News for educational workers.

Author:Vogt, Leonard
Position:Nationwide walkout for Michael Brown; college athletic scholarship; austerity cuts to higher education
 
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Student Protest

Students joined teachers, parents, and workers on December 2, 2014 in a nationwide walkout honoring Michael Brown, shot down by officer Darren Wilson on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. The walkout occurred in over 80 cities, in 30 states, and on 40 college campuses at 12:01 P. M., the exact time of the shooting. The walkout also occurred exactly one week after a Ferguson grand jury announced its decision not to indict officer Wilson for the death of Michael Brown (portside.org, December 5, 2014).

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes (www.jacobinmag.com. November 12, 2014) about his college athletic career forty years ago when bringing fame and money to UCLA left him "too broke to do much but study, practice, and play." Any extra money he could make had to come from spring break and summer low level jobs. He writes that little has changed in 40 years, except that the NCAA, television broadcasters, and colleges and universities are making more money than ever before. For examples, the NCAA makes $1 billion annually from their March contracts with CBS and Turner; the NCAA president makes $1.7 million a year; and the ten highest paid coaches make between $2 million and $9 million a year. At the same time, college athletes on scholarships, unlike students on academic scholarships, are not allowed to earn money beyond their scholarships; athletic scholarships often fall about $3,200 short of the financial needs of the students; and athletic scholarships can be taken away if the players are injured and can no longer contribute to the team. With this in mind, it is entirely possible that a student on athletic scholarship might end up without an education at all.

On November 19, 2014, students in the United Kingdom marched in the thousands for "Free Education" as a direct challenge to austerity cuts to higher education imposed by the conservative government led by David Cameron. A coalition of student-led groups published a letter in The Guardian explaining their demands: "Today we are stepping up our campaign against tuition fees and education cuts with the biggest student national demonstration for years. As student debt soars and staff working conditions deteriorate, it is clear that the marketization of education is failing students and workers alike." Using Germany's elimination of tuition fees a months earlier as an example of the possibility of "free education", the UK students suggested "increased tax on the rich [and] scrapped Trident or reduced military spending" would free up billions of pounds to fund education and other public services (portside.org, November 24, 2014).

In Jefferson County, Colorado, a newly conservative school board instituted a review to ensure that the Advanced Placement History curriculum "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system." Students and their teachers would have nothing to do with it. Organizing on Facebook, students walked out of schools in suburban Denver by the hundreds. One of the conservative members of the school board, who...

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