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Baltimore AP Students in Peer 2 Peer Hunger Strike for Public Education Support

From: Betty G. Robinson <bgrobinson@verizon.net>
Subject: Urgent: Baltimore City student hunger strikers need your support — please forward WIDELY!
Date:
Sun, 1 Jun 2008 9:59 am

   

From hunger striker supporters: Please read to get a full understanding of what you can do and why the students are striking. The amount of money is SMALL — .005 of the city budget and the students are just asking for the one year INTEREST on the rainy day fund. Sun Op-Ed at the bottom plus links to other media coverage. If you have friends and family in other states, please forward. They can help also!

Dear friends,

Why the Mayor thinks of the hunger striking students as adversaries is a mystery. They’re the solution, not the problem.

The hunger strikers are entering the third day, and are healthy–examined daily by a physician, spirited, but physically tired, of course. They have been consuming only juice and water since Friday. Great media yesterday on TV and in the paper publicizing the demand for $3 million for youth jobs in the knowledge-based economy. But we need much more.

Mayor Dixon refuses even to schedule a meeting with the young people. On the news she says she already has budgeted $14 million for youth programs. That is less than .005 of the city budget–less than half of one percent.

Students and Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprises are asking for only the interest on the rainy day fund, Councilman Bill Henry’s excellent idea–not a penny from any other program, not even a penny from the rainy day fund, but only the interest.

Call Mayor Dixon today at 410-396-3100 or 410-396-3836
Email her at
mayor@baltimorecity.gov

The students have recommended this script for supporters:

Hello, my name is……and I live in…….. I want to leave a message for the Mayor. I heard that Baltimore City students are on a hunger strike and I think that is outrageous. I am calling to urge the Mayor to fully fund Peer 2 Peer Youth Enterprises to create knowledge-based jobs for youth who might otherwise turn to street crime and violence to support themselves and their families. We must invest in our youth because they are the future of our city! Thank you very much, I will be seeing you at Mayor’s Night In on Monday.

Students are asking you to:

1. Call Mayor Dixon

2. Come to Mayor’s Night In, Monday, 6 PM, War Memorial–(or march with students from Pratt and Light at 5)

3. Donate money/supplies (water, juice, cups, vegetables & fruit for juice,) (call Jay at 443-248-9032)

4. Come to our rallies & bring your friends (next rally: Pratt and Light , Monday, 4:30)

5. Sign our petition

Talking points:

The young people on hunger strike are the solution, not the problem.


Peer-to-peer youth are:

  • engaged, not apathetic
  • educated, not ignorant
  • committed, not distracted
  • creative, not destructive
  • peace-loving, not violent
  • hard-working, not lazy
  • united, not divided.

They’re the solution.

What’s the problem?

Call Mayor Dixon today at the main switchboard 410-396-3835 or if you can’t get through, (410) 396-3100.

E-Mail her at mayor@baltimorecity.gov

Read Bryant Muldrew’s outstanding letter to the Sun below:

Fasting to give city kids a chance

May 31, 2008

I’ve lived long enough to watch my city descend through some levels of the underworld. I ask: Who will stand up to fix the problems of my Baltimore?

We students in a coalition called Peer-to-Peer Enterprises are aware of the injustices city youths face.

Peer-to-Peer organizations employ older youths to teach their younger peers skills and knowledge.

In the past few years these organizations have employed hundreds of youths, helped increase test scores, kept young away people from violence and drugs and established “families” outside the home.

These programs should be expanded and need sustained investment to grow their accomplishments.

The Peer-to-Peer coalition has requested $3 million from the city’s budget to create an additional 700 to 1,000 jobs and provide services to thousands more peers.

The funds would allow youths to participate actively in a knowledge-based economy. Peers help peers learn all kinds of things: public speaking and debate, algebra, theater and playwriting, drumming and dance, video production and much more. These technical skills help students plan successful futures.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution in March requesting that the mayor include this $3 million in the city’s budget. But Mayor Sheila Dixon has refused the council’s request.

The City Council recently missed an opportunity to do something to help us by refusing to fund Peer-to-Peer Enterprises with the interest on the city’s rainy day fund (“Youth fund boost denied,” May 29).

The interest this year will be approximately $3.5 million on a total fund of $88 million.

We don’t understand why an investment in our youth can’t be made from the interest on money that isn’t even being used. In effect, we’re just asking for the loose change under the cushions in the sofa.

Why would the City Council unanimously pass a resolution in March but then tell us in May that we aren’t worth a little interest?

Having exhausted all other courses of action, we have decided that participating in a hunger strike is a way to take action against injustice.

We dedicate our bodies in solidarity with our peers. Educationally, we’re starving already. We choose now to represent voluntarily what’s already happening to us against our will.

We would love to eat of the fruits of knowledge-based jobs and quality education. But our city, not our peers, keeps us hungry.

Bryant Muldrew

Baltimore

The writer is a student at Baltimore City Community College who works for one of the Peer-to-Peer Enterprises groups and is one of the hunger strikers demanding city funding for the Peer-to-Peer program.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bal-md.protest31may31,0,4785526.story

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/letters/bal-ed.le.hungerstrike31may31,0,2792000.story

http://wjz.com/video/?id=39447@wjz.dayport.com

http://indyreader.org/node/129

*******

UPDATE AS OF TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2008:

From: Betty G. Robinson <bgrobinson@verizon.net>
Subject: Hunger Strikers advance a step
Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2008


From the Hunger Striker Support Team:

Responding to hundreds of emails, phone calls, and protestors, Mayor Sheila Dixon offered yesterday to meet with students on Wednesday, inviting “compromise”


PLEASE CONTINUE TO CALL AND EMAIL THE MAYOR–Ask her to fund peer-to-peer enterprises with $3 million.
410-396-3835 (mayor’s office) or 410-396-3100 (main switchboard)
mayor@baltimorecity.gov

In a television interview, Dixon said, “Mayor Dixon said: ‘I’m going to meet with them, but they’ve got to be ready to compromise. We don’t have three million dollars.” Since the mayor had previously refused to schedule a meeting, we consider the openness to meeting and compromise a positive sign. (http://wjz.com/video/?id=39543@wjz.dayport.com). The mayor did not hint, however, at what kind of compromise she might offer.

Students from Peer-to-Peer Youth Enterprises and adult supporters packed the event with about 200 participants. Many were prevented from entering the assembly room by police claiming overcrowding. One student described the occasion as “not Mayor’s Night In, but Peer-to-Peer’s Night Out)

The hunger strikers felt tremendously supported, and later described their sense of power at being able to completely control a public meeting with their message. We will be putting portions of the video on the peer-to-peer website later this week (some today, hopefully) http://p2pyouthenterprises.org/ at the “media” tab.

Today (Tuesday), strikers and the student planning team will be caucusing to determine a negotiating strategy for Wednesday.

THERE WILL BE NO RALLY TUESDAY (June 3, 2008). We will keep you informed.

We have heard that the story has gone national. If anyone sees it, hears it or reads it, please send links!

For more information, please contact: Chris Goodman, Tel. 443.957.5346, E-mail: chris_byc@yahoo.com


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