Thursday, December 29, 2011
by Editors. NACLA
Our education is under attack! What do we do? Fight back!” chanted high school students defending their beloved Mexican American Studies program in a Tucson, Arizona, school board meeting in April. They are not the only students fighting to defend education. Almost everywhere, education is under attack, and students across the Americas are fighting back in so many places that it would be impossible to include them all in just one issue.
However, the modern-day assault on U.S. public higher education was actually launched by Reagan long before he had been elected to the Oval Office.
“Ronald Reagan launched his political career as governor of California in 1967 by having run not so much against his popular New Deal opponent, Pat Brown, as against the students and faculty of the University of California at Berkeley,” wrote University of California (UC) Santa Barbara English professor Christopher Newfield in a 2008 exposé on the privatization of the U.S. public university.3
Once elected, Reagan attacked public higher education. He called for an end to free tuition for state college and university students, demanded annual 20% cuts in higher education funding, slashed state funding for public university capital projects, and declared that the state “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity.”4
Indeed, since the late 1970s, in the United States, student contributions as a percentage of total university income have been on the rise, from 35% to 48% in 1998. Meanwhile state and local contributions fell from over 55% to less than 43%.5 This trend has only been exacerbated in recent years, with massive budget cuts, tuition hikes, and layoffs at universities across the country in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Trampling Out the Vintage ?
By Duane Campbell
Frank Bardacke’s Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. (2011, Verso). is the view of a well- informed observer who worked in the lettuce fields near Salinas for almost a decade, then spent another 25 years teaching English to farm workers in the Watsonville, Cal. area. His views on the growth and decline of the United Farm Workers union – some of which I do not share– offer important points of history and reflection for unionists today, particularly those working with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Trampling Out the Vintage, provides several insights not previously developed in well informed books on the UFW including important differences between grape workers and workers in row crops such as lettuce; the length of time workers were in the UFW, the more settled family nature of grape workers, the strength of each type of ranch committees, the leadership of ranch crews ( and thus the potential differences in creating democratic accountability), and the differing histories of worker militancy in different crops. The author correctly argues that each of these led to somewhat different organizing environment in building the union. He also details problems of administrative mismanagement in the hiring halls in the grape areas and alleged mismanagement of organizing within the union sponsored health care insurance and clinic systems .
Based upon his own experiences and the histories of workers in the Salinas valley, Bardacke makes the case that farm workers- not Cesar Chavez – created the union. They built their union on a long history of previous collective work stoppages and strikes. The union was created on the ground in Delano, Salinas, Watsonville, and surrounding towns- not in the union headquarters of La Paz. The author reveals his strong viewpoint in the title apparently referring to Chavez “Trampling out the Vintage” where a union had been created.
Friday, December 16, 2011
This summer, Alabama passed one of the harshest anti-immigrant bills (HB 56) in the nation and the parallels between that law and the old South’s Jim Crow laws are “all too real,” says William Lucy, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). [ From the AFL-CIO blog]
Lucy was part of an AFL-CIO-sponsored delegation of prominent African American labor leaders who traveled to Alabama last month to see firsthand the law’s devastating impacts on immigrant workers and their families. Today, the delegation released its reporton its findings. The leaders, who have for years been deeply engaged in the struggle for human and civil rights—some for decades—write that they were shocked by what they found.
None of us expected to witness the humanitarian crisis we experienced—a crisis that hearkens Alabama back to the bleakest days of the state’s racial history. The parallels to Jim Crow were all too real, and the prejudice we heard about felt all too familiar.
The report sheds new light on the crisis Alabama immigrant families are facing as a result of HB 56. Many of those who went to Alabama will present the report to lawmakers on Capitol Hill tomorrow.
The law requires school officials to question students about their immigration status and that of their parents. Mothers told the delegation they fear they will be separated from their children and some undocumented parents are making arrangements with church members, friends and even strangers to care for their U.S.-born children in case the parents are deported.
I drop my children off for school, but I’m not sure if I will be around to pick them up.
Just for Fun
It’s always nice to take a moment out of the frenzied capitalist madness that is the holiday season these days and enjoy a good break. That’s why I saved the videos of our phenomenal speakers at the 2011 DSA national convention until now.
Go to the DSA video channel to see the following:
- Sarita Gupta, Jobs with Justice
- Jose La Luz, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
- Eliseo Medina, Service Employees International Union
- Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post
- John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation
- Joslyn Williams, Washington, DC Central Labor Council
Thursday, December 15, 2011
On International Migrants Day, December 18:
U.S. Immigrant Rights Groups Urge An End to Detentions & Deportations,
Cite High Human Cost to Immigrant Families
(Oakland, CA) As we approach International Migrants Day (December 18), U.S. immigrant rights groups urge the U.S. government to take immediate measures to end the detention and deportation of immigrant women, men and children, and its subsequent high human cost. 2011 marked a record year of deportations, coupled with ongoing detentions that separate and destabilize families and undermine community health, most recently highlighted by the DOJ's scathing report of Maricopa County's systemic human rights violations and DHS's decision to suspend 287(g) in the county.
“Despite the Obama Administration’s claims that they are only deporting so-called dangerous criminals, we witnessed the most deportations ever in the history of the U.S., including a record number of un-accompanied minors and long-term residents who are prosecuted for illegal re-entry,” declared Catherine Tactaquin, Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR). “Until there is an end to these punitive enforcement programs and practices, and concrete steps are taken toward durable solutions to regularize the status of undocumented immigrants, our communities will experience another generation of oppression and hardship.”
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
OAKLAND, CA (12/5/11) -- When Occupy Seattle called its tent camp "Planton Seattle," camp organizers were laying a local claim to a set of tactics used for decades by social movements in Mexico, Central America and the Philippines. And when immigrant janitors marched down to the detention center in San Diego and called their effort Occupy ICE (the initials of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency responsible for mass deportations), people from countries with that planton tradition were connecting it to the Occupy movement here.
The banners at Occupy Seattle
Monday, December 05, 2011
Thursday, December 01, 2011
In the midst of economic and political turmoil, it is difficult to imagine and embrace the fundamental values that we as Americans believe in; the things that make our country the greatest nation on earth. Sadly, these tough times have made too many middle class families believe that the American Dream is far from reality.
But I am writing to tell you that the American Dream does exist – and I am living proof of its incredible promise.
The son of migrant farm workers, I was able to rise from the fields of California and touch the sky on the Space Shuttle Discovery as an Astronaut, a lifelong goal I was able to achieve thanks to the promise of the American Dream. Now retired, I feel it is my obligation to help others achieve the American Dream just like I did.