Wednesday, February 18, 2009

District 18 Candidates Embrace Progressive Initiatives

In the last few days I have received news releases from the campaigns of candidates for the empty District 18 Metro Council seat. It is awesome to see potential council members vigorously embracing progressive initiatives, like the movement to kill English Only.

Kristine LaLonde claims one of the leaders of Nashville for All of Us on her campaign committee:
Community activist, professor, and school volunteer Kristine LaLonde officially entered the race as a candidate for District 18 of the Metro Council today. The election commission has validated the signatures of her neighbors and supporters, and her name will appear on the March 26 ballot.

"While this is only the first step," LaLonde said, "it would not have been possible without the support of friends and neighbors throughout District 18, and I thank each and every one of them for helping move this city toward a better education system, a more transparent government, and the progressive leadership our city deserves."

Today, LaLonde also announced her Campaign Steering Committee. Its members include longtime neighborhood activists and key leaders from the larger community ....

The Committee includes neighborhood activists Tom Grooms, Gary Shockley, and Maria Smith; PTO leader Lloyd Hannon; Nashville for All of Us leader Gregg Ramos; and Obama for America Tennessee coordinator Jennifer Buck Wallace ....

Committee members support LaLonde's message of progressive leadership and were drawn to the campaign because of LaLonde's previous work improving our public schools, fighting the English Only initiative, and electing President Barack Obama.

John Ray Clemmons mentions his opposition to English Only to segue into a promise to restore slashed funds to the Adult Literacy Program:
In January, the citizens of Nashville went to the polls and rejected the notorious English Only amendment to the Metro Charter. It was a huge step forward for this community. But now, through bureaucratic bungling and foggy decision-making, Nashville’s only adult literacy program has effectively been eradicated. I actively opposed the English Only Amendment, and I actively oppose this absurd budget cut which strikes a severe blow to the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.

I will take whatever actions are necessary to restore this program to full funding.

The Volunteer Literacy Program appears to be a victim of the decision to eliminate Community Education. I understand that half the adults served by this program are native-born Americans who, because they dropped out of school or encountered other challenges in life, need remedial help with literacy. The other half of the people served by the program are immigrants who are making the effort to learn English as a second language.

Judging by the last election, it is safe to say that more than half of Nashville’s electorate does not want to discriminate against Nashvillians who do not speak English as their native language, and less than half of the electorate apparently wants everyone to speak English. Therefore, it logically follows that EVERYONE supports adult literacy in English.

This is a bad decision that must be reversed. It is not clear who decided to cut the pitiable amount of money from Metro’s coffers, approximately $44,000, necessary to keep the program alive. Whoever made this decision failed to recognize the huge returns for our community from such a small investment.

I can tell you this. As the next Metro Councilman from the 18th District, I will lead the effort to restore this contribution to adult literacy in Nashville, and I will fight to restore this program.

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