Daily Dose & Announcements: 05/28/09

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>> Local Asian American Leaders Come Together to Support Workers’ Rights
>> Random Ninjas EP Release Party
>> She Said No To No Child Left Behind and Won
>> Recession Turns Homes into Classrooms
>> China Said to Harass Rights Lawyers
Compiled by Beleza Chan


Local Asian American Leaders Come Together to Support Workers’ Rights

Event: Press conference with Supervisor Eric Mar supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.
Description: Unions are often the front line of defense against hazardous pollution, dangerous chemicals in workplaces, and protecting whistleblowers. San Francisco’s Asian and immigrant community is particularly affected by unfair and unsafe workplace practices like exposure to toxic chemicals and workplace discrimination. The Employee Free Choice Act is a crucial safety net for immigrant workers because unions help safeguard the rights of all employees, especially the most vulnerable. Other Attendees include Board of Supervisors President David Chiu; Public Defender Jeff Adachi (pending); Assessor Phil Ting; Leon Chow, SEIU-UHW; Mariana Wong, Unite Here Local 2; Chinese Progressive Association; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance San Francisco Chapter; Chinese For Affirmative Action; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.
Details: May 28, 12 p.m., San Francisco City Hall, Steps on the Civic Center side.
Contact: Susan Hsieh (415) 274-6760 x303

Random Ninjas EP Release Party

Event: Los Angeles based rock band RANDOM NINJAS will be releasing their new 5-song EP Whatcha-Wanna-Gotta-Getcha at Club 705.
Description: Random Ninjas is an American heavy rock band spawned from the critical mass of global culture in the heart of Los Angeles. Founded by their guitarist, Full Metal Ninja, this group of talented musicians has been hitting the local rock scene with a brand spanking new style of music that intrigues listeners of all persuasions. A set of taiko drums next to traditional western drums all pounding against heavy metal and jazzy conundrums raises more than a few eyebrows. Strong edgy vocals completes the aural masterpieces to bring audiences a new cultural freedom of expression in Randomness.
Details: $7, June 7, 9:30 p.m., Club 705 – 705 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach

She Said No To No Child Left Behind and Won

When she transfered to Storm Lake High School in Iowa from a high school in New York, Lori Phanachone indicated that she spoke a language other than English at home. As a result, the teenager, who was born in California and is a second generation Laotian American, was forced to take a basic English-proficiency exam every year or face disciplinary action.

Despite the fact that Phanachone, now 17, was seventh in her graduating high school class and has a 3.9 GPA, school officials said she was “illiterate” because she refused to continue taking the English Language Development Assessment (ELDA). They called Phanachone’s refusal “insubordination” and suspended her for three days.

After passing the test as a sophomore, Panachone was instructed to retake the exam the following year. Believing the request to be insulting, and that her 13 years of near flawless academic achievement should be proof enough of her aptitude, Panachone instead chose to sabatoge the results by filling in only C’s.

This last year when she was approached to take the test for a third time, she stepped up her game. She attended the exam but would not take out her pencil, which resulted in her being sent to speak with school administrators.

In April, Phanachone was reclassified and it is believed that she will no longer be required to take the test. The explanation given by Tedesco was weak to non-existent: “With input from various sources including the state, building level administrators and the curriculum director … changes can be made at any time throughout a school year … in any of our curriculum areas, which would include the ELL program.”

Phanachone is quick to clarify that this is not an attack on English as a Second Language or English Language Learner programs. “I am not against ESL programs and I am not against help that is needed. My mom does not speak English, so I know how hard a language barrier can be. But I am against discrimination,” she said.


Recession Turns Homes into Classrooms

San Francisco — Unemployment and the long wait lists for preschool are prompting some Chinese parents, who’ve traditionally valued education, to turn to a new way to teach and care for their toddlers: preschool at home.

Playgroups, for children 6 and under, began in the Chinese community to support inexperienced parents. During these sessions, parents participate in lessons with their kids and learn skills to teach and communicate with them. Free playgroup programs are offered by many organizations, such as the Asian Women’s Resource Center and the Asian Perinatal Advocates.

So, why are Chinese parents embracing preschool at home? For some, it’s a hard economic choice.

The line for low-income subsidized preschool – with at least 2,500 people on wait lists – has lengthened under the current economy. Those wait lists are likely to swell as more parents switch from unsubsidized preschool, which can cost as much as $20,000 per year, to subsidized preschool.

And, as subsidized preschool programs prioritize low-income children, it may be kids from middle-class families who have to do without preschool.

Some parents may opt for preschool at home because their work hours were cut or they lost their jobs and can now spend more time taking care of their children.

Though the economy is driving children from schools to homes, there may be an upside to the trend,

For Chinese families, who traditionally value education, the drive to provide preschool for their children, regardless of the setting, affirms that many families value early childhood education in their children’s future success.

-New America Media


China Said to Harass Rights Lawyers

Beijing — Chinese legal authorities have threatened to delay or deny the renewal of legal licenses for 18 top civil rights lawyers, escalating the use of a tactic they have used to put pressure lawyers they consider troublesome, two human rights advocacy groups have charged.

Many of the lawyers have taken on cases, involving issues like Tibetan political activism and police brutality, that gained national and even international attention. The advocacy groups, Human Rights Watch and Chinese Human Rights Defenders, called the actions by the legal authorities part of an effort to intimidate the lawyers and their law firms into avoiding sensitive cases.

“It is unprecedented to have so many prominent lawyers facing difficulties with their license renewal,” Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “This is a sort of backhand retaliation by judicial authorities in Beijing to warn the firms that employ these lawyers that there might be consequences to their business if they don’t keep their distance.”

The 20 lawyers listed by the two groups have pursued a broad range of cases in the last year that either challenged the government directly or threatened to cause embarrassment. Among other causes, they have represented the families of schoolchildren killed during last May’s Sichuan earthquake; the families of children injured after drinking milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine; Tibetans arrested during the March 2008 antigovernment protests; and members of the Falun Gong sect, which the government has labeled a dangerous religious cult.

Some of those threatened have been attacked and beaten as well.

-NY Times

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