"Schools are a disaster zone," declares the young narrator at the beginning of this documentary about public education in New York City during the Mayor Giuliani era (1994-2001). LESSONS FROM CLASS STRUGGLE explores the issues of racism in public education and tracks and assesses the process of students and others organizing to fight for change in the NYC educational system—the largest school district in the United States.
As it follows a two-year struggle to stop budget cuts to education in NYC, LESSONS FROM CLASS STRUGGLE addresses the wide disparity in the city’s public schools and the racist nature of the inequality. Parents, teachers, students and educators speak about the reality of a system they know first hand; overcrowded classrooms, lack of books and materials, decaying building, conditions common in schools where the population is mostly Back and Latin, but not seen in white suburban schools. Scene of classes at Wingate high school in Flatbush, Brooklyn, show the truth of their observation; a science lab with broken equipment, and a population under siege by police and school safety guards.
The film documents protestors efforts to influence the United Federation of Teachers labor union and to organize teachers citywide to fight against “The Bell Curve”, the ideological basis for cutting the school budget.
"Kathleen Foster has produced and directed a video that focuses on a real issue of public import… that the belief in justice and equality and resistance to their absence did not die with the movements of the 1960s."
- Nancy Bunch, Empire State College, SUNY
"A powerful film that forces all the basic issues about racial justice. Students and teachers speak with eloquence and urgency about realities they know first hand. No euphemisms. No evasions. No cliches. It has the ring of truth."
- Jonathan Kozol
"Excellent! This film comes at an important time. Our schools are in serious trouble… now we have segregation and no education. We haven't achieved much since Brown vs. Board of Education."
- Esmeralda Simmons, Medgar Evers Center for Law and Justice