Friday, March 12, 2010

An Account of Chico Education Protests.

This is a first hand account of the education protests at the Univ. of California Chico. Finally students seem to be mobilizing to protest the savage cutbacks in education. For quite a long while students have seemed to be rather complacent concerning events that are beginning to impact upon them directly. As Perelman points out it would seem that the protests are rather narrowly centered on the concerns of university students while all levels of education are suffering the same cutbacks as are other groups throughout California. A broader base would only strengthen the movement to protest the cuts. Michael Perelman is an economist. This is from his blog.

Brief Thoughts about Chico’s Education Protest

I was thrilled to see the large outpouring of emotion from the demonstration protesting the evisceration of the University. I have not seen anything like this since the Vietnam protests of the early 70s.

In Chico, before I came, people were so disgusted with the apathy about the war, that they carried out what may perhaps have been the world’s only grovel-in.

The organizers did an outstanding job of preparation and execution; they did so with considerable maturity.

Still, I wished that they had a broader perspective. For example, I did not have any sense of a connection with the local community college or with K-12 education.

In many ways, California is undergoing a self-induced (by a powerful minority) structural adjustment. The problem is not a matter of taking advantage of students and faculty. People are resisting the same forces in Iceland and Greece. Even worse, structural adjustment is only episodic in such advanced countries. In poorer nations, structural adjustment is the norm.

Just as national austerity is not the result of an impoverished state, but perverted priorities, which emphasize war and pork barrel politics. In California, where massive funds go to irrigate agriculture lands to grow crops which could be more economically grown elsewhere. Oil funds, which were intended for higher education, have also been siphoned off for water. To make matters worse, the state is intending to float multibillion bond offerings for water.

In an institution, where education is the norm, students should be getting to learn about how much they have in common with people whose struggles are far worse than their own.

The most common chant: “Whose University is it? Ours.” I found this approach na├»ve. Students and faculty need to reach out to a broader swath of people experiencing structural adjustment. Home health care workers are getting screwed. Unemployed workers are worse off than most students ….

Imagine if the antiwar protests were just about not wanting to be drafted. Would they have any effect?

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