Friday, February 22

Rally for public education


Expand on "˜victories' of November protests by lobbying for quality, against privatization

SUBMITTED BY: Holly Craig-Wehrle

On Thursday, we’re going on strike to save public education.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 30 schools are up for grabs in a bidding war. That’s right, we’re putting the educations of our students into the hands of not the most qualified, but rather those of the wealthiest bidder, which essentially comes down to a choice between operating as a unionized, locally-controlled district school and a mostly non-union charter school.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that studies have shown charter schools promote racial segregation. We cannot allow the re-segregation of public schools before our very eyes.

Students, faculty and workers at high schools, community colleges, Cal States and UCs refuse to stand idly by while the quality of and access to public education in this state continue to suffer.

Last November, as students began mobilizing against the fee hikes, people commented again and again that we had started organizing too late, that we should have been lobbying the state and federal legislatures earlier. This strike is our lobbying: We will prove to the leader of this country that we stand unified against privatization and de facto segregation.

Even though we “started late” last November, our protest then won us great victories. First, the protests exposed to the entire nation the popular discontent with the administration of the University of California. Second, our protests have directly influenced the state government. Gov. Schwarzenegger made public education a priority in his State of the State address in January, and his chief of staff noted that “those protests on the UC campuses were the tipping point” that pushed public education into the legislative spotlight.

Some may feel demoralized by the passage of the fee hikes, but we can use our increased “tuitions” to our advantage. Striking now sends a far more powerful message than it did before the first of the fee hikes went into effect. Because we are paying so much for the classes we now attend, our decision to sacrifice a day of those classes (two weeks before finals, at that!) proves how highly we value our education.

We are willing to shoulder personal struggle to fulfill our greater purpose: saving public education.

With that in mind, I ask you to join us at noon on March 4 in Bruin Plaza for a rally for public education, and to go to

ucfightsback.blogspot.com for information regarding other activities throughout the day. Together, we can protect our public schools from diminished quality, privatization and segregation.

Craig-Wehrle is a third-year history student.

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