First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 19, September 13, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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As the new school year opens, the Communist Youth Organization (CYO) is organizing among students as well as young workers to mobilize a revolutionary struggle against capitalism and its attacks on the people.
From the day school begins, the CYO will be carrying on agitation and propaganda and building the struggle against the worsening conditions young people face. The schools have become a hotbed of struggle, with youth once again playing the role of pathbreakers in the struggle against imperialism.
This year, conditions are especially bad. Educational facilities have deteriorated as a result of the nationwide cutbacks. The minority communities have been particularly hard hit. In Detroit, for example, where there are 60% Black youth in that city’s public schools, the school board has closed down all recreational facilities because of “lack of funds.” One Detroit student told The Call: “There doesn’t seem to be a lack of funds when they hire more cops in their ’war against the gangs.’”
Along with school cutbacks has come a rise in youth unemployment, up more than 6% nationally in just the last month. In Detroit, this has meant an increase in police harassment of youth, who are forced onto the streets by the lack of facilities. Mayor Coleman Young has instituted a 10:00 PM. curfew there, which has been used as an excuse for police brutality and jailings of young Black people.
In Chicago, the Board of Education has approved a plan to close down 26 public schools this year. The chances for working-class and minority students to get an education have decreased. Chicago city colleges have tripled their tuition.
The closing down of the City University of New York (CUNY) last spring hurt thousands of young workers’ educational progress. Now it has been reopened with a large general fee, which few working-class students can afford. Hostos, a predominantly Puerto Rican school, has been forced to reopen its doors after massive protest from students and community people, but officials are planning to close it down again this year.
A CYO leaflet explained: “What do all these cutbacks show? They clearly point out that the capitalist system is unable to and has no interest in providing a decent education to working-class youth. Under capitalism, youth serve as a source of cheap labor to fill the sweatshops, quick food restaurants, etc.. .Especially at a time of rising unemployment, young workers are used as a threat to other workers during strikes and as cannon fodder in the imperialists’ wars.”
The question of education for minority youth has always been a special democratic question in this country. The right of Afro-Americans, for example, to attend integrated schools has been met with fascist and Klan-led attacks which have been encouraged by government officials like President Ford. Segregation in the schools has been coupled with attacks on the language rights of minority students.
Nearly all of the special programs which were won out of the bitter civil rights struggles of the ’60s are now being cut back or cut out. A Boston CYO activist pointed out, “In schools, they begin to segregate us very early and undercut the basis for working-class unity. Because schools are places where large numbers of minority and white youth are brought together, CYO is organizing in the schools, demanding the right of all students to attend integrated schools free from racist attacks.
“In Boston, we have combined the fight against school segregation with the defense of bilingual education programs, Black and Latino history and an end to police and racist terror in our communities.”
The CYO, which is one year old this fall, has also taken up the defense of Gary Tyler, a Black youth who was framed for murder in the fight for school integration after a member of a racist mob was shot.
This fall, the CYO is planning to once again take up the struggle against the segregationist anti-busing movement with a mass movement of its own made up of young people of all nationalities. This is being coupled with its nationwide “Jobs For Youth” campaign which got off the ground in the struggle for summer jobs.
In the past two months, according to the Labor Dept., unemployment in general has risen 7.9% while, for youth, it has risen from 18.1% to 19.1%. Unemployment among young Black people has shot up from 34.1% to 40.2%, while for white youths it has climbed from 16.3% to 17.3%. A number of the big monopolies are following the lead of the automakers, who hope to give young people jobs paying $1.00-an-hour less than union wage. All the while, the two superpowers are rapidly preparing for a new world war. This is imperialism’s “solution” to the crisis. These are the conditions this system has to offer its youth.
The CYO is calling on young workers and students to join them in the struggle, to organize and fight for the just demands and rights of the working class and all oppressed people.
For information about the CYO and building the struggle in your school or community, contact the CYO, Box 5698, Chicago, Ill. 60680.