Parents, teachers, students, brace yourselves for more education cuts.
|Budget Cuts by byronv2
California has already sliced $21 billion from education over the past 3 years. "I can't promise there
won't be more cuts, because there will be," said Governor-elect Jerry
Brown, speaking recently to a group of educators and union officials.
These cuts will be made to try to close a $28
billion state budget deficit, and do not include an additional ...
CTA Opposes Further Cuts? Yeh, right.
CTA has “opposed” all sorts of terrible policies, budgets and legislation
in the past, including NCLB, Common Core Standards and Race to the Top
(RTTT). They oppose with their words, occasionally with advertisements,
and sometimes through newsletters and phone calls to their members, and
very rarely through a mass protest in Sacramento, all the while
collaborating with law makers to implement these same policies and
budgets, albeit, in a form they think will do the least harm.
This is not opposition. It is spectacle. It is part of the expected and acceptable behavior in the game. The ruling
elite make their decision and promote it through bogus science,
sympathetic pundits and respected community leaders. Opposition groups,
especially the unions, cry foul, demand that they back down, perhaps
pump some money into the campaigns of opposition politicians, and then
walk away when they lose.
The union bureaucrats are far more concerned with appearing “reasonable,” and maintaining a seat at
the table, than they are with defending the interests of their members
or communities. They start with the same assumptions and biases of the
ruling elite, in this case, that the budget deficit must be closed on
the backs of children, families and working folks; that the rich should
be allowed to pilfer from the rest of us, not only by cutting jobs and
paying low wages, but through tax cuts and loopholes that worsen the
deficit. They buy into the deception that “We all must tighten our
belts,” an Orwellian phrase that actually means “Everyone but the rich
must suffer more, so the rich can maintain or increase their wealth.”
Direct Action Gets the Goods
Real opposition requires mass action that causes pain or discomfort to the
bosses (corporate or political). The goal is to make life so unbearable
for them that they back down and accept our demands. The principle is
simple and straight forward, so simple that it is shocking that we don’t
do it regularly, like they do in France
Consider that we are in the overwhelming majority. We have all the
power, yet we choose not to use it. Even if only 25% of us withhold our
labor, the economy would come to a stop, costing the bosses billions of
dollars in profits.
Some might argue that the French workers lost; their pensions were cut despite their walk-out. This is true, they
did lose a battle. However, the fact that they were able to get so many
workers and students out into the streets so quickly, for so long, and
despite the efforts of their union bosses to quash their action, sent a
powerful message to the ruling elite and to their union bosses that they
are organized and willing and able to take action whenever they feel it
is necessary. This reduces the chances that the bosses will try again
soon to impose further austerity measures.
Certainly strikes and other forms of direct action are risky and difficult. By undertaking such action, we risk
losing income or even our jobs. We risk arrest and occasionally even
being assaulted or jailed. The way to minimize these risks is to have
strong unity or solidarity: everyone needs to take part. This may seem
unlikely for some workplaces where workers are scared or have identified
with the boss’ needs and objectives. The solution to this is to be very
organized. Those who understand and accept the need to be organized
must meet with colleagues one on one, get to know them well, learn to
understand their fears and concerns, not just about job actions, but
about the job, in general. Commiserate with them. Build trust. Help them
get small needs met. Be a friend and an advocate. Eventually, it will
be safe to start agitating, to move from commiserating about grievances
toward discussions about fighting the grievances.
For teachers, nurses and others in the “caring” fields, walking off the job may feel like a callous and
unacceptable abandonment of our clientele. Yet not doing so means
allowing our working conditions to be further degraded, with the
consequence of deteriorating services for our clientele. They lose
either way, so why not take the risk and fight for better conditions
that benefit us and them? Indeed, many teachers unions have taken this
stance in past, striking often during contract negotiations, to ensure a
fair contract that benefited teachers and students.
If the CTA really opposes further education cuts, they need to massively
invest time and resources into organizing their members and building
solidarity with other unions, all in preparation for mass, on-going job
actions throughout the state. These actions could be work stoppages,
work to rule, sit down strikes, or other forms of direct action, but to
be effective they must cause the system to shut down for an extended
period of time.
The network for this has already been created, with dozens of other education organizations paving the way
last year (see list below). March 2011 has been declared National Month of Actions to Defend Public Education
, and would be an appropriate time to take such actions (assuming we had already been organizing for it).
Unfortunately, because the organizing has not been done, what we will most likely see is more safe and sanctioned
(and fruitless) mass protests, like k-12 teachers spending a half-day in
front of the capital waving picket signs (with the support of their
administrators) and college students protesting peacefully at CSU and UC
campuses, along with a few isolated examples of angry college students
occupying campus buildings and lighting barricades on fire.