ISAIAH E-News – September 2015

ISAIAH E-News – September 2015

 

A look at what we’ve been working on over the summer months.
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TAKE ACTION:  The Child Nutrition Act is threatened by Congressional inaction

More than 31 million of our children will go hungry this fall unless Congress reauthorizes the Child Nutrition Act by Sept. 30th. Minnesota Congressman and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline has the power to introduce a bill in his committee that will do just that. But Kline is holding back. Scripture makes it clear to us that feeding the hungry is central to our faith. There is no moral ambiguity in the issue of hungry children.  E-mail Congressman Kline and tell him “All children deserve access to healthy food.”“One in four households of color are food insecure compared to one in 10 white households. An estimated 175,000 Minnesota kids live in poverty…” said Rev. Chris Becker, pastor of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights, in his op-ed in the Sun ThisWeek, “Hunger is not partisan: Children deserve access to healthy food”

Visit to the U.S. by Pope Francis

Our Executive Director, Doran Schrantz, joined dozens of faith leaders from across the country and traveled to the Vatican to meet with top advisors to Pope Francis ahead of his visit to our country. The question at the center of the visit was:  How can Pope Francis’s message of an “economy of exclusion” (an economy without people at its center) help awaken the larger American faith community to address the moral crisis of mass incarceration, poverty wages, and immigration reform?

ISAIAH will be leading a 60-person delegation to “Faith Matters in America,” a faith summit examining the ways that faith and inspiration is emerging as a force to “reawaken” America’s moral conscience to see, honor, and value all of God’s creation, especially families suffering from the sins of racism, economic exclusion, and exploitation.  The summit will overlap with Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia and delegates will be participating in – and doing prayer and action around – elements of the his visit, including attending the Papal Mass.

Ending Suspensions in
Minneapolis Public Schools

ISAIAH leaders are committed to the transformation of the Minneapolis Public School system into one that treats all children as sacred and supports all teachers who are there to help them learn. Unbelievably, during the last school year, 400 suspensions were given to Kindergarten and 1st grade students. So the day before school started, 200 ISAIAH and community members joined their voices in prayer outside the Minneapolis School District offices calling for an end to suspensions for children K-1st grade. Then this past Tuesday, 50 ISAIAH leaders attended the Board’s first meeting of the school year calling for an end to suspensions. Three ISAIAH members gave testimony: Brian Fullman from New Creation Church told the Board, “When we kick kids out they can’t learn.” Rev. Laurie Eaton from Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

Photo by David Pierini
suggested, “Rather than spending money on people trained in law enforcement in schools we should spend it on people trained to educate our kids.” Greg King from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church proposed a moratorium on suspension, “Since we can’t use suspensions without significant racial bias, we should just stop issuing suspensions.”

Payday Lending

The Minnesota State Baptist Convention will partner with ISAIAH to campaign for payday lending reform. “The burden caused by payday loans is creating a crisis for children and families in our communities, hurting especially those who are most vulnerable,” the Rev. Billy Russell, president of the organization, said in a statement. For more information about payday lending, read “Minnesota religious leaders to campaign for payday lending reform,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, Aug 18, 2015.

Organizing in the Latino Community

  • People of faith stood in solidarity with undocumented children and families living in Minnesota at a July rally to urge lawmakers to support President Obama’s Executive Order for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). “Today I pray that our leaders…have a change of heart and a change of mind and act on a conviction that families need relief. There is so much pain and hurt in my community,” said an ISAIAH immigration leader.  Click here to check out some photos and the conversation that happened on social media during the rally.
  • Recently, 40 of our Latino leaders attended an intensive two-day training in Spanish to strengthen their leadership skills. We were fortunate to have with us Eddie Carmona, a nationally recognized trainer and Campaign Manager for PICO’s Campaign for Citizenship.

Minnesota Health Care Task Force

The 2015 legislature cut funding for MinnesotaCare by $65 million in spite of a $1 billion surplus. MinnesotaCare is a successful public program serving workers who make between $8-12/hour. The legislature and Governor created a Health Care Task Force to make recommendations on the future of this program. ISAIAH’s Health

Equity Team met with DHS Commissioner Jesson in July, and have been attending the Task Force meetings since they began in early August. We will be watching the process closely to fight for the protection and expansion of MinnesotaCare and to ensure that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to be healthy, regardless of income and race.

Rally for Northstar

“We don’t want Northstar to bring things to us, we want to be able to bring things to Minnesota. St. Cloud and all of its people have something to contribute to the greater Minnesota,” said Rev. James Alberts at a July rally in St. Cloud calling on local and state leaders to work together to extend the train to St. Cloud. Click here to read the St. Cloud Times rally coverage.

Fighting Mass Incarceration & Mass Immigrant Detention

While MN has the second lowest incarceration rate in the nation, it is increasing at a much greater pace than most other states and our prisons are over capacity. A team of ISAIAH leaders has conducted a series of research visits in their efforts for Juvenile Justice Reform, Sentencing Reform, and to prevent the expansion of prisons. They have met with Senate Judiciary Chair Ron Latz, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, as well as key

experts from the Univ. of MN Law School and Univ. of St. Thomas Law School.ISAIAH is particularly concerned about the possibility that a privately-owned prison in western MN may reopen. Corrections Corp. of American (CCA) owns the 1,600 bed Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, which has been closed for nearly 6 years. CCA is the largest and oldest private prison company in the US and profits off the mass detention of our immigrant sisters and brothers.

ISAIAH By-Laws and Board Election

Over the past 18 months, the ISAIAH Board of Directors worked to put together a proposed set of new by-laws, the governing document for our organization. In the past month, those proposed by-laws were passed by the larger membership of the organization. You can read our by-laws here.  We now are in the process of electing new Board members.  Nominations have been received and our institutional members will soon vote for a new Board.

Upcoming Events

ISAIAH Leadership Assembly – Saturday, October 3, 9-2 pm
New Hope Baptist Church, 712 Bradley St, St. Paul

During this Assembly we will be connecting our various issue campaigns and looking at our path forward to the end of the year, to the 2016 legislative session, and beyond.  We will discuss the power required to change our State from profiting from human destruction through unregulated practices like, payday lending, mass suspensions, deportation, and foreclosures to investing in its people through things like paid family leave, equitable transportation, sufficient school resources, and providing adequate nutrition for our children.

NE Suburban Summit on Poverty – Tuesday, September 15, 7-9 pm
Guardian Angels Catholic Church, 8260 4th St N, Oakdale

Poverty is rapidly increasing in the suburbs. People in our communities are suffering from being overworked and underpaid and are taking on overwhelming debt.  Join us as we come together with other northeast suburban churches to begin to chart a path towards economic dignity and family security.

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