Over the last few months I have been involved with a new group of teachers, students and citizens concerned about all levels of public education, from K-12 through Higher Ed, and even Pre-School and lifelong learning. It has been instructive to learn how deep and widespread is the impact of Privatization, and the emerging view of where that destructive force comes from. The following Mission Statement, developed through extensive discussions, was just recently approved by the group; and I thought it worthwhile to circulate this document, inviting your comments. Charles Schwartz
Mission Statement for Occupy Education Northern California*
The attack on public education is one aspect of a larger attack on the public sector and on democracy more generally, where corporate interests now dominate political, social, and economic decisions. Occupy Wall Street has reshaped the debate over this country’s direction with the demand that the destruction of our communities and our earth resulting from corporatization must end: we seek something entirely different.
Occupy Education Northern California shares these broad goals and believes that we need more than simply increased funding for public education. The problems with education are deeply linked to and cannot be treated separately from racism; privatization; global economic competition rather than cooperation; and lack of access to food, housing, and healthcare. In order to address these issues, we must change the conditions in which students live and learn and provide them with tools to reimagine and reclaim their futures. Furthermore, education must prepare students to be empowered participants in a democratic community and to take respectful care of each other and of the planet.
To these ends, this is our vision:
- Public education, from birth to life-long learning, is to be government-funded and free of charge for all individuals.
- End the privatization of education, which includes funding cuts and fee hikes, top-down control, outsourced labor, standardized test-driven curricula, competition for access to schools, internet-based classes without human interaction, and the militarization of our campuses.
- Education must be shaped by the needs of students, teachers, workers, and community members with their full, democratic participation in decision-making.
- In the interests of education and all other public services, end corporate personhood and revoke the charter of any corporation that acts against the public’s political, financial, social, or environmental wellbeing.
- Focus the goals of education on supporting the ethical and democratic interests of all the world’s inhabitants.
We will no longer plead with politicians who act in the economic interests of the 1%, and we will no longer buy into the false notion of “shared sacrifice.” We intend to stop the corporate program to privatize education by carrying out actions that positively embody the above principles.
Occupy Education Northern California believes that the 99% has the untapped political power necessary to realize this vision, and it is our mission to take part in a democratically led transformation of education. We invite you to join us!
*Note: We believe that the Mission Statement for Occupy Education Northern California is a living document that should be revised regularly to reflect the changing ideas of our participants, old and new.
Send us your feedback and find out when and where we’ll meet next: OccupyEducation.NorCal@gmail.com