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What’s Next for the Struggle to Defend Public Education? March 11, 2010

Posted by deterritorialization in Actions, News.

On March 4th, over 1,600 students, teachers and community members protested against budget cuts, school closures, the cancellation of the student Metrocard and MTA cutbacks in New York City.1 Tens of thousands protested in California, and thousands more protested in dozens of cities around the country. Come to an organizing meeting on Sunday, March 14th at 1 pm to discuss how we can build on the success of March 4th and continue the struggle to defend public education.

Estimated turnout in New York City: 100 at Brooklyn College, 100 at City College, 400 at Hunter College, 150 at Queens College, 600 at Governor Paterson’s office, 250 at the MTA hearings at FIT (before the arrival of the march from Paterson’s).

Next Organizing Meeting:
Sunday, March 14th, 1pm
Solidarity Center
55 West 17th Street, 5th floor

Google group: http://groups.google.com/group/march-4-education-ny
Email: march4ny@gmail.com
March 4th NY website: https://march4ny.wordpress.com/
National March 4th website: http://www.defendeducation.org


1. deterritorialization - March 16, 2010

Notes from meeting, thanks to Claudia.

March 14, 2010

March 4th Meeting

1. Introductions:

22 in attendance (Pete, Jesse, Claudia, Diane, John, Maria, Alanna, Candice, Larry Holmes, Larry Hales, James, Doug, Heather, Jenny, Francesca, Natalie, Jenn, Easton, Andy, Akinlabi, Julie)

2. Report backs on March 4th:

(Diane) UFT, PBA, Fireman’s unions- were they at March 4th?

(Francesca)At the UFt DA, endorsement was voted down b/c they didn’t know it was a national day, had something else going on, and political reasons.

(Larry) About the PBA, we got our answer in terms of how the police acted the day of in violating our rights of the permit and locking protestors in barricades/etc.

(Doug) For new people- what drove you to get involved now?
(Candice, Maria, James) concerns for education cuts, saw the action the day of and decided to take part in the rally/march

(Larry) March 4th was a solid day in terms of the student movement (nationally)- new people taking action in militant ways (pushing the barricades, pushing onto the streets- mostly high school students)

(Jesse) The actions of last semester in California brought attention to the crisis in California and March 4th has brought attention to the crisis on a national level.
Although the actions of March 4th were incredibly successful, in terms of numbers in New York, we still have some ways to go. However, the potential to build is still amazingly high- we should not waste this valuable time to grow the movement.

(Alanna) Echoing some of the same things mentioned by Jesse, mostly that there is still potential to build the movement.

(Larry Holmes) Nationally and internationally, March 4th was incredibly successful. International coverage was incredibly huge, esp. in Greece. After March 4th, UFT and other teachers’ unions probably got some heat as to why they did not support M4.

(Heather) Looking at the right wing media coverage of March 4th, we can really see what scares the right wing- people fighting for their own rights.

(James) Channel 11 was the only media outlet that showed how empty the “public” hearing was, and yet they still didn’t let us in. The FDNY had limited the number of seats inside to 650, even though the limit is actually 750.

(Jenny) she feels that unfortunately the story was really about the violence at Hunter College, to which Claudia responded that people at Hunter are trying to find ways to reconcile and move forward (which will happen relatively soon).

(Francesca) The feeling for teachers is pretty much scared because the attacks on K-12 teachers is so daunting (such as ATRs, schools closures, lifting of charter school caps). As for the UFT, the caucus that is in charge (UNITY) is to silence the rank and file teachers and they know best. This could be why we don’t see a surge of teachers at the forefront.

(Larry) Concerning the violence at Hunter, in what way can this coalition help the students at Hunter? To which Claudia answered that once there is a reconciliation meeting, she will let everyone know to come support those who were assaulted at Hunter and the general student body.

(John) Liked the fact that this rally/march was not just defensive, but took on the broader aspects of the privatization of our education- to take back our institutions and have them be democratically controlled.

(Natalie) we could use the unfortunate incidents at Hunter to talk to those people, not give up on them, and attempt to understand them.

3. Next Steps:

(Doug) as people were saying, M4 was incredibly successful and now we have the task of building upon that. one great aspect of M4 was that many different struggles were able to intertwine. though california has led the movement, we should not wait around for california to plan the next steps.
so possible next steps: may 1st (which unfortunately is on a Saturday and not a school day), april 22nd (in cuny history, the anniversary of open admissions strike)

(Larry) in NJ, there were two important actions which could be linked to the issues here in NY (mainly transportation). Also, nationally there will be a national conference call on Wednesday. April 22nd- walkout being planned at CCNY. We definitely don’t want to lose the momentum that has been built. We could also do April 30th AND May 1st.

(Jenny) we should probably not wait til May 1st,

(Francesca) the student metrocards issue is perhaps the most galvanizing issue that has really gotten people talking about the crisis. Because it is so important, we should continue tying this in, but unfortunately the decision is coming up so soon.

(Natalie) in terms of the K-12 struggle, we have a huge misinformation campaign to take on. we should mobilize for may 1st, but april 22nd is also good since the issues at cuny also symbolize the issues we are all facing. We should also try to mimic the success of the brooklyn food conference.

(Jesse) to confront what is going on in the attacks to privatize the public sector, we need massive fightback. unions are extremely important, but because some unions are controlled by conservative caucauses, we need to really focus on the oppositions within those unions (TJC, GEM, ICE, in Detroit, in Chicago, etc.). We need to focus on strategy, points of unity, demands, etc. we should try to mimic what california did in holding a massive conference to bring together all the different forces wanting to fight back.

(Larry Holmes) May Day is evolving from what it has been- though immigrant workers revived it four years ago, the economic crisis can galvanize more forces. This time in NY, we’re marching to Wall Street- so the demand of making the banks pay will be present. when things change, workers change and this forces the leaderships of the unions to change. also, unions are probably shocked that they thought Obama would be their friend, instead he is leading the charge to privatize education.

(Jenn) in talking to communities that send their children to charter schools, we know that this issue is not as clear cut as the student metrocards- it is much more devisive. we need to really focus on educating people on what charters mean for us and our communities.

(Heather) unions trying to get involved in May Day seem to be trying to mobilize for this, but in ways that is not unified with us. Though May Day is on a Saturday, we could still get people to come out. Though the ideas of having conferences and assemblies, etc. we should also focus on talking to people face to face and not only getting them out but trying to get those people to organize at the grassroots level.

(Jenny) focusing on the media, we should try to write to newspaper editorials, and in general getting involved in the media to present May Day the way it actually is, not the way mainstream media presents it.

(Zalo) as a student from Florida, he wants to congratulate us in linking different forces for M4, and even our demands that are more progressive and not divisive than in other places.

(Akinlabi) getting a sense of the organizational methods of some of the new groups can help us out in thinking about how to organize at the grassroots level.

(Natalie) As a coalition, we should truly mobilize the high schools, junior high schools, etc. and educating the children and parents on charter schools.

(Alanna) basically there is a fight for resources in education and we need to battle the disconnect of a family’s choice and the lack of resources in education.

(Maria) though there is a mass misinformation campaign on behalf of charter schools, the facts are on our side. not only students and teachers need to get educated, but also the teachers as well.

(Julie) echoing some of what Akinlabi said, we don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel with the charter school struggle. we can really link up with the existent groups already doing heavy work on this issue (CPE, GEM)

(Candice) as a parent who recently enrolled her child in a charter school, she feels that parents really dont know all the facts.

(Francesca) because charter schools have PR firms working for them and really advertise to the max about how “great” charter schools really are, we have to really address this. Organizationally, we might not be able to really take on charters; however, we do have links with groups that do take this issue on (GEM, CPE)

(Natalie) echoing some of what Diane had mentioned before, we should mobilize without the permission of the police (permits) because on March 4th, the oppression we faced on that day was disgusting.

(Jesse) preparation and organization of this coalition are things we should work towards. Truly building this coalition with a clear strategy is extremely important.

(Larry) we should have a conference as Jesse suggested, but we also should be aware that there are ongoing groups/coalitions working on these issues. pulling together a conference and mobilizing for an action at the same time is not so far-fetched that we can’t do both.

(Diane) had questions about May 1st coalition to bring back to the broader GEM folks.

(Pete) summarized the bulk of what was talked about- mobilize for May 1st, connect to April 22nd at CUNY, have a big conference call for mid-May.

(Jesse) proposes that this group endorse April 22nd and May 1st, as well as a conference sometime after May 1st.

(Heather) also wants to add having teach-ins outside the schools, meaning that there be an action committee. and if people from this coalition can come to the next May 1st coalition meeting this coming Tuesday at 6:30pm at the IAC

*voting- endorsement for April 22nd- passed (22 yay’s)
endorsement for May 1st- passed (22 yay’s)
start planning for conference call- passed (21 yay’s, 1 abstention)

*next meeting- Thursday March 25th, 6:00pm at the International Action Center.

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