Why we protest education cuts
Editor’s note: Doug Singsen is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at CUNY Graduate Center and a co-founder of the CUNY Campaign to Defend Education. He has been active in organizing the March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Education and is a member of the International Socialist Organization.
New York (CNN) — Today, in California and other states across the nation, students, teachers, faculty and workers have been protesting, striking, walking out of classes and staging sit-ins and teach-ins. They are protesting budget cuts, tuition hikes, compensation reductions, layoffs and privatizations affecting public K-12 schools and universities.
This afternoon, I’ll be heading to Gov. David Paterson’s office in Manhattan, where our local protest will be held. We’re expecting at least 500 people and are hoping for more.
Why? We believe that actions like these — across the country — are necessary to communicate to the politicians overseeing these cuts that we will not stand by while our public education system is being gutted.
The students and faculty protesting are not some group of ivory-tower intellectuals out of touch with the “real world.” On the contrary, as the real world presses in on their ability to afford an education in an increasingly competitive global environment, they are extremely aware of the relationship between leaders’ decisions and their fates. And they are angry.
The largest attacks on public higher education are taking place in California. Last year, the budgets of the University of California and California State University were cut by $813 million and $564 million respectively, resulting in the elimination of thousands of jobs, furloughs, pay cuts and larger class sizes. Both UC and CSU raised tuition, including a massive 32 percent hike at the University of California.