Rouge Forum Update

Dear Friends,

There is still time to submit a proposal for the Rouge Forum Conference. Come enjoy the company of sane people.

Is it trite to say that the class war that we noticed, among a very few others, years ago, rages now, in schools and out?  Surely, elites know it, even if too many on our side don’t.

Bloomberg News group seems to be the only section of the corporate press truly interested in tracking where the $9.7 billion(+) bailout went. They filed suit and came up nearly blank. Secrecy, as we know, is a cornerstone of tyranny.

Here we see Oregon schools gutted by the collapsing economy (better termed as Their Economy)

California is, right now, issuing thousands of layoff notices to school workers.

People will fight back. There is always resistance. Here are two Seattle teachers who retained their integrity by supporting their kids right to opt out of exams that were completely inappropriate for them. The teachers were suspended. You can email your thought to the Seattle Superintendent at

After months of secrecy, NEA’s bosses finally advised some members that they have been working behind the scenes, again, to merge NEA’s 3.5 million members with the AFL-CIO and the splinter group, Change to Win. On the face of it, solidarity might be appealing. But neither the AFL-CIO nor the CTW has ever practiced solidarity unionism. To the contrary, the labor bureaucrats have systematically disorganized workers’s job actions, as with the Detroit Teachers Wildcat, and they have used violence against labor reformers, as with the SEIU attack on Labor Notes in 2008. All NEA would get would be a more undemocratic structure, a la the AFT.

Meanwhile, NEA mis-leaders joined AFT, the Business Roundtable, and other employer groups to promote national teaching standards. Why national standards? It is not possible to split foreign policy and domestic policy. The education budget is a war budget. The crux of the US education project is to produce students so witless, docile, loyal, yet useful,  they will support the poor of their home nation going off to fight and die for the rich. Bill Blum noticed this recently when he reminded us of this quote from the song about racism from the Broadway classic show, “South Pacific”  “You’ve got to be taught” …

You’ve got to be taught
from year to year.
It’s got to be drummed
in your dear little ear.
You’ve got to be taught
before it’s too late.
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8.
To hate all the people
your relatives hate.
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

From the NEA press release:

NEA partners to develop standards for measuring 21st century skills.Education collaborative strives to ensure global competitiveness for students:

WASHINGTON – February 23, 2009 – NEA is pleased to announce its partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association, Achieve, Inc., the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Hunt Institute, the National Association of State Boards of Education, and the Business Roundtable, in a new state-led initiative to improve the access of every student to a complete, high-quality education that provides the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is working to produce a common core of voluntary state standards across grades. The K-12 standards would cover English/language arts, math, and eventually science. The initiative plans to be an inclusive and transparent process that will include input from education, civil rights and business leaders among others. “NEA welcomes the opportunity to participate in this effort to provide manageable, high-quality standards for adoption by states to guide efforts to improve education,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We are pleased that the voices of classroom educators will now be a part of this process…

When the bosses say Cut Back. We must say Fight Back. No Concessions. No Layoffs. No wage or benefits cuts. Cap class size at 20 for everyone. Hire more people to combat unemployment. Go get us the Schools Tarp. Or we will shut your schools down and open freedom schools, teaching things that matter: Class struggle, love, sensuality and reproduction, rational knowledge in an atmosphere that promotes critique and freedom. All of that is illegal in California right now.

Meanwhile, AFL-CIO leaders cavort and bicker at the pricey Miami Fountainbleau Hotel

David Berliner has a new piece out, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success,
demonstrating once again Jean Anyon’s thesis: Doing school reform without social and economic reform is like washing the air on one side of a screen door. It won’t work.

For those who enjoy irony, here is General Motors, long the siren of Buy American, demanding a bailout, from Europe.

What happened to the capitalist economy anyway? Here are two quick insights, this one from old Marx himself: For Marx, there was never any doubt about the root cause of capitalist economic crises:

The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit.

Here is an extension from John B. Foster, author of the recently released, Great Financial Crisis, responding to an inquiry:

No I am not equating stagnation, stagflation, and overproduction. though they overlap. Stagnation, i.e. slow growth, rising unemployment/underemployment, high excess capacity, etc. reemerged in the 1970s. Initially, there was a period of stagflation (stagnation plus inflation). The inflationary part was brought under control but not the underlying stagnation, which continued. Under monopoly capital (or monopoly-finance capital) actual overproduction is not the dominant tendency since the demand shortfalls show up in overcapacity rather than overproduction. Corporations cut back on output pretty quickly and lower their capacity utilization (fully competitive capitalism didn’t work this way). You could say, though, that it is a case of implicit overproduction, so there is no real contradiction. Of course a build up of productive capacity, which is increasingly underutilized, fits just as well with Marx’s statement, ‘the real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself,’ which you quote.

All of which adds up to why you should book now to join us at the Rouge Forum Conference, May 15 to 17 in Ypsilanti! Keynotes: Staughton Lynd, Greg Queen, Rebecca Martusewicz .

All the best, r

Thanks to Gil, Bob, Susan and Susan, George and fam, Paul and Mary, Cindy, Amber, Della, Evan and Ethel, Tony H, Suber, Beau, Kelly, Jan, Dionne, Sandy and Sally, Shea, Holly, Peter M, Tom H, Cassie, Jean and Ken and fam, Jim the 3rd, Travis, Dan H, Gina, Sharon Ag, Carol Panetta, and Bobby.