raise-funds/erase-lunch-debt

 

You can also show support by following him on Twitter:

@biglew8

…and following his dedicated Twitter account for the cause, which is admittedly a work  in progress as of May 28:

@LunchDebt

 

 

Read this 2016 Atlantic piece on unpaid school meal bills:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/unpaid-school-lunch-bills/460509/

 

 

See the particulars of the New Mexico anti-shaming law:

https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?Chamber=S&LegType=B&LegNo=374&year=17

 

 

Read this New York Times piece on the New Mexico anti-shaming law:

 

See the School Nutrition Association report that states that three-quarters of districts who filled out the survey had outstanding student debts (scan for the paragraph with the phrase “unpaid student meal debt” in bold):

https://schoolnutrition.org/NewsPublications/PressReleases/SNANationalSurveyRevealsIncreasedEffortsToPromoteStudentConsumptionOfHealthyChoices/

 

 

Read about that incident in Alabama where a kid’s arm was stamped with the phrase ‘I Need Lunch Money’:

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2016/06/gardendale_elementary_student.html

 

 

See more proof that school lunch-shaming is, sadly, a thing:

Some Schools Shame Students When Their Parents Can’t Pay For Lunch

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/children-shamed-so-parents-will-pay-the-school-lunch-bill/

 

 

Read about recent efforts by individual citizens to settle unpaid student meal debt:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donors-unite-nationwide-to-pay-off-kids-school-lunch-debt/

 

 

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Save This Tool for Tracking All the Laws and Executive Orders Trump Signs in 2017

This OTYCD entry originally posted in February 2017.

It feels like Trump and his administration have been more active than a birthday party full of eight-year-olds hopped up on sugar and caffeinated soda and itching for a swing at the piñata.

Pinning down and understanding every law and executive order Trump has signed so far is almost a full-time job, but the team at Vice are up to the task.

Bookmark this web article that is tracking all the laws and executive orders Trump signs in 2017.

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/all-the-laws-and-executive-orders-trump-has-signed-so-far

The Vice staff have done a capital job of identifying each bill and executive order Trump signs and putting them in a larger context, stating plainly what each will do, and who they will effect. It also includes relevant links to related Vice stories.

 

Cabinet Nominees · Community Activism · Public Education

ICYMI: Contact Friends in Red States and Ask Them to Ask Their Senators to Vote NO on Sessions

ICYMI: Reposting because Jeff Sessions’s nomination goes to a vote this week. The Democrats held an all-night speaking event to oppose him. If you haven’t called your senators yet, please do, and urge your friends and family across the country to call their senators to ask them to vote against Sessions, too.

Here is a tool you can give them that will help them find their senators:

http://whoismyrepresentative.com/

Calling is best. They should find the list of district offices and call one of those. It’s far easier to get through to a district (home state) office than the Washington, D.C. office. Congressional offices are typically open during business hours in their given time zones.

Tell them to keep calling until they get a live person.

Here is a sample script they can use:

“Hello, I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zip code). I am calling to ask Senator (Lastname) to vote no on Jeff Sessions for the U.S. Attorney General on Monday. He has a truly terrible track record on civil rights–he was declined a federal judgeship in 1986 due to racist comments–and he shows little to no sign of being able to stand up to Trump. I urge you to vote no on Sessions.”

If they do not get a live person, they can leave a voice mail message or send email through the form on each Senator’s web site.

 

Original text of the Jeff Sessions post follows.

Call your senators and tell them that you oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions to the post of attorney general of the United States.

Sessions, you might remember, was essentially deemed too racist for Congress to appoint as a federal judge back in the 1980s.

Few people get less racist over time without deliberately working to think and act in less racist ways. You get one guess about whether Sessions has improved himself over the last 30 years.

The head of the NAACP in Alabama and his colleagues held an eight-hour sit in at Sessions’s Alabama office on January 3, saying they’d stay until he or Trump withdrew his name from consideration for the AG post, or they were arrested. (They were arrested.)

Bonus: Below is a link that shows who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Is one of your senators a member? If so, it’s extra-important for you to call and oppose seating Jeff Sessions as the country’s AG. (Irony alert: Sessions sits on this committee.)

Link to the members of the Judiciary Committee:

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

 

This spreadsheet contains a sample script you can use when calling your senators about Sessions’s nomination:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Nx970-5j0ls4aJbmiKqwN0E3OfcpAqhXgM3zyfBZ4TM/edit#gid=0

 

Background on Sessions:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the … 3e2b08ba1a

Background on the NAACP sit-in:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/03/politics/ … index.html

Background on the failed nomination to the federal bench in the 1980s:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the … 394900cb96

 

 

 

 

 

Cabinet Nominees · Public Education

ICYMI: Contact Friends in Red States and Ask Them to Ask Their Senators to Vote NO on DeVos

Democrats will end their #HoldTheFloor marathon at noon. If you haven’t called your senators to oppose DeVos, NOW IS THE TIME.

Correction #1: OTYCD misidentified Durbin’s affiliation. He is a Democrat, not a Republican. He was included based on a letter he sent to a constituent that showed him to be squishy on the issue of confirming DeVos, rather than giving a clear and unambiguous “no.”

Correction #2: The Friday morning vote on DeVos is for cloture. It’s a sort of table-setting move that allows for the actual vote, which still takes place on Monday.

Please use today and the weekend to get in touch with friends in other states who have Republican senators and ask them to vote no on DeVos.

OTYCD will also repost and retweet the item on Sessions, as he goes up for a vote on Monday directly after DeVos.

 

Do you live in Illinois? Do you have a friend or family member who does? Call, call, call Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and tell him to vote no on Betsy DeVos. Here are the numbers for Durbin’s district offices and his Washington, D.C. office:

Chicago: 312.353.4952

Springfield: 217.492.4062

Carbondale: 618.351.1122

Rock Island: 309.786.5173

Washington, D.C.: 202.224.2152

 

Do you live in Pennsylvania? Do you have a friend or family member who does? Call, call, call Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and tell him to vote no on Betsy DeVos. Here are the numbers for Toomey’s district office and his Washington, D.C. office:

Erie: 814.453.3010

Pittsburgh: 412.803.3501

Johnstown: 814.266.5970

Harrisburg: 717.782.3951

Scranton: 570.941.3540

Allentown/Lehigh Valley: 610.434.1444

Philadelphia: 215.241.1090

Washington, D.C.: 202.224.4254

 

Do you live in North Carolina? Do you have a friend or family member who does? Call, call, call North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and tell him to vote no on Betsy DeVos. Here are the numbers for Tillis’s district office and his Washington, D.C. office:
Raleigh: 919.856.4630
Charlotte: 704.509.9087

Greenville: 252.329.0371

High Point: 336.885.0685

DC: 202.224.6342

 

 

Original text of the post about opposing Betsy DeVos appears below.

This action requires you to call your two senators.

Got another Trump cabinet nominee for you to oppose, but first, know this: The GOP is trying a distraction tactic. They’ve scheduled six Trump cabinet appointee hearings for the same day–Wednesday, January 11–in hopes that swamping us with news will make it too hard to object to any one thing.

Don’t fall for it.

Please call your senators and oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education. She is one of the six who’s scheduled for senate hearings on Jan 11.

While charter schools can be done well, DeVos’s approach has the (likely intended) effect of crippling public schools. She also favors school vouchers, which certain fundamentalist religious folk favor so they can boost poorer-quality religious schools over public schools.

Even if you like charter schools, most charter school-supporters do not like the way DeVos implemented them in the Detroit area. Her efforts there are seen as a failure.

More about Betsy DeVos:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/betsy-devos-and-the-plan-to-break-public-schools

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/school-choice-advocates-divide-over-trump-and-his-education-pick-betsy-devos/2016/12/09/6c377824-b806-11e6-b8df-600bd9d38a02_story.html?utm_term=.7db03496046a

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/11/5-things-to-know-about-betsy-devos-trumps-pick-for-education-secretary/508661/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/12/08/a-sobering-look-at-what-betsy-devos-did-to-education-in-michigan-and-what-she-might-do-as-secretary-of-education/?utm_term=.85b096e743bc

More on the schedule-six-cabinet-wannabes-in-one-day tactic:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/01/05/daily-202-republicans-run-the-spread-offense-to-ram-through-donald-trump-s-cabinet-nominees/586d9c88e9b69b36fcfeafa6/?utm_term=.fee389bb45a1

 

Edited to add this link. An ethics official warned that the Republican rush might force Congress to hold hearings before background checks on the nominees are finished:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ethics-official-warns-against-confirmations-before-reviews-are-complete/2017/01/07/e85a97ee-d348-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.7a5ae214e186