Tag Archives: Social Justice

Students demand, “Whose Diversity?” at the U of M

“Power concedes nothing without demand”

– Fredrick Douglass, quoted at the Whose Diversity? rally on the steps of Morrill Hall, Thursday, May 15.

This week, we’re highlighting the recent and exciting organizing work of Whose Diversity?, a collective of undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Minnesota. The group sees itself extending the struggles to challenge and transform the culture of exclusion and enclosure of Black, queer, Chicano, Indigenous, working class, and other minoritized spaces, knowledges, and people at the historically white institution. Even after threats by the University administration to sanction and even expel some of the organizers, the campaign continues to gain momentum.

Images from Whose Diversity? website – whosediversity.weebly.com

Whose Diversity? say they’re taking their cues from such critical movements as the 1969 Morrill Hall takeover that led to the creation of African American and Chicano Studies and the 2005 General College Truth Movement, which sought to save the singular space that provided support for working class folks, older people, single mothers, and people of color to learn and get degrees at the U of M. More recently, Whose Diversity? has been influenced and continues the work of Whose University? during the 2010/2011 school year, which occupied Coffman Memorial Union with more than 700 college and high school students to  engage in critical dialogue around issues of access and representation at the institution.

At Classroom Struggle, we think it’s important to highlight this work, and situate it within a broader landscape of student organizing for substantive diversity in Twin Cities schools and universities. Struggles like the 2013 South High School walkout protesting attacks on the All Nations program and the more recent student organizing at Central High School in St. Paul protesting the criminalization of Black and Brown youth in schools, among others, illustrate how critical and necessary this work and the leadership of students is, at all levels of education.

Read below to find out more about the Whose Diversity? campaign.  Like their Facebook page to receive regular updates about their work and list of demands.

Continue reading Students demand, “Whose Diversity?” at the U of M

School and “Other People’s Children”: Some Personal Reflections

Written by Daniel Fox

My life has been feeling overwhelming recently. It makes me think about what we need to do to really support the kids in our increasingly diverse and segregated city schools who are going through things often objectively harder and newer to them than the busy-ness, pressures, and losses I have been facing as a white, college educated support staff. I’ve also been trying to think through an important question raised by Lisa Delpit: what does it mean to raise “other peoples’ children”, and how does this affect what we, as educators, do in our schools?

Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit, 2006, The New Press
Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit, 2006, The New Press

For me this question of race showed up in a real way in my senior year of high school, when me and my fellow students began to talk about what was then called the “achievement gap”. In a brief, painful reflection, it became clear that we as students–and teachers–knew that certain students were slated to go to prison, others to state schools, and others to fancy colleges. And not only did we all seem to know this tracking process at hauntingly early ages—five? ten?—but somehow this knowledge didn’t change anything. There seemed to be “nothing we could do”. I’m sure that teachers and students were not the only ones haunted by these seemingly pre-written scripts. Who could feel this harder and more painfully than parents? Raising a child yet feeling powerless to change the trajectory of their son or daughter in a brutal system beyond your control. You see and hear parents trying, or being told, to do all sorts of things in this situation. Discipline your children. Change schools. Send them to live with relatives in Iowa for the summer or forever. Get them into sports. Eliminate their freedom. Show them they are loved.

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Lessons from Fighting Privatized Public Education in Chile

Written by Daniel Fox

This February, some of us were lucky enough to meet some Chilean Anarchists who gave a talk about lessons from the education struggle in Chile where there has been a massive student- and society-wide movement for free public education during the past decade.

Chile’s schools, like much of its society, were privatized by the US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s through the creation of a privatized market in education. The key part of this was the creation of a voucher system where privately run schools—charter schools—could receive a certain amount of public funding per student. This, along with an amendment that allowed such schools to charge tuition and fees, has created a “pay to play” education system in Chile, where schools are ranked by test scores and are some of the most unequal and segregated in the world.

Students clash with riot police during a demonstration against the government, to demand changes in the public state education system in Santiago August 28, 2012 (Reuters / Eliseo Fernandez)

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Managed instruction is not going away unless we make it!

by Erin Dyke, member of the IWW Education Organizing Committee

Focused Event
students, community members, parents, and educators at the community meal, all photos taken by Maggie Sventek

More than 50 people came together for the first social justice education community meal of 2014 on February 16th, to explore the prevailing trend toward managed instruction in our schools and potential alternatives. We gnoshed on a delicious (and free!) Sunday brunch of fruits, eggs, potato hash, breads, and other treats while we caught up with old friends and made new comrades. We want to take some time to reflect on what we learned from our time together and consider ways to move forward to fight against the forced de-skilling of students and educators.

Continue reading Managed instruction is not going away unless we make it!

Workload & Teacher Power: Reflections on an Organizing Victory at my school this year


Do teachers and other educators have power to change things in our schools? Everyday I talk to teachers who are upset, saddened by negative changes, struggling to ensure all of their students succeed. Many days I ask my co-workers what we can do, or if they can help with something. Sometimes they say yes, but mostly they say they are too busy to do anything. Sometimes I feel like we are too busy drowning to organize a raft to save ourselves.

Continue reading Workload & Teacher Power: Reflections on an Organizing Victory at my school this year