Thursday, March 4, 2010

University of California, Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz students block all access to campus to protest cuts to public education

Students to Sacramento and UC admins: “We strike to restore California’s commitment to public education for all people!”

CALIFORNIA STRIKE! We strike in solidarity with students, workers, teachers, and all Californians who support public education against elected officials and UC administrators who have gutted funding, threatened accessibility, and damaged the quality of California’s education system, from pre-K through community colleges, CSU, and UC.

In order to truly appreciate just how absurd the Regents’ and UCOP’s austerity program at the UC really is, just consider several facts that state and UC leaders would rather you not think too much about:

1. The UC Regents have ultimate control of over $8 BILLION in investments that they’ve chosen not to use to save public education at UC

2. Between 1996 and 2006, UC administrative positions have increased an eye-popping 118% compared to a 34% increase in faculty positions and 33% increase in student enrollment over the same period. There are 3,600 positions in the UC that earn more than $200,000, yet here at UCSC, we’re being told our foreign language instructors must be laid-off, workers must take furloughs, and classes must be eliminated or maxed-out in enrollment to operate more “efficiently.”

3. In the midst of the UC’s financial crisis, UC actually loaned $200 million to California to help cover the state’s budget deficit!

4. Despite UCOP’s resort to high-power media consultants who are trying to convince the public that their celebrated “Blue and Gold” financial aid program will offset the 32% tuition increases, the truth is that the “high tuition, high aid” model that UC is pursuing has a negative affect on accessibility for lower-income students, especially those from under-represented groups, in part because students are more likely to apply to schools based on the published tuition rates, not on how much aid they think they might get.

5. In California, the rich continue to get richer: Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Commission on the 21st Century Economy” baldly proposed in late 2009 an income tax cut for the wealthiest 3% that amounted to $7.5 billion in savings, while the bottom 81% of the population would realize only 10% of the total savings in their “reform” plan. Households with $1 million incomes would save $109,000 in tax cuts, whereas those making between $40,000 and $50,000 would only save $4. This is not a typo.

So it is quite obvious that the cuts to public education in Sacramento are another form of class war by the rich against the middle and lower classes, with a disproportionate burden falling on students of color, workers, and those who can least afford it. The UC Regents, most of whom are counted among California’s super-rich, are dancing to the same tune as Sacramento by protecting UC’s Wall Street investments instead of protecting the system of public education they oversee.

What we want (demands voted on by the March 4th Strike Committee):

From Sacramento:

* Reverse the cuts, lay-offs, and fee hikes—no more cuts to education

* Progressive taxation on the wealthy and corporations to fund education and social services, not war and corporate bail outs

* Reject Schwarzenegger’s plan to fund education by privatizing prisons

From UC system:

* Stop the privatization of education

* Stop the resegregation of education—full funding for student services and support programs, especially for students of color and underrepresented communities

* Democratize education—student, teacher, and worker control in the schools

* Drop all charges against student activists—stop UC and police harassment against activists

March 4 actions:

* Picket lines at all campus entrances from 5 a.m.

* Rallies at the main entrance (Bay and High Streets) at 9 a.m. and noon

* General Assembly at 5 p.m. at the main entrance

Strike blog:

Press contacts:

Erin Ellison (732) 245-7410
Carol Hernandez, 760-877-9122