New website and webhost!

We’ve moved to a new domain and host. It’s:

http://ca.defendpubliceducation.org

We’ll stop updating this WordPress and start updating our new site.

 

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Video presentation of 2-month strike @ Univ. of Puerto Rico by Gamelyn Oduardo

Good news! Below is a website link to University of Puertor Rico Student Striker, Gamelyn Oduardo, presentation on the 2-month strike. He gave this talk at the “Defend Public Educadtion Conference” at San Francisco State Univeristy on October 30, 2010.
There’s drama, there’s humor and of course important political analysis about this important victory against privatization. It was pretty inspiring everytime I heard it…
Enjoy!
-Y
Posted in October 30-31st Conference | Leave a comment

Nov. Regents Meeting Call to Action

With hundreds of layoffs, unfair labor negotiations between the UC and Academic Student Employees, and up to a 20% fee increase to be voted on by the UC Regents, it is necessary for UC students to mobilize and act. The following is a 3-day state-wide call to action meant to coincide with the Nov. 16-18th Regents meeting:

  • Nov. 16th: Local direct action at individual campuses to bring awareness about the fee increase and Regents meeting
  • Nov. 17th: Mass state-wide demonstration at the UC Regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay
  • Nov. 18th: Mass local celebrations/escalations depending on the circumstances

The Student Worker Action Team of UC Berkeley calls on all UC campuses to come to the Regents meeting on Nov. 17 in order to prevent it from happening. On Oct. 7th, an assembly of hundreds voted to shut down this meeting. If transportation to the Regents meeting is not possible, we call on campuses to follow through with local direct actions as stated above.

If you would like to coordinate with folks from UC Berkeley and don’t have any contacts here, please email: shutdowntheregents@gmail.com.

In Solidiarity,

UC Berkeley Student Worker Action Team

Posted in November 16-18 | 1 Comment

“Glee” and Education Inequalities

The other day I saw a TV show about a high school glee club. It was imaginative and amusing entertainment, but as I looked at that fictional school with its full-time credentialed teachers, plentiful enrichment programs, a magnificent fully-equipped auditorium, and club rehearsal spaces replete with fine instruments and sophisticated electronics, I couldn’t help but think of a letter I received earlier this year from a parent whose children attend an all-Black, overwhelmingly-poor school. Here is a portion of what she wrote:

I started working on the Pen or Pencil Initiative at XXXX
High School in October, 2009. I usually go to the school
once a week to work with the students. What I found at XXXX
High School has been unbelievable.

First of all the facilities are some of the worst I have
ever seen. The bathrooms were filthy. I walked in to the
bathroom and had to immediately turn around and walk out.
The students told me that they did not use the bathrooms
because they were in such bad shape. A lot of the toilets
did not flush. Stalls are missing. Some of the sinks did
not work, or were leaking so badly that they had to
disconnect them.

There was no hot water, and in some cases no water at all in
the bathroom so that the children could wash their hands. In
some cases, there was no toilet tissue. So I concluded that
the “students could not wash their hands or wash their
booties”. The students told me that they would “hold” it all
day or call their parents to come sign them out of school,
take them home to use the bathroom, and then bring them back
to the school. In my opinion, it is not an environment
conducive to learning and growing for high school youth. It
is rather a very thuggish environment.

For Martin Luther King Day of Service, the Pen or Pencil
students and myself led a volunteer effort to repair and
sanitize the bathrooms (I paid for this), and then have the
volunteers clean, scrub, and paint all the bathrooms at XXXX
High School. Although the bathrooms were cleaned and
repaired on MLK Day, I do not know if the school has been
able to maintain them. The staff has said that they do not
have cleaning supplies, and with no hot water, it is not
easy to keep them clean. Also, on MLK day, we attempted to
steam-clean the carpet. It too was and is filthy. However,
with no hot water and 200 volunteers we could not get much
done.

Besides the facilities, I also discovered that the students
do not have textbooks. They have a few books in the
classroom, dated between 1984 and 1992 with most of them
torn and many pages missing, (not enough so that each child
can have one) and the students do not take any texbooks home
to do homework. My understanding is that they do not have
homework. (I personally have not seen a student with a
textbook).

The students have complained to me that they want to learn
and get a good education, but they feel that they are not
being taught by the teachers. The students have expressed
regrets about not learning very much at school. They have
also complained that the teachers are absent from school at
lot, and they get sent to the gym to sit until the class
period is over.

Additionally, there are very few computers in the classrooms
or the library that work. Probably, between 3 and 5 in the
library, and maybe 8 to 12 in computer-discover class. Some
students were assigned to this class, who are now being sent
home during that class period because there are not ample
computers.

Lack of ample textbooks, lack of ample computers — how are
children to learn?

The students have told me that they do not have enough
teachers for their required courses so they must spend a lot
of time in the gym and/or in PE for 2 class periods a day.
(One ninth-grader told me that she has only 2 academic
classes a day; the other time she must spend in the gym
either in PE or just sitting in the gym. Many of the
students in the 11th and 12th grade go home between 12 and 2
every day because they do not have any classes to go to.
Some of these same children are not passing the state
required test, and almost half of the senior class is not
graduating because they have not passed the required test.
Nevertheless, they are scheduled to end their school day at
12 noon every school day.

No music, no art, no band, no foreign languages, (at one
time, no English 1, because of a long-term teacher vacancy).
They do not have study periods or library periods or
activity periods.

There is no in-school suspension, and children are being
suspended from school on a regular basis.

Yes, I do know that “Glee” is Hollywood fiction, but I also know that real-life schools in affluent, predominantly-white districts across the country DO have full-time credentialed teachers, clean toilets, adequate books and computers, libraries, music, art, and other enrichment programs. And that all too many urban and rural schools serving overwhelmingly nonwhite or non-affluent communities do NOT have adequate facilities, equipment, supplies, books, or computers. I stand by the principle that equal access to a quality education is a fundamental human right, a right that increasing numbers of American children are being denied. It is not enough to just protest budget-cuts and tuition-hikes if we are not at the same time forcefully demanding an end to educational inequalities that are crippling our democracy and dividing our population into the haves and have-nots of the future.

The real safeguard of democracy is education.” ~FDR

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On November 9th 2010, the CSU Board of Trustees is voting to increase Student “fees” by 15%

On November 9th 2010, the CSU Board of Trustees is voting to increase Student “fees” by 15%

We CAN NOT sit on our hands and let ourselves be abused over and over.  The first time we get hit its shame on them, but the second time we get hit its shame on us for continuing to let ourselves be beaten with a baseball bat that has the word “fees” written across the fat end.
According to Provost Marlin who reported to the SDSU Assciated Students that the CSU Board of Trustees would be voting to increase student fees 5%  for the Spring 2011 semester and and additional 10% in the Fall 2011 semester.  This is on top of the Health fee increase that was just supported via a vote by the SDSU Associated Students, in addition to the fee increase of the Student Center Fee (Modern Space), in addition to implementing a new fee that will be charged to a student depending on which college a student attends at SDSU, ie PSFA vs Arts and Letters.
How many more “fees” ?  New students must pay a “entry fee I think used to be 50$ increased to 200$ and I have heard its now 400$.  I had to pay a 35$ WPA exam fee and when I had to cancel the appointment I wasn’t refunded.  The following semester I was forced to pay $45 WPA fee. The cost of administring the exam apparently rose in 8 weeks.  So if I didn’t take the 35$ exam why wasn’t my money refunded or applied to the second appointment.
We are getting “nickled and dimed” to death.  We and our families are all suffering as the result of a archaic system that is no longer “serves” the students it was designed to serve.
I propose that a few students drive up to Long Beach and tell the BOT why increasing our fees to solve budget problems is a bad, bad idea. Students are going to be forced to drop out of school.  The budget issues continue to fall on the backs of students, we are strong but cannot focus on mid-terms and homework while stressed out about selling our laptop computers or our car stereo to pay tuition fees.

C

 

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Next Continuations Committee meeting Nov 6th at UC Berkeley 12pm-2pm Wheeler 220

Great job on all those that came to conference and were patient with the whole process. More then 200 folks came on Saturday (more then the April 24th Conference) and Sunday had less but still we got what we wanted to done. Now we just have to take the conference’s decisions and make all our goals and ideas happen. I think the conference showed that folks are still mobilizing against the cuts to education and public services and so we all acknowledge the importance of uniting around the struggle for quality public education and public services.


At our Sunday conference, we decided on a Continuations Committee with a flexible structure and whose goal it is to grow and organically connect the different mobilized folks in order to help advance the struggle. The Continuations Committee met after the conference and is calling a meeting November 6th, 12pm-2pm at UC Berkeley Wheeler 220. We’ll have a Skype system set-up so folks from SoCal and other folks can call in and be part of the dialogue.
We are looking into creating a Continuations Committee  list-serve that will be used specifically for the organization and execution of any goals of the Continuations Committee which necessitate group email communication. It was discussed that this list-serve’s primary goal is for announcements to next Continuations Committee meetings, updates and events related to it. This list-serve is for folks to be kept in the loop but don’t want to be overloaded with the specific execution of the goals of the conference’s decisions and goals.
———- 

FYI:
As was brought up on Sunday, the Cal State Board recently announced its proposal of  5% increase for the rest of this school year and a 10% increase for next school year that will be voted on the weekend before the Regents meeting (I forgot the date, but I believe its  around Nov 12)  . A Cal State student from the Continuations Committee volunteered to write a solidarity letter The Nov. 6th meeting can be a space to help see what we can do to be in solidarity with the Cal state budget cuts struggle while UC folks start mobilizing for the Nov Regents 16-18th meeting where a potential 0-20% fee will discussed and possibly voted on.
Anyways, I know this was a long email but I know we’re all looking forward to push for the Fall and Spring actions and to mobilize a united movement that can stop the cuts to public education and public services will be getting more and more apparent as the year ends and when next year’s California budget shortfalls starts putting public education into another crisis. We know the fee hikes, layoffs and cuts will continue given the political and economic stranglehold of the capitalist system, and so our task is to push the resistance to a level where we can organize anoffense and to take back what is ours -the right to a public education and to have power over the democratic running of this society.
_________________________________________________________
Fall Action plan:
(Tu.Th.)
Nov 16th-18th action to protest the potential fee hike and cuts that may be voted on at UC’s [and now Cal States] and other education sectors.
Conference Demands/Points of Unity that were passed the majority:
1) No to privatization and austerity
2) Free, quality public education
from preK
to graduate school is
a fundamental human right.
3) End discrimination based upon race, gender,
sexual orientation and class. Immediate full
legalization of all immigrants, reverse the ban
on affirmative action, equal access to public
education.
4) Tax the rich and corporations
5)Democratic governance of the
educational system
Posted in November 16-18 | Leave a comment

Call for UC’s to Attend the October 30-31 Mobilizing Conference Against Privatization

Call for UC’s to Attend the October 30-31 Mobilizing Conference Against Privatization


The beginning of this school year, the UC Administration revealed:

-          Discussions of further fee hikes (up to 20% in November)
–          Operation Excellence at UC Berkeley, a plan proposing 200 more worker layoffs
–          2012 Admissions Policy, which pushes underrepresented communities of color                              out of the UC System
–         A 12% drop in Latino enrollment at UCB
–           A plan to create a UC Cyber Campus


At the same time, the state deepened cuts to K-12 and public services for those in need, creating policies which further privatize education by shutting down public schools, increasing charter schools, and underfunding the CSU’s and Community Colleges.
Both the state and campus administration are attacking students and workers, while corporations are bailed out and top executives receive bonuses. They are organized and have a plan to privatize our society. This is why we too must mobilize and organize, forcing them to confront our powerful resistance.
What about us?

On October 7th, over 76 schools across California and the U.S. held protests and teach-ins in over 25 states and took the first step this school year to defend public education for all. At UC Berkeley, we helped organized pickets, a rally and sit-in, where 2000 students and workers rallied and marched culminating in a 4-hour sit-in which forced a response from the Chancellor.
Now is the time for us to take the second step: unity of the movement in concrete demands and actions.
Build for and participate in the Statewide Mobilizing Conference on 30th and 31st of October at SFSU!

Let’s come together to discuss, coordinate and decide our demands and our plan of action for the next period.
Don’t wait to raise your voice and take action! Everyone is an organizer!


For more information: http://defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com/

-Student Worker Action Team, UC Berkeley, 10/27/2010

About SWAT: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=133305551626

Posted in October 30-31st Conference | Leave a comment

Updated Statewide Mobilizing Conference Flyer

October 30-31st StateWide Mobilizing Conference Against the Privatization of Public Education and Public Services @ SF State

Regardless of who is elected after the November 2nd elections, on November 3rd, we still face a long-term systematic attack on public education and public workers.
October 30-31st State-Wide Mobilizing Conference
Against the Privatization of Public Education and Public Services
@ San Francisco State University
Conference Information & Registration:
or
Shortlink (copy into browser): http://wp.me/PJV1i-3V
We, the people, have the democratic power to ensure that our  public institutions effectively serve the public. But to do so,  members of all regions and sectors — students, teachers, staff,  unions, adult-ed, activists, and community organizations — must  unite, take action, and contribute our voices and thoughts to the  October 30-31st conference.
The purpose of the October 30-31st conference is to  democratically propose demands, devise an action plan, and create  a structure capable of defending public education and public  services for the benefit of all.
We invite all supporters of education across the nation to attend  and participate in theconference.

Posted in October 30-31st Conference | 2 Comments

Walkout: An Open Letter to UC Berkeley Students

Walkout: An Open Letter to UC Berkeley Students

Posted on September 28, 2010

Over the last school year, we’ve seen tuition increase by 32% and massive cuts to every sector of our campus from academic departments, to maintenance staffing. This is old news.

Just this semester, the Chancellor announced his intention to eliminate 200 campus faculty and staff positions, Chicano Studies and Asian American Studies as majors may disappear, and there’s been a 12% drop in Latino admissions.

Meanwhile, investigative reporter Peter Byrne has uncovered some disturbing facts about the UC Regent’s use of the UC’s investment fund. In 2003, three Regents restructured the UC’s investment fund, investing in risky financial instruments, making students and workers poorer, and making themselves richer in the process. To put it shortly:

many of these deals, while potentially lucrative, have lost significant amounts of money for UC’s retirement and endowment funds, which were worth $63 billion at the end of 2009. (These losses ultimately reduce the amount spent on education, since the endowment supports teaching activities.) And the non-transparency of these private deals enabled multiple conflicts of interest to arise without challenge.

You can rest assured knowing that every time your fees go up UC Regent Richard Blum, with his investments in for-profit private colleges, gets a little bit richer. As if to add insult to injury, at the last Regents meeting the Regents voted unanimously to cut pensions for the UC’s lowest paid workers and to increase the pensions of the UC’s 250 highest paid employees. This news comes only a few short weeks after the New York Times and other major news agencies reported that, before moving to his new mansion in Lafayette, UC President Mark Yudof racked up $70,000 worth of damages to his previous UC mansion.

As students, we are asked to take out more loans that force us into jobs we don’t like to pay off debt we can’t afford for the privilege of getting a lower quality education. We are then told to kindly shut up and move along when we voice our reasonable conclusions: that the crisis of our university is not just a lack of state funding, that UC administrators give the public little reason to believe that new funds will be used in a reasonable or just manner, and that the governance structure of the UC is fundamentally flawed.

Over the last year, tens of thousands of UC students, workers, and faculty stood up, walked out, sat-in, occupied, and disrupted business as usual, forcing the governor to restore funding to public higher education. His chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, stated “those protests on the U.C. campuses were the tipping point. Our university system is going to get the support it deserves.”

And while we await the materialization of those hollow words (the California budget is over 80 days late, the restorations are not enough, and they will come from cuts to essential social services), we again look to ourselves, the students of the U.C., as well as the workers, faculty, and community members with whom we’ve built solidarity over the last year, for the strength to change the status quo.

Administrators and legislators need to know that the current order of business cannot stand. The current order of business says that we should stay quiet and obedient, that politics is complicated, that if we vote (and just vote) everything will be better, and that it is natural to spend trillions on war, prisons, and tax breaks and little on education, jobs, and social services. The current order of business stands against direct action and movement-oriented organizing, but only a movement can offer the kind of change we seek.

This is why I urge all UC Berkeley students, faculty, workers, and community members to participate in the October 7th Walkout and Day of Action. On October 7th, we have an opportunity to make ourselves collectively heard, to organize a mass movement, and fight back against austerity cuts and the privatization of everything. But we need your help promoting October 7th. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Repost or “share” this letter and tag friends friends.
  • Join the Facebook Group and invite all your friends: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=119043614817780&ref=ts
  • Post directly on your friends’ walls “I’m going to walkout on October 7th to save our educations, are you?”
  • Repost the October 7th video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljp_gk3VRkQ
  • Sign up to do daytime or nighttime outreach: http://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/gzjxmhttp://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/oefys
  • Email all of your professors and ask them to cancel class on October 7th, prepare a lesson on the education crisis or ways to resist, or at least to accommodate students who would like to participate
  • Change your facebook profile picture to the walkout flyer: http://mobilizeberkeley.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/WALKOUT-FB1.jpg
  • (Starting on Sunday) Change your middle name on facebook to “Walkout Thurs.”
  • Wear a red armband (available on the 2nd floor of Eshleman Hall) starting now to show your solidarity with the movement.
  • Go to the Faculty, Student, Worker Teach-In on Oct. 6th at 5:30pm in Eshleman Hall
  • Text “follow ucbprotest” from your phone to 40404 to get mobile updates on protests and important meetings in the movement

We must continue the struggle to restore the public good and we must always remember that this struggle is not about us. We are fighting this battle for our university, for the people who work in it, for the families of California with foreclosed on futures, and the children of California whose dreams we are told are too expensive to fund.

Thank you.

Ricardo Gomez, Undergraduate Student

Day of Action Sponsored by: the American Association of University Professors, the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC),  b.a.n.g lab (UCSD), Berkeley Students Against the Cuts, bridges Multicultural coalition, Cal Berkeley Democrats, California State University Employee Union-Teamsters, the Raza Caucus, the Solidarity Alliance, the Student Worker Action Team, the UC Student Association (UCSA), University Council-AFT, University Professional and Technical Employees-CWA local 9119, Veterans for Peace

Relevant Links:

http://mobilizeberkeley.com/

Peter Byrne’s Article on UC Investments: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-09-21/article/36292?headline=The-Investors-Club-How-the-University-of-California-Regents-Spin-Public-Money-into-Private-Profit

Posted in October 7 Day of Action | 1 Comment

Map of planned events for October 7

A Statewide and National call has been made for mass protests, including rallies, walkouts, strikes, & sit-ins, against the attacks on public education and public services on October 7, 2010. Below we list the planned (so far) events for October 7.

If you would like to add a planned action click on Edit and add a Placemark to the map .
View October 7 National Day of Action in a larger map

Posted in October 7 Day of Action | Leave a comment