DSM SURJ News & Action, 3/24/21

Welcome and congratulations to our newly-sworn Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, who is the first Indigenous person to serve in a Presidential cabinet. Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe in New Mexico and she honored her heritage during the ceremony with a beautiful ribbon skirt. Read more about the skirt and its creator here

It is important to pause and acknowledge significant moments in history like this one, and ponder all the good and all the progress that Haaland will be able to facilitate with her position. It should not be taken for granted. 

Join Des Moines Black Liberation Movement for a virtual letter writing event in support of William C Scott at 6:30pm 03/23/2021 on their FB page. We also encourage you to sign the petition: bit.ly/williamcscott.

And now, we pause to remember Senate File 248, which died earlier in February before it even received a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Senate File 248: “An Act relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion as components of Iowa’s approved practitioner preparation programs, twenty-first century learning skills, Iowa teaching standards, administrator standards and criteria, and teacher licensure renewal requirements.”

Authored by Iowa City West High School student Paras Bassuk and introduced by State Senator Joe Bolkom, this forward-looking and deeply important bill would have made provision for equitable instruction, culturally responsive pedagogy, and restorative justice training. It would have also required the development of an equitability assessment and a ranking of schools based on equity measures. 

DSM SURJ, which advocated for the bill alongside accountability partners CORE and Al Exito last year, salutes Mr. Bassuk and Sen. Bolkom and looks forward to the re-introduction of this bill at a future date to be determined, when elected officials at the Capitol are interested in doing actual work to make life better for all Iowans.

To get a fuller picture of the need for change at the statewide level, check out New America’s 50-state survey on culturally responsive teaching–and note how Iowa Code pays so little attention to most of the 8 competencies.

And finally, let us amplify yesterday’s call to action from accountability partner Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI):

At today’s Des Moines City Council meeting, CCI members revealed that Michael Fong, a Des Moines police officer who was recently sued for excessive force and battery, is leading the Des Moines Police Department’s de-escalation training.

Call Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders at 515-283-4141 and tell him: remove Michael Fong from the de-escalation training and meet with community members about real solutions!

We need to immediately remove Michael Fong from DMPD’s de-escalation training, but that’s not enough. Scott Sanders must meet with community members who are proposing real public safety solutions: decriminalizing marijuana, a city council accountable to the people of Des Moines, and re-allocation of police funds to schools and mental healthcare.

The April First Sunday meeting will be held 4/11 to accommodate Easter on 4/4.
Teaser: The event is called “Where are All the Men??” You’ll have to stay tuned to Facebook for more info!

Thank you for reading!

Please stay in touch with us and reach out at any time to dsmsurj@gmail.com

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