Tag Archives: resistance

The New Teachers’ Roundtable: A Case Study of Collective Resistance

New issue of Critical Education launched:

Critical Education
Volume 8, Number 4
March 1, 2017

The New Teachers’ Roundtable: A Case Study of Collective Resistance
Beth Leah Sondel

The New Teachers’ Roundtable (NTRT) is a democratically run collective of new teachers who have become critical of neoliberal reform since relocating to New Orleans, with organizations including Teach For America, as a part of the post-Katrina overhaul of public schools. Through interviews and observations, this study examines the ways in which collective members support each other in attempts to navigate experiences they perceive as dehumanizing to themselves, their students, and their students’ communities. By developing relationships amongst themselves and with other stakeholders affected by and resisting privatization, they are able to challenge their own privilege and begin shifting their perspective and pedagogy. This study aims to contribute to our understanding of how teachers who have been affiliated with market-based movements can be galvanized to work in service of movements that are democratic, anti-racist, and accountable to communities.

Neoliberalism; Teacher Resistance; Critical Pedagogy; Social Movements

CFP: Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms

Educate, Agitate, Organize!
Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms

Call for Manuscripts
Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Guest Editors:
Mark Stern, Colgate University
Amy Brown, University of Pennsylvania
Khuram Hussain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

I can tell you with confidence, one year later [from the Measure of Progress test boycott in Seattle schools], I know where our actions will lead: to the formation of a truly mass civil rights movement composed of parents, teachers, educational support staff, students, administrators, and community members who want to end high-stakes standardized testing and reclaim public education from corporate reformers.—Jesse Hagopian, History Teacher and Black Student Union Adviser at Garfield High School, Seattle

As many of us have documented in our scholarly work, the past five years have witnessed a full-fledged attack on public school teachers and their unions. With backing from Wall Street and venture philanthropists, the public imaginary has been saturated with images and rhetoric decrying teachers as the impediments to ‘real’ change in K-12 education. Docu-dramas like Waiting For ‘Superman,’ news stories like Steve Brill’s, “The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand,” in The New York Times Magazine and high profile rhetoric like Michelle Rhee’s mantra that students, not adults, need to be “put first” in education reform, all point to this reality: teachers face an orchestrated, billion dollar assault on their professional status, their knowledge, and their abilities to facilitate dialogical spaces in classrooms. This assault has materialized and been compounded by an austerity environment that is characterized by waning federal support and a narrow corporate agenda. Tens of thousands of teachers have suffered job loss, while thousands more fear the same.

Far from being silent, teachers are putting up a fight. From the strike in Chicago, to grassroots mobilizing to wrest control of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, to public messaging campaigns in Philadelphia and boycotts in Seattle, teachers and their local allies are organizing, agitating and confronting school reform in the name of saving public education. In collaboration with parents, community activists, school staff, students, and administrators, teacher are naming various structures of oppression and working to reclaim the conversation and restore a sense of self-determination to their personal, professional, and civic lives.

This special issue of Workplace calls for proposals to document the resistance of teachers in the United States, Canada, and globally. Though much has been written about the plight of teachers under neoliberal draconianism, the reparative scholarship on teachers’ educating, organizing, and agitating is less abundant. This special issue is solely dedicated to mapping instances of resistance in hopes of serving as both resource and inspiration for the growing movement.

This issue will have three sections, with three different formats for scholarship/media. Examples might include:

I. Critical Research Papers (4000-6000 words)

  • Qualitative/ethnographic work documenting the process of teachers coming to critical consciousness.
  • Critical historiographies linking trajectories of political activism of teachers/unions across time and place.
  • Documenting and theorizing teacher praxis—protests, community education campaigns, critical agency in the classroom.
  • Critical examinations of how teachers, in specific locales, are drawing on and enacting critical theories of resistance (Feminist, Politics of Love/Caring/Cariño, Black Radical Traditions, Mother’s Movements, and so on).

II. Portraits of Resistance

  • Autobiographical sketches from the ground. (~2000 words)
  • Alternative/Artistic representations/Documentations of Refusal (poetry, visual art, photography, soundscapes)

III. Analysis and Synthesis of Various Media

  • Critical book, blog, art, periodical, music, movie reviews. (1500-2000 words)

400-word abstracts should be sent to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu) by April 15, 2014. Please include name, affiliation, and a very brief (3-4 sentences) professional biography.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by May 15. Final drafts will be due October 1, 2014. Please note that having your proposal accepted does not guarantee publication. All final drafts will go through peer-review process. Authors will be notified of acceptance for publication by November 1.

Please direct all questions to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu).

Rouge Forum Dispatch: Endless War and Barbarism or Community and Resistance!

Dear Friends,

For those who must go teach on Monday and seek to make sense of current conditions with students, for those who simply want to walk out into the world, armed with some ideas that might make it better, this special dispatch, and the one just before it, should be of considerable help. http://www.richgibson.com/blog/

Now, we can say again: The education agenda is a war agenda. It is a class war and empire’s war agenda.

Update to issue 17 of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

The current issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor has been updated with two new field reports.

Issue No. 17 of Workplace “Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions” is guest edited by Howard Stevenson of Lincoln University (UK).

The new field reports include:

The NEA Representative Assembly of 2010: A Longer View of Crisis and Consciousness
Rich Gibson

Following the 2009 National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly (RA) in San Diego, new NEA president Dennis Van Roekel was hugging Arne Duncan, fawning over new President Obama, and hustling the slogan, “Hope Starts Here!” At the very close of the 2009 RA, delegates were treated to a video of themselves chanting, “Hope starts Here!” and “Hope Starts with Obama and Duncan!” The NEA poured untold millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, into the Obama campaign. In 2009, Van Roekel promised to tighten NEA-Obama ties, despite the President’s educational policies and investment in war. What happened in the year’s interim? What was the social context of the 2010 RA?

Resisting the Common-nonsense of Neoliberalism: A Report from British Columbia
E. Wayne Ross

Faced with a $16 million budget shortfall, the Vancouver school trustees, who have a mandate to meet the needs of their students, have lobbied for more provincial funding to avoid draconian service cuts. The government has refused the request, and its special advisor to the Vancouver School Board criticizes trustees for engaging in “advocacy” rather than making “cost containment” first priority. The clash between Vancouver trustees and the ministry of education is not “just politics.” Rather, education policy in BC reflects the key features of neoliberal globalization, not the least of which is the principle that more and more of our collective wealth is devoted to maximizing private profits rather than serving public needs. British Columbia is home to one of the most politically successful neoliberal governments in the world, but fortunately it is also a place to look for models of mass resistance to the neoliberal agenda. One of the most important examples of resistance to the common-nonsense of neoliberalism in the past decade is the British Columbia teachers’ 2005 strike, which united student, parent, and educator interests in resisting the neoliberal onslaught on education in the public interest.

Rouge Forum Update: Valentine Smackeroo Edition

They Say Get Back! We Say Fight Back!

Strike, Educate, Agitate, Occupy on March 4th to Transform Public Education. Defend Education from the Ruling Classes!

On the Little Rouge School Front:

Call For Proposals–Rouge Forum Conference August 2-5, 2010

Detroit Federation of Teachers Uses Cops Vs Members: The DFT leadership had police greeting members coming to the February 11 meeting where rank and file dissidents hoped to present, again, a petition to remove DFT president Keith Johnson who, in December, foisted the worst teacher contract in US history on Detroit School workers. Police removed several members from the meeting in handcuffs. Below are quotes from the DFT web page (http://mi.aft.org/dft231/) demonstrating how the AFT around the country is more and more turning to force in order to whip educators into line. Force alone will never win. Meanwhile, DFT members watch as $250 vanishes from each paycheck, their insurance co-pays go from $5 to $40. In some schools, the testing schedule of preparation and bubbling-in will take up 49 of the next 100 school days. An injury to one just goes before an injury to all. Union bosses are the nearest and most vulnerable of workers’ enemies–harsh measures.

“Cameras NOT ALLOWED at Membership Meeting [2.5.10]

The Feb. 11 General Membership meeting, like all DFT meetings, is a closed and private meeting. No personal video or still cameras will be allowed. No videotaping by cellphone cameras will be allowed. Some members have formally complained to the union that their photo was taken and posted on the internet without their approval. Any person videotaping meetings will be told to cease and desist or will be ejected from the meeting…Any member who continues to disrupt the meeting will be removed by the police.”

Walmart Takes Over Four Detroit Schools: “Students will get 11 weeks of job-readiness training during the school day and 10 high school credits for the class and work experience. Sean Vann, principal at Douglass, said 30 students at that school will get jobs at Walmart. He said the program will allow students an opportunity to earn money and to be exposed to people from different cultures – since all of the stores are in the suburbs.”

Remember when the Detroit Federation of Teachers Dealt Out the Worst Teacher Contract in US History When Last December, Promising Concessions Would Save Jobs? Looky Here: “the scheduled layoff of Marc W. Haas, Orchestra Conductor and Music teacher at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School:“More than 25 music and art teachers are threatened with Feb. 28 or March 7, 2010 layoffs. In my view, the arts programs in Detroit are one of the things that have been working for decades within the Detroit Public School system despite its troubles in other areas. Losing arts teachers and programs would only serve to put Detroit’s youth in further peril.“Quite simply, I believe the arts matter. The arts provide access to success in all areas. Our nation’s arts programs not only produce talented and successful artists, but also talented and successful surgeons, lawyers, scientists, politicians, business executives, etc….leaders period. Let us not lose what has proven to contribute to greatness time and time again.”

Michigan Leads the Way (Backwards) in Call For National Standards: “Schmidt said he believes Michigan is heading in the right direction by being part of the process of developing common national standards. If more students fail the MEAP as a result, Schmidt said, that will put pressure on teachers to produce better results.In addition, Flanagan said, recent legislation that will make student growth a significant part of teacher evaluations also may spur teachers to ensure the standards are being taught. If too many kids fail, a teacher is likely to be downgraded in his evaluation. The idea is to remove ineffective teachers.”

How To Become A Great Michigan School? Pay $25 Grand to the Ad Company: “The banner ad across the Lincoln school district’s website proudly proclaims it has been recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan.The criteria for Lincoln and eight other districts being selected? A $25,000 check.

Bob Bobb Honored By Detroit Business Mag: “There are better days ahead for Detroit Public Schools,” Bobb said, adding, he thinks DPS should be under mayoral control.

Southwestern College Fights Cuts, Boss, Arrests: The blunt and confrontational Chopra has a long history of turning around troubled districts and educational systems — and of igniting brutal labor clashes. And he’s drawn more scrutiny here for accepting a pay increase while laying off long-time employees, cutting classes and for apparently boosting a paragraph from Southwest Airlines’ CEO in his Thanksgiving letter to employees. Hundreds of college employees have united against Chopra and are taking out their frustrations on three members of the Southwestern board. In the crosshairs are trustees Jean Roesch, Terry Valladolid and Yolanda Salcido.

You Tube Three Minutes Vs Merit Pay

Krashen Letter Cracks NYTimes on NCLB: “ Every minute spent testing that is not necessary bleeds time from learning, and every dollar spent on testing that is not necessary is stolen from investments that really need to be made in schools…Any new education law should result in less testing, not more.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/11/opinion/l11educ.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Beverly Hills: Kick Out the Kids!: “The district is changing the way it funds schools, declining state money based on student attendance and instead using property-tax revenue. Board members argued that Beverly Hills taxpayers should not subsidize education for nonresidents.”

Resistance News:
Feb 9: Building Occupation in Progress, University of Sussex: Students at the University of Sussex are occupying their university’s conference center to protest cuts to classes and employee layoffs.

Greeks Strike Against Austerity Plan: “Thousands of Greeks have rallied against deficit-cutting measures during a national public sector strike.Flights have been grounded, many schools are closed and hospitals are operating an emergency-only service.”

Rouge Forum Update: Sky Falling Fast; Resistance Rising Too!


Full update here: Rouge Forum Update: Sky Falling Fast; Resistance Rising Too!

Dear Friends,

There have been at least 16 occupations seeking to rescue education from the ruling classes in California this month, and more to come. UC Irvine next. Germany, Austria, and France also witnessed fight-backs coming from united students and workers.

To date, the only organized school voice in the US that recognizes the current crises as class war is the Rouge Forum–which may speak well for us, or not so well for others who, so far, hold onto wisps of unfounded hope made up of the shreds of democracy and citizenship in the USA.

The direct action occupations and the defenders outside the buildings up the ante for thought and action in schools and in the streets, demonstrating the violence behind capitalist democracy; overcoming the alienated notion that people other than us will save us.

See the Rouge Forum blog linked above for a more complete update.

Good luck to us, every one,

Rouge Forum Update: John Brown Memorial Special

Below are some links and commentary from the latest Rouge Forum Update.

Read the full update here.

October 16/17, is the 150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry. Brown knew that the very definition of racism was sharpening (the notion of a separate species) and that slavery sought new territory as well. He knew slavery and exploitation are violent, and profitable, slavery being the cornerstone of industrial capital. And he knew the Masters do not adopt the ethics of the slaves. From his last speech, “Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case), had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.” 

Action and Reaction in the Schools

The Second Occupation at UCSC Ends With Police Attack 10/15

October 24 UC Berkeley Meeting Notice

UPTE Calls for General Strike: The following resolution calling for direct actions up to / including ageneral strike of public education workers was passed overwhelmingly earlier today by the statewide convention of University Professional and Technical Workers (UPTE / CWA). UPTE is the union that called a one-day strike on September 24, one of the key events in the September 24 day of action at UC Berkeley. OEA’s Rep Council passed a similar motion on October 6. [UPTE represents 12,000 research, technical and health workers at the University of California.

“Therefore be it resolved that we work in concert with other public sector unions, students and community members to organize a unified response that could include a general strike, a walkout from classes and other direct actions.”

Blackwater Ousted at Southwestern College After 2 Year Fightback: “CHULA VISTA, CA (Oct. 16) – Southwestern College District Governing Board approved the cancellation of their agreement with Blackwater-Xe in their October 14, 2009 board meeting. The agreement had students from Southwestern College enrolled in law enforcement training programs using shooting ranges in the Blackwater-Xe Otay Mesa mercenary training facility.”

Gropenfuhrer Signs Ca. Merit Pay Bill

AFT Lines Up For Merit Pay at Obama’s Trough: “Education reformers were pleasantly stunned when the American Federation of Teachers announced today that two of the winners of their new Innovation Fund grants planned to use the money to create teacher-evaluation systems that give weight to students’ standardized test scores.”

D.C. Rhee Fires 400 School Workers, AFT gives a Speech

What of NEA With 3.5 Million Members? NEA Prezzie Dennis Van Roekel addressed the recent AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh where the narcissist Richard Trumka was anointed President of the corrupt Federation. NEA’s bosses have been trying to work a secret merger pact with the AFL-CIO for twenty years. It would add a lot to their salaries, and add another layer of enemies to NEA members. Then Van Roekel traveled on Air Force Two with Arne Duncan, Joe Biden, to Syracuse, to tout education “reform.”
What to do with this “unionism?

Army Wants to Recruit in Middle School: “Wichita’s program uses a military structure to teach civics lessons…“The Army’s got a lot deeper pockets than education,” he said.”

Rothstein on NCLB Reauthorization: “The Obama administration’s ESEA re-authorization proposal should reject the continued punishment of schools based on flawed standardized tests, and instead focus on the careful and cautious design of new forms of qualitative evaluation.”

Conservative Think Tank, “NCLB has not worked the way it was intended and the nation is worse off because of it.”

NY Times Charts Show Failure of NCLB

Detroit Public Schools Broad Foundation Boss Payouts to Consultants

Rouge Forum Update: Punished by premature rewards?

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:

Rampant Fraud in Detroit PS Amazes Boss

Broad Appointee to Spend $40 mil on Detroit Consultants

Ohanian Comments on the DPS Consultant Rip-off

Marc Bousquet Interviews the UCSC Occupiers

NEA to Abandon Seniority Rules on Staffing?

No Volunteer Left in Taylorized School

What Would Alfie Say About the Nobel Award?

War, War, War But What is the Plan? Who is the Enemy? What is Winning? Don’t Dither!

Taliban Raids Pakistan’s HQ

Honduran Coup Continues Crackdown

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kissinger (Surprise) Calls For More War, Done Better

Danger of Delay in Afghanistan by the CFR and CIA

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

Wall Street Journal on the Weakening Dollar, Down 25% Since 2000

What does a Trillion Dollars Look Like? Wait! What Does 12.9 Trillion Dollars Look Like?

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.”

Welfare, the Real Minimum Wage, Under Attack Again

Goldman/Government Sachs to Reap another $ Billion

More Education and Resistance:

North American Labor History Conference, Detroit, October 24 to 26

Pittsburgh G20 Protests and the Coppers