Last spring, The Nation launched its biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts ten first-person updates on student and youth organizing in the United States—from established student unions, to emerging national networks, to ad hoc campaigns that don’t yet have a name. For an archive of earlier editions, check out the New Year’s dispatch.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, tips or proposals. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).
1. As Strike Waters Heat Up, Portland Students Walk Out
In early January, the Portland Student Union held three days of action in support of the Portland Association of Teachers in its current contract negotiations. Jefferson and Wilson High School students walked out, while Cleveland High School student union members held three days of speakouts. Overall, more than 300 students participated in the days of action. On January 13, the demonstrations culminated in a school board rally with 500 students, parents and workers. At the board meeting, the PDXSU presented “The Schools Portland Students Demand,” a set of priorities that students see as vital to their education.
—Portland Student Union
2. After Months of Student Pressure, Obama Acts on Title IX
Ed Act Now, the movement for better federal enforcement of Title IX, was thrilled by President Obama’s January 22 announcement of a new task force to combat campus sexual violence. After garnering public support through a protest and online petition, student organizers met with White House officials in July to discuss their ideas. Ed Act Now is encouraged to see many of its proposals—including stricter enforcement of existing laws and greater federal transparency—included in a public memo outlining the task force’s plans. Activists are now working to ensure that the task force calls on a diversity of survivor voices—crossing lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, type of educational institution and form of violence suffered—to inform the White House’s investigations.
—Ed Act Now
3. At Central High, Corbett Runs Away From Students
On January 17, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was scheduled to visit Central High School to award students for academic achievement, but turned tail in the face of protests. From the very beginning, we understood that his visit was not an attempt to reward students but to use us to advance his political agenda. We were told that he did not plan to take questions and would be facing the camera with his back toward us—turning our group into a multiracial backdrop of smiling faces to prop up his re-election campaign. After a long week of organizing, students came to Central early to protest Corbett’s visit in the cold weather. Our message was simple: too little, too late. Since then, we have heard no apology or acknowledgement of wrongdoing—only claims of leaving “out of respect to the students” and “adult theatrics.”