When we think schools, we think children, and when we think children our minds turn to the future. CHALLENGE readers know Progressive Labor Party’s view of the rulers’ plans for our class and our children: more fascism and more imperialist war.
Within this context we must examine the budget-cut attack launched against New York City’s schoolchildren. These cuts are racist, plain and simple, following the already existing fundamentally racist patterns in the city’s failing schools. Immediate cuts include “extras” — after-school, summer school and tutoring programs. It is precisely black and Latino youth — comprising 72% of the student population — who are most in need of such “extra” services. Their “future” is expendable.
These cuts are universal and across the board: $504 million over the next two fiscal years (NY Times, 2/1) — the worst in NYC in the last dozen years. Perhaps due to New York’s position as the capital of U.S. finance capital, this city may not have been reduced to Detroit’s school system, the most massively slashed in the country. But the sub-prime mortgage crisis combined with the economic downturn and the hundreds of billions poured into military expenditures put the Big Apple on the chopping block.
However, a broad-based movement opposing these cuts can emerge in the coming period. Several PLP’ers made a call at the last Delegate Assembly for a February 14th demonstration against the cuts. Despite local union leader Randi Weingarten doing all she could to torpedo it, networks and mass organizations across the system have taken up that call. This could be an important first response to “Kleingarten’s” cuts (Chancellor Klein + union president Weingarten).
PLP members will be active in any movements opposing these cuts. Where no movement exists, communists must spark one, within which we can advance our revolutionary ideas front and center.
These movements hold many dangers. The present status quo has been a school system filled with racist patterns of underachievement and widespread indoctrination, especially of anti-communism. The main political content of public education is the myth that “we all get a chance to make it in America” and “if you don’t make it, you only have yourself to blame.” This message is central to the ruling class’s use of public education.
The bosses need teachers and schools to produce future soldiers, future workers and — when that fails — future prisoners. But above all else, the rulers need passive ones in their pursuit of fascism at home and imperialist war abroad. The passivity engendered by this “blame-the-victim” mentality is even more important to the ruling class than the shallow patriotic platitudes history courses push on youngsters, many of whom tune out, and rightly so.
Communists must raise this general critique of education among the broad masses through our literature and among our close friends in long-term political struggle. This necessitates a discussion of communism as the only solution.
Phony leftists and reformists will come out of the woodwork and attempt to lead mobilized masses of students, teachers and parents into the waiting arms of the Democratic Party, swallowing up an anti-budget-cut movement into Barack Obama’s contribution to the rulers’ politics — mobilizing a new generation of (mainly young) folks to “believe in America” once again. They want millions in motion for “justice” while marching behind Democratic war-makers like Hillary Clinton. Throw in a terrorist “emergency” and we have a mass base for fascism. This is the grave danger we face.
Yet the opportunities are even greater. The bosses need budget cuts in their current crisis. Tens of thousands can be introduced to our communist ideas in liberal-led movements against these cuts. Amid a passive period, the simple act of organizing a contingent of students, parents and/or teachers to attend a rally can be an important political step forward, but only if communists, fighting side-by-side with these masses, seize the opportunity to make communist politics primary. We can expose the misleaders and train new communist leaders.
Confronting police goons and administration apologists, we can expose the naked force and racist neglect that saturates the schools and the capitalist system itself. We can point out the need for revolution when we show how the bosses will grant reforms when forced to, but take them away as long as they hold state power.
Yet the masses will only draw these conclusions if communists are active. As the communist leader Lenin asserted, communist ideas come to the working class from the outside. PLP dares to follow this road today. There is much work to do and a world to win. Join us!