domingo, janeiro 24, 2010

Anti-Privatization protests and Demands @ UW

On Thursday of last week, over 100 students, workers, local alternative high school students, teachers, and staff came out in the first action called by the University of Washington Student/Worker Coalition.

The day started with over 35 people protesting an abusive manager at her office. This action came a little over a week after Democracy Insurgent called a solidarity protest against Andre Vasquez. Workers in International Workers and Students for Justice were inspired, and took up this protest as the leaders, speaking out into the bullhorn against abusive managers. This is a huge step, considering the enormous amount of repression and abuse faced by workers who have been organizing for their rights. Following this confrontation, many of the workers marched with students, staff and community members to confront the board of regents. About 50 students and workers went to confront them on the barricaded 22 floor of the UW tower, a militarized space, while others stayed downstairs and chanted and read demands outloud, bringing support from employees at UW tower. Some of the chants included "Enough with the Ivory Tower, we fight back with Student/Worker power!" and a tip of the hat to UC schools with "No Cuts, No Fees, education must be free! See video of both actions, and other actions called by workers and students at Check out posters and flyers at

Also, below, see the full letter of demands delivered to the Board of Regents.

Continue to read the text...We are members of UW Student/Worker Coalition (UWSWC). As the University announces a second round of budget cuts, students and workers have come together to form a coalition to fight against not just the fact of these cuts, but their implementation and the privatization of the University as a whole.

Support these cuts, and the University of Washington takes another step towards privatization that leads to exclusion. Education at the UW is sliding into mediocrity and . You cannot wash your hands of this.

The UW Student/Worker Coalition demands the following:

DEMAND #1. Transparent and democratic budget allocation
UW is a public institution in a purportedly democratic society, but it increasingly resembles a for-profit corporation. Today we are in a board room on the 22nd floor of a high-rise that used to be occupied by an insurance company. We are standing in front of an unelected board comprised mostly of business elites. Tens of thousands are affected by decisions made in this room, but there are only spectator seats here for a few dozen. Regent meetings are scheduled at an hour when many UW workers who will be most affected by budget cuts, like custodians, are unable to attend, even if there was room for them. We requested that you move this meeting to a time and place where workers and students could attend to have their voices heard. But you refused. Today, you allow a handful of us to watch you rubber stamp your (quote) "consent agenda." Our presence here does NOT lend legitimacy to your public spectacle. We are here to tell you our agenda, with or without your consent. We will no longer be excluded.

Decisions must be made by those who are most affected by them. That is democracy. It cannot exist so long as the university community is denied access to and participation in decision-making processes that determine the distribution of campus resources. We are the university, and we demand power.

DEMAND #2. Cut from the top administrators: cap all salaries at $150,000 per year
It is often said that high-level administrators deserve higher salaries because they bring in money for the university through solicitation from donors. We reject this. The hardest work done at the U is done by those lowest paid; keeping the university clean and operational, teaching students how to read, write, and think, and making sure students and workers get what they need. CEOs know NOTHING about maintaining buildings, or teaching classes, and should NOT be making the most money at the U! High-level Administrative salaries are inflated by at least 20% at the same time as unionized workers are fighting for raises of 2-3%. This difference is arbitrary and irrational. ALL OPTIONS SHOULD BE ON THE TABLE. Administration IS NOT SACRED, and cuts to top-level administrative salaries MUST be considered as a valuable source of funding. We do not expect anyone making over $150,000 annually to face eviction if their incomes are constrained to a reasonable level.

DEMAND #3. No layoffs
The University of Washington has used the budget cuts as an opportunity to selectively lay off the lowest paid and most necessary workers on campus. Layoffs have included custodians, professional and classified staff, trades workers, TA's, writing center staff, librarians... the list goes on. As is typical of private restructuring of formerly public resources, those who perform the most necessary functions of the university: cleaning, maintaining buildings, teaching students how to write, read, and study, are also the lowest paid and the first to go. Layoffs have also disproportionately affected immigrant workers, people of color, and women at this University. Meanwhile, upper level administration and managers are INCREASING. The U has consistently laid off union workers to hire part time workers for less money with no benefits in their place, or to out contract jobs to private companies! This hurts ALL workers and students at UW, not just those who are laid off. In addition, facilities services has implemented a LEAN methodology. This is similar to abusive practices used on auto-making assembly lines. The UW is NOT a factory, and we know "increased efficiency" means abusing workers, an unsafe university for students, and more money for those on top! We demand an END to LAYOFFS and a REHIRING at PREVIOUS RATES of laid off workers!

Demand #4. No speed-ups for workers
Vacancies left by layoffs, firing, and restructuring have led to campus wide speed-ups for workers. For custodians, this has meant an increase from 30,000 to, in some cases, 85,000 square feet of cleaning, leaving workers injured and spaces less clean. For trades, this means a shift from preventative maintenance to keep us safe, to emergency fixes. In the last three years, there have been almost 300 reported injuries in custodial services, many due to over-exertion and other results of speed-ups! For administrative staff, this means less time to help with applications for students, mistakes in payrolls due to overwork, a decrease in access to technology, and stress on the job. For TAs this means less time with students, and a poorer education for undergrads who are paying MORE for education. Speed-up is worker abuse, and a University cannot exist on the basis of continual oppression and exploitation of its workers and students. End Speed Ups for all workers!

Demand #5 Prioritize an open, accessible public education for all.
Increase access to universities for students who are people of color, low income, working class, queer folks, immigrants, women, and folks with disabilities.
In the past, UW has been accused of being an "elitist" institution. This assertion was based in part on the HUGE salaries made by top level administrators, but also because the UW is increasingly exclusive! The high tuition/high aid model is a joke for working and poor students. The only way to make the university accessible is to LOWER tuition; not raise it and then make students of color, poor students, and working students jump through impossible hoops like circus animals to get your pittances. The reality is, working students, students of color, immigrants, women, queer folks, folks with disabilities ARE this UNIVERSITY! We should be at the forefront of the University as primary participants in our own education. We will fight together to take back the University.

Demand #6. Freeze Tuition!
We know that many budgetary decisions are made in Olympia. But we know that you make decisions about the allocation of resources on campus and about how the UW defines its priorities. We also know that the UW has been lobbying hard to have the legislature lift the tuition cap, so that you would be free to raise tuition even more than the already astronomical twenty-eight percent two-year increase. A twenty-eight percent increase! We will not tolerate this shakedown of students from either elected officials, or from you. We will fight to make UW a public university. Any increase is unacceptable. Any increase makes it even more difficult for working students and students of color to access an educational system already bent on marginalizing them within it or, worse, excluding them altogether. We demand that you freeze tuition, as a first step towards creating open access to higher education for everyone. Students will not pay more tuition so that Emmert's personal budget can reach seven figures!

Demand #7. Increase need based aid by replacing loans with grants, and stop calling loans financial aid!
What's called "financial aid" deceptively includes merit-based grants and loans, in addition to need-based grants. If we're honest, merit based scholarships are little more than bribes designed to lure students whose GPAs and SATs will increase UW's rankings over its peer institutions. Usually, such scholarships do not provide aid to those who need it to access higher education. Loans are repaid in full with exorbitant interest, often generating handsome profits for lenders. A car loan is not financial aid. A payday loan is not financial aid. Student loans are not "aid." We demand that you stop calling loans aid. It is dishonest and misleading. More importantly, we demand that you expand real financial aid. This means increasing need-based grants that allow low-income students and students of color to access higher education without saddling them with devastating, lifelong debt. If you think you can't afford this, take out a loan.

We are watching you. This community has not been seduced by the market-driven business model. Why are we here? Many of us have younger siblings, children, and friends in this community; we are also working people who need secure jobs with benefits, fair wages, and safety. We are here for not only for our future but for the future of education. We refuse to accept this agenda as inevitable. We will not submit to a death by a thousand cuts. We will not have our university sold out from under us BOARD OF REGENTS, YOU CLAIM TO EXIST TO SERVE OUR INTERESTS. WE DEMAND YOU ANSWER TO US.

sábado, janeiro 23, 2010

Overview of worldwide Education protests in 2009

Here you will find the result of an attempt to list most of the protests related to "neoliberal reforms" within public education systems around the world. Hundreds of actions in 51 countries on 5 continents were recorded.

A similar list for the past two years: 2008 and 2007.

segunda-feira, janeiro 18, 2010

Call for the European Education Congress 2010

The Congress is open to all people who are interested in education and depends on everyone to contribute to it. In order to have a wide discussion during those five days, we would like calls from as many people as possible for the Education Congress.

To us, education is a precondition for participating in social processes. However, the current educational system is in many aspects not able to enable people to understand social interrelations and to empower them to a mature taking part in social changes. But only if everyone participates, a society can develop which guarantees the most broad level of freedom for all individuals and thus finds the most broad level of acceptance.

At the same time we come to the conclusion, that the goal of establishing free education for everyone worldwide seems to have moved out of reach for some time to come. The educational system is cross-nationally exposed to different reforms. It is time to analyze these changes, especially in context to the whole of society, and to develop alternatives to the status quo.

Continue to read the text...Therefore we want to discuss together: What functions do school systems and systems of higher education have in different European countries and regions? What does self determined living and learning mean? How can we establish free access to education for everyone? How are educational system and society related to one another? Do institutions of higher education produce social inequality and how could this inequality be broken? How can we establish democratic, self determined structures at schools and institutions of higher education? What is commercialization of education, what influence do commercial enterprises have in this process and how can this influence be broken? How and for what aim can European-wide solidarity be established?

This congress should facilitate a Europe-wide exchange, analyzing the context of education and society. We want to give attention to decision-making processes of society to establish a democratization of society.

Thus, for everyone interested in education and education policy: come to the European Education Congress from the 1st to 6th of June 2010 at the Ruhr-University in Bochum!

We invite you to spend five days with us, analyzing the current educational system and its functions critically. Let us think about the meaning of good education, what the requirements of a progressive educational system are and which paths could lead to such a system. This will be done in different methods of learning such as workshops, plenary meetings, lectures, panel discussions and concrete experiences. All supporting persons and groups are called to bring in such activities of their own, to introduce texts and to contribute to the congress. At the same time there will be enough time to exchange experiences from single countries and regions and for international networking to enable further cooperation.

slated date: 1st to 6th of June

quinta-feira, janeiro 14, 2010

Build up a transnational network of struggles and resistance: within and against the global University

Since its beginning, edu-factory has tried to be a place of political discussion and communication, a site of the free circulation of knowledge and networking at the global level. In the “double crisis” (i.e., the global economic crisis and the crisis of the University in ruins), the edu-factory list and web site have been enriched by communiqués from different collectives, news of University occupations and demonstrations, as well as proposals for political organization (i.e. George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici’s proposal). In fact, on March 4th there will be a day of mobilization in universities across the United States (; on the 11th and 12th of March there will be a European mobilization against the Bologna Process ( in Vienna; and, in general, many struggles are challenging the corporatization of the university all over the world. We present the following text as an open proposal: please comment and add, in order to build up a common process of transnational discussion and organization. We want to emphasize the importance of a common process. Only in this way, can we build up a collective with free and equal participation, which is to say, a new common politics, or a transnational politics of the common.

In the last year, many struggles and movements have emerged at universities all around the world. These struggles are more and more articulated at the transnational level through their financial dimension and through knowledge production in the education factory.

Continue to read the text...What do we mean by edu-factory? We mean that it is impossible to understand the transformations in the university without linking them to transformations in labor and production. Because new forms of valorization and accumulation make knowledge a central commodity, the role of the university changes definitively. It becomes a sort of “knowledge and education factory.” Notwithstanding, there is an irreducible difference between the industrial factory and the supposed new one. This difference is related to the particularity of the good that is produced in the university, i.e. knowledge. In fact, knowledge is not a scarce commodity: on the contrary, its richness comes from social cooperation and collective use. The production of knowledge is thus without measure. It is inseparable from living labor. Knowledge is always living knowledge. This difference is the main source of the struggles against the becoming corporation of the university, its imposition of an artificial measure, and the enclosure of free knowledge.

What do we mean by the global university? We mean that the standpoint to understand these transformations must be a global one. The global is not at all a homogenous space. There are global trends – corporatization of the university, commodification of knowledge, marketization of whole ways of life, the rise of a new figure of the student and the academic worker, and then, layoffs, budget cuts, tuition fee increases, etc. – all with different forms of declination and translation in different contexts. The global is based on heterogeneity. The global is a battlefield. We have no nostalgia for the national borders of the university and knowledge production. Local action is important, but it is not enough. We want to build up a transnational politics, within and against the global university.

What does it mean to struggle in the global edu-factory? This is the central question. In the last years, there have been struggles all around the world, with different languages and paths, and with similar goals and claims. In the double crisis –the global economic crisis, and the crisis of the modern university– these conflicts are increasing. It is important not to be rosy eyed or romantic about this situation. Because the double crisis brings suffering, it does not necessarily furnish a privileged opportunity to change the world that produces this suffering. Far from seizing the moment in a Messianic way, it is necessary to pursue the transformation of the university in, through and against the current global turbulence and the initiatives of governance that it has occasioned.

In this framework, how can we articulate the struggles over the division and hierarchisation of knowledge, its geographical division by the constitution of modern macro-regions, and the material struggles that currently unfolding? Within the urgency of these struggles, how can we develop the project of edu-factory as a dispositif beyond the simple communication among struggles in order to articulate and circulate different temporalities and political processes in a transnational dimension? From the occupations against the Bologna Process in Europe to those against fee increases in California, there has been collective reflection over the quality of knowledge and access to the university for the students who refuse to only be indebted clients. How is it possible to find and construct a common place to share conflicts, to discuss at a transnational level, and to improve our collective force?

Since we don’t want to propose a universal recipe, but rather to construct another world and another university based on already existing struggles, maybe we should also aim to create a transnational network of struggles developing from specific contexts – immediately connected at a broader global scale.

For example, the struggle within and against the Bologna Process has to be immediately a global struggle: not only because the global university think tanks are trying to export the Bologna Process to North and South America, to Asia and Australia, but because it’s impossible and ineffective to build up a network that isn’t immediately a transnational network. This is a place of translation from within, instead of only between different processes and temporalities.

It’s important to say that we don’t imagine a global network of struggles as a circuit of many national networks. In other words, we don’t think of the transnational network as a simple place of national translation and international linking. We want to call into question national borders, because the local spaces are definitely changed by the mobility of people (for example, we can point to the strategic importance of international and migrant students in universities all over the world). We want to dismantle the apparatus of ‘area’ in both its material and cognitive dimensions, seeing that it is an instrument to govern populations and convert singular knowledgeable bodies into normalized bodies of knowledge.

Therefore, we propose to build up, and experiment with a new politics, that is, a transnational politics that tries to work through the translation of struggles and militant research. We have to re-open and re-invent social inquiry: militant research can define the political method of critical analysis, invention and social insubordination in the political phase. To restart militant research means, first of all, that the learning phase is part of the political one, that we must crossbreed knowledge with practice, reflection and experience. Doing social inquiry means setting up tools of action, intervention and organization. To build up a network of struggles is to ask: how can we, today, do militant research?

In this context, we propose to all students, researchers, teachers, academic and “precarious” workers, collectives, groups, movements: let's build up a transnational network of struggles and resistance. That is, an autonomous network to spread news and materials, to share texts of militant research among different struggles and temporalities, to organize ourselves within and against the global university. A transnational network of struggles and resistance is not at all a supposed universalistic organization or an identity-making subject. In fact, we’re against standardization, that is, the universal language of the global university. We support differences and multiplicity, and their capacity to find and invent common practices and lexicons. The commonality of struggles is always against the empty universality of power. A network of struggles and resistance has to be a self-organized translation machine to empower singular movements, and to improve its possibility to win. A network of struggles and resistance has to be a common process of research within autonomous movements and groups. A network of struggles and resistance has to be a common space of translation of the different languages and practices, that is to say a common place from which to dismantle the conditions that support the regime of unilateral translation. Only in this way, can a network of struggles and resistance answer in a collective way the central question: how to build up a transnational politics of the common against the global university?

terça-feira, janeiro 12, 2010

Call from Vienna: make Bologna-process history!

Celebrating Bologna-process? We don't think so.

International call for participation

On March 11 and 12 2010 the Education ministers of 46 European countries will celebrate the 10-years anniversary of the Bologna-process in Vienna and Budapest. Considering the current situation and the ongoing protests in many European Universities this celebration is a mockery for all of us.

Not only has the Bologna-process clearly failed to achieve the agreed goals of improved mobility; it also led to more restrictions for students and their studies and to greater social selection of access to higher education in general.

The fact that the entire process is based on the understanding of education as only producing workforce dictated by the market is reflected in the agreed goals. Therefore our aim is not only to measure success or failure of the Bologna-process but furthermore to question the process and its foundations itself. Master and PhD as elite programs, which especially exclude women, introduction of study fees and under-financing of universities as well as de-democratization within the university system are obvious symptoms.

The difficult financial situation increases the corporate influence on education and scientific research. The orientation of teaching towards corporate interests does not only affect universities, but the entire education sector in general. Hence the possibilities of self-determined and critical learning are restricted.

In view of this disastrous situation we don't see any reason to celebrate the Bologna-process. The European-wide protests of students, teachers and others show that the economization of education is directed against their interests.

Therefore the week from 8 to 12 March 2010 shall accompany this conference with demonstrations, strikes and blockades as well as a counter-conference, where we are going to discuss European education policy, as well as the common goals of our protests.

We formed four groups, which focus on different aspects of the event:
  • Demonstration/blockade: for the time the ministers are holding their meeting we are organizing a demonstration (Thursday, march 11). Different ideas of blockades are being discussed.
  • Strike: using the occasion of this event, we are planning to go on a university-strike in cooperation with the teaching staff for at least two days.
  • Counter-conference: in this part of the event, we want to work on, discuss and exchange experiences openly about the bologna process and possible better education policies.
  • International mobilization: a big part of this event should also be the gathering of all the protesters from different countries and fields in order to work on a common strategy.

We want this event to be organized and held by all protesters together. This is why we are calling for your participation not only at the event itself, but also during the preparations (eg.: input at the counter-conference, etc.).

Together we will show that we do not agree with the celebration of a process, that limits education to the production of human capital!

This protest and its further development lives from our participation!