Friday, April 22, 2011

Students End 4-day Occupation at Cal State Fullerton

Students at Cal State Fullerton have just ended a four-day sit-in without winning any commitments by the administration, though the school's president did express a desire 'to recommit to and reinvest in public education.' He made no promises about the budget.

The Los Angeles Times reported that students claimed they got what they wanted as a result of their long negotiations, including Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon’s signature on their "Statement in Defense of Public Education" letter (Posted below). The document expressed a desire to reinvest in public education and advocated for fair and equal access to college. However, there was no commitment made by administration to actually do anything to increase funding, provide fair and equal access or to change in any way.

Occupations were initiated at many of CSUs campuses last week to protest budget cuts, fee hikes and the loss of course offerings. Most of the occupations either fizzled out on their own, without any resolution, or were physically broken up by police. At Sac State, cops in riot gear rousted sleeping students and threw them out in the middle of the night.

This declaration comes out of a workshop held at CSUF on March 2nd, 2011.  It contains input from students, faculty and staff from CSUF, CSULB, CSULA, Compton College, Fullerton College, and Mt. San Antonio College.

“Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey

We, the students, staff, and educators of California’s public schools, colleges, and universities, call upon the people of the state to recommit to and reinvest in public education as the principal foundation of a democratic society. Public education is a sacred trust and needs to be protected from those who would see the state divest even further from its constitutional obligations.

Public education is a public good and needs to be protected from the for profit interests of the private sector. We call upon the people of California to recognize that, though an educated workforce is essential to our prosperity, education itself has a social value that cannot be reduced to monetary considerations alone.

Public education brings together diverse communities of educators, staff and students in ways that prepare learners for a productive yet socially responsible life. Public education creates spaces that promote the intellectual and emotional development of tolerant, critically-engaged citizens. Public education is by definition open to all Californians, regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status, and is thus the very cornerstone of a vibrant, principled, and fundamentally compassionate democracy.

As students we promise:
To recognize that education is not just a right, it is a civic responsibility.
To take full advantage of the educational opportunities provided to us, and to embrace a broad based system of public education which encourages aesthetic, artistic, cultural, social, intellectual, physical, and vocational development.
To work in partnership with educators and staff to create tolerant, respectful, and ultimately inspirational learning environments.
To develop a critically-engaged political voice, and to use this voice to speak out against all forms of injustice, and to protect not only our own democratic rights, but also the democratic rights of all Californians and of all Americans, and indeed of all humanity.

As educators and staff we promise:
To recognize and reaffirm that students are at the center of public education.
To create learning environments that inspire creativity and self-discovery, and that encourage students to become persons of character, strength and integrity.
To place ourselves at the forefront of a broader movement to reassert the value of learning and knowledge not only as an economic necessity, but also as a social, cultural, and democratic “good.”
To continue to learn and develop throughout our careers.
As Californians we expect:
Increased funding for public education.
Fair and equitable access for all students to a full range of educational programs, resources, experiences, and opportunities.
The failure to support an accessible, fully-funded public education system will condemn many Californians to perpetual poverty and second-class status.
Fair and equitable contracts that respect and value the work done by teachers, lecturers, professors, academic professionals and staff on all levels from pre-school through university.
A commitment from administrators, school boards, teachers unions, staff unions, student organizations, parent groups, professional associations, community-based organizations, and postsecondary institutions to work together with the State to provide quality education for all people regardless of gender, economic, social, ethnic, or racial status.

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