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Take to the Streets for Science!

Do you like antibiotics, GPS navigation, images from the Hubble telescope, hurricane watches and winter storm warnings, air travel, earthquake-proof building techniques, and the ebola vaccine? If so, then you like SCIENCE!  Join STAND Central New Jersey, hundreds of other organizations and hundreds of thousands of other people in the March for Science this Saturday, April 22nd. 

The main march will be held in Washington, D.C., but there are 517 satellite marches planned on six continents! Here in New Jersey, we can drive or take a train to the DC March, or we can choose to go to one of several nearby satellite events:

  • The D.C. March.  Begins north of the Washington Monument, with teach-ins from 9-10am, a rally from 10am-2pm, and the March itself, which begins at 2pm.
  • Atlantic City March. Begins at the Boardwalk on Albany Ave. 2-5pm.
  • March for Science Lehigh Valley, in Bethlehem, PA. At Payrow Plaza, 1-3pm.
  • Doylestown, PA March. Begins at State & Main, 12pm.
  • New York City March. Begins with a rally at Central Park West at 62nd St., 10:30am. March begins at approximately 11:30. March route ends at 52nd and Broadway.
  • Philadelphia March. Start assembling at 10am on the South side of City Hall. March begins at 11. March ends at Penn’s Landing–Great Plaza, with speakers and live music.
  • Princeton March. Rally at Hinds Plaza at 10am. March begins at 11am.
  • Trenton March. STAND CNJ is proud to be a sponsor of the Trenton March for Science! Begins at 10am with a program of speakers at the War Memorial, followed by a March to the New Jersey Statehouse Annex.

You can find satellite marches in other states or countries here.

The goals of the March for Science include demanding evidence-based policy and regulations that serve the public’s best interest, ending gag rules and other restrictions that prevent scientists from speaking openly about their research, and increasing funding and hiring for scientific research.

A large coalition of partners representing scientific, education, advocacy and medical organizations have joined together to help sponsor the March in D.C., including the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Nature Conservancy, the National Science Teachers Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the American Public Health Association, among many, many others. In addition to STAND CNJ, local organizations sponsoring marches in New Jersey include Action Together New Jersey, American Federation of Teachers-NJ, New Jersey Education Association, Communications Workers of America, Hope Rises Up, NOW NJ, Sierra Club New Jersey, Working Families Alliance of NJ, Princeton Marching Forward, Young Democrats of Atlantic County, the South Jersey Democratic Women’s Forum and more! The complete list of sponsors for the Trenton march is here.

Even if you are unable to attend a March for Science on Saturday, there are still many ways you can help the event have a larger, more meaningful impact. Sharing information, articles and photos about the March before, during and after the event is always a helpful way to shape public opinion. But don’t stop there. Write a letter to the editor explaining why you support the March for Science. Write a letter to your representatives explaining why you stand in solidarity with those who march on Saturday, though you are unable to march yourself. You can take these actions on the day of the March, or at a different time that works better with your schedule.

A few more specific action ideas for everyone, whether you are able to attend a march on Saturday or not:

  • NJ March for Science in Trenton organizers are calling on NJ residents to sustain the spirit of the march by asking their state legislators to create a comprehensive state climate change strategy, as New Jersey is the only state along the Eastern seaboard that has no climate change adaptation plan, despite our many miles of beaches and shore towns.
  • Defend science-based policy and regulatory protections by urging Senator Booker and Senator Menendez to vote against HR 1430, the HONEST Act, and HR 1431, the EPA Science Review Board Advisory Act, which have already passed in the House. These two bills threaten to make it harder for evidence-based research and scientists to guide policy at the EPA. Call Sen. Booker at 973-639-8700 and Sen. Menendez at 973-645-3030.
  • Take part in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ current priority action by contacting your 3 members of Congress and urging them to reject the many cuts in the president’s proposed budget to evidence-based, scientific programs and agencies.
  • More broadly, organizers of the D.C. March for Science are encouraging supporters of the March to participate in a Week of Action from April 23-29. A description of daily actions can be found here.

Saturday is coming soon — get ready to march and/or take action for evidence-based government and scientific research!

And mark your calendars for the marches still ahead….

 

 

 

Here Comes the Tax March!

A season of major marches begins this weekend!

First in the line-up is the Tax March, happening this Saturday, April 15th, in 41 states, 5 countries, and of course, the District of Columbia!

According to Delvone Michael, senior strategist for the Working Families Party, “Without his tax returns, Americans are in the dark about Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest. We don’t know his foreign entanglements, and whether he even pays any taxes at all. Almost everyday we’re hearing more reports about the White House aides’ ties to Russia. We need to know the truth — is the Trump administration acting in the best interest of the American people or a foreign government?”

Inspired by this urgent question, thousands of marchers around the world will demand: “Donald Trump, release your tax returns!” Organizers of the Tax March are also calling for transparent government, legislation that requires presidential candidates to release tax returns, and an end to unfair tax policy that enables corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. You can read more about the goals of the Tax March here.

Dozens of organizations are co-sponsoring the march, including the Working Families Party, Americans for Tax Fairness, the American Federation of Teachers, the Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible Project, MoveOn.org, Our Revolution, and nearly 50 more! You can see the full list of march partners here.

Residents of New Jersey are lucky to have several nearby march locations to choose from! In addition to the DC March, there are marches or rallies happening in the following places:

You can find more Tax Marches in other states here.

Even if you are unable to attend a march this Saturday, there are still many ways you can raise awareness of the Tax March and amplify its message. For starters, you can share information and articles about the Tax March on social media before, during and after the event. You can write a letter to your members of Congress letting them know that you support the Tax March and want legislation requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, such as the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Katherine Clark.  You can write a letter to the editor of your local paper with the same message. Here in New Jersey, where our state lawmakers recently passed legislation requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns before their names can appear on ballots in our state, you can write a letter to Gov. Christie urging him to sign this bill (S3048/A4520) into law!

In addition, the Working Families Party (WFP) has launched a social media campaign around the march. Record a short video explaining why you support the Tax March, or why you will attend it, then post to social media with #WhatAreYouHiding and #TAXMARCH. WFP will then re-share your post.

Saturday is only a few days away — choose a march now to attend and start making your sign! Or, if you can’t march, take another action like those described above to increase the impact of the Tax March.

And then get ready….more marches are on the way! :

 

 

NJ State Education: Lessons from a Legislator Visit

by Education blogger Olga Starr

Let me first get my confession of extreme naivete out of the way: I had no idea how much the state legislature did with education issues in NJ! WOW. Now, let me backtrack:

Shortly after the highly contentious confirmation of school voucher champion Betsy DeVos, I scheduled a meeting with Patrick Diegnan, my state Senator in District 18 who also happens to be on the Education Committee, to express STAND CNJ members’ strong support for public education and get his thoughts on what we in NJ can expect in light of the likely federal agenda. A couple of weeks before the scheduled meeting, I happened to meet Nicole Whitfield, Executive Director of Special Parent Advocacy Group,  which “prides itself in helping parents to become educated on their rights in special education (and) sets out to repair the disconnected services offered to children with special needs”. Nicole told me of the horrifying conditions to which special education students in Trenton are exposed – including an incident in April where an 8-year-old special needs student was sexually assaulted by an older student on a school bus that transports 52 students to 35-40 stops with no aide. To help keep these vulnerable children safe in the future, Senator Shirley Turner introduced a bill in the State Senate that would require a ratio of one aide to no more than 15 special needs students on a school bus. That bill had come out of the Education Committee and was waiting in the Appropriations Committee (on which Senator Diegnan also sits). As the senator’s constituent and strong supporter of education, I invited Nicole to join me at the meeting to share her story with the Senator and ask for his support for the transportation bill.

In my pre-meeting research, I found that Senator Diegnan had long been a proponent of public education, including better needs assessment, regulation, and community participation in the approval and running of charter schools, a point that is highly relevant to the voucher and privatization agenda. Senator Diegnan assured me that if/when a Democratic governor takes office next year, he will re-introduce these types of bills that have been stymied by Chris Christie and his legislature supporters. He also assured me that if federal funding is put on the line as contingent upon adoption of a voucher system in NJ, our Democratic legislature and (hopefully) governor will refuse to abide and would take that to the courts. I found this to be very reassuring; it also once again underscored the importance of electing a governor in November who is a strong supporter of public education.

Nicole also spoke to the Senator about the dire need for aides for special needs students in Trenton.  He was understandably appalled, and expressed strong support for this bill. We asked that he do whatever he can to help expedite the bill through the Appropriations committee.

Unfortunately, to date, the bill is still waiting in committee – possibly because the legislature is currently busy with the budget review process.  The special education children in Trenton really need this resource – and we, as STAND CNJ members, should use our constituent power to help! So, a call to action: please contact your state Senator, especially if they are on the Appropriations Committee (see www.njleg.org for information), and ask that they expedite bill S2757, which would require a ratio of one aide per no more than 15 special needs children on school buses. Tell your Senator that we want NJ’s children to be safe, and we owe our most vulnerable children the support they need to safely get to school! If your Senator is Patrick Diegnan, please thank him for voicing his support for the bill to Olga Starr and Nicole Whitfield, and ask him to act in these children’s behalf!  This is the power of local politics and grassroots action – together, we can make an immediate difference in the lives of children in our state.

In the meantime, we can feel encouraged (while still staying alert and always ready to resist!), knowing that as we work to elect supporters of public education to the state house in November, we can help protect our state’s public schools against the harmful federal agenda of vouchers and privatization.

Keep up the fight, education advocates! We’ve got this!

    Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D)

(908) 757-1677     sendiegnan@njleg.org