This is a rapid response alert. We will add updates and organizing actions to this statement as the situation unfolds.
The ruling class has rained violence on the working class in the US and abroad since March, using the pandemic crises to further the grip of capitalism on workers. They have bailed out corporations while giving working-class people crumbs, met the national uprisings for Black lives with violence and ongoing dissent with vicious suppression, upheld sanctions that have decimated international relief efforts, further disenfranchised voters through unsafe and inaccessible elections, and now, in a further heightening of the crises, are forcing a premature return to in-person learning in schools just as COVID-19 rates spike across the country.
The push to reopen schools by both major parties is an act of political violence. We demand NO reopening until our schools are safe for students and all staff. #EdEquityOrElse
Through years of austerity, students and teachers across the country have been enduring inadequate learning and working conditions: huge class sizes, not enough counselors and nurses, and a shortage of community outreach workers. We cannot pretend as if school districts already lagging decades behind on staffing increases, building maintenance, and equitable education reform can pivot to meet pandemic health standards without robust investment from the federal government. Many essential workers that keep our schools running, like custodial staff, food service and maintenance workers, have already endured a lack of PPE, inadequate hazard pay, and astronomical healthcare costs.
Further, the push to reopen schools is not just a public health and safety crisis but also an intensification of public sector union busting. Most districts are offering families the opportunity to “opt-in” to fully online virtual academies, which in reality are nothing more than cyber charters that will reduce resources for public education and lead to drastic staffing cuts for teachers, counselors, paraeducators, and custodial staff alike.
Our communities do not need a dangerously premature return to in-person instruction: they need a just response to COVID-19 that puts workers before profit and paves the way for socialism in the US.
To fight back against this intensifying attack on public education, DSA has endorsed the campaign to Demand Safe Schools launched by our allies in the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), among an ever growing list of other teachers unions and community organizations.
Demand Safe Schools is calling for the following terms to be met before a return to in-person learning:
- No reopening until the scientific data supports it
- Police-free schools
- All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses and community/parent outreach workers
- Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols Equitable access to online learning
- Support for our communities and families, including moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs
- Moratorium on new charter or voucher programs and standardized testing
- Adequate and equitable funding, through federal stimulus
- Massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing billionaires and Wall Street
DSA will be in the streets on 8/3 for the Demand Safe Schools Day of Resistance to win these demands.