Students across the country are organizing to defend public education.
The National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, to be held today, was called for by organizers in California and New York and will see students at institutions of higher education in 30 states and Washington, D.C., march, rally, sit-in, picket, teach-in and more to defend the right to an education for all.
Even during this severe economic crisis, the United States in fact has the money to make public education truly public and accessible to everyone.
Look at the government’s spending of tax dollars. The U.S. spends about $800 million every two days in Afghanistan and Iraq and has handed more than one trillion dollars to bail out private banks.
North Carolina has the money, too. Research Triangle Park is one the largest research parks in the nation and boasts corporations like IBM, GlaxoSmithKline and Sony Ericsson, bringing in massive revenues. We should not have holes in the budget!
Such corporations should be placed in a higher tax bracket according to their profits. Instead, money is saved by cutting wages and firing workers. The staff that remain do the work of numerous workers for the pay of one while being threatened by the privatization of public sector jobs at the University (like Aramark running the dining halls).
Students, faculty and staff are seeing their classes, jobs, wages and rights severely cut. Tuition is increasing while decreasing scholarships are causing students either to graduate with about $20,000 in debt to banks or not able to access an education at all.
Here at UNC-Chapel Hill, education seems to be an afterthought instead of a priority.
While ex-Chancellor James Moeser has been paid more than $500,000 since retiring as chancellor just two years ago, introductory language classes are being moved online to save money. The administrators that still work here are paid like CEOs while some adjunct professors are getting paid as little as $2,000 per class.
Tuition here at UNC-CH has increased by more than 100 percent since 2000 alone, with no end in sight.
Additionally, the people who build much of the infrastructure in North Carolina as well as keep the state running — working class people both documented and not — are being kept out of schools by tuition hikes more than ever. At the same time, more than 4,000 class sections have been cut since Fall 2007.
In 1960, the University of California system, today one of the most expensive in the country, had a commitment to tuition-free education. If the trajectory other public university systems have been on is any indication of where we are headed, we must act now to defend our schools!
The March 4 coalition demands that the University:
-Chop from the top,
-Stop privatization of public sector jobs.
-Use UNC system’s lobbying power to increase corporate income tax.
-Use UNC system’s lobbying power to push for public schools to be open to undocumented students at in-state rates
Attend the “Funk the Cuts” event today at 4 p.m. in the Pit to take a stand to defend education!
Baker is a sophomore sociology and biology major from Harker’s Island. Reichenbach is a sophomore international studies major from Quito, Ecuador. E-mail Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org and Reichenbach at email@example.com