Occupy Wall Street's Goals and Public Education
(Part IV of V)
I have been getting many emails and comments about the last blog. Fewer people are asking about detailed demands for Occupy after my last blog. But several want more specifics. This blog focusses on some concrete ideas that organizations can demand. As mentioned in earlier emails, no one speaks for occupy; this list is compiled from positions that I have heard and would like to see.
Occupy and many long-standing movement groups are focused on building visions of fairness.
The goals below all can be fought for on the way to the larger societal changes - they are all steps on the way to treating all humans as equals. If these goals are pursued without compromise, they illustrate a reordering of priorities and significant increases in educational opportunity. None of them alone or even all of them together constitutes the scale of change that Occupy imagines. Many of these are taken from chants at Occupy marches.
• Recruit and retain highly effective well paid teachers;
• Ensure that every school district is able to provide college preparatory curricula for all;
• Create tax and revenue structures to ensure fiscal equity in education; revise education funding so that funding is equally distributed like the most successful nations;
• Provide the opportunity to go to college for all high school students who want to go -- without a burdening debt; and
• Provide access to English learning for all who want to learn (currently there are long waiting lists for English learners of all ages).
4. Occupiers have voiced a specific ways to pay for these opportunities: • Repeal the Bush and Obama era tax cuts and put the new revenue in domestic priorities such as education, jobs, housing, etc. (70 percent of Americans agree we need to repeal the cuts; Demand that banks and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes so we can see fully fund schools instead of cutting teachers;
• End the current US led wars in Afghanistan and Libya, stop funding the military contractors (mercenaries) in Iraq and close the 708 US military bases around the world. “Books not bombs” can be seen at many Occupy events
5. Family friendly economics - an economy for the 99 percent - many of Occupy’s voiced demands have included common sense fairness: • Bail out homeowners so children can stay in the schools where they are and learn instead of living with displacement;
• Institute a moratorium on home foreclosures;
• Bail out college graduates instead of banks;
• Regulate banks and corporations instead of limiting the right to collective bargaining for public employees like teachers; treat teachers as well paid honored public servants like the highest performing countries do;
• Bring back a livable wage, the weekend and 8 hour work day so parents can be home with their children; implement regulations to control the unquenchable greed of an economic and political system that encourages the power-hungry to take larger and larger shares of the nation’s wealth;
• Create better-paying jobs and government-funded jobs so parents can feed their children (1 out of 4 families lives with food insecurity);
• Create single-payer universal healthcare so all children come to school healthy instead of insurance company executives becoming richer.
Many Occupiers have observed that our political leaders are protecting the needs of the 1%, their political donors instead of students; that our leaders are accountable to military contractors, oil and insurance companies and banks instead of being accountable to the 99% majority -- parents, students and teachers.
Occupy envisions a reordering of our priorities that is much larger than even closing all 708 US military bases and putting all the money into schools. Nonetheless, such a scale of change would be a symbol of the revolution in values that Occupy seeks.What would be on your list of goals for Occupy? Let us know.