Tag Archives: Rouge Forum News

Adam Renner, our friend

Dear Friends,

Adam Renner, the Rouge Forum Community Coordinator, has died at 40.

Adam was a wonderful friend, teacher, writer, musician, martial artist, and honest, caring man. His courage had taken remarkable forms–from being willing to sacrifice to help others, to always learning, and altering his views, on the path to discover what is true in order to make the world a little better. What could be a more powerful legacy?

As an educator, author, and friend, Adam embodied the interaction of ethical theory and determined practice.

His skills as the Rouge Forum Community Coordinator were exemplary–from gently moving along a meeting when it needed to move, to organizing the 2008 Louisville Forum, to editing the Rouge Forum News, and, above all, being key to forming a caring community where people could bring differing views, share them, and feel not only sane, but valued: family.

We offer our deep sympathy to Adam’s wife, Gina Stiens.

A Service & Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010.

Both will be held at Shiloh United Methodist Church, 5261 Foley Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45238

The Service begins at 11:00AM.

The Celebration will be immediately following, 12:00-2:00PM.

The attached link is in Adam’s memory. You can add to it yourself by clicking below.

Good luck to us, every one.

Rich Gibson and Amber for the Rouge Forum Steering Committee

The Rouge Forum News #16: Working Papers, Critical Analysis, and Grassroots News

Pen Cannon

The Rouge Forum News
Working Papers, Critical Analysis, and Grassroots News
Issue #16
Spring 2010

Download the Rouge Forum News #16 here [pdf].

Read the introduction to the new issue of the RF News by editor Adam Renner below.

FROM THE EDITOR: M4, a Thousand More

The only real option open to humanity under these circumstances,
we are convinced,
is to scrap the present failed system and to put a new,
more rational, egalitarian one its place—
one aimed not at the endless pursuit of monetary wealth,
but at the satisfaction of genuine human needs.
(John Bellamy Foster and Hannah Holleman, The Monthly Review, May, 2010)

The Rouge Forum Conference is coming: August 2-5 at George Williams College in Williams Bay, WI. The theme of this year’s conference is “Education in the Public Interest.” Connecting to Foster and Holleman above, we see the road to a more “rational, egalitarian” system traveling straight through and emanating out from schools.

But, not our current schools, of course. We seek a transformation of status quo schooling. We choose to join those who are already struggling to bring a different form to bear.

Much of Issue 16 of the Rouge Forum News takes us back to the basics, again. We think about where the Rouge Forum came from, why it was named as it was, and where we’re going from here. This year’s conference will focus quite a bit on that road ahead. It’s not too late to join us: www.rougeforumconference.org.

August seems a long way off, though. I write on a dreary Saturday morning in May, laptop illuminated by a small desk lamp. Not much light penetrates the front picture window of our 110 year old shotgun house in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, KY. The dogs’—Mango and Kingston—snoring interrupts what is otherwise a fairly quiet morning save for a light drizzle saturating the green fullness of our magnolia tree.

It’s May 1, May Day, a day to remember workers worldwide—the struggle to uphold the dignity of workers. It’s also the first Saturday in May, so it is also the (136th) running of the Kentucky Derby, taking place just a few miles from where I type. One event is a showcase in excess; the other is a reverent remembrance of international solidarity.

The paradox is symbolic of much of what we glean from our world today, teetering on the edge of forever. If we care to notice, the evidence of dehumanization is overwhelming. Let me point to one issue: race, in particular, before ticking off a couple other examples. Then, let’s get a sense of the resistance that is building, both here and abroad. The assault on our humanity is reaching a crescendo; perhaps a dissonant resistance is rising to challenge it.

Like most of you I note the coalescing forces of the new Jim Crow (which like the previous form of Jim Crow and slavery before it is a similar sort of economic, intellectual, psychological, and/or physical enslavement: “by what new name shall we call this old institution…”), tea party activism (where any sort of rational critique that may be present is overridden by a formidable racist segment), and the new racist immigration legislation in Arizona.

The prison industrial complex, ICE raids, the re-segregation of our schools (the return of Apartheid schooling), racist/classist high stakes testing, the Race to the Trough federal sell-out of public education, as well as veiled (and sometimes not-so-veiled) threats to government officials of color are part and parcel of the strategy to promote inequality by keeping us separated, alienated from one another through artificial forms of difference.

This is an old story. Divide and rule.

We see such divide and rule tactics as well regarding (so-called) health care reform and (supposed) Wall Street reform. We bicker about relatively minor details while we are getting creamed by the owners of the means of production. They have convinced us that in some tepidly reformed version, the current systems of sick care and banking can somehow benefit us. These are capital’s systems; therefore, by their nature, they are not set up to benefit us.

Reform, no; stiff regulation, maybe (but probably not); revolution, yes: something more rational, egalitarian, democratic.

The struggle is, of course, never one-sided. Resistance happens. And, at times, wins, if temporarily. These moments of creation provide us sustenance for the journey, hope for the long haul. They will reveal a turning point if our analysis remains sharp.

Resistance is building and spilling out into the streets of the US, Thailand, and Greece. A fight for self-determination and protection of their lands is raging in the countrysides of India and Nepal between the Maoists and their supposed ‘democratic’ governments.

California and Florida are fighting back. Check out analysis here of the March Forth movement: The lessons of March 4: A Marxist Analysis, Crisis and Consciousness; Reflections and Lessons from March 4, A Rouge Forum Broadside, and M4: A thousand more. Oakland teachers went on strike on April 29. And, the Capistrano Unified teachers went on strike. As well, the Fund Education Now network of parents have won, at least temporarily, in their battle against Senate Bill 6 in Florida.

This resistance has been nearly completely non-violent. In southeastern Asia, though, the struggle is decidedly bloody. Fighting what amounts to a resource war, Maoists in India and Nepal have had to choose between death and death. And, it seems they have chosen the more moral death of resistance. While violence is nothing to be celebrated, how shall people respond to structural violence extended through all sorts of ideological apparatuses and to a well-armed state hell bent on land seizures and extracting valuable bauxite from the hills of India?

I would highly encourage our readers to take in Arundhati Roy’s latest text, Fieldnotes on Democracy: Listening to grasshoppers, as well as her recent expose’ of her time in the Maoist camps of India: Walking with Comrades. Regarding Nepal, check out May First: High noon in Nepal and Nepal report: Revolutionary students shut down 8000 private schools indefinitely.

These may be important topics to discuss at the upcoming Rouge Forum conference.

In the meantime, in this issue of the RF News, we’ve captured two excellent creative selections to kick things off. Joe Cronin offers an epic poem, Gebeorscipes, and Nancye McCrary talks to us about her recent travels to Istanbul, Turkey. Rich Gibson follows these with further critical examination of the March 4th movement. Jean Gregorek, former Associate Professor of Literature at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, offers an acute analysis of the closing of Antioch College in 2008. I conclude the essays in this 16th issue with the keynote address I gave at Defiance College in Defiance, OH on April 7, 2010: To distill a different democracy. Along with concluding announcements about future issues of the RF News, an editorial from Mia Sosa-Provencio closes this issue.

In Calling All Rebels, Chris Hedges observes,

Those in power have disarmed the liberal class. They do not argue that the current system is just or good, because they cannot, but they have convinced liberals that there is no alternative. But we are not slaves. We have a choice. We can refuse to be either a victim or an executioner. We have the moral capacity to say no, to refuse to cooperate. Any boycott or demonstration, any occupation or sit-in, any strike, any act of obstruction or sabotage, any refusal to pay taxes, any fast, any popular movement and any act of civil disobedience ignites the soul of the rebel and exposes the dead hand of authority. . . .The capacity to exercise moral autonomy, the capacity to refuse to cooperate, offers us the only route left to personal freedom and a life with meaning. Rebellion is its own justification.

In light of this the Rouge Forum continues to deepen its analysis and seeks to hold animated discussions across a broad spectrum in order to decipher what to do next. What shall ignite our soul?

In the 19th century, the central organizing point of society was the farm. In the mid-20th century, the hope of the proletariat rested in the trade unions. Today, as Gibson and the Rouge Forum have suggested, the central organizing point of our de-industrialized, globalized society (and, thus, the centripetal point for spiraling out resistance) is the school.

School workers, students, and parents hold a great deal of power if we focus on schools as our central organizing point. We can (and already are in some sectors–look at California and the March 4 events) build(ing) a multi-racial, multi-class, multi-national coalition of school workers. And, this resistance can work at multiple levels—more reformist agendas of enacting legislation to favor all children, taking charge of curriculum, revamping current teacher education, as well as more revolutionary/rebellious agendas, which include occupations to reclaim our public spaces like schools, building a parallel freedom school structure (akin to 1964 Mississippi), creating our own teacher preparation model, etc.

None of these agendas are unproblematic. Work will jerk forward unevenly. We will begin and need to begin again. We will need to embolden future generations to continue the work, as we will likely not summit the mountain. But, at some point, some future generation of rebels will. And, they will because our shoulders were there to hoist them just like we have been hoisted.

The way forward must be premised in community and a commitment to a sort of reconnection that the last 30 years (at least) have militated against. We need reasoned discussions informed by a multiplicity of voices who have a deep understanding of history (or who are at least committed to continually seeking out such a deeper understanding). Disagreement can be a hallmark of this newly distilled democracy, provided our solidaristic passion for a more equitable distribution of resources and condition is foundational. Personally, I could be comforted by an unknown process as long as our directional compass points toward a more material justice for all that lives and breathes.

March 4, a thousand more.

Adam Renner, Louisville, KY

Rouge Forum Update: Testing season request

Dear Friends,

The Rouge Forum Blog is updated here.

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 (arenner@bellarmine.edu).

Now, a note from Steering Committee Member Doug Selwyn, author of the recently released Following the Threads, Bringing Inquiry Research into the Classroom, (Peter Lang Publishing):

Hello Rougers,

We are approaching testing season here in the North Country, and I assume all around the country, when we engage in our annual ritual of abuse.

Many of us have taken some actions, had many conversations, written letters, essays, signed petitions, attended conferences, and while we may have helped some others become more aware the tests still continue.

The voices least often heard in these conversations are the voices of the students themselves, those who are forced to take the tests, year after year. I wonder if it would have an impact if we could collect stories from children related to testing. They could be straight ahead stories of how bad it really is, but could also be stories of the absurd, of
resistance, the ridiculous. Or stories of the lessons students are learning. Whatever students might be willing to share related to testing.

I am asking rougers and others to send stories to me (doug.selwyn@plattsburgh.edu) and I‚ll pull them together in some form or another (and I‚m open to ideas of how best to do this). To be clear, I’m not asking for stories from adults about testing experiences, but am most interested in hearing from the students themselves.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Doug Selwyn

Rouge Forum Update: Strike March 4th To Transform Education

Read the full update here: Strike March 4th To Transform Education

Educate! Agitate! Organize Freedom Schools on March 4th’s School Strike!

On the Little Rouge School Front This Week:

DPS Teachers Sue Union and Boss: “Washington claims the loan violates Michigan’s Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act, which forbids an employer from demanding a gift from an employee as a condition of employment. “Bobb does not have the right to extort loans from district employees, and the DFT does not have the right to authorize Bobb to waive the minimum protections of the law,” Washington said.

The Rouge Forum News Latest Edition is Now Available

The Call For Papers for the Next Edition of the Rouge Forum News:

Teaching Resources on the History of Haiti

Martin Luther King Speech: Vietnam, A Time to Break the Silence

A Surprising List From the CIA: Nations’ Percentage Education Expenditures per GDP (US is 57th)

Chicago Trib Discovers What Substance News Reported for Years: The Duncan Miracle was a Fraud: “ Scores from the elementary schools created under Renaissance 2010 are nearly identical to the city average, and scores at the remade high schools are below the already abysmal city average, the analysis found. The moribund test scores follow other less than enthusiastic findings about Renaissance 2010 — that displaced students ended up mostly in other low-performing schools and that mass closings led to youth violence as rival gang members ended up in the same classrooms. Together, they suggest the initiative hasn’t lived up to its promise by this, its target year.”

Stephen Krashen on the LEARN Act: “I do not support the LEARN Act. As described in the Senate Bill, the LEARN Act is Reading First expanded to all levels. It is Reading First on steroids.”

Alfie, “Have They Lost Their Minds?”: “ If you read the FAQ page on the common core standards website, don’t bother looking for words like “exploration,” “intrinsic motivation,” “developmentally appropriate,” or “democracy.” Instead, the very first sentence contains the phrase “success in the global economy,” followed immediately by “America’s competitive edge.”

If these bright new digitally enhanced national standards are more economic than educational in their inspiration, more about winning than learning, devoted more to serving the interests of business than to meeting the needs of kids, then we’ve merely painted a 21st-century façade on a hoary, dreary model of school as employee training. Anyone who recoils from that vision should be doing everything possible to resist a proposal for national standards that embodies it.

Grassroots Education Movement in NYC Protest Jan 21: “We are picketing Bloomberg’s residence because he is in charge of these wrongful closings. We need to bring our opposition to his doorstep.”

Randi Weingarten (AFT) Proposes to Abolish Tenure (as in Detroit)

Joan Roelofs Analysis of the Relationship of Schools and the Military (Click under pages, it’s several pdf files well worth the candle)

AFL-CIO Goons Open a College: “the online college would charge about $200 a credit, competitive with community colleges and far cheaper than most four-year colleges and for-profit schools.”

Read more here.

The Rouge Forum News, Issue 16 — Call for papers

Rouge Forum News, Issue 16—Call for papers—Deadline: April 1

The Rouge Forum News is an outlet for working papers, critical analysis, and grassroots news. Issue 16 feature articles will be focused on experiences with, pictures of, research regarding, and stories on PROTEST and RESISTANCE. Given the upcoming march in California on March 4, 2010 and the occupation of businesses (Republic Window) and schools (the New School in NY and several in the California system) over the last year plus, we invite your essays, poetry, photos and art that surrounds the theme of protest and resistance.

Along with these feature articles, we invite, as usual, other essays that treat the links between runaway capital, the rabid and rapid standardization of curriculum, the co-optation of our unions, the militarization of our youth, and the creep of irrationalism in our schools.

Review a book, talk about what lessons have worked in your school lately, play with theory, critique theory, give us some highlights on your research, write a poem, etc.

We are interested in work from academics, parents, teachers, and students: teachers at all levels, students in ANY grade, parents of children of any age.

We publish material from k-12 students, parents, teachers, academics, and community people struggling for equality and democracy in schools — writing (intended to inform/educate, or stories from your classroom, etc.), art, cartoons, photos, poetry.

You can submit material for the RF News via email (text attachment, if possible) to Adam Renner at arenner@bellarmine.edu.

Download The Rouge Forum News Issue 15 here.


Rouge Forum News (Issue 14) just released

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.

Staughton Lynd: “What is to be done?…let’s make every school a freedom school.”

Staughton Lynd, author, attorney, radical historian, and civil rights leader presented one of three keynote addresses at the Rouge Forum’s 2009 Conference at Eastern Michigan University last month.

His speech—which shares its title with Lenin’s famous work on the principles of democratic centralism—draws on his experiences as director of the Mississippi Freedom Schools of the mid-1960s to identify where we can can begin to resist the antidemocratic impulses of greed, individualism, and intolerance in our work as educators.

Lynd’s talk reminds us that people learn by and through experience, not by reading the “right newspapers” or attending lectures. A claim that is somewhat reminiscent of Guy Debord’s assessment of what revolutionary organizations should be about:

“Revolution is not ‘showing’ life to people, but making them live. A revolutionary organization must always remember that its objective is not getting its adherents to listen to convincing talks by expert leaders, but getting them to speak for themselves, in order to achieve, or at least strive toward, an equal degree of participation.” —Guy Debord [“For a Revolutionary Judgement of Art”]

The bottom line in Lynd’s talk is as simple as it is challenging, let’s make every school a freedom school.

Read Lynd’s talk here and in the upcoming issue of The Rouge Forum News.

Rouge Forum News (Issues 14 & 15): Call for papers.

Rouge Forum News, Issue 14: Call for papers

The Rouge Forum News is an outlet for working papers, critical analysis, and grassroots news. Issue 14 of the RF News will be dedicated to papers delivered at the Rouge Forum Conference at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI.

Conference presenters, if you would like your paper to be considered for Issue 14, please send your essay to Adam Renner at arenner@bellarmine.edu by June 15, 2009.

Rouge Forum News, Issue 15: Call for papers

The Rouge Forum News is an outlet for working papers, critical analysis, and grassroots news. Issue 15 will be dedicated to our persistence in providing links between runaway capital, the rabid and rapid standardization of curriculum, the co-optation of our unions, the militarization of our youth, and the creep of irrationalism in our schools.

We are interested in work from academics, parents, teachers, and students: teachers at all levels, students in ANY grade, parents of children of any age.

Something small, something big, something serious. It is the stories we get from people like you that make the RF News what it is. If you have a story to share, but would like to protect your identity, use a pen name. Pen names are ALWAYS welcome!

We NEED Art! Songs! Poems! Editorial cartoons! Links to online videos or other material!

We are looking for narratives, as well as research, and the interplay between research and practice which focuses on the economy, curriculum, unions, etc. If you have a story to tell, some research to share, a book to review, we’d love to see it (and share it).

We publish material from k-12 students, parents, teachers, academics, and community people struggling for equality and democracy in schools—writing (intended to inform/educate, or stories from your classroom, etc.), art, cartoons, photos, poetry. You can submit material for the RF News via email (text attachment, if possible) to Adam Renner at arenner@bellarmine.edu. PLEASE SUBMIT BY AUGUST 15, 2009.

See Issue 13 of the Rouge Forum News. All past issues at available here.

Rouge Forum News (Issue 13, Spring 2009)

Don’t forget about the upcoming Rouge Forum Conference in Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 15 to 17 this year. The program is clearly our best yet with Staughton Lynd as keynoter. Please spread the word.

In the mean time check out the Spring 2009 issue of the Rouge Forum News, edited by Adam Renner.

The RF News is the only clear expression of education radicalism in the US.


From the editor, Adam Renner
What is the Rouge Forum?
Why do you call it the Rouge Forum?
Blame the Schools, Kevin Vinson and E. Wayne Ross
The Obamagogue and Capital vs. the People, Rich Gibson
Whither the Anti-War Movement?, Tom Suber
UAW in a Route: Secrecy and the Sellout, Bob Apter
Math, Democracy and the Arts, Mindy R. Carter and Mary Ann Chacko
The Illusion of Education, Adam Renner
On Optimism, Cynicism, and Realism, Alan Spector
Why we need to blame ourselves [poem], Michael Simpson
Who will fill the cups? [poem], David Centorbi
Upcoming EventsRF conference, RF blog, RF News #14 and #15 call for papers

Download PDF version of The Rouge Forum News (#13)