Threats to Public Education loom on all fronts. Whether in the U.S. or abroad, in primary and secondary K-12 schooling or in institutions of higher education, we encounter once-proud state education systems crumbling under the weight of sustained budget reductions and pressures to privatize. In concert with severe financial cuts we find assaults against the principle that it is in a society’s best interest to educate its citizenry, the principle that society bears a responsibility to provide quality education to all its members, and the principle that education as a space for critical thought ought to be free from the direct profit motives of private business.
As one example, here in New York State, the Legislature slashed SUNY’s budget by over $210 million this year, meaning SUNY’s total operating budget has been reduced by 30% over the past three years. This will likely result in (another) round of tuition fee hikes, further restricting New York State’s citizens’ access to higher education and adding to the mounting debt burden of those students who can attend a State University. Cuts will result in fewer classes offered, larger class sizes, fewer faculty and staff, fewer programs and resources, and diminishing facilities. A similar story can be told about the pressures on K-12 education from budget reductions, Charter schools, threats to teachers, cuts to educational programming and the like. The current round of budget slashing would be difficult to swallow if it came as an isolated response to the severe economic recession in which we find currently ourselves. However, these cuts are only the most recent in a thirty-year assault against public education. In 1989-90, for instance, the State of New York contributed nearly 43% of SUNY’s operating budget- today the State’s contribution has dropped to nearly 15%. This withering of public support for education in New York has direct parallels at all educational levels, across the country and around the world.
As part of a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education a local coalition of faculty, student, labor and community groups, including the Albany Chapter of United University Professions, CDALF, AFL-CIO, Workers United, NYPIRG, NYSUT, and the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace as well as student and community groups will host three events— two workshops on September 29 and a rally on October 7, the National Day of Action—opposing cutbacks to public education.
5:00-6:30 p.m. UAlbany Uptown Campus, Science Library Standish Room
Schools Under Siege: The Case for Restoring Public Funding to Education. Speakers include UAlbany Prof. Fernando Leiva and Doctoral Student Jackie Hayes, both from the UAlbany Department of Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies, and Cathy Corbo, President of the Albany Public School Teachers’ Association (APSTA).
7:30-9:00 p.m. UAlbany Uptown Campus, Science Library Standish Room
The Costs of War and the Struggle for Public Services: Is the War Really Making Us More Secure? Speakers include Prof. Ron Friedman, Dept. of Psychology, UAlbany- Joe Lombardo, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace- John Amidon, Veterans for Peace- and, Chris Hellman, National Priorities Project.
12:00-2:00 p.m. UAlbany Podium in front of the Campus Center
Rally to Oppose Cuts to Public Education