This post is part of The Nation’s biweekly student movement dispatch. As part of the StudentNation blog, each dispatch hosts first-person updates on student and youth organizing. In the previous dispatch, December 11, ten people submitted a video and a brief update on their organizing in the struggle for black life. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with tips. Edited by James Cersonsky (@cersonsky).
1. The New School Board
On Wednesday, December 17, a group of young people convened by the Baltimore Algebra Project, including former Heritage High School students, staged a die-in at the Baltimore City School Board and took control of the meeting for an hour to protest the board’s vote to close the community school. Despite consistent presence at board meetings, a recommendation to phase out the school rather than shut it down and community efforts to improve its performance, the board unanimously decided to close it. Immediately following our takeover of the meeting, the district CEO met with us. Although our demand to keep the school open until the community implements a plan to replace it was not met, the CEO agreed to meet regularly with us to collaborate on a long-term plan. If the district cannot value and implement our needs, we are prepared to take more militant action.
2. The Six-Minute Die-In
On Thursday, December 18, members of the Philadelphia Student Union, Boat People SOS and Asian Americans United staged a die-in in front of the School District of Philadelphia to protest state violence in all forms. At PSU, we define violence as the power to hurt someone’s chances at survival—between people or in a system or institution. The death of Laporshia Massey, a 12-year-old who died last year from an asthma attack shortly after being sent home from school because there was no nurse on duty, is a shocking but real example of the way that systematic underfunding of public education is putting students’ lives at risk. We were still for six minutes, in honor of Laporshia, who was in the sixth grade.