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Tukwila School Board meeting Dec. 11! Defend antiwar students' rights!

Tukwila Six and students campaign continues. Come to the Tukwila School Board meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 11th at 6:30 PM.
Calling all antiwar students and supporters:

Come Out and Keep up the Pressure at the Next Tukwila School Board meeting!
Challenge Violations of Antiwar Students' Constitutional Rights to Freedom of Speech and Assembly!
Demand an Immediate End to Disciplinary Investigations of Teachers!
Keep the Teachers Hired Next Semester and Next Year!


Come to the Next Tukwila School Board Meeting!
December 11, 2008, 6:30p.m.
Tukwila School District Headquarters
4640 S. 144th Street
Tukwila, WA 98168

Community outcry, such as the 100 students and parents packing the last Tukwila School Board meeting, succeeded in winning the reinstatement of popular Foster High School teacher Mr. Rogers. Previously, Mr. Rogers had been put on administrative leave for walking out of class with students who participated in a national student walkout against the war on November 16. So this was a victory for the antiwar movement!

However, school administrators are still going ahead with disciplinary investigations against Mr. Rogers and 5 other teachers, even though none of the teachers imposed their political views on the students or promoted the student walkout against the war. On the contrary, some of them organized homework and class discussions about the war in Iraq -- lesson plans approved by Principal Ilgenfritz himself -- simply allowing students to make up their own informed decision about whether to participate in the student walkout against the war or not.

Administrators claim that Mr. Rogers left his post which was not safe for students. However, Mr. Rogers made arrangements for students in his class who did not participate in the walkout to be safely supervised in classes by another teacher. Two of the teachers are still in their probationary period, so there is a danger that these disciplinary investigations could result in one or two teachers not being rehired next semester or next school year.

School administrators completely over-reacted to the students' efforts to keep their teachers hired by bringing in 8 tall policemen in vehicles and black, intimidating uniforms on November 28th to break up and disperse a peaceful student meeting! Principal Ilgenfritz tore down students' posters announcing the student meeting and brought one student into his office to lecture him and intimidate him about hanging up the posters! The Principal also threatened to suspend one student simply for discussing the disciplinary process pending against her teachers!

These are blatant violations of students' Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly! Whether you support the war or not, these are outrageous attacks on people's Constitutional right to free speech and assembly, and we need your help to challenge them!
In spite of this harsh, illegal crackdown on students and teachers' rights, students have not been intimidated. They are now organizing a campaign to defend their Constitutional free speech rights and their teachers' jobs!

Despite the school administrators' shameless attempt to blame this controversy on "outsiders" even though most of this positive antiwar activism has been clearly organized by the students themselves, community supporters need to keep up the fight, support the students who took a stand against the war, and make sure the teachers keep their jobs not only this year but also next year. Please come and mobilize people to the school board meeting December 11th!

ALSO, PLEASE KEEP FLOODING THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS WITH PHONE CALLS AND EMAILS!
And please forward this email widely!

Foster HS Principal George Ilgenfritz: (206) 901-7905  ilgenfritzg@tukwila.wednet.edu

And Interim Superintendent Ethelda Burke: (206) 901-8000, (206) 901-8006,  burkee@tukwila.wednet.edu

Please send copies to Tukwila School Board members:
 mfertakis@comcast.net
 pmaltsberger2000@yahoo.com
 jasminkakujundzic@yahoo.com
 wahlsea@yahoo.com

Please also send a copy of protest emails to us at  tukwila.teachers.solidarity@hotmail.com so we can count how many protest emails have been sent in.

If they refuse to answer your call, then call Foster HS Assistant Principal Daryl Wright (206) 901-7902 and Foster HS Office Manager Darlene Aguiluz (206) 901-7915.

Community planning / Socialist Alternative meeting TONIGHT:
Tuesday, December 4th, 7:00 PM
University of Washington
Gould Hall, room 435
On the corner of NE 40th St and "the Ave" (University Way NE) in Seattle's University District
Online Map of Gould Hall:  http://www.washington.edu/home/maps/northwest.html?GLD


NEWS REPORTS, BACKGROUND INFO, AND SAMPLE PROTEST EMAIL BELOW:

Great Free Speech Radio News report:
 link to www.fsrn.org
KIRO 7:
 http://www.kirotv.com/education/14714796/detail.html
(Click where it says "video")
NorthWest Cable News:
 http://www.nwcn.com/video/news-index.html?nvid=196453

Seattle Times: "Protesting teacher back at Tukwila school" November 29th
 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2004041566_tukwila29m.html

Student-made Walkout Film:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGSDzDF7xoY

Great report on antiwar student walkouts:
 http://yawr.org/nov16/seattle.html
Articles on Youth Against War and Racism student victories against military recruiters in schools:
 http://yawr.org/victory/victory.htm#tacoma
 http://yawr.org/victory/victory.htm#kennedy
 http://www.socialistalternative.org/news/article13.php?id=611

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Nov. 16th Walkout Article:
 http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/340003_peace17.html


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BACKGROUND INFO:
On Friday, November 16th, more than a 1,000 students in Washington State participated in a nation-wide student walkout to protest the war and military recruiters in schools. This included around 150 students at Foster High School, just south of Seattle. Foster is part of the Tukwila School District, of which 71% of the student body is low-income and eligible for the free and reduced-cost school meals. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, the U.S. military has been assigning ever greater numbers of recruiters to lure young people into signing up for this bloody, costly and illegal quagmire in Iraq, especially in marginalized schools like Foster High School.
Student made signs, walked out, marched to an I-5 overpass and the Tukwila City Hall for a civic and peaceful assembly. Now the principal and school district superintendent have begun a witch-hunt against students and at least six of their teachers and threatened to suspend students who walked out. The students took a bold stand against the war and these teachers have stood up for their students, some of the most disenfranchised in the state, both inside and outside the classroom. Students who walked out are threatened with truancy, and their teachers' jobs are on the line. Now, who will stand up for these students and teachers?

One teacher was put on administrative leave on Monday, November 19th. On Tuesday, November 20th, at least five more were delivered memos notifying them that the Tukwila school district was "investigating reports of possible misconduct relating to you in connection with the student walk-out." These teachers were further notified that they were not to discuss "this matter with any District students or staff" under threat of being terminated. Several of these teachers were completely unconnected with the walkout, but because they have been previously marked out as individuals that speak their minds, they are being lumped into the teacher hunt. "Investigative interviews" are to begin this Tuesday.



With a "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 provision forcing principals to give up the private contact information of young people to military recruiters, students and teachers have the natural right to protest.
With more than $500 billion dollars and the lives of more than a million Iraqis having been utterly wasted on a failed war, with schools in marginalized areas falling apart, we should all be protesting with the slogan: "Money for Schools—Not For War!"


With 75% of the American people polling against the war according to the latest Washington Post poll, and a Democratic Congress still making excuses for why it can't cut off funding to bring the troops home, we must support the young people who speak out against their future being bombed away.


And we MUST support their teachers whose only misconduct was making their lesson plans truly relevant to the lives of their students.

If this Principal gets away with this attack on these workers and students, it will embolden more bosses to try to further undermine workers' rights, wages, and benefits, and it will intimidate more people from speaking out against injustice—this is an attack on all students and workers. These teachers are union members of the Tukwila Education Association, and there are measures being taken to try to ensure their defense through this channel, BUT A STRONG COMMUNITY AND NATION-WIDE RESPONSE IS CRITICAL!!!
How can we give thanks to those on the REAL frontlines of freedom in America? Call and email the school officials above!

And please forward this alert to supportive organizations and individuals!

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MORE BACKGROUND INFO:

The memo from Interim Superintendent to at least 6 teachers essentially says:

1. In the next couple days, we will summon you to a meeting because we are "investigating reports of possible misconduct relating to you in connection with the student walk-out." There could be disciplinary consequences pending completion of this investigation.

2. You are not to discuss "this matter with any District students or staff," or else you could be terminated.

3. You have the right to have a union representative present with you during the investigative interview in case you feel your rights might be violated.

The administration is clearly trying to isolate the teachers and students from one another to try to divide them and weaken them. They are trying to use the tactic of divide and rule. They are also blatantly violating the teachers' right to free speech.

The teachers have been careful to abide by the Interim Superintendent's directive not to talk with any District students or staff about these matters. But nothing in the Superintendent's letter said teachers could not talk with their union representatives or community supporters. In fact, the letter explicitly says they could talk with the union.

Some teachers who received letters were simply on their lesson planning hour and therefore were not scheduled to teach class when the student walkout happened. These teachers went outside just to see what was going on when the students walked out, but they did not walk out or promote the walkout. So the school has no evidence against some teachers who received the threatening letters.

It appears the administration is targeting these teachers in a political with-hunt because they have spoken their minds in the past over other issues. For example, two of these teachers were banned in the past from sending out school-wide emails because they spoke their minds in school-wide emails that the administrators did not like.

Iraq Veteran
The husband of one of the teachers who received the threatening letters is an Iraq veteran. He went to Foster High School on November 16th and spoke to the students from first-hand experience about the truth of the Iraq War that the government and corporate media are actively hiding from the American people, and he walked out with the students.

As the Iraq veteran left the building, he was confronted by a security guard who identified himself as a police officer/veteran/federal marshall who said: "Don't even start with me, I'm a veteran."

The school administration is disciplining a teacher whose husband is a veteran whose life was put at serious risk in Iraq and who has now turned against the war. This is very disrespectful to the veteran, his family, and the working-class students who are being forced to shoulder the burdens of this war. The school administrators are more concerned with trying to having power over teachers and students than letting the communities who have been hit the hardest by the war speak out against the war and the predatory military recruiters in their schools. This—after the American people voted the Democrats into Congress to end the war, but the Democrats are still making excuses about why they cannot cut off funds for the war and direct those funds toward education and other desperately needed social services. When the leaders of our country will not end this unjust war, then it becomes up to ordinary workers, parents, students, and soldiers to end the war.

The attendance secretary at the school also refused to excuse the absences of students who had permission slips signed by their parents to miss school, which is a flagrant violation of parent and student rights.

Principal George Ilgenfritz also told one student that she didn't know anything about war. (Ironically, the student is from an immigrant Somali family who has family in the war-torn country of Somalia.)

On the Tukwila School District's website, the following message has been posted by Interim Superintendent Ethelda Burke: "We believe in the historic mission of public education within our democracy... Our schools are expected to encourage and prepare students to be productive citizens. We believe the challenge is to transform every child - to give every student a chance to become an autonomous, thinking person and a self-governing citizen. We are all here to work together to provide the best education for the most prized commodity of our fine city - the students of the Tukwila School District."

Yet when the students participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience in the best traditions of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement who challenged unjust segregation laws, now the Superintendent is hypocritically trying to discourage students from being "self-governing citizens" and standing up for what is right.

We need to match the determination of these courageous teachers, students and the Iraq veteran with all the support we can! Please take a few minutes now to call and email the Principal and Superintendent at the numbers and emails at the top of this email!

For more info:
Contact the Tukwila Teachers and Students Solidarity Committee:  foster_nfo@hotmail.com (253) 573-9252
Please leave a brief message and we'll get back to you if and when we are able to.

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SAMPLE PROTEST EMAIL

Dear Principal Ilgenfritz,

I am writing to demand that the Tukwila School District support the initiative and moral fortitude of students who took a stand against the effects of the Iraq war on their communities. The student march and rally on November 16th were student-generated and entirely peaceful.

With a "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 provision forcing principals to give up the private contact information of young people to military recruiters, students and teachers have the natural right to protest.

With a bloody and illegal war, where the soldiers that are killed and maimed are
disproportionately minorities and victims of the "poverty draft," students and
teachers of Tukwila have the natural right to protest.

With more than $500 billion dollars and the lives of more than a million Iraqis
having been utterly wasted on a failed war, with schools in marginalized areas
falling apart, we should all be protesting with the slogan: "Money for Schools—Not For War!"

With 75% of the American people polling against the war according to the latest Washington Post poll, and a Democratic Congress still making excuses for why it can't cut off funding to bring the troops home, we must support the young people who speak out against their future being bombed away.

These teachers only misconduct was making their lesson plans truly relevant to the lives of their students.

On the Tukwila School District's website, the Interim Superintedent posted the following message:
"We believe in the historic mission of public education within our democracy... Our schools are expected to encourage and prepare students to be productive citizens. We believe the challenge is to transform every child - to give every student a chance to become an autonomous, thinking person and a self-governing citizen. We are all here to work together to provide the best education for the most prized commodity of our fine city - the students of the Tukwila School
District."

Yet when the students participate in an act of peaceful civil disobedience in the best traditions of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement who challenged unjust segregation laws, now the school district is hypocritically trying to discourage students from being "self-governing citizens" and standing up for what is right?

You should immediately:
1. Reinstate the teacher Brett Rogers who has been put on administrative leave!
2. Drop the disciplinary hearings against all six teachers who face investigations!
3. Take no disciplinary action against students who participated in the walkout!

Please write me back saying that upon further investigation you realize that there is no need for disciplinary action against these students or teachers.

Sincerely,

Name
Organizational Affiliations (if any)

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