Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Layoffs and Cutbacks at Chicago State

I regret not having been more active, both on the blogsite and elsewhere, this academic year. But recent posts about Haki Mahdubuti suggest that we should discuss the recent layoffs.

I believe about seventy people were escorted from campus. One of them was the person who has been most helpful to me in maintaining my computer. So in an area of service to faculty and staff--servicing computers--where we are already short-staffed, the bosses lay off another. I am sure many of us know valuable workers who have been laid off.

The cuts that have occurred and future ones to come will have a negative effect on educating our students. They make an insufficient educational experience worse.

Why are they cutting? One answer points the finger at our local administration and its poor choices managing the available funds. Another identifies the State of Illinois and its failure to raise tax revenue. These are certainly loci of the problem. But are they the main ones?

Two facts stand out: first, education cuts are occurring at all levels across the U.S.; second, urban transit and public health care are also being cut, not only in Chicago, but in many places. There is, however, plenty of money for Obama's war in Afghanistan.

Federal funding for education, health, and urban transit peaked in the sixties and early seventies and has been in decline since under both Democratic and Republican presidents. The U.S. is a declining imperial power, and its economic and political crises are felt by workers in education, health care, and transit as well as by the students, patients and riders who depend on these workers. This combines with a conservative (and implicitly racist) anti-tax climate and movement to damage conditions for those with the least resources, especially urban black and latin people.

We should be clear in our oppositions to these cuts; we should educate ourselves and students about the nature of the struggle for a better life, and what it tells us about how contemporary U.S. capitalism values our lives. I hope you will join me in celebrating May Day and protesting cutbacks at Chicago State.

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