New York City Students Take Action March 1 to Defend Right to Education

For Immediate Release
February 27, 2012

Nationwide Protests Kick Off Spring of Action

New York City—Hundreds of students, teachers, parents and workers will take to the streets March 1, 2012 as part of a national Day of Action called for by Occupy Education. From Boston to Seattle, education activists will defend the right to education and demand a say in how their schools are run. In New York, students will point to higher tuition and school closings as evidence that the agenda of the 1% has turned education into a commodity rather than a right.

Marchers will meet at the Department of Education (52 Chambers Street) at 2 p.m. before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and arriving at Ft. Greene Park for a demonstration at 4 p.m. The protestors will hold speak-outs at various sites along the way to highlight problems within our education system, such as a lack of democratic decision-making and growing corporatization.

”A corporate-backed education reform movement is turning schools at all levels into businesses,” said Hunter College student Sarah Pomar. “Policies such as No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top have led to more failing schools and union-busting, and exacerbate inequality in educational opportunities.”

Such inequalities were demonstrated recently in a report by the New York State Education Department, which revealed that only 13 percent of Black students and 15 percent of Latino students in New York graduate from high school college-ready. Meanwhile, despite public protests, the Bloomberg administration has closed over 117 schools through an undemocratic Panel for Educational Policy.

“Education is the very keystone of success, but it is becoming increasingly unavailable to all but the 1%,” said Jaime Weida, an English professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College. “Quality public education is disappearing, as K-12 schools are closing and public institutions of higher education such as CUNY are facing tuition hikes, budget cuts and privatization.”

”Education is being governed by neoliberal policies that create re-segregation, inequality, massive debt and undemocratic institutions,” said Lucas Vazquez, a student at Walt Whitman High School. “Students must resist such injustices through a sustainable movement that presents alternatives to the market-oriented educational system we live in.”

Throughout the spring, students across the country will take action to reclaim education for the 99%. On March 5 students in New York and California will converge on their state capitols to demand elected officials recognize the right to education and fully fund public colleges and universities.

Occupy Education is a coalition of more than 80 local Occupy, labor and community groups across the country fighting to guarantee the right to education for everyone. The March 1 Day of Action has been endorsed by groups such the New York City Student Assembly, Students United for a Free CUNY and the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.