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Resolutions & Amendments

35th International Convention - Las Vegas, NV (2002)

Opposing "Takeovers" of Public Schools

Resolution No. 69
35th International Convention
June 24 - 28, 2002
Las Vegas, NV


Across the nation urban, black and minority public school districts are having control taken away from school boards elected by the communities that they serve, and placed in the hands of state officials or mayors. Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia have already been disenfranchised, while the mostly white suburbs of these cities continue to elect their own school boards; and


These school takeovers are done ostensibly to "help inner city kids." But in fact, they are covers for union busting, privatization, and further degradation of our urban schools, which are already "separate and unequal;" and


The first step of these takeovers has been to demand concessions from the school unions, including AFSCME, to force teachers to teach strictly to standardized tests, to cut staffing levels and to privatize, including privatization of the schools themselves; and


Public schools were established after the Civil War as an extension of the efforts to educate freed slaves. Privatization of public schools is the negation of one of the most progressive reforms in American society; and


These appointed school boards do not improve education. Urban students are still subjected to inferior education, large classes, old books and equipment, and prison-like conditions. But without the right to elect (and un-elect) their school boards, parents can't apply pressure to the appointed school boards, which are invariably dominated by representatives of corporations who have no sense of responsibility or accountability to the communities; and


This is blatant racism and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. It takes away the right of specifically black and minority communities to elect their own school officials and it subjects black and minority students to permanently inferior education. This is occurring in the context of the racist and sexist attacks on affirmative action in higher education, and is part of a right-wing attempt to resegregate society; and


These takeovers have been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic Party politicians.


AFSCME opposes these takeovers, and stands for the right of all communities to elect their own school boards. AFSCME also opposes all attempts to privatize public education; and


AFSCME understands that only an enormous infusion of resources to underprivileged districts to reduce class size, provide books and supplies, and offer competitive salaries to teachers and other school personnel will improve the quality of poor, urban school districts; and


AFSCME will form alliances with teachers, students and other public school unions to oppose such takeovers,and defend its members' jobs, defend public education and the right to vote for all people.


John Riehl, President and Delegate
Michael Mulholland, Secretary-Treasurer and Delegate
AFSCME Local 207, Council 25