The Little Red Schoolhouse
Linda Lovelace Sucks Money Out of San Francisco Schools: Ms. Lovelace was in charge of administering contracts between the school district and Bay Area Community Resources. According to her termination letter, she signed contracts on behalf of officials who had not given her authorization and submitted false claims that she had worked 12-hour days during the school year.
“Your conduct in intentionally requesting and receiving an additional four hours of compensation every single day is tantamount to stealing,” stated the dismissal notice, which was written by Roger Buschmann, the chief administrative officer. “Particularly at a time when the district faces a multimillion-dollar deficit and forced layoffs of many skilled and diligent professionals, such conduct is appalling.”
Detroit School Union Boss: “We’re Shortchanged so Let’s Attack….Students”: The president of the Detroit Public Schools teachers union wants substitute teachers to stop developing lesson plans, grading assignments and participating in parent-teacher conferences. The move is meant to send a message to Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, who hasn’t restored pay and benefits of substitute teachers serving as a daily classroom teachers due to teacher shortages this year, said Keith Johnson, president of Detroit Federation of Teachers.
Next Target, after merit pay, abolition of tenure, mass racist layoffs, etc.—Teacher Pension Funds: Today there is an almost $500 billion shortfall for funding teacher pensions, and that gap is growing. Why should you care? Because ultimately taxpayers are on the hook for that money. But the problem doesn’t just end there. The way teacher pensions operate is badly suited to today’s teacher workforce, where 30-year careers are no longer the norm. The current setup penalizes teachers who move between states, switch to private or public-charter schools that do not participate in the pension system or leave teaching altogether. Meanwhile, it becomes financial suicide for teachers to change careers after a certain point, even if they no longer want to teach or are not good at it.
Weaker Dollar Won’t Help Workers: Another reason increased sales abroad might not translate into American jobs is that American companies have moved steadily overseas in recent decades. The number of workers employed by American companies abroad more than doubled from 1989 to 2008, to 10.5 million, according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis. Companies mostly wanted to open up foreign markets, and in some cases take advantage of cheaper labor, studies show, but less vulnerability to currency movements was an important fringe benefit.
Hot Damn! Cheap American Workers For Sale! GREER, S.C. —When German automaker BMW put out the call recently to hire a thousand factory workers here, the people who responded reflected the upheaval occurring in the U.S. economy. Among the applicants: a former manager of a major distribution center for Target, a consultant who oversaw construction projects in four Western states and a supervisor at a plastics-recycling firm. Some held college degrees and résumés in other fields where they made more money. But they’re all in the factory now making $15 an hour — about half of what the typical German autoworker makes.
The trade debate in the United States usually focuses on the jobs lost to factories in the developing world. But the recession has forced countless skilled workers in this country to consider jobs they would have rejected in the past. They now offer foreign manufacturers a resource that was far less common just a few years ago: cheaper wages for better talent…At GM and Chrysler, new hires make $14 an hour, or half the amount that existing workers take home. Likewise, at the BMW plant, which is not unionized, new workers earn a little more than half of what those hired earlier make. Some still seemed stunned by their change of circumstances. But they are almost uniformly grateful for the opportunity.
Read the full Rouge Forum Update here.
The full version of the latest Rouge Forum Update is here.
Here are some of the links from the Update:
In the Little Rouge Schoolhouse:
War, War, War But What is the Plan? Who is the Enemy? What is Winning? Don’t Dither!
An Oldie But Goodie From Country Joe in honor of those young people sitting in the mud in Afghanistan, wondering what their ruling class plans for them, what the strategy is, who the enemy will be and what tactics will be used next (and can we trust that our officers care?)
Money, Profits, Losses, Fear, Greed: The Economy
100th Bank Failure of 2009 Coming to Your Hometown? “Mr. Cassidy projects that as many as 1,000 small banks will close over the next few years…Together, the 8,176 smallest banks control just 15 percent of the industry’s $13.3 trillion in assets.”
More Education and Resistance:
North American Labor History Conference, Detroit, October 24 to 26
Issue 14 of the Rouge Forum News focuses on papers given at the the 2009 RF Conference: Education, Empire, Economy & Ethics at a Crossroads: What do we need to know and how can we come to know it?, which was held in May at Eastern Michigan University.
This issue contains nine articles from conference presenters, including the keynote address of legendary activist, historian, lawyer Staughton Lynd and NCSS Defense of Academic Freedom Award recipient Gregg Queen. Other contributors include Cory Maley, Travis Barrett, Rich Gibson, Paul Ramsey, E. Wayne Ross, Carol Williams, and Adam Renner, plus poetry by Gina Stiens, Sonya Burton, and Billy X. Curmano.
Download Rouge Forum News Issue 14 (August 2009) [pdf]
Previous issues of Rouge Forum News can be found here.
The Rouge Forum No Blood For Oil page is up and updated at www.rougeforum.org.
Remember, nominations for the Rouge Forum Steering Committee can be made to Community Coordinator Adam Renner by August 15.
On the Capitalist Education for War and Inequality Front:
CSU Boss Wants 20% Tuition Hike
Substance News carries the wrap up of the National Education Association Rep Assembly
Linda Chavez, a top aide to the American Federation of Teachers’ Albert Shanker, testifies against Sotomayor
On “The Depression can only be a passing fancy” Front:
Rolling Stone on Goldman Sachs and the Great American Bubble Machine
The International War of the Rich on the Poor Front:
The Bushamagogue Assassination Schemes
And the Resistance (bad example/good example) Front:
The many crises grow around us apace. Unemployment and foreclosures mean an eradicated tax base, meaning more demands for cuts on education and services, increased taxation of those who have a little, more PR to crush hope in the sense that nothing can be done, more police activity to raise funds and tamp down resistance, and more spectacles. On the war front, more war—for oil, regional control, that is, profits, using the children of the poor to fight the children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands.
What stops the madness? Understanding that the core issue of our time is the relationship of rising color-coded inequality to the potential of mass class-conscious resistance. That has been the project of the Rouge Forum, connection reason to power, for more than a decade. Please join us and help lead the fight-backs that will come.
Thanks to Bob, Al, Sean, Amber, Tony, Kino, Marisol, the Dean, Candace, Sally, Sheri, Barb and Ken (yes, that is right), Donna, Brian, Adam and Gina, Koli, Jesus, Ashwana, Bill, Joe, Dariah, the Susans, and Ann.
Good luck to us, every one.
Below is a call for nominations for the Rouge Forum Steering Committee from Community Coordinator Adam Renner–and below that more resources on the system of capital vs education, including analyses of the National Education Association Representative Assembly.
The Rouge Forum a group of 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.
Needless to say, work toward these goals in the spirit of justice, demands organization. The Rouge Forum is now more than 10 years old. Over the first decade of its existence, members have built an international network of around 4500 professors, teachers, students, artists, and other social service workers. We have engaged in actions, put on conferences, written papers, and built the capacity of our community. We have done these things with no attachment to any hierarchy or any official organizing strategies. Wanting to keep the horizontal nature of such a network while also desiring to better coordinate our actions, the RF is currently accepting nominations for the 09-10 Steering Committee.
Members of the Steering Committee will be expected to actively promote the 2010 conference and attend where possible, help develop and actively participate in Regional RF Chapters, attend the Fall Steering Committee retreat, promote the RF at other conferences, seek out like-minded people and organizations to link the RF with, provide essays for the Rouge Forum News where possible, and build the capacity of our community by support of its members.
In particular this steering committee will be crucial toward the formation of Regional Chapters, mentioned in the list above. We would like to see regular meetings of the regional chapters and work toward some type of coordinated action (e.g., a one day freedom school, a teach-in, a one-day retreat for teachers, an evening panel/speaker on a coordinated topic, a protest action, etc. as a lead up to the 2010 conference and as a preview of more focused, coordinated, and regular actions in the future). Perhaps in organizing more locally/regionally, we can spend more time face to face, as well as enacting nation/world – wide coordinated actions.
Please send your nomination to Adam Renner at email@example.com by August 15, 2009.”
On the Education for Liberation Front:
Two great, censored, photos of Arne Duncan, teaching
Detroit Schools May File Bankruptcy, Could Void Contracts–Using the GM Model
If a bankruptcy judge allows this unprecedented school bankruptcy, it could mean wages slashed in half, pensions and health benefits gutted. If it happens in Detroit, it sets the stage for many others.
Substance News on the Wrap-up of the National Education Association Conference
Vote: Should 11,000 CSU Faculty (all of them signed a loyalty oath) take a 10% Pay Cut? The Union Bosses don’t know. “NOTE: The CFA Board did not take a position on how members should vote.”
The State of US Unionism:
Union Hacks Slug it Out–Solidarity Forever but nothing will stop them from uniting for a free lunch with The Obmagogue
The International Scene:
Mediations, a left journal from South Africa, with many fascinating critiques
Parenti on Obama and the coup in Honduras which sparked a nation-wide school strike
Obamagogue (of the AIG, Madoff, Enron, Martha Stewart, etc, USA) lectures Africans on Corruption
Thanks to Amber, Brian, George and Sharon, Susan O and H, Joe, Mark, Jesus, Donna, Candace, Lance, Sheri, Ken, Barb, Matthew, Bill, Jane W and friends, Mike L and A, Perry, Kathryn, TC, Tony H, Hilda, Marisol, Brit, Della, and Bill.
Good luck to us, every one.
Educators attending the Rouge Forum Conference (May 15-17, Ypsilanti, Michigan) can now gain Continuing Education Units for attending conference sessions. Please spread the word.
Thanks to Joe Bishop and the Michigan work group for this big step forward. Links to the current issue of the Rouge Forum News.
This week in the schools:
Sacramento holds segregated assemblies to promote racist high-stakes exams: Laguna Creek Principal Doug Craig said dividing the students by race allowed staff to talk about test scores without making any one ethnic group feel singled out in a negative manner.”Is it racist? I don’t believe it is,” Craig said.
Poway AFT Local Leads Southern California in Making Concessions: Concessions don’t save jobs. Like giving blood to sharks, concessions only make bosses want more. It should be no surprise that the Poway district is represented by the worst union in the USA, the American Federation of Teachers, but it is of little matter now. The Poway union now sets the table for the rest of SoCal and especially San Diego. Nobody should follow their lead.
Controversial Stanford Study on Big Tests, Girls, and Minorities, by Emily Alpert.
This week on the economy:
Joseph Stiglitz – One of the reasons why our economy is weak is that we have growing inequality in our society. That means that people who would spend the money don’t have it. We sustained their consumption by lending but that lending was unsustainable and so unless we do something about the underlying inequalities both within our countries and across the world, it may be difficult to restore the global economy to the kind of prosperity that we would hope.
Jackknife: The collapse of the Teamsters Union.
This week on wars and resistance:
With sadness, we note the death of Lindy Blake, courageous mutineer and Vietnam war resister.
“The sky is, of course, falling. We are lambs among wolves. The core issue of our time is the relationship of rising color-coded social and economic inequality challenged by the potential of mass class-conscious resistance.”
Thanks to Amber, Adam, Gina, Wayne, Dave, Kevin, Beau, Vanessa, Cheri, Donna, Kelly, Sarah, Marisol, Ernesto, Candace, Sally, Sandy, Ann, Ruthie, Della, Jose, Greg and Katie, Joe B, Paula, Alfie, Steve R and Rick C, Bill, and Glenn.
See you in Ypsi!
All the best and
good luck to us, every one.
A reminder of the outstanding Rouge Forum Conference, Education, Empire, Economy and Ethics at the Crossroads, May 15 to 17, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at Eastern Michigan U.
This is the only education-based conference in North America that will seriously take up questions of economic collapse, perpetual war, and the booming rise of inequality and irrationalism—and what to do. Keynote speaker, Staughton Lynd, will address the question at hand: What is to be done?
A blast from the past sets up our current condition: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” Dickens speaking for Micawber in David Copperfield.
The Obamagogue: “But one of the most important lessons to learn from this crisis is that our economy only works if we recognize that we’re all in this together, that we all have responsibilities to each other and to our country.” March 24 2009.
Let us be clear: The Education Agenda is a War Agenda and agenda to mask class war, a war of the rich on the poor which the rich clearly recognize and the poor do not—yet. The most important lesson is we are NOT all in this together.
The core issue of our times is the accelerated rise of color-coded inequality met by the potential of mass class conscious resistance. The promise of perpetual war is every bit as real as it was with Bush. The same bankers who produced this very real economic crisis, collapse, are the bankers of the Obama regime. His transparent demagoguery has not worn out yet, but it may soon as the wars are lost and the economy spins into either deflationary chaos or the almost equally ruinous alternative: rampant inflation.
Here we see firms using bailout money to bribe the political class. Is it hard for liberals to hold up their notion of democracy inside what is now clearly a capitalist democracy, the former overwhelming the latter, while the near seamless merger of the corporations and banks with the political class is finalized? No it is not. Why?
Rolling Stone on “The Wall Street Revolution”.
George Soros Sees No Bottom to World Financial Collapse.
Quotes From the Great Depression—note the parallels.
Here are two pieces on what can happen if class conscious resistance does not begin to materialize:
- Fights break out at auto dealership as jobs are lost
- Preparing for Civilian Unrest In America: Michel Chossudovsky
On the upside, resistance and red flags are flying in France: Academic and student anger grows. The nation’s universities continued to be disrupted by strikes and protests against proposed teacher training reforms last week, while university presidents called for a year’s delay in introducing the changes to allow time for reflection and consultation.
On the downside, because of grotesque misleadership from groups like United For Peace and Justice, the potential of a million people in the streets in the US six years ago opposing the wars, only 5-10,000 turned up on the anniversary this year.
Could sanity be peeping up in this mire of crises in the US ? Some districts are limiting homework.
Wayne Ross and I have a piece under consideration at Z Mag: The Education Agenda is a War Agenda.
Is it not odd that DHS is going right into Mexico? “Through “strategic redeployments,” the Department of Homeland Security plans to send more than 360 officers and agents to the border and into Mexico, Napolitano said. Costs across the board, totaling up to $184 million, will be revenue neutral, funded by realigning from less urgent activities, fund balances, and, in some cases, reprogramming, she said. ”
And is it not odd that troops are going to be sent to the US side of border areas to do police work???????
Two sources to add to John Bellamy Foster’s current book, The Great Financial Crisis, are classics:
Dunayevskaya: Outline of Marx’s Capital. This is a terrific teaching tool.
Lewis Corey’s (aka Louis Fraina) book, The Decline of American Capitalism, written in 1932, arranges an understanding of the present collapse in notable, prescient, detail. Only a very few reasonably priced books are left in print.
The Rouge Forum Blog is up and you are welcome to join it.
And in hopes that this week we can leave ’em laughing:
- South Park on the Economy.
- SNL: Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford??!!
- A modern, roaring, version of L’Internationale.
Thanks to Susan, Perry, Steve, Wayne, Amber, Doug S, Joe B, Kenny, Sherry, Matt, Victoria, Joe C, Adam and Gina, Bob, Victoria, Tommie, Michael, David, Sharon A., Della, Barbara, Faith, Denny, Jim B, Kim B, Gil, Ernesto, Angel, Jackie, Ann, Candy, GF, Peter, Ricky, Steve, Dennis, Kirk, TC, Bob S, John and Mary, Mary and Paul, and to adjuncts everywhere.
Good luck to us, every one.
(more news on those Seattle teachers who resisted testing their students next week)
[Above image: “Detroit Industry” – Detroit Institute of Arts ( Diego Rivera ) – View 1, from DetroitDerek’s Flickr photostream.]
Over the past decade or so, I’ve visited Detroit many times, so as I read Mark Binelli’s profile of this dying city in the most recent Rolling Stone (#1073) there was a lot of resonance with my Motown experiences.
The article, of course, focuses on the auto industry, the government bailouts and Binelli uses a visit to the Detroit Auto Show to explore the decline of the industry and the city. But the most compelling part of the article describes a tour of the deindustrial wastelands of downtown Detroit that Binelli takes with Detroitblogger John to see abandoned factories, houses, and office buildings; grassy fields, which used to be crowded working and middle class residential neighborhoods and are now homes to coyotes and other wild life.
Check out photos at DetroitBlog.org or KenTakesPictures “Detroit” Flickr photoset or Derek Farr’s “Detroit Ruins” Flickr photoset to get an idea of what Detroit looks like these days. (KenTakesPictures describes the areas around the old GM factories as resembling scenes from 28 Days Later and Mogadishu)
Binelli vaguely hints at but doesn’t explore Detroit’s spirit of resistance, which is too bad because the history of the city is in many ways a history of resistance. There’s no doubt that Detroit is ground zero of the urban crisis in the US, but it is also home to many people who have and continue to work against racism, labor exploitation, and other inequalities.
Detroit’s also the birthplace of The Rouge Forum, which drew inspiration for it’s name from Detroit’s River Rouge and the River Rouge auto factory, which at one time was the largest factory in the world.
“The Rouge is both nature and work. The Rouge has never quit; it moves with the resilience of the necessity for labor to rise out of nature itself. The river and the plant followed the path of industrial life throughout the world. The technological advances created at the Rouge, in some ways, led to better lives. In other ways, technology was used to forge the privilege of the few, at the expense of most–and the ecosystems, which brought it to life, The Rouge is a good place to consider a conversation, education, and social action.”
Join us at the Rouge Forum annual conference this May, we’ll be meeting at Eastern Michigan University in Yspilanti, close enough for a quick trip to Detroit.
[Rich Gibson has a good collection links that explore the urban, and particularly the educational, crises in Detroit at his web site.]