Support Students on Hunger Strike in Baltimore!

July 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

While this isn’t necessarily directly about free schooling, it is extremely important. Students in Baltimore are on a hunger strike in order to get funds from the city to help them participate in outside-school activities and jobs, which is learning by doing. These students are attempting to gain support for their efforts in learning through outside-school experiences and jobs that would normally be shut off to them. And again, free schooling is interlinked with all oppressions – and everyone should be given the opportunity to learn what they want to, how they want to, and when they want to. Read the letters below, they will tell you how to participate in solidarity.

Baltimore AP Students in Peer 2 Peer Hunger Strike for Public Education Support

June 3, 2008

From: Betty G. Robinson
Subject: Urgent: Baltimore City student hunger strikers need your support — please forward WIDELY!
Date:
Sun, 1 Jun 2008 9:59 am


From hunger striker supporters: Please read to get a full understanding of what you can do and why the students are striking. The amount of money is SMALL — .005 of the city budget and the students are just asking for the one year INTEREST on the rainy day fund. Sun Op-Ed at the bottom plus links to other media coverage. If you have friends and family in other states, please forward. They can help also!

Dear friends,

Why the Mayor thinks of the hunger striking students as adversaries is a mystery. They’re the solution, not the problem.

The hunger strikers are entering the third day, and are healthy–examined daily by a physician, spirited, but physically tired, of course. They have been consuming only juice and water since Friday. Great media yesterday on TV and in the paper publicizing the demand for $3 million for youth jobs in the knowledge-based economy. But we need much more.

Mayor Dixon refuses even to schedule a meeting with the young people. On the news she says she already has budgeted $14 million for youth programs. That is less than .005 of the city budget–less than half of one percent.

Students and Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprises are asking for only the interest on the rainy day fund, Councilman Bill Henry’s excellent idea–not a penny from any other program, not even a penny from the rainy day fund, but only the interest.

Call Mayor Dixon today at 410-396-3100 or 410-396-3836
Email her at
mayor@baltimorecity.gov

The students have recommended this script for supporters:

Hello, my name is……and I live in…….. I want to leave a message for the Mayor. I heard that Baltimore City students are on a hunger strike and I think that is outrageous. I am calling to urge the Mayor to fully fund Peer 2 Peer Youth Enterprises to create knowledge-based jobs for youth who might otherwise turn to street crime and violence to support themselves and their families. We must invest in our youth because they are the future of our city! Thank you very much, I will be seeing you at Mayor’s Night In on Monday.

Students are asking you to:

1. Call Mayor Dixon

2. Come to Mayor’s Night In, Monday, 6 PM, War Memorial–(or march with students from Pratt and Light at 5)

3. Donate money/supplies (water, juice, cups, vegetables & fruit for juice,) (call Jay at 443-248-9032)

4. Come to our rallies & bring your friends (next rally: Pratt and Light , Monday, 4:30)

5. Sign our petition

Talking points:

The young people on hunger strike are the solution, not the problem.


Peer-to-peer youth are:

  • engaged, not apathetic
  • educated, not ignorant
  • committed, not distracted
  • creative, not destructive
  • peace-loving, not violent
  • hard-working, not lazy
  • united, not divided.

They’re the solution.

What’s the problem?

Call Mayor Dixon today at the main switchboard 410-396-3835 or if you can’t get through, (410) 396-3100.

E-Mail her at mayor@baltimorecity.gov

The following is a letter from Bryant Muldrew to the Baltimore Sun.

Fasting to give city kids a chance

May 31, 2008

I’ve lived long enough to watch my city descend through some levels of the underworld. I ask: Who will stand up to fix the problems of my Baltimore?

We students in a coalition called Peer-to-Peer Enterprises are aware of the injustices city youths face.

Peer-to-Peer organizations employ older youths to teach their younger peers skills and knowledge.

In the past few years these organizations have employed hundreds of youths, helped increase test scores, kept young away people from violence and drugs and established “families” outside the home.

These programs should be expanded and need sustained investment to grow their accomplishments.

The Peer-to-Peer coalition has requested $3 million from the city’s budget to create an additional 700 to 1,000 jobs and provide services to thousands more peers.

The funds would allow youths to participate actively in a knowledge-based economy. Peers help peers learn all kinds of things: public speaking and debate, algebra, theater and playwriting, drumming and dance, video production and much more. These technical skills help students plan successful futures.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution in March requesting that the mayor include this $3 million in the city’s budget. But Mayor Sheila Dixon has refused the council’s request.

The City Council recently missed an opportunity to do something to help us by refusing to fund Peer-to-Peer Enterprises with the interest on the city’s rainy day fund (”Youth fund boost denied,” May 29).

The interest this year will be approximately $3.5 million on a total fund of $88 million.

We don’t understand why an investment in our youth can’t be made from the interest on money that isn’t even being used. In effect, we’re just asking for the loose change under the cushions in the sofa.

Why would the City Council unanimously pass a resolution in March but then tell us in May that we aren’t worth a little interest?

Having exhausted all other courses of action, we have decided that participating in a hunger strike is a way to take action against injustice.

We dedicate our bodies in solidarity with our peers. Educationally, we’re starving already. We choose now to represent voluntarily what’s already happening to us against our will.

We would love to eat of the fruits of knowledge-based jobs and quality education. But our city, not our peers, keeps us hungry.

Bryant Muldrew

Baltimore

The writer is a student at Baltimore City Community College who works for one of the Peer-to-Peer Enterprises groups and is one of the hunger strikers demanding city funding for the Peer-to-Peer program.

via The Algebra Project.

Posted in reading links.

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Entry filed under: Anti-Oppression and Free Schools, Related To Free Schooling. Tags: , , , .

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