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All out to defend public education Oct. 7

Published Sep 29, 2010 5:55 PM

On Oct. 7 there will be a citywide rally including students, educators, workers and community activists to defend public education at 4 p.m. at the Harlem State Office Building, followed by a march across Harlem, ending at the City College of New York.

Rallies, teach-ins, and sit-ins will take place at many City University of New York and State University of New York schools. Students at Brooklyn, Hostos, Hunter, Lehman, and Queens colleges and City College will conduct activities earlier in the day before joining the rally in Harlem.

These actions are part of the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, which continues the national movement begun on March 4.

Since 2008 public higher education has been hit hard; $400 million has been slashed from SUNY and $200 million cut from CUNY. Since 2004 tuition has increased 46 percent at SUNY and 44 percent at CUNY. Vital services, like childcare, have been cut back.

Millions of dollars have been cut for kindergarten to 12th grade in public schools. New York state measures will tie teacher pay to student performance on high-stakes standardized tests.

This is in line with “Race to the Top,” the federal government’s $4.35 billion fund, which is dangled in front of strapped state governments as a prize for states that launch the most vicious attacks against public education and teachers.

In Harlem the attacks on public education and the community are really acute. Charter schools are being moved into the same buildings as public schools. Then public schools and the children who attend them are pushed out.

The economic crisis and devastating massive unemployment and homelessness converge in Harlem with the racist attacks on public education and the criminalization of young people who are being denied equal, quality education. At the same time, rich developers and Columbia University are taking over the community.

Oct. 7 organizers call for an immediate halt to and reversal of all tuition hikes, budget cuts, layoffs, privatizations and closures of public schools; jobs and free health care for all students; cancellation of student debt; free public education for all from kindergarten to college; the elimination of racism in the public school system; equal pay for equal work; and job security for all faculty and teachers.

Endorsers include Bail Out the People Movement, Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence, City Councilperson Charles Barron, Coalition for Public Education, Coalition to Save Harlem, Committee to End Abusive Policing in Our Communities, December 12th Movement, East Village Community School Parents Association (NYC), FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), Harlem Tenants Council and Iglesia San Romero.

Also endorsing are Independent Commission on Public Education, International Action Center, International Socialist Organization, Labor-Community Forum of the South Bronx Community Congress, May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, National Black Education Agenda, New York City Labor Against the War, Roots Revisited, Socialist Alternative, STAND (Queens College), Students for Educational Rights (CCNY), Take Back Our Transit System, Workers World Party and Ya Ya Network.

For more information see www.march4ny.wordpress.com and www.defendeducation.org.

The writer is a national organizer of the Oct. 7 mobilization.