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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  November 2003

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE November 2003

Subject:

PT/TP 11-03 Corporate control choking colleges

From:

Mike Brand <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 23 Nov 2003 11:25:24 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (151 lines)

Subj:   PT/TP 11-03 Corporate control choking colleges
Date:   11/11/03 11:56:09 PM Eastern Standard Time
From:   [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent from the Internet (Details)



******************************************************************
        People's Tribune/Tribuno del Pueblo (Online Edition)
                  Vol. 30 No. 15/ November, 2003

                 P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL  60654
                       http://www.lrna.org

******************************************************************
   CORPORATE CONTROL CHOKING COLLEGES

By The University Chapter of the League of Revolutionaries  for a
New America

California's public colleges and universities, once the envy of
the nation, are being strangled by the government that created
them.  In July, a whopping $850 million was cut from the
University of California (UC), Cal State (CSU), and Community
College (CC) systems.  In reaction, they raised student fees,
began laying off faculty and staff, and put a cap on future
enrollment. By spring, CSU may deny admission to 30,000 students,
and 120,000 more may be unable to afford to go to a CC.

Funds for the Educational Opportunity Program to recruit low-
income minority students were also slashed, rolling back a key
victory of the Civil Rights era.  In the 1960s, that movement not
only opened the college doors to people of color, it won grants
for low-income students, and free tutoring.  Those services also
benefited millions of white families, who will now suffer
alongside their minority classmates as they are cut.

These attacks follow 30 years of government reducing the taxes of
big corporations and the rich.  In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan
emerged from California to become the national spokesman for
business tax cuts.  The Los Angeles Times has reported that by
2002, the share of California's taxes that corporations pay has
fallen from 17 percent to only 9 percent.  Though this loss of
funds is a serious threat to public universities, they've done
nothing to mobilize their millions of students and staff against
tax loopholes, because their own governing boards are dominated by
corporate executives.

By squeezing back corporate taxes, the life is being choked out of
public higher education.  Congress' Advisory Committee on Student
Financial Assistance reports that in 1975, the Pell Grant covered
84 percent of the cost of a four-year public college, but it has
risen so slowly that now it only covers 42 percent.  The committee
also warned that by 2009, two million qualified high school
graduates will be unable to afford college.  For those that do
attend, the rise in their fees, books, and living costs will
outrace any gains in student wages and financial aid.

So, among America's 15 million college students (two million in
California alone), we are witnessing the creation of a huge
community of students living in poverty.  They are part of
America's rapidly growing new class of poor, which also includes
the millions who no longer can afford health care, those who work
part-time, and others who are homeless.  The student poor can play
a revolutionary role for their class, by helping it organize
against a system where so many are suffering, while the ruling
class has gone from being millionaires to billionaires.

But to block that awareness, the race card is constantly being
played.  In 1996, affirmative action in admissions and hiring came
under attack at the University of California when black
conservative Ward Connerly, a member of UC Board of Regents,
launched Proposition 209.  This year, he placed Prop 54 (The
Racial Privacy Initiative) on the Oct. 7 ballot, trying to make it
illegal for any public school or agency in California to track
social conditions by "race."  Hundreds of rallies were organized,
and millions of dollars raised, to defeat the threat.

Of course, it was important to mobilize voters to defeat Prop 54.
But once again, a racial issue was used to divide people, and
divert their energy from seeking real solutions to the everyday
problems that would still be there when the election was over.
The crisis in education affects students, faculty and staff, and
families of all colors, so a united movement is possible.
Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (who was recalled by angry voters on
Oct. 7), and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante are especially guilty for
not getting this started.  The campaign slogan for their first
election was "Education, Education, Education!", but they soon
backed off from mobilizing the public against the corporate tax
raiders.

Nor did they open their mouths as investment bankers swooped in to
make a profit from the budget crisis.  First, as the tax crunch
made state and federal governments hold back on increases in
financial aid grants, students were forced to seek bank loans.
Today, loans are a bigger part of financial aid than grants,
reversing one of the key victories of the 1960s.  Next,
politicians like Davis and Bustamante dealt with the budget crisis
by raising billions of dollars in bonds.  Bonds are loans that
bankers give governments, for millions of dollars in interest.
So, rich investors get to charge the public for loaning out money
they should have been paying to that public in taxes!

Why don't politicians speak out against these speculators and
profiteers?  Because corporate bankers are the allies and funders
of both parties.  People like Kathleen Brown--daughter of former
California governor Pat Brown, and sister of former governor Jerry
Brown, she ran for governor herself but lost to Republican Pete
Wilson. Now she heads the L.A. office selling public bonds for
investment giant Goldman, Sachs, Inc. Obviously, there are huge
profits to be made from choking off taxes to the state, then
loaning it money--and big donations for politicians who help this
happen.

We can't save public education by blaming just the Republicans for
spending too little, or just the Democrats for spending too much.
Or the white people, or the minorities, or the lazy students, or
the lazy faculty unions. Or believe it's all just a business cycle
that will work itself out.  All those "explanations" thrown to us
by the corporate media just keep us from getting started building
another massive American movement for equal, quality education.

One big step was taken by the California Faculty Association and
Academic Professionals of California, two CSU unions which have
joined the national Free Higher Education campaign.  Through this
campaign, organized by the Labor Party, they have joined educator
groups across America calling for the federal government to pay
the tuition costs of every eligible student who attends a public
college.  This would reduce layoffs while helping diversify higher
education, at a third of the cost of the Iraq occupation, and much
less than the tax breaks that Congress just gave the rich.

The fight to defend programs that recruit minority students (like
EOP) must become a part of that new movement.  So should the
campaigns by student government leaders to reduce fees at the UC,
CSU and CC campuses.  Together, they can restore the victories won
in the last great movement.  Together, they can help prepare the
people to re-organize society to serve human need, not billionaire
greed.

******************************************************************
This article originated in the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE/TRIBUNO DEL PUEBLO
(Online Edition), Vol. 30 No. 15/ November, 2003; P.O. Box 3524,
Chicago, IL 60654; Email: [log in to unmask]; http://www.lrna.org
Feel free to reproduce and use unless marked as copyrighted. The
PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE/TRIBUNO DEL PUEBLO depends on donations from its
readers. To subscribe, send email to [log in to unmask] with a
message of "subscribe pt-digest".
******************************************************************

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