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Unite to fight for public education! > > Come to the Statewide Student Union & Movement-Building Conference!

> >
> > What: Statewide Student Union movement-building conference
> > When: Saturday, October 20, 2012
> > Where: UC Berkeley, 145 Dwinelle (room number and building on campus)
> > Who: Anyone who cares about public education!
> > Contact us at: ([email protected]) if you have any
> > questions, suggestions, or need housing
> >
> > Occupy Education is hosting a statewide conference on Saturday, October 20,
> > 2012 to lay the groundwork for a statewide student union to fight for public
> > education at all levels, PreK-PhD. We will also consider immediate
> > strategies and actions to stem the barrage of cuts and longer-term
> > strategies to restore funding for education. We have been gathering to
> > strategize our defense of public education for the last three years, and
> > were further inspired by the successes of student movements in Chile,
> > Quebec, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
> > Our most recent conference, held at Santa Monica College this past spring,
> > we agreed on general guiding principles that you will find below. During
> > this next conference, we hope to lay the groundwork to build a base of
> > activists and defenders of public education across all levels of public
> > education and all regions of California. We invite students, teachers,
> > workers and parents from all levels of education, along with anyone else who
> > wants to work toward the education system California deserves, to join us on
> > October 20 and help us build the coalition that will take us there. Please
> > bring whatever proposals you would like to see in regards to some general
> > structure and/or an action proposal. Proposals can be emailed ahead of time
> > to [email protected] and we will try to update the
> > various websites (,,
> > with the proposals so people can see
> > them ahead of time. Moreover, additions, revisions, or edits to the agenda
> > can also be sent to the listed e-mail and will be further updated via the
> > websites.
> >
> > Why work together?
> > Today we live in a national climate of austerity. The survival of public
> > education, the institution we count on to prepare us and our children for a
> > productive adult life, is now seriously in question. We have seen painful
> > cuts and fee increases at all levels of education. Yearly tuition at both UC
> > and CSU have TRIPLED since 2003, pricing countless promising young people
> > out of a quality education, or forcing them deep into debt, . Per pupil
> > spending at California K-12 schools has fallen from 23rd in the nation
> > before the recession to 35th, at time when education budgets were being
> > slashed across the country, with some 300,000 teachers laid off nationwide,
> > . It is up to us, students, workers, teachers, and parents to defend and
> > restore our once unparalleled public education system and ensure that all
> > Californians get the education they deserve.
> >
> > We can’t all do this alone! There is resistance to these attacks from all
> > corners and all levels of education, but we can’t just work in isolation. If
> > we each restrict our efforts to an individual school or school system, we
> > might be able to cope better with the cuts we receive, but we the cuts will
> > continue to be passed down from the Sacramento and Washington D.C.
> > nonetheless. California is a wealthy state, but it is up to each of us to
> > make sure that a sane fraction of our resources ends up the classroom.
> >
> > The goals of this conference
> >
> > We invite you to attend our upcoming conference. We expect to have inclusive
> > discussions, with students and groups coming from different colleges and
> > different levels of organizing, to achieve the following three goals:
> > - discuss and vote on our draft of principles and goals,
> > - decide on our concrete next steps to form a student union and also
> > - to concretize the actions we will take this Fall against the new cuts,
> > fee hikes and school closures that have been announced.
> >
> > We invite all students and student groups from all campuses to come and to
> > bring proposals 1) for actions this Fall and 2) for next concrete steps we
> > need to build our student union (structure, education, logistics).”
> >
> > Even though this is a student conference, teachers, parents and workers from
> > all levels of education across California, anyone else who wants to fight
> > for public education are welcome to join us on October 20 and contribute to
> > our discussion so we can chart a course for the education system we and our
> > children deserve!
> >
> > Preliminary Agenda (open to revisions, edits, additions, etc.)
> >
> > 9:00-10:00 Light breakfast, such as bagels, coffee, and juice (we note the
> > current room(s) is reserved starting at noon - this is addressed later below
> > - we agreed the conference needs to be all-day)
> >
> > 10:00-10:10 Introductory speech going over the results of the previous SoCal
> > conference. This is to frame the discussion as a follow-up building on what
> > was agreed earlier in the year.
> >
> > 10:10-10:30 Introductions - go around the room and each person state just
> > their name and school.
> >
> > 10:30-11:00 Short break-out meetings for people to tell each other what is
> > going on at their schools and to share any action ideas they may have.
> >
> > 11:00-12:30 Plenary to raise, discuss, and vote on action proposals we can
> > encourage all to participate in.
> >
> > 12:30- 1:30 On-site lunch
> >
> > 1:30- 2:00 Video or Skype with Quebec student (maybe the one we had at the
> > forum yesterday?), followed by brief Q/A
> >
> > 2:00- 4:00 Student union discussion: raising, discussing, and voting on
> > proposals for networking, state-wide structure, etc.
> >
> > 4:00- 5:00 Break out meetings for working groups such as outreach and media
> >
> >
> > The Principles Agreed (in spirit) at the Last Conference
> > Why We Need a Student Union and What Kind of Student Union?
> >
> > Why do we need a student union?
> >
> > To Fight for the Right of All Students to a Free Quality Public Education
> > To Fight for Democratic Governance of the Schools by Students, Staff and
> > Faculty
> > To Unite and Fight for All Sectors of Public Education across California
> > To Fight Against Oppression in the Movement, in Society and Everywhere
> > What are our organizing principles?
> >
> > Participatory Democracy
> > Orientation towards Mobilization and Mass Direct Action
> > Political Independence
> > Student and Worker Solidarity and Unity in Struggle
> > Against Repression: in Defense of Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the
> > Right to Protest
> > National and International Solidarity
> > Why do we need a student union?
> >
> > To Fight for the Right of All Students to a Free Quality Public Education
> >
> > The basic mandate of our student union should be to defend the right of all
> > students to an affordable, accessible, fully funded education that is both
> > public and high quality.
> >
> > Today, we are facing unprecedented attacks on the structure of public
> > education in this country. Our schools are being privatized and
> > resegregated. Every facet of our academic experience is under attack: from
> > rising costs and skyrocketing student debt to restructuring of the school
> > functions with the elimination of critical student services and programs and
> > the imposition of two-tier educational structures, from decreasing access
> > for academically under-represented communities and the undocumented to
> > targeting Ethnic Studies and Gender and Womens’ Studies Depts for harsh
> > cuts.
> >
> > While neo-liberalism is pushing its privatization plans for public
> > university systems all over the world, in other countries students are
> > mobilizing through their student unions to defend their rights and are
> > managing to hold off attacks.
> >
> > Here in California, we see urgently the need to build a broad and united
> > organizational structure that corresponds to the gravity of the attacks we
> > are facing. We see clearly that we cannot defeat these cuts without the
> > organized strength of the entire education sector, especially its student
> > component. We need a student union to coordinate and develop the student
> > movement on a statewide scale. We have “student governments” and
> > “associations” that govern us, the students, but we do not need a
> > “government” to keep us quiet and in line; we want a powerful and democratic
> > union that fights for our present education and our future, and that is
> > independent of all governments!
> >
> > Even though our first goal is to stop the fee hikes, cuts to classes,
> > layoffs, lack of access for undocumented students and increase the public
> > funding for education, in the long run, we should be fighting for an
> > education system that is free and open to all. This is the only way to honor
> > the human right to education!
> >
> > At the same time, we are fighting to ensure that our education system is
> > democratic and just in its governance structure, social role, and academic
> > content. This means our student union should put forward a transformative
> > vision for education that is directly linked to the needs of the community,
> > especially the working class, and not corporations, US imperialist
> > interests, or the military. It should fight to open up access to the schools
> > and universities in a broader sense, bringing the cultural and intellectual
> > life of the education system into the community. And it should fight to
> > change the relationship of our schools and universities to the communities
> > they exist in.
> >
> > Beyond this, the student union should investigate and mobilize around
> > student problems in a broader sense – including housing and tenants rights,
> > the need for affordable, guaranteed childcare, the position of youth in the
> > workforce and unemployment, the inadequate access to health care and
> > psychological support, the lack of collective access to culture and the
> > consequences of its privatization for society, the high costs of public
> > transportation and food, attacks on our future working conditions,
> > criminalization and imprisonment, and student debt.
> >
> > To Fight for Democratic Governance of the Schools by Students, Staff and
> > Faculty
> >
> > Our project for the Student Union should not be to build another
> > organization to govern students in the way that our current student
> > government does. Rather, we should strive to build a democratic organization
> > through which students can make decisions about the future of our schools
> > and universities and about our own education at every level – from the
> > departments and dorms to the governing bodies of the entire education
> > system.
> >
> > We should fight to replace the Regents, Boards of Trustees, and Boards of
> > Education with a real system of Shared Governance in which those who use and
> > run the universities and schools – students, staff, and faculty – are the
> > ones who govern.
> >
> > We should build democratic bodies for decision-making like General
> > Assemblies where students can develop their self-organization and capacity
> > to run the education systems and society. We should support processes of
> > self-organization of other sectors of the campus community, including
> > faculty and staff, and seek constantly to build common spaces where we unite
> > all campus sectors to develop self-governance together.
> >
> > To Unite and Fight for All Sectors of Public Education across California
> >
> > In order to effectively resist the attacks on public education in
> > California, we need to build an organization uniting us across different
> > educational sectors and geographic regions to fight for our public education
> > system as a whole. We must reject all efforts to divide us and pit us
> > against each other.
> >
> > This means uniting around demands that encompass the problems every sector
> > is facing on a statewide level and fighting back together. We should choose
> > collective campaigns, struggles, and proposals for education at our
> > statewide and regional Congresses that orient and give life to this
> > cross-sector unity.
> >
> > Our unity must also extend to all sectors of the campus community – so staff
> > and faculty as well – because it is our collective labor that makes the
> > campus function. As a student union, we should try to build meaningful
> > solidarity with other sectors.
> >
> > To Fight Against Oppression in The Movement, in Society, and Everywhere
> >
> > Our Student Union should be a force to unite all students in defense of the
> > interests and demands of the most oppressed sectors of the student body,
> > including students of color, student parents, veterans, undocumented
> > students, students with disabilities and the LGBTQIA community. This means
> > fighting for full access to education for all students regardless of
> > citizenship status, race, or sexual or gender identity.
> >
> > It also means fighting against all manifestations of sexism, racism,
> > xenophobia, homo- or trans-phobia within our classrooms, schools, bodies of
> > struggle, and movement to create spaces that are safe, affirming and
> > welcoming for all students. We should recognize that this will not be an
> > easy fight and prepare to take it up in a serious and constant way, with a
> > policy of zero tolerance for oppressive behaviors within the movement.
> >
> > Beyond this, it means that our Student Union must develop a conscious plan
> > to ensure the participation and leadership of oppressed communities and to
> > educate and politicize the rest of the student body about the fight against
> > oppression through committees, campaigns, literature, working groups, etc.
> > devoted to this work.
> >
> > What are our organizing principles?
> >
> > Participatory Democracy
> >
> > Our Student Union should be organized on the basis of the broadest possible
> > participation of students. Its structure should be open, democratic,
> > member-run, transparent, and participatory. It should represent the
> > interests of and fight to involve all students, not just the most active
> > ones.
> >
> > It should be organized from the bottom up, with base bodies in the
> > departments, colleges, and dorms. The highest decision-making bodies should
> > be the student General Assemblies and the Regional and Statewide Congresses.
> > Our organization will require statewide coordinating bodies beyond the
> > Statewide Congresses, but should reject the hierarchical structure of
> > Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc. and should have frequent rotation of
> > positions to prevent bureaucratization. In addition, all positions and
> > chosen representatives should be revocable at any time.
> >
> > All students, from all political tendencies, should have the right to
> > participate, form caucuses to fight for their views, present proposals and
> > run in elections within the student union. However, the student union should
> > remain organizationally and functionally independent of any party or
> > organization.
> >
> > An active and constant fight against all forms of oppression must be central
> > to the work of creating this participatory democracy. We need to seriously
> > assess the deep roots of oppressive behaviors and attitudes within the
> > student body and lead a fight within the union to challenge students
> > consciousness about oppression and win them to be fighters against
> > oppression both within the movement and within society. The union should
> > also have conscious policies to develop the participation and voice of
> > oppressed communities within the movement and the union.
> >
> > Orientation Towards Mobilization and Mass Direct Action
> >
> > Our Student Union should be explicitly political and oriented towards
> > struggle. It should strive to educate, organize, empower, and mobilize all
> > students in order to mount an effective fight-back. In defending our
> > interests, our union should rely primarily on our own power as students – a
> > power we express through our own democratic self-organization, mobilization,
> > and mass, militant direct action, as the recent mobilizations of the student
> > unions in Puerto Rico, Chile or Quebec have shown us in the past two years.
> > It should use a diversity of tactics but orient towards mass, militant
> > struggle over institutional or legalistic approaches like the courts or the
> > bourgeois elections.
> >
> > Political Independence
> >
> > We must protect and maintain the political independence of our student union
> > from campus administrations and the State. This means not only total
> > independence at the level of our program and action but also in our
> > finances. The student movement must rely financially on the students
> > themselves, and not on the ones we are fighting against.
> >
> > The student union must actively create this political independence through
> > producing its own media, culture, reviews publicizing our struggles, etc. to
> > develop this independence among the entire student body and society. It
> > should take public positions on all political questions affecting us today
> > as students and in the future as members of society more broadly.
> >
> > Student and Worker Solidarity and Unity in Struggle
> >
> > As a Student Union, we should build real solidarity with campus workers and
> > unions against our common enemies and support efforts of these sectors to
> > self-organize and fight back. Faculty and staff working conditions are our
> > learning conditions. We must defend campus workers by winning over students
> > to support and fight for their demands and mobilize students against attacks
> > on workers anywhere. As an organization, we should give our full support to
> > all struggles of campus workers in order to assure that they win.
> >
> > We should also call on education workers and labor unions to recognize our
> > student union, support student demands, and actively mobilize in our
> > defense. We need to start building the structures for a faculty, staff and
> > student run school system today.
> >
> > In addition, our student union should build a student movement that defends
> > the interests of the working class in society more broadly. The attacks we
> > are facing as students are part of a larger project of attacks on the
> > working class as a whole. We should stand with the entire working class in
> > saying: “We, students and workers, will not pay the price for the economic
> > crisis! Make the bosses pay!”
> >
> > Against Repression: In Defense of Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the
> > Right to Protest
> >
> > The Student Union should take a stand against all forms of repression from
> > the administration, government or police. It should organize and fund legal
> > support for students and mobilize broad campaigns in their defense, as well
> > as keep all students informed of and mobilize resistance to new repressive
> > measures or ongoing cases. We want to build a campus environment and a
> > society where there is a real right of free speech and of free assembly to
> > discuss and organize around the issues that affect us.
> >
> > This is why we should take up seriously the fight to get cops, immigration
> > officers, ROTC and military recruiters off campuses, to deal with
> > repression and to lead campaigns for broader freedoms of speech and protest
> > in our society. This fight must foremost be one of education of the students
> > and the campus community and of mass action to defeat the police and
> > militarist projects being pushed on our school campuses.
> >
> > National and International Solidarity
> >
> > The plans of privatization, austerity measures, resegregation, and
> > dismantling of public education we are combating are not just being carried
> > out at the statewide level. Across the country, education is under attack.
> > These attacks are being enacted by the Obama administration at a national
> > level through the gutting of state budgets for education and social services
> > in order to fund the bail-outs and wars and through Federal policies of
> > privatization and charter schools, high stakes testing and union-busting
> > like Race To The Top and No Child Left Behind. For this reason, we should
> > try to build connections with students across the country by supporting
> > their demands and calling for united actions. Further, we should seek to
> > expand our student union beyond California.
> >
> > On an international scale, the neo-liberal model of education that exists in
> > the United States, Chile, and Japan and which we are fighting against is at
> > the same time being pushed across the world. In the European Union, this
> > project is embodied in Plan Bologna. In the Global South, it is being pushed
> > through institutions of US imperialism like the World Bank and IMF. But
> > everywhere it is facing resistance. And everywhere that there is resistance,
> > we have allies in struggle. Our Student Union should have a plan to build
> > connections with student unions across the world to share our experiences
> > and unite our fights.

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About The Author

Dr. Danny Weil is a public interest attorney who has practiced for more than twenty years and has been published in a case of first impression in California. He is no longer active as a lawyer but has written seven books on education, has taught second grade in South Central LA, PS 122, taught K-1 migrant children in Santa Maria, California and Guadalupe, California, taught in the California Youth Authority to first and second degree murderers and taught for seventeen years at Allan Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, CA. in the philosophy department.Dr. Weil holds a BA in Political Economics and Philosophy, a multi-subject bilingual credential in education (he is fluent in Spanish) and has a PhD in Critical Thinking.He is a writer for the Truthout Intellectual Project.

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