North Carolina Students Teach Corporate Politicians a Lesson!

In the wake of a worldwide series of austerity measures, the struggle against cuts in educational funding has intensified in the US. The state of North Carolina faces particularly crippling attacks on its public schools, community colleges, and universities, all of which are in jeopardy as state legislators attempt to reconcile a $3.7 billion budget deficit in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

It comes as little surprise that NC politicians such as State Senator Jerry Tillman are attempting to apportion blame to school personnel and teachers, claiming that as public education accounts for 60 percent of state spending, and 90 percent of education spending is for personnel, the strain on the state’s finances is due to the cost of maintaining these workers.

The proposed solutions are unsurprising–raise tuition rates for state universities, give tax vouchers to families whose children attend private schools, and cut taxpayer support to public schools while allowing families to contribute to their own children’s school. This increases the financial burden on working class college students and their families, while also affording tax breaks to the wealthy, who in turn are able to selectively fund their own schools. Meanwhile, educational institutions in under-funded areas would struggle to survive. Other alternative suggestions include raising or maintaining current regressive sales tax rates, which also weigh most heavily on the poor, which are set to expire under the new budget.

Just this week, the NC House budget has approved cuts of over $1 billion in all sectors of public education, which would ultimately result in the loss of thousands of jobs for teachers, teacher assistants, and other school personnel. The outrage at this decision has resulted in protests led by the Quality Schools Coalition and superintendents from across the state.

Following the example of protests in Wisconsin, mass education demonstrations in the UK this past fall, and other students and education workers in protest against cuts around the U.S., workers and young people in allegedly “backward” North Carolina are also organizing energetic displays of public disapproval in the face of these economic attacks on public education and workers.

  • Stop the attacks on public education and public sector workers!
  • The labor leadership must mobilize the rank and file and lead the fight back!
  • Labor must build community support and organize the millions of Southern workers currently without union representation!
  • Build the North Carolina Families First Party into a true state-wide mass party of Labor based on the unions!
  • Fight for socialist policies: make the bosses—not the workers–pay for the crisis!

The following video includes footage from these protests, as well as highlighting the public’s concerns on the issue:

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Or view the video on The Real News.

 


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