Tag Archives: budget cuts

Boston Teachers, Students and Parents Unite to Fight Budget Cuts

BOSTON, MA, May 19 — Chanting “Bail out schools, not banks” and “Money for schools, not war,” Boston teachers, students, parents and supporters rallied at the State House and marched to City Hall. We demanded no cuts in public school programs and full funding for community colleges and public education.

This was the first mass action of Boston teachers against budget cuts since layoffs were announced in December. Teachers attacked cuts in their own schools. A Haitian community leader spoke against cutbacks, pointing to rising immigrant dropout rates. A Roxbury Community College student attacked underfunding at state colleges. A parent explained how cuts in inner-city schools are racist. A school bus driver opposed the Superintendent’s plan to further segregate the Boston public schools by creating five zones and restricting school choice to within these zones.

A PLP speaker called for an end to the system of capitalism that created the economic crisis.  PLP leaflets calling for communist revolution were distributed.

To organize this rally inside the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), teachers had to fight the BTU Executive Board for months. The Board overturned the vote of the BTU membership to sponsor the rally, disgusting many members. The Board is calling for more taxes on working people, and for lobbying “friends” in the government. But many teachers followed the call to hold the rally anyway!

Teachers are skilled workers. But, like all workers, they are under attack by the bosses. Therefore, they must unite with working-class parents and students to fight against the bosses and their budget cuts. Otherwise, other workers may view teachers as “greedy and selfish.” By fighting to improve the education of working-class students and against racism, imperialism and war, teachers can fight for the needs of the whole working class.

The Progressive Labor Party tries to give leadership to the anger of the hundreds and thousands of teachers, parents and students and turn the fight against cutbacks into the fight for communist revolution.

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Students Fighting Cuts: Ally With Workers, Not Liberal Pols

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — “The rally for community colleges on February 27 is being organized by Chancellor Jack Scott and college public-relations officers,” a student leader commented, “so members of our club will need to make sure students’ wants are voiced.”
Most community college students belong to the working class. Like other workers, they’re hit hard by the current capitalist crisis. They don’t want classes cut, teachers to lose jobs, and student fees to go up.

Unlike tuition at California’s two university systems, community college fees go into the state General Fund. They help pay interest going to banks and investors, which the state constitution requires to be paid before any other expenses! Community College fees also help pay for the state’s huge and viciously racist prison system.

The governor plans to cut funding for state financial aid by $87.5 million by freezing income eligibility limits, reducing the maximum award and eliminating the “safety net” for recipients’ children.

Budget Cuts, Tax Hikes: Racist, Anti-Worker

Most students don’t want higher taxes either, but that’s what the Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association want us to fight for. California Community College Chancellor Scott, as a “pro-education” legislator, pushed for a sales tax hike at a Pasadena rally against education cuts last spring.

Sales taxes are racist and regressive. They come down hardest on lower-paid workers and the unemployed, including a high proportion of black and Latin workers. The poorest 20% of California households paid nearly 12% of their income in taxes, while the richest 1% of households paid only 7% of theirs.

Budget cuts are racist, too. Cuts in Medi-Cal eligibility and benefits will make things much worse in a health care system so overloaded that it already turns away many – especially in neighborhoods like South LA, where the MLKing Hospital was shut down and clinics are closing.

Legal immigrants and US citizen children of undocumented immigrants are singled out for specific racist cutbacks. Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating the California Food Assistance Program, which feeds certain legal non-citizens who are ineligible for federal programs because of their immigration status.

Capitalism is the Problem, Communism is the Solution

The California budget crisis is a direct result of the capitalist crisis of overproduction and imperialist war. Because capitalists compete to maximize profits, and because lower wages mean higher profits, they produce more than can be sold. Then workers are laid-off so that they can afford to spend less on consumer goods.

Meanwhile, “corporate income taxes have declined over time as a share of General Fund revenues and as a share of corporate profits. If corporations had paid the same share of their profits in corporate taxes in 2006 as they did in 1981, corporate tax collections would have been $8.4 billion higher,” concludes the California Budget Project. (www.cbp.org)  Because of Prop 13 (1978) huge corporations pay property taxes on the assessed value of their property — like Disneyland — 30 years ago!

Community colleges are promoted as a “way out of the working class.”  But they are training the workers who can be the key to building a new system. Students need to ally with industrial workers and soldiers in a movement to destroy this capitalist system that brings us economic insecurity, racist inequality, and increasingly murderous imperialist war.

The alternative to capitalism is communism, a classless society where workers hold power. Cynicism will get us nowhere!  PLP communists are in the class struggle – like the fight against California budget cuts – to win workers and students away from reform and to the long-term fight for communist revolution.  We invite you to subscribe to Challenge, join a PLP discussion group, and march with PLP on May Day – International Workers Day!

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Brooklyn, NY April 16  — More than 70 students from six different high schools in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Lower East Side joined together and held an after-school conference about billionaire Bloomberg’s promised budget cuts and how to oppose them. Six young black and Latino women representing a school’s student government led the conference and electrified its closing moments unifying walkout proposals from across the room into a call for a city-wide walkout at noon on May 1st!

Students showed up ready to organize against not only the budget cuts but the increased police presence and criminalization of students that has run rampant in NYC schools. An opening talk set the political tone of the event by reminding us that the capitalist system is based on theft of the value workers produce on the job every single day. Most participants in the conference took CHALLENGE and everyone got a copy of the PL leaflet describing how debt service means that billionaires always get paid whether schools face cuts or not.

“These cuts are racist! Eighty percent of NYC school children are black and Latino, can’t nobody tell me these cuts aren’t racist!” one student shouted. “Bloomberg has 16 billion dollars; if he wanted to he could fix the schools’ budget problems,” one student stated in her speech. “The government is trying to put us down before we even get up,” another student shouted. One student talked about being arrested and verbally abused by cops just for having her head outside of the window while watching a crime scene. We live in a period of growing fascism.

After breaking up into groups, students made lists of ways they can fight back against the cuts. Writing a petition, having rallies, getting the word out to more schools, letters to Bloomberg and having student walkouts were prominent on most lists. The plan is to link up with the immigrants’ rights march in Union Square on May 1st.

Some students made the connection that the money that is being taken out of the schools’ budgets is being used to fund the bosses’ imperialist wars and burgeoning police state. PLP students spoke of learning about communism in the classroom and thinking it is a good idea. Communist politics helped defeat the all-too-common liberal error of blaming these cuts on the war alone.

Students left the room with the message that capitalism itself is to blame and that communism remains a real alternative worth fighting for. The task now is to mobilize these same young people to be organizers for PLP’s May Day events this year on May 3rd and, over time, as another generation of young fighters for a communist future.

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Calif. Teachers Fight Budget Cuts, Tax Hikes, Union Fakers

California’s educational system has been under attack from a combination of racism and the drive to maximize profits.  Now the capitalist crisis is making it much worse, with a state budget deficit expected to top $8 billion.  Republicans want to balance the budget by cutting education, health care, and other services. Democrats want “a combination of tax hikes and budget cuts.” This is a no-win situation for California workers, but liberal union leaders want workers to pay.

“If state lawmakers want to go for tax increases, they should focus on education,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle, citing James Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which includes 245 of the region’s largest employers (including banks, oil companies, and war contractors).  “It’s a good way to get the public to acquiesce to paying more.” (4/12/08)

That same day, a workshop at the Oakland convention of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) discussed “How to Talk About Taxes.”  “We must … increase taxes.  This workshop will analyze obstacles to convincing the public this is necessary.”

This “public” is overwhelmingly the working class.  From 1975 to 1998, the income of the bottom fifth of Californians declined nearly 25% while that of the top fifth increased by 66%.

So why is a labor union doing the dirty work for Wunderman and his fellow bosses?
There’s a world of difference between the trade-unionist view of “labor” and “management” as bargaining partners and potential political allies versus the communist understanding that workers and capitalists are locked in a deadly class struggle.

The CFT convention gave lip service to the fight for “progressive taxation” but the truth emerged around a resolution to “support or sponsor legislation that would require the State of California to generate and allocate sufficient funds to education.” An amendment was proposed, seconded and supported to add the words, “without raising taxes on working-class families.”

Leading CFT’ers jumped up to object, claiming “taxes are the price of civilization” and “it’s hard to separate the working class from the middle class so this wouldn’t let us raise taxes on enough people.”  Some delegates asked why workers should pay for a government that serves the bosses and a crisis created by their drive for maximum profits. The amendment was defeated, but the sharp struggle — which the leaders neither expected nor wanted — was itself a victory.

At a demonstration against the cuts in L.A. a few days later, when teachers eagerly took PL leaflets, one teacher said, “All of this could be solved by taxing the oil companies.” This is unlikely since Exxon-Mobil and the big coporations run the system. A revolution will eliminate the profit-hungry bosses who run these and all companies.

Most CFT delegates sincerely care about students, oppose the Iraq war, and want to promote “labor solidarity.”  But without a communist leadership, they are being led into the hands of our enemies. For example, a video about the 1946 Oakland General Strike (which was smashed by the AFL Central Labor Council) claimed as a “victory” the formation of a coalition of labor and community organizations that channeled energy into the electoral politics of the emerging “cold war.” A presentation on the greatness of Franklin D. Roosevelt concluded with the idea that we should enthusiastically support the Democratic Party.

Delegates were urged to get 1% of their local membership to walk precincts for the November 2008 elections.  We should aim to win 100% to become CHALLENGE readers! In contrast to the liberalism of unions like the CFT, the Progressive Labor Party today is working to win workers and students to fight cutbacks with the goal of turning the bosses’ attacks and wars for profit into a revolutionary war for communism.   We invited teachers and students and parents to celebrate May Day with us and join our Summer Project!

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Campus PL’ers Expose Racist Cuts, Link to War, Prison System

“These cutbacks on education are racist to the core,” a PLP member stated during a campus meeting against the cuts. California has proposed a 10% budget cut to both the California State University (CSU) and UC systems, leaving them $312.9 and $417 million short, respectively. Student fees are projected to rise 10% for the upcoming Fall Quarter in the CSU system. This system has large African-American, Latino, and immigrant populations (many of whom don’t qualify for financial aid because of their immigration status). The cuts, a racist attack on these students in particular and all working-class students generally, are part of a series of racist attacks such as the closing of healthcare facilities like King-Drew hospital. Students should unite with workers because we’re all bearing the brunt of a society hell-bent on waging profit wars.

Many students are eager to connect campus struggles to the fight against the exploitation of the whole working-class. PLP encourages all students to participate and to push for more mass-actions on and off campuses against the cuts, the war and the prison system. We are struggling to unite students, faculty and staff for system-wide strikes against these attacks. After all it’s not just Governor Schwarzenegger and a few administrators; we’re up against the capitalist system. This fight could help many see that joining and building a mass communist party is the best way to fight for workers’ power in an era marked by fascism and wider imperialist wars.

We’re exposing the role of the university under capitalism. While the CSU produces teachers, nurses, and engineers, it also builds false, capitalist ideology. While the educational system teaches students skills, it instills ideas that divide the working-class and disarm us politically, telling us we can escape the ills of capitalism by graduating from the university and “making it.”

While the CSU produces 87% of all of California’s teachers, it also creates a booming 89% of all of Criminal Justice graduates. The CSU system helps the bosses mobilize students to serve as agents of repression in law-enforcement careers. CSU San Bernardino works with the Department of Defense to commercialize technologies geared towards homeland security. CSULA recently opened a $100 million Crime Lab built in conjunction with the Los Angeles Police and the Sheriff Department. The rulers want to use the CSU system for repression, which most students and faculty oppose.

Some student organizers call for a tax on the rich, as do Obama and Clinton. The liberal ruling class sees that they must direct more profits into war programs and homeland security. They are willing to attack minor bosses’ profits to wage more war in defense of imperialism. Without communists putting forward the party’s ideas, the bosses and their misleaders can channel the anger of working-class students into illusions in the liberal imperialists while doing nothing to stop the cuts.

Many students who earnestly want to fight against these cuts are being told that the budget cuts are the result of the greed of a few administrators and Governor Schwarzenegger (who certainly are willing servants of the system!), and that just by delivering petitions to Sacramento we can win this fight. With the elections approaching, the misleaders will attempt to mobilize angry working-class students to support Obama or Hillary. Both of these candidates support expanded wars which can’t take place without cuts on wages and social services such as education and health care.

By expanding our hand to hand CHALLENGE distributions, we aim to politically equip our friends to see that in the long run, workers and students need to build a movement to destroy capitalism and create a Communist society, free from profit wars, racism, and sexism. CHALLENGE-based study action groups can connect what may seem as an isolated struggle to a capitalist society becoming more ruthless.

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