NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY


  November 7, 2011

Educators use Occupy Movement to Defend Public Education


An unequal financial system contributing to poverty and joblessness is a focus of the Occupy movement, but little attention is paid to educators
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   


Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



I support this network as contributors are allowed the time to develop their arguments - CM
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


transcript

Educators use Occupy Movement to Defend Public EducationJAISAL NOOR, FREE SPEECH RADIO NEWS: Protests against unequal economic opportunity, at the heart of the Occupy movement, resonate deeply with many New Yorkers. New York State trails only behind DC in income disparity, according to the Census Bureau. Many of the hardest hit are people of color who are disproportionately affected by poverty, high unemployment, foreclosures, and deep cutbacks to public services. As the Occupy movement loudly opposes these conditions, it's increasingly found itself a topic of conversation in the classroom.

JAYNA LYNNE UMIPIG, SENIOR MEMBERSHIP FACILITATOR, EL PUENTE: It's not that Occupy Wall Street, it is, like, all of the issues; it's that all the issues are there, and there's just an opportunity now to speak about it through Occupy Wall Street.

NOOR: Twenty-four-year-old Jayna Lynne Umipig is senior membership facilitator at El Puente, an after-school leadership program for underprivileged Brooklyn youth. Brushing aside her initial skepticism, Umipig has spent the last month creating an Occupy curriculum.

UMIPIG: I mean, the movement isn't a movement until the young people are present.

NOOR: Umipig's lesson plans aim to empower youth through creating protest signs, writing letters to Wall Street CEOs, discussing the role of social media in revolutions, and examining popular music, such as the song "Words I Never Said" by rapper and Occupy supporter Lupe Fiasco. One popular topic has been the unprovoked police brutality against peaceful protesters. It's something many New York youth face every day. The city's schools are the most heavily policed in the country. The over 5,000 officers patrolling city schools represent the fifth-largest police force in the country. Umipig says through discussion her students overcame their fears and participated in Occupy Wall Street's anti-police brutality rally on October 18.

UMIPIG: And I was telling the young people, 'cause they were so nervous that the police were going to, like, try to do something to them when they came into Wall Street, and I was like, listen, the moment that you guys walk in there, they won't know what to do.

NOOR: Umipig says her curriculum has received positive feedback from educators across the city and the country. The teachers haven't just been involved in facilitating discussions of the protests. Many, including 32-year-old public school teacher Kelly Wolcott, helped launch the movement.

KELLY WOLCOTT, NYC PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: New York City is a microcosm of a trend that's happening nationally to undermine public education.

NOOR: Since 2007, the city's school budget has been slashed by about 13 percent, and in the case of nearly 700 school aides laid off in October, the cuts almost exclusively targeted poor communities of color, according to the New York Daily News. Again, Kelly Wolcott.

WOLCOTT: This year alone my school lost $500,000.

NOOR: The Occupy movement's opposition to the unchecked influence of the richest 1 percent in decisions that affect the 99 percent echoes what grassroots education activists have been saying for years, especially since the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2002. It opened the doors for wealthy philanthropists such as Bill Gates to pour tens of millions of dollars into education reform and exert massive influence over policymaking. Business model reforms have been emphasized. Schools with poor standardized test scores are being closed, and many have been turned into privately run charter schools. These policies have been escalated by the Obama administration's signature Race to the Top education initiative. Wolcott says distribution of money is also problematic.

WOLCOTT: Funding priorities have also changed massively in schools, and there's less money going to resources in the classroom and direct instruction and more resources that are being given to private contracts that are no-bid.

NOOR: Another trend is affecting education. Over the past 15 years, elected school boards have been replaced with appointed education panels. New York's has not once opposed Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his nine years in office. That's why teachers in the state organized an occupation of an Education Department meeting at a Manhattan high school last week. Public school teacher Joshua Sol Lewis says for once the community's voice was heard.

JOSHUA SOL LEWIS, PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: We're being attacked constantly by the mayor, by the city. And they're taking away things. They're taking away things constantly. And it seems like we're not fighting to take anything back.

NOOR: New York's teachers union did not mobilize its members for the action. Lewis says organized labor needs to lead the fight for a democratic education policy.

LEWIS: Our union needs to step up to the plate in terms of bringing the community back into the decision-making process. And the union needs to be active in the community. The union needs to be coming to schools. The union needs to be organizing protests, fighting back on a daily basis. We are the biggest union, one of the biggest unions in the country. We have the resources. We need to be out on the front lines fighting back against what is a vicious assault on all of our basic rights and public education.

NOOR: Teachers and activists are planning to escalate actions in the upcoming week. On Monday they plan to occupy New York's Department of Education headquarters. Reporting for The Real News Network and FSRN, this is Jaisal Noor in New York.

End of Transcript

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

Sanders Supports Universal Healthcare Amendment 69 in Colorado, Will Hillary?
Breaking Through Power: F. Paul Bland on Corporate Cheating and Predatory Lending
Breaking Through Power: Jamie Love on Ending Drug Monopolies
Growing Labor Protests Paralyzing France
Refugees Dehumanized, Impoverished, and Trapped in Europe: What can we do about it?
Clinton's Candidacy Will Unite the Corporate World
Rising Up Against Empire: Jeremy Scahill and the Easter Uprising
Tapes Reveal Coup Plot Against Rousseff, Weakening Temer Government
Koch Funded Free Market Universities in Arizona
'We've Become Accustomed to the System Doing Nothing for the Killing of Black People'
IMF-Eurozone Deal Hailed as a Breakthrough, But No Relief for Greeks
Why Austrians Nearly Elected a Far Right Candidate as President
Unions and the Sanders/Clinton Split (2/2)
Democratic Nomination Battle is Not Over Yet
Will Sanders Appointees Shake Up the Convention?
'The Law Has Always Been in the Favor of Law Enforcement'
Officer Edward Nero Found Not Guilty of All Charges Over Death of Freddie Gray
Unions and the Sanders/Clinton Split (1/2)
Bernie Sanders and the Widening Political Spectrum
Austria Narrowly Elects Former Green Party Leader as President, Avoids Far-Right Candidate
The Empire Files: 100 Years of US Troops as Lab Rats
By Ignoring Fossil Fuel Extraction, the Paris Agreement is Doomed to Failure
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (3/3)
Erdogan Targeting the 59 Pro-Kurdish HDP Parliamentarians with 445 Police Investigations
Climate Change-Fueled Droughts Pushing Africa to the Brink
The Financial Invasion of Greece
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters (2/3)
Judge to Hand Down First Verdict in Freddie Gray Case on Monday
Move to Amend and the Fight to Remove Corporate Money From U.S. Elections
Baltimore Activists Defend Tubman House Against Threats of Demolition

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting