We are in an unprecedented situation. We now have a President, whom our union uncritically supports, who has carried out the most thoroughgoing and racist attack against public education in over 100 years while doing what no other President has dared to do, viciously and relentlessly attack our union and the most important gains we’ve made since our founding. All of the policies carried out by Education Secretary Arne Duncan have only exacerbated the inequalities in educational opportunity and outcomes based on race and class. His ideological war against public school teachers and the public school system has failed at winning any popular support. The public schools are still regarded as a treasured achievement.
The NEA Must Defend Public Education!
So why has the attack been allowed to go forward? The answer is simple. Our union leadership believes that our union’s only hope lies in our ability to suck-up to the powers that be. The union leadership assume this long period of labor quiescence that they have created, established beyond a doubt that the unions and the other movements and organizations of the oppressed are too weak to win. They confuse their loyalty and desperate subservience to the Democrats with a clever strategy that will somehow, someday restore the American middle class. Van Roekel and company believe it is an honor to be the tip of the tail of the Democratic Party. They believe this is the only prudent strategy for our union to follow, and they are wrong on every count.
Act Like a Union! Take Strike Action and Actions in the Streets!
EON/BAMN believes the exact opposite. We believe that our union is strong. We believe that the rich and powerful are not the only force that can make and change history. The years of supplication have achieved nothing. Despite all the mass layoffs, blows to seniority and tenure and attacks on academic freedom we have had to weather, our union remains the strongest force in the battle to defend public education. If we stop carrying-out the losing policy of relying solely on electoral politics and unquestioningly handing over tens of millions of dollars to the Democrats, we can be powerful enough to reverse the losses we have suffered.
But we must act. We must be bold. And we must stop avoiding using the most powerful weapons we have in our arsenal, the ability to strike and to call mass actions in the street. A call by our union leadership for mass mobilizations would moralize hundreds of thousands of teachers, our students, the Latina/o, black and immigrant communities that are chafing under the new Jim Crow, and all of those who are tired of being “disappointed” by the failures of the Democrats and are just itching for a fight. If you elect EON/BAMN we pledge to turn our union back into a union and to give every teacher who cannot stand what is happening to us and public education the opportunity to assert our power, restore our dignity, and finally fight to win.
Arne Duncan Out Now!
EON/BAMN candidates Mark Airgood, Tania Kappner, and Ceresta Smith pledge to tell the truth. Four years of Arne Duncan trying to create a parallel, stratified non-union system of charter schools counter-posed to public education have failed to achieve anything but the denial of public education to millions of black, Latina/o and immigrant students. Race to the Top has been an abject failure by any measure, and is transparently aimed at demoralizing teachers, and destroying union gains. We pledge to do everything in our power to get rid of Arne Duncan. We will not let President Obama confuse our endorsement of him with a vow of silence. Peace in the family, as advocated by President Van Roekel and the current leadership, simply translates into acceptance of abuse. We will fight to get our union to put demands on the Democrats and make clear we have an independent agenda that we are fighting for which we will not subordinate to any misguided electoral strategy.
No New Jim Crow! Build the New Civil Rights Movement!
There is a new movement fighting for public education on campuses and in communities across the nation. EON/BAMN has led student struggles to defend higher education on campuses and across the country. We have championed and helped organize the Latina/o and immigrant communities’ fight for the DREAM Act, a pathway to citizenship, and equality. We teach students in predominantly black and Latina/o schools and have had the pleasure and honor of striking, walking out, and occupying with them in cities across the country. We have prevented the firing of pro-student and anti-racist teachers and even principals and led successful campaigns to save art and music programs and to stop school closings.
The issues that are driving people out of teaching – overcrowded classes, bad pay, job insecurity, academic freedom vs. being forced to teach to the test, pensions and benefits – are all subject to bargaining. We can stop the implementation of these attacks through aggressive contract fights. We need a national leadership and leaderships in our local organizations across the country that are prepared to call and lead strikes to victory. If we do so, students and the community will support us. Hundreds of thousands will embrace the chance to join us.
Martin Luther King’s old civil rights movement always acted independently of the Democrats, repeatedly defying the pleas of President Kennedy and Johnson to stop fighting, and because it did so, the Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party was initially weakened, then forced to renounce its own positions, and finally driven out of the Party. We need this kind of fightback again now or the policies of the current Administration and the Democratic Party at every level of government will continue unchanged. The attacks will continue despite their deep unpopularity. Public education will be subject to further attack and the New Jim Crow will deepen for black and Latina/o students and communities. Our union and our members will be subject to an ongoing offensive by the politicians and billionaires.
Join the EON/BAMN Caucus!
If we exert the power of the mass union and civil rights movement, we avoid this absolutely unnecessary road and open a path of hope for our students; we win better contracts and conditions for our members, and strengthen the NEA and entire labor movement. The EON/BAMN caucus is committed to building on this perspective. Mark Airgood, Tania Kappner, and Ceresta Smith are committed to being leaders who refuse to bow to the rich and powerful.
Equal Opportunity Now/Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)
(510) 717-6365 07/01/2012
BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.