[Marxism] Forwarded from Dan Dimaggio

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 26 08:56:17 MDT 2005

Minneapolis Youth Against War and Racism
Report on Press Conference & Next Steps to Defend Students

***NOTE: Call-in today to support students right to protest
(numbers, emails, and talking points listed below)

Outside the Minneapolis School Board meeting yesterday two dozen of us
gathered for a press conference to announce the November 2nd Student
Walkout, to protest threats of failure and punishment many students
have been receiving, and to demand an end to military recruitment in
the high schools.

Our wonderful speakers:

Riva Garcia of South High Youth Against War and Racism started the
event off by presenting a letter she and other Twin Cities students
presented to the school board demanding students not be failed for
walking out on November 2nd (the letter will be in this week's Pulse,
out today).

Callie Martin of South High YAWR then spoke on the issue of military
recruitment in schools, demanding the School Board act to end
recruitment in schools.

Rachelle Bailey of Jefferson High explained why YAWR is calling for an
end to the war in Iraq and the why young people are getting active.

We also heard from Green city councilors Natalie Johnson Lee, Dean
Zimmerman, Green mayoral candidate Farheen Hakeem, and Jefferson High
School teacher Meredith Abby.

The media

Unfortunately I don't have a full list of all the media there. WCCO
radio, the Pulse, and a couple other print reporters were present.
Several community papers and the Star Tribune  called us for comment
in advance but could not make the event, and Callie and I were
interviewed live on KPFA's 6pm news afterwards (click here to listen ­
we're on about 5 minutes into the show).
We'll see what more media coverage we get later this morning.

The School Boards reaction

The Board sent the Media Relations director Josh Collins, to our press
conference and he presented us and the press with a full-page
statement in response to us explaining the school boards position. The
statement was generally very friendly, saying the Board "is proud of
student activists who utilize non-violent protest as a means of
political expression." It basically said that parents can excuse
students for the walkout and those students will get make-up tests.

But the most important positive thing Minneapolis schools are doing
was mentioned by Collins as a side comment when handing us the
explaining that parents are free to excuse students for the walkout!
We could not have asked for better advertising!

However, there is still the BIG issue of the many students who will
walkout without having secured a formal excuse from their parents.

*** ONE DAY PROTEST CALL-IN, 10/26/05  ***
Support students right to protest!

While we are happy to have secured a clear statement that
participating in the walkout is an excusable activity, the main issue
remains unresolved. We have no doubt that many students will walkout
on November 2nd without their parents excusing them, and these student
still face the threat of failing their classes and receiving
punishment. We need to let these students ­ and school officials! -
know that we will defend them, and then follow through real solidarity
after November 2nd.

Many students will walkout without official parental excuses for
several reasons.

First, there are many anti-war students with pro-war parents. These
students have just as much right as the students with anti-war parents
to express their own opinions and to walkout.

Second, there will be many students who will not be aware of the
procedures and risks, but will walkout anyway.

Finally there is the reality that many working class and poor parents
typically don't get treated with the same respect by school or other
officials as wealthier parents. Youth from working class and poor
families are more likely to already have worse attendance records and
"discipline problems" on their record because of all the crazy life
pressures that come along with low-income life.

In this situation, we know already that race and class will play a big
role in determining which students will get parental permission and
which students are most likely to face punishment and be failed for
walking out.

That is why we are urging supporters to put in calls to the following
District Superintendents to demand that NO student that walks out ­
regardless of whether a parent has excused them ­ be punished or
failed for their act of protest. (And be ready, after November 2, to
really turn up the heat if we get reports of repression).

Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles
Phone: 612-668-0200
E-mail: mpssup at mpls.k12.mn.us

Bloomington Schools Superintendent Gary S. Prest
phone: 952-681-6402
E-mail: gprest at bloomington.k12.mn.us

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor 
freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without 
plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning... 
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - 
Frederick Douglass, 1857

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change 
it." - Karl Marx




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