A few years ago, I was pulled over by the police. I’d reported my car stolen some months earlier and they’d never taken that report out of the system after I’d gotten it back. It was a minor error on their part, but it resulted in a fairly scary moment.
I pulled into a parking lot and noticed a police car behind me, lights on. The officer told me to put my hands out of the car, and open the car from the outside, like on television. When I got out, his gun was pointed at me, and I was handcuffed and placed in the backseat of his car. A few minutes later, he brought me my three-year-old son.
My son, understandably, was terrified, and though the officers cleared up the mistake in a few minutes and bought him a toy (a miniature police car) at the toy store we were going to,
This past June, I walked across the stage in front of thousands of students and family members to receive my bachelor’s degree from UCLA. There was a sea of black robes behind and in front of me, and as I set my feet on the stage and saw the crowd, I felt a rush of excitement. With the diploma in my hand, I felt the weightlessness of unlimited opportunity. Yet I knew that I didn’t get here alone. Two generations before me struggled to give me this chance.
Sitting in the living room at home in Santa Ana, California, my grandfather rocks back and forth as he tells me about his life as a Mexican bracero. Braceros were contract seasonal agricultural laborers who were part of a program between Mexico and the United States that lasted from 1944 to 1962 to help meet the U.S. needs for manual labor. My grandfather would wake up early to go down to the fields.
(The following post first appeared on Dog Park Media and is republished with permission. It describes events that occurred earlier today at a Regents meeting held at the University of California’s Mission Bay campus. A news update can be found here.)
About 500 students are currently blockading entrances to the University of California Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco this morning, where the Regents are scheduled to vote on a budget that presumes a 24 percent across-the-board increase on UC tuitions over four years. Picketing students have pledged to shut the meeting down.
According to Charlie Eaton, one of the organizers of the protest and co-author of a report released this week that charged the Regents with employing exotic financial instruments that doubled the UC system’s debt load over three and a half years, as of 8:45 a.m.
Millions of dollars in new tax revenue earmarked for the University of California system as part of the state’s recently passed Proposition 30 will instead be routed to major financial firms, because of bad bets made by a Wall Street-influenced UC Board of Regents.
Over the last decade, tuition and fees for undergraduates in the UC system have tripled, adding enormous debt burdens to UC graduates and pushing lower-income students into the already overburdened state college and community college systems, or out of higher education altogether. Members of the UC Board of Regents, which governs the system and which approved the tuition hikes, have blamed the increases on the bad economy and on politicians.
However, according to a new report written by five doctoral students at UC Berkeley, in the years preceding the 2008 financial collapse, members of the Board of Regents themselves had overseen “a qualitative shift in the financial practices of the University of California” by employing the same kinds of exotic financial instruments that precipitated the meltdown on Wall Street — primarily,
In September, 25,000 Members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) stood strong on picket lines and flooded the streets of downtown Chicago in rallies, refusing to return to work until the school district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel came closer to their idea of fair in contract negotiations.
They prevailed. The teachers defeated merit pay, forced the district to hire 600 teachers and took care of laid-off workers. In doing so, they showed that teachers’ unions will not lie down, even as privatization encroaches. The teachers and unions also experienced an outpouring of support from activists and the general public.
How did CTU pull it off? What lessons are there to learn from the victory in Chicago?
A recent forum asked how CTU transformed its union in order to draw lessons for the future from the successful campaign. The forum was documented on video (posted above). Featured speakers are: