Join the Protests! Free Life-Long Education for All!
Statement of Ohio socialist and US Senate candidate Dan Labotz
Today, on March 4, 2010, students and education workers throughout the United States will join in protests to demand a solution to the educational crisis facing this country. Their slogan is: “Resist, Mobilize, Transform.” We see in these protests the beginning of a movement to reform education and to transform our society.
Public schools at all levels from kindergarten through graduate schools are under siege. We have too few teachers. Classes are far too large. We have lost our art, music, foreign language, and even physical education classes. From “No Child Left Behind” to vouchers and charter schools, from the economic crisis to the states’ budget cuts, American public education is being dismantled.
As a result, our educational system is failing. Since “No Child,” teaching to the test has replaced teaching the whole child. Too many of our students cannot read or do math at grade level. Some 12 percent of whites, 20 percent of African Americans, and 30 percent of Latinos drop out of school. The cost of higher education has become astronomical, making it difficult, if not impossible for many students to go on to college. With the overturning of affirmative action and the underfunding, education at all levels has become more classist, more racist, and altogether more unfair.
The Obama administration and the U.S. Congress provided trillions in grants, loans, and federal insurance to banks and corporations for the bailouts. The total military and war budget comes to almost $750 billion dollars. The President’s proposed education budget is just under $50 billion dollars. The Obama government provided hundreds of times more money to the bankers than it will to teachers and students, and it will spend 15 times more on arms and war than on our children’s education. Obama’s proposal is more loans that will saddle more families and students with more debt. We don’t need loans—we need free education.
Our state and our nation should provide free, quality education to all, from pre-school through Ph.D., from technical schools to adult life-long learning classes. Free education is not a utopia. During the 1960s states like California and New York provided virtually free education to their students. Open-admissions community colleges allowed students to move on to state colleges and universities. Corporations were taxed to pay for what was in fact the education of their employees. We must once again tax the wealthy and the corporations to provide free, quality education for all.
Public education should be democratically controlled by the public. The public should set the priorities. Teachers unions and communities, parents and students working together should shape the educational program in the schools. The combination of generous funding together with democratic control would make it possible to construct an educational system for a new era. To achieve the combination of generous funding through taxing the corporations and democratic public control we will have to build a powerful movement to wrest the educational system out of the hands of politicians, government bureaucrats, and corporate charter schools.
Yet educational reform will be meaningless if we can’t provide jobs for all at living wages. And we can’t do that while corporations run the country. We need to end the era of corporate control and replace it with a new era of social control. We need to end the capitalist system, and create a new democratically controlled socialist economy.
When teachers, parents, and students come together in a movement in the classrooms, in the streets, and in politics, as part of a larger movement to sweep the power of banks and corporations from control of our lives, then education will be transformed. When that takes place—and we are seeing the beginning of that movement now—we will at the same time create a new ethos, a new national morality that comes through the fusion of the ideal of egalitarian and democratic education with a movement for liberation from corporate, capitalist domination of our society.
Change will not come from above, it will only come from below. We cannot rely on the Democrats and the Republicans and we can’t depend on the government. We must rely on ourselves to build the new society we need. Support the protests.
Dan La Botz
Ohio Socialist Party Candidate for the U.S. Senate
Dan La Botz, 513-600-9405 or 513-861-8722 Website: DanLaBotz.com