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National Day of Protests for Education Rights

By Chapin Gray

Protest at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for education rights.

Students from across the country participated in a National Day of Action for Education Rights, Nov. 10, demanding an end to the budget cuts, layoffs and tuition hikes hitting schools since the economic crisis began.

The Campaign for Education Rights, a working group of the Network to Fight for Economic Justice, organized the protests after the students, faculty and staff of the University of California system held mass walk-outs and occupations in September. “Now is the time to carry the momentum forward into a nationwide movement for education rights,” reads the call to action. Over a dozen organizations endorsed the National Day of Action for Education Rights.

In Milwaukee, WI, over 100 students and workers picketed outside the administrative office building. The event was organized by the UWM Education Rights Campaign. Speakers included Cathy Kaye of the professors’ union, Lee Abbott of the teacher assistants’ union, Gilbert Johnson of AFSCME Local 82, Moondancer Drake of Students Equalizing Rights Forever, Clint Myrick of the Black Student Union, Jacob Flom of Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and author and lecturer Michael Parenti. Angela Lang, an emcee at the rally, led the picket into a march to the doors of the Chancellor’s office. She thought the rally was a great kick-off of the campaign. “The Chancellor of our university is helping make cuts to our university while allowing himself a pay raise. We were chanting 'education is a right' and I was glad to be there protecting student rights.”

In Asheville, North Carolina, the UNCA chapter of Students for a Democratic Society staged a mock funeral for the EARN scholarship, a scholarship for over 10,000 low-income students that was recently cancelled. In the student union, protesters dressed in black gathered around a fake coffin and tombstone to ‘mourn’ the death of the scholarship. “We wanted to send a message to the North Carolina general assembly that youth and workers will not stand for this, said Viviana Moreno of UNCA-SDS. “Working people will not foot the bill for the economic crisis that has been created by the rich.”

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the University of Minnesota chapter of SDS organized a protest of over 40 people speak out against the high salaries of the university administration and the tuition hikes on campus. Protesters beat into pieces a piñata modeled after the university president, chanting, “Money for education, not for administration!”

“We’re seeing a huge crisis in foreclosures and unemployment and cuts to social services,“ said Andrew Somers, a member of UMN- SDS. “It’s a time where a lot of different fight backs need to happen. This was an inspiring event and we need to continue fighting.”

The fight for education rights is not over. Schools across the country are continuing with plans to protest cuts, layoffs and tuition hikes and students are inspired by the militant campus occupations happening around the country.

Asheville students dressed in funeral attire for EARN scholarship protest

University of Minnesota SDS rally.

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