NEW YORK CITY — In 2001, New York State Supreme Court Justice Leland DeGrasse ruled that New York State was in violation of its own Constitution which guarantees every child the right to a “sound, basic education.” Since then, education activists, teachers and parents have been fighting — in the courts and in the court of public opinion — to remedy the gross inequities in public school funding.
On Oct. 29, the rightist lame duck president of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quezada, sent in 4,000 Federal Protective Police armed with tanks, helicopters, water cannons and high powered rifles to clear the southern city of Oaxaca (population about 275,000) of the protesters who have held it since May.
The Communist Party of China has just ended its annual central committee meeting, vowing to rebuild and renew its public health system and other social safety nets. It also emphasized efforts to improve education and raise the living standards for workers while narrowing the income gap between city and countryside
Is Andy Stern right that class struggle trade unionism is outdated and a leftover from the heyday of industrial unionism? Is he right that corporate globalization is inevitable and all that unions can do is go along to get along? I think not.
What has changed in our schools? Well the toilet paper dispensers at the special education headquarters in Brooklyn, have changed — three times in one school year — while the city closed down 800 seats for the most needy in public education. Go figure!
May 1, a day of worker celebration, began in the United States around the struggle for the eight-hour day. Now it is honored across the world, but largely ignored in the United States. How fitting then that this year, immigrant workers from across the world have revived the day, marching to defend their dignity — and energizing an entire movement for social justice.
In response to a comment about the beauty of Colombia, 7-year-old Daniela said, “Yes, but it is so violent.” Daniela should know. She has seen the violence up close. Her father, a left-wing city council member, was murdered by right-wing paramilitaries when he answered the door to their home one day.
Equality has become an unmentionable word in Congress. It doesn’t come even once in the 300-page omnibus immigration bill introduced last week by Senator Arlen Specter, nor in any of the others Congress is considering. They all deny equality to millions of people. In the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Specter chairs, no one even dares to advocate it.
Commentary New Mexico has just gone through two major campaigns to enact a higher minimum wage law. One was a ballot referendum in Albuquerque in November 2005. The other was to pass a bill in the recent session of the State Legislature to cover the whole state. Both efforts were defeated.
This is a sad time in the mining community, with so many recent tragedies. But it’s not enough to mourn. We also have to act.