To the UC Faculty:
We at the Rouge Forum applaud, admire, and support your efforts to respond to tuition hikes, enrollment cuts, layoffs, furloughs, and increased class sizes, which are indeed, complicit with the privatization of public education.
The Rouge Forum is a group of 4500 educators, students, and parents seeking a democratic society. We are concerned with questions like: How can we teach against racism, nationalism and sexism in an increasingly authoritarian and undemocratic society? How can we gain enough real power to keep our ideals AND teach? Whose interests do schools serve in a society that is ever more unequal? We want to learn about equality, democracy and social justice as we simultaneously struggle to bring those into practice. (http://www.rougeforum.org/, http://www.therougeforum.blogspot.com/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouge_Forum).
In the German Ideology, Marx submits, “The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”
The connection and simultaneous control of this material and mental production comes into ever-sharper relief anytime we are confronted by our corporate media. The level of discourse is less than satisfying. And, frankly, frightening. Pick the issue: health care, immigration, worker’s rights, war, education. While all of the issues are truly critical, the last is particularly problematic since control of schools is a final domino to fall in the imperial quest to completely (re)fashion our reality. Remove critical thinking, make children compete against each other for perceived scarce resources (standardized tests), use the results to reify hierarchies based on social constructions like race and gender and class status, make teachers compete against one another for perceived scarce resources (merit pay), boil dissent down to participation in (mostly) corrupt unions, excuse and/or cover-up the school to military and prison pipelines, monitor and make impotent our schools of education through if-it-wasn’t-so-sinister-it-would-be-comical accrediting bodies like NCATE, and regulate truth. This has been the agenda. And, it has already buried itself deep into our educational psyche.
Your willingness to confront this reality on September 24 is an illustration of the work we will all have to do to protect public education toward the creation of a more whole and healthy society. Where Rouge Forum members are affiliated with the UC system, we have encouraged them to join you. Where Rouge Forum members are unaffiliated with the UC system, we have encouraged them to take part in campus wide discussions relative to the status of higher education, academic freedom, and the importance of public education.
We stand in solidarity with you and offer the graphic, created by Rouge Forum member, Bryan Reinholdt, an elementary performing arts teacher in Louisville, Ky.
the Rouge Forum Steering Committee