“Do not open schools and daycare centers before the pandemic is under control!” – this is what the network of action committees for safe education demands Resolutionthat an online meeting on Monday evening unanimously approved.
Gregor Link from the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) presented the resolution at the meeting. In his introduction he described the “war-like conditions” of the corona pandemic in several European countries, in which the coronavirus mutation B.1.1.7 is spreading rapidly. He named the horrific numbers of corona deaths in Germany and emphasized that 20,000 Covid patients have died since the beginning of 2021 alone: ”These people have not simply fallen victim to a medical phenomenon: a policy that puts human lives above profits killed them. “
Federal and state politicians of all stripes downgraded schools and daycare centers to custody facilities in order to keep the businesses open. “Mere appeals to these politicians are pointless,” he concluded. The demand for a comprehensive lockdown can only be enforced “if students, teachers, educators and parents take their safety into their own hands.” The action committees must bring their resistance together with that of workers in the factories who are in the pandemic of mass layoffs and wage cuts are threatened. What is needed is a “frontal attack on the capitalist system”, which was “unmasked in the eyes of billions of people” during the pandemic.
The international character of this struggle was made clear by the contribution of Genevieve Leigh, the IYSSE chairman in the USA. Leigh, speaking on behalf of the American Socialist Equality Party, stressed that students, teachers, educators, parents and workers in the United States face the same problems. “In the struggle to save lives, colleges, universities and secondary schools are becoming central battlefields.” In contrast, the university administrations, unions and Republicans and Democrats are “on the other side”.
The new US President Joe Biden is also a representative of the ruling oligarchy, Leigh emphasized. His government has committed itself to opening the educational institutions by the spring. “The Democrats are continuing Trump’s grueling, business-friendly policies in the pandemic.”
Leigh explained the connection between the fascist coup attempt on January 6, the corona pandemic and the rapidly growing social inequality. It is a “political fact that the fascists’ most important demand for the lifting of all restrictions on economic life.” Joe Biden invokes “unity” with the same Republicans and right-wing Trump supporters. “The framework of official politics is not moving to the left, but further to the right.”
The current attacks by Facebook on accounts of socialists, left-wing opposition activists and opponents of the war should only be understood in this context. Leigh reported that Facebook had censored and closed at least six accounts of leading members of the Socialist Equality Party and the IYSSE for no reason in the past week. They were only restored on Monday after immense public pressure. “The immediate censorship has been lifted, but the basic threat remains,” said Leigh.
She described the work of the network of independent action committees in the USA, where committees have already been established in New York, Michigan, California, Texas, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Tennessee; they are also planned in Utah, Colorado and Washington. The pandemic has produced the deepest crisis since the American Civil War. “A year ago, the first patient tested positive for Covid-19 in the USA, and now more than 425,000 people have died and 25 million have become infected.” In addition, numerous existences were destroyed, millions of workers were driven into unemployment and tens of thousands of small businesses been closed. At the same time “the wealth of the rich grew to stratospheric heights”.
This important contribution was followed by a lively discussion. The Bremen high school graduate Meret (18), who, together with classmates, had implemented distance learning at her school, reported that she had already witnessed the deaths of five people in a part-time job in the care sector. The next step must be to coordinate the school boycott for consequent school closings nationwide. However, the politicians used the exam pressure to force the graduating classes into schools.
This was also confirmed by the high school student Jaimy from Saxony. He reported that his senior year had been forced back into schools on January 18. Florian from Baden-Württemberg listed several examples of new strikes and initiatives in schools where new resistance is forming in Saarland, Saxony, Brandenburg and elsewhere. He emphasized how important it is to fight the pandemic together around the world in view of the new mutations: “The virus is spreading across national borders, and it can only be stopped with measures that are not limited to the national area.”
Joshua, a student from Bavaria, spoke about the pathetic role the so-called “left” parties and unions played in the pandemic and confirmed that the GEW had called for schools to be opened in the summer and described the mask requirement as “educationally nonsensical” . He emphasized: “The struggle must be waged independently of these tendencies and against them.”
Tamino, a student from Karlsruhe, then spoke about the massive problems with the distribution of the vaccine and warned against equating the beginning of the vaccination with the return to normal. “Global demand for the vaccine has increased tensions between countries. Instead of jointly deciding on the distribution internationally, the amounts are negotiated through nationalist battles between the states. “
Clemens, who is currently doing an FSJ in a day-care center, spoke about the social situation of many workers under conditions of rising unemployment, where mini-jobbers, temporary workers and self-employed people with the corona situation are pushed into poverty and literally blackmailed. “In the official reports, the real numbers are calculated nicely,” he said. “The unions have been suppressing the industrial disputes throughout the last year, and they support the end of the lockdown.” Therefore, it is crucial to lead the newly breaking out strikes together internationally, independently of the unions.
Students and educators also spoke at the meeting and described their special situation. Christopher, a student from Leipzig, reported that he was infected with Covid-19 while working part-time as a cyclist in a fast-food chain and had been fired for informing his colleagues about it. He gave a vivid picture of this hard work under high time pressure and with poor pay. He showed how greedy entrepreneurs systematically cover up the corona outbreaks.
Martin, an educator from Leipzig, described the great anger that spreads among the educators because they work with large groups of children without protection and are literally burned by politicians in the pandemic.
The resolution “For a Europe-wide school strike against the school opening!” Was adopted unanimously and without dissenting votes. Christoph Vandreier, the deputy chairman of the Socialist Equality Party, summarized the most important lessons: The extent of the pandemic has now made “all the questions that we have been explaining for a long time very tangible”. Leigh made this very clear in her contribution on the connection between Trump’s fascist coup attempt and the murderous pandemic policy of the rulers. “The ruling class relies on the politics of death; their entire social system is bankrupt, ”stated Vandreier.
Workers and students are now being put under massive pressure to return to the factories and schools under pandemic conditions, “so that the profits bubble up”. Vandreier also emphasized the importance of reacting aggressively to these attacks. “There is enormous opposition. We must give a strong, international and comprehensive response to this. For that we need a very broad movement that encompasses the entire working class. Only a general strike can force the closure of all non-systemically important businesses. For that we need a socialist perspective. “