Occupy the Left

I’ve watched the Occupy Wall Street folks, as well as their education analog, Occupy Colleges, and I have to say that I am a little surprised at the seeming reticence of much of the “usual suspects” left. I think a lot of us feel either confused– we’re taking a wait and see attitude– or simply unwilling to tinker– even only rhetorically–with what might be a genuine and growing popular uprising.

Doug Henwood has a nicely cogent analysis that suggests that an authentic movement should be, in effect, rudderless, at least for a while.Robert Reich has pointed out that it’s going to be difficult for the Obama led Democratic party follow the lead of the protesters, simply because Wall Street has done so much to support the current administration. I think the left, maybe especially the educational left, needs to start talking.

We’ve been thinking about these things for years, and I think we have lots ideas that might be put high on the educational agenda if the movement begins to enter what Henwood calls “another stage of more organization and specificity.”  I know I have more than a few. In the long run, we need to figure out how regulations–tied to federal aid– can address the rise of administrative costs and the loss of full-time tenured positions.

In the short-term, we need a student deb forgiveness plan that has real substance.  I think this could have several possible components. It has to include a switch  to a grant based system that would prevent debt in the first place. Another part might be a drop in interest rates on all current loans to 1% as suggested by the “Reduce the Rate” people. Last we need a 100% forgiveness program for anyone in public service.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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