Dispatches From StudentNation

Dispatches From StudentNation

From student walkouts in Philly and Chicago to union organizing and MOOCs in California, here are the latest reports by our student activist/writers.


The excerpts below are from our StudentNation blog, which highlights the voices of high school and college activists. Read the full text and much more at TheNation.com/students.

What You Should Know About the Philadelphia Student Walkout
by James Cersonsky

When schools are shut down, students risk crossing myriad social boundaries—including gang lines—to survive in their new environments. Through the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools, Philadelphia students are pushing to have a voice in school safety policy. After a series of actions last summer, the campaign won a new, less punitive discipline system and protections in the school’s dress code for gender nonconformity. More recently, students successfully advocated for pilot restorative justice programs in ten schools. This month’s mass actions aren’t some hormonal release, but flashpoints from years of organizing.

Chicago Students Walk Out for Their Teachers
by Melody DeRogatis

On May 3 at Chicago’s Lincoln Park High School, there were many whispers about “the walkout”—how no one was going to take part, and how those who did would get suspended. When the bell rang at the end of second period, though, hundreds joined the walkout, in a show of teacher-student solidarity. Students were protesting the firing of eight teachers as part of the school’s recent implementation of a “Wall-to-Wall” International Baccalaureate program. The action started as a series of rumors the previous afternoon; a Facebook event was organized that night, and the walkout happened just twelve hours later. The students staged a peaceful protest and were not punished.

When Will Pomona Workers Get a Break?
by Isabel Juarez

On April 30, dining hall workers at Pomona College in California voted 57 to 26 to form a union with UNITE HERE Local 11. This was a victory for workers after more than three years of fighting for respect in their workplace and a voice within the college community. Since the campaign went public in 2010, employees have spoken out about undervalued work, injuries in the workplace and unjust firings. In December 2011, students, alumni, faculty and clergy stood in solidarity with workers after seventeen were fired following a document check. After a strong push from the community, the college finally agreed to rehire them if they return with a work authorization permit. Now that the union has been certified, this growing college community will support workers as the negotiations for a contract begin.

California’s MOOCs
by Michael Busch

In February, a bill was introduced in the California State Senate that, if passed, could radically redefine the role of online learning in higher education. The proposed legislation, SB 520, would require state colleges and universities to grant credit to students who, unable to register for core classes at their home universities because of “bottlenecks” at the entry level, register for massive open online courses (MOOCs) instead.

The bill is packaged by its champions as a necessary measure designed to defend the best interests of a student body under siege. Detractors, however, attack it as a top-down effort to allow private companies to profit from public institutions of higher learning—what some have labeled “the University of Phoenixization” of the UC system.

For more StudentNation Dispatches, see TheNation.com archives.

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