The Occupy Education Protests Are Working
The protests are working. Mass strikes, rallies, and encampments on college campuses in California and beyond in the past weeks have put the defense of public education at the center of the national spotlight and have already forced the authorities to make numerous concessions. Here are some of the most important developments:
1) The White House has been forced by the protests to respond. The New York Times reports: "As Occupy movement protests helped push spiraling college costs into the national spotlight, Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged higher-education officials Tuesday to 'think more creatively - and with much greater urgency' about ways to contain costs and reduce student debt."
2) The proposal to raise UC tuition up to 81% was dropped (for now) by UC President Marc Yudof, in response to the growing education movement. Yudof is now calling for $412 million more state funding for higher education. Various prominent politicians, such as Kevin De Leon and Gavin Newsom, are also now saying they support funding education through taxing the rich and corporations.
3) The outcry against the police violence inflicted on students at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, has forced the authorities and police onto the defensive. Both Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Marc Yudof have launched investigations and attempted to distance themselves from the police brutality. Numerous faculty associations have condemned the administrators and police.
We've got the 1% on the run, but the struggle is far from over. California schools are facing $1.4 billions in "trigger cuts" this December. Promises and rhetoric from the politicians are useless unless concrete actions are taken to reverse the cuts and fee hikes, de-segregate public education, and ensure the prohibition of further police violence.
That is why it is crucial to keep mobilizing until all our demands are met. To win, the movement must expand from undergrad and graduate students to all public education workers, teachers, staff, and their unions. We must build an alliance between higher education and K-12. We must champion the specific demands and struggles of immigrants and communities of color.
And we must build momentum towards our most effective and powerful tactic: a statewide strike of all sectors of public education that lasts until our demands are met. A crucial organizing tool in this direction is the Open Letter to Defend CA Public Education. Please sign and distribute this widely and get involved now with organizing for the Wave of Action in the Spring.