Revolutionary Desire

Walk Out, Sit In, Shut Down Tweed!

Posted in Action by deterritorialization on February 2, 2010

City Council member Charles Barron, from a Youtube video including clips of Barron speaking at the January 26 PEP meeting on school closures:

The bottom line is that Joel Klein is not only not qualified to judge any school, he’s not even qualified to teach in a classroom. [. . .] The bottom line is that they’re shutting our schools down so that they can put charter schools in public schools and privatize public education. The bottom line is that we know what it takes to make a school work. [. . .] I’m telling you something. What we need to do after this, just like we got a thousand people in here, let’s shut down Tweed! [. . .] We have to get more militant in this town! We will shut down Tweed! SHUT DOWN TWEED!

Barron, in fact, has been saying “Shut down Tweed!” for months now. When he used the same slogan in December, UFT President Michael Mulgrew applauded. Barron and Mulgrew each have their own agendas: Barron has his post as City Council member and Mulgrew has his relatively new UFT union post. Make no mistake: both of them are bureaucrats, and both serve the interests of the capitalist state through the Democratic Party. Neither of them is serious about a real struggle against the attacks on education, because the capitalist system they defend is not capable of providing for basic human needs, like education, which are fundamentally counter to the profit system.

Both, however, are using fiery language to oppose the impending school closures. The UFT has recently made minor mobilizations to support demonstrations against school closings. If the full might of the teachers’ power was unleashed, the school closings could be stopped. Teachers across the city would have to fight together for this to happen. The UFT has been perfectly happy allowing teachers to wage their battles individually and isolated thus far. We must fight to join these struggles and say loudly: No school closings! A school closing anywhere is an attack on all of us!

Oddly, the International Socialist Organization’s informative article “A revolt against NYC school closures” on the PEP meeting which approved the measures leaves the future of the struggle up in the air:

Bloomberg and Klein may have gotten away with closing the 19 schools on their hit list, but the crowd of opponents made a mockery of their claim to be looking out for the interests of ordinary New Yorkers. The struggle will go on to stop the DOE from strangling our public schools and handing them over to charter operators.

The problem is that Bloomberg and Klein have not gotten away with closing any of the schools yet. The proposed closures are to take place gradually over several years. The doors are not yet shut – and we can still keep them open. Masses of students, teachers and workers can fight to stop all the school closings. Indeed, if “struggle will go on” as the ISO says, we must fight the school closures and other attacks that are proposed now. The ISO article shamefully implies that, while we are prepared to fight other battles, the PEP vote will stand. This cannot be the case.

It is perhaps then no surprise that the ISO does not report Barron’s call to shut down Tweed, focusing instead on the mood and radical spirit of his comments and the discussion as a whole. Even the title of the article is misleading; the meeting was certainly a protest, indeed a raucous one, but it was not yet a revolt. We must not forget that the PEP, despite the loudness of the crowd, still controlled the microphones and enforced the 2-minute rule, and in the end still voted for all the closures. To add insult to injury, they continued the meeting until past 3:30AM in order to demoralize and tire us. The people in that room had the power to shut down the meeting, perhaps even to turn it into an ad-hoc organizing meeting for militant actions against the cuts. This did not happen; there is not yet a revolt, but there can and must be. We must continue to fight the school closings that the PEP has approved!

Walk out, sit in, shut down Tweed!

Occupy a closing school to use as a general assembly to organize and escalate the struggle!

Spread the call to use March 4th to build a general strike – stop the closures, cuts, attacks!

Students and workers, shut the city down!

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