While many high school students are relaxing or working during the summer months, the radical left-wing illegal immigrants advocacy group Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) is quite busy educating the next generation of community organizers.
YES, a youth subsidiary of Voces de la Frontera, has organized an 8-week, Saul Alinsky-style summer school course. They are 'teaching' nearly 40 high school students on political education and organizing skills. Called Freedom School, the course emphasizes a radical left-wing ideology and prepares student organizers to organize and lead local YES chapters in their high schools.
YES Freedom School focuses on developing students into leaders, as well as placing their understanding of organizing in the context of the historic fight against systemic and institutionalized oppression. We do not organize in a vacuum, but in a world with specific systems in place that keep people oppressed. Student leaders must understand these systems if they are to truly understand the purpose of their work. We will especially explore issues of educational justice, racism, sexism, classism, and immigrant rights.
Participants will take weekly courses designed to develop their organizing capabilities, their knowledge about systemic oppression and the forms of injustice in our society, as well as learn from the experiences of other movements in the long struggle for universal justice and liberation. Students will develop skills in the areas of: facilitating meetings, educating other students, working with teachers and administrators, public speaking, fundraising, and building the leadership skills of other students in their YES chapters.
Students participating in the YES Freedom School will have the opportunity to attend classes on "What is an Organizer?," "Organizing 101: Power and Direct Action," "Public Education featuring MTEA speakers," "Race, Class, and Gender: Oppression and Resistance," and "Building a Movement: Membership, Fundraising, and Getting a Scale."
Milwaukee Public School Board member Tatiana Joseph will be addressing the group of aspiring young organizers on July 18 along with a to be determined member of the Racine Unified School District School Board member.
According to the description, the workshop provides the normal tips for essay writing, SAT/ACT preparation, and scholarship advice along with special advice for undocumented students on how to get into college. The class will feature Sonia Espinosa, an undocumented student at Harvard with a full ride scholarship who promises to reveal "some tricks up her sleeve to share."
Voces de la Frontera and YES have been at the forefront of many direct action protests on immigration and labor issues. Voces most notoriously organized the boycott and strike at Palermo’s Pizza on trumped up charges that the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled in favor of the beleaguered pizza company.
The Voces subsidiary YES was very active in recruiting high school students in Milwaukee and Racine to campaign and organize during the 2012 recall election. YES’s main thrust has been trying to organize high school students to force a labor-centric Student Bill of Rights on school boards that includes demanding collective bargaining rights for students and teachers as well as an emphasis on left-wing political activism.
Give them credit. Voces and YES certainly aren’t taking the summer off.