The International Student Movement is calling for global education strikes on October 18th and November 14-21 to protest education privatization schemes and the corporatization of public education. They want the teachers to join their movement and are asking teachers to check out their website and plan solidarity actions for these dates.
Some of their demands are tangible and achievable—like increasing education budgets, decreasing student debt and slowing or halting the giveaway of public education resources to private business—but not from a couple of days of street protests. Rather, achieving these goals will require either a remarkable change in public sentiment and political action or significant and prolonged strike actions by teachers and other education employees.
At the same time, much of their program is naïve or incoherent. For example, they bemoan that public education is being turned into a commodity and that school employees are being exploited, as if this wasn’t always the case? In order for employees to not be exploited they must cease to be employees and for education to not be a commodity it must be entirely free. These are both good goals, but they are not attainable without social revolution and certainly aren’t going to result from a few days of protests.
They also argue that education should “primarily work for the emancipation of the individual, which means: being enabled to critically reflect and understand the power structures and environment surrounding him-/herself.” Yet shouldn’t emancipation involve freedom from domination by these “power structures,” and not just an acknowledgement of their existence?