Tag Archives: capitalism

Why paying teachers for student test scores is a bad idea

While everyone in British Columbia is paying attention to the teachers’ strike, the Fraser Institute launched its latest effort to marketize education. This week the Fraser Institute, a neoliberal think tank, released a report promoting incentivized pay for teachers.

Teacher Incentive Pay That Works, summarizes 10 “case studies” from around the globe, which the Fraser Institute argues illustrates successful incentive pay programs. The press release for the report is titled “Evidence shows teacher incentive pay improves student performance,” which is ironic since the report ignores the long history of these schemes, and studiously avoids the details of the debate around value-added measurements in the United States (which is currently enthralled in a public revolt against test-driven education), as well as evidence illustrating damage done to schools and learning under such schemes.

The Illusion of Paying Teachers for Performance

… history shows that any pay-for-performance gains are mostly illusions. Not only do they fail to improve student achievement, they are also destructive, encouraging administrators and teachers to cheat by manipulating statistics, or by teaching to the test. Inevitably, children wind up the losers because curricula are narrowed to include subjects that can be taught by drill and repetition and that are easily measured. (Wilms & Chapleau, 1999)

Wilms and Chapleau note that pay-for-performance was first rolled out in England, around 1710! Teachers’ salaries were based on their students’ scores on examinations in the “three ‘Rs.” “This early payment-for-results system had great appeal because it promised to help keep children from poor families in school, where they might learn the basics.”

The scheme became a permanent fixture in English schools by 1862 (as part of the Revised Education Code) and was in effect for over 30 years. Historical accounts of England’s scheme describe teachers and administrators as becoming obsessed with the systems financial rewards, which according to Wilms and Chapleau were dubbed “the cult of the [cash] register.”

Curriculum was narrowed to include just the easily measured basics. The sciences and the arts, along with many other non-tested activities disappeared from schools (foreshadowing the disappearance of recess from elementary schools in the United States as a result of the test driven reforms like Obama’s Race To The Top).

Teaching became increasingly mechanical, as teachers found that drill and rote repetition produced the “best” results. One schools inspector wrote an account of children reading flawlessly for him while holding their books upside down.

The English system of pay for performance produced a mechanical approach to teaching and learning that eroded teacher creativity. Standards for student success (or failure) were spelled out in detail (just as the new Fraser Institute reports as a “Key Lesson 1″ in their study, “Define what we expect teachers to do.”)

An inspector wrote that the Education Code “did all the thinking for the teacher; it told him in precise detail what he was to do each year.” Another recalled, “Every teacher in the country takes his orders from the Code, studies the Code, and devotes his energies to satisfy or to circumvent it.”

Predictably the English system imploded in a cheating scandal that included falsification of records and teachers coaching student through examinations, not unlike the recent massive cheating scandal in Atlanta, Georgia and across the USA, which highlights deleterious effects of test-driven education.

the overwhelming judgment was that it was unsound policy. Cynics referred to schools as “grant factories” and children as “grant-earning units.”

In the later third of the 19th Century, teacher pay-by-results appeared briefly in Canada. Student achievement initially rose but, as in England, teachers started to focus on students who were most likely to succeed, turning their classrooms into test prep centres. By 1883 the Canadian experiment ended as a result of public outrage.

One hundred years later in the United States, the Nixon administration funded an experiment in “performance contracting” in which school funding was tied to students standardized test scores. The experiment provided incentives for administrators, teachers, and students. Private contractors, who were suppose to bring innovation and business know-how to the effort, were given contracts in 18 cities to raise student achievement levels in reading and math.

Turns out contractors offered no pedagogical innovations only teaching to the test. The project was declared a failure in the midst of poor results and a cheating scandal.

As Wilms and Chapleau illustrate, the wake of pay-for-results education reforms is strewn with detritus of dishonest behaviour (cheating, falsifying records) and teaching to the test.

Similar incentive efforts in the 1990s and the recent examples of cheating scandals in Atlanta and Texas prove that incentive pay reform is a failed idea.

Flawed Logic of Performance Pay

Donald Gratz, the author of Perils and Promise of Performance Pay, describes the flawed logic of incentive pay plans that aim to boost student achievement.

False assumptions #1: Teachers lack motivation.

Teachers care about their students and want them to succeed. “Does anyone really think that large numbers of teachers know what their students need but are willfully withholding it? That they would help students learn more, if only someone offered them a bonus to do so? This is a highly cynical view of teachers, one that teachers understandably find demeaning, not motivational.”

False Assumption #2: Schools are Failing

The manufactured crisis of school failure is a basis for corporate education reform or what is also called the Global Education Reform Movement (Berliner & Biddle, 1995). This is not to say that there aren’t troubled schools or that public schools do not need to be improved, but most students have higher levels of academic achievement now than in the past.

False Assumption #3: Measuring Academic Achievement is All that Counts

“If we want students to develop as well-rounded human beings who are empathetic, thoughtful, and creative, we will have to include these characteristics among our goals for schools and seek ways to gauge our success. A system that rewards schools, students, and teachers only for test scores will get mostly test scores. This is not what most of us want for our children.”

And What About the Research on Incentive Pay?

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has compiled information surveying the research on paying teaching for test scores and concludes that it is a practice that damages schools and undermines learning.

Paying for higher test scores creates score inflation, not genuine learning. Paying for test scores encourages teaching to the test, which creates inflated results without improving learning. (Koretz, 2009; Madaus, Ressell & Higgins, 2009; Nichols & Berliner, 2007)

Payment for performance narrows the curriculum to what is tested and leads to reduced focus on or elimination of important subjects, such as social studies, science, art, music, and physical education. (McMurrer, 2007; Morton & Dalton, 2007)

It is unfair and ineffective to pay teachers for test results that are often marred by scoring and other errors. (Rhoades & Madaus, 2003).

Payment for gains in student scores does not solve the problem of test-induced educational damage. There are too many flaws in “value-added” measurement approaches to trust the results. (McCaffrey, et al., 2005; Bracey, 2007; National Research Council, 2009)

Most teachers’ primary motivation is not high pay. If it were, they would have chosen another profession. Teachers know test scores are a poor barometer of their abilities, so pay for performance damages rather than enhances their sense of professionalism and morale (Whitford & Jones, 2000; Nichols & Berliner, 2007). It can decrease motivation (Ryan & LaGuardia, 1999). Payment for “performance” also has been shown to increase cheating (Pfeffer, 2007).

Payment for test scores may not even to raise student scores and has been shown in one country to reduce scores. This is despite the extensive evidence of score inflation from teaching the test (Martins, 2009; Springer, Podgursky, & Lewis, 2009).

Paying individual teachers for student scores encourages unhealthy competition. Incentive pay may reduce cooperation among teachers and can cause divisions among staff and parents (MacInnis, 2009; Pfeffer, 2007). In addition the OECD has recently released a report that says competition in education is a failed policy. The bottom-line:

Research on pay for performance finds that it rests on dubious assumptions and lacks evidence it succeeds, and there is good evidence that it often fails.

References

Berliner, D. C., & Biddle, B. J. (1995). The manufactured crisis: Myths, fraud, and the attack on America’s public schools. New York: Basic Books.

Bracey, J. 2007. Evaluating value added. FairTest Examiner, July. http://www.fairtest.org/whats-value-growth- measures

Bradshaw, W. J., & Gallup, A. M. (2008, September). Americans speak out: Are educators and policy makers listening? Phi Delta Kappan, 90(10), 7–31.

Gratz, D. B. (2009). Perils and promise of performance pay. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Koretz, D. (2009, April 29). What’s Missing in Obama’s Education Plan? Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/04/29/30koretz_ep.h28.html?tkn=QTLFEqyaUfgkzI4vRyp6Q0c2kzhDTpngNM 9B&print=1

MacInnes, G. (2009). Eight reasons not to tie teacher pay to standardized test results. Century Foundation Issue Brief. http://www.tcf.org/publications/education/gordon%20brief.pdf

Madaus, G., Russell, M., & Higgins, J. (2009). The Paradoxes of high stakes testing. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Martins, P. (2009, March). Individual teacher incentives, student achievement and grade inflation. Queen Mary, University of London, CEG-IST and IZA, Discussion Paper No. 4051.

McCaffrey, D., Koretz, D., Lockwood, J.R., & Hamilton, L. (2005). Evaluating value-added models for teacher accountability. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

McMurrer, J. (2007). Choices, changes, and challenges: Curriculum and instruction in the NCLB Era. Center on Education Policy. http://www.cep-dc.org/

Morton, B. & Dalton, B. (2007). Changes in instructional hours in four subjects by public school teachers of grades 1 through 4 (Issue Brief). National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007305

National Research Council, Board on Testing and Assessment. (2009). Letter Report to the U.S. Department of Education on the Race to the Top Fund. National Academy of Sciences, available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12780

Nichols, S.L, & Berliner, D.C. (2007). Collateral damage: How high-stakes testing corrupts America’s schools. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

OECD. (2014). When is competition between schools beneficial? PISA in focus, 42. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/PISA%20in%20Focus%20N42%20(eng)–Final.pdf

Pfeffer, J. (2007). Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives. http://federalworkforce.oversight.house.gov/documents/20070313111150-45256.pdf

Rhoades, K. & Madaus, G., (2003). Errors in standardized tests: A systemic problem. Boston College. http://www.bc.edu/nbetpp

Ryan, R. M., & La Guardia, J. G. (1999). Achievement motivation within a pressured society: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to learn and the politics of school reform. In T. Urdan (Ed.) Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol 11). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Springer, M., Podgursky, M., & Lewis, J. (2009). Texas Educator Excellence Grant (TEEG) program: Year two evaluation report. http://www.performanceincentives.org/ncpi_publications/policybriefs.asp

Whitford, B. L., & Jones, K. (2000). Accountability, assessment, and teacher commitment. Albany: SUNY Press.

Wilms, W. W., & Chapleau, R. R. (1999, November 3). The illusion of paying teachers for student performance. Education Week, 19(10), 34, 48.

Cultural Logic Releases Three Volumes of Critical Scholarship In One Day

Cultural Logic has just announced an epic launch of three volumes of critical scholarship addressing a wide range of issues.

Cultural Logic, which has been on-line since 1997, is a 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.

Volumes 2011 and 2012 were edited by David Siar.

Volume 2013 is the open access version the Education for Revolution issue that was published by Works & Days in December 2013, which I co-edited with Rich Gibson. Thanks to everyone for your contributions, to David Downing and his team for publishing the issue in Works & Days, to David Siar for his editorial and site management, and to Joe Ramsey for suggesting the WD/CL collaboration for the Education for Revolution issue.

Below are the Contents for Volumes 2011, 2012, and 2013

Cultural Logic, Volume 2011
Articles
Mathias Dapprich
“A Contribution Towards a Critical Theory of School Shootings”

Jerry Leonard
“Reading Notes on Sangeeta Ray’s Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Polemic with Digressions on a Theory of Irreducibility”

Ronald Paul
“The Politics of the Personal in Edward Upward’s The Spiral Ascent”

Spyros Sakellaropoulos
“On the Causes of the Civil War in Nepal and the Role of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)”

Larry Schwartz
“Apocalypse Then: Philip Roth’s Indignation”

Daniel Silvermintz
“Enlightenment in the Shopping Mall”

Response and Counter-Response
Mike Jones
“Some Comments on Sven-Eric Holmström’s ‘New Evidence’ Concerning the Hotel Bristol in the First Moscow Trial of 1936″

Sven-Eric Holmström
“Reply to Mike Jones”

Poetry
Christopher Barnes
(From) The Electric Chair Poems

Cultural Logic, Volume 2012
Articles
Julianne Buchsbaum
“Alienation, Reification, and Narrativity in Russell Banks’ Affliction”

Alzo David-West
“North Korea and the Theory of the Deformed Workers’ State: Definitions and First Principles of a Fourth International Theory”

Haidar Eid
“White Noise: Representations of (Post)modern Intelligentsia”

Doug Enaa Greene
“Leninism and Blanquism”

Desmond Peeples
“Toward an Anarcho-Empiricism: Integrating Precedent, Theory, and Impetus in the Anarchist Project”

E. San Juan, Jr.
“In Lieu of Saussure: A Prologue to Charles Sanders Peirce’s Theory of Signs”

Huei-ju Wang
“Becoming ‘Migrant John': John Steinbeck and His Migrants and His (Un)conscious turn to Marx”

Poetry
George Snedeker
Selected Poems

Cultural Logic, Education for Revolution, Volume 2013
Preface
E. Wayne Ross & Rich Gibson
“Education for Revolution”

Foreword
David B. Downing, Nicholas P. Katsiadas, Tracy J. Lassiter & Reza Parchizadeh
“Forward to the Revolution” (Forward to the Works & Days Edition)

Articles
Rich Gibson
“Barbarism Rising: Detroit, Michigan and the International War of the Rich on the Poor”

E. Wayne Ross & Kevin D. Vinson
“Resisting Neoliberal Education Reform: Insurrectionist Pedagogies and the Pursuit of Dangerous Citizenry”

Julie A. Gorlewski & Brad J. Porfilio
“Reimaging Solidarity: Hip-Hop as Revolutionary Pedagogy”

Timothy Patrick Shannon & Patrick Shannon
“Learning to Be Fast Capitalists on a Flat World”

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

Mike Cole
“Schooling for Capitalism or Education for Twenty-First Century Socialism?”

Curry Stephenson Malott
“Class Consciousness and Teacher Education: The Socialist Challenge and the Historical Context”

Deborah P. Kelsh
“The Pedagogy of Excess”

John Maerhofer
“Undermining Capitalist Pedagogy: Takiji Kobayashi’s Toseikatsusha and the Ideology of the World Literature Paradigm”

Grant Banfield
“Marxist Sociology of Education and the Problem of Naturalism: An Historical Sketch”

David J. Blacker
“The Illegitimacy of Student Debt”

Alan J. Singer
“Hacking Away at the Corporate Octopus”

Richard A. Brosio
“A Tale of Two Cities —— and States”

Alan Spector
“SDS, the 1960s, and Education for Revolution”

Education, State and Market: Anatomy of Neoliberal Impact

Ravi Kumar‘s new book Education, State and Market: Anatomy of Neoliberal Impact published by Aakar Books (Delhi) is the first volume to comprehensively examine the impact of neoliberal capitalism on education in India.

Kumar is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of South Asia, in Delhi. He blogs here and is also part of the editorial collective at Radical Notes.

Praise for the volume:

The book presents a set of papers that illuminate in profound ways how the wide-angle historical frames provided by Marxist analysis facilitate our understanding of the details embedded in national and more local educational contexts. Neoliberalism attacks human dignity. The consequences of social, economic, and educational policies that exacerbate inequality, magnify exploitation, and undermine personal and social freedoms are clearly analyzed by each of the contributors. The circumstances are dire and readers will most certainly be outraged as they learn how neoliberal policies and practices reduce the process of education to a commodity and teachers and learners to elements in formula for the relentless production of profit. This volume presents a clear and compelling analysis of how neoliberal thought and practice has transformed education at the policy level in India and in the process distorted the official aims of education as well as social relations among teachers and learners. Most importantly, however, these chapters provide insights into how we might channel our rage against neoliberal capitalist mechanisms into the creation of new visions of resistance to educational practices that privilege profits over people.
- E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia, Canada
 
Editor Ravi Kumar has assembled the finest scholarship to investigate key questions in regard to the relationship of the development of modern capitalism, its connections to empire, the role of the state, and the resulting impact on education. The essays within go to the core: what is valued as “knowledge” now? Who shall schools serve? Indeed: Why have school? The critical reader will find new questions, and profound answers. 
- Rich Gibson, Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, USA

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

New edition of “The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities” in production

I’m very pleased to announce that the Fourth Edition of the The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities is now in production at The State University of New York Press and will be available in 2014.

This fourth edition includes 12 new chapters on: the history of the social studies; creating spaces for democratic social studies; citizenship education; anarchist inspired transformative social studies; patriotism; ecological democracy; Native studies; inquiry teaching; Islamophobia; capitalism and class struggle; gender, sex, sexuality and youth experiences in school; and critical media literacy. Chapters carried over from the Third Edition, which was published in 2006, have been substantially revised and updated, including those: on teaching in the age of curriculum standardization and high-stakes testing; critical multicultural social studies; prejudice and racism, assessment; and teaching democracy.

As with previous editions——the first edition of The Social Studies Curriculum was published in 1997 and the Revised Edition was released in 2001——the aim of this collection of essays is to challenge readers to reconsider their assumptions and understandings of the origins, purposes, nature, and possibilities of the social studies curriculum.

A fundamental assumption of this collection is that the social studies curriculum is much more than subject matter knowledge—a collection of facts and generalizations from history and the social science disciplines to be passed on to students. The curriculum is what students experience. It is dynamic and inclusive of the interactions among students, teachers, subject matter and the social, cultural, economic and political contexts education. The true measure of success in any social studies course or program will be found in its effects on individual students’ thinking and actions as well as the communities to which students belong. Teachers are the key component in any curriculum improvement and it is our hope that this book provides social studies teachers with perspectives, insights, and knowledge that are beneficial in their continued growth as professional educators.

I am very appreciative to all the authors who wrote chapters for this and previous editions of the book, including: Jane Bernard-Powers, Margaret Smith Crocco, Abraham DeLeon, Terrie Epstein, Ronald W. Evans, Linda Farr Darling, Stephen C. Fleury, Four Arrows (aka Don T. Jacobs), Kristi Fragnoli, Rich Gibson, Neil O. Houser, David W. Hursh, Kevin Jennings, Gregg Jorgensen, Lisa Loutzenheiser, Joseph Kahne, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Christopher R. Leahey, Curry Stephenson Malott, Perry M. Marker, Sandra Mathison, Cameron McCarthy, Merry Merryfield, Jack L. Nelson, Nel Noddings, Paul Orlowski, Valerie Ooka Pang, J. Michael Peterson, Marc Pruyn, Greg Queen, Frances Rains, David Warren Saxe, Doug Selwyn, Özlem Sensoy, Binaya Subedi, Brenda Trofanenko, Kevin D. Vinson, Walter Werner, Joel Westheimer, and Michael Whelan. Each of one of these contributors are exemplary scholars and educators and their work has had a tremendous impact on my own thinking and practice as well as many other educators.

Contents
The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities
(4th Edition)

Preface

Part I: Purposes of the Social Studies Curriculum

1. Social Studies Curriculum Migration: Confronting Challenges in the 21st Century
Gregg Jorgensen, Western Illinois University

2. Social Studies Curriculum and Teaching in the Age of Standardization
E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia
Sandra Mathison, University of British Columbia
Kevin D. Vinson, The University of the West Indies

3. Creating Authentic Spaces for Democratic Social Studies Education
Christopher R. Leahey, North Syracuse (NY) Public Schools & SUNY Oswego

4. “Capitalism is for the Body, Religion is for the Soul”: Insurgent Social Studies for the 22nd Century
Abraham P. DeLeon, University of Texas, San Antonio

Part II: Social Issues and the Social Studies Curriculum

5. Dangerous Citizenship
E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia
Kevin D. Vinson, The University of the West Indies

6. Teaching Students to Think About Patriotism
Joel Westheimer, University of Ottawa

7. Ecological Democracy: An Environmental Approach to Citizenship Education
Neil O. Houser, University of Oklahoma

8. Native Studies, Praxis, and The Public Good
Four Arrows, Fielding Graduate University

9. Marxism and Critical Multicultural Social Studies Education: Redux
Curry Malott, West Chester University
Marc Pruyn, Monash University

10. Prejudice, Racism, and the Social Studies Curriculum
Jack L. Nelson, Rutgers University
Valerie Ooka Pang, San Diego State University

11. The Language of Gender, Sex, and Sexuality and Youth Experiences in Schools
Lisa Loutzenheiser, University of British Columbia

Part III: The Social Studies Curriculum in Practice

12. Making Assessment Work for Teaching and Learning
Sandra Mathison, University of British Columbia

13. Why Inquiry?
Doug Selwyn, SUNY Plattsburgh

14. Beyond Fearing the Savage: Responding to Islamophobia in the Classroom
Özlem Sensoy, Simon Fraser University

15. Class Struggle in the Classroom
Greg Queen, Fitzgerald Senior High School (Warren, MI)

16. Critical Media Literacy and Social Studies
Paul Orlowski, University of Saskatchewan

17. Teaching Democracy: What Schools Need to Do
Joseph Kahne, Mills College
Joel Westheimer, University of Ottawa

Part IV: Conclusion

18. Remaking the Social Studies Curriculum
E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia

New issue of Cultural Logic: “Culture and Crisis”

Cultural Logic

2010
SPECIAL ISSUE:
CULTURE AND CRISIS

EDITED BY JOSEPH G. RAMSEY

 Introduction

Joseph G. Ramsey
“Culture and Crisis”

The Current Conjucture:
Capitalist Crises and the Crisis of the Left

Michael Joseph Roberto, Gregory Meyerson, Jamey Essex, and Jeff Noonan
“Moment of Transition:
Structural Crisis and the Case for a Democratic Socialist Party”

Jeffrey Perry
“The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from
Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen
on the Centrality of the Fight against White Supremacy”

Julie P. Torrant
“Class and the New Family in the Wake of the Housing Collapse”

Dan DiMaggio
“Road Maps, Dead Ends, and the Search for Fresh Ground:
How Can We Build the Socialist Movement in the 21st Century?”

Crisis, Imagination, and the Return to Marx’s Capital

Max Haiven
“The Financial Crisis as a Crisis of the Imagination”

Vesa Oittinen and Andre Maidansky
“A Marx for the Left Today:
Interview with Marcello Musto”

Amedeo Policante
“Vampires of Capital:
Gothic Reflections between Horror and Hope”

Robert T. Tally Jr.
“Meta-Capital:
Culture and Financial Derivatives”

Rethinking Crises in
Twntieth-Century Socialism and Communism

Joseph Ball
“The Need for Planning:
The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union
in the 1950s and the Decline of the Soviet Economy”

Grover Furr
“Stephen Cohen’s Biography of Bukharin:
A Study in the Falsehood of Khrushchev-Era ‘Revelations'”

Remembering the Depression Era:
Recovering Left Culture in a Time of Crisis

Benjamin Balthaser
“Re-Staging the Great Depression:
Genre as Social Memory in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler

Barbara Foley
Forward to Wrestling with the Left:
The Making of Ralph Ellison’s
 Invisible Man

Joseph G. Ramsey
“Invisible Tragedies, Invisible Possibilities:
Or, Re-Reading What’s Left of a Great American
(Anti-Communist) Novel”
(Review of Barbara Foley’s Wrestling with the Left
)

Tristan Sipley
“Proletarian Pastoral Reconsidered:
Reading Mike Gold in an Age of Ecological Crisis”

Chris Vials
“Fight Against War and Fascism and
the Origins of Antifascism in US Culture”


Theoretical Practice in a Time of Crisis:
Adorno, Benjamin, and Brecht

Rich Daniels
“Non-Pious Discourse:
Adorno, Ethics, and the Politics of Suffering”

Kevin Floyd
“The Importance of Being Childish:
Queer Utopians and Historical Contradiction”

Carl Grey Martin
Review of
Walter Benjamin and Bertold Brecht —
The Story of a Friendship


Reading Crisis as Ruling-Class Strategy

Kanishka Chowdhury
“Deflecting Crisis:
Critiquing Capitalism’s Emancipation Narrative”

Kim Emery
“‘Crisis Management’ in Higher Education:
RCM and the Politics of Crisis at the University of Florida”

Heather Steffen
“Student Internships and the Privilege to Work”

Poetry

Mary Kennan Herbert
“Been There, Done That” and
“Nothing to Say”

George Snedeker
“Progress” and Other Poems

Joseph G. Ramsey
“Fault Lines: Haiti, Two Years On”

What is Capitalism Hiding?

What is Capitalism Hiding?

By Bertell Ollman

What exactly is it about capitalism that our rulers are trying to hide? The short list would have to include: (1) that the most apt label for our society-because it brings into focus how our society works (particularly in production, an area of life that most of the other labels ignore or obscure), for whom it works better, for whom it works worse, and its potential for change—is “capitalism”; (2) that the real rulers of this society are those who own the means of production, distribution and exchange, and reap the bulk of the surplus; (3) that the Government, whatever democratic foreplay goes on, serves their interests, hence is their Government and not ours; (4) that we, the rest of us who don’t live on profit, rent or interest, are workers (whether we are willing to admit it or not), because we are forced to seek work in order to live; (5) that the conditions of life and work for us workers are bad and likely to get much worse-while the wealth of the capitalists keeps growing; (6) that a qualitatively better life, a more humane, just, free, democratic, egalitarian and ecologically rational way of organizing society can be developed; (7) that those who benefit from the present order of society have consistently lied to us about all of the above; and (8) that once workers—in the broad sense of the term—break through these lies and half-truths, they/we can win.

Now the best way for the capitalists to hide all of these facts is to hide the first one, that our’s is a capitalist society, because once people learn this all of the facts that follow become easier to see and to grasp. In his book, In Praise of Folly, Erasmus tells the story of a man watching a play who all at once jumps onto the stage and tears the masks off of the actors to reveal who they really are. If you think of Marx as this man and the capitalists as the actors, you can begin to understand both what Marx does and why the capitalists are not too pleased with him for doing it.

From How to Take an Exam and Remake the World by Bertell Ollman (2001, Black Rose Books)

Education for Dangerous Citizenship

I’ll be at the University of Texas at San Antonio in November giving a talk as part of the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies Distinguished Lecture Series.

The talk, titled “Education for Dangerous Citizenship”, will draw from some of my recent work with Rich Gibson (e.g., “The Education Agenda is a War Agenda” and “No Child Left Behind and the Imperial Project”) and Kevin D. Vinson (“The Concrete Inversion of Life””: Guy Debord, the Spectacle, and Critical Social Studies Education” [pdf]). The UTSA talk will cover some of the foundational ideas for a book Kevin and I are currently writing titled Dangerous Citizenship: A Theory and Practice of Contemporary Critical Pedagogy.

Thanks to Abraham DeLeon for organizing things at UTSA.

Here’s the blurb:

Education for Dangerous Citizenship: War, Surveillance, Spectacle, and the Education Agenda

We live in an era in which leaders have delivered on the promise of perpetual war and where the primary role of “public” schooling is social control. In the contemporary milieu of advanced capitalism, the fusion of surveillance and spectacle produces, maintains, and propagates controlling images that enforce prevailing societal norms by disciplining the thoughts and behaviors of individuals and groups. How might educators respond to the mechanisms of the state used to ensure direct and ideological social control? How might we resist increasingly color-coded social and economic inequality? And might we subvert an education agenda that is a (class) war agenda?

Rouge Forum Update: March on March 20 and Mayday! Here’s to the Bogus Health Care Bill Met By Endless War!

Remember Proposals are Due, April 15, for the Rouge Forum Conference

Send Your Articles, Photos, Cartoons, for the RF News to Community Coordinator Adam Renner.

Links to Classic Rouge Forum Flyers:
“Got War?”
Justice or Barbarism
Shoot Moneybags, Not People

Always be sure you are right, then go ahead

On the Little Rouge School Front:

Colbert vs Foner: This was passed along by social studies good-guy Tony Whitson.
My favorite line (Colbert to Eric Foner): “They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But, if you change what history was, doesn’t that solve that problem?”

Words Counted in the Ratt (Race to the Top) Literacy Plan:
-standards: 48
-assessment: 37
-reward: 34
-literacy: 19
-rigor: 16
-challenge: 15 (including new buzz phrase “challenge schools”)
-accountable/accountability: 14
-math: 11
-science: 10
-history: 7
-poverty: 7
-language arts: 5
-compete/competition: 4
-thinking: 2
-library: 1
-reading: 0
-writing: 0
-book: 0

Broad’s Bobb Named as Detroit Mayor by NPR on March 17th, Issues Plan to Close 45 Detroit Schools, Spend $70 million on Construction

Broad’s Errand Boy Bobb Demagogics it Up for Parents: Still, he said, he expects to eliminate approximately 2,100 jobs, continue to reduce health care costs and outsource as many options as possible in fiscal year 2010-11. There was a noticeable air of displeasure in the audience as Bobb said he plans to announce on Wednesday which 45 schools will close at the end of this school year.

Detroit Federation of Teachers Refuses to Join Suit Against Broad’s Bobb: “The Detroit Federation of Teachers voted Thursday against joining the lawsuit, with leadership calling it frivolous. However, the union did vote to file a complaint with the state ethics commission against Bobb for accepting the funds, said Keith Johnson, the president.”

The Official Program for the Gutting of Chicago Public Schools: Class Size to 37!

UTLA Boss Favors Revamping Tenure, Certification–Eats Breakfast With Broad: “I would have no problem with changing the tenure rules and extending probation. We should not take tenure away once you get it but [have] some form of recertification.”

Michigan Education Association Moves to Smother Direct Action Resistance—A Three Phase Action Plan to—vote (surprise)

NY Times OpEd–National Socialism for the Schools

The They Say Cut Back; We Say Fight Back Front:

March On March 30 Against the Empires Wars and Mayday Too: The Traditional Rouge Forum Mayday Flyer

On the Perpetual War Front: March on March 20th, Anniversary of the Invasion:

Key Data on the Iraq War Since the Invasion

Read more the Rouge Forum Update here.