The following statement was issued Jan. 16 by Socialist Workers Party candidates Dennis Richter for City Council District 12 and Laura Garza for School Board in Los Angeles.
The strike by 31,000 teachers in Los Angeles is a battle being waged on behalf of all working people. The Socialist Workers Party will help get the truth out about this fight and urges much-needed solidarity with the union’s struggle.
Join this union battle! Get to the picket lines and strike rallies, stand together with the teachers. Get messages of support from your co-workers and unions. Contribute to the strike fund.
The teachers are fighting to change deteriorating conditions that are familiar to millions around the country — oversized classes, few supplies, no libraries, cut-down gym and art programs, along with no full-time nurses or counselors. These conditions epitomize the class-based “education” system the capitalist rulers think workers deserve.
“In the US today, under capitalism, the only future we can count on is one in which education will worsen — in which education will fuel rather than retard social differentiation,” Jack Barnes, Socialist Workers Party national secretary, explains in Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism. “There will only be ‘education’ to squelch curiosity and creativity among the vast majority of youth, and to encourage escapism.”
The ruling rich are only interested in a learning system that inculcates obedience and rewards following orders. They have no interest in a working class that learns how to think, gains appreciation for culture and has a thirst for lifelong learning.
Fights by teachers are part of broader struggles of working people to take on the attacks on our wages and working conditions by the bosses and their government today. They aim to make us pay for the deep crisis of their capitalist system.
Organizing solidarity for all those who fight against the exploitation and attacks of the bosses and their government helps us learn who we really are and to start on conquering the road to our emancipation.
The rulers and those in the upper reaches of the middle class who run the government have their own school system. The purpose of their education is to give “the educated” a stake in thinking they’re different, better than those who work all their lives. They learn the confidence to keep working people in line, constantly reminding us we are “deplorables,” as Hillary Clinton called us.
The ruling capitalist class doesn’t need workers to be educated. That’s why funding for schools, including the hiring of more teachers and other needed school personnel, is low on their priorities.
There is an alternative — the living example of the Cuban Revolution shows what is possible. Workers and farmers, with class values and priorities opposite to those taught by the dog-eat-dog capitalist system, took political power in 1959 and began using it to mobilize the toiling majority to meet their needs. In 1961 their revolutionary government organized some 100,000 young volunteers in literacy brigades to wipe out widespread illiteracy in a single year. This opened the door to widen access to culture and political life for working people, a step that was crucial for strengthening the revolution.
One educational step you can take this spring is to sign up for the May Day brigade to visit Cuba and meet and talk with workers, farmers and others there to learn about the revolution and how it has transformed their country and their lives.
“Explaining the communist approach to learning is part of preparing the working class for the greatest of all battles in the years ahead,” SWP leader Jack Barnes wrote, “the battle to throw off the self-image the rulers teach us, and to recognize that we are capable of taking power and organizing society.”