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New Schools, Not New Wars

by Ray Sosa |
July 1, 2003

Los Angeles, CA - Demanding "Escuelas si, guerra no!" - yes to schools no to war - one hundred parents, students and teachers attended a teach-in and rally, June 4. Latinos Against the War, El Centro CSO and the Roosevelt Revolutionary Students group of East L.A.'s Roosevelt High School sponsored the event.

The community members came to hear speakers, along with a slide show, break-dancers and youth doing some political rap. The program provided examples of how the U.S.-led wars cause destruction throughout the world and raised questions like: Why is it that the U.S. budget for military spending is $400 million, while only $52 million goes to education? Or: Why are there more military recruiters, rather than college recruiters, on our high school campus? Students expressed their concerns about overcrowded conditions and how it is hard to learn from teachers who cannot help you because there are too many students in every classroom.

Student speaker Marlene Mendoza, of Roosevelt Revolutionary Students, pointed out that out of 1800 students that enter the high school, only 500 graduate. This is just one reason why we need two new schools in East Los Angeles.

John Fernandez, a teacher at Roosevelt High School, stated that it is very difficult for the instructors to provide quality education when there are 40 students in each classroom. Rosie Martinez, from SEIU Local 660, told the audience that when she attended an East L.A. school in the 1960's, the high school drop out rate in East Los Angeles was 50% - today the dropout rate is 60%.

Roosevelt High School is one of five schools in the East Los Angeles that has been hit by overcrowded and racist conditions. School administrators are putting students in places like the backs of auditoriums or teachers' lounges because the schools lack classroom space. On some campuses, students must stand up to eat their lunch because there is no room to sit during the lunchtime.

The Los Angeles Unified School District made a decision to build two new schools in the East Los Angeles area. Due to the bureaucracy and red tape, it may take five or six years to begin the construction of the new schools. The overcrowded conditions have frustrated teachers. It makes it difficult for them to teach, and creates an environment that makes it hard for youth to learn. The result is that youth are demoralized and drop out of school.

Our youth are being treated like cattle. There is no quality education and there is a lack of human dignity. That this has gone on so long is a clear form of discrimination and racism directed against the Latino community.

Latinos Against the War and El Centro CSO are fighting to make the LA school district speed up the process of construction for the two new schools in East Los Angeles. These groups are continually raising the demand, "Schools not jails! Schools not wars!" and are planning to continue the struggle to educate the Latino community about U.S. imperialist wars, and how they effect our community.

The way to provide quality education is to build 'New schools, not new wars!' Join us: Latinos Against War: www.latinoscontralaguerra.org and Centro CSO 511 Echandia Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (323) 221-4000. www.centrocso.org