Society, Democracy, and Economics: Challenges for Social Studies and Citizenship Education in a Neoliberal World

On February 20, 2020 I will be delivering the keynote address at the annual meeting of Gesellschaft für sozioökonomische Bildung und Wissenschaft (GSÖBW) / Society for Socio-Economic Education and Science in Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

In 1989, Francis Fukuyama declared the “end of history,” arguing the collapse of the Soviet Union, end of the Cold War, and universalization of liberal-democracy was the end point of the humankind’s ideological evolution. Since then we have witnessed a continued retreat of civil rights, a massive rise in inequality, and liberal-democracy has now delivered a string of illiberal authoritarian, nationalist leaders worldwide. Many analyses of right-wing populism are dualistic – creating a narrative of democracy against right-wing nationalism. Individualism is at the heart of classical liberalism and as such is the root of the democratic crisis that is represented by the contemporary rise of so-called populism. In this paper I explore national democracies and the relationship between bourgeois democracy and fascism. Given what we know about the state of democracy in the world today, is it even possible to teach for a democracy that is not dominated by capital? Do we want to teach for capitalist democracy? Is there an alternative? Is the concept of democracy bankrupt? Is democracy as a concept and practice even salvageable? If democracy is salvageable then teaching about and for democracy in contemporary times cannot be done without engaging the complexities and contradictions that have come to define what real existing (or non-existing) democracy is and its relationship with fascism and populism.

Keywords: populism, democracy, social studies education, citizenship education, neoliberalism, socio-economic education

The full text of the talk is available here: DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.23273.85600

Deadline extended for Critical Education Special Series on Transforming Unions, Schools & Society

DEADLINE EXTENDED:

Critical Education

Call for Manuscripts: Contemporary Educator Movements: Transforming Unions, Schools, and Society in North America

Special Series Editors:
Lauren Ware Stark, University of Virginia
Rhiannon Maton, State University of New York College at Cortland
Erin Dyke, Oklahoma State University

Call for Manuscripts:

Throughout the past two years, educators have led the most significant U.S. labor uprisings in over a quarter century, organizing alongside parents and community members for such common good demands as affordable health care, equitable school funding, and green space on school campuses (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019a; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019b). These uprisings can be seen as evidence of the growth of a new form of unionism, alternately called social justice or social movement unionism (Fletcher & Gapasin, 2008; Peterson, 1999; Rottmann, 2013; Weiner, 2012). They can also be understood as evidence of contemporary educator movements: collective struggles that have developed throughout the past decade with the goal of transforming educators’ unions, schools, and broader society (Stark, 2019; Stern, Brown, & Hussain, 2016).

These struggles share much in common with other contemporary “movements of movements” (Sen, 2017) in that they develop in networks, utilize new technologies alongside traditional organizing tools, integrate diverse groups and demands, and often organize through horizontal, democratic processes (Juris, 2008; Wolfson, Treré, Gerbaudo, & Funke, 2017). They have been led by rank-and-file educators, who in many cases have organized in solidarity with parents and community members. While some recent scholarship on contemporary educator movements has conceptualized these movements as a unified class struggle (Blanc, 2019), other scholarship has emphasized heterogeneity, intersectionality, knowledge production, learning, and tensions within these movements (Maton, 2018; Stark, 2019).

This Critical Education special series builds on the latter tradition to offer “movement-relevant” scholarship written from within contemporary educator movements (Bevington & Dixon, 2005). Our aim for the series is to offer resources for contemporary educator movement organizers and scholars to:

  • understand the links between contemporary educator labor organizing and earlier struggles,
  • study tensions within this organizing,
  • explore how educator unionists are learning from each other’s work,
  • highlight urban and statewide education labor struggles in the U.S., as well as major struggles in Canada and Mexico, and
  • connect local education labor struggles to broader power structures.

Types of Submissions:

Specifically, we seek to include interviews with organizers, movement art, and empirical studies that engage critical and engaged qualitative methodologies (for example, autoethnographic, ethnographic, oral history, and/or participatory methodologies). We especially encourage submissions with and/or from rank-and-file education organizers.

  • Empirical research (4,000-8,000 words)
  • Interviews or dialogues with organizers (2,000-4,000 words)
  • Creative writing, including poems or short prose essays (<2,000 words; maximum three poems or one essay)
  • Art, including images of banner art and photographs (minimum 300dpi for images in .jpeg file format)

Examples of Possible Topics:

  • The significance of caucuses and/or labor-community organizing within a specific local context,
  • Challenges and possibilities for radical democratic or horizontal decision-making in contemporary educator movements,
  • Possibilities and challenges in transforming teacher unions to more radical entities,
  • Political education with and for rank-and-file educators,
  • Rank-and-file educator organizing to engage issues of race, indigeneity, language, and culture in education,
  • Issues of gender and/or sexuality in contemporary educator movements,
  • In-depth studies of rank-and-file educator-led campaigns and organizing experiences,
  • Tensions and possibilities between contemporary educator movements and specific North American social movements (i.e., climate justice movements, movements for decolonization, queer and trans liberation movements, prison abolition movements),
  • Critical whiteness studies and education labor organizing/movements,
  • Among others.

Timeline:

  • April 1, 2020 – Manuscript submissions due. (Note: Manuscripts will undergo a double blind peer review process. Invitation to submit a manuscript does not ensure publication.)
  • August 1, 2020 – Authors receive reviewer feedback and notification of publication decision (accept, accept with revisions, or reject for this particular series.)
  • September 1, 2020 – Manuscript revisions due.

Submission Instructions:

All submissions must follow the guidelines described here. Submissions should be maximum 8,000 words and use APA format (6th edition). All work must be submitted via the Critical Education submission platform.

Use this link to submit papers: http://ices.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/about/submissions#onlineSubmissions)

References:

Bevington, D., & Dixon, C. (2005). Movement-relevant theory. Social Movement Studies, 4(3), 185-208.Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019a, February 15). Major Work Stoppages (Annual) News Release. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/wkstp_02082019.htm

Blanc, E. (2019b). Red State Revolt: The Teachers’ Strike Wave and Working-Class Politics. London & New York: Verso Books.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019b, March 07). Eight major work stoppages in educational services in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/eight-major-work-stoppages-in-educational-services-in-2018.htm

Fletcher, B., & Gapasin, F. (2008). Solidarity divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Juris, J. (2008). Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalisation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Maton, R. (2018.) From Neoliberalism to Structural Racism: Problem Framing in a Teacher Activist Organization. Curriculum Inquiry, 48 (3): 1–23.

Peterson, B. (1999). Survival and justice: Rethinking teacher union strategy. In B. Peterson & M. Charney (Eds.) Transforming teacher unions: Fighting for better schools and social justice (pp. 11-19). Milwaukie, WI: Rethinking Schools.

Rottmann, C. (2013, Fall). Social justice teacher activism. Our Schools / Our Selves, 23 (1), 73-81.

Sen, J. (2017). The movements of movements: Part 1. Oakland, CA: PM Press; New Delhi: Open Word.

Stark, L. (2019). “We’re trying to create a different world”: Educator organizing in social justice caucuses (Doctoral dissertation).

Stern, M., Brown, A. E. & Hussain, K. (2016). Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements. Workplace, 26, 1-4.

Weiner, L. (2012). The future of our schools: Teachers unions and social justice. Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books.

Wolfson, T., Treré, E., Gerbaudo, P., & Funke, P. N. (2017). From Global Justice to Occupy and Podemos: Mapping Three Stages of Contemporary Activism. TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, 15(2), 390 – 542.

Sandra Mathison: Privatizing private schools should top list of funding changes

Published in The Province (Vancouver, BC)
October 9, 2019
Since 2013, the province has subsidized private schools to the tune of $2.6 billion. The subsidies for 2018-19 alone were $426 million, and projections for this school year are $436 million. Julia McKay / The Whig-Standard

Privatizing private schools should top list of funding changes

By Sandra Mathison

Opinion: With a public system still reeling from more than 15 years of cuts by the previous government, there is no excuse for funnelling billions of dollars to private schools.

As the B.C. education ministry rethinks how to fully and adequately fund the province’s schools, at the top of their list should be privatizing private schools by discontinuing public subsidies to independent schools.

Since 2013, the province has subsidized private schools to the tune of $2.6 billion. The subsidies for 2018-19 alone were $426 million, and projections for this school year are $436 million.

These subsidies to private schools have increased at an astronomical rate: funding increases (adjusted for inflation) to private schools have increased by 122.8 per cent since 2000-01, compared to a 15.9-per-cent increase in funding to public schools during this same period.

According to recent surveys by the Institute for Public Education, CUPE B.C. and the B.C. Humanist Association, most British Columbians believe public funding of private schools needs to end. In a poll that Insights West conducted for us in May, four in five British Columbians (78 per cent) oppose providing taxpayer funds for elite private schools. Sixty-nine per cent of British Columbians oppose funding to faith-based schools.

Let private schools be private, and let them deserve the label “independent schools.”

Private schools cost taxpayers by direct taxpayer-supported subsidies, but also by exemptions from paying property taxes, numerous personal tax benefits for individuals, and collecting large sums of tax-deductible donations.

Private schools also cost B.C. in non-economic ways. Faith-based schools are allowed to ignore human-rights laws and discriminate against employees based on marital status or sexual orientation. Our poll shows that few British Columbians are aware that faith-based schools are exempted from the B.C. Human Rights Code, but once they were aware of this, 81 per cent of respondents did not believe they should be allowed this exemption.

Let private schools be private, and let them deserve the label “independent schools.”

Private school admission processes segregate students by class and/or beliefs, rejecting students who don’t “fit” their values. These schools are therefore isolating students from peers who are not like them. Many B.C. taxpayers’ children would not be admitted to these private schools — because they can’t afford them, do not have academic credentials, or they are not suitable given the school’s philosophy.

Private schools reject the idea that schools ought to be about equity, about providing an education for all students regardless of their individual attributes.

If the education ministry needs a plan, they could immediately end subsidies to elite “Group 2” schools, those spending more per student than public schools and charging significant tuition fees. These are schools such as St. George’s in Vancouver and Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.

Then they could phase out subsidies to faith-based schools over a short period of time, say two to three years.

The ministry should review private schools that serve needs not currently well met by the public schools (possibly, Indigenous schools and programs for students with special needs) and work toward integrating those schools/programs into the public education system. They should ensure there is sufficient funding provided to public schools to meet those needs.

And at the same time, tax exemptions that diminish revenue that could support public education need to change.

With a public school system still reeling from more than 15 years of cuts by the previous government, and students with special needs bearing the brunt of the underfunding, there is no excuse for funnelling billions of dollars to private schools. That money should be allocated to the public school system where it can help every child achieve their fullest potential.

Sandra Mathison is the executive director of the Institute for Public Education B.C., a professor of education at the University of B.C., and co-director of the Institute for Critical Education.

Call for Manuscripts: Contemporary Educator Movements: Transforming Unions, Schools, and Society in North America

Call for Manuscripts: Contemporary Educator Movements: Transforming Unions, Schools, and Society in North America

Critical Education

Special Series Editors:

Lauren Ware Stark, University of Virginia
Rhiannon Maton, State University of New York College at Cortland
Erin Dyke, Oklahoma State University

Call for Manuscripts:

Throughout the past two years, educators have led the most significant U.S. labor uprisings in over a quarter century, organizing alongside parents and community members for such common good demands as affordable health care, equitable school funding, and green space on school campuses (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019a; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019b). These uprisings can be seen as evidence of the growth of a new form of unionism, alternately called social justice or social movement unionism (Fletcher & Gapasin, 2008; Peterson, 1999; Rottmann, 2013; Weiner, 2012). They can also be understood as evidence of contemporary educator movements: collective struggles that have developed throughout the past decade with the goal of transforming educators’ unions, schools, and broader society (Stark, 2019; Stern, Brown, & Hussain, 2016).

These struggles share much in common with other contemporary “movements of movements” (Sen, 2017) in that they develop in networks, utilize new technologies alongside traditional organizing tools, integrate diverse groups and demands, and often organize through horizontal, democratic processes (Juris, 2008; Wolfson, Treré, Gerbaudo, & Funke, 2017). They have been led by rank-and-file educators, who in many cases have organized in solidarity with parents and community members. While some recent scholarship on contemporary educator movements has conceptualized these movements as a unified class struggle (Blanc, 2019), other scholarship has emphasized heterogeneity, intersectionality, knowledge production, learning, and tensions within these movements (Maton, 2018; Stark, 2019).

This Critical Education special series builds on the latter tradition to offer “movement-relevant” scholarship written from within contemporary educator movements (Bevington & Dixon, 2005). Our aim for the series is to offer resources for contemporary educator movement organizers and scholars to:

  • understand the links between contemporary educator labor organizing and earlier struggles,
  • study tensions within this organizing,
  • explore how educator unionists are learning from each other’s work,
  • highlight urban and statewide education labor struggles in the U.S., as well as major struggles in Canada and Mexico, and
  • connect local education labor struggles to broader power structures.

Types of Submissions:

Specifically, we seek to include interviews with organizers, movement art, and empirical studies that engage critical and engaged qualitative methodologies (for example, autoethnographic, ethnographic, oral history, and/or participatory methodologies). We especially encourage submissions with and/or from rank-and-file education organizers.

  • Empirical research (4,000-8,000 words)
  • Interviews or dialogues with organizers (2,000-4,000 words)
  • Creative writing, including poems or short prose essays (<2,000 words; maximum three poems or one essay)
  • Art, including images of banner art and photographs (minimum 300dpi for images in .jpeg file format)

Examples of Possible Topics:

  • The significance of caucuses and/or labor-community organizing within a specific local context,
  • Challenges and possibilities for radical democratic or horizontal decision-making in contemporary educator movements,
  • Possibilities and challenges in transforming teacher unions to more radical entities,
  • Political education with and for rank-and-file educators,
  • Rank-and-file educator organizing to engage issues of race, indigeneity, language, and culture in education,
  • Issues of gender and/or sexuality in contemporary educator movements,
  • In-depth studies of rank-and-file educator-led campaigns and organizing experiences,
  • Tensions and possibilities between contemporary educator movements and specific North American social movements (i.e., climate justice movements, movements for decolonization, queer and trans liberation movements, prison abolition movements),
  • Critical whiteness studies and education labor organizing/movements,
  • Among others.

Timeline:

  • January 30, 2020 – Manuscript submissions due. (Note: Manuscripts will undergo a double blind peer review process. Invitation to submit a manuscript does not ensure publication.)
  • May 30, 2020 – Authors receive reviewer feedback and notification of publication decision (accept, accept with revisions, or reject for this particular series.)
  • June 30, 2020 – Manuscript revisions due.

Submission Instructions:

All submissions must follow the guidelines described here. Submissions should be maximum 8,000 words and use APA format (6th edition). All work must be submitted via the Critical Education submission platform.

Use this link to submit papers: http://ices.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/about/submissions#onlineSubmissions)

References:

Bevington, D., & Dixon, C. (2005). Movement-relevant theory. Social Movement Studies, 4(3), 185-208.Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019a, February 15). Major Work Stoppages (Annual) News Release. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/wkstp_02082019.htm

Blanc, E. (2019b). Red State Revolt: The Teachers’ Strike Wave and Working-Class Politics. London & New York: Verso Books.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019b, March 07). Eight major work stoppages in educational services in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/eight-major-work-stoppages-in-educational-services-in-2018.htm

Fletcher, B., & Gapasin, F. (2008). Solidarity divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Juris, J. (2008). Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalisation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Maton, R. (2018.) From Neoliberalism to Structural Racism: Problem Framing in a Teacher Activist Organization. Curriculum Inquiry, 48 (3): 1–23.

Peterson, B. (1999). Survival and justice: Rethinking teacher union strategy. In B. Peterson & M. Charney (Eds.) Transforming teacher unions: Fighting for better schools and social justice (pp. 11-19). Milwaukie, WI: Rethinking Schools.

Rottmann, C. (2013, Fall). Social justice teacher activism. Our Schools / Our Selves, 23 (1), 73-81.

Sen, J. (2017). The movements of movements: Part 1. Oakland, CA: PM Press; New Delhi: Open Word.

Stark, L. (2019). “We’re trying to create a different world”: Educator organizing in social justice caucuses (Doctoral dissertation).

Stern, M., Brown, A. E. & Hussain, K. (2016). Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements. Workplace, 26, 1-4.

Weiner, L. (2012). The future of our schools: Teachers unions and social justice. Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books.

Wolfson, T., Treré, E., Gerbaudo, P., & Funke, P. N. (2017). From Global Justice to Occupy and Podemos: Mapping Three Stages of Contemporary Activism. TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, 15(2), 390 – 542.

Why “Indigenizing” Curriculum and ‘Pedagogy’ is Vital for Our Survival: An Interactive Engagement with Four Arrows

Date:             Friday, September 28, 2018
Venue:          Scarfe Room 1130
Time:             12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Title:              Why “Indigenizing” Curriculum and ‘Pedagogy’ is Vital for Our Survival:
                         An Interactive Engagement with Four Arrows
Speaker:       Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa), aka Don Trent Jacobs
                          Professor, Fielding Graduate University, USA

Light refreshments and informal conversation at noon.  The Lecture commences at 12:30 pm.

There is no need to RSVP.  Everyone is welcome!

Abstract
This presentation will clarify the various meanings, goals, concerns and potential outcomes relating to school-wide efforts to “teach” the relevance of Indigenous worldview, knowledge and perspectives. This includes giving support to sovereignty while exposing settler hegemony. Ideas on foundational ways to transform learning accordingly are also introduced.

Bio
Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa), aka Don Trent Jacobs, Ed.D., formerly Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College, is currently a professor in the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Selected by AERO as one of 27 visionaries in education, he is the author of 21 books including Point of Departure: Returning to Our Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival (IAP, 2016); Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education (Peter Lang, 2014); and The Authentic Dissertation (Routledge, 2008). Four Arrow is also the subject of a book about his life and activism entitled, Fearless Engagement by R. Michael Fisher (Peter Lang, 2018).

Remember | Resist | Redraw: A Radical History Poster Project

In 2017, the Graphic History Collective launched Remember | Resist | Redraw: A Radical History Poster Project, a collaborative project featuring works by artists and writers committed to promoting art, activism, and alternative history in what is today known as Canada.

Remember | Resist | Redraw posters offer alternative perspectives on well-known historical events, and highlights histories of Indigenous peoples, women, workers, and the oppressed that are often overlooked or marginalized in mainstream historical accounts.

Check it out: http://graphichistorycollective.com/projects/remember-resist-redraw

Check it out: http://graphichistorycollective.com/projects/remember-resist-redraw

The Many Faces of Privatization

Public funding for private schools may be the most obvious way public education in British Columbia is being privatized, but there are other less obvious privatizing strategies at work. The Many Faces of Privatization is a background paper I co-authored with Sandra Mathison and Larry Kuehn as part of Funding Public Education project of the Institute for Public Education / British Columbia.

The paper offers analysis of 1) the common neoliberal narrative that legitimizes and promotes privatization thus drawing the public into a manufactured consent of privatization and 2) specific contexts in which this privatization in manifest, such as personalized learning (especially with technology), choice programs, school fees and fund raising, business principles of school administration, corporate sponsorships, fee paying international students, and publicly funded private schools.

What Teachers, What Citizenship, What Future? The challenges of teaching the social sciences, geography and history — Homage to Joan Pagès i Blanch

[Read the talk here.]

I am very pleased and honoured to be giving the keynote address at the XV International Conference on the Research of Teaching Social Sciences /XV Jornades Internacionals de Recerca en Didàctica de les Ciències Socials (February 8-10 at the Autonomous University of Barcelona), a homage to one of the leading scholars in the field in the past half century, Professor Joan Pagès i Blanch.

In my talk I’ll respond to the questions posed in the conference title “What teachers, citizenship, future for research in social studies education?”

What kind of teachers?
Those who understand their role in creating classrooms where students can develop personally meaningful understandings of the world and recognize they have agency to act on the world, to make change.

What kind of citizenship?
The dangerous kind.

What kind of future?
One where social studies education emphases the connection between the social and the individual, between the political and the existential; where a focus on institutional transformation is pursued in tandem with concerns for the existential dimension of meaning, that is personal desire for belonging, community, and moral commitment.