Sunday, March 22, 2009


Photos by John Miranda

22 March 2009

Reference: Jonna Baldres, Secretary General, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey,


The city had spoken. And now, the state.

Anakbayan New York/New Jersey is one with the students of both the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) in their demand for FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL.

The State of New York State Education

"Equal opportunity for all," a value that is both upheld by SUNY and CUNY, is now being threatened as Governor David Paterson shamelessly pushes for an anti-people state budget to be passed on April 1, slashing $698 Million from the education budget alone. The budget cuts are expected to raise the tuition fee for SUNY up to $620/school year, $600 for CUNY and $400 for community colleges.

While it had been reported that the state funding for these public schools increased in the last three years, the state support since the early 1990s did not actually grow at the same rate as the number of students who enrolled. To show the imbalance, Fiscal Policy Institute stated in its report that for 2008-2009, state funding for SUNY community colleges is almost the same as it was in 1991-1992, only up by 2%, while enrollment has increased up to 16%. In CUNY community colleges, the most drastic among the discrepancies, state funding plunged even lower by 9% while enrollment increased by 29%.

Immigrants and People of Color as Major Recipients of SUNY and CUNY Education

In the past decades, the influx of migrants into the United States had been massive as a result of globalization. To procure superprofit, the US imperialist extracts cheap labor from its semi-colonies to sustain output on the production of goods and rendering of services. In the Philippines alone, with the implementation of the Labor Export Policy (LEP) from the time of President Marcos up to the present Arroyo regime, and also in response to the worsening economic and political crisis in the country, 4 million Filipinos have migrated to the United States since the 1970's, including their families. This adds up to the number of immigrants enrolling in public schools in the US.

As immigrants and people of color, it is notable that only a few could make it to the top of the workforce, while the rest would have to do with the menial jobs that are readily available but given less compensation. As in any capitalist society, those in the top are paid more than those in the bottom. This then reflects on the capacity to purchase goods and services, including education. For most people of color, including parents of Filipino youth, public education is their only hope for their children to acquire skills and knowledge that are required to eventually join the workforce, get paid reasonable amount and earn for a living once they graduate.

Privatization of NY State Education and Misallocation of Taxpayers' Funds

However, as the state presents its budget in less than 2 weeks, we are alarmed that the "public" education that is supposedly accessible to all US citizens and immigrants is slowly turning into "private" education, making it accessible only to those who can afford to pay the increasing tuition fees. How is SUNY or CUNY then any different from private institutions such as New York University (NYU), Cornell University, or any other high-paying institutions in the New York state? Is this actually what the state calls "Equal opportunity for all"?

More alarming is the fact that while the state budget on education is being reduced, more funds and US troops are sent to support the militarization and war on terror back in our homeland, as conveyed in US President Obama's expression of support for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of the Arroyo administration. This support, we have more than enough reasons to believe, definitely will be used only in killing and exploiting more of our people for the US imperialist and the Philippine bureaucrat-capitalists' power-hungry and self-serving agenda. Only two months into Obama's administration, we ask: How is he any different from Bush?

In Solidarity with SUNY and CUNY Students

In the past weeks, youth and student groups have been mobilizing and organizing around the issue of budget cuts. Even in the Philippines and in other parts of the world, the slightest threat of cutting state subsidy for basic services are met with great clamor from the people.

This coming March 25, we, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, in holding true to the tradition of the Filipino youth and people's militance, stand up with the students of SUNY and CUNY in this unwavering fight for everyone's basic human right: FREE EDUCATION. ###

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