A note to all who are fighting for the future of education…

Yesterday the L.A. city council voted unanimously to support a resolution which calls for the overturning of proposed cuts to adult education, a program that serves 27% of L.A.’s students for 2% of the district’s budget. Many students and teachers put in a lot of work to make this happen, and I salute them. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that this will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture if we do not continue to build the kind of determined, creative and active mass movement that, in the final analysis, is the only force with the potential to win this struggle.

Here is a message I sent to a dear friend regarding yesterday’s successful vote:

While I believe decisions about the future of education as a for-profit factory of subservient wage slaves, versus a liberating human right, have already been made from on-high, I’m nevertheless optimistic about our prospects… and even if I weren’t it would nevertheless be my responsibility to FIGHT with those who are!

What does “on-high” mean? See Obama’s “Teacher Depreciation Week” speech analyzed at Nation of Change. Witness the maneuvers of Gub’na Brown to fund Juvenile Incarceration (despite a 90% drop in inmates over the past 6 years) while strangling public ed. And look into LAUSD superintendant Deasy’s track record as the 1%’s main man when it comes to transitioning ed to the “mo’ money” arena.

And how does the question of race fit in (if I may be so bold as to pose it in its “passé” era–thanks, Obama!)? Just as it always has… White supremacy wound-up like a double-helix with economic domination. And, particularly troubling to the “good ol’ boys” is the fact that non-white birthrates now outstrip those of their, shall we say, “master race”. Watch the shatteringly beautiful documentary film Precious Knowledge (free to download on PBS’s Independent Lens video site through June 7) to see what we’re up against. But also, take it in and know that we are FAR FROM ALONE. Our sisters and brothers in Canada won’t give up, despite their illegalization by the government, and NEITHER WILL WE.

Will it be easy or fast? No. Can we win? Yes… and we must! The consequences for humanity, as we teeter on the precipice of a new Dark Ages, are too tremendous. Let’s flip the script on ’em, and bring forth a new Renaissance in HUMAN RIGHTS. 😉

Much love,
Dan Kaufman

2 Comments

  1. Dan, I like what you have to say here and agree. Thanks for being such an inspiring and creative voice among us. I basically have only questions and no answers. How do we continue to build this movement? I think most of our active adult students are mobilized around the very real and tangible threat to their right to a quality, affordable, accesible education. How do we most effectively help move (not just students but our fellow teachers too) to the next level of understanding and action? Privatization, narrowing of curriculum to serve “industry” ahead of the whole student’s needs, attacks on teachers as professionals, adding/increasing fees for classes that should be free or very low cost… What’s the best way we can help the greatest number of concerned people (students, teachers, and community members) to focus on these issues and understand that these are worth fiercely confronting, as much as the threat to close adult schools and lay off teachers? In my experience, many of the discussions around these issues are very academic and aren’t really accessible to most of us (myself included). We need real popular education for adults on these issues.

    1. You couldn’t be more right in your last line, Michelle. I’ve often despaired how so many academic treatises (many well researched and written) are simply fodder for the consideration of a candidate’s master’s degree but (sans publication) are never read again and left to rot on the stack of the campus library. It pained me to read discarded works on bilingual education and adult education, with wonderful ideas and proposals, simply gathering dust as if they never existed, while teachers and students in the trenches are starving for documentation of and guidance on our plight! Paolo Freire had it right: “praxis” we must apply the knowledge and undertake the Promethean directive of educating the people and have them educate us back in a mutually enhancing dialectic.

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