US: Student Debt Slavery: Time to Level the Playing Field


Common Dreams | January 07, 2018

“If the federal government won’t act and individual action seems too daunting, however, there is a third possibility for relief – state-owned banks that cut out private middlemen and recycle local money for local purposes at substantially reduced rates.” (Illustration: enisaksoy/Getty Images)

This is the second in a two-part article on the debt burden America’s students face. Read Part 1 here.

The lending business is heavily stacked against student borrowers. Bigger players can borrow for almost nothing, and if their investments don’t work out, they can put their corporate shells through bankruptcy and walk away. Not so with students. Their loan rates are high and if they cannot pay, their debts are not normally dischargeable in bankruptcy. Rather, the debts compound and can dog them for life, compromising not only their own futures but the economy itself.

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WTO and Commodification of Education

by Neha Chauhan\

Frontier | November 23, 2017

Is it tenable to propose and perceive education as a commodity or a good which can be traded? Is education a state responsibility or an “opportunity” which only the select few can avail? When citizens become consumers and corporations’ rights are protected with more vigour than human rights, there seems to be nothing wrong with the scenario wherein education can be treated as a commodity with profit and loss as its guiding factor.

Under the WTO regime education is a tradable service and therefore subject to the same liberalization rationale as other tradable commodities and services. In 1994, with the conclusion of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) national laws and regulations of many countries governing education became the object of an international trade regime. At the time, few members of the education community noticed.[1] The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) also contains the cross border provisions of education. Currently negotiations are underway to expand the scope of the liberalization commitments in GATS.Read More »

USA Today: “20,000 DACA Teachers at Risk — and Your Kids Could Feel the Fallout, Too”

America’s Voice | October 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – A USA Today story, “20,000 DACA teachers at risk — and your kids could feel the fallout, too,” highlights the fact that DACA recipients work in many different jobs that help Americans – including teaching children in our nation’s classrooms. This is yet another reason why Congress must act with urgency to resolve Dreamers’ status.  Excerpts below: Read More »

New School announces Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy fellowships

The New School for Social Research | August 15, 2017

Paul M. Sweezy and Harry Magdoff

In the 1970s, Paul Sweezy, one of the 20th century’s most influential Marxist economists, came to The New School for Social Research to teach. Prior to that, he was an influential tutor at Harvard where his students included none other than Robert Heilbroner, who went on to become an NSSR faculty member and later, the namesake of the school’s Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies.Read More »

Sweezy at sixty


MR Online | June 13, 2017

Quote from Chief Justice Ed Warren in Sweezy v. New Hamphsire

This article from The Higher Edition blog commemorates Sweezy v. New Hampshire at 60 years—the first supreme court ruling in support of academic freedom. However, the author makes some intriguing observations about the concurring opinion in Sweezy (by Justice Frankfurter), which established what are known as the “‘four essential freedoms’ that should be outside the reach of government, i.e., ‘to determine on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.’” The author argues that this part of the opinion can be exploited by “universities-as-corporations or universities-as-individuals…to start asserting their autonomy as a form of academic freedom.” Given the fact that “administrations have taken steps to expand their supervisory role into areas previously reserved for faculty jurisdiction, from curriculum planning to oversight of the accreditation process,” this is indeed a worrying prospect. —Eds.

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York hosts international conference on “Marx’s Capital after 150 Years”

by Babak Amini

York University | June 07, 2017

The keynote speaker, Immanuel Wallerstein, with York’s Marcello Musto (image: Marina Tarantini)

An international conference to mark  the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Marx’s Capital was held May 24 to 26 at York University.

Organized by Marx Collegium (York University), under the directorship of Marcello Musto, associate professor of sociology, the conference brought together some of the leading scholars in the fields of sociology, political science, and philosophy from more than 20 universities and 10 countries to critically discuss the history, the content, and the relevance of this path-breaking book.

As one of the largest academic events in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LAPS) in many years, the three-day event attracted a large audience, with more than 1,000 students, scholars, and activists coming from as far as Nepal, Japan, Mexico and Nicaragua. The closing session, with a keynote speech by Professor Immanuel Wallerstein (Yale University), was attended by more than 300 people.Read More »

Just Wait Until I Get Tenure


MR Online | 03 April, 2017

A Facebook friend, Steven Salaita, recently wrote a post about academe arguing that tenure-track professors are kidding themselves if they say they will become more radical once they get tenure. Given Steven’s vicious treatment by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, whatever he writes about higher education is worth reading. I agreed with his post, and I made a long reply. Here, I incorporate what I said into a more coherent commentary.

The first thing to understand about colleges and universities is that they are workplaces. And like all workplaces in capitalist societies, they are organized as hierarchies, with power radiating downward. From the Board of Trustees, to the top administrators, to the tenured faculty, to the tenure-stream faculty, to the vast mass of adjuncts and short-term contract faculty, to the administrative staff, clerical workers, custodians, groundskeepers, and cafeteria employees. Those at the top have as their central objective control over the enterprise, so that their power can be maintained, that revenues from tuition, grants, money from various levels of government, and the like keep flowing in, that the prestige of the college or university grows. And, of great importance, that those below them do not and cannot make trouble by challenging their authority.Read More »

Damage caused by the U.S. blockade to education in Cuba


Granma | 28 September, 2016

The U.S. blockade prevents Cuba from obtaining tools, state-of-the-art applications and IT resources. Photo:Jose M. Correa

The aggressiveness of this policy markedly increased from April, 2015 through March, 2106; affecting in particular the export of educational services from Cuba to other countries. This, according to Dr. Paul Torres Fernández Ministry of Education (Mined) spokesman, during a recent press conference.

Dr. Torres highlighted losses associated with having to operate in distant markets, one of the areas where the negative impact of the blockade is most evident, with higher shipping fees raising costs for the island.

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Students Take Lead to Reclaim US Public Education from Corporate Assault

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Common Dreams | 04 May, 2016

Fight for 15 advocates showed solidarity with teachers, parents, and students in Missouri on Wednesday. (Photo: @Show_Me$15/Twitter)

Parents, teachers, and students took part in rallies and “walk-ins” across the country on Wednesday, seeking to “reclaim” U.S. public schools from the grips of corporate reformers and privatization schemes.Read More »