Defend Education (DE)

Defend Education (DE)


* Complains that “public education from pre-K to higher and adult education is threatened by budget cuts, layoffs, privatization, tuition and fee increases, and other attacks”
* Calls for an increase in public-education funding

In mid-December of 2009, an ad hoc committee composed largely of student activists from across the United States collaborated to create the Defend Education (DE) coalition. Among its key members were students — affiliated with the (new) Students for a Democratic SocietyUnited for Peace and Justice, and the Student Environmental Action Coalition — who had participated in two recent takeovers (in December 2008 and April 2009) of the New School building in New York City. In those actions, protesting students had barricaded themselves inside the building and demanded that they be given more input regarding university affairs; that New School president Robert Kerrey resign because of his pro-Iraq War stance; that New School trustee Robert Millard also resign because of his connections to a private security company that was working in Iraq; and that a “Socially Responsible Investment Committee” be established to prevent “unethical” New School investments.

From its inception, DE lamented that “as people throughout the country struggle under the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, public education from pre-K to higher and adult education is threatened by budget cuts, layoffs, privatization, tuition and fee increases, and other attacks.” These “attacks,” said DE, “degrade the quality of public education by decreasing student services and increasing class size, while tuition hikes and layoffs force the cost of the recession onto students and teachers and off of the financial institutions that caused the recession in the first place.”

To remedy the situation, DE proposed an increase in public-education funding — particularly in light of the fact that “non-unionized charter schools threaten to divide, weaken and privatize the public school system and damage teachers’ unions, which are needed now more than ever.” Budget cuts in public education, said DE, “have hit working people and people of color the hardest.” DE further stated these cuts would only exacerbate “the deep and growing structural inequalities” inherent in American society and its education system.

In an effort to drive these points into the public consciousness, DE scheduled a “National Day of Action to Defend Education” for March 4, 2010. This event was endorsed by a host of organizations, including:

  • AFSCME Local 3800
  • American Federation of Teachers Local 1839
  • California Prison Moratorium Project
  • Chicago World Can’t Wait
  • Chop from the Top Coalition (University of Minnesota)
  • Coalition for Community Justice (Eckerd College)
  • Coalition for Equal Quality Education
  • Coalition for Social Reform
  • Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary
  • Committee for Revolutionizing the Academy (University of Minnesota)
  • Community Organizing Center for Mother Earth
  • Connecticut Students Against the War
  • The Democratic Left (George Washington University)
  • Destroy Industry
  • Feminist Students UNITED (University of North Carolina)
  • Fight Imperialism, Stand Together
  • Freedom Road Socialist Organization
  • Freedom Socialist Party
  • Georgia State University Progressive Student Alliance
  • International Socialist Organization
  • International Workers and Students for Justice (University of Washington)
  • L.A. County Peace & Freedom Party
  • La Voz de los Trabajadores (California)
  • Latin American Students Association at UC Riverside
  • League for the Revolutionary Party (New York City)
  • Low-Income Student Alliance (New School University, New York City)
  • Movement for a Democratic Society
  • National MEChA
  • Network to Fight for Economic Justice
  • NYC Anti-War Coalition
  • Progressive Democrats of America (Ohio)
  • Progressive Faculty Network (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Progressive Student Alliance (University of Florida, University of Memphis)
  • Queer People Of Color Action
  • Radical Student Union (Bard College)
  • Radical Women
  • Recreate ‘68 Alliance
  • Small Schools Workshop (Co-founded by the Marxist/Maoist Michael Klonsky and the former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, this project portrays American capitalism as an economic system infested with racism, imperialism, and all manner of social injustice.)
  • Social Anarchists for Liberty & Justice (Southern California)
  • Social Justice Alliance (SUNY Stony Brook, UC Riverside)
  • Socialism Now! (Chicago)
  • Socialist Alternative
  • Socialist Organizer
  • Socialist Party of Connecticut
  • Socialist Party USA
  • Straight and Gay Alliance (City College of New York)
  • Students for a Democratic Society (numerous chapters)
  • Students for Social Action (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (Portland State University)
  • United Socialists of Pittsburgh State
  • United States Student Association
  • United Students Against Sweatshops
  • USC Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Workers World Party
  • Young Democratic Socialists

Among the more notable individual endorsers of the DE event were Cindy SheehanJohn Catalinotto, and Michael Klonsky. Promotional materials for the event bore such slogans as “Education Is a Human Right,” and “Resist, Mobilize, Transform.”

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