Fight for CCSF
The fight back around the threatened closure of San Francisco City College has reached a fever pitch. The unjust and illegal ACCJC, an accreditation body which covers California community colleges, has threatened the school with closure. In response to the downsizing and privatization the student body has stood up against this assault on public education. A series of protests over the last year, including an occupation of San Francisco’s City Hall, have yielded not only popular support of students and community but also a slew of lawsuits. These lawsuits not only came from student organizers, but also from the local American Federation of Teachers and the City Attorney’s office of San Francisco. The constant pressure and ensuing lawsuits lead by students has resulted in an immediate injunction of the ACCJC’S decision until the end of the City Attorneys case. Recently the pro-ACCJC administration, led by Bob Agrella the special trustee with extraordinary powers, has instituted an unfair payment policy, attempted to raise administrators salaries, while canceling classes and imposing a quota on class size. The payment policy disproportionately hurt international and undocumented students. In a meeting with newly appointed Chancellor Arthur Tyler one student was crassly told they should “pick up cans” in addition to working and studying to meet the financial demands of the ACCJC. In response to these attacks hundreds of students decided to bring their demands into the administration building on March 13th. They were met by the batons and pepper spray of both the campus police and the San Francisco Police Department. After the violent repression of this peaceful protest, Bob Agrella and his police have begun targeting students with the threat of removing their right to assemble and to organize on campus. These specific attacks are strikingly similar to what we have seen at other community colleges across the state such as Santa Monica College. Administrations actively suppress the student movement by inflicting violence upon the campus to make way for the Student Success Act. In the face of these attacks, and lawsuits, the college’s board of trustees and the student government have offered almost no immediate solution. However, at City College there exists a successful community push back created by student grassroots organizing and the demand of community control over their own institutions. The movement has even forced the City Attorney to file suits against the state accrediting body. As these attacks on public education spread, they can ultimately only be stopped by students on a statewide level. Only an organization such as CASU, which is embedded within the students, can defend the right to education!
38 Student Enrolled or No Class
Once again the California Community College system has turned their backs to needs of the students. As if that wasn’t painful enough, the Los Angeles Community College District has now mandated that the average class room size be thirty-eight students. Thirty-eight students! Any professor would agree that a class of that size seriously detriments the quality of education a student can receive. Picture yourself on the first day of your scheduled class; after calculating that there are only thirty students present, he advises everyone that the class will be cut due to the new district mandate. Now you have no class to attend. This means that many classes are all in jeopardy. Even the only Physics class that is offered can be cut! What happens when this mandate affects your ability to accumulate the credits you need? What are students and teachers to do about this new mandate? Will we stand by and let these attacks continue to occur uncontested without a fight? Of course, this is what is expected by the college administrators; not just at LAVC, but throughout all of California. No one expects the students and teachers to fight back. Students and teachers all over the state must rise to this occasion and organize. If we don’t, this mandate will only be the beginning of a long stretch of attacks on our right to an education. This college system has proven time and time again that the students are just a means to increase profit for the privileged few. Let us prove to them that we will no longer stand idle and let OUR education system be dictated by people that we never see or hear from. And who never ask the STUDENTS AND TEACHERS for permission to cut classes and to impose unjust mandates on our lives.
The Profiteering of Textbooks
The past several year, students have seen a large increase in the prices for their textbooks. With increase in tuition costs for college and university students, paying for overpriced textbooks is becoming an ever growing burden. For many students in community college, the prices of their textbooks are nearly the equivalent of tuition. For S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors, most classes require some sort of additional online program (e.g. Mastering Physics). These assessment systems usually start off at $65 per class. Unfortunately, these inflated prices are not limited to community colleges. If anything, prices are higher in four-year universities. What do these expensive books and online programs have in common? They are both owned by the same companies. Many of the books and online systems, which students are forced to purchase, are owned by the same multinational corporations, a few being: Pearsons, McGraw Hill, and Cengage Learning. For example, Pearsons is a company that operates in over 70 different countries, has a controlling share in over 40 different publishing houses, one of their most famous being “Penguin Books”, and many online programs. In 2012, Pearsons had a revenue stream of $8.31 billion, 60% of which came directly from North America.
The outrageous prices of these books and the massive annual profits by these companies only means that students are being screwed out of what little money they have left. In other words, on top of the incredible tuition costs and benefit-cost of not going to work to attend class, students have to cough up insane amounts of money to pay for all these expensive books.
UPDATES FROM CAMPUSES
Resistance against the privatization of Moorpark College’s facilities has begun. Along with the cafeteria, Moorpark College has just lost its bookstore. With Coke-a-Cola’s apparent monopoly on the food supply and Barnes & Noble’s takeover of the bookstore, students are starting to question how things are being run. The Young People’s Socialist League attended last month’s Board of Trustees meeting to confront the board – demanding to know why the students weren’t consulted or made part of the decision making process, and when is the financial burden on students going to stop. The board thanked the YPSL for speaking but made no response. After witnessing Oxnard College flood the microphone during public comments, and observing the California Student Union’s tactics on turning a board meeting into a general assembly, YPSL is looking forward to having a larger presence at the next meeting. Also, at the end of March, the YPSL attended a presidential forum that the campus put on to give the students, faculty, staff, and community a chance to meet and question four candidates chosen by a secret committee. Ultimately, the Chancellor for Ventura County will decide who our next president will be, but now we know what he or she will potentially be, and will be anxiously awaiting their arrival. We’re expecting an open door policy and a listening tour of some kind. Our demands will be heard!
Los Angeles Valley College
After a $606,470 cut last semester, further cuts were proposed “in order to decrease the $5.5 million deficit.” After months of uncertainty regarding the budget, students from various clubs sat down with the President of the college in hopes of clearing up any misinformation. Even though the president dodged every single question the students asked, she stated, “we don’t want to cut”, but one of her solutions is to increase the Full-Time Equivalent Students (FTES), i.e., the full-time student rate. The reason for the increase is because that is how community colleges are paid. The administration’s plan is to increase FTES up to 50. The only way to increase FTES without a proportional increase in enrollment is to cut the number of sections offered. Sure, they say they won’t cut the budget but they will cut our classes. The administration is shoving as many students into a room as possible so they can get the most bang for their buck. This isn’t just a LAVC issue nor is it a district issue. The problem lies in the state level. Every time the word deficit is used, all it really means is that education is underfunded. Since 2008, community colleges have been cut by 25%. If students and teachers don’t organize and fight for what they have already lost (e.g. tuition-free higher education), it will allow room for the state to cut even more from education.