Author Archives: E Wayne Ross

Education for Revolution special issue of Works & Days + Cultural Logic launched

Education for Revolution a special issue collaboration of the journals Works & Days and Cultural Logic has just been launched.

Check out the great cover image (Monument to Joe Louis in Detroit) and the equally great stuff on the inside. Hard copies of the issue available from worksanddays.net and Cultural Logic will be publishing and expanded online version of the issue in the coming months.

Rich and I want to thank David B. Downing and his staff at Works & Days for the fabulous work they did on this issue, which is the second collaboration between the two journals. Read Downing’s foreword to the issue here.

Works & Days + Cultural Logic
Special Issue: Education for Revolution
E. Wayne Ross & Rich Gibson (Editors)
Table of Contents

Barbarism Rising: Detroit, Michigan, and the International War of the Rich on the Poor
Rich Gibson, San Diego State University

Resisting Neoliberal Education Reform: Insurrectionist Pedagogies and the Pursuit of Dangerous Citizenship
E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia
Kevin D. Vinson, University of The West Indies

Reimaging Solidarity: Hip-Hop as Revolutionary Pedagogy
Julie Gorlewski, State University of New York, New Paltz
Brad Porfilio, Lewis University

Learning to be Fast Capitalists on a Flat World
Timothy Patrick Shannon, The Ohio State University
Patrick Shannon, Penn State University

Contesting Production: Youth Participatory Action Research in the Struggle to Produce Knowledge
Brian Lozenski, Zachary A. Casey, Shannon K. McManimon, University of Minnesota

Schooling for Capitalism or Education for Twenty-First Century Socialism?
Mike Cole, University of East London

Class Consciousness and Teacher Education: The Socialist Challenge and The Historical Context
Curry Stephenson Malott, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

The Pedagogy of Excess
Deborah P. Kelsh, The College of Saint Rose

Undermining Capitalist Pedagogy: Takiji Kobayashi’s Tōseikatsusha and the Ideology of the World Literature Paradigm
John Maerhofer, Roger Williams University

Marxist Sociology of Education and the Problem of Naturalism: An Historical Sketch
Grant Banfield, Flinders University of South Australia

The Illegitimacy of Student Debt
David Blacker, University of Delaware

Hacking Away at the Corporate Octopus
Alan J. Singer, Hofstra University

A Tale of Two Cities ¬– and States
Richard Brosio, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

SDS, The 1960s, and Education for Revolution
Alan J. Spector, Purdue University, Calumet

Eastern Michigan U Faculty resist neoliberal education policies and fight to keep public education public!

Support Eastern Michigan University faculty in resisting the neoliberal agenda for teacher education. Sign their petition and check out the protest and teach-in on December 3, Welch Hall, EMU.

Petition Background
The leadership of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) entered into an inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). They did so in a manner that fostered assumptions that members of the education faculty at Eastern were actively engaged in the EAA — misleading the citizens of the state; the professional educators of the state; AND the students of the University. The fact is EMU faculty were not invited to give input into such an arrangement or asked for our expertise as researchers and professionals in the complex and varied aspects of education (school administration, teacher development, and student achievement) as the EAA was established. To date, the faculty have been excluded from any direct participation in the creation or implementation of its policies, operating procedures, professional development, curricula or pedagogical practices, many of which the faculty find questionable at best.

Furthermore, the faculty find the undermining of democratic processes represented in the creation of a district outside the purview of public decision-making and oversight to be in direct conflict with this university’s mission and our legacy as a champion of public education. This violation of our principles is now beginning to affect our historically strong relationship with local schools.

Thus, the faculty find Eastern Michigan University’s participation in the Education Achievement Authority unacceptable. These negative impacts on our reputation, our local relationships, our students and programs, the clear effect on enrollments and thus revenue to the university are a repudiation of Eastern Michigan University’s legacy as a champion of public education and a leader in the preparation of educational professionals. The faculty implores you to remedy this situation as quickly as possible by unanimously voting to withdraw from the contract creating the Education Achievement Authority.

Protest & Teach-In
Protest and teach-in on Tuesday December 3rd outside Welch Hall. Your presence will help illustrate the misstep that the EMU administration made as they entered this agreement under a cloak of arrogance.

There are two half-hour protests outside Welch Hall for you to participate in (one or both):

- 7:45 to 8:15 to coincide with the 8 AM start of the EAA Audit Committee meeting; and,
- 8:45 to 9:15 to coincide with the 9 AM start of the EAA Executive Committee and Regular Board meeting!

There will be a Teach-In to follow from 10-12:30 at Halle Auditorium.

Introduction and Welcome
Dr. Steve Camron, Special Education
Dr. Rebecca Martusewicz, Teacher Education

Panel 1: 10:10-11:00
Dr. Tom Pedroni, Wayne State University
Rep. Ellen Lipton, MI House of Representatives
Ms. Michelle Fecteau, MI State Board of Education
Ms. Elena Herrada, Detroit Public Schools Board of Ed.

Panel 2: 11:00-11:30
Ms. Brooke Harris, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Christopher Turkaly, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Delbert Glaze, Former EAA Teacher

Panel 3: 11:30-12:00
EMU Faculty

Discussion: 12:00-12:30

Sign petition: Eastern Michigan University Leadership: Preserve the Integrity of the University as a Leader in the Preparation of Educational Professionals

Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US (Critical Education special series)

Critical Education
Special Series
“Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US”

Founded in 1990 by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp, Teach for America (TFA) has grown from a tiny organization with limited impact to what some supporters call the most significant force in educational reform today. Indeed the organization has recently been embraced by both the president of the National Educational Association and U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan as a force for tremendous good.

Critics argue otherwise, pointing to data that is mixed at best while questioning the almost $500 million annual operating budget of the non-profit, a significant portion of which comes from U.S. taxpayers. In light of questionable results and practices (such as using non-certified TFA recruits to work with special education students in direct violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) organizations are working to end TFA’s “highly qualified teacher” provision in 2013, an effort TFA is aggressively trying to thwart.

In an effort to provide assistance to those organizations working to maintain the integrity of the teaching profession, Critical Education is publishing a series of articles on TFA’s practices, procedures, outcomes, and impacts.

Articles in the series will be published across three issues of the journal:

  • “Problematizing Teach for America” (October, 2013)
  • “Life as a Corps Member” (November, 2013)
  • “Altering TFA’s Trajectory” (December 2013)

Guest Editors of the special series are Philip E. Kovacs, (University of Alabama, Huntsville) and Kathleen deMarrais, (The University of Georgia).

1. Problematizing Teach for America
Bringing Teach for America into the Forefront of Teacher Education: Philanthropy Meets Spin
Kathleen P. deMarrais, The University of Georgia
Julianne Wenner, University of Connecticut
Jamie B. Lewis, Georgia Gwinnett College

Teach for America and the Dangers of Deficit Thinking
Ashlee Anderson, University of Tennessee

Teach For America and the Political Spectacle of Recruiting the “Best and the Brightest”
Kara M. Kavanagh, Georgia State University
Alyssa Hadley Dunn, Georgia State University

An Analysis of Teach for America’s Research Page
Philip E. Kovacs, University of Alabama, Huntsville
Erica Slate-Young, University of Alabama, Huntsville

2. Life as A Corps Member
From the Trenches: A Teach For America Corps Member’s Perspective
T. Jameson Brewer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Are Teach For America Corps Members Highly Qualified to Teach English Learners?: An Analysis of Teacher Preparation for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations
Megan Hopkins, Northwestern University
Amy J. Heineke, Loyola University Chicago

Infinite Jurisdiction: Managing Student Achievement In and Out of School
Katherine Crawford-Garrett, University of New Mexico

Personal Responsibility: The Effects of Becoming a Teach For America Teacher
Patricia Maloney, Texas Tech University

3. Altering TFA’s Trajectory
“I want to do Teach For America, not become a teacher.”
Mark Stern, Colgate University
D. Kay Johnston, Colgate University

An Issue of Equity: Assessing the Cultural Knowledge of Preservice Teachers in Teach for America
Eric Ruiz Bybee, The University of Texas at Austin

The Outsized Effects of Equating Teaching with Leadership: Implications of Teach for America’s Vision for Engaging Teachers in Reform
Laura Gutmann, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Refashioning the Master’s Tools: Imagining a Teach for America that Really is for America
Erinn Brooks, North Carolina State University
Kathleen Greene, Beloit College

Healthy Systems: Literature, Nature, and Integrity (new issue of Critical Education)

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the
Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to review articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Stephen Petrina
Sandra Mathison
E. Wayne Ross
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia
http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/

Critical Education
Vol 4, No 7 (2013)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182445

Articles
——–

Healthy Systems: Literature, Nature, and Integrity
Rachel A Wilkinson

Abstract
Our interactions with everyday objects inform our understanding of the world; yet today much of what we use is tossed immediately. Items made in haste, used in haste, and made into waste belie the values that, for centuries, humans have taken for granted. What do our consumption practices teach our students today? I suggest that apathy, loss of agency, lack of integrity, and disconnection is often a result of our incomplete understanding of what lasts and where things go when we’re finished with them. Fortunately, the literature classroom, which can introduce students to texts such as “God’s Grandeur,” Grapes of Wrath, and Frankenstein, among others, offers educators an opportunity to challenge our throwaway society and reverence what lasts.

Special co-published issues of Cultural Logic, Works & Days focus on “Education for Revolution”

The journals Cultural Logic and Works & Days are collaborating to co-publish special issues on “Marxism and Education: International Perspectives on Education for Revolution.”

The issue will be published this fall, in print, by Works & Days. Cultural Logic will then publish an expanded online version—including several additional articles, including pieces on Greece, India, and Turkey—in 2014.

Rich Gibson and E. Wayne Ross, co-editors of the special issue, describe the context and focus of the issue as:

The core issue of our time is the reality of the promise of perpetual war and escalating color-coded inequality met by the potential of a mass, activist, class-conscious movement to transform both daily life and the system of capitalism itself. In this context, schools in the empires of the world are the centripetal organizing points of much of life. While the claim of capitalist schooling is, in the classics, education, “leading out,” the reality is that schools are segregated illusion factories, in some cases human munition factories. Rather than leading out, they encapsulate.

Mainstream educational and social research typically ignores, disconnects, the ineluctable relationships of what is in fact capitalist schooling, class war, imperialist war, and the development of varying forms of corporate states around the world.

At issue, of course, is: What to do?

The long view, either in philosophy or social practice is revolution as things must change, and they will.

Connecting the long view to what must also be a long slog necessarily involves a careful look at existing local, national, and international conditions; working out tactics and strategies that all can understand, none taken apart from a grand strategy of equality and justice.

“Marxism and Education: Education for Revolution” will be the second collaborative publishing project between Cultural Logic and Works & Days. In 2012, the journals co-published the special issue “Culture and Crisis,” edited by Cultural Logic co-editor Joseph G. Ramsey) in print and online versions.

Table of Contents for Marxism and Education: International Perspectives on Education for Revolution

Marxist Sociology of Education and the Problem of Naturalism: An Historical Sketch
Grant Banfield, Flinders University of South Australia

The Illegitimacy of Student Debt
David J. Blacker, University of Delaware

A Tale of Two Cities – and States
Richard A. Brosio, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Schooling For Capitalism or Education for Twenty-First Century Socialism?
Mike Cole, University of East London

Barbarism Rising: Detroit, Michigan, and the International War of the Rich on the Poor
Rich Gibson, San Diego State University

Reimagining Solidarity: Hip-Hop as Revolutionary Pedagogy
Julie A. Gorlewski, State University of New York, New Paltz
Brad J. Porfilio, Lewis University

The Pedagogy of Excess
Deborah P. Kelsh, The College of Saint Rose

Contesting Production: Youth Participatory Action Research in the Struggle to Produce Knowledge
Brian D. Lozenski, University of Minnesota
Zachary A. Casey, University of Minnesota
Shannon K. McManimon, University of Minnesota

Undermining Capitalist Pedagogy: Takiji Kobayashi’s Tōseikatsusha and the Ideology of the World Literature Paradigm
John Maerhofer, Roger Williams University

Class Consciousness and Teacher Education: The Socialist Challenge and The Historical Context
Curry Stephenson Malott, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Insurgent Pedagogies and Dangerous Citizenship
E. Wayne Ross, The University of British Columbia

Learning to be Fast Capitalists on a Flat World
Timothy Patrick Shannon, The Ohio State University
Patrick Shannon, Penn State University

Hacking Away at the Corporate Octopus
Alan J. Singer, Hofstra University

SDS, The 1960s, and Educating for Revolution
Alan J. Spector, Purdue University, Calumet

About the Co-editors:
Rich Gibson is emeritis professor of social studies in the College of Education at San Diego State University. He worked as a foundry worker, an ambulance driver, a pot and pan washer, fence painter, soda jerk, bank teller, surveyor’s assistant, assembly line chaser, a teacher, a social worker, organizer and bargaining agent for National Education Association, TA, and as a professor at Wayne State University. With about ten other people, he helped to found what is now the largest local in the UAW, local 6000, not auto-workers, but state employees.

E. Wayne Ross is professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia and a former secondary social studies (Grades 8 to 12) and day care teacher in North Carolina and Georgia. He has taught at Ohio State University, State University of New York, and the University of Louisville. Ross is a member of the Institute for Critical Education Studies at UBC and co-editor of Critical Education and Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor.

Gibson and Ross are co-editors of Neoliberalism and Education Reform (Hampton Press) and are co-founders of The Rouge Forum, a group of K-12 and university education workers, parents, community people, and students, engaged in fighting for a democratic and egalitarian society. Find out more about The Rouge Forum conferences here and here.

About Cultural Logic:
Cultural Logic—which has been on-line since 1997—is an open access, non-profit, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes essays, interviews, poetry, reviews (books, films, other media), etc. by writers working within the Marxist tradition.

CL co-editors are: David Siar (Winston-Salem State University), Gregory Meyerson (North Carolina A & T University), James Neilson (North Carolina A & T University), Martha Gimenez, (University of Colorado), Rich Gibson (San Diego State University), E. Wayne Ross, (University of British Columbia), Joe Ramsey (Quincy College)

About Works & Days:
Works & Days provides a scholarly forum for the exploration of problems in cultural studies, pedagogy, and institutional critique, especially as they are impacted by the global economic crisis of late capitalism. Whereas most scholarly journals publish groups of relatively unrelated essays, each volume of Works & Days focuses on a specific issue, and contributors are encouraged to share their work with each other.

Recent special issues of the Works & Days journal have focused on the effect of globalization on women and the environment, the attacks on academic freedom, the privatization of higher education under neoliberal capitalism, the increasing exploitation of part-time, temporary faculty, the shift from print to electronic media, and the politics of knowledge.

Works & Days is edited by David B. Downing (Indiana University of Pennsylvania).

Non-graded student assessment growing (and progressive) trend in Western Canada, says UBC Prof

Schools boards in Alberta and British Columbia are trending toward non-graded approaches to student evaluation for students in primary and intermediate grades. Non-graded assessment policies have recently been adopted in Calgary, AB and two British Columbia districts, Maple Ridge and Abbotsford.

Institute for Critical Education Studies co-director Sandra Mathison, who is Professor in the Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology program at University of British Columbia calls
gradeless evaluations ‘progressive’ in an article in the Vancouver daily The Province.

Mathison said removing early grading could help stop kids from studying strategically just to get As.

“Having a letter grade or a percentage grade … fosters competition and a sense that you have to be better than other people, and detracts from the idea that what you are doing in school is learning something.”

This afternoon in an interview on CKNW AM 980′s Sara Simi Show, Mathison pointed out that teachers have an incredible stores of knowledge about students that is not communicated to parents or students through traditional report cards. With the introduction of non-graded assessments, “teachers will have an opportunity to say a great deal more about what their students have accomplished and what students need to continue working on than is currently the case.”

Mathison characterized traditional report cards as focused on efficiently communicating simple reports of students achievement. She said that the use of grades or percentages produces an “overconfidence” in the actual meaning of summative indicators such as letters grades or percentages, which are “devoid of the specifics that would help students know where they are and what they need to work on.” Traditional report cards, “also limits the information to parents as well,” Mathison added.

A key issue in the success of non-graded assessment policies, according to Mathison, is the willing of parents and schools to engage in dialogue with one another about both the process and substance of how to best evaluate student learning.

Stream or download the Mathison’s CKNW interview on non-graded student assessment here.

Working toward tuition free post-secondary education in BC and Canada

I was interviewed for this story in The Georgia Straight, which raises the question of free post-secondary education in British Columbia and the lack of uptake on the topic in the current BC election discourse.

In my interview with The Straight, I highlighted the staggering debt load post-secondary students currently face. In Canada, student debt (not including provincial and private loans) is over $15 billion according to the Canadian Federation of Students. The high cost of post-secondary education in BC is a significant barrier to attendance by lower and middle income students. At least one in four non-attendees identify financial issues as an obstacle to further education.

The CFS notes that “Canadian research suggests that debt levels have a direct impact on success in post-secondary education. One study found that as student debt rose from less than $1000 to $10,000 per year, program completion rates for those with only loans (and no grants) plummeted from 59% to 8%. Similar conclusions can be drawn from Statistics Canada’s Youth In Transition Survey (YITS), which found that of those who cease their studies early, 36% cited financial reasons.”

Tuition at Canadian universities is rising faster than inflation, climbing 5% in 2012 (compared 2% inflation rate).

Neoliberal social policies have exacerbated the problems with student debt and access to higher education. Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government cut higher education by $46 million this year. In Alberta, higher education took a $100 million cut at the hands of the Alison Redford’s governing Progressive Conservative Party. As budgets are cut, colleges and universities (as well as K-12 schools) are encouraged to look for market-based solutions. BC colleges and universities are now ramping up efforts to recruit international students, who will pay five times the tuition charged to BC residence, in an effort to increase revenue. These recruitment efforts further restrict access to BC residents when there are already too few seats available in colleges and universities.

The ever increasing cost of higher education ultimately threatens existence of education as a public good in Canada (and the USA) and has deleterious effects on career choices and financial futures of millions of students as they face debt bondage. And this is not a circumstance limited to young people as many baby boomers who have gone back university are now struggling to repay their loans.

Lastly, student debt works to dampen critical thought and actions aimed at resisting the status quo. Noam Chomksy argues that “students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the disciplinarian culture. This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.” Exactly the kind of results neoliberal education policy makers are looking for.

Read The Georgia Straight article here:

Candidates should discuss free postsecondary education, say critics

by Carlito Pablo on Apr 25, 2013 at 3:11 am

Politicians on the campaign trail always say that education is a good thing. Yet many are silent about free university and college education.

Perhaps that’s because making this suggestion inevitably invites the question about money. What would it cost?

It doesn’t seem much, really. For fiscal year 2013-14, the B.C. government expects to collect about $1.4 billion in tuition and other fees. That’s only a small fraction—three percent—of a provincial budget totalling $44 billion.

The fact that many candidates don’t talk about free postsecondary education as a goal worth pursuing—one practical step at a time—indicates two things to Enda Brophy, an assistant professor of communications at SFU.

“On the one hand, I would argue that it demonstrates a lack of vision on their part,” Brophy told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “On the other, it quite obviously underscores their lack of commitment to a genuinely public education system. In other words, they can talk the talk regarding their commitment to public education, but walking the walk would mean taking concrete steps toward a free, public postsecondary system.”

According to the academic, there is an ethical argument to be made that “education should not be a commodity that is bought and sold.”

“In other words, that education and the production of knowledge, like health care, need to be accessible to anyone who wants it,” Brophy said.

As a nation, Canada committed to this ideal when it ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in 1976. The treaty states: “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.”

A study released in January 2012 by the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives demonstrates that university-educated people pay, on average, $106,000 to $159,000 more in income taxes over their working lives than those with only a high-school diploma.

In Paid in Full: Who Pays for University Education in BC?, author and economist Iglika Ivanova notes that in contrast, a four-year degree costs $50,630, of which 40 percent is paid by students in tuition fees.

Ivanova concludes that “undergraduate education stands out as a profitable investment for the public treasury when all students’ payments for their education—both up-front tuition fees and additional income taxes paid over their careers—are compared with the costs of providing university education.”

In many countries in Europe and elsewhere, like Algeria and Cuba, free postsecondary education is more a rule rather than the exception, according to Simon Tremblay-Pepin. He is a researcher with IRIS (Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques), a Quebec-based think tank that argues that the abolition of tuition fees is economically viable and socially just.

“If we’re talking about a progressive way to free education by lowering the fees year after year, it could be a good way,” Tremblay-Pepin told the Straight by phone when he was in Vancouver for a speaking engagement. “It’s not something that you need to do overnight. Still, you must have the objective in your head that you’re going to a free education and not just lowering fees for electoral reasons because you want to have the youth vote. That’s the difference between having a plan for society and trying to collect votes.”

B.C.’s Green party has declared that “universal and free” education at all levels is one of its long-term goals, promising an immediate reduction of 20 percent in tuition fees.

“The Green party is really out in front on this issue, much more so with a greater vision than either the [B.C.] NDP or the Liberals have offered at this point,” UBC education professor E. Wayne Ross told the Straight in an April 19 phone interview.

The ruling B.C. Liberals have pledged to cap tuition-fee increases at two percent. But with tuition fees having doubled since the Liberals returned to power in 2001, Ross noted that education is already “unaffordable”.

New Democrats have talked about a $100-million needs-based grant system. “That’s important because those needs-based grants have disappeared under the Liberals, but that’s a Band-Aid,” Ross said. “It doesn’t really address the overall problem that we face with student debt and the impact of the lack of access to higher education because of the tuition levels.”

Although the Greens are an “outlier” in the mainly Liberal–New Democrat contest, that’s a good thing, according to Ross. If their idea of free postsecondary education gets traction during this election campaign, the Greens may “pull parties like the NDP, in particular, maybe back towards the left side of the spectrum a little bit more”.

But Ross also noted that because neoliberalism, or the belief that the supremacy of the market trumps public good, is dominant in this age, perhaps the Greens might have a different message if their political fortunes were somewhat different: “If the Green party was more competitive, would the Green party ever say that? And I’m not trying to knock the Green party. I’m also trying to say that [as] the NDP moves towards what they see as the electable centre the closer, the better their [electoral] chances get.”

Source URL: http://www.straight.com/news/375006/candidates-should-discuss-free-postsecondary-education-say-critics

Some BC and Alberta schools dump percentage grading

Should schools move away from grading students? Yes!

Of course, it’s a time “honoured” tradition to use grades as the key means of sorting students to meet the demands of business. But, if you’re more more interested in motivating students to learn and less interested in treating education like a commodity, there’s really little room to debate the point.

School boards in Ridge Meadows, BC and Battle River, AB have decided to stop giving percentage grades to their students.

The Vancouver Sun recently ran a story on the Ridge Meadows Schools (Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows BC) that have adopted an alternative approach to student assessment in which elementary teachers are no longer required to give letter grades to students.

Rather than assigning As, Bs or Cs to kids from grades 4 to 7, teachers can instead use the conference model to assess how well children are grasping course material, as well as their learning style, readiness to progress and comprehension of overall concepts. The standard reporting system does not assign letter grades for students in kindergarten to Grade 3, but under the new system, students in all elementary grades will be invited to participate more fully in their evaluations by completing self-assessments and setting future learning goals.

The alternative system will engage students while providing more meaning to parents than a simple letter grade, said Ridge Meadows school trustee Susan Carr, who has two children in the school system.

Ridge Meadows school trustees were unanimous in their support for the new approach, which was developed over the past two years by a district committee. The Ridge Meadows News reported that ”Committee members noted the feedback from parents who have been involved so far is “through-the-roof positive.”

In Alberta, the Battle River School District’s has adopted an alternative grading system that replaces percentage grades with categories.

Under the assessment model, students are marked with an achievement level that indicates they are within a percentage range. A student scoring between zero and 50 per cent would be at the “beginning” level. A “developing” student is within the 50-66 per cent range, “achieving” is between 67 and 83 per cent and “excelling” ranges from 84-100 per cent. (The Edmonton Journal)

Camrose, AB parents don’t seem to be has uniformly positive about Battle River’s decision as about 150 recently protested the move.

Today on CBC Radio’s The 180 with Jim BrownSandra Mathison, a UBC education professor and member of the Institute for Critical Education Studies discussed the issue of grading students and provided some sharp counter-point to Michael Zwaagstra, a high school teacher who is affiliated with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (a Fraser Institute clone that is primarily funded by right-wing outfits like the Donner Foundation).

The Frontier Centre and Zwaagstra’s views on education get a lot of play on the editorial pages of Vancouver’s daily papers, both of which prominently embrace and espouse neoliberal public policy, which places the interests of corporate capital and their shareholders over the interests of people.

It was interesting to hear Zwaagstra shift to center when confronted with Mathison’s counter-point.

Get the podcast of this episode of The 180 with Jim Brown here.

 

Race and Fear of the ‘Other’ in Common Sense Revolution Reforms (Critical Education 4.2)

Critical Education
Vol 4, No 2 (2013)

Table of Contents
Article

Race and Fear of the ‘Other’ in Common Sense Revolution Reforms
Laura Elizabeth Pinto
Niagara University

Abstract

During the 1990s, Ontario experienced significant social policy reform under the Progressive-Conservative government’s controversial, but straightforward, platform called the Common Sense Revolution (CSR), promising to solve Ontario’s economic problems with lower taxes, smaller government and pro-business policies intended to create jobs. The ideological framing led to policy direction which dismantled existing provincial policies and institutions designed to promote equity. This paper begins by providing evidence to support how the CSR functioned as racist across a broad swath of policy areas, through ideology and coded language, structure and program cuts, and processes. Based on interviews with sixteen policy actors, the paper reveals how the provincial curriculum policy formulation process overtly overlooked and dismantled anti-racism and social justice in curriculum policy.

Ross to discuss proposed 10 year pact for British Columbia Teachers’ Federation

This Sunday (January 27) ICES co-director E. Wayne Ross will be discussing the BC government’s proposed 10 year contract deal with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

Tune into The World Today Weekend with Sean Leslie at 3:30pm PST on CKNW AM 980 radio.

B.C. need not rely on the much-maligned FSA tests to gauge students’ skills

It is testing season in British Columbia. As thousands of students are being subjected to the BC’s Foundation Skills Assessment, ICES co-director Sandra Mathison has offered up alternatives to the much-maligned test.

Vancouver Sun (January 16, 2013)
B.C. need not rely on the much-maligned FSA tests to gauge students’ skills

As schools prepare to give the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests next week, it may be the last time they are administered, at least in their current form.

The discussion about alternatives to the FSAs is a sign of a healthy education system, where its constituents continually consider how best to know how schools are doing.

This is an excellent opportunity to examine alternative means to getting the snapshot of students’ literacy and numeracy skills that the FSA provides, but at great expense and with negative consequences for schools, teachers and students.

There are two viable sources of data that provide such a snapshot with significantly less disruption to teaching and learning, and that use high-quality tests administered to samples of students. These are the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) and the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA).

The PCAP is administered by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), an intergovernmental group formed in 1967 by the provincial ministers of education. This is an assessment of reading, mathematics and science achievement administered to eighth-graders every three years. All three areas are tested in each administration of the test, although during each test administration one subject is the primary focus.

The other large-scale assessment that provides a snapshot of student achievement in basic skills is the PISA, an international assessment instituted in 1997 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. Seventy countries, including Canada, participate in the PISA.

The test alternates its focus on reading, mathematics and science achievement on a three-year cycle. Both of these testing programs recognize that school programs and curriculum can vary considerably, both across Canada and around the world. Neither assessment is tied to a particular curriculum, and the tests focus on the skills that would be considered basic for students across educational jurisdictions.

Both the PCAP and PISA include data about the context of learning, through surveys of teachers and students. Both assessments have been developed to answer big questions we all have about the quality of schools and student achievement. For example: How well are young adults prepared to meet the challenges of the future? Are they able to analyze, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? Are some kinds of teaching and school organization more effective than others?

Both the PCAP and PISA achieve the goal of providing comprehensive and comparable results on student achievement through the use of sampling procedures — testing a carefully selected sub-group of all students.

In 2010, 32,000 Grade 8 students from 1,600 schools across Canada took the PCAP. In 2009, 23,000 students from 1,000 schools across Canada took the PISA.

This strategy provides trustworthy evidence of students’ basic skills, and does so with less burden to schools, teachers, students and taxpayers.

In the discussion of alternatives to or re-inventions of the FSA, careful consideration ought to be given to whether its primary intended purpose may already be met by other well-established, regularly administered assessment programs that allow us to understand student achievement in B.C. in relation to other provinces and countries.

It may be that much of what we wish to capture in the snapshot of how well B.C. students are learning foundational skills in reading, writing, and numeracy is already available.

If something other than a snapshot is the goal of a provincial student assessment program, then we need to think carefully about how to meet those other goals appropriately.

Sandra Mathison is a professor in the Faculty of Education at UBC. She is an expert on educational evaluation and her recently published book, The Nature and Limits of Standards Based Reform and Assessment, examines many issues related to government-mandated testing programs.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Opinion+need+rely+much+maligned+tests+gauge+students+skills/7824430/story.html#ixzz2IA8f5vo7

Inaugural issue revisited: Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

ICES is returning to the archive and rolling out back issues in OJS format! We begin with the inaugural issue and its core theme, “Organizing Our Asses Off.” Issue #2 will soon follow. We encourage readers and supporters of Workplace and Critical Education to revisit these now classic back issues for a sense of accomplishment and frustration over the past 15 years of academic labor. Please keep the ideas and manuscripts rolling in!

Thanks for the continuing interest in Workplace and Critical Education,

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Editors
Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES)
University of British Columbia

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
No 1 (1998): Organizing Our Asses Off
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/workplace/issue/view/182236

Articles

  • Foreword: The Institution as False Horizon
    • Marc Bousquet
  • What Hath English Wrought: The Corporate University’s Fast Food Discipline
    • Cary Nelson
  • Unionizing Against Cutbacks
    • Paul Lauter
  • What is an “Organization like the MLA”? From Gentleman’s Club to Professional Association
    • Stephen Watt
  • The Future of an Illusion
    • Christian Gregory
  • Resistance is Fruitful: Coalition-Building in Ontario
    • Vicky Smallman
  • This Old House: Renovating the House of Labor at City University of New York
    • Barbara Bowen
  • Jobless Higher Ed: An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
    • Stanley Aronowitz, Andrew Long
  • Life of Labor: Personal Criticism
  • Looking Forward in Anger
    • Barbara White
  • Performing Shakespeare: Writing and Literacy on the Job
    • Leo Parascondola
  • The Good Professors of Szechuan
    • Gregory Meyerson
  • Forum: Organizing Our Asses Off
  • Cannibals, Star Trek, and Egg Timers: Ten Years of Student Employee Organizing at the University of California
    • Kate Burns, Anthony M. Navarrete
  • Critical Year
    • Edward Fox, Curtis Anderson
  • What’s Next? Organizing After the COGS Union Affiliation Vote
    • Julie Marie Schmid
  • 7,500 Down, 200,000 To Go: Organizing the City University of New York
    • Eric Marshall
  • Unions, Universities, and the State of Texas
    • Ray Watkins, Kirsten Christensen
  • Organizing Democracy: A Response
    • Karen Thompson
  • Beyond the Campus Gates: The Personal Is Still Political
    • Vincent Tirelli
  • Institutional Memory and Changing Membership: How Can We Learn from What We Don’t Recall?
    • Alan Kalish
  • Field Reports
  • Report on the 1997 MLA Convention
    • Mark Kelley
  • Report on the “Changing Graduate Education” Conference
    • Alan Kalish
  • Book Reviews
  • Review of Michael Denning’s The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century
    • Derek Nystrom
  • Review of Staughton Lynd’s Living Inside Our Hope
    • Paul Murphy

Against Obedience by Susan Ohanian

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the
Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to review articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Stephen Petrina
Sandra Mathison
E. Wayne Ross
Co-Editors, Critical Education
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia

Critical Education
Vol 3, No 9 (2012)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182380

Articles
——–
Against Obedience
Susan Ohanian

Abstract

This article was originally delivered as the Second Annual Adam Renner Education for Social Justice Lecture at the Rouge Forum’s Occupy Educaton! Class Conscious Pedagogies and Social Change Conference held at Miami University in Oxford, OH, June 22-24, 2012. Starting with a personal journey in learning that political activism isn’t as scary as many teachers believe, the article highlights the highly political nature of press coverage of Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards initiative, zeroing in on the quisling nature of teacher union and professional organization antics to keep a seat at the political table. Questioning the silence on critical issues of higher education providers of educational products to consumers—aka professors—the author insists that whining isn’t the same as doing. The article concludes with several points on how educators can take action.

New issue of Critical Education launched: Embracing Change: Reflection on Practice in Immigrant Communities

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled. We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to read articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Sandra Mathison
Stephen Petrina
E. Wayne Ross
Co-Editors, Critical Education
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia

Critical Education
Vol 3, No 7 (2012)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182260

Articles
——–
Embracing Change: Reflection on Practice in Immigrant Communities
Gresilda Anne Tilley-Lubbs, Jennifer McCloud

CFP: Critical Theories in the 21st Century

Call For Proposals
Critical Theories in the 21st Century

Due to the success of last years’ inaugural event, we are very excited about the upcoming Critical Theories in the Twenty-First Century conference at West Chester University. Due to the deepening crisis of global capital and the anti-capitalist movement in embryo (since last November), this year we added a special theme: Critical Education Against Capitalism. As many reactions to the ravages of capital are reformist in nature, failing to identify and target the true causes (i.e. private property as a complex historical process) of exploitation, injustices, war, educational expansion as well as educational budget cuts, ideological indoctrination, and so on, especially in critical pedagogy, this discussion targeting the root capitalist cause of life at the present moment is particularly relevant and needed.

Consequently, whereas last year “the call for proposals” was “general enough to be inclusive of many critical approaches to transformative or revolutionary pedagogies and theory,” this year we ask the critical pedagogy community to present their works in a way that demonstrates how it contributes to achieving a post-capitalist society. As such, we can suggest a few relevant themes for proposals: Marxist educational theory, Anarchist pedagogies, austerity/educational budget cuts, ignoring poverty, racialization and hegemony, (anti)settler-colonialism/imperialism, indigenous critical theory/autonomous governance, anti-capitalist eco-pedagogy, atheism and education, queer theory against capital, etc.

While this conference will include important presentations and debates between key figures in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors. That is, we recognize students and youth groups as possessing authentic voices based on their unique relationship to capitalism and will therefore be open to them as presenters and discussion leaders (as was done in 2011). While this inclusivity is obviously designed to challenge traditional distributions of social power in capitalist societies, it will not be done romantically where participants’ internalized hegemonies are not challenged. Put another way, while students will be included as having something valuable to contribute, they will both be subjected to the same scrutiny as established academics, as well as invited to share their own critiques. All participants will therefore be included in the discussions of why and how to achieve a post-capitalist society.

when:

November 16th and 17th 2012

duration:

Friday evening and all day Saturday

where:

West Chester University, West Chester, PA

purpose:

To contribute to the wide and deep network of critical educators throughout the world working with students and workers building a vast coalition of critical thinkers who know that a meaningful life after capitalism is possible.

More info here.

CFP: “Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US”

Call for Submissions
Critical Education Special Series

“Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US”
Guest Editor: Philip E. Kovacs, University of Alabama, Huntsville

Founded in 1990 by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp, Teach for America (TFA) has grown from a tiny organization with limited impact to what some supporters call the most significant force in educational reform today. Indeed the organization has recently been embraced by both the president of the National Educational Association and U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan as a force for tremendous good.

Critics argue otherwise, pointing to data that is mixed at best while questioning the almost $500 million annual operating budget of the non-profit, a significant portion of which comes from U.S. taxpayers. In light of questionable results and practices (such as using non-certified TFA recruits to work with special education students in direct violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) organizations are working to end TFA’s “highly qualified teacher” provision in 2013, an effort TFA is aggressively trying to thwart.

In an effort to provide assistance to those organizations working to maintain the integrity of the teaching profession, the Critical Education seeks research on TFA’s practices, procedures, outcomes, and impacts. We are looking for empirical and theoretical pieces written in a style that congressional staffers can easily access and understand. We are not interested in pieces that sacrifice intellectual rigor for ease of reading, but we are also wary of overly theorized pieces that alienate readers outside of the academy.

In addition to full-length manuscripts (5,000-8,000 words), we are also soliciting short accounts of TFA’s impact in specific cities to be presented as “field reports.”

Proposals of no more than 200 words due by September 15, 2012.

Notice of acceptance of proposal by October 1, 2012

Final Submission due by February 1, 2013.

For more information on submission contact Philip Kovacs at: pk0001@uah.edu

Critical Education is an international peer-reviewed journal, which seeks manuscripts that critically examine contemporary education contexts and practices. Critical Education is interested in theoretical and empirical research as well as articles that advance educational practices that challenge the existing state of affairs in society, schools, and informal education.

CFP: Liberalism in Educational Policy, Practice, and Discourse

Call for Papers

Special Theme Issue of Critical Education
Theme: Liberalism in Educational Policy, Practice, and Discourse

Guest Editors:
Angelina E. Castagno & Sabina Vaught

Despite current scholarly attention to the ways neoliberalism characterizes much of our contemporary socio-political context, liberalism still profoundly informs power dynamics within schools, community organizations, and other educational contexts. While neoliberalism focuses on markets, choice, and efficiency, classical liberalism centers notions of the individual, equality, democracy, and meritocracy. These are enduring notions with significant ideological attachments, as well as institutional and policy-based manifestations within school settings. Although the concept of liberalism has somewhat shifting boundaries in response to larger social, political, and economic changes, there remain these powerful central elements (see, for example, Cochran, 1999; Dawson, 2003; Locke, 1690; Mill, 1869; Olson, 2004; Starr, 2008). This special issue seeks to examine how these liberal tenets shape power dynamics around race, gender, class, and sexuality in school policy, practice, and law.

We suggest that liberalism’s power in schooling operates from its axis of individualism. At the heart of liberalism is the notion of the individual and individual rights. In liberal thought, individuals provide the foundation for laws and societal norms, and institutions exist primarily to further the goals, desires, and needs of individuals. An individual’s rights are of utmost importance under a liberal framework, so rights such as freedom of speech, thought, conscience, and lifestyle are viewed as fundamental and worth protecting at almost any cost. Equality of opportunity is another liberal mainstay. Value is placed on ensuring that individuals have equal access to various opportunities in society. However, liberalism is not concerned with ensuring equality of outcome since it is assumed that individuals can reasonably decide if and how to capitalize on opportunities presented to them. Moreover, liberalism generally opposes too much government regulation, but this can be a point of contention since government involvement is sometimes required to ensure the stability of other core liberal values. These tenets allow liberalism to both mask and reproduce power imbalances. As such, liberalism informs power mechanisms by which educational policies, practices, and discourses are shaped.

With liberalism as an analytic construct through which to view schooling, we seek papers for this special issue that might address the following broad questions:

  • How is liberalism taken up, engaged, and employed in various educational contexts to reproduce power along axes of race, gender, sexuality, and class?
  • To what extent does the liberal identity and agenda drive educational efforts and movements, and to what effect?
  • What are the implications of liberalism on schools? On youth? On policy? On curriculum? On pedagogy? On activism? On reform efforts?

Through these analyses, we hope to map the multiple ways liberalism impacts schooling in order to disrupt power inequities that remain pervasive and elusive when viewed strictly through a neoliberal framework. Drawing on critical theory, Critical Race Theory, Tribal Critical Theory, Red Pedagogies, gender and feminist studies, and other related theoretical traditions, this special issue will bring together articles that advance a critical conversation about liberalism, individualism, and power within U.S. schools.

To submit a manuscript for consideration in this special issue of Critical Education, and for author submission guidelines, please visit (www.criticaleducation.org). For any inquiries related to this special issue, please e-mail the guest editors at liberalismineducation@gmail.com. For full consideration, complete manuscripts of no more than 5,000 words, including references, should be submitted by January 15, 2013. We strongly encourage submissions from advanced doctoral students and junior scholars.

How Class Works 2012 – Conference Videos

Via Michael Zweig at SUNY Stony Brook:

Dear Friends and Colleagues

The How Class Works – 2012 conference, held at Stony Brook University June 6-9, was by all reports a success. There were over 180 presentations in 50 sessions, with 240 people attending. The conference welcomed presentations from across the United States and fifteen other countries – graduate students and senior scholars in many fields of study; labor and community activists; independent scholars, artists, and poets–all exploring one or another aspect of working class studies.

A number of papers presented at the conference are now available on the conference Website. Go to:

http://www.stonybrook.edu/workingclass/conference/2012/papers.shtml

We will add more papers as we receive them and post audio recordings of many sessions this coming fall.

Meanwhile, I am happy to report that the University has posted to YouTube videos for four of the plenary sessions at the conference, listed below with the link for each (the number corresponds to the session number on the conference program). These are each important documents with significant content and I invite you to view them.

4.0 Corporations Are Not People: Responding to the Supreme Court in Citizens United
Jeffrey Clements
How Class Works – 2012 conference opening plenary session and Stony Brook University Provost Lecture, Thursday evening, June 7, 2012
http://youtu.be/Lyvlh4q8htw

5.0 May Day in New York City: Occupy, Labor, and Community
with Penny Lewis, Teresa Gutierrez, Thisanjali Gangoda, and Amy Muldoon
How Class Works – 2012 conference plenary session, Friday morning June 8, 2012
http://youtu.be/FpEFw3DRTS4

9.0 Awards at Conference Banquet
Working Class Studies Association – to Franco Barchiesi (best book), Steven Brier (best article), and Jamie McCallum (best dissertation) in 2011
Center for Study of Working Class Life – Award for Lifetime Contributions to Social Justice for Working People, to Stanley Aronowitz and Dennis Serrette
Friday evening June 8, 2012
http://youtu.be/D6hZ-RcIQMA

11.0 The U.S. in 2012: What’s Class Got to Do with It? A Roundtable Discussion
with Bill Fletcher, Jr., Juan Gonzalez, Bob Herbert, Frances Fox Piven, and Michael Zweig
How Class Works – 2012 conference plenary session, Saturday morning June 9, 2012
http://youtu.be/TpFHqMYOTZQ

We have reserved space at Stony Brook for the How Class Works – 2014 conference, June 4-7, 2014. The first call for presentations will go out in the spring of 2013.

with best wishes

Mike

Michael Zweig
Director, Center for Study of Working Class Life
Department of Economics
State University of New York

Consumers or Critical Citizens? Financial Literacy Education and Freedom–New Issue of Critical Education

Critical Education
Vol 3 No 6
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/article/view/182350

Consumers or Critical Citizens? Financial Literacy Education and Freedom
Chris Arthur
Toronto District School Board
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Abstract

Given the recent and ongoing economic crisis and high levels of consumer debt, the teaching of financial literacy in elementary and secondary schools has received widespread support. Too often, however, financial literacy education policy documents promote the individualization of economic risk and privilege the autonomy of the consumer or consumer-citizen over that of the critical citizen. This article argues for the necessity of a critical financial literacy education aimed at supporting critical citizens by providing a Marxist critique of the dominant liberal and neoliberal notions of freedom and responsibility reproduced in financial literacy education policy documents. The choice highlighted here is not between financial illiteracy and financial literacy but between accommodating oneself to neoliberal capitalism’s needs so as to remain in perpetual competition with others or understanding and collectively altering an economic system that promotes alienation, insecurity and exploitation.

Critical Education Vol 3, No 5: ‘Critical Thinking’ And State Mandated Testing: The Collision Of State Rhetoric And Teacher Beliefs

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled.

We invite you to review the Table of Contents below and then visit our web site to read articles and items of interest.

Critical Education
Vol 3, No 5 (2012)
Table of Contents
http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/issue/view/182244

Articles
——–
‘Critical Thinking’ And State Mandated Testing: The Collision Of State Rhetoric And Teacher Beliefs
Melissa Freeman, University of Georgia
Sandra Mathison, University of British Columbia
Kristen Wilcox, University at Albany, SUNY

Abstract

Based on case studies of two school districts in New York State, the authors analyze the contradictory and hegemonic discourse of critical thinking proffered in State curriculum standards and as manifest in state mandated student assessments. Using Gramsci’s (1971) notion of hegemony, the analysis illustrates that dominant groups (such as state administrators or federal policy makers) gain and maintain dominance by projecting their own way of seeing the world so that those who are subordinated by it (such as teachers) accept it as ‘common sense’ and ‘natural.’ The ways in which this hegemonic relationship is created and sustained, and it’s consequences, are illustrated in the way teachers make sense of fundamentally contradictory rhetoric and lived practice.

Keywords
Hegemony; Accountability; Critical Thinking