school demolished by Israeli criminals in Gaza, Palestine
September 12th marks the anniversary of the death of one of South Africa’s most prolific and pioneering anti-Apartheid activists, Stephen Bantu Biko.
Biko rose to prominence as a student leader whilst at university, establishing the all-black and pro-black South African Students Organisation (SASO). He later became the leader of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) in the early 70s, an ideological revolution aimed at the uplifting of black culture in the face of the systematic and racially oppressive system that was Apartheid.
The growth of the BCM threatened the structure of Apartheid so much so that in 1973 Biko was banned, by the South African government, from taking part in any political activity and was confined to the magisterial district of King William’s Town, his birth place.
In spite of being banned, Biko continued to advance the work of Black Consciousness. For instance, he established an Eastern Cape branch of BCP and through BCP he organised literacy and dressmaking classes and health education programmes. Quite significantly, he set up a health clinic outside King William’s Town for poor rural Blacks who battled to access city hospitals.
In the wake of the urban revolt of 1976 and with the prospects of national revolution becoming increasingly real, security police detained Biko, the outspoken student leader, on August 18th. At this time Biko had begun studying law by mail through the University of South Africa/UNISA. He was thirty years old and was reportedly extremely fit when arrested. He was taken to Port Elizabeth but was later transferred to Pretoria where he died in detention under mysterious circumstances in 1977.
Due to local and international outcry his death prompted an inquest which at first did not adequately reveal the circumstances surrounding his death. Police alleged that he died from a hunger strike and independent sources said he was brutally murdered by police. Although his death was attributed to “a prison accident,” evidence presented during the 15-day inquest into Biko’s death revealed otherwise. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage by the time he was driven naked and manacled in the back of a police van to Pretoria, where, on 12 September 1977 he died.
Two years later a South African Medical and Dental Council (SAMDC) disciplinary committee found there was no prima facie case against the two doctors who had treated Biko shortly before his death. Dissatisfied doctors, seeking another inquiry into the role of the medical authorities who had treated Biko shortly before his death, presented a petition to the SAMDC in February 1982, but this was rejected on the grounds that no new evidence had come to light. Biko’s death caught the attention of the international community, which increased the pressure on the South African government to abolish its detention policies and called for an international probe on the cause of his death. Even close allies of South Africa, Britain and the United States of America, expressed deep concern about the death of Biko. They also joined the increasing demand for an international probe.
It took eight years and intense pressure before the South African Medical Council took disciplinary action. On 30 January, 1985, the Pretoria Supreme Court ordered the SAMDC to hold an inquiry into the conduct of the two doctors who treated Steve Biko during the five days before he died. Judge President of the Transvaal, Justice W G Boshoff, said in a landmark judgment that there was prima facie evidence of improper or disgraceful conduct on the part of the “Biko” doctors in a professional respect. This serves to illustrate that so many years after Biko’s death his influence lived on.
He is survived by his two sons.
Since August 19, tens of thousands of teachers in Mexico have been on an all-out strike against proposed changes to the Mexican constitution aimed at making possible a No Child Left Behind-like law that would pave the way to privatization, the acceleration of high-stakes standardized testing, loss of tenure, and the end of union control over hiring.
Although the official leaders of the union have largely gone along with “reform” agenda, rank-and-file teachers in an enormous democratic opposition movement have taken the initiative. They are not only striking, but have established encampments or occupations in cities around the country—and organized massive marches in Mexico City, even blockading the main highway to and from the international airport. Then, on Wednesday, September 11, thousands of teachers broke through police lines to occupy one of Mexico City’s largest thoroughfares in a confrontation near the National Auditorium.
Repression has been fierce and a showdown could come, as labor journalist Dan LaBotz warns, if Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, commonly referred to as EPN, tries to clear teachers out of the Zócalo, the massive plaza in Mexico City where independence celebrations are traditionally initiated on September 16. While teachers continue their strike, the government has also taken steps to ram through other neoliberal measures, including the privatization of the state oil company PEMEX.
Luis Rangel, a student organizer in Mexico City and activist with the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT, by its Spanish initials), talked to about the developing situation and what could come next.
ON SEPTEMBER 3, the night before the first day of school, members of the Seattle Education Association (SEA) approved a new two-year contract by a narrow vote of 60 percent to 40 percent.
The vote was particularly controversial because the contract failed to resolve issues that had been key sticking points with the district over several months of negotiations. A rank-and-file group of teachers that has helped to organize and defend a boycott of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test,Social Equality Educators (SEE), advocated for a “no” vote at the meeting.
There are several concessions in the new contract that sparked intense anger among many teachers.
Up until the tentative agreement was reached, SEA leadership insisted that it would only agree to a lengthened elementary school day if it included restored physical education, art and music classes (a measure that is extremely popular among parents and community members). Instead, the new contract includes the district’s original proposal to lengthen the school day without any additional resources, nor pay for elementary teachers.
Teachers have also been demanding caseload limits for educational staff associates such as psychologists and nurses. The new contract merely calls for a new process to work toward limits, rather than instituting actual limits. The contract also includes a 2 percent raise for the first year and a 2.5 percent raise for the second year, a pittance for teachers who haven’t received a cost-of-living increase in five years.
Finally, and perhaps most concerning for many teachers, is the new evaluation system that the contract puts into place. In addition to new state-mandated evaluations that are connected to test scores, the contract adds an additional evaluation process based on standardized test scores for teachers in tested grade levels and subjects.
Jesse Hagopian, a teacher at Garfield High School and member of SEE, spoke at the contract vote and said:
This contract has the exact same four sticking points that we walked away from last week [in a nearly unanimous vote against the district’s proposal]. We would be the only district in the entire state that would have to jump through two hoops. Why, when we are the city that revolted against standardized testing, where parents voted unanimously to support the MAP boycott at Garfield High School, would we accept standardized testing into our contract? That is ludicrous.
One year ago, Chicago was the site of one of the most important labor battles in decades, as union teachers took on the City Hall bully—and won. After nine days of picketing and protesting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his handpicked school board and the city’s combined political and business establishment were forced to back down on their all-out assault on the Chicago Teachers Union.
Socialist Worker contributor Striking Back in Chicago: How Teachers Took On City Hall and Pushed Back Education “Reform.” This excerpt from the book’s introduction was first published at AlterNet.org. We are republishing it here to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the teachers’ victory.is author of a forthcoming book on the strike:
if you aren’t fucking angry about this, I don’t even wanna fucking know you. unfollow me. leave me alone. you need to be angry, so fucking angry that you fight every single fucking day, in whatever way you fucking can, to make sure that we can have a better future for ourselves — our friends, our loved ones, our brothers and sisters and their children. fucking fight. get angry, motherfuckers. you should be fucking furious. this injustice is vile.
and if you’re white, if you have that kind of privilege, fucking use it — white people need to work to annihilate their forefathers’ toxicity.
"This system is gonna be overthown. It’s gonna mean a fight. And it’s gonna mean a lot of white people risking a lot of things when they finally join on the side of the Black people and the people of Vietnam and around the world who have already begun the fight." -Weather Underground
i’m actually on the verge of tears as a PoC in the army i gotta question why the hell i wanna serve my country every single day if we’re gonna keep allowing shit like this to happen like how am i supposed to lead young people like me to educate others and fight for true liberty and freedom if every law and code in this damn country is tryin to make sure we die in vain before we can change anything? they stack the fuckin cards against us with every other fuckin decision they make. i don’t care if i get in trouble for saying this. this country’s institutions couldn’t give less of a fuck about people of color and they’d rather do some fucked up illegal racist shit like this while the whole world is watching before they even admit to it. how are we supposed to go on trying, how are we supposed to stay motivated?