University Protests Around The World: Fighting Commercialisation

‘Graduate students should be guaranteed a minimum amount of funding that sits above the poverty line.’ Photograph: Lennart Maschmeyer

Students at University of the Arts, London, took over their university’s reception area last Thursday to protest against proposed cuts to some of its course programmes. This makes UAL one of the latest institutions around the world to be hit by occupations and strikes by staff and students. The causes of such protests vary: some are concerned about working conditions facing graduate students, others point to a lack of transparency about how universities are run. A key issue is the commercialisation of higher education, which many feel has led university leaders to prioritise financial goals over the needs of staff and students. We speak to academics and students in Canada, the Netherlands and the UK to find out why they’re taking a stand.

Feminist Heroes To Teach Kids Their ABCs In New Picturebook

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Why just learn your ABCs when you can be empowered by them? A new illustrated children’s book from iconic City Lights press, Rad American Women A-Z, offers kids the chance to educate themselves on women’s history and the alphabet at the same time. Written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, the book was inspired by Schatz’s two-year-old daughter. As the writer told Mic, the book was created to fill the “feminist-shaped hole in children’s literature,” and goes from A (for Angela Davis) to Z (Zora Neale Hurston). Rad American Women A-Z strays from both traditional children’s and history books in more ways than one, featuring an equal proportion of women of color, as well as several members of the LGBT community.

Artist Creates Tank That Gives Away Free Books

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Imagine walking down the street and being confronted by a massive war tank… fully loaded with a library full of books. It’s knowledge being given away in the most inventive way possible, and it’s all thanks to eccentric Brazilian artist, Raul Lemesoff. His mission? To “battle ignorance and spread knowledge.” The “Weapon Of Mass Instruction” (Arma de Instruccion Masiva) was created by converting a 1979 Ford Flacom into a bizarre tank-like vehicle complete with a swiveling turret, a non-functioning gun, and space to store about 900 books – inside and outside of the vehicle. Featured MyModernMet, it sure is one of the best uses of a war-like machine we’ve ever seen. Lemesoff drives though the streets of Buenos Aires and delivers books to young and old alike. His only demand? That they promise to read what he’s given them.

Father Protects Daughter From Toxic Testing

About 20 percent of students at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences opted out of standardized testing. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

I’ll admit it – I was scared. I’m a nationally board certified teacher with a masters degree in education. I’ve taught public school for over a dozen years. But I’ve only been a daddy for half that time. Would making this call get my little girl in trouble? I didn’t want to rock the boat. I didn’t want my daughter to suffer because her old man is making a fuss. I didn’t want her teachers and principal giving her a hard time because of something I did. But I couldn’t deny what I know. Standardized testing is destroying public education.

The Education Crisis In Detroit


Detroit Schools Under Seige: The Canary in the Coal Mine Detroit School Board in Exile: For most of the past 15 years, Detroit public schools have been taken over by so-called Emergency Managers appointed by the governor. The elected school board, although in exile and rendered impotent, continues to fight the privatization of public schools. When schools were first taken over, they enjoyed a large surplus plus a bond and students tested at mid-range for the state of Michigan. Since the take over, Detroit schools are deeply in debt and students scores are the lowest in the nation. But, the pockets of contractors paid by the Emergency Managers bulge. This month, the School Board in Exile is taking their case to the Department of Justice.

Detroit Resistance To Neo-Liberal Assault

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In March, 2013, Detroit was placed under the control of an appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, despite protests from local residents. Facing a severe financial crisis, the city later filed Chapter 9 Bankruptcy. Several years prior to the emergency manager for the city, the Governor replaced the school board with an appointed manager, Robert Bob, who made cuts to the budget and closed schools. The Detroit public school board members continue to meet ‘in exile’ and protest these school cuts. We’ll speak with Lamar Lemmons, a past president and current member of the school board in exile. We’ll also speak with Miss Beulah Walker, an amazing volunteer who works with the Detroit Water Brigade bringing water to those who have had their water turned off and helping to pay their bills. Miss Beulah also volunteers helping homeless people in Detroit.

Testing Public Education To Death In New York

About 20 percent of students at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences opted out of standardized testing. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

When discussing how to improve public education, Governor Andrew Cuomo likes to complain about how difficult it is to fire “bad teachers” and the need to reduce job security for classroom educators. He is not alone in this. The Partnership for Educational Justice, a well-funded nonprofit fronted by former CNN host Campbell Brown, is pursuing a lawsuit in a Staten Island court that seeks to scrap teacher tenure protections. Both New York City tabloids, meanwhile, never miss a chance to promote a lurid teacher sex scandal and then denounce the teachers union for protecting the right of the accused to a fair hearing. But what if the real teaching crisis in New York is not the inability to get rid of bad teachers, but the failure to keep experienced and highly capable teachers and allow them to do their jobs?

LSE Students Stage Occupation In Protest At ‘Profit-Driven Education’

Students called for the LSE to lobby the government to scrap tuition fees for all students and end zero-hour contracts for university staff. Photograph: Mark Kerrison/Demotix/Corbis

Students at the London School of Economics have occupied a central administration room at the university in protest at what they call the marketisation of higher education. The group of about 40 students used bicycle locks to barricade themselves in the Vera Anstey Suite of LSE on Tuesday night and have remained there since. Organisers say the occupation they call the “Free University of London” aims to create an “open, creative and liberated space, where all are free to participate in the imagining of a new directly democratic, non-heirarchical and universally accessible education”.

The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves

White sugar slaves in the fields of the Barbados.

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children. Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives. We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught In Schools

The Irish Famine, 1850 by George Frederic Watts.

“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing. Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present. Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. Let’s make sure that our schools show some respect, by studying the social forces that starved and uprooted over a million Irish—and that are starving and uprooting people today.

Student Test Corporation Spies On Students' Social Media


Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company, is spying on the social media posts of students–including those from New Jersey–while the children are taking their PARCC, statewide tests, this site has learned exclusively. The state education department is cooperating with this spying and has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the tests. This website discovered the unauthorized and hidden spying thanks to educators who informed it of the practice–a practice happening throughout the state and apparently throughout the country. The spying–or “monitoring,” to use Pearson’s word–was confirmed at one school district–the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren by its superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett.

Day 2: Hundreds Of Students Protest Against PARCC Exam

Students protesting the PARCC tests march in the South Valley on Tuesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Hundreds of students in Albuquerque walked out of school for the second day in a row to protest a controversial new test. About 200 students protesting the PARCC exam walked westbound on Arenal from Rio Grande High School towards Coors Boulevard. The group planned to walk northbound on Coors to meet up with students from West Mesa High School. Rio Grande students said that students from Atrisco Heritage Academy and South Valley Academy were also marching in the group. Albuquerque Public Schools board member Steven Michael Quezada spoke to student protesters after they arrived at West Mesa. Quezada told students he shares their frustration over the PARCC exam, but leaving school was neither safe nor smart. “I basically told them that they had the right to protest. But I can’t condone you leaving campus or storming a school,” Quezada said. Quezada also told students if someone was injured on a trek to another school “that’s the news story and it’s not about your fight.”

Adjuncts Deem Nat’l Day Of Action A Success

Protest at Seattle University. Photo by SEIU

It started as a simple question on social media: What would happen if adjuncts across the country walked out on the same day, at the same time? That question got answered Wednesday — sort of — on the first-ever National Adjunct Walkout Day. There were some big walkouts at a few institutions but, for a variety of reasons, adjuncts at many more colleges and universities staged alternative protests, such as teach-ins, rallies and talks. Still, the movement led to unprecedented levels of conversation on many campuses, in the media and elsewhere about the working conditions of the majority of college faculty (those off the tenure track). And as a result, adjunct activists declared the day a success — while wondering what comes next.

Ferguson Spring Break For College Student Direct Action

Protesters hold up a sign outside the Ferguson, Missouri, police department in January. An alternative spring break is scheduled to run for five week-long sessions in March and April. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP

College students are being urged to scrap plans for beer bongs on sunny beaches, in favour of a serious-minded spring break in Ferguson, the Missouri town that was roiled by protests and unrest following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old. Six months after the death of Michael Brown, activist leaders in the St Louis suburb are looking to sign up 250 young people for a grittier week of “community service and civic engagement” including registering new voters, running food banks and cleaning up streets. “Maybe there were some people who had planned to go down to Miami or Acapulco, and now see that there is something bigger,” said Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman for the town and a co-founder of the Ferguson alternative spring break programme. Bynes said the week would not simply be a continuation of the protests that spread from the region in August to New York, California and elsewhere around the US.

Government Shuts Schools In Togo After Student Protests

Thousands demonstrate in the streets of Lome on December 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Emile Kouton)

Togo on Tuesday temporarily shut all schools in the country, with the exception of universities, after a protest by students over repeated strikes by teachers, the government said. Students poured onto the streets of the capital, Lome, calling for the resumption of classes and urging the authorities to meet the demands of educators. The government said it had decided to impose the temporary shut-down as the demonstrations were “capable of endangering the security and lives of pupils, their teachers and the population”. The closure affects all schools in both the state and private sector with immediate effect “until further notice”, it added in a statement. Services in education and health in the west African nation have been hit recently by walk-outs by labour unions demanding a salary raise for about 50,000 public sector workers.