Monthly Archives: October 1972

1972.10.27 — High School Students Demand Right to Distribute Newspaper (The Militant)

1972.10.27 -- High School Students Demand Right to Distribute Newspaper -- Militant 1972.10.27 — High School Students Demand Right to Distribute Newspaper — Militant

1972.10.20: Red Tide Staffers and Lawyer Explain Today’s Lawsuit Battle — Warrior

1972.10.20 -- Red Tide Staffers and Lawyer Explain Today's Lawsuit Battle -- Warrior_Page_1 1972.10.20 -- Red Tide Staffers and Lawyer Explain Today's Lawsuit Battle -- Warrior_Page_1 1972.10.20 -- Red Tide Staffers and Lawyer Explain Today's Lawsuit Battle -- Warrior_Page_2 1972.10.20 — Red Tide Staffers and Lawyer Explain Today’s Lawsuit Battle — Warrior

1972.10.05: Students Lose 1st Round Over ‘Red Tide’ Paper (L.A. Times)

1972.10.05 -- Students Lose 1st Round -- LAT_Page_1 1972.10.05 -- Students Lose 1st Round -- LAT_Page_2 1972.10.05 — Students Lose 1st Round — LAT

1972.10.01: Suppression Ruled Fair (Red Tide)

1972.10.00 -- Suppression Ruled Fair -- ML -- Red Tide

Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
October 1972

Suppression Ruled Fair
[By Michael Letwin]

As a lot of you probably know by now, the Red Tide was denied a preliminary injunction to stop the Board of Education from enforcing their rules prohibiting sale, and requiring prior censorship, of all material to be distributed.

On October 20, our hearing began in the Superior Court, Dept. 59, Judge Charles H. Y Church presiding, at 9:00 am. We walked into a small (not like Judd for the Defense) courtroom with about 75 seats and sat down.

This was the stage in the trial where we had a chance to really present our argument, a task that was performed beautifully by Leon Letwin, our attorney. Leon spoke for about an hour, and when he was finished, there was no doubt in our mind that he had expressed our argument in the best possible way.

After we gave our argument, the defense (School Board) attorney had his chance. He first denied that the Board Rule required prior censorship, but after a few minutes of arguing with the judge, he finally conceded that the Board does, in fact require prior censorship, but that he “didn’t like” that phrase.

The defense spoke for about 10 minutes, mentioned some of the documents that they had filed in court the day before, and stressed that there was not enough knowledge of the facts for the judge to make his decision. This of course was just a stalling action, as there are no facts in this case that are disputed, only those of the law and the Constitution. The defense maintained this because they knew that they do not have a strong case. They know that students are legally and constitutionally entitled to freely express themselves on campus, without prior censorship, and to be able to reimburse themselves.

Well, finally when the defense was finished, the judge promptly said that he did not see the need for us to get an injunction, as he thought that the school rules were fair. We all expected this type of result from him, but we were still sort of astounded that the judge could so easily ignore our arguments. We found out that since the judge already made up his mind beforehand, nothing we could say would change his mind, no matter how fine of an argument we had. So we were denied the injunction.

Oh, another interesting thing to note is that the Citizens Legal Defense Alliance, that right wing counterpart to the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit against the Board of Education for allowing the distribution of the Red Tide on campuses, even with the limited rights that we have.


Another interesting thing to look at is one of the documents that the School Board submitted to the court. One of them labeled “interrogatories” (after interrogation), requested the court to command us to answer questions such as where our finances some from, who thought of the name “The Red Tide,” the name and address of everyone who works on the production of the paper, and it also listed all the articles in the last issue and asked who wrote each one, and whether or not they were written by adults.

These questions have no bearing on our lawsuit, they are intended entirely to again bring up speculation that the Red Tide is too “professional” to be written, laid out and financed by hi school dummies. That the Red Tide is most likely put out by Moscow, or the Weatherpeople. In effect they imply, “come on now, you don’t expect us to believe that hi school people are smart enough to write their own newspaper, and devise ways to finance it? After all, look at the lousy education we give them in school.” Again we say we are glad that we didn’t rely on hi school for our education.

But aside from the implications that are spread throughout the document, there is something more important involved than the specific questions. Questions like these were used throughout a time in American history known as the McCarthy “period,” in which thousands of Americans were investigated by a Senator Joe McCarthy and the House on Un-American Activities Committee and others in the late 1940s and 1950s.

This committee asked questions like this of people who they were trying to prove to be communists (we don’t deny it). Nixon, when he was a Congressman in the late ’40s, helped in this great crusade. People were jailed for not answering questions like this, many lost their jobs and were unable to find new ones, and people such as the Rosenbergs were killed in the electric chair for allegedly being Soviet spies. The Board of Education’s questions reek of this era.

So what now? Well we aren’t giving up: The more we think about it, the more important the case is. It is essential that hi school students everywhere know that the administration of a particular school or Board can‘t get away with whatever it wants, that if we know our rights then we can win in Supreme Court. The court case, when and if we win, will have effect on both state and national level, in an indirect way. It could set a precedent for hi school students everywhere to point to in court, and bring judges to the realization that they might have to rule in favor of the people.

By the time you read this, we will have filed an appeal in the District Court of Appeals, the next higher court. And if we don’t win there, then we will appeal it to the California Supreme Court. And we will eventually win because we don’t believe the School Board can get away with what they’re doing forever. Students will seize their rights through the courts or outside of them.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:]

1972.10.01: [Ballot] Propositions (Red Tide)


Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
October 1972

[Ballot] Propositions
[By Michael Letwin]

On election day, November 7, the people of California will vote on Proposition 22, the so-called “Agricultural Labor Relations Initiative” The lettuce growers, the Farm Bureau and the other right wing agribusiness interests who are sponsoring the proposed law present the measure a new and better way of solving farm labor disputes in California agriculture.

But any objective examination of the law will expose its real purpose: to destroy the United Farm Workers Union and make it a crime for farm workers, most of them Chicanos, blacks and Filipinos to organize into a union of their own in California. Proposition 22 accomplishes its goals in the following ways.

*Proposition 22 outlaws the farm workers boycott. It would make it illegal to ask people not to buy scab lettuce, with a sentence of one year in jail or $5000 or both.

*Proposition 22 defines worker/union violations of the law as “unlawful acts” punishable by criminal penalties. But employer violations are “unfair labor practices” punishable at worst by a civil suit.

*The proposition prohibits farm worker picketing of any retail store or supermarket, contrary to the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions protecting such activity.

*Proposition 22 abolishes the right of farm workers to strike. Growers would receive automatic 60-day injunctions, without hearings, against strikes or the threat of strike, from local superior courts — the same rural courts that enjoined the 1970 Salinas lettuce strike. Few, if any, seasonal jobs last for 60 days.

Proposition 22’s so-called “secret ballot elections” process to determine union representation would disenfranchise the vast majority of migrant and seasonal farm workers — the workers most in need and most likely to vote for the Farm Workers Union. The law says elections “Shall be set at a time when the number of temporary employees does not exceed the number of permanent employees.” On a ranch with 10 fulltime workers but 100 temporary or seasonal workers, 90 workers would be denied the right to vote.

If the Farmworkers ever won an election — and 22 makes that very unlikely — Prop. 22 makes it a crime for workers to negotiate on such important issues as pesticide protection, successor clauses, hiring halls or mechanization.

Proposition 22 was qualified for the ballot through the use of fraud and misrepresentation. Many of those who signed the initiative petition were told it was for “Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Union” and that it would lower food prices. The actual text of the initiative was purposely covered by pink cards. A public relations agent for the growers, quoted by the L.A. Times, told his paid petition gatherers, “don’t let them read anything if you can avoid it, just refer them to the information on the pink card. It has everything they need to know.” (Is it likely that the major financial backers of Proposition 22 — listed by the Secretary of State Edmund Brown — the California Farm Bureau, the Beef and Dairy Industries, the Salinas Grower, and Hunt-Wesson Foods- would contribute money to a law that would lower food prices?)

L.A. District Attorney, Joseph Busch reported an investigation by his office uncovered “widespread fraud” involved in the gathering of signatures for the grower initiative. On September 14, Secretary of State Ed. Brown Jr., filed suit in Sacramento to remove Proposition 22 from the ballot, calling it the “worst case of election fraud to ever be uncovered in Calif.”

The growers committees to pass Proposition 22 say that their campaign will be linked to a massive media blitz in the last two weeks before the election “costing upwards of $800,000.” According to the PACKER, a major agribusiness publication, “the committees expect to restrict campaigning to a short term, concentrated effort, thus making it difficult for members to refute them.”

Ads favoring 22 say this proposition would help the farm workers. As we have seen this is a lie. Signers of the petition to get the initiative on the ballot were not allowed to read what was proposed, and thousands of signees have signed affidavits to that effect. It is with this kind of gall that the big business interests propose to destroy the United Farm Workers.


Proposition 9: Vote YES. 9 would provide funds for rebuilding unsafe school buildings. This prop. directly affects students. Although we all know that we have a lousy “education,” it would be better to have it in safe rather than unsafe buildings.

Proposition 11: Vote YES. 11 would make it easier to sue the government for invasion of privacy, when it is collecting data on the personal and political beliefs of different people.

Propositions 10 and 12: Vote YES. These two propositions would give tax exemption to blind and disabled veterans who were put into that state while supposedly “fighting for their country.”

Proposition 14: Vote NO. 14 would lower property taxes while raising taxes on sale items.

Proposition 15: Vote NO.  Under the pretext of saving money, 15 would make it illegal for public employees to strike — teachers, sanitation, hospital workers, etc. — who are already some of the most poorly paid workers in the country.

Proposition 16: Vote NO. 16 would raise the pay of another of the state’s instruments of repression, the Highway Patrol.

Proposition 17: Vote NO. 17 would reinstate the death penalty in California, thereby reversing the stand that the California Supreme Court took.

Proposition 18: Vote NO. 18 would loosen the definition of obscenity so that the government would be able to crack down on movies, publications and anything that they didn’t like with the cry of “obscene” (even John Wayne is against it.)

Proposition 19: Vote YES. 19 would make it legal for adults to possess, cultivate, transport, etc., marijuana.

Proposition 20: Vote YES. 20 would stop the development and destruction of Calif.’s coastline by big industry.

Proposition 21: Vote NO. 21 would completely eliminate any bussing and racial integration in California.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:

1972.10.01: Elections Same Old Story (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:]

Red Tide #6 (Vol. II, No. 2), October 1972
Elections Same Old Story
[By Michael Letwin]

In 1972, we’re in the midst of a presidential election. We hear about this election every day, on radio and in the papers. Millions of the American people, and thousands of hi school students from all sectors of American life have put their hopes and energy of the two major candidates running for president, George McGovern, or Richard Nixon.

Because of the great attention that the election has been given, let’s look at what these two politicians records and stands on the issues are.

In Nixon’s term of office he has instituted a freeze on the wages of the working people of this country, has held office during the murder of millions of Indochinese people, has forced thousands of strikers to go back to work, has had students shot in the streets, has continued the immense oppression of blacks, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Asians, and Native Americans. Horrible, right?

On the other hand we have George McGovern. McGovern claims that he would make major changes in this society, that he is significantly different from Richard Nixon. Is he?

McGovern has voted for 11 war appropriations during the years 1967-69, even though he is supposedly the “peace” candidate. He has said that:

“While I am willing to cast a symbolic vote against military spending to indicate my opposition to the War, and to waste in military programs, I firmly believe that the United States needs an adequate national defense. I would not vote to undermine that defense”.

It is talk of “defense” that got us into Viet Nam in the first place. So while talking peace, McGovern supports many of the same kind of policies that Richard Nixon does. While there is gross poverty in this country and the world, McGovern talks about defense spending!

McGovern was not as “immediate withdrawal” from Viet Nam as he seems. In an interview with PLAYBOY magazine (August 1971) he said that if elected: “I would think that negotiations could begin within 30 days after I became president and once those negotiations were completed I see no reason why a full withdrawal couldn’t be executed in nest or eight months time. . . .”

McGovern’s limited opposition to the Viet Nam war was not based on the fact that the Vietnamese people should have the right of self­-determination, and that the U.S. has no rights to be the world’s policeman, but rather that this particular war is too costly. As McGovern explained in the New York Times Magazine on March 21, 1971: “To be opposed to our senseless support of a corrupt and unrepresentative regime in Saigon doesn’t mean that I see no essential American interests abroad.”

His view on Israel is not much different than that of Nixon’s: “The Middle East is more important than Viet Nam in terms of both our security and our traditions. . . The principal concerns for Israel are to make sure that its borders are defensible and that its right to exist is recognized by the Arab states. . . Israel is the one free state we have in the Middle East… I would be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure its survival.” (PLAYBOY magazine, August 1971). This position flagrantly ignores the rights of the Palestinian people, two million of whom were driven from their homeland [and] made into refugees.

McGovern does not represent a new policy for  American colonialism. He, like Nixon, supports the exploitation of people all over the world in South America, the Middle East, and Africa.


Nixon has pitted himself against the black liberation movement in this country, in his four office, what does McGovern think?

“The negro moderates who have counseled patience and legal redress would be swept aside by the radicals who preach hate and violence. We would then see the bible of Martin Luther King, and the long suffering patience of Roy Wilkins replaced by the dangerous direct action of Malcolm X and his kind. Race riots, night bombings, assassinations, would rage until blood flows in the streets.” (Congressional Record, June 4, 1964).

He also voted for the controversial 1968 amendment which made it a federal offense to travel in or use the facilities of interstate commerce to incite a riot. Several Black leaders, including H.Rap Brown, were subsequently framed up and charged under this law.

Some people say that you can’t look at a politicians past record to determine their views, but what else do we have?

McGovern has also implied that he if elected would give George Wallace a place in his cabinet, even if he could not be McGovern’s vice­-president (no doubt to help black people).


Another atrocity that Nixon has committed is his attack on working people, Such measures as the wage freeze and sending strikers back to work. What about McGovern? His supporters claim that he would make drastic: changes to stop the attacks on working people. But McGovern’s orientation is fundamentally pro-business. “I understand that the progress and success of the American economy depends primarily on creating conditions in which private business can function well”. (Christian Science Monitor, July 16, 1972).

McGovern and Nixon both claim that inflation has been caused by high wages, but lets look at the figures:

[Prices table omitted]

A total of over 28% in ten years! (U.S. government statistics, Monthly Labor Review.) Average weekly buying power from 1965 to today has only gone up from $102.41 to $102.78. The real reason for inflation is rising profits, the War, and huge defense spending.

[A] further example of McGovern’s attitude is reported in the Congressional Record of November 10, 1971: “A freeze on profits is totally inappropriate.” So who is McGovern interested in? One way to find out is to look at who the major supporters of the McGovern campaign are:

Ruth Handler, president of Mattel Toys
Charles Swibel, president of Marina Management Co.
Stuart Mott, GM heir, U.S. sugar heir
Jubal Patten, Housten oil millionaire
Robert Townsend, president of Avis, IT&T subsidiary
Henry Niles, president of Baltimore Life Insurance
James Kerr, president of AVCO, director of Republic steel, chairman of Carte Blanche, vice-president of Aerospace Industrial Assn.

This is only a partial list. As you might have noticed, IT&T is listed as one of McGovern’s major contributors. Remember a few months ago when IT&T’s slightly illegal connections with Nixon were exposed? It seems that IT&T has no more scruples about supporting supposedly opposite candidates than either of those candidates have about accepting their money.

McGovern voted to send the dock workers back to work after they had been striking in 1971, on the pretext that this was good for them and the economy. However let’s look at this quote from Ruth Handler, president of Mattel Toy, a major McGovern supporter: “Our special problem at Mattel toy was the West Coast Dock Strike, which before Christmas cut off shipments of toys and accessories made in our plants in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.” Is there any doubt about who he was really working for?


McGovern has devoted some attention to the issue of women’s rights. He has stated that if elected that he would be different than Nixon by appointing women to the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, and other high government offices.

However McGovern backs down on many of the key demands of the women’s liberation movement. He doesn’t, just like Nixon, support the right of women to control their own bodies, and have the right of legal abortion on demand. As he said in the New York Times on June 9, 1972: “I’m not going around preaching (abortion) as a major part of the McGovern campaign because I think its irrelevant”.

Is it irrelevant that thousands of women are butchered by back street abortionists each year because of strict anti-abortion laws? He also doesn’t support free 24 hour day care centers for children of working mothers.


In terms of gay people. McGovern stood against the gay rights plank at the Democratic Convention, and the representative of the McGovern campaign who McGovern delegated to speak related the gay rights movement to the specter of “child molestation”, “pandering”, and “prostitution”. Nixon, no doubt agrees completely with Senator McGovern, as he has enforced anti-gay rights legislation.


For years, thousands of hi school people have worked for politicians like Nixon and McGovern, licking stamps and ringing door bells day and night. But what have we received in return? Not one of these politicians has worked or spoke to the needs of hi school people. Every gain we have made in our schools has resulted from struggles involving thousands of hi school students, fighting administrations, school boards, and principals.


So we see that Nixon and McGovern both stand for the same basic system, and in terms of people’s basic oppression, it makes little difference who wins. Both very concretely stand for corporate profit before human needs.

The individual problems of America cannot be solved without going to the roots of those problems, our economic system. Although it was possible to give limited support to McGovern before the recent Viet Nam settlement in the hopes that he would end the War, and Nixon wouldn’t, we see that this is not the case.

We don’t believe that change can be brought about through the system, it never really has been. Every major change in American history has been brought about by mass movements, not kindhearted rulers or presidents.

The great “New Deal” that happened in the 1930’s, which reformed some of the more blatant injustices in society, was because of the immense threat of revolt. The government knew that if it didn’t take certain steps to reform that it might not exist too much longer. This was the case with Women’s Suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement and the Viet Nam War.

We don’t believe that elections can bring about fundamental change because we can’t vote out our whole social economic system, which is responsible for our problems. The system can be changed only by overthrowing the foundations upon which these kind of elections are held, and by replacing it with socialism, the democratic control of the worlds wealth by those who produce it.

1. Who Governs McGovern, Progressive Labor Party.
2. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About George McGovern, Young Socialist Alliance.
3. Congressional Record.
4. New York Times.
5. Playboy Magazine.
6. Christian Science Monitor.

1972.10.01: Peace of What? (Red Tide)

Peace of What? -- Red Tide

Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
October 1972

Peace of What?
[By Michael Letwin]

Well, it seems that Nixon and Kissinger, and the big corporations that are behind them, finally realized that there is too much public opinion, and stiff resistance from the Vietnamese people, for the U.S. to completely wipe out Viet Nam, or to remain there as they have been doing.

They therefore seem to have come to an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front to get out. Henry Kissinger, in a nationally broadcasted T.V. press conference on October 26, 1972, said that the agreement provides, among other things:

1. Withdrawal of all U.S. forces within 60 days in coincidence with the release of P.O.W.s on both sides.

2. “Right of Self-determination for South Viet Nam,” to be determined by elections to take place in a time and manner to be agreed upon by the Thieu dictatorship and the National Liberation Front. These negotiations would also set a date for the reunification of Viet Nam and the state of armed forces in South Viet Nam.

3. Third-party administration to be in control in the interim period before elections, to be composed of the Thieu dictatorship, the National Liberation Front, and other religious and political groups.

However, many of the points of this agreement have already been broken by the U.S. Both sides had agreed on Oct. 8th that the bombing would stop on the 18th, [and] that the agreement would be signed in Hanoi and Saigon on the 19th and in Paris on the 26th. The U.S. has consistently moved the date farther and farther away, either to show that the U.S. is not really in that pressed of a position that it has to keep its agreements or because it has no intention to sign and is stalling until after the elections.

These points are almost identical to those that were reached in 1954 in Geneva, to settle the conflict in Viet Nam. What happened then?

Well, the elections were supposed to take place two years later, in 1956. However, the U.S. stopped these elections from taking place. President Eisenhower (whose vice-president was Nixon) said that if he allowed the elections to take place, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the revolutionary forces, would “win by 80%.”

So what is happening now (if in fact it does happen) is the realization by the U.S. of the 1954 Geneva Accords that they broke 18 years ago. Kissinger also said that the document would not be signed until after one more meeting with the D.R.V., which at the time of this article has yet to take place.

The Nixon administration is trying to show that they are responsible for bringing “peace” to Viet Nam (at a coincidental time of only one week or so before the elections). Just the opposite! The Nixon administration has perpetuated the Viet Nam war and only when it realized that it could no longer safely carry it on, did it make an effort to end it.

Nixon and Kissinger have been carefully negotiating for 4 years, [so] why did it take until a few days before the elections to come to a settlement? Nixon claims that the reason is because the Vietnamese have refused this type of offer before.

This is a lie. The Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and the National Liberation Front have for over 3 years proposed a program which says the same things in effect that the U.S. proposal says. The following is the text of what is known as the Vietnamese “7 point program.” Compare it to the U.S. proposals and see if after all it isn’t Nixon who has changed his mind. The two major points of this proposal are that:

1. Regarding the military situation: the U.S. must set a date for the total withdrawal of all U.S. troops, military personnel, weapons and war materials and those of its allies.

2. Regarding the political situation in South Viet Nam: the U.S. must end its intervention in the internal affairs of South Viet Nam and stop backing the regime of Nguyen Van Thieu.

The U.S. agreement fails to mention the U.S. bases in Thailand, a neighbor from which the American planes bomb Viet Nam.

Nixon wants to make sure he is reelected, and he knows that if he makes peace in Viet Nam, he will be looked upon by many as the great “peacemaker” of our time. Under Nixon’s administration, millions of Vietnamese have been killed, and much of its land destroyed. How can anyone look at him as the great peacemaker?

The real peace makers are the Indochinese people who struggled for 18 years against American domination, and the anti-war movement in this and other countries that have demonstrated and worked to keep the issue of the war a major thing in the minds of the people, thereby forcing Nixon to make any kind of deal, instead of dropping an atomic bomb on the country.

The most important thing to remember is that it is a victory for people all over the world that even this conditional peace has come about. This is not a credit to Nixon that after 18 years of U.S.-perpetrated death and corruption he finally decided to end it.

We do not believe that the withdrawal from Viet Nam represents any policy change. The U.S. is still in many countries both militarily and economically, and oppresses and destroys people all over the world. This is done so that companies in this country excel in their profits even though the government, who is controlled by these very companies, would have us believe that when we kill Vietnamese or Columbians or Guatemalans that we are doing it for their own “good” and “freedom.”

The U.S. knows that if people gain their freedom in one part of the world, that it will inspire people inspire people in other colonized countries to revolt, and that someday the U.S. will not be the kind of monster it is today, but rather that its wealth will be used to benefit the people of the world, from which all of it has come.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:

1972.10.01: Moving the Schools (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:]

Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
October 1972

Moving the Schools
[By Michael Letwin]

With all the constant turmoil around the school rules pertaining to distribution of material on campus, we have a classic example of how the schools react to pressure, and in fact how all institutions in this society work, in regard to change. The example that we have been living with since Oct. 1971 is the distribution of materials on campus, in particular, the Red Tide.

We first distributed the Red Tide in November of 1971. At the time the Board of Education had a rule that stated that (§ 1275): “No circulars, publication, or bulletin whose purpose is to spread propaganda or to foster membership in or subscriptions to the funds of any organization not directly authorities, shall not be distributed or shown to the pupils on school premises during the school hours or within one hour before the opening or within one hour after the closing of the school” (except of course their own propaganda).

This rule was legally in effect until March 4, 1972 at which time State Education Code 10611 went into effect, which gives students the right to express their views on campus.

But let’s look at how this works out in reality. The second issue of the Red Tide came out a day or two after the date of effect of the new law. Law 10611 had stipulated that the local school boards were to adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the new law, by the time of its effective date.

But as we all remember, the School Board did not react to this new law, even after they were informed of it, until after a student demonstration at University Hi, and a substantial amount of publicity forced them to do so. When the rules finally did get changed (and their position has only finally been made clear on Oct. 20’s hearing), it was the result of a law suit, media publicity, and the unknown possibility of student action. And one day before the preliminary hearing on the new law suit, the rules on “non-school literature” were finally sent around to homerooms at Uni. Some coincidence!

Why did it take so long for the Board to react to a law which they knew about since Oct. 8, 1971? They had five months to prepare for new local rules. But they didn’t. It took the threat of drastic action to get them to more just a little bit. You can’t even find out what their rules are unless you present a real threat to their isolated security. Only when public opinion or legal opinion have scrutinized their actions, have they taken care to make sure that they were within their legal rights.

Well, what does this mean? It means that when the school authorities finally do get off their asses and make themselves clear, and a little bit legal, it is not out of the milk of human kindness in their hearts! It is because they are pushed into a situation in which they feel that they have no choice. It has taken 8 months to finally get the Board to make its position vaguely clear.

We are told in this society that we have certain guaranteed rights. Not true! We have rights only as long as we fight for them, and as as long as the rulers feel that they can maintain their present system with those rights in existence. When someday the existence of this system is in real immediate danger of crumbling, then we will not have these rights. As soon as real change in people’s ideas and actions take place to overthrow the system, our rights will be denied.

We are told that this is the greatest country in the world because of the right of people to express themselves freely. We feel that this past year has shown that we do not have all of these “divine” rights, especially if you are in school, prison, or on the job.

This is not unique to the school system. There is a law against murder in this country, yet that did not stop the government from killing strikers on the picket line ever since the 1840’s, “legally” killing Black Panthers, and committing genocide in Viet Nam.

America does not stand for “good”. It has a history of denying rights to its people ever since its conception, and the only reason that we have any these days is because America has been forced to allow them. By strikes, rebellions, and threat of revolution.

It‘s kind of different than what we’re told in the history and civics books, huh?

What we have to remember is that every right we do have was brought about by a struggle, and that if any are to remain we will have to fight for those also.

1972.10.01: Keeping Track (Red Tide)

Keeping Track (Red Tide)

Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
October 1972

Keeping Track
[By Michael Letwin and Karen Pomer]

Tracking is a system which determines what kind of education people will get in school according to their race, sex and social-economic class in accordance with what occupations are currently in need of personnel, despite where your interests lie. Tracking in the schools is one of the biggest ways that our society has of maintaining our present system of distribution of jobs.

Since very few people know what tracking is and very few people know how much it has and will affect peoples futures, in the next few issues, we will be running a detailed series on tracking, how it works and its purpose.

In this issue we will give a general introduction to what tracking. In future articles we hope to go into some specific examples and more detail.

A mechanism is required to control the flow of woman and manpower to fill specific “needs” of the capitalist economic system. This society “needs” people to fill different jobs, mostly workers, and a few professionals and businessmen. This mechanism is called channeling or tracking. Not all of this is a conscious effort on the part of individuals, but rather tracking is built into the system.

Assigned to different tracks by school measured “intelligence,” social characteristics, and teacher recommendations, students find that early in their school lives, they are slotted for their future work roles. As an example of this, do you remember when we were in junior hi, and the girls had to take cooking and the boys shop? The boys were channeled into one kind of role, and the girls into another.

This is set up to maintain the present American family system, where girls are supposed to be mothers, and house wives and the boys to be working men. This process is not always so obvious. 10-year-old girls interested in chemistry or how the body works may be encouraged to become nurses, while the boys with the same interests will be told to become doctors. This is an example of sex tracking. A girl student is confronted with the low expectations this society has for her by her teachers’ attitudes, the curriculum. The books she reads, the ads she sees on television or in her mother’s magazines.

The lower tracks (i.e. shops, “low” level math, English, history etc.) are populated with poor students, white, Asian, black and Chicano working class people. In L.A. these kinds of schools are Roosevelt, Jordon, Garfield, Dorsey, etc. The upper tracks, the college bound “honors” tracks, are filled with children of the white middle and upper middle class, sprinkled with a few token exceptions. Schools like this are University, Palisades, Beverly and Grant, etc.

So while maintaining and continuing the economic, profit-motivated structure, the existence of tracks encourages false belief in the myth of “educational mobility.” Students think that you’re smart if you’re in advance placement tracks, stupid if you’re in lower tracks, while in reality your education depends on corporate needs.

Black, brown, Asian and most white working class youth often understand that schools do nothing more than keep them off the street until they can move them into poorly paid, non-secure jobs, that schools are mere waiting rooms for factories, restaurants, hospitals, the army (for some), and generally for middle class women students, a life of boredom and servitude as housewives and mothers.

The way tracking is structured makes people feel dumb and smart according to what kind of tracks they’re in. It’s no wonder that working people often score lower on tests than middle and upper class people. If you’re going to work in a factory, you don’t get an education equal to a person who’s going on to college, and to be a professional or executive. For if you did, if you were exposed to all kinds of ideas, you might not as easily accept an existence which is boring, underpaid, gives little gratification, and which is run for profit. This is why it is much easier to express your views freely on a middle class campus than it is on a working class campus.

The schools tell us that anyone can be as “successful” as anyone else. All it takes is “education.” But as we have seen not everyone has equal access to education, and most people don’t have the finances to go to college. Capitalist society has to track people into their predetermined jobs and not everyone can move up. Most people in this society have to be workers.

They tell us that if only we would at least finish school, we would get good jobs. What if every kid stayed in hi school what if nobody dropped out? Would the number of short order cooks at A&W, chicken breaders at Kentucky Fried, box boys at Ralphs and factory jobs at General Motors decrease?

Ultimately the myth of “upward mobility” implies that these jobs will disappear if everyone graduated from hi school. If we all went on to college, we would have a Society where everyone was a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or business executive. Nobody would have to run a punch press, or harvest lettuce. Absurd! If everyone stayed in school, what mechanism would neatly choose those most qualified for the better job?

We will show in the next few articles in this series that students are effectively assigned to reading groups, special classes and special schools on the basis of income, race and sex. Yet there is a complex mechanism [that] persuades these involved (teachers as well as students and parents) that the assignments are made on the basis of “un-ability.” Tracking is the “American or indirect” way of assigning occupational roles through manipulation of the school system of this country.

Our next article will deal with how tracking works.

Sources and Suggested Reading

1. New University Papers #3, copyright 1971 (article on grading and tracking by Kay Trimberger)

2. Down the Up Staircase, Tracking the Schools, by Richard Rothstein for the Teachers Organizing Project of New University Conference, copyright 1971 by N.U.C.

3. Degrading Education, by Robert Klawitter, Indiana U. N.U.C.

4. Classes and Schools, A Radical Definition for Teachers, 1971 by N.U.C.

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[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See:]