March 2 National Day of Action to Save Public Education

2 03 2011

3/3/11 UPDATE: CLICK BELOW FOR A VIDEO OF THE 3/2 EVENTS AT UC BERKELEY

  • Defeat Governor Brown’s Proposed Budget Cuts of $1.4 Billion to the UC, CSU, and Community College Systems!
  • Defend California’s Promise of Public Higher Education for All Students!
  • No Privatization of Public Education or the Public Sector!
  • Tax the Corporations, Banks, and Billionaires!
  • Pass the California DREAM Act Now!
  • Stop the Resegregation of Higher Education! Restore Affirmative Action!
  • Build the New Independent Integrated Mass Student and Youth- Led Movement to Defend Public Education!
  • Unite the Movement to Defend Public Education with the Latina/o, Black, Immigrant Communities and the Oppressed to Gain the Power to Win!
  • Defend Dr. Martin Luther King’s Vision for America, Starting in California!
  • Latina/o, Black, Asian, and White, Immigrants — Documented and Undocumented — We Are All Californians!

Governor Jerry Brown’s 2011 budget proposal targets California’s system of public higher education for massive cuts of 1.4 billion dollars. The historic civil rights gains that have been won in California — gains that have provided educational opportunities to millions over the last 50 years and have made California’s higher education system a model for the world — are now endangered.

The University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems, still reeling from last year’s budget cuts, are each slated for an additional $500 million of cuts. UCLA is preparing a $96 million cut from its budget for next year in anticipation of Brown’s budget being passed. California’s Community College system is facing $400 million in cuts, which would mean at least 350,000 more students losing their seats. These cuts would leave hundreds of thousands of students – especially black, Latina/o, other minority and working-class students – with nowhere to go after high school and would accelerate the process of thousands of currently enrolled university and college students being pushed out simply because they can no longer afford to go to school. Latina/o student enrollment at UC Berkeley has dropped 12% in response to last year’s fee increases.

California has the means to support public education. California is the richest state in the nation, the 8th largest economy in the world, and is currently providing record profits to the corporations and huge bonuses and paychecks to the same bankers and executives that created the economic crisis. The only reason we are facing these cuts is because the rich and powerful forces behind Brown are tired of paying for public education and view the prolonged economic crisis as an opportunity to significantly cheapen the cost of education. Brown’s regressive and completely inadequate tax plan to fund public education coupled with the fee hikes is just a way to shift the responsibility for paying for public education from the rich onto the backs of California’s poor, working class and middle class communities. Most of us are struggling just to stay afloat. If the overwhelming majority of people in California who support public education as a right and not just a privilege available to an increasingly more elite and rich section of the population just stand up we can stop the cuts. The money is there. The only question is do we have it in our state coffers controlled by the people or does it stay in the private bank accounts of the billionaires, who dole some of it out every now and then, to be spent on whatever educational scheme or pet charity project they fancy at that moment.

Our movement demands that the money come from taxing the corporations, banks, and billionaires. We demand a real federal bailout for public higher education nationwide. Those with power and money view the economic crisis as an opportunity not only to lower the living standards of the majority of people but also to lower expectations and aspirations of the vast majority of youth. Both the Democrats and the Republicans in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. fully support this plan of action and are hell-bent on implementing it at both the state and national levels. In addition to the $1.4 billion cut to public higher education, Governor Brown is also proposing a $1.7 billion cut to Medi-Cal healthcare services for the poor and $1.5 billion cut to California’s social welfare and job-training program CalWORKs. This so-called “balanced” budget proposal will have an absolutely devastating effect on the quality of life for California’s poor, working-class and middle class communities and their ability to meet even the most basic human needs. This is a completely unviable future for our state. We cannot continue the ludicrous and suicidal practice of doing next to nothing to oppose these budget cuts just because they are being proposed by the Democrats.

On Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011, as part of a national day of action to defend public education, the Oakland School Board in conjunction with the Oakland Education Association is calling another “disaster drill” in the Oakland school district. A year ago when the first day of national action occurred, the Oakland schools played an important and positive roll – joining with the student movement that started on the UC campuses against the fee hikes and budget cuts to unite the fight for K-12 education with the fight against cuts in public education at all levels — K-12 through University. In Oakland, a year ago, we organized disaster drills in nearly every school that brought students and teachers out to protest the budget cuts. Students from UC Berkeley united with students and teachers from Oakland schools in a united action of thousands in downtown Oakland. Our action in Oakland last spring was the largest mass mobilization in the country. Our movement succeeded in getting then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State Legislature to restore $300 million of cuts to the UC’s.

This year’s disaster drills called for Wednesday March 2nd are modeled on what we did a year ago. However this year we will need far more than it took a year ago to score even a modest victory. We need a series of sustained mass actions that are more determined, angrier and much larger than a year ago to defeat the bi-partisan national and state policy of dismantling and privatizing public education. Gov. Brown expects some mass resistance to his budget cuts. However, he is counting on the marches and demonstrations occurring all over California on March 2nd to be lame and meek. If March 2nd is no more than a one off, large but tame day of moral protest actions, which apart from BAMN, is what the forces organizing March 2nd events intend, then Gov. Brown wins and the people of California lose. BAMN is determined to prevent this from happening. It is not that difficult to win, if we can get some serious and dedicated young leaders to step forward and join us in fighting the cuts.

In Oakland, students must take the lead and organize the March 2nd, 2011 disaster drills themselves. We need March 2nd to be much bolder than a fifteen minute rally in front of the schools, which is the current plan. .The attacks we are facing will determine the character of our lives. March 2nd must be more than a moral outlet for students, teachers and community members to let off some steam and prepare for defeat. We have a model of how to win. The huge immigrant rights marches of 2006, inspired by high school and middle school walk-outs, defeated a Republican attack on the basic human and civil rights of California’s Latina/o and immigrant communities, especially undocumented Californians. What we are facing now is an attack supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Defeating this attack will require no less than the sustained and massive actions of 2006, in which our mass actions continued to grow in both scope and militancy until we won. We need to bring the spirit and determination of the youth of Cairo to California! Our aim must be to shutdown California.

Jerry Brown says he wants his budget passed by the end of March. We have between now and then to convince the state legislature to reject Brown’s budget proposal and act on the broadly popular mandate to maintain public education as a fully funded right. March 2nd and the days leading up to and following it must be spent organizing those who are most determined to win to lead and to fight. Our movement must make the fight against racism, the fight for full rights for all immigrants documented and undocumented, and bringing an end to the scapegoating of immigrant communities central demands of our struggle. Demanding passage of the Dream Act, the restoration of affirmative action programs so that Latina/o, black and other minority students are no longer denied a seat within the UC system and the creation of integrated metropolitan-wide magnet and other high quality k-12 schools must be central demands of our struggle. This is the only way for us to assure that our fight to defend public education as a right extends to every Californian, including those who are undocumented. Latina/o youth and students are the strongest, most experienced, most optimistic and most determined force in California, we need these students to step up and lead. Our new movement will have to be a new mass youth-led integrated and independent civil rights and immigrant rights movement to win.

More than any state in the nation California is poised to realize Dr. King’s vision for America. The rich and the powerful do not have to be the force determining the direction of our state. The Latina/o, black, immigrant and other oppressed communities have enormous social power. But we need leaders to organize this power and place us in the position of power that is rightfully ours to make California into our California. BAMN is that leadership. BAMN needs to grow for our new movement to grow rather than be shut-down again. March 2nd should sort out the leaders determined to win from those whose real aim is to place themselves in the front of the movement in order to shut it down. We urge all of those leaders who want to win and who act on that sentiment on March 2nd to join BAMN. Defending public education as a right and stopping the cuts are too important to our lives to accept defeat, especially when victory is attainable. We call on all who refuses to condemn California’s Latina/o, black, immigrant and poor youth to a future devoid of educational opportunity, hope and dignity to join BAMN in building a movement with the political perspective and social power to win.

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