Power to the People for Education
Books not bombs. Education not eradication. Increased accessibility to institutions of higher learning, not the hyped escalating increasement of institutions for penalization. Teaching, not traducing. Creativity, not the componential pandering to capitalistic caprices of standardization that regulate the curriculum. We say fight back, while they continue the drivel of proclaiming cutbacks.
No matter how you examine it, we truly must be inhabiting the bizarro-type realm of reality where inversions of reason and irrationality give preference to the latter at the degradation and expense of the former. March 4th–appropriately sloganized as “march forward” and a “day of action”–sought to provide a different type of prism through which the obfuscation of facts and faces of humanity, i.e. students and educators affected by cutbacks in funding for education, would be expressed outright at the seats of power. Many faculty, students, staff, sympathizers, parents, and children expressed themselves in chorus-like disapproval and disgust for the lopsided prioritization that education in the nation, especially here in California, is being ill-afforded. While administrators, regents, fiduciaries, politicians, and the governor alike ignore the distress call made by those immediately impacted by the latest rounds of criminial budgetary crisis mismanagements, educators and students were compelled to march forward– and deliberately disrupt and bring disorder through strategies of civil disobedience–in a show of solidarity that reverberated the chorus, “stand up for schools,” and “educate the state.”
This is not an objective piece. Typically, academic pieces are enshrouded within veils of putative objectivity that suggestively immerse the subject–better yet, inhume–underneath pallets of cold, calculated, dry, stale, statistical figures that divert attention away from the life-and-blood of the affected. However, sometimes numbers count; especially when the inclusion of those statistics illuminate the darkness underwhich the current education system is currently enveloped. So as not to overwhelm our senses, for this mess is happening throughout the nation, we’ll focus a modicum of attention on California for a second. This may possibly explain why some students were fed up enough to march on streets, halls of power, interstate crossings, whatever, to be heard.
The state budget cuts are such a perilous reality for those interested in education in California, because they have witness the K-12 school system suffer 60% of the budgetary non-discretional spending. Whereas California used to take pride in numbering among the top percentile in spending and modeling what pedagogic systems are potential of, California has now sank to the position of 47th nationally–with a paltry $7,571 dollars per-pupil expenditure record. For those not in the know, that is $2,400 below the national average of $9,963 per-pupil. Alas, while Vermont and a handful of eastern states average $13,600 per-pupil, California has been deposited in the spending muck of “don’t care much about education” that accompanying western states like Nevada, Arizona, and Utah have.
California used to be known by the paradigmatic system of pedagogy that it ushered forth by way of initiatives launched fifty years ago–such as the Master Plan for Higher Education, systematized by the Donahue Higher Education Act that was legislated in 1960–that made the promise of a higher education seemingly possible for everyone. The path that was previously barred to higher education, the one requiring deep pockets or filial footing, was opened to anyone via community college thru CSU or UC. However, that has changed. Subsequent to the passing of the 1978 Propostion 13 initiative that shifted readjusted the cap on property tax rates to a reduction average of 57%, in addition to insituting a two-thirds majority rule vote for future assessments of the property taxes, California spends less on education, hence burdening its students with insurmountable money woes. “State funding to community colleges,” reports the California Teachers Association, “has been cut by the equivalent of admission fees for a quarter of a million students.” That is outrageous. All of this while those very same community college students are having their troubles compounded by a 30 percent tuition increase, with fewer courses being offered because of the layoffs served up to professors. On top of this, the very campuses that some of them aspire to attend, mainly the CSU’s and UC’s, are seeking to diminish the slots available to incoming students. For example, CSU enrollment is forecasted to be dramatically reduced by 40,000 students over the coming two years, while students are saddled with a 32% tuition increase; additionally, those fewer students will be scrambling for fewer classes because fewer professors exist due to layoffs and furloughs.
Class sizes in all of the K-12 and post-seconday venues are exponentially increasing. For those not fortunate to make it through the labyrinth of academia–because it is a system fraught with a panoply of devices that render a multi-tiered outcome incommensurate to racial and ethnic student composition–there are alternative classrooms that are awaiting them that are being financially provided. Those classrooms exist in the hoosegow. Those classrooms are prison cells. Currently California, under the misguided principles established during the Reagan years that decided that black and brown folk, rural whites, and the non-model minority situated Asians–as well as college students who challenge authority–were to be feared and criticized, inverted the expenditure rate with which the state spends for its incarcerated population compared to its student population. With prisons providing more holding cells for more blacks than college classrooms, the credibility of the pedagogic system is already questionable.
Power has to be restored to those who were originally formulated to fashion it. Students, faculty, staff, and sympathizers have to heed the words of the abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, for he rightfully declared that “power concedes nothing without demand.” And the levers of such power rightfully belong to the peoples of a government, for a government is not some abstract principle invoked to regulate affairs, but rather a creation by the people. If it is broken we can fix it, for remember, power belongs to the people. Those ill-affected by this system have to remember that there is nothing wrong with seeking independent action and discourse, especially where such actions are warranted by incalcitrant powerbrokers who are intent on depriving the citizenry of access to affordable education and rights. Those rights aren’t expected to be given by some benevolent entity. Those rights have to be secured. Power belongs to the people, for as that official defining governmental parchment, the Declaratiion of Independence reads:
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.
Power to the people for education!