Inglewood, CA Lesson learned: shut down the racist profit system, not schools

05 July 2024 498 hits

Inglewood, CA, June 28, 2024 —Progressive Labor Party (PLP) members and friends attended a teach-in about the school closures in Inglewood which was led by community members. During the event, parents and their children along with other community members and teachers joined the event which included speeches, a PowerPoint presentation, chanting, and a planning session for future events.

The Inglewood school district was taken over by the state of California in 2012. Community members have been concerned in the more recent history that the school board they have elected has no power. Like many other predominantly Black and Latin working-class cities, the City of Inglewood Unified School District (USD) was taken over by the State of California. In return for a loan of $55 million from the State, Inglewood USD agreed to be put in “receivership” and give up control to a State-appointed administrator. A condition of reestablishing local control is payment in full of the loan. 

The current boss of the schools is James Morris, L.A. County Superintendent. It is Morris who has devised the plan to close one of the city's two high schools, and four elementary schools effective at the end of the 2024-2025 school year. Meanwhile, Inglewood USD continues to pay off the loan at exorbitant interest rates, with a final payment expected to be made in 2034!

Leading up to the event, PLP members helped to plan the teach-in and included their base members. One high school student joined the planning meeting and gave her honest assessment that the struggle should include more young people. We discussed how to care for the children at the event which included games and story time. People on the planning committee agreed with PLP that it’s important to expose young children to books and stories that talk about why it’s necessary to be involved in antiracist struggles against bosses. 

The event started with a speaker who had been involved in the struggle from the beginning because her daughter’s school was closing. The speech included information on the connection between the new stadiums that have been built in Inglewood (So-Fi Stadium and Intuit Dome) and the closings. All of the schools closing are in the zone of these new stadiums; some are even torn down and the land turned into parking lots. 

The next speaker was a student who currently attends a high school in Inglewood. This young person gave a passionate speech about the fact that she would not be able to play basketball for the school she had her heart set on going to. She made connections about the profit-hungry corporations who want the school space for parking lots as well as the politicians who are complicit because they refuse to oppose carrying out the racist plans to shut down schools and their abject refusal to meet with concerned parents and students. The student’s speech was followed by an in-depth presentation discussing other districts across California that are also suffering school closings. The presentation brought out the fact that every school district under state control was disproportionately Black and/or Latin. A statewide coalition of concerned parents and community members has organized ways to fight against the closings and help people become more active in their communities. 

Following the speeches and presentations, there was a period of open-mic time. A student, who attended this year’s May Day event in Los Angeles spoke on the mic about her siblings who are going to be affected by the school closings. She spoke about how the politicians are more concerned with lining their pockets than they are with making sure there are enough qualified teachers in the classrooms. She also included the analysis that these schools are run like businesses. She understands that under the system of capitalism, profit is primary and things like education, particularly for Black and Brown students, are expendable. Another Party member, who is also a member of the Lennox-Inglewood Tenants’ Union (LITU), spoke about the housing crisis that exists for Inglewood families. As these stadiums are built and racist gentrification spreads [the city continues to become gentrified, rent and housing prices are skyrocketing. Many families have no other choice but to leave Inglewood. As the schools’ population decreases, the State and County overlord district is choosing to close the schools rather than finding ways to help keep families where they are and work on increasing the school population. Members of LITU attended the event because they too saw the connection between rent increases and school closures.

The only thing that will ensure schools are not being closed down is to build a world without the profit-motive. The majority of students cannot learn under capitalism. With school closures, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of supplies, working-class students across the world are and have always been forced to become cogs in the wheel of capitalism. Teachers in PLP need to continue to organize students and co-workers to join PLP so that we can set up a communist education system that abolishes racism and fosters learning, creativity, and critical thinking.