Public K12 Education as a Capitalist Industry: A Political Guide for Radical Educators and Organizers | Roger Williams

Analysis | June 3rd, 2019

The multitude of problems in the school system leads any caring educator to ask larger questions about why things are the way they are. "Life's not fair" is one answer, one we tell ourselves as often as we tell our students. If we don't see agency in ourselves or in others, accepting the problems of the existing world as inevitable can be the first step in hardening ourselves and others as a strategy for mental and biological survival. "Life's not fair, but…" accepts the world as it is in the present but makes space for the possibility of the world to be changed in the future. When an educator looks a student in the eye, what about their economic relationship shapes what the educator sees? The educator is paid to be there and the student is compelled to be there to learn skills and get credentials that they'll need later to get a job. These are partly class relations, relations of people in specific economic positions who encounter each other in the context of larger economic systems.

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Where Do We Go From Here: On the Future of Black Studies | Kemuel Benyehudah

Analysis | April 20th, 2019

Globalization, immigration and intermarriage have led to contemporary black identity becoming more complex. Black Studies' emphasis on the nationalist perspectives in the discipline may be causing it to limit broader discussions around the black experience. Shockley and Cleveland (2011) exhorts black students to connect to a "larger struggle" rooted in Afrocentrism, but they don't describe the benefits of looking at these emerging trends. As is the case, the discipline faces a number of challenges: 1) How to maintain relevancy within an increasingly neoliberal higher education culture? 2) How to meet the needs of a black student body which has seen its interethnic diversity grow? 3) How to respond to declining Black Studies degrees awarded and subsequent threats of defunding? This paper hopes to learn from these generative questions by critically looking at three trends which are changing black identity.

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Teaching and Resistance in Los Angeles: An Interview | Devon Bowers

Interview | February 13th, 2019

Schools in LA are segregated by race, class, and status. My school had gates and fences around it, but it also had large gaps or holes in the back fences where we'd easily get out into the cow pastures or strawberry fields; circa rural Arroyo Grande, 2002-2006. However, the schools in Koreatown don't even try not to look like prisons. The tracking systems like GATE (Gifted and Talented Education), AP (Advanced Placement), and Honors make sure that the right candidates are given advantages to counter its failing efforts to exclude students by race (aka ethnicity), nationality or citizenship, gender, sexuality, class, or ability.[2] Those that do make it through without conforming to become another agent of this web of oppression are rare.

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Dismantle the Pipeline: A Review of Susan Anglada Bartley's "A Different Vision: A Revolution Against Racism in Public Education" (Luminare Press) | David Gilbert

Book Review | July 2nd, 2018

Susan Anglada Bartley is a passionate anti-racist educator. Her new book, A Different Vision, looks at the school-to-prison pipeline as part of a fundamentally white supremacist education system. The various forms of exclusion are key--the ways students of color are told they are slow learners, are tracked away from college preparation courses, and are disproportionately subjected to harmful forms of discipline. The latter isn't just a product of cultural misunderstandings with white teachers; studies show that students of color are treated much more harshly for the same behaviors as whites. Once students are held out of the classroom, they're much more likely to fall behind on their work and then drop out. In the U.S. Black students are 3 times more likely than whites to be suspended or expelled, which foreshadows the 6 to 1 Black to white incarceration rate for males. Another school-to-prison pipeline has been built over the past 40 years, for the flow of dollars, as funding for incarceration has increased at twice the rate of that for education.

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Higher Education is Not Prepared to Deal with Reentry Nontraditional Black Males | Kemuel Benyehudah

Commentary | February 8th, 2018

Higher education has a major problem on its hands. How to deal with reentry nontraditional aged Black males in higher education? According to the Pew Research Center report in 2016, more than 36% of whites ages 25 and older have bachelor's degrees, compared with 23% of blacks. Colleges struggle to graduate Black male students, ages 25 years old and upwards, when compared with their similar white male counterparts. Solving retention and completion issues are paramount if tertiary institutions hope to broaden access and equity for all of its students. To achieve these goals the following barriers must be addressed concerning Black males: 1) lack of access to culturally relevant pedagogy, 2) systematic denial of mental health services, 3) social isolation, and lack of peer group support during college tenure.

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Communist Study: Introduction to Partisan Educational Theory | Derek R. Ford

Theory | January 18th, 2018

Under the capitalist mode of production, the relations of production are inherently and unalterably relations of exploitation. There are those who work on the means of production and those who own the means of production, and the latter group appropriates what is produced, returning some to the worker in the form of wages and keeping the rest for themselves (and the landlord, the state, and the banker). There is always a struggle over how the value produced will be apportioned, what amount will return to the one who produced it and what amount will be taken by the owner; wages correspond to the level of class struggle at any given moment and in any given place.

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What is the End Game?: Moving Academics Out of the Ivory Tower | Cherise Charleswell

Analysis | December 21st, 2017

Simply stated, there is absolutely no value in research and theories if none of this information reaches the groups that were studied or whom the theoretical framework applies to, or society as a whole. There is no value in research that points out problems, but offers no insight or recommendations on how they may be counterbalanced, and there is certainly no value in research that only serves the purpose of ensuring that another person earns the right to put large letters behind their last name.

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...And (Quality) Education For All: A Case Study on Race, Poverty, and Education in America | Milo Levine

Analysis | November 2nd, 2017

Four years ago, when senior Tre'chaun Berkley first came to Tamalpais High School (Mill Valley, CA) from Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, he was nervous. "I felt that I wasn't ready. Coming from a class with 11 students to a class with 20 is something I had to get used to," he said. "On top of that, [I worried about] not knowing how to speak with the people in my class, because I don't speak as proper [as them], so they wouldn't probably understand me or they would make fun [of] the way I say something," he said. Berkley is not alone. Many students of color that come to "Tam" from Marin City experience societal and systemic hardships that disrupt their educational experience.

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Against Zombie Intellectualism: On the Chronic Impotency of Public Intellectuals | Derek R. Ford

Commentary | June 29th, 2017

I've just read yet another think piece decrying the sad state of affairs in the U.S. and ascribing it to a depoliticized, docile, stupid populous that is "easily seduced." It came out on June 24, and I read it on June 25, as people took to the streets across the country for Pride (to celebrate it and to push back against pinkwashing). This is just a few days after people across the country took to the streets to protest the acquittal of the cop who murdered Philando Castile. What to explain this disconnect?

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Pedagogy of the Oppressed Against Trump: Communist Education in the Emerging Mass Movement | Derek R. Ford

Analysis | February 2nd, 2017

As a polemic against economism - which held that the working class develops its own revolutionary consciousness spontaneously as a result of daily struggles with the bosses - Lenin argued that spontaneity was only consciousness "in an embryonic form," and that something more was needed. Spontaneity is necessary but is ultimately limited to "what is 'at the present time'" (p. 67). In other words, spontaneity by itself isn't able to look beyond isolated daily struggles and forward to a new society. Lenin called the spontaneously generated mindset "trade union consciousness."

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Academia's Other Diversity Problem: Class in the Ivory Tower | Alfred Vitale, Ph.D. and Allison L. Hurst, Ph.D.

Analysis | December 20th, 2016

"How can you know anything about the working class?" asks Ernest Everhard, the protagonist of Jack London's 1908 dystopian novel, The Iron Heel as he addresses a group of liberal do-gooders and college administrators. They can't possibly know the working class, he argues, because they don't live where the working-class live. Instead, they are paid, fed, and clothed by "the capitalist class." In return, they are expected to preach what is acceptable to that class, and to do work that will not "menace the established order of society". While this was written over 100 years ago, for many working-class academics (those of us who grew up poor or working class and climbed into academia), this conversation rings true. Many of us have presented some variation of it at one time or another to our more privileged academic colleagues.

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Democracy, Higher Education, and the Ivory Tower Critique of Neoliberalism | Jacob Ertel

Analysis | December 20th, 2016

Few dedicated to any semblance of left politics are celebrating the state of higher education in the United States today. From unprecedented student indebtedness to budget cuts to attacks on tenure, the future of academia looks bleak. Yet for the general concurrence on the symptoms resulting from the neoliberalization of the university, it is less established how this process of neoliberalization is best conceptualized. Analyses of neoliberalism tend to fall largely into two camps: one that describes a series of economic policy moves with varying degrees of deliberation or foresight, and one that describes a markedly new form of governmentality. These critiques are not mutually exclusive, but they often do diverge in their understanding of capitalism's historical progression, its underlying logic, and its most pronounced effects. In particular, the latter camp (largely comprised of cultural theorists) that evaluates neoliberalism as a paradigm shift in governmentality risks romanticizing the Fordist-Keynesian regime of publicly financed mass production and consumption, and the nominal freedoms typically associated with post-war governance.

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My Students Are Terrified: Teaching in the Days After Trump | William Bryant Sculos

Commentary | December 7th, 2016

Teaching today, November 9th at 11 am -- as neoliberal Democratic Party candidate and likely popular vote winner, Hillary Clinton, delivered her concession speech to her supporters and vicariously to President-Elect and neo-fascist Donald Trump, who, with a message of anti-immigration, anti-free trade, hyper-capitalism, anti-climate justice, sexism, and nationalism, was able to turn reliably Democratic states red -- was torturous. For me personally, I have been terrified of both candidates for months and months now. Thinking of choosing between largely domestically-palatable liberal identity politics, irredeemable corporate capitalism, and criminal imperial hyper-militancy and the unpredictable bigoted narcissism of Donald the Orange's neo-fascism, was never one that left me sleeping very well. I chose Jill Stein, but it didn't really matter in the end.

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Drawing Class Lines through Critical Education: History, Education, and the Global Class War | Derek R. Ford

Analysis | June 9th, 2016

There is a common belief out there that capitalism is so totalizing, so all-subsuming, that even the most radical scholarship can be accommodated with its circuits of production and consumption. Curry Malott, in his newest book, History and Education: Engaging the Global Class War, seems to be out to disprove that belief. He succeeds, and in his success, he demonstrates that this belief reveals nothing about contemporary capitalism, and everything about what passes as radical scholarship today. At the base of this book, then, is a critique of-and corrective to-the deep-seated anti-communism that permeates much of the western and academic Left, especially within the U.S. Thus, it isn't just the global bourgeoisie and its representatives who will despise the contents of this book; it's likely to upset quite a few self-proclaimed and celebrated "critical scholars" inside and outside of education. One thing is for sure: after reading this book it's hard to look at the field of critical education-especially critical pedagogy-the same way. With biting critique and careful historical and theoretical analysis, Malott lays bare what he, following Sam Marcy, calls the "crossing of class lines" that characterizes so much critical scholarship. The crossing of class lines is, simply, when one finds oneself shoulder to shoulder with imperialism, shouting the same slogans ("down with authoritarianism!") and attacking the same enemy (communism).

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Marxism, Intersectionality, and Therapy | David I. Backer

Analysis | May 20th, 2016

Intersectionality and marxism are not on great terms, supposedly.[1] While some thinkers and activists recognize the need for intersectional insights in research and organizing, others maintain more negative attitudes and analyses towards such insights. The negative attitudes and analyses combine a new resent with the old tension between feminist and poststructuralist critiques of Marxist theory and the latter, sometimes named "identity politics" or "identarian politics." While intersectionalists claim that race, class, and gender (and other categories and discourses) compound, mingle, and mix in unique ways during particular events and experiences, Marxists allege that class trumps all with respect to oppression. The intersectionalists call for specific and particularized redress of compounded oppressions which sometimes do not include class or, in other cases, are lost when class is the sole focus (or any single category of oppression by itself). The Marxists, on the other hand, call for changing the relations of production, focusing on class.

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Against All Odds: Education, Race, and Chess | Adisa Banjoko & Arash Daneshzadeh

Analysis | April 13th, 2016

A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a high school for Black History Month in San Francisco, CA. Their original speaker had bailed on them, at the last minute. Rather than open my talk with a lamentation of US slavery, I focused on Dogon discoveries in Astronomy, and Moorish science contributions that served as the foundation of the European Renaissance. After citing the role of the African Islamic influence of Europe's' rise out of the Dark Ages, I asked the students how many enjoyed what they heard. Almost all the hands went up. I said, now ask yourselves this question: How is that you have been in school for at least 9 years and this is the first time you are hearing it? It is against all political, social, and economic odds that Black children are expected to excel.

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Being in the Party: A review of Jodi Dean's Crowds and Party | Derek R. Ford

Book Review | March 28th, 2016

The Left is often ridiculed for its fragmentation, but at the same time-and often in the same breath-fragmentation in activism is celebrated, understood as a victory of heterogeneity and singularity. We have been liberated from the totalizing logic of modern (left-wing) politics, each of us free to choose our own projects and interventions, free to develop our own political line and identity. Why is it, then, that capital and the state have grown more and more powerful, more and more violent? Jodi Dean's latest book, Crowds and Party, pivots around this knot of the subject, political organization, capital, and the state, and it provides an urgent and compelling answer to this question: We are kidding ourselves. We are losing, and we are perversely praising the conditions and causes of our loss, trying desperately to form them into a politics. Written clearly, forcefully, and passionately, Dean gives us-the Left-not just a diagnosis of our defeat but, more importantly, a way out: the communist Party.

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Socialism, Popular Education, and the Fight Against Racism in the Soviet Union | Derek R. Ford

Commentary | February 26th, 2016

While in the U.S. the veil of anti-communism is beginning to lift and the word "socialism" isn't as dirty as it once was, the Left still has a lot of recuperating to do. The virulent campaign against communism in the U.S. is deep and multi-faceted, and it has taken on many different forms. And it seems like we constantly forfeit one of our greatest assets in the struggle to recuperate communism: our own history. Instead of critically appreciating the history of the actually-existing workers struggle and the social formations it has produced, we instead seek to separate ourselves from that legacy, to claim that they weren't and aren't really communists. This is an easy way of dealing with the propaganda that is delivered through our media and schools on a regular basis, for we can tell people, "Well, what your teachers were talking about wasn't really socialism." This is, however, just another form of American exceptionalism, left American exceptionalism.

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Freedom to Dissent from Delhi to Ferguson | Meghna Chandra

Commentary | February 16th, 2016

On February 12th, 2016, the Delhi police arrested the Jawaharlal Nehru Student Union President, Kanhaiya Kumar, and eight other students on sedition charges. The students gathered on the hanging of a Kashmiri dissident, Afzal Guru, who was charged on bogus terrorism charges. During the event, a few unknown students chanted anti-India slogans. In fact, the same student leaders that were arrested intervened against those slogans. The government used this disruption as an excuse to enter the campus and arrest Kumar. Just a few weeks earlier, students fiercely protested the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, am Ambedkarite activist who committed suicide after persecution by the University of Hyderabad administration in cahoots with the ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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The Courage of Hopelessness: Democratic Education in the Age of Empire | E. Wayne Ross

Analysis | February 2nd, 2016

The post-911 world is depressing for anyone who values freedom and equality. In the wake the heinous 911 attacks, we have experienced assaults on civil liberties and human rights in the name of protecting freedom. The Patriot Act in the United States significantly expanded the authority of government to enhance surveillance of individual behavior and communication, seize assets, conduct warrantless and secret searches, and detain individuals indefinitely without charge. The "war on terror" has produced horrors such as the extraordinary rendition program (e.g., the case of Maher Arar), the Guantanamo Bay Detainment Camp, U.S. citizens held as "enemy combatants," criminalization of refugees, etc. In a recent MSNBC interview, retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark even called for the revival of internment camps for "disloyal Americans," advocating for a return to one of the most shameful chapters in American history, the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans, most of whom were U.S. citizens.

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On Discussing a New World: An Interview with David I. Backer | Derek R. Ford

Interview | October 29th, 2015

Organizing with Occupy in New York City was an inspiration for this book and the research that went into it. I've been thinking about those experiences and trying to make sense of them since. In the Preface I try to make clear that I haven't come up with any of the ideas in the book, but rather they're the result of things I've come upon from/with others, an important part of them from Occupy. I mostly worked with the Empowerment and Education working group, and the Occupy University subcommittee--specifically the horizontal pedagogy workshop in OccU. Elements is kind of a reportback from what we learned together in horizontal pedagogy, which was an experiment in figuring out how to teach, learn, and study in ways we felt addressed the political contradictions we were resisting: oppression, exploitation, the many faces of neoliberalism... One thing we tried was combining methods we'd encountered before Occupy (Brazilian philosophy-with-children pedagogy, psychoanalysis, Harkness teaching...) with the consensus-based facilitation procedures used to run general assemblies and meetings.

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The Movement Lives in Ferguson: Teach For America, Black Leadership, and Disaster Capitalism | Drew Franklin

Analysis | October 22nd, 2015

Former Black Panther Bruce Dixon, in his blog for the Black Agenda Report, asked a provocative question last year when he wrote the headline: "'Teach For America' Trojan Horse Among Ferguson Activists?" Whether the muted response can be attributed to apathy or ignorance of Teach For America's activities, the organization carried on with its operation in plain view, and the question seldom came up again. Today, TFA shows no sign of slowing down. For three days in February, the vanguard of the education reform movement will host its 25th Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C. "Together We Rise" is the tagline for the event, for which they've booked two major downtown venues and three hotels. The 501(c)(3) non-profit has indeed come a long way since Wendy Kopp founded it in 1990. In its first year, Teach For America had 500 recruits; by 2013, the organization controlled nearly half-a-billion dollars in assets and employed 11,000 teacher "corps members" in schools across the United States.

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Review of 'Pedagogy of Insurrection: From Resurrection to Revolution' | Zane C. Wubbena

Book Review | October 8th, 2015

Critical pedagogy, in a strikingly similar manner to the religious tradition of Christianity, has come to reflect the internalization of dominant, elite ideology where capitalism goes uncontested for a feel-good sense of human progress. But, as Rancière (1991) tells us, "progress is the pedagogical fiction built into the fiction of society as a whole" (p. 118). We might then ask ourselves: why do so many people commonsensically and with such steadfast conviction, unquestionably wedge their support for elite leadership, characterized by religious beliefs, policies, and discourses, while these contradict or running counter to their own political economic and cultural interests?

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A Counter-Narrative to the Double-Edged Myth of the Heroic Teacher | Jim Burns

Analysis | September 21st, 2015

The most recent round of financial woes to afflict Pennsylvania's Chester Upland School District have left the district unable to cover its payroll, yet the district's educators have vowed to continue working with no guarantee of being paid. The district's current iteration of a long-running financial crisis reportedly stems from a failed amendment to the district's recovery plan, which sought to reduce the transfer of public funds to charter schools for special education students from $40,000 per year to $16,000 per year and to cap public funding of cyber charters at $5,059 per year (see Sullivan, 2015). Those transfers of public funds to charter schools and virtual charters have been bankrupting the district and threaten to end public education in Chester Upland, a move straight out of the neoliberal playbook:

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OECD's Corporate Takeover of Our Education Systems | Anna Brix Thomsen

Commentary | August 27th, 2015

A discourse of paranoia is slowly but surely creeping into the core of our education systems and if you are a parent who has a child in school, you will know that education today is not like it was even 10 or 20 years ago and that a significant difference is the increase of standardized testing. What you may not be aware of is that this increase in standardized testing is spearheaded by a private global interest organization called the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) who runs a program called PISA (Program For International Student Assessment). The OECD has with its PISA program become one of the most influential organizations when it comes to setting the agenda for the future of education, and is rapidly working towards standardizing the world's school systems into one streamlined one-size-fits-all model.

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The Common Core of Being, Part Six | Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Theory | July 21st, 2015

The beginning of Plato's Republic speaks clearly to when money as a medium of exchange was introduced. This made the expropriated surplus value easier to quantify, move and store. This time frame is also roughly coincidental to the "axial age" described by Jaspers (1968), when many young civilizations across the world made a quantum leap to a high level of spiritual, philosophical and cultural sophistication. It is also an era that can be used to mark the distinction between what Plato called the "fevered city" and the "healthy city" at the beginning of Book II of the Republic.

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Fighting Back through Resistance: Challenging the Defunding and Privatization of Public Education in Pennsylvania (and beyond) | Curry Malott

Commentary | June 30th, 2015

Sixteen years ago, in 1999, on the eve of the No Child Left Behind Act, which would prove to be the mechanism that would lead to the ongoing process of privatization and the more complete corporate takeover of public education, and subsequent attack on teacher unions, Bob Peterson, public school teacher, union activist, and a Rethinking Schools editor and writer, argued that to "meet these challenges, our public schools and our teacher unions should set two key goals: survival and justice." In addition to survival and justice, I think we need to add resistance to the list because we resist through our unions, our organizations, and through alliances such as, "The Alliance to Reclaim our Schools." In addition to defending public K-12 education, we resist by demanding that PASSHE's mission to provide an affordable, high quality higher education is realized by agitating, with joy and without apology, for preserving the requested $458 million State System appropriation. Funding for public higher education in Pennsylvania is at a 17 year low. That is unacceptable, and we must fight back.

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The Common Core of Being, Part Five | Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Theory | June 30th, 2015

In the Republic, Plato suggests a model of five types of government and how they evolve from one to the other. In chronological order of succession these are aristocracy (rule by the philosophers), timocracy (rule by the warriors), oligarchy (rule by the wealthy), democracy (rule by the majority of the people) and tyranny (rule by the vicious tyrant). Clearly, no Weberian "ideal type" can ever perfectly describe reality and not even a philosopher as great as Plato can escape this fact. The succession may not always happen precisely in this order and many political systems exhibit qualities of more than one type at any given time. It could be argued, for example, that the present day American government demonstrates an amalgamation of all five.

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Revolutionary Critical Pedagogy and the Struggle against Capital Today: An Interview with Peter McLaren | Derek R. Ford

Interview | June 16th, 2015

Peter McLaren is an internationally renowned revolutionary activist and teacher, and one of the founders of critical pedagogy. He has written over 45 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, and his writings have been translated into dozens of languages. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Critical Studies at Chapman University. Peter is also a close friend, comrade, and mentor of mine. He generously agreed to engage in a dialogue with me amidst his busy summer schedule (he has a terrible time saying "no" to young scholars and activists). In this dialogue we speak about his personal, scholarly, political, and activist journey, address some of the themes in his forthcoming book, Pedagogy of Insurrection, explore the internationalization of critical pedagogy, and examine what's next for critical pedagogy and the revolutionary left.

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The Common Core of Being, Part Four | Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Theory | June 9th, 2015

Green's apparent reversal of Plato's cave allegory can be explained in two ways. First, according to holographic string theory, the horizon of the cosmos only appears to be two-dimensional from our perspective on Earth; people living on a planet at what we perceive to be the cosmic horizon would perceive themselves to be in the center of the expanding universe. In other words, the cosmic horizon is not two-dimensional in any normal sense of that term. The second way to account for the apparent inversion of Plato's cave allegory relates to near-death experiences (NDE).

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Studying in the Streets: The Pedagogy of Throwing Bottles at the Cops | Derek R. Ford

Commentary | May 15th, 2015

After yet another brutal murder of a person of color by the police, the streets of Baltimore are on fire. Protests have taken place on a near daily basis, and they are growing increasingly militant. I haven't lived in Baltimore for a while, and so I have been watching the battle unfold through social media. One of my close comrades has been reporting from the frontlines, and recently he posted a 1-minute video that captured succinctly the tragedy and hope running through the streets. The sun had long been set and the first mass protests that took place earlier that day - Saturday, April 25 - had ended. It's a nondescript street corner in Baltimore, with multicolored row houses and a corner store in sight, and a few dozen riot cops are standing behind the barricades. We don't get a full view of the street but it looks like the cops outnumber the people. Most of the people are Black and, although we can't see the cops' faces, we know what color they are.

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The Neoliberal Banking Model of Education | Michael B. MacDonald

Analysis | May 5th, 2015

In 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed' Paulo Freire described negative impacts on student imagination by a process he famously called the banking model of education. Critical Pedagogy has used the banking model as a point of critical departure. But I have recently become concerned that the banking concept no longer fully describes our current challenges. While Freire's original critical analysis still stands there is another layer of oppression requiring critique, the financialization of student life in neoliberalism. I see this form of oppression as having a different texture than the banking model, emerging from post-Fordist economic transformations and the rise of the financial sector. Post-Fordist finance is not the mode of banking Freire drew upon. His banking model was located at the local savings and loan where a community of people deposits money and expects interest before withdrawing. Contemporary banking has a new and more dangerous, in fact murderous, layer.

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The Common Core of Being, Part Three | Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Theory | April 22nd, 2015

The modes of music the guardian children are allowed to listen to is also severely censored by the state, so that certain modes (such as the Lydian) are rejected, and those modes (such as the Phrygian) that breed courage and moderation are allowed. Finally, the guardians will also be given a Pythagorean education in mathematics, culminating with a combination of music and astronomy. Developing an awareness of the mathematical forms underlying space and time is supposed to help students train their souls away from the outer world of temporary forms to the eternal, mathematically describable forms underlying them, culminating with the common core of all being at the center of every soul, the brilliant idea of the good, which is no less than the spiritual archetype of the Sun. Socrates, calling his educational method "dialectic," concludes by saying, "when the eye of the soul is really buried in a barbaric bog, dialectic gently draws it forth and leads it up above" (Plato, 1991, 533d).

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Towards A Critical Public Pedagogy of Affect in the Era of Semiocapitalism | Michael B. MacDonald

Commentary | April 2nd, 2015

The Missoula, Montana police applied for a Homeland Security grant of $254,930 to purchase a mobile communications vehicle intended to deal with organized crime and "Domestic Terror Threats" like the Rainbow Family of Living Light. The Rainbow Family, who has been meeting as a decentralized, anti-capitalist intentional community since the early 1970s at alternative and peaceful July 4th Gatherings, responded with immediate protest. The response was potent enough to elicit not only an apology but the grant's withdrawal. And while this story seems to be closed, it's necessary to take a moment to explore the casual militarization sweeping community police and local government and to observe and identify ongoing attacks upon non-capitalist social life.

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The Common Core of Being, Part Two | Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Theory | March 24th, 2015

In the Republic, Plato describes the sequential degeneration of the ostensibly ideal regime of the philosopher guardians headed by the philosopher king (which he calls aristocracy) through four subsequent regimes: timocracy (rule by the warriors), oligarchy (rule by the wealthy), democracy (rule by the people), and tyranny (the mirror opposite of aristocracy). We argue that these five regimes roughly correspond to the four images of the futures Dator delineates (2006). The overall goal of narrowing the wide-ranging conversation about the futures of Common Core through the filtering lenses of Dator's theories and Plato's Republic is to provide a focused starting point for future (nonpartisan) dialogues that tie contemporary academic theories with the original template of academia itself, when the philosophers strolled through the groves of Athens and along the peripatos beneath the Acropolis.

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Between the No Longer and the Not Yet: Culture Circle as Resistance to a Pedagogy of Sedation | Diana Pearson

Commentary | March 5th, 2015

Discipline in education is highly valued. Michel Foucault wrote about the production of "docile bodies" by institutional disciplinary power in schools, prisons and hospitals. A different form of power characterizes the contemporary regime within education, where discipline is being replaced with sedation as the tool for the production of docile bodies. My resistance to sedation has led me to take part in a culture circle here in Edmonton, Alberta, where a group of artists, activists, students and educators meet weekly to read and discuss Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. After only a month of meetings I am feeling the transformative potential of this circle. Together through shared desire for learning we are developing critical consciousness (conscientizaçao) and developing individual capacities to recognize and eventually unweave the oppressive structures with which we are entwined.

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The Common Core of Being: A Conversation about the Philosophical Foundations of "Common Core" in Education | Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Theory | February 26th, 2015

Standards-based education is the most influential educational policy reform model of the last several decades. Common Core is its latest and most pervasive iteration. The overarching tendency of standards-based education is to establish a set of general performance guidelines that dictate the skills each student should have in each subject at each grade. Common Core nationalizes this impulse. At its peak it was adopted by 46 states. This trend was accelerated when states were incentivized to adopt it to gain points in their applications for federal Race to the Top education funding. Three of the 46 states that had previously adopted it have since dropped out. These are South Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma. Louisiana is pursuing a lawsuit against it and several other states have or are considering legislative action to withdraw from it. Criticism of the model stems from a variety of reasons, pedagogical, philosophical and political (right and left).

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Reading "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" together as Critical Public Pedagogy | Michael B. MacDonald

Commentary | February 12th, 2015

On my morning bus ride I noticed two words I had not seen in a while stenciled on the back of a black jacket: Occupy Edmonton. I was reminded of the encampments, the excitement, the incessant twitter traffic and the buzz in the classroom as students and faculty debated whether a movement needed a message, whether Occupy Wall Street (Occupy) was effective, whether the 99% was a rhetorical strategy or economic and political reality. It is remarkable now that so much of that radical energy has dissipated. In fact, most undergraduate students in the classes I teach have little idea what Occupy was all about. But it is not only their lack of information that troubles me, there is something else. It is as if they were enrolled in an anti-political public education campaign and I wonder how this campaign looks like, how it operates?

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Hacking the System from Within: The Example of Radical Unschooling | Anna Brix Thomsen

Commentary | February 6th, 2015

The realization that we exist in an Orwellian system of control is slowly but surely making its way from the fringes of society to its mainstream arenas. The walls of segregation are thinning and the veil of wool that we have pulled over our eyes is slowly but surely starting to unravel. We realized long ago that the revolution would not be televised. The time of paramilitary overthrows of totalitarian regimes is over. The grand idea of a global revolution has become archaic in a world where the powers of a system that should not be, has wormed itself into every fiber of our existence and has engulfed the world in a paralyzing toxic haze. One by one, we are starting to realize, each in our own way, that to subvert the subjugating mechanisms of this system, we must to become creative, and as the Icelandic activist and member of the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdottir puts it: find ways to hack the system from within.

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Schooling and Education: Indoctrination versus Empowerment | Boyce Brown

Analysis | January 27th, 2015

The reigning social delusion is that schooling and education are synonymous, both designed to impart knowledge, skills, and dispositions; foster critical rationality; enhance economic opportunities; and foster democratic engagement among the pupils being taught. Many critics describe the many ways in which this is not the case and that, in fact, the educational system operates to thwart those noble ideals. For example, Ivan Illich compares the school with "a global madhouse or global prison in which education, correction, and adjustment become synonymous" (1975, 44). He goes on to discuss the social mechanisms by which this hypocrisy is camouflaged.

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Internationalizing Educational Resistance: On Identifying a Common Enemy from Standardized Testing to the War on Libya | Derek Ford

Analysis | January 27th, 2015

The central drive behind the current round of U.S. educational reforms is the logic of the market: educational processes and institutions run more effectively if they are subject to the free market, and this, in turn, will advance the national free market, as schools churn out a workforce tailored to the demands of capital. As an example, consider Race to the Top (RttT), introduced by and passed under the Obama administration as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. RttP is a cash-prize contest that rewards states for falling into line with neoliberal education policies. Carr and Porfilio (2011) delineate several aspects of RttT that help facilitate the privatization of education, or the transfer of capital away from the public and into the hands of corporations and other private interests.

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Open Digital Pedagogy = Critical Pedagogy | Jody R. Rosen and Maura A. Smale

Commentary | January 15th, 2015

There seems too often to be an explicit agreement that instructors lead and students respond, that instructors advise as students seek guidance, that when instructors talk about their pedagogy, it should be outside of earshot of the students they instruct. Open digital platforms can break these implicit rules to make spaces for joint inquiry among all members of the college community in the spirit of Freirian ideals of critical pedagogy. Using open digital tools creates space for productive dialogue within and across courses and departments, allowing for critical co-investigation not just within a single course but in the college community. An open learning space in which everyone can work together enables browsing and viewing each other's work, and empowers students to participate more fully in their education.

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