Washington D. C., National Press Club, May 17. Press Conference launch of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE).Posted: May 19, 2011
It was a fabulous moment, speaking truth to power. Standing room only; a crowd of reporters and allies bearing witness to an emotionally moving historical event on the anniversary of Brown v Board of Education, the launch of CFHE. FINALLY, grassroots supporters of public higher education had come together nationally, overcoming multiple differences to unite on the singular moral issue of public education as a universal right for all Americans. The dismantling of public education — its current firestorm of privatization in the form of charter schools, vouchers, hostile takeovers of public schools, charter universities and questionable business alliances —foreshadows a Dickensonian America of two classes: the gilded rich who can afford any private university for their children, and the rest of us, a debtor class waiting in long lines for the dregs of whatever the cheapest educational online delivery system may have to offer. The blatant immorality expressed in the current political hypocrisy about improving graduation rates for 21st century economic competitiveness while systematically dismantling the public education system across the country bespeaks ill of both democrats and republicans bought out by ideology, money, and self promotion. As Tom Auxter, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Florida, stated at the press conference, our current politicians — at both the state and federal levels — are driving America into third world status by defunding public education at the very time China and India are spending billions to improve it. The advocacy that endorses the shredding of our social fabric as a common good in order to balance state and federal budgets is fatuous. The truth is there is fiscal largess among the wealthy and our richest corporations. The truth is they choose not to be taxed, and they have the power to prevent it by buying out our legislators through campaign contributions. That is how current state legislators in Wisconsin and elsewhere get away with giving tax breaks to the wealthy while destroying public education. Victor Sanchez, president of the United States Student Association, expressed it eloquently at the press conference: “Year after year the budget has been balanced on our backs. We are being systematically pushed out, priced out of an institution and a future that was promised to us. All we ask of our decision makers is to have the same chance at an education that they did.”
It is time for us to overcome our differences across class, gender, occupation, age, race, religious beliefs and political sectors. We need to move forward as grassroots Americans united around the common good of quality education for every child living in the United States. Our future and our democracy depend upon this moral investment; and its success depends upon each of us taking action now in defense of OUR children.
To view the CFHE press conference go to http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=79613
To join CFHE go to http://futureofhighered.org