by Isabella Cenatiempo
Central Connecticut’s American Association of University Professors hosted “Save Our Schools, Defend Our Communities” which discussed higher education issues such as funding, diversity, immigration, curriculum and teacher benefits. Speakers also explained how budget cuts can cause the higher education system to become weaker.
Speakers highlighted the fiscal difficulties public education is facing nationally.
“There is money out there,” Barbara Madeloni, a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said. “The questions we need to ask are, ‘Who has it and what are they doing with it?'”
Dan Durant, a member of the American Federation of Teachers, agreed.
“Based on the numbers from 2015, three percent of $3.8 trillion federal spending money went toward education,” Durant said. “Sixteen percent of that same spending went to military funding. This highlights America’s priorities and the lack of will to invest in certain areas.”
Further, Louise Williams, the chapter president of the CCSU-AAUP and history professor, emphasized how education is under attack by political forces.
“Across the nation and in the state of Connecticut as well, education is increasingly the object of attack in both K-12 education [and] higher education,” Williams said. “It is political parties that care more about the rich than about the working people. We see this in Connecticut with constant talk about budgetary problems, we are told we have no money even though we are one of the richest states in the country. Politicians just want to cut and downsize. They are unwilling to be patient and invest in young people.”
The event held on Wednesday, March 28 also featured a panel of teachers fighting back across the country, specifically in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.
“Public employees, like teachers, have become the public enemy, yet it is where education and labor meet,” Williams said. “It is the teachers in West Virginia, Chicago, the United Kingdom and Toronto that have redefined worker solidarity and have reasserted the most important weapon in labors arsenal. Labor activism is alive and well in the state of Connecticut as well as in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, workers can push back and win.”
Ultimately, speakers encouraged those attending to fight back against budget cuts aiming at higher education.
“We encourage all of you to take risks,” Tom Swan, member of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, said. “Hold public officials accountable [and] build alliances. There’s power in numbers. Register to vote, be activists and leaders, but most importantly, have fun and be creative.”