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Local protest to protect public education

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Photo courtesy of Josefina Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Josefina Rodriguez

On October 24, 2009, more than 800 students, workers and teachers came together at UC Berkeley to defend public education. The Mobilizing Conference brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions and organizations from all across California. After hours of open collective discussion, they voted to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4th 2010, which is tomorrow.

It seems that each year the state has less and less money to give to public education. As a result, cuts are being made and tuition is going up, and the University of California schools are becoming more privatized due to the decreasing funding from government.

“What is especially scary is that many in the UC administration appear willing to go along with privatization, assuming it is inevitable. The attitude seems to be that if we make enough cuts, raise tuition enough, and reduce the number of students, we can still be a great university, though a smaller private one,” said George Lakoff, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley, in “Privatization Is The Issue” on keepcaliforniaspromise.org.

Privatization would also result in the enrollment of more out-of-state and international students. The logic: since they pay a higher tuition, this would provide a fix to the lack of funds. However, this tactic to boost revenue defeats the mission of the UC that says we should be “serving the people of California.” More important, a higher tuition would deny poor or struggling middle-class students the chance at a higher education at a UC, even though many of them would be academically qualified.

Although UC schools are targeted with the issue of privatization, state schools and public education throughout the country are also suffering through layoffs, fee hikes and cuts.

March 4th’s Day of Action is not just for UC schools; it is a day for all who believe in public education to unite in a nationwide resistance movement.

Tomorrow’s protest comes at the heel of several UC demonstrations held throughout the past three weeks. These protests were in response to the racial incidents at UC San Diego, the first being the “Compton Cookout,” the hanging of a noose at Geisel Library, then, just two days ago, the pillowcase crafted into a KKK-style hood found on the statue of Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss.

Because of the current UCSD campus climate, March 4th is not just a day to defend public education. For the Black Student Union and other campus minorities it is a day for answers.

BSU presented the administration with 32 demands for a structural change at UCSD. So far, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox has responded to their demands with limited offers. The students have given Chancellor Fox until tomorrow, March 4th, to complete this negotiation process.

Tomorrow is our National Day of Action for Education, and for many of us, it is also a day to fight the toxicity that has deeply hurt the UCSD campus. If you want to be a part of this movement, click here for the locations and events that will be taking place throughout the day at UCSD  There will also be demonstrations held in downtown San Diego.

March forth on March 4th.

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