The Houston Peace & Justice Center has several projects. We invite you to join us and get involved!
Phone: (713) 862-8222
On a global level, HPJC promotes just economic relations among the nations, with special consideration for those that have little power and widespread poverty. Debt forgiveness for the world's poorest indebted nations has been a long-standing priority. So, too has been advocacy for trade agreements that, unlike NAFTA and CAFTA, protect fair wages, worker health and safety, and the environment.
Domestically, the Economic Justice Working Group's priorities are
The Economic Justice Working Group supports efforts to build local self-sufficiency and locally-owned businesses.
Finally, the working group works to reduce corporate money from our electoral system. This work includes overturning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs FEC which gives corporations unbridled ability to infuse corporate cash into the electoral process.
Contact the Chairperson for the meeting schedule.
The Houston Peace and Justice Center supports the work of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.). This organization is dedicated to providing community members with the tools necessary to create sustainable, environmentally healthy communities by educating individuals on health concerns and implications arising from environmental pollution, empowering individuals with an undestanding of applicable environmental laws and regulations and promoting their enforcement, and offering community building skills and resources for effective communtiy action and greater public participation.
The guiding principle of t.e.j.a.s. is that everyone, regardless of race or income, is entitled to live in a clean environment. The organization's website it www.tejasbarrios.org.
HPJC is also concerned with global warming and the negative effects of nuclear and coal-based power plants.
Contact the Working Group Chairperson
HPJC opposes war as a a way to extend national power, control resources or resolve international disputes. Consequiently, we advocate and witness for:
Call the Working Group Chairperson
To empower people to make an informed choice about enlisting in the armed forces by providing information military recruiters do not offer, countering misinformation they may offer, and pointing out alternative pathways to higher education and job training.
The work currently is focused on students and their parents.
There are websites maintained by national organizations with highly useful information about misinformation and significant omissions in recruiting sales pitches, realities of military life, conscientious objection to military service, and rights of students who want to do Truth in Recruiting work in their schools.
Is it giving you a chance to "opt out" of the school's practice of sending information on students to military recruiters?
Did you know that the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires every high school to make that choice available in a timely fashion to its students? Even so, many school districts are ignoring their legal obligation.
Opting out will not mean that the school can't send your information to college recruiters and employers.
Use this packet to assert your right to opt out. It contains:
A sample letter to your school district administration or high school principal explaining the legal obligations under No Child Left Behind and also regarding Truth in Recruiting information distribution by student volunteers. The sample is provided for convenience only. Change it any way you want to say what you wish its recipient to hear.
A form in English and in Spanish to opt out of military recruiter contacts and still opt in to contacts by college and job recruiters.
Name Title Address
This letter is prompted by my concern that, in regard to military recruiting, [XISD/X high school] fulfills its legal obligations to protect the privacy of its students and give them a chance to make a well-informed decision about enlisting in the armed services.
I have a number of requests to make, and would like to meet with you to talk about them. I will call your office shortly to make an appointment.
[XISD/X high school] fulfill its obligations under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to allow students to opt out of having information about them sent to military recruiters. As you know, NCLB requires you to provide such information on students 17 years or older if military recruiters request it, but it also requires the following:
A secondary school student or the parent of the students may request that the student's name, address, and telephone listing . . . may not be released without prior written parental consent, and the local educational agency or private school shall notify parents of the option to make a request and shall comply with any request. [Title 20, United States Code, Section 7908(a)(2).]
Please note that the use of the word "shall" requires school administrators to provide timely notification, which would be at the beginning of the school year when the military might request information. Since there may be 17-year-old students in every high school grade, it is important to provide an opt-out request form to all your high school students at the beginning of every school year.
As an educator, you don't wish students who choose to opt out of military recruitment to lose their opportunities to be contacted by college and employment recruiters. So the OPT OUT form you use should also provide an opportunity to OPT IN to non-military recruiters. I have enclosed a model form you might consider using.
You do not interfere with students who wish to inform their schoolmates about certain aspects of military enlistment and military life that military recruiters don't mention. There are recognized restrictions on students' free speech activity, such as reasonable times and places to insure that it doesn't interfere with the primary educational mission of the school. Nonetheless, ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), school authorities have been legally obligated to acknowledge the First Amendment rights of their students. In this regard we would ask that
In the interest of fairness, and to assure that your students can make well-informed choices regarding military enlistment, we ask that you allow truth in recruiting volunteers to have the same access to your students that military recruiters have. In this regard, we ask that
You may already be doing all or some of the things I have requested in this letter. Nonetheless, as I mentioned above, I will give you a call shortly to set up an appointment to discuss these matters.
It might be argued that military recruiters are merely offering career opportunities, and thus information urging that military recruitment offers be carefully scrutinized are not equivalent. The Grossmont Union High School District in San Diego, California made that very argument when it refused to run a paid ad by the San Diego Committee Against Registration and the Draft (CARD) in the school paper even though the paper accepted ads from the military. But that argument was rejected in federal court, and the school district was ordered to either exclude or accept both (San Diego Committee Against Registration and the Draft v The Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District, 1986).
Military Recruiting and the No Child Left Behind Act Military recruiters can and do approach high schools and ask for lists of students' names, addresses and telephone numbers, and unless an individual student or parent tells the school in writing that it may not release the student's information, the school must hand it over. The recruiters' authority to obtain this information comes from NCLB and NDAA, which require that schools disclose student names, addresses and telephone numbers (sometimes called "directory information") to the military on request. But these laws also gives students and parents the right to tell the school not to give students' information to recruiters without "prior parental approval"--in other words, without going back and asking the parent again. The part of NCLB requiring schools to hand over directory information is as follows: [E]ach local educational agency receiving assistance … shall provide, on a request made by military recruiters … access to secondary school students' names, addresses, and telephone listings. Title 20, United States Code, Section 7908(a)(1). Note that information is limited to what is specified. Social Security numbers, for example, are not to be given over. The part of NCLB giving students and parents the right to have a student's directory information withheld is as follows: A secondary school student or the parent of the students may request that the student's name, address, and telephone listing … may not be released without prior written parental consent, and the local educational agency or private school shall notify parents of the option to make a request and shall comply with any request. Title 20, United States Code, Section 7908(a)(2).
PROHIBITING RELEASE OF STUDENT NAME, ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER TO MILITARY RECRUITERS OR MILITARY PERSONNEL
Our school may be asked to provide the names and addresses of high school students to military recruiters. I opt not to participate in this program.
Please do not disclose my contact information to the U.S. Military without the prior permission of my parents.
I do not want my information withheld from educational institutions and other job recruiters as well.
Student's Name _________________________________
Student's Signature _________________________________
PROHIBIENDO ENTREGUE DEL NOMBRE, DOMICILIO Y EL NUMERO DE TELEFONO DE ESTUDIANTE A LOS RECLUTADORES MILITARES
Reclutadores militares pueden pedir el nombre, domicilio y el numero de telefono de cada estudiante en nuestra escuela. No quiero participar en esta programa.
Por favor no divulgue mi información a los reclutadores militares sin la autorización de mis padres.
Quiero ? no quiero ? prohibir que mi información sea entregado a universidades y otros reclutadores tambien.
Nombre del estudiante _________________________________
Firma del estudiante _________________________________
Already getting recruiting literature through the mail? Then you are in the military's recruiting database. But you can get out. Use this form:
Joint Advertising and Marketing Research & Studies Direct Marketing Program Officer Attention: Opt Out 4040 North Fairfax Drive, Ste. 200 Arlington, VA 22203-1613
Dear Direct Marketing Program Officer:
Please remove all information and data regarding the following individual from the JAMRS military recruitment database:
Full Name: [First Name Last Name] Date of Birth: [MM/DD/YYYY] Address: [Street Number, Apartment Number] City: [City] State: [State] Zip:[ZIP Code]
I believe that the JAMRS database is an intrusion into my family's privacy and the Department of Defense should not be compiling this information.
Signature: ________________________________ Date: ______________ (parent or legal guardian if individual is a minor; individual him/herself if 18 or over).
The Human Rights/Criminal Justice Working Group advocates on a broad range of human rights issus. Globally, we are concerned about human rights abuses in Darfur as well as other nations where citizens are being mistreated and abused. Locally, we advocate for improvements to the criminal justice system including elimination of police brutality; implementation of a public defender system for all felonies, elimination of racial and economic biases; and treatment rather than incarceration of youth, nonviolent drug offenders and people with mental disabilities. We advocate for abolition of the death penalty, humane prison conditions, stronger programs to rehabilitate prisoners, and a significant reduction in the number of Texas citizens incarcerated.
This working group also advocates for fair treatment of immigrants. We oppose the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants until humane, comprehensive immigration reform is implemented at the national level. We support immigrant families and the education of children of undocumented immigrants. We oppose militarization of the border between the U.S and Mexico, including the building of a physical wall between the two nations.
Finally, this working group is actively working to eliminate biased and hateful language in the community and build the "Beloved Community" envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The working group works closely with Amnesty International, Houston Unido, the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to achieve these objectives.
Abolition of the death penalty, public defender system for all felonies, improvement of prison conditions, elimination of police brutality, fair treatment of all immigrants, creation of the "Beloved Community", Houston Says No to Genocide (get detailed description from old HPJC website and print below).
Quarterly meetings. Contact Chairperson for next meeting.
Houston says NO to genocide is a coalition of organizations and individuals who are concerned about genocide. At this time, we are focusing on genocide in Darfur.
Genocideas defined by the United Nations in 1948 means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including: (a) killing members of the group, (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
This convention was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 9, 1948. Article I of the Convention states that "The contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and punish."
Amnesty International reports that hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have lost their lives since the Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003. Systematic human rights abuses have occurred, including killing, torture, rape, looting and destroying of property by all parties involved in the conflict, but primarily by the Sudanese government and government-backed Janjawiid militia. Although direct government participation in human rights abuses in Darfur has subsided, the Janjawiid militia remains active in Darfur and Eastern Chad, despite the negotiated Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Civilians are increasingly at risk because of inter-rebel fighting due to deep divisions among the rebel groups concerning the DPA.
Outreach - We plan to reach out in the community and ask organizations and individuals concerned with genocide to join the Coalition.
Education - We plan to have several educational programs on genocide and specifically about the current crisis in Darfur.
Action - We plan to promote different types of action regarding Darfur such as letter-writing to officials, signing of petitions, articles/letters in the newspaper, vigils, etc.
For more information, call Ellen Burns at 713-522-9850.
Teaching Peace to Families and Children is an ongoing project that affects all of us, including those who are not parents. Everyone benefits from a society that educates children and families about constructive ways of resolving conflicts, dealing with bullies in a nonviolent manner, and providing healthy outlets for anger and frustration. Designing posters and flyers for outreach and publicity, speaking to various churches and community groups, writing articles for neighborhood newspapers and newsletters, and tabling at social events are specific ways we are trying to work for diversity and reaching others. The local chapter of the Children's Defense Fund, the Center for the Healing of Racism and the Houston Area Women's Center are three organizations with which our group is connected. We continue to seek support in every area of peacemaking and education so that respect and serenity will dominate our community and the world.
Contact the Working Group Chairperson