Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature Strike Budget Deal – Mostly Good News!

Dear Commons Community,

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature resolved their differences yesterday and passed a new $168 billion budget one day before the April 1 deadline.  It has important provisions for social programs especially education.  Below is an article from the New York Times summarizing the new budget.



New York Times

Albany Strikes Budget Deal That Sidesteps Trump’s Tax Plan


ALBANY — After months of promises to defy Washington and blaze a progressive trail, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced a deal on a new state budget that would grant New Yorkers some protection from the Republican-steered federal tax plan, pour an additional quarter of a billion dollars into public housing projects and enact a raft of new sexual harassment policies.

The agreement, coming after several days of negotiations with little noticeable progress, was a measured victory for Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, who is rumored to have presidential aspirations, and who made his scorn for President Trump’s policies — particularly the federal tax plan — a centerpiece of his State of the State and budget addresses in January and in speeches ever since.

“We’re under attack by the federal government,” Mr. Cuomo said on Friday night, sitting in the ceremonial Red Room in the State Capitol.

The governor singled out a cap on deductibility of state, local and property taxes, a major issue in his high-tax state and something he referred to as “an arrow aimed at the economic heart of the State of New York.”

Mr. Cuomo’s enthusiastic description belied the more muted reality of the budget language. It provides for an optional employer-side payroll tax to replace an employee-side state income tax, and the creation of two state charitable funds for health and education, with New Yorkers’ donations to them deducted from their federal and state tax returns.

Mr. Cuomo seemed to acknowledge that his maneuvers could do only so much, saying his priority going forward would be to overturn the tax deduction cap.

“This provision hurts every New Yorker, period,” he said. “The ultimate solution is repeal.”

Indeed, many of the elements in the $168 billion budget deal were scaled-back versions of promises Mr. Cuomo had laid out over the past few months. As budget negotiations — which are conducted behind closed doors among the governor and three top legislative leaders, out of sight of even other lawmakers — unfolded over the past week, it became increasingly clear that the Legislature would punt policy issues such as gun control or bail reform to after the budget’s April 1 deadline, in favor of financial considerations.

Republicans in the State Senate had fought hard against any new taxes and fees and were able to claim a win on that account, as well as on many deferred social policies.

Still, the spending plan had much to celebrate for the governor, coming in on time amid a $4 billion state deficit and the prospect of additional federal cuts. The Legislature began passing the key bills late Friday and into Saturday morning, before the looming deadline on a holiday weekend..

Inside the budget deal are some critical practical — and political — demands from Mr. Cuomo.

Tax experts had viewed Mr. Cuomo’s proposed workarounds with skepticism, warning that many of the ideas were purely academic and had never been tried in practice. Others worried that the payroll tax workaround would be unpopular with New Yorkers, as it would result in lower gross pay, even if their take-home pay would ultimately remain the same.

Still, the new tax policies — while limited — will allow the governor a credible argument that he is fighting for New York in the face of the White House and Republicans in Washington.

The governor also secured $250 million in new funding for the troubled New York City Housing Authority, making good on a promise he had loudly and repeatedly declared over the past few weeks. After three visits to public housing projects, he vowed not to sign the budget unless it included a “real remedy” for repairs at Nycha, where residents have faulted Mr. Cuomo’s intraparty rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio, for deteriorating conditions.

On an issue of vital local importance, the budget also includes $26.7 billion in school funding — a higher figure than either Mr. Cuomo or the Republican-controlled Senate had proposed in their own preliminary budgets.

Mr. Cuomo is facing particular pressure to burnish his progressive credentials: The actress and education advocate Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging him for the Democratic nomination for governor, has blasted him for what she called his “massive disinvestment” in schools and in other areas that affect black and Hispanic residents.

On that account, Friday was a mixed success for the governor, with pledges to introduce early voting, end cash bail for low-level offenses and codify the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion all failing to make it into the final budget deal.

One major exception was reforming language on sexual harassment, a rare shared priority among both Democrats and Republicans and a political demand during the national reckoning known as the #MeToo movement.

The new language, which would ban most nondisclosure agreements and mandatory arbitration clauses, extended to both the public and private sectors. But the policies still drew criticism, with some women’s rights advocates and employment lawyers calling their scope too narrow.

Another policy agreement would ease state oversight of yeshivas, despite concerns among education advocates that the schools for ultra-Orthodox Jews, which offer both secular and religious education, leave their students with poor to nonexistent English and math skills.

Assembly Democrats, who opposed easing state control, had cast the issue as the only one holding up a budget deal. The Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, on Friday morning accused Senator Simcha Felder, who represents a large Orthodox Jewish constituency in Brooklyn, of essentially holding the negotiations hostage. Mr. Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans and therefore allows them to sit in the majority in the Senate, often wields disproportionate influence in the Legislature.

The final compromise allowed for yeshivas, and other nonpublic schools, to argue that long hours of instruction — no matter the topic — could be used to satisfy state educational requirements.

Assembly Democrats, meanwhile, had secured the governor’s promise of another commission to consider a possible pay raise, a longstanding issue of contention for lawmakers who have not had a raise in nearly two decades.

Hopes for a congestion pricing plan, which has long been floated as a possible source of long-term funding for the sputtering subway system, were largely dashed. While Mr. Cuomo had commissioned a task force to develop a framework for charging cars that drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan, Friday’s budget deal included only the first phase: a $2.75 fee on for-hire vehicles and a $2.50 fee on yellow cabs below 96th Street.

Lawmakers may still address issues that were left out of the budget, such as new protections for victims of childhood sexual abuse, during the remainder of the session, which runs through June. But the budget process is often regarded as the time of maximum urgency and leverage, when the continued operation of state government — and legislators’ continued paychecks — hang in the balance.

Still, Mr. Cuomo defended introducing even those social or policy measures that failed to gain traction during the budget process — including any major ethics changes, despite the recent conviction of his former friend and aide, Joseph Percoco, on federal corruption charges — saying he wanted to “start the conversation” on things like early voting.

The pressures of an election year, when officials are wary of alienating key lobbyists and constituencies and seek to balance fiscal responsibility with flashy campaign promises, may also soon be brought to bear.

A special election in April is also looming, which could allow Democrats in the Senate — where Republicans rule thanks to a collaboration with Mr. Felder and a group of eight rogue Democrats — to take a numerical majority. Mr. Cuomo has said in the past that he would work to unify Democrats to rule the Senate.

But on Friday night, he demurred on that promise, too, until after the Senate votes on the budget.

“Let’s talk politics after the votes are taken tonight,” he said.


Teachers Striking Across America!

Dear Commons Community,

Teachers are being energized all over the country taking job actions and striking in order ot have their voices heard.  This new found activism has been in evidence in at least four states – Arizona, Kentucky, West Virginia and Oklahoma.  Here is a recap courtesy of USA Today.

“Teachers across the country are striking and protesting en masse, shutting down school systems and putting the pressure on state lawmakers to meet their demands.

At least four states this year have mobilized, often with similar gripes. Educators in West Virginia and Oklahoma are lobbying for more pay while Kentucky’s teachers are fighting proposed changes to their pensions plans. West Virginia teachers forced lawmakers to give them 5% raises. 

Here’s what’s going on in each state:


About 2,500 Arizona teachers rallied at the state’s Capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday, demanding a 20% raise from Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Legislature. 

There are now rumors the teachers could strike.

Arizona ranked 43rd in average teacher pay in 2016 at $47,218, according to the NEA. 

Ducey and some Republican lawmakers didn’t directly address the teachers’ demands. Ducey, through spokesman Patrick Ptak, said the state has made concessions to teachers in the past, most notably a 4.3% raise from 2016 to 2017. In response, Democrats bashed the governor while highlighting how the state ranks low in teacher pay nationally. 


Educators across Kentucky called out of work together, forcing school closures in at least 20 counties as they fight proposed changes to their pension plans.

The teachers requested substitutes or called in sick, leaving administrators unable to cover the absences. 

On Thursday evening, a new Republican-backed bill passed through the state Legislature. The bill changes teachers’ defined-benefit plan to a hybrid plan with features of a traditional pension plan and a 401(k)-style savings plan. It also makes restrictions on how sick leave payments affect retirement benefits.

Kentucky’s average teacher salary was $52,135 in 2016, putting them at 26th in the nation.


Oklahoma’s teachers plan to stage a walkout Monday, CNN reports, just days after Gov. Mary Fallin approved a $6,100 average pay raise.

The raise, Time reports, amounts to a 16% bump and was paid for by raising taxes on cigarettes, fuel and lodging. Fallin called it “the largest teacher pay raise in the history of the state.”

Despite the raises, the state’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, called it “incomplete,” reports CNN. The teachers plan to walk out on Monday and will hold a rally at the state’s Capitol in Oklahoma City.

The state ranked 49th in average teacher salary in 2016 at $45,276, notes the NEA.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s 20,000 teachers held a nine-day strike from late February to early March, which ended when Gov. Jim Justice signed a contract giving teachers and about 10,000 support staff a 5% raise

Randi Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Teachers, said West Virginia’s teachers were some of the lowest paid in the United States. They had gone years without a raise while rising health-care costs cut into their income. The average teacher salary in West Virginia before the pay raise was $45,622.

Teachers rallied at the state’s Capitol in Charleston throughout the strike, which resulted in suspended classes for some 275,000 public school students.”

Strike on!


Steve Schmidt – Republican Strategist Nails Why David Hogg Got To Laura Ingraham!

Dear Commons Community,

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt skewered Laura Ingraham over her spat with Parkland, Florida school- shooting survivor David Hogg.

“This kid’s not scared. He’s not scared of the NRA. He’s not intimidated and scared by Laura Ingraham … Half the Republican party is hiding under the table, under their bed. They’re so scared … Not these kids, though”  

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said it came down to one characteristic that led Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor and gun control activist David Hogg to get an apology from Fox News host Laura Ingraham: fearlessness. 

“Maybe that’s what happens after you’ve been down range of an AR-15 that kills your classmates and comes close to killing you,” Schmidt said Thursday on Nicolle Wallace’s MSNBC show. “You lose all fear. Because this kid’s not scared. He’s not scared of the NRA. He’s not intimidated and scared by Laura Ingraham.”

Schmidt said that Hogg and his classmates are not like the elected Republican officials who are “scared to death of Fox News, of Laura Ingraham, of Rush Limbaugh.”

Schmidt’s comments came as several advertisers announced they would pull their commercials from Ingraham’s Fox News show after she mocked Hogg on Twitter for not getting into certain colleges. 

Hogg and his 14-year-old sister, Lauren, responded to Ingraham’s attack Wednesday night, calling out the Fox News host for cyberbullying students.

“Coming from a 14-year-old, please grow up,” Lauren tweeted, while her brother called for an advertiser boycott. 

As companies announced they would move their commercials, Ingraham issued a rare apology Thursday for her comments. 

Laura Ingraham is the one who needs to grow up and get out from beneath the Fox News thumb!


Auburn University’s New President Steven Leath Announces Plan to Hire 500 New Tenure-Track Faculty!

Dear Commons Community,

During his installation ceremony yesterday, Steven Leath, the new President of Auburn University, announced a $100 million initiative to hire 500 tenure-track faculty members by 2022.  

“Our vision for Auburn is to become a world-class academic, research and service
university in the true spirit of our land-grant heritage,” said Leath. “The strategy and initiatives launched today are designed to position Auburn as an undisputed go-to destination for that special caliber of student, faculty, staff and development partner driven to make a meaningful impact on the state of Alabama, the nation and the world.” 

As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“While the number of hires will draw attention, the actual number of faculty members employed at Auburn will grow by about 100 once attrition and retirements are factored in,…University officials expect the 1,144-member faculty to reach 1,250 by 2022. Some of the new hires will take open positions; others will fill new positions.

“I feel we need to grow our research and scholarship to be a well-rounded land grant institution, but I don’t want to take our faculty out of the classroom,” Leath said. “So the solution is more faculty.”

Most of the new hires will be in the STEM fields, including agriculture and veterinary medicine, but there will also be additions in the arts and humanities. The university will focus on subjects that have proved popular, like kinesiology, a relatively new major at Auburn.

Beth Guertal, an agriculture professor, and Bruce Tatarchuk, an engineering professor, lead a group that will decide where to bring in the new professors.

The size of the undergraduate population won’t change, but university officials expect to add more graduate students to support new research projects.

The hiring spree will cost the university well over $100 million, including the costs of faculty salaries and the creation of laboratories, Leath said. Auburn recently finished its largest fund-raising campaign and expects an increase in its state appropriation this year. Alabama’s legislature is still in session, but if the state’s education budget passes, it will include an increase of $42 million for public universities.

While many public universities are facing budget cuts and faculty retrenchment, Auburn is not the first to announce plans to hire hundreds of new professors. In 2011 the University of Connecticut announced plans to hire 300 faculty members, and last year the University of Florida said it would hire 500.

Leath said he was aware that rapid growth can cause tensions on campuses, but he hoped that by asking professors to lead the group making the decisions, the plan would earn faculty members’ trust.”

Congratulations President Leath and Auburn University!


More than Half of the States Rely More Heavily on Tuition than Tax Revenue to Fund Higher Education – New Report from State Higher Education Executive Officers Association!

Dear Commons Community,

For first time, more than half of the states now rely more heavily on students to finance public higher education. During the 2017 fiscal year, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association reports, 28 states leaned mostly on students, not on taxpayers.   A new milestone has been reached in the decades-long trend of state disinvestment in higher education, according to the Association’s study. Tuition dollars, not state and local funding, have become the primary revenue source for public higher education in most states.  As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Tuition dollars, which amounted to $72.3 billion nationwide, accounted for 46.4 percent of overall revenue for public higher education, according to the association’s report.

Vermont’s system of public universities and colleges relied the most on tuition revenue, with 86.6 percent of its funds coming from students. At the opposite end of the spectrum, tuition money accounted for only 14.7 percent of the revenue at Wyoming’s public institutions.

While the trends reflected in the report are by no means new, they are stark. In 2000 tuition dollars paid by students accounted for more than half of revenue in just three states.

The national numbers have moved substantially in the last decade. In 2008 tuition accounted for just 35.8 percent of all public-higher-education revenue nationally. But the burden on students actually peaked in 2013, when tuition accounted for 47.8 percent of all such revenue nationwide.”

The trend also reflects that other state services such as Medicaid and K-12 education are accounting for greater portions of the state funding.



Former Oil Executive James Gallogyl  to be U. of Oklahoma’s Next President – Is Rex Tillerson in Line to Head University of Texas System?

Dear Commons Community,

Former oil executive and a major donor to the University of Oklahoma, James L. Gallogly, will become its next president, the university announced on Monday.  Gallogly, an alumnus of the university’s law school who has served in executive roles with ConocoPhillips, the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, and the Phillips Petroleum Company, will be the university’s 14th president.

Clayton I. Bennett, chair of the university’s Board of Regents, which approved the appointment in a special meeting on Monday morning, said the president-designate is “a builder known for having strategic vision, for managing large and complex organizations, and for mentoring and inspiring great teams to achieve results.”

“Jim’s skill set,” he continued in a written statement, “is a perfect match for this unique time in our history.”

Also in its news release, the university praised Gallogly’s most recent work, as chairman and chief executive of the chemical company LyondellBasell. “He and his team guided the company out of bankruptcy in record time and successfully repositioned it as one of the world’s largest petrochemical, polymers, and refining companies, with 2014 revenues of $45.6 billion and earnings of $4.1 billion (the year preceding his retirement).”

“I’m here because I love the University of Oklahoma,” Gallogly said in the written statement. “It’s a privilege to be part of the university, and I will work tirelessly with our outstanding students, faculty, and administration as we achieve new standards of academic excellence.”

Gallogly has also made big donations to Oklahoma, and to the University of Colorado, where he earned his undergraduate degree. The University of Oklahoma’s engineering school is named for Gallogly’s family.

Gallogly is not the only oil executive who was being considered to lead a major university in the region. The Wall Street Journal  reported last week that the University of Texas system was courting Rex Tillerson, the recently ousted secretary of state and former Exxon executive to be its next leader. While no formal offer has been made, Tillerson is open to the idea, according to the Journal

Gallogyl and Tillerson seem to be good fits for their respective institutions.



Linda Brown – Symbol of 1954 Landmark School Desegregation Case – Dies!

Dear Commons Community,

Linda Brown, the young girl at the center of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, died on Sunday at the age of 76. As reported in Black Politics and other media:

“Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America,” Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer tweeted Monday. “Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”

It was Brown’s father, Oliver Brown, who sued the Topeka school board to allow his daughter the right to attend an all-white school in the Kansas capital city. Four other school segregation cases were combined with Brown’s to be heard by the Supreme Court, but the justices’ unanimous ruling was named for Brown.

Brown was forced to attend an all-black school from her home even though an all-white school was only blocks away.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Brown. In its decision, the court overturned the 1896 “separate but equal” ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, marking the case as one of the biggest legal victories of the civil rights era. It was due to Brown v. Board of Education that the federal government could force states to integrate schools, allowing children of color the opportunity for an equal education to white children.

“To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race,” the court said, “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

Brown credited her father and the other families who took their cases to court for removing the “stigma of not having a choice” during a 1985 interview for the PBS documentary series “Eyes on the Prize.”

“I feel that after 30 years, looking back on Brown v. The Board of Education, it has made an impact in all facets of life for minorities throughout the land,” Brown said during the interview. “I really think of it in terms of what it has done for our young people, in taking away that feeling of second class citizenship. I think it has made the dreams, hopes and aspirations of our young people greater, today.”

Even with the decision, it took years of protest and legal battles before segregation would end. Only three years after the Brown case, nine black students had to be escorted by federal guards in order to safely attend the previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called Brown heroic for her role in helping to end the “ultimate symbol of white supremacy.”

“The life of every American has been touched by Linda Brown,” Ifill said in a statement released to the HuffPost. “This country is indebted to her, the Brown family, and the many other families involved in the cases that successfully challenged school segregation.”

By the time of the ruling, Ms. Brown was in an integrated junior high school. She later became an educational consultant and public speaker.”

May she rest in peace!


P.S.  Anyone wanting to take a deep historical dive into the Brown Decision, I would highly recommend,  Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality by Richard Kluger.

Stormy Daniels Interview Scored CBS’s “60 Minutes” Its Highest Ratings in Ten Years!

Dear Commons Community,

CBS’s 60 Minutes scored a ratings bonanza last night as a result of Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stormy Daniels.  Nielsen ratings indicate that it was the highest rated 60 Minutes program in over ten years.  As reported by The Huffington Post:

“60 Minutes” viewers are more interested in alleged sex scandals involving President Donald Trump than they once were in his thoughts about winning the election ― or so the Nielsen ratings released Monday suggest.

Former adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ Sunday night interview about her alleged affair with Trump more than 10 years ago scored the CBS news magazine its highest ratings in nearly a decade, even beating out its late 2016 interview with Trump. 

According to Nielsen data shared by CBS, 22.6 million viewers tuned in to the interview with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. That marks the show’s highest rating since 2008, when a post-election interview with Barack and Michelle Obama drew 25.1 million viewers.

By comparison, the post-election interview with Trump and his family was viewed by 20 million people. But that interview, the first major sit-down that he gave after his victory, may have lost some viewers due to its nearly half-hour delay in several large markets, including New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., Variety noted at the time. 

In her highly anticipated sit-down with Anderson Cooper, Daniels shared details of the consensual affair she said she and Trump had in 2006 and 2007. She is currently suing him over the validity of a nondisclosure agreement she signed shortly before the 2016 election that was designed to prevent her from discussing their relationship.

Daniels went over much of the same ground that she’d previously shared with In Touch. Although she spoke to the tabloid magazine in 2011, In Touch did not publish that interview until this January. 

She revealed for the first time on Sunday that when details of the affair began leaking out in 2011, an unidentified man approached and threatened her.

“I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” Daniels said. “And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”

The president has not commented on the “60 Minutes” interview, but he did send out a tweet Monday morning vaguely denouncing “so much Fake News” and saying it’s “never been more voluminous or more inaccurate.”

I saw the interview and thought she was believable. I think we will see more of Ms. Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti,  who said this morning that he and his client are not going away soon.


Cambridge Analytica Sent Foreigh Nationals to Work for Republicans on U.S. Elections!

Dear Commons Community,

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Cambridge Analytica, the data firm at the center of a scandal about misused Facebook information, sent dozens of foreign nationals to work on U.S. elections in 2014.  As reported:

“Three of the firm’s former employees, including whistleblower Christopher Wylie, said the company was mostly staffed with non-U.S. citizens as it worked across several states to help elect Republicans. The campaign ― dubbed “Project Ripon” ― continued even after an attorney warned the firm to obey U.S. election laws, which mandate foreigners cannot “directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process” in a political campaign.

Despite the warning, at least 20 non-Americans were sent to advise congressional and legislative campaigns in 2014, and helped to decide who to target with political messages, the Post reported. Such voters were dubbed “hidden Republicans.”

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie said Cambridge Analytica was mostly staffed with non-U.S. citizens in 2014 as it worked across several states to help elect Republicans.

Wylie, who helped found Cambridge Analytica and worked at the firm until 2014, sparked a firestorm earlier this month when he revealed that the company had misused the private information of more than 50 million Facebook users. He told the Post that the use of foreigners on the ground often led to legal discussions about U.S. election laws between Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix and then-vice president Steve Bannon.

“Its dirty little secret was that there was no one American involved in it, that it was a de facto foreign agent, working on an American election,” Wylie told the Post.

Earlier this week he told NBC News that “it was not just me.”

“Like 20 other people were. We had Canadians, British, Eastern Europeans, Lithuanians, Germans, Romanians, Greeks,” Wylie said. “We weren’t just working on messaging. We were instructing campaigns on which messages go where and to who.”

The use of foreign nationals in U.S. elections was first detailed in a memo Wylie supplied to media outlets earlier this month. In the document, a lawyer for the data firm warned Nix that he would need to refrain from “substantive management” due to his citizenship and that Cambridge Analytica would need to find U.S. citizens or green card holders to make any larger decisions.

Two other employees at the firm, speaking anonymously, told the Post that they worried about violating U.S. law and echoed that such concerns were regularly discussed in 2014.

“We knew that everything was not above board, but we weren’t too concerned about it,” one of the employees said. “It was the Wild West. That’s certainly how they carried on in 2014.”

Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and the acting chief executive has said the company “in no way resemble[s] the politically-motivated and unethical company that some have sought to portray.”

The article also mentioned that Cambridge Analytica was funded in part by Republican billionaire and Trump donor Robert Mercer, who also funded the right-wing website Breitbart News. The website’s now-former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, went on to become Trump’s chief strategist until his firing last August. Bannon also served on Cambridge Analytica’s board but sold his stake in the company in 2017.


Millions “March for Our Lives” in Photos!

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday, sparked by the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, millions of people mostly high school students marched in cities and towns across the United States as well as in other countries calling on political leaders for greater gun controls.   They seized the nation’s attention with raised fists and tear-streaked faces, and expressed their grief about school shootings and their frustration with adults’ inaction.  As reported by the New York Times:

“If they continue to ignore us, to only pretend to listen, then we will take action where it counts,” Delaney Tarr, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a gunman killed 17 people last month, told tens of thousands rallying in Washington. “We will take action every day in every way until they simply cannot ignore us any more.”

For many of the young people, the Washington rally, called March for Our Lives, was their first act of protest and the beginning of a political awakening. But that awakening may be a rude one — lawmakers in Congress have largely disregarded their pleas for action on television and social media in the five weeks since the Parkland shooting.

That reality helped drive the Parkland survivors in Washington, as they led a crowd that filled blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol Hill. Thousands more rallied at about 800 “sibling” marches around the country and abroad, where students, like those in the capital, made eloquent calls for gun control and pledged to exercise their newfound political power in the midterm elections this fall.

More photos are available at:


And taken here in New York City at 46th Street: