NEW YORK CITY, February 14 — A multi-racial group of over 500 parents, teachers and students rallied on the steps of City Hall today, protesting the recent racist budget cuts. On January 30, a $180 million cut had been announced and it was carried out the very next day.
The idea for the protest grew out of a teachers union Delegate Assembly on February 6 when PLP members called for the immediate organization of a protest rally for February 14 at Department of Education (DOE) headquarters. They called for teacher unity with parents and students and for the union to use the press, radio and leafleting subway stations to bring out as many people as possible.
The union leadership attacked the call, saying the 14th was “too soon” to bring anyone out. (This from a union with over 100,000 members!) They said, “We can’t ‘hide’ behind our students.” Clearly the union leaders feared thousands of angry workers and students on the streets. Instead they called for a “coalition rally” for March 19, six weeks after the cuts were made.
But PLP students and teachers showed what could be done NOW. At several schools, PLP’ers immediately called for meetings to plan a student-parent-teacher fight-back. They proposed a rally on Valentine’s Day at DOE offices.
The students wrote a flyer advertising the rally and e-mailed it to other student governments city-wide; posted copies around schools; made announcements over school loudspeakers; explained the impact of the cuts in the classrooms. The news of the rally quickly spread to other schools and they took up the organizing as well, encouraging students to join the fight-back.
No Love on Valentine’s Day
At the rally some student speeches emphasized the need to build a movement to smash capitalism, that we must not rely on lying politicians. Some of the latter said they would “help” the students, asserting that the students and parents need Democratic politicians “to save them.”
One young woman speaker said if politicians really cared, billionaire Mayor Bloomberg would pay the school “deficit” out of his $11 billion fortune because he CAN. Instead we have Democratic candidate Obama wanting 92,000 more troops in the military while NYS Senator Hillary Clinton allows $504 million to be cut from the school budget. Some “help”! The speaker concluded that we need a revolution to end this racist system. Condemning the budget cuts as racist, students also linked them to the widening war and to a growing police state.
Liberals in the crowd told the cops that the students “weren’t a part of the demonstration” and wanted them to leave. The cops, eager to end the event, tried to negotiate but we told the crowd what was going on and they all began chanting, “Let them speak!”
The final speaker described the growing repression against workers fighting the attacks of the system. While Bloomberg rolled out the red carpet a week before for the NY Giants, he will never do that for angry parents and students on the steps of City Hall. Fight for communism!