Students, community members discuss cuts to public education at teach-in

About 80 students and community members throughout the East Bay met at Berkeley City College Saturday morning to discuss the ongoing cuts that have affected the public sector and inspired the Occupy Movement.

The teach-in, which was sponsored by Against Cuts — a group that educates communities about budget cuts — and the college’s global studies club, featured presenters from several local organizations who talked about their efforts to combat cuts to areas of the public sector like education and transit and upcoming events to raise awareness and support.

The event began with a powerpoint presentation delivered by Berkeley City College English professor Marc Lispi, who talked about the increasing trend of disproportionate taxation between the corporations and the rest of society that continues to go unaddressed by the state and federal governments.

“This is nothing more than a strategy to transfer wealth from one section of the population to another,” Lispi said. “The 1 percent have never been wealthier.”

According to the powerpoint, “The Budget Cuts and Where the Money Is,” tuition for California State University students has increased by 290 percent since 2009, while the UC system has seen an increase of 330 percent. Around $3.1 billion in funding has also been cut from community colleges in California since 2002, causing hundreds of thousands of students to be turned away.

Kristy Morrison, organizer for Against Cuts, said the teach-in’s goal was to raise awareness about what is happening to the public sector and to encourage more people to find ways to “fight back on behalf of the 99 percent.”

“Imagine that 20 people are involved now. After today we want 120,” Morrison said. “We want as many people involved as possible.”

Representatives from other local movements such as the nurses strike at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Hospital, Oakland Streets United and California State University organizers working to combat budget cuts also spoke at the teach-in.

Jevon Cochran came to represent the Public Education Coalition, which is actively organizing against increased tuition and budget cuts to public education. Cochran encouraged attendants to take part in Occupy Cal on Nov. 9 and in demonstrating at the UC Regents’ meeting Nov. 16.

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  • How many of you oh-so-concerned students, faculty, and so-called “community members” are willing to address the ever-expanding bureaucracy that wastes money on crap like this?

    UC Berkeley’s new vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, Gibor Basri, has 17 people working for him in his immediate office, including a “chief of staff,” two “project/policy analysts,” and a “director of special projects.” Says Mac Donald: “The funding propping up Basri’s vast office could support many an English or history professor. According to state databases, Basri’s base pay in 2009 was $194,000, which does not include a variety of possible add-ons, including summer salary and administrative stipends. By comparison, the official salary for assistant professors at UC starts at around $53,000 ….

    In 2010, Berkeley announced the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, funded in part by a $16 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The “new” initiative duplicates existing “equity” projects, not least the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative, established by Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau in 2006. This latest initiative boasts five new faculty chairs in “diversity-related research”—one of which will be “focused on equity rights affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” according to the press release, and “will be one of the first endowed chairs on this subject in the United States.” (Sorry, Berkeley, Yale got there first.)

    FWIW, Cal’s not the only screwed-up campus in the UC system:

    UC San Diego is adding diversity fat even as it snuffs out substantive academic programs. In March, the Academic Senate decided that the school would no longer offer a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering; it also eliminated a master’s program in comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.” Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. More pressing is guaranteeing that students graduate from UCSD having fully explored their “identity.”…

    Get a clue, kiddies. These peddlers of Politically Correct nonsense are killing the UC system…

  • What never ceases to amaze me is how the silly little liberals, cloistered in their little world far removed from reality, have no clue as to the consequences of the same policies  they continue to support without question.  Tuition and health care for illegal aliens, welfare payments for people who have neither bothered to learn marketable skills nor look for work, and Affirmative Action programs so people who can’t make it to college on their own merits can major in “multicultural studies” and other worthless degree programs may all sound like great ideas to the touchie-feelie hand-holding Kumbaya-singing crowd, but those programs are competing for the same taxpayer dollars that these naive goo-goos are counting on for their own college education. Raising taxes on the so-called “rich” doesn’t work either because it’s INCOME, not wealth that is taxed. Wealthiest people are the most mobile, and for people with means it’s not a big deal to buy a house in Nevada, live there at least 6 months out of the year, and declare yourself a “nonresident” for California state income tax purposes. These children need to get a clue that their silly little protests, teach-ins, and “days of action” mean NOTHING in the real world. Time to deal with reality, accept that the money supply is finite, and prioritize accordingly…