Campus Free Speech proves with its new report, Facts Still Count, that David Horowitz's recent books are not honest in their criticisms of campuses and faculty. The Center for Campus Free Speech is affiliated with the Democratizing Education Network, and a great source of information regarding important academic freedom and campus free speech issues.
As part of the Free Exchange on Campus Coalition, Campus Free Speech has just released a new report: Facts Still Count.
The Center for Campus Free Speech releases there Guide to Student Activity Fees - a primer on the legal issues involved in creating and managing a student activity fee system.
Student fee systems are used by students across the country to provide the resources for a wide variety of out-of-classroom activities.
Students fund everything from service organizations to advocacy to educational forums and guest speakers. They debate and learn about critical issues like multiculturalism, the environment, education policy, conflicts in the Middle East and religion. They learn new skills and create change on major problems the world faces.
Student activity fees give involved students the resources to create a vibrant marketplace of ideas on campus.
This report, by John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, updates an earlier report from January of 2007, which found a steep rise in illegal firings of pro-union workers in the 2000s relative to the last half of the 1990s. It updates the index of the probability that a pro-union worker will be fired in the course of a union election campaign, using published data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It also takes into consideration the increase in card-check organizing campaigns that began in the mid-1990s and adjusts the index for this factor.
"Democratizing Our Universities to Confront Climate Change" was a workshop held at PowerShift 2009, in Washington, DC. The speakers are Ben Manski of Liberty Tree and Meaghan Linick-Loughley and Atlee McFellin of New School University.
Location: Barcelona, Spain Presented at the International Seminar on Participatory Democracy "Participatory Democracy. Political Actors and Social Movements" AbstractDiagnosing Democratic Collapse The U.S. political system suffers from a potentially fatal condition, a malady that can be diagnosed as "Democratic Collapse." The causes of this collapse are known: First, the consolidation of corporate control of the establishment political parties. Second, the sacrilegious enshrinement of corporations as persons under law, entitled to constitutional protections against citizens and governments.
Ben Manski is a Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution in its Local Democracy and Democratizing Education program areas. He served as Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States from 2001 through 2004, and was active in the U.S. student, labor, peace, and environmental movements throughout the 1990s. Ben has a degree in law from the University of Wisconsin, and has written on the corporatization of higher education in the United States.
An organizing guide for students, faculty, staff, and community members interested in promoting democracy in higher education, and a higher education system in service to a democratic, inclusive, society.
Evan Thornton at the Democratizing Education Convention, Madison, Wisconsin
To place the Canadian student movement in context, I want to start with a brief overview of the national affiliations on a typical Canadian campus, which I hope will help give an idea of the significant difference in the nature of the challenge faced by Canadian student organizers compared to their U.S. counterparts.
Faculty and Academic Staff:
Starting with teaching staff, the campus will typically have unionized Faculty Association that are affiliated nationally with the Canadian Association of University Teachers CAUT which represents 48,000 teachers, librarians, researchers and other academic professionals. In its own words CAUT is:
Evan Thornton is an associate of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, and director of University Watch. Thornton has three decades of experience in campus organizing, first as a student union organizer, then with labour, and most recently as director and editor of University Watch.
Uwatch.ca is an independently incorporated, non-profit donor-financed organisation largely run by volunteers committed to the vision that universities ought to be transparent institutions serving in the public interest. It is also intended as an umbrella organisation linking various stakeholders, including interested private citizens, community groups, students, student governments, agencies, think tanks, and so on.
Published in TNI's "Beyond the Market: The Future of Public Services" In January, 2006, Liberty Tree's Ben Manski and Patrick Barrett travelled to the Social Forum of the Americas in Caracas, Venezuela, where they made presentations on the state of the democracy movement in the United States. Ben Manski also participated in the international release of a new yearbook on public services, to which he and John Peck were contributors. Read their survey of corporatization in the United States, together with their analysis of what can be done about it, below.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed as yet uncounted lives, communities, and ecosystems. The hurricane also destroyed popular visions of the US state, sweeping away the last vestiges of federal paternalism, revealing the costs of corporatization in its wake. Years of budget cuts, cronyism, and corporatization rendered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incompetent to manage this greatest of national emergencies.
This report was drafted by Mishy Leiblum and Jed Murr, retreat participants from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Photos by Ben Manski. The retreat was a project of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution's Democratizing Education Program.
Higher Education: Public Good or Global Service Industry?
While higher education was considered a public good and an essential instrument of democratization, upward mobility, and equal opportunity for much of the last century, today it is considered by many to be a lucrative business − indeed, the core business of the “new” service economy.
Major corporations see global “trade in educational services” – “transnational” or “borderless” education – as a lucrative business opportunity. While currently estimated to be a $40-$50 billion industry, the potential for increased profitability in a “global market” of higher education services is significant. For-profit educational providers and investors see the World Trade Organization (WTO) as an essential tool to dismantle “barriers to trade” in educational services and maximize their profit-making opportunities on a global scale.
However, what one party might consider to be a “barrier to trade,” another might consider a treasured educational policy. For instance, state licensing procedures that attempt to weed out fly-by-night operations might be considered sound policy domestically, but might be considered overly burdensome “trade barriers” by foreign educational providers attempting to enter the U.S. market. To create an effective “global market” in higher education services requires the dismantling of many such domestic educational policies.
Thus, at the behest of U.S. for-profit higher education providers, the Bush administration has proposed signing up the U.S. higher education sector to the free trade rules contained in the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), a global pact geared towards deregulating service sectors to the advantage of multinational firms. The GATS contains many rules which would jeopardize the following: educational subsidies for public institutions; state licensing practices for higher education institutions; U.S. accreditation practices; wages and working conditions for U.S. educators; and more.
For the most part, public and nonprofit institutions of higher education have been unaware that this march is afoot and are dangerously disengaged. They must weigh in on these matters before global trade rules are finalized in any potential new rounds of negotiations, and their profession is transformed from a “public good” to a commodity in a “global services market.”
What Higher Education Policies are at Risk?
Domestic educational subsidies: The GATS “nondiscrimination” obligation means that public sector funding would have to be shared on an equal basis between foreign institutions and domestic institutions unless public funds are specifically exempted from the terms of the agreement. The United States has attempted to safeguard certain domestic subsidies in broadly worded exemption to its higher education proposal. It is unclear if this language is sufficient to protect subsidies for public and nonprofit institutions.
U.S. accreditation policies: Unlike many other countries interested in the higher education sector, the United States is making virtually unlimited commitments in cross-border educational services. This means U.S. accrediting bodies could be inundated with requests to accredit overseas distance-learning operations. Refusals to accredit or delays in accreditation could give rise to a trade complaint, as language purporting to protect accreditation jurisdiction is only included in a footnote, of dubious legal consequence, to the U.S. schedule.
State licensing requirements: State licensing of higher education institutions is based on a large number of factors including standards to ensure financial stability and quality of educational providers; appropriate curricula; faculty qualifications; appropriate library resources and physical plant; needs tests to weed out duplicative programming; and other matters. Under new “disciplines on domestic regulation” being proposed as part of these talks, individual policies pursued by states as well as state-by-state variation in policies could be challenged in WTO tribunals as “more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of a service.”
Efforts to police fraudulent operations: While “borderless higher education” presents new profit-making opportunities for for-profit providers, the challenges presented to regulators are extreme. At the top of the list are concerns about fraud. While policing fraudulent institutions is difficult enough domestically, it is even more difficult across borders or in the online world. Many of the policies that U.S. states maintain or may want to pursue to protect students from scam artists could be considered violations of GATS rules.
Wages and working conditions for educators: The implications of the GATS for educators are also worrisome. New technology combined with unfettered cross-border supply of educational services is likely to generate further downward pressure on wages for educators. GATS negotiations also include proposals to increase the number of educators allowed into the United States on a temporary basis to provide teaching services and proposals to harmonize qualification requirements across borders.
What happens if higher education is subject to WTO jurisdiction?
• Other nations that are party to the GATS are empowered to challenge a nonconforming federal and state policy as a violation of the agreement in a binding dispute resolution system.
• State government officials have no standing before these tribunals and thus must rely on the federal government to defend a policy.
• The tribunals are staffed by trade officials who are empowered to judge, behind closed doors, if the policy is a violation.
• Policies judged to violate the rules must be changed, or trade sanctions can be imposed.
• The federal government is obliged to use all constitutionally available powers – for instance, preemptive legislation, lawsuits and cutting off funding – to force state and local government compliance with trade tribunal rulings.
A talk by Carl Davidson, who was Vice President and National Secretary of the Students for a Democratic Society from 1968 to 1976. He is currently national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and a national board member of Solidarity Economy Network.
Carl Davidson’s talk will be introduced by Matt Rothschild, editor of the Progressive Magazine
At issue is the right of campus workers to organize a labor union. Graduate workers at New York University (NYU) are entering their second month on strike. NYU management refuses to recognize, much less negotiate with, the union - the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC).
Where do the movement to abolish corporate personhood, the Wisconsin protest wave, global resistance to austerity, and the voting rights, election integrity, anti-war, and campus democracy movements come together? Beneath the branches of Liberty Tree, committed to "building a democracy movement for the U.S.A." since 2004.
Bringing the inspiration of the Wisconsin protest wave -- from the occupation of the state's capitol to the recent national Democracy Convention in Madison -- to the planned October 2011 occupation of Freedom Plaza in D.C.:
Around the world students, pupils, teachers, parents and employees have been protesting against the increasing commercialisation and privatisation of public education, and fighting for free and emancipatory education in the past decade.
This year will see people unify this struggle on the international and global level for the "Global Wave of Action for Education."
The following aims unite us worldwide:
What are we struggling against?
* The effects of the current economic system on people and education systems:
→ tuition fees or any form of fees which exclude people from accessing and equally participating in education
→ student debt
→ public education aligned to serve the (labour) market;
► The so called Bologna-Process (as with its counterparts around the world) is aimed at implementing education systems that primarily train people in skills serving the labour market. It promotes the reduction of costs for training a person, shortens the length of time spent studying, and produces underqualified workforces.
→ turning education into a commodity (like all other aspects of life)
→ (increasing) influence of business interests on basic budgets for public education
→ (increasing) budget cuts on public education worldwide
→ the "privatisation" of public funds with the subsidisation of private educational institutions
→ the commodification and exploitation of labor within educational institutions
* We stand against the discrimination and exclusion within any educational institution based on:
→ socio-economic background (education systems are currently set up so that people with less money can't participate equally)
→ political ideologies and activities
→ sexual orientation
→ ethnic background
→ skin colour
* We stand against the prioritisation of research towards commercially valuable patents rather than open knowledge freely available to all!
→ Public educational institutions are increasingly forced to compete for private sponsorships to do (basic) research; at the same time private funds have the tendency to be invested into research promising to be profitable (- leading to a decline in funding for areas of research which may be important but not deemed economically lucrative). On the basis of profitability, educational institutions and participants are deemed 'excellent' and often fulfill the criteria to receive additional public funding.
* We stand against the prioritisation of income-generating research grants ahead of education and basic research
* Activities for the army within educational institutions:
→ no research specifically for military purposes
→ no recruiting and advertising activities for the army
What are we struggling for?
→ free and emancipatory education as a human right: education should primarily serve the individual's interest to be emancipated, that means: to be enabled to critically reflect and understand the power structures and environment surrounding him-/herself; education must not only enable the emancipation of the individual but society as a whole
→ education as a public good serving public interests
→ academic freedom and choice: freedom to pursue any educational discipline
→ free from monetary mechanisms of payment by participants and any kind of discrimination and exclusion and therefore freely accessible to all individuals
→ sufficient funding of all public educational institutions, no matter if deemed profitable or not
→ all educational entities/institutions should be democratically structured (direct participation from below as a basis for decision making processes)
Why on the local and global level?
The impacts of the current global economic system create struggles worldwide. While applying local pressure to influence our individual local/regional politics and legislation, we must always be aware of the global and structural nature of our problems and share our tactics, experiences in organizations, and theoretical knowledge to learn from each other. Short-term changes may be achieved on the local level, but great change will only happen if we unite globally.
Education systems worldwide do what they are intended to do within the economic and state system(s): select, train and create ignorance and submission. We unite for a different education system and a different life.
We, the undersigned students, faculty, staff, parents, and concerned citizens worldwide stand united across all divisions of nationality, race, religion and field of studies to declare our support for the aims and objectives of the "Education is NOT for - Global Week of Action" called for by the independent "International Student Movement".
We are united in working to ensure that:
Public education is accessible to all and recognized as a fundamental right; NO to tuition fees!
Public education is free from exploitative corporate practices and state interests which conflict with those of the individual and the public interest.
Public education primarily serves democratic and public interests, instead of private, business, state and/or labour market interests.
Public education empowers individuals to become emancipated and autonomous people, able to critically evaluate themselves and their environment, and thus be actively involved in a genuinely democratic society.
If we are to have such a society we need general public discussions on the role of public education systems: Whose interests do they - and should they - primarily serve?
Who buys elections? Who bribes politicians? Who writes the anti-worker and anti-environment laws? First and foremost, the answer is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its state affiliate, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC).
Join Dennis Kucinich, the fighting progressive from Ohio, former mayor of Cleveland, seven term congressman, and twice presidential candidate. as he joins us in launching a national campaign to "Shut the Chamber!"
The Hunger Strike is over - Miami administrators have agreed to bargain with the union!
Students at the University of Miami are hunger striking to demand that Miami President, and former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala honor the right of campus janitors to form a union. This hunger strike is ongoing and follows on the heels of a two-week hunger strike by janitors at the university. They need your support.
It's been a month of student and student labor sit-ins, ranging from Virginia to the Florida State Capitol to Berkeley. Students have also won a series of victories in their struggle to create a national anti-sweatshop Designated Supplier Program. And students have joined together with faculty, staff, and community members in a series of Tent State Universities (read below).