In the socialist countries of Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea education is considered a basic right. Even in capitalist countries such as Canada, France, Britain and Germany students have won the right to attend college mostly tuition-free. After graduation they have no student debt. There are no phone calls from lending companies demanding more money.
College graduates do not spend years with the phantom of student debt hanging above them, demanding yet another payment. They leave college and go to their jobs debt-free, well educated and ready to use their new skills to provide for themselves and their families.
But this is not the case in the United States. In the U.S. we can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars toward education. We are told that without college it is impossible to get a good job. Yet, even with a college education, the millions of us who will graduate this spring will be walking with diploma in-hand to the unemployment office, the food bank line, the basements of our parents’ home, prison, the local homeless shelter and every other place reserved for those members of the working class who are no longer needed to make profits for the rich.
Yet, one institution receives countless billions in government money to continue its work. The prisons of the U.S. criminal injustice system, where countless members of our generation are housed, are never in need of more funds. Youth who have never had the opportunity to see the world of books, professors and academic discourse, instead get to spend decades in the harsh and cruel world of barbed wire fences, brutal racist “corrections officers”, solitary confinement cells, involuntary labor, along with the horrors of torture and sexual abuse.
So many youth who deserve a decent education instead find themselves turning to crime in order to survive. They then find themselves locked away in a chamber of horrors called a “correctional facility,” supposedly because they have made “bad choices.” What other choices does this system offer?
Increasingly the prisons are even privatized, and capitalists get to make a handsome profit for every youth locked away, making it in the interests of profit for youth never to see the light of day, to grow old never walking free with basic human dignity. Countless studies have been conducted showing that youth of color are disproportionately sentenced, and as a result make up the majority of prison inmates.
This is a horrendous outrage, and throughout the country, youth are standing up in one voice to say “enough!” Every one of us was represented by the youth who greeted the University of California’s Board of Regents with rebellion and outrage when their tuition was increased. All of us found our voices heard when our fellow students in California took control of buildings, blocked vehicles, fought the police and resisted with all the strength they could muster against an effort to stiffen the chains of the brutal capitalist system that bind us.
We need not look to politicians, administrators and other demagogues for the answer. We are the answer to the crisis. The future belongs to us, so WE must fight for it.
Let us take inspiration from the students who stopped the military draft and demanded an end to the Vietnam War. Let us take inspiration from the youth of Los Angeles, Cincinnati and countless other cities who have grown tired of racist cops, and taken into the streets in rebellion against them. Let us take inspiration from the youth of Venezuela, Bolivia, Greece, Nepal, Colombia, Honduras and elsewhere who currently battle for socialism in their home countries, and seek to carve out a new socialist future for all humanity.
Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) is excited to endorse the March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Education in this same spirit of resistance. March 4 will be a day to demand a halt to tuition hikes and cuts in education funding. Together we can make March 4 a day of student protests, occupations and strikes. Stand with FIST and other organizers of March 4 and say:
No to the cruel tuition hikes! No to the war on the poor! Education not incarceration! Jobs for all! Education is a right!