Saturday, February 27, 2010

March 4th: Protests Coast to Coast: Fund Education, Not Banks and War

By Larry Hales
Published Feb 24, 2010 5:53 PM

On March 4 students and workers from all around the country will take action to defend education against increased privatization of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, budget cuts, layoffs, furloughs and tuition increases at college and universities — especially the public institutions.

Workers and students have shouldered the brunt of the capitalist crisis, while bankers and corporations have been given hundreds of billions of dollars of public monies in order to be bailed out of a crisis that was made by the capitalist system, not the masses.

Young people in particular are faced with a grim future — one where well-paying jobs with benefits are becoming scarcer — and where the educational system is being increasingly privatized, teachers’ unions busted and curriculums dumbed down to prepare future generations for the current and emerging social order of worldwide competition for low-wage jobs.

Colleges and universities are getting further out of reach, and those who are able to attend must mortgage away their futures.

It is the current political climate, on top of drastic measures being taken by state governments across the country, that helped give birth to the idea of having a national day of action to defend education.

California students and faculty, teachers and other workers first called for March 4 to be a statewide day of action at their conference on Oct. 24.

California students have taken bold action, occupying a number of universities — University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State, to name only two. The action and energy from California has piqued the interest of many across the country, who began reaching out to California students to make the statewide day of action national.

Both the California Coordinating Committee and activists, students, educators and other workers from across the country released complementary statements agitating for a national day of action on March 4.

The statement from the ad hoc group reads:

“As people throughout the country struggle under the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, public education from pre-K to higher and adult education is threatened by budget cuts, layoffs, privatization, tuition and fee increases, and other attacks. Budget cuts degrade the quality of public education by decreasing student services and increasing class size, while tuition hikes and layoffs force the cost of the recession onto students and teachers and off of the financial institutions that caused the recession in the first place. Non-unionized charter schools threaten to divide, weaken and privatize the public school system and damage teachers’ unions, which are needed now more than ever. More and more students are going deep into debt to finance their education, while high unemployment forces many students and youth to join the military to receive a higher education. And all of the attacks described above have hit working people and people of color the hardest.

“In California, students, teachers, workers, parents, and faculty have taken action against these attacks. They took to the streets in a one-day strike on Sept. 24th, organized strikes and actions across the state during the University of California Board of Regents meeting from Nov. 18 to 20, and have called for a statewide day of action on March 4th. These actions have created a broad mass movement in California, drawing in students from all over the state to create a powerful struggle. As the effects of the economic crisis continue to spread into the education system nationally, it’s time to join our voices with students and workers in California and draw inspiration from their example.

“We support each group or coalition organizing in the manner and for the duration of their choosing. In solidarity with those in California, we the below-signed individuals and organizations call on students, teachers, workers, parents, faculty, and staff across the country to join together on March 4th to Take A Stand For Education!”

Planning for March 4 is underway in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, and it will no doubt grow.

Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) youth group, along with many different student and community groups, socialist parties and unions, has been involved in planning and organizing for what could be a resurgence of a national student movement at a time when workers’ organizations, antiwar and community organizations are becoming enraged at the loss of jobs, imperialist war and plunder, racism and police brutality, attacks against immigrant workers, and the other ills of U.S. capitalist society.

Hales is a leader of FIST, which is a national endorser of March 4.

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