The Attack on Community Colleges in California, first, then the nation second: the Lumina Foundation, cyber education and Bill Gates smash and grab higher education.
This is all part of the Obama plan for Race to the Top for post-secondary education. It is based on two prongs:
1. Graduation rates must go from 30% to 60% by 2020;
2. Student performance outcomes (new products from Wall Street from everything from teacher training to testing) and this performance is based on industry needs, not human needs.
This means no more life-long learning, no more community, no more citizenship, no more adult education, a two-tiered admission and tuition program — give students the bum rush through college, no more deviation from the school to work model — this is the agenda of the neo-enclosure movement that looks to take community colleges from communities while leaving vocational education as the mantra.
Meanwhile students, many of them of color, are being excluded from community colleges if they are not ‘deemed serious’ by the administrators who run the well-oiled machine. With no outlets for youth and a culture of cruelty, the criminalization of black and brown youth and swelling prisons bent on excluding more and more students who are not “serious”, we find many students end up incarcerated, homeless, living at home if they have one, on drugs, or just plain dead by suicide.
Financialization will now cannibalize humanity courses, music courses, dance courses, arts programs and the like in favor of what are called STEM students (Science, technology, engineering and medicine). Students are mere commodities in this sordid story.
Access to education is now being pushed back with more and more students left in the streets.
This is what we are doing to our youth. As John Dewey stated years ago:
“We train animals, we educate human beings.”
This is not a right wing conspiracy it is a business plan and it is bipartisan promoted by Obama’s “Kitchen Cabinet”, the Lumina Foundation, formerly the USA Group, part of Sallie Mae.
But there is more and it does not bode well:
The Disaster Resistant California Community Colleges Project: an Orwellian government Cointelpro
Within the California Community college system an Orwellian named, Disaster Resistant California Community Colleges Project has been found to exist. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office through the Disaster Resistant California Community Colleges Project, has worked, they say, to support and advise college administrators and law enforcement on effective protest management practices.
According to their website, among many Project’s many statements are found:
“The political protests that have occurred across the world in the last year present the opportunity to reflect on the California Community Colleges’ role in preserving free speech and academic freedom. The California Community Districts should have processes for controlling demonstrations that must be in compliance with well-established legal principles concerning free speech and assembly. Furthermore, districts have responsibility for public safety and security on their campuses, as well as partnering with other local law enforcement agencies” (http://emergency.cccco.edu/TOOLBOX/ProtestsonCampus/tabid/2083/Default.aspx).
Surely those who run the failing community college system anticipate discontent with any talk of austerity or cuts in classes, budgets, teachers, salaries, destruction of tenure, or any radical restructuring that takes away democratic governing rights. If you visit their site above, you will find that The Disaster Resistant California Community Colleges Project has given two presentations on nonviolent protests in the community college setting (in partnership with the Community College League of California). Used within the workshops were two specific handouts of interest — one entitled Notes on protests on campus; the other “Questions that senior district leadership should consider when writing or revising protest and response to protest policies.” The report dates are June 12, 2012 and not oddly follow on the heels of the pepper spraying incident that occurred on April 3, 2012 at Santa Monica College where multiple people suffered at the hands of police actions. Evidently the Department of Homeland Security is getting saddled up and loaded for upcoming protests.
The handout entitled, “Notes on protests on campus” states in its introduction:
“This information will focus on how your college and district managers can prepare for and respond to a civil action or disorder (as in Occupy Higher Education). Common to all special event planning and emergency preparedness efforts, preplanning is key. In an Occupy-style event, understanding the uniqueness of such an incident, the need to maintain institutional integrity and continuity as well as protect life and property, and the civil rights of the parties involved are crucial to an effective response” (http://emergency.cccco.edu/Portals/3/Occupy%20Movement-info.pdf).
With more and more protests and arrests occurring on community college campuses and many more planned as classes are cut or simply unavailable, students are beginning to organize and make their voices heard. The Boards of Trustees that govern these institutions and the institutional administrators and bureaucrats will now work assiduously to implement more and more austerity cuts; this might be one reason that the Orwellian Disaster Resistant California Community Colleges Project was initiated.
One thing we know with certainty: each of the 112 community college campuses in California campus works directly with the California Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), a California cabinet-level agency responsible for overseeing and coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery and homeland security activities within the state (http://rimsinland.oes.ca.gov/WebPage/oeswebsite.nsf/Content/133E6011D9901DF4882574D300787165?OpenDocument).
The agency was created in 2008 by Assembly Bill 38 (2008) and it supersedes both the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Office of Homeland Security (OHS) which is part and parcel of (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Emergency_Management_Agency). It is basically a state franchise of the Federal Homeland Security Agency and it is now working assiduously to prepare California community college campuses and their administrators and coordinating classes for their bureaucratic job of implementing painful austerity, especially if Governor Brown’s proposition 30 fails to pass. Militarization is part of the plan to implement austerity as these documents show.
Student organizing and campus unrest at community colleges sparked in spring of this year
The rise up of community college students seemed to appear to begin this spring (though they have been building for years) and especially on April 3rd, 2012 when student protesters at California’s, Santa Monica College (SMC) protested against the escalating cost of classes. They were greeted with a torrent of campus police pepper spray as they attempted to enter a public hearing that would decide if the college would adopt a two-tiered system of privatized education or what is commonly referred to as “contract ed” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/us/california-college-drops-plan-for-2-level-course-pricing.html?_r=2). SMC is one of 112 California community colleges.
The SMC Board of Trustee’s plan came on the heels of the defeat of AB 515, a corporate backed state-wide bill setting up a toll booth system that would have implemented the two-tier tuition system statewide. The bill would have also allowed for the creation of an internal governing board within community college districts that could then be authorized to sell college courses based on a students’ ability to pay. The proposed pay-to-play system would have semi-privatized the 112 community colleges.
Alas it failed, to the discontent of many of the radical restructurists seeking to privatize as much of the community college as they can. They now directed their sites on Santa Monica Community College to be used as a Petri dish to implement the toll booth economy now that the AB515 failed (http://truth-out.org/news/item/9383-the-washington-post-pbs-and-the-koch-funded-american-enterprise-institute-vilify-community-colleges).
And so it was that on this sunny April day hundreds of concerned SMC students attempted to comment publicly on a Board of Trustee plan that would have quadrupled the price of classes at the college to around $600 per unit for students willing and able to pay by privatizing portions of the community college such as Extended Education (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/us/california-college-drops-plan-for-2-level-course-pricing.html?_r=2).
As they tried to gain entrance to the room where a legally mandated Board hearing deciding changes to the college’s financial structure would be held, they were pushed towards a single auditorium door by the crowd where dozens of students were then attacked by campus police as they attempted to gain entrance through the door. Even a small child and a congressional candidate were swept up and trounced in the pepper spraying fiasco and thirty people sent to the hospital (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/04/santa-monica-college-protest-pepper-spray.html).
The students who could not enter the room reserved for the public hearing (required under California’s Brown Act), shouted “Let us in, let us in” and “No cuts, no fees, education should be free” as they tried to penetrate the building. They were met with force.
The LA Times, an apologist for the corporate privatizers, falsely wrote that campus police tried to keep protestors “from disrupting the meeting during a public comment period” (ibid). This is outright prevarication. Students were attempting to enter a public hearing when they were pepper sprayed not disrupt a public meeting. This is important for again, under the new guidelines contained within the “Notes on protests on campus”, “disruption” is defined but its interpretation is what is at issue.
The public accommodations necessary to host the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees meeting as provided for under the Brown Act was simply insufficiently large enough to hold the amount of students and citizens wishing to comment on the issue of the educational restructuring plan proposed by the Board of Trustees. By not providing adequate public accommodations for the hearing, the college violated the spirit, intent and body of the law.
The LA Times gets leaked Police Report on pepper spraying: report concludes incompetence in the administration while calling for more militarization
In an interview with the LA Times, College President Chui Tsang told the Times reporters that the small boardroom wasn’t able to accommodate all of the students who wanted to speak and that an adjacent room had been provided for the overflow. He told the reporters at the time:
“We expected some students, but we didn’t expect that big of a crowd with such enthusiasm” (ibid).
The fact is that a recently leaked campus police report obtained by the LA Times on September 7, 2012, stated that campus police had warned President Tang before the meeting that a larger room was needed to accommodate what was expected to be a large crowd for the public hearing and Tang did nothing. So why did Tang lie?
The 60-page report allegedly based on interviews and videos was secretly released to the Los Angeles Times before the public could even review and comment on it came to the conclusion that the student/police confrontation could have been avoided if the administration had heeded police warnings:
“Ultimately, the confrontation would never have occurred if the Police Department’s earlier request for a larger venue through proper channels, in March 2012, had not been denied,” the report concludes (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/07/local/la-me-pepper-spray-report-20120907).
The report paints Tang and his administration as incompetents, shrugging off their own campus police recommendations to acquire a larger room for what could obviously have been anticipated as a huge crowd. SMC has over 20,000 students.
According spokesman Bruce Smith for the college, President Chui L. Tsang won’t comment on the newly released college’s police report and the allegations that Tang and his cohorts were less than truthful back in April.
The militarization of community colleges throughout the nation continues unabated
Stripping students of a liberal arts education, forcing them on job tracks for corporate domination, creating the need for more student debt as students are forced to attend community colleges full time, giving students the bums rush by hurrying their graduation and time in college while forcing them to accept a curriculum that will lead to no-paying jobs or low paying jobs in the failing world of capitalism is being fought out on campuses throughout the nation.
Protests and arrests at Pasadena City College exploded at the end of August (http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_21438179/pcc-trus) (http://articles.pasadenasun.com/2012-08-30/the626now/33504143_1_campus-police-student-trustee-student-activists), http://www.pasadenasun.com/the626now/tn-626-arrests-angry-words-at-pasadena-city-co-001,0,1167042.photo, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/california-community-coll_n_1665108.html
At Los Angeles Harbor College on May 1st, 2012 protests too place (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxtqz30extI). Similar protests in San Diego (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/mar/01/sd-college-students-stage-walkout-to-protest-cuts/) erupted as well as those scheduled at San Francisco City College as this article is being written.
In Massachusetts Holyoke Community College students walked out to protest cuts and autocratic decision-making (http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/local/hampden/hcc-students-walk-out-in-protest).
In Utah students protest to oppose the elimination of classes deemed to be ‘non-esssential’ to the neo-liberal educational scheme http://www.communitycollegejobs.com/news-1668-Salt_Lake_Community_College_students_protest_proposed_elimination_of_schools_popular_cosmetology_program.html and Seattle where no protest zones were errected http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2017852217_protestrules28m.html) to house student protestors. In April the ACLU challenged Seattle community college protest rules (http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/04/aclu-questions-proposed-protest-rules-at-community-colleges/). After legal wrangling, the Seattle Community College District was forced to back away from its restrictive rules (http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2017951583_protestrules11m.html).
However the number of incidents of protest and their similarity shows a continued pattern of growing organization among students, increased militarization among police and colleges, deep restrictions on student and faculty speech, ginned up police presence at campus demonstrations and the capricious and arbitrary use of force and intimidation.
As the so-called philanthropic billionaires, Wall Street and their corporate venture capitalist friends prepare for another shock doctrine to apply, this time they wish to merge what long time Bay area activist and former Oakland teacher called “A Nation at Risk with No Child Left Behind on steroids” for our community colleges. The result will be disgorgement, profit taking, wild speculation and profits for a few while spelling displacement, privatization, financialization, higher costs for colleges, more student debt, the loss of liberal arts and humanities, crushing blows to music and arts departments and the reduction of community college teachers to mere dispensaries and technicians in the classroom – low wage workers on paid contract where once a profession thrived. The death blow to a curriculum for
Increased militarization, like that we have seen in Quebec, Chile, Mexico and elsewhere will be in the cards. The brutality of Pinochet style austerity cannot be accomplished without the use of ruling class force, surveillance, the use of agent provocateurs and other Cointelpro measures. Even now at Santa Monica college there are surveillance cameras covering the campus and lip readers are said to be employed for use (from a classified staff whistleblower) when necessary. On Thursday the 6th of September, the date when the Trustees had their public meeting on the cancellation of winter classes, campus police were perched on the roof tops of campus buildings.
This is why the onerous Disaster Resistant California Community Colleges Project out of California which is little more than an outpost for the Department of Homeland Security is troublesome if not worrisome for it indicates an above board Cointelpro and a preoccupation of the one percent to prevent any changes to their plans to thoroughly restructure and privatize education from K-16 for the purposes of financialization.