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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Make your voice heard! October 12 SRO public hearing

We need EVERYONE to get in on this next public hearing the La Crosse School Board is hosting about the "School Resource Officers" (aka police in schools) program on MONDAY, OCTOBER 12 AT 6 P.M. (online).

I lurked on the September public hearing and to me, it was, in many ways, like deja vu all over again. Anyone who lived through the school mascot debates or the "Big Indian" discussions has heard this before. 

People say, "This public action paid for with public money is hurting me, my children, and my community. We have proof in the form of personal testimony and academic research. We want to change things because this use of our shared public resources is causing harm to many people. It is biased, unfair, and unjust."

And other people, often those who have had control of decisions for a long time, say, "This is how it's always been. We like it. It doesn't harm us. We don't want anything to change." 

The students who spoke in September were brave and bold. They told their own stories and it probably wasn't easy. I don't know if they felt heard. Those who want to keep the police made things sound like our schools are so violent and out of control that they're one step below Attica. In my, albeit limited, visits to local high schools in the past few years, I've found things to be pretty much like, well, high school (except for the "you are now entering prison" experience visitors have when they arrive).

More people need to attend the public hearings and SPEAK UP. People who aren't students or teachers but who are members of the society that students and teachers and school policies shape need to SPEAK UP. We all need to be included in this discussion. Sign up and tell your story even if you are not a student, current parent, or teacher. We all are affected by the norms that are established by policies and expectations in our schools, the societies-in-training that adults set up to transition students from childhood to adulthood, from adult guidance to autonomy.

Why I oppose police in schools:

* They intimidate people and create a hostile learning environment for many students (and I imagine being a staff member in a constantly-policed space can be pretty stressful, too). 

* Their presence doesn't seem to be fulfilling its promise.

* They are not needed as a full-time presence. If there's a problem requiring police, they can be called.

* They are not needed to do things that teachers and counselors already do and are trained to do. They are not needed to be in school buddies. If they want to be buddies and mentors, let them do that outside of school.

* They are not trained for the environment. If police want to be in schools, let them become licensed teachers or psychologists or counselors. High school students are going through a "pushing the envelope" stage of development with brains that are not fully connected. Understanding human development and how to guide students into adulthood is very important.

* They are expensive. We could hire more counselors and mediators, offer more personal mentoring, have smaller classes, and/or provide more learning opportunities with money saved.

* They are biased. We are all biased. Studies show that a community's bias affects how its police act. When rules are not equally enforced every time of every one, it makes the bias of the community and its enforcers the deciding factor in who is policed and who is not policed.

* They are the hammer that only sees nails. Several at the September hearing noted the "school to prison pipeline" which exists because minor infractions and normal teenage behavior suddenly become ticketable offenses requiring a court hearing and possible legal consequences. When my brother tried out his new wrist-rocket by seeing how far he could shoot a rock from our backyard and when that rock broke the window of our neighbor two houses away, my parents made my brother apologize and clean up the mess and pay for the broken window. He wasn't arrested and taken into custody and jailed and fined. We need to demonstrate how we solve disputes and problems without making our adversaries into criminals at every turn.

* Making students and school staff operate in a constantly-policed environment normalizes constant policing which should not be the norm. If we live in a free society, we should be laying the groundwork for young citizens to be free and autonomous, not subject to immediate enforcement (and unequal) enforcement of rules.

This is something that hasn't really been discussed in the forums I've heard. The adverse affects of over-policing in communities of color are well-documented.  Laws and rules are not equally enforced. People in the unpoliced group may assume those who are over-policed must be making "bad choices" rather than realizing their privilege. How many in our community go faster than the speed limit on Losey Boulevard? How many are stopped and ticketed for it? It's easy for people who are never stopped and never expect to be stopped to assume those who are stopped must have done something really wrong. But we've all heard (or experienced) the stories of driving while black, walking while black, eating out while black, shopping while black, studying while black, etc. We need to remove over-policing from all our communities, not train students to accept it.

If we normalize unequal and biased enforcement of, often, arbitrary rules, we will be going in just the opposite direction in the effort to create a just society. If we normalize constant oversight of our every waking moment we will be heading into a nightmare.

We need MORE voices talking about why police in public schools is a very bad idea. We need more unpoliced people who understand what's going on to explain this to those who want over-policing. And we need to be there to create a more welcoming and supportive environment for those who dare to tell their own truths and hope to be heard.

The School District says,

"Community members interested in speaking at the forum should register by calling the superintendent’s office at 608.789.7659, or via email at Prospective speakers should register by 4:30 p.m. on October 12. Registered speakers will be given five minutes to speak during the forum.
"After the second public forum, the next steps in the SRO program review will include an analysis of local, state, and national data, a continued review of published literature on SRO programs, and gathering of local data through surveys and interviews."

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The latest on electric vehicles - September 29

Did you know that electric vehicle (EV) owners save about 50% on maintenance and repairs over the life of their vehicles compared to similar costs paid by owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles? That's the conclusion of a new report issued by Consumer Reports, a scientific, non-partisan consumer interest resarch group. "Consumer Reports analyzed its 2019 and 2020 reliability survey data for thousands of electric and gas-powered vehicles, and found that drivers of electric vehicles are saving an average of 50% on maintenance and repair over the life of a vehicle compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles."
The organization has also found that, "Nationwide EVs are over 60% cleaner than the average gasoline powered vehicle."
An August study from Northwestern University concluded that, "... if EVs replaced 25% of combustion-engine cars currently on the road, the United States would save approximately $17 billion annually by avoiding damages from climate change and air pollution. In more aggressive scenarios — replacing 75% of cars with EVs and increasing renewable energy generation — savings could reach as much as $70 billion annually."

On Tuesday, September 29 at 7 p.m., the Coulee Region Sierra Club will host an online program on The Latest on Electric Vehicles with guest Jeffrey Springer, Manager of Innovation and Efficient Electrification at Dairyland Power Cooperative. RSVP for access information at

Discussion will include information about current and coming EVs, the truth about charging, how we can encourage EV adoption in our communities and more. EV owners will join Mr. Springer, an EV owner, to answer your questions.

In 2019, the Sierra Club released a report of its nationwide study on the EV buying experience. The report found that many dealerships are not selling EVs, many sales staff are inadequately trained and educated about EVs, and some consumers found sales personnel to be antagonistic toward EVs.

"Shockingly, we found that 74% of auto dealerships nationwide do not have a single EV on their lot for sale and that consumers were still not being given important information about charging, battery range, and financial incentives.In some instances, volunteers indicated that they could not go for a test drive because the vehicle was insufficiently charged or that they were encouraged to purchase a non-electric vehicle instead."

Many buyers think the EVs are too expensive, but the cost of used EVs in many cases is
similar to the cost of equivalent used ICE vehicles. It is very possible to purchase a used EV or a plu
g-in hybrid EV for under $10,000. Factoring in the total cost of buying and owning a car, EVs are already cheaper than fossil-fueled vehicles. Many EV experts expect purchase prices of EVs to cost less than ICE vehicles within the coming decade.

To be sure, there are issues with current EVs including lithium required in batteries, pollution caused by tire wear, and congestions issues not addressed by switching an ICE vehicle with an EV. But, if we are going to travel, finding the cleanest, least carbon-emitting way should be a top priority. Battery research is continuing and efficiencies improving. 

Join the conversation! Everyone is welcome.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Indivisible: Save the Court


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion for civil rights and gender equality, passed away on September 18. We cannot let Donald Trump destroy her legacy by replacing her with a justice from his shortlist of conservative extremists. Anyone Trump picks to replace RBG would no doubt undo all of the progressive change she fought for her whole life. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who held open a Supreme Court seat for over a year in 2016 to prevent Barack Obama from filling it,  has already declared he will bring Trump’s nomination to the floor for the vote. We cannot let this happen. We have to block everything Republicans try to do to get this nomination confirmed and we have to fight like hell to take back the Senate and the White House in November.

Call, tweet, and email your senators – and then start phonebanking, writing letters, or plan a local event to take the Senate this November. We owe Justice Ginsburg nothing less.

Indivisible is calling for Senate District Office visits this Friday, September 25 to demand that our senators not vote to confirm a new justice until after Inauguration Day. Find more than 600 phonebanking, textbanking, and letter writing events to take back the Senate on Indivisible's map

Women's votes save the world!



Increasing diversity in politics

Join this energetic panel discussion, hosted by Our Wisconsin Revolution, to hear from women in politics in and around the La Crosse, WI area as they discuss their experiences running for and serving in elected offices.

Topics will include navigating barriers related to gender, basic knowledge and experience needed to make an informed decision on whether to run for office, how activists and organizers on the local level can encourage gender diversity in politics, and advice for those marginalized by gender who are considering running for office.



Supercharge is a streaming celebration packed with the inspiring voices of powerful women politicians, grassroots fighters, and artists. This event will include opportunities to dance, laugh, learn, unite and make a plan to vote. We’ll keep the momentum up through the election with weekly events to dive into the most pressing issues facing us. This is our time to move and be moved—to share in the energy created when women come together to make change. RSVP

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Antiracism - La Crosse Area Viewpoint Oct. 1

Dear Community Member,

Join us for this urgent roundtable discussion, shaped by the perspective of local leaders: Shaundel Spivey, Rebecca Schwarz, Ricardo Acevedo, Dr. Bee Lo, Nicky Buck, and Amanda Goodenough, as they collectively react to and process the current state of racism in the here and now and ultimately explore what it would take to realize a healthier multicultural community. Don't miss out on being part of this high-priority conversation to shift the La Crosse area toward racial justice. 

For more information, please visit the event page

Register at this link.