On to The Twenty Tens!
On the Education Front is a Class War Front Little Rouge School This Week:
The Rouge Forum News Latest Edition is Now Available At: www.therougeforum.blogspot.com
Walt Gardner: The RaTT Won’t Fix Schools: Competition may bring out the best in business and sports, but that logic doesn’t necessarily apply to public schools. The practical way to mend the educational system is by implementing economic and social reforms that focus on the children. www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/1230/Obama-s-Race-to-the-Top-competition-won-t-fix-public-schools
The War Agenda is an Education Agenda (click on video link):
National Call For March 4th Strike: www.defendeducation.org/
NEA Prepares to Dump Seniority, Back Merit Pay, AFT Hacks Cheer: “Mr. Van Roekel testified that “we cannot cover up the fact that too often schools with the greatest needs are filled with the most inexperienced and least skilled teachers.”…Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federal of Teachers, with about 1.4 million members, praised the NEA’s announcement but noted that her union already has entered into such agreements with districts like Chicago and New York City.”
Did NEA Really Spend $56, 349,269 (yes, $56 and 1/3 Million Dollars) on the 2007-08 Election Cycle? www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list_stfed.php?order=A
UTLA Sues To Block Charters: “The union is particularly opposed to charters because the campuses are not required to hire union employees.” www.dailynews.com/breakingnews/ci_14045070
RATT Reforms Michigan: “ The state could add more charter schools and poor-performing schools could be taken over by state officials under legislation approved Saturday in the Michigan Legislature. The broad legislation — which also raises the state’s dropout age from 16 to 18 and ties teacher evaluation to student test scores — will be signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The bills are aimed at obtaining up to $400 million in the federal Race to the Top competition run by the Obama administration. The program will distribute more than $4 billion from the Recovery Act to states that most..” www.edweek.org/login.html?source=http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/12/19/3200
On the International War of the Rich on the Poor Front:
The Demagogue’s Tax the Workers’ Health Plan: “The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do…. little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans. ” www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/opinion/29herbert.html?hpw
GMAC Picks up Another Nice $3.9 Billion, Total Now $16.3 Billion of Our Cash: “The Treasury Department said on Wednesday it would give $3.8 billion more to GMAC Financial Services and become its majority owner because the auto lender has been unable to raise sufficient capital on its own.” www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/business/31gmac.html?hp
Ten Biggest Wall Street Lies of 2009: “Income inequality is good for everyone.” Lord Brian Griffiths, Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs at least had the nerve to say what so many of the super-rich really believe:””I’m doing God’s Work.” Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman of Goldman Sachs said what too many Wall Street leaders truly believe: that they are so privileged and entitled that it seems as if the heavens bless their work…”
Peter Phillips: “The American people face a serious moral dilemma. Murder and war crimes have been conducted in their name. Yet most Americans have no idea of the magnitude of deaths and tend to believe that they number in the thousands and are primarily Iraqis killing Iraqis. Corporate mainstream media are in large part to blame. The question then becomes how can this mass ignorance and corporate media deception exist in the United States and what impact does this have on peace and social justice movements in the country.”
Heartbreak in Illinois: Gitmo Won’t Close Until 2001! Can’t Illinois Lock Up Some Governors and Mayors in the Interim? “officials now believe that they are unlikely to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer its population of terrorism suspects until 2011 at the earliest — a far slower timeline for achieving one of President Obama’s signature national security policies than they had previously hinted.”
Full Text of the Smedley Butler Classic, “War is a Racket:” ‘WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.’ www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html
China Rising Fast: “if the projections from Jim O’Neill, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist, prove to be correct, China will overtake America as soon as 2027: in less than two decades.”
US Military Meeting Recruitment Rates: “ For the first time since the establishment of all-volunteer forces in 1973, the US military has met all of its recruiting goals. This success can be attributed in part to the new video games and graphic novels aimed at America’s youth. It may sound like the US military has solved a major recruitment problem, but there may be a high cost. In another first, suicides among US soldiers have hit a post-Vietnam War high for the fifth year in a row.”
Time Running Out in Afghanistan: “As the U.S. and its allies try to overcome logistical hurdles and rush some 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan in 2010, intelligence officials are warning that the Taliban-led insurgency is expanding and that “time is running out” for the U.S.-led coalition to prove that its strategy can succeed. The Taliban have created a shadow “government-in-waiting,” complete with Cabinet ministers, that could assume power if the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai fails, a senior International Security Assistance Force intelligence official said in Kabul, speaking only on the condition of anonymity as a matter of ISAF policy. www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/81358.html
On the Weirdness Grows Every Day Front:
Lady in Red Topples Anti-Christ: “Footage from the Vatican aired on Italy’s RAI state TV showed a woman dressed in a red, hooded sweat shirt vaulting over the wooden barriers and rushing toward the pope before being swarmed by bodyguards.” www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/dec/24/pope-knocked-down-by-woman-at-christmas-mass/ or www.break.com/index/pope-attacked-by-crazy-woman-during-vatican-mass.html
Thanks to Mike Antonucci of EIA for the head’s up on NEA campaign spending. And thanks to all on our Rouge Forum list for patience and perseverance, coupled with a sense of urgency, for more than a decade.
To Close, a Note Where on Where We’ve Been and Where We May Go:
In mid- 2001, we wrote, “This is the seiche time…From time to time in the St. Clair River, which runs rapidly along the eastern coast of Michigan connecting Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair, a combination of high winds and atmospheric pressure causes the river to split apart, leaving a wet marsh between an onrushing tide of water headed south, and a trailing wave of great power. The locals call this a seiche, and the long moments that pass as the broken water surges to connect with itself, usually accompanied by dark purple skies, they call the seiche time.”
September 11, 2001 followed.
Four years earlier, we argued that schools were even then the centripetal organizing point of de-industrialized North American life (and elsewhere too), that the struggles in schools would mesh ideology and money; sometimes colliding, other times in a perfect marriage.
We said any society engaged in militarism, imperialism, tied to a consumer economy, would surely move to greater control over what citizens know and how they come to know it. Schools would be key.
In schools, we said that six thrusts from elites would come into play:
1. Regimented national curricula (we used the history standards as a model).
2. Anti-working class, racist, high-stakes tests.
3. Merit pay linked to the tests.
4. More militarism.
5. Some privatization.
6. A full blown assault on educators’ wages and benefits.
We argued that the traditional unions and professional organizations would be worse than useless in meeting these attacks as their leaders are flatly on the other side of what is a class(room) war.
We said “an injury to one will proceed an injury to all.” It has, as we indicated, urban districts serving especially exploited populations and rural districts would be hit first, but middle class districts would follow–then even some of the richer public schools would be hit.
We insisted for nine years that a consumer society that has a vanishing productive base, a society rooted in spectacles, massive internal and external borrowing, and financial shenanigans was built on sand–and that the sky would fall. It did.
For a decade, we built school resistance around, mostly, research and action aimed at the high-stakes exams with some success in both wealthy and poor districts while most middle class district school workers muddled along.
In early 2008, we expressed sympathy for those who would vote Democratic, but suggested that relying on Democrats to make fundamental change demonstrated a key misunderstanding of the relationship of capitalism and democracy, the former then trumping democracy at every turn. We insisted that “capitalism has to be named.”
We said, “The core issue of our time is the rapid rise of color-coded social and economic inequality and the promise of perpetual war, challenged by the potential of mass, class-conscious, resistance.”
Over more than a decade, our conferences and our resources became community and comfort to educators who often felt isolated in this onslaught.
We claim no special foresight. What is most surprising to us is that in North America the Rouge Forum stands alone as an organized group of people who recognize that what is afoot is an education agenda as a war agenda, a class war agenda, and who seek to construct reason, connected to power, in order to not only push back, but transform our own lives and our society.
The Rouge Forum transcends the divisions of academic and social labor, rather than recreating them as do unions and the “professional” organizations. We include doctors, professors, k12 educators, support personnel, social workers, media specialists, librarians, parents, two principals, truck drivers, custodians, secretaries, retirees, stadium workers, construction workers, unemployed people, soldiers, union staffers, that is, people from all over world, the US to India to England to Grenada to South Africa.
The Rouge Forum News, our Broadsides, videos, and other publications reflect that unity–and our varying critiques of why things are as they are.
We close a horrific decade begun and ended with war heaped upon war—battles where the children of the poor kill other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands.
We witnessed the greatest theft of wealth in the history of the world, the $12.9 trillion Tarp bank bailout (no strings) and the takeover of the auto industry by the federal government, finalizing what can only be seen as a corporate state.
On the near horizon, we suspect the Democrats will tax the existing health insurance of those who have jobs, dump GM, Chrysler, and Walmart employees into a debased pool of the barely insured, and let the rich off the hook once again.
What is ahead? Surely more wars, intensifying as imperial rivalries grow. China, Russia, Japan, and Europe all desperately need that oil, that cheap labor, that copper, those markets, the pipelines, and those shipping lanes.
The wars will come home in the economy and daily life. Our crystal ball isn’t clear enough to predict deflation, inflation, or devaluation, but the throw of the dice says rampant inflation.
In daily life, the assaults on reason and well being in schools will necessarily sharpen as will political repression, often disguised as protection of the citizenry.
We have said persistently that people will fight back as they will have no choice but to fight back—and people will pull back when they see no alternative but to retreat. Will we make good sense of why we must fight? Will the fight be the isolating call of, “Save My Job!” and lose, or will it be, “When They Say Cut Back, We Say Fight Back!” and win?
Resistance is rising as the recent battles in California universities show. However, it remains that retreat is workers’ main move now–as the debacle of the Detroit Federation of Teacher contract ($500 per month pay cut, massive health care cuts, merit pay, teachers disciplining teachers–all as the DFT leadership hugged the employer; teachers ratified at 60% as they were isolated from one another, saw no option).
Justice demands organization. If we are to overcome what can now be reasonably described as the emergence of fascism as a mass, popular, world-wide movement, the Rouge Forum needs to grow.
We need your ideas, suggestions, comments, and criticism. You can post here at the blog or write any member of the Rouge Forum Steering Committee.
We hope you will spread the word, urge others to join our community, so the next decade will not end with the darkness this one has.
Good luck to us, every one.