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petition to oppose any suspension of hs students

Ottawa After School Discussion Group to Meet
Thursday - 4:30 pm - 396 Cooper Street, Suite 403

There will be a meeting next Thursday at 4:30pm at 396 Cooper Street, Suite 403
 to discuss the next step to take in defense of their right to education. 
Besides discussing our participation in the Access 2000 Day of Action, our 
immediate concern is to mobilize in defence of any suspended high school students. 
A leaflet announcing the formation of the discussion group was distributed at the 
Ottawa rally which is included below. We will be presenting a petition to the 
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Catholic School Board next week.

* * *

Because Education is Our Right and Not a Privilege:
Organize for a Pro-Social Program!
– YOP calls on high school students to take the next step –

The Youth Organizing Project (YOP) in Ottawa is organizing an
after-school program of discussion for high school and university
students to discuss the reasons why they are not involved in taking the
decisions which affect their lives. The meetings take place on Thursdays
at 4:30 pm at the YOP office at 396 Cooper Street, Suite 403. Printed
below is an article by YOP which addresses this issue.

* * *

Students from across Canada have worked really hard to get themselves
out to stand up for their rights, to be at the rallies organized by the
Canadian Federation of Students and other student organizations. We have
done so because we oppose the cuts to education, privatization measures
and other anti-student, anti-social measures being introduced by the
Chretien Liberals and provincial governments.

High school students have opposed the intimidation they have faced from
day one to not participate in this day of protest. They have defied the
notion that they are incapable of making informed choices on the basis
that they are just looking for a day off school and are "attitude
problems" and have faced many other hurdles to be here. The fact is,
there are no forums in the schools that allow students to voice their
opinions and participate in deciding the fate of education just as there
are none in the society where they can participate in taking the
decisions which affect their lives. If there were, it is safe to say
that not a single penny would be slated to be cut from education! We
simply would not allow it.

Every political decision affects the lives of everyone in society. Yet
the majority of the people are marginalized from the political process,
from participating in making the decisions that affect our lives. There
is no question that we cannot leave the realm of education or any other
aspect of society to the likes of Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin, or the
cabinet, a few ministers or any political party which is brought to
power to implement an anti-social agenda, to decide. It is the students,
teachers, professors, parents and others involved in education that must
organize it, determine how much it should cost society and even work out
the content. In this way we will guarantee that it is accessible to
everyone and that it is coherent, planned and benefits the people.

Up to now, how much money should be invested in education is dictated by
how much is "left over" from "paying down the debt," "taming the
deficit," "balancing budgets,", etc. This is ridiculous. Even young
students know they can balance a budget by simply wiping off various
categories from the "expense" side of their ledger. We do it because of
lack of money. But the feds and the provincial governments do it because
they spend all the tax monies to pay the rich and because education,
health care and social programs are not money-making for them! And
students are supposed to be reduced to begging for the so-called
"surplus." In other words, there is no overall planning of the economy
to benefit society. There is no conscious decision by the society on how
much should be invested in education in order to educate the youth so
that they can fully participate in all aspects of society and acquire
the knowledge that has been gained to date. How can society progress so
long as this is the case? The fact that Canada has a high illiteracy
rate is itself proof that the education system is not organized on a
conscious basis. There is no reason why everybody should not be able to
read or write, especially since Canada has an abundance of resources,
both human and natural, at its disposal. People must be able to apply
scientific knowledge and technique let alone read and write in order for
society as a whole to progress. This is coming into contradiction with
the demands of the rich to have everything in society put at their
disposal at whatever cost to human beings and the social and natural
environment. This is creating a crisis in the education system and
society as a whole. Education is part of having a modern, cultured and
humane society. The health of the people is a similar necessity.

As it stands, the Chrétien government and provincial governments are
cutting social program funding. If the governments are not going to
provide health care, education or any social programs and instead push
for privatization, impose user fees on everything including libraries,
education, recreation, etc., then why should these governments exist at
all? If they are not going to provide these things for the people then
why should they get any tax money?

The fact is, today education is reduced to a mere service provided by
the society to serve the needs of the monopolies and institutions for
trained personnel. Education must be considered part of the
responsibility of society to pass on the necessary things people need to
participate in it and continually modernize and humanize it as well as
the environment.

If money is continually withdrawn from post-secondary and public
education or funds are granted for education by means of private
investment portfolios, as in the case of the Millennium Scholarship
Fund, and universities become privatized, it stands to reason that
eventually the society will become more and more ignorant. This is
unacceptable. In this regard, the most important question students are
faced with is how to resolve the crisis facing education and the whole
of society caused by the anti-social offensive and the fact that they
exercise no control over their lives.

In the face of rising tuition fees, growing student debt loads, the
criminalization of the youth, youth unemployment and other problems, we
have organized this day of protest, ultimately, to change the situation
and affirm our rights. But what kind of change do we need? What it is
that needs to be changed has to be further discussed so that we can
together take the next step.

The alternative for us is to organize political groups in the high
schools, hold discussions and consolidate our organizations to further
fight the anti-social offensive and demand the implementation of a
pro-social program. The pro-social program consists of three points
among others. The renewal of the political process, a new and modern
constitution that enshrines the rights of all, including our right to
education, a livelihood, health care, recreational facilities and the
basic necessities: food, shelter and clothing. We must demand that
governments stop paying the rich, increase funding for social programs!
In order to discuss why our rights are not recognized, join the YOP
after school discussion!

For information e-mail yop@magma.ca or call (613) 565-2992.

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