The Rouge Forum emerged from a series of political controversies within the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) during the 1990s. In particular, two events at the 1994 annual meeting of NCSS in Phoenix galvanized a small group of activists who later founded the organization. First, a staff person from the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) was arrested for leafleting at the NCSS conference; and secondly, the governing body of NCSS rejected a resolution condemning California Proposition 187 and calling for a boycott of California as a site for future meetings of the NCSS. These events fueled a level of political activism the NCSS had rarely experienced and identified the need for organized action in support of free speech and anti-racist pedagogy in the field of social studies education in general and within NCSS in particular.
The Rouge Forum was formally organized and held its first meeting in Detroit at Wayne State University in 1998. Continued activism within NCSS remained a major topic of discussion at this meeting, however, the organization's concerns were broadened by the participation of teachers and teachers educators working in the areas of literacy and special education. Rouge Forum members have worked closely with, and played leadership roles within the inclusive school and whole language literacy movements. For several years in early 2000s, The Rouge Forum, The Whole Schooling Consortium, and the Whole Language Umbrella of the National Council of Teachers of English held joint meetings.
A key principle underlying the actions of the Rouge Forum is that schools and educators play a critical role in the creation of a more democratic, egalitarian society (or a society that increases in inequality and authoritarianism). The Rouge Forum is perhaps the only school-based group in North America that has connected imperialism, war, and the regulation of schooling.
The Rouge Forum has been active in efforts to resist curriculum standardization and high-stakes testing in schools, particularly as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act. Rouge Forum members have also joined, and assumed leadership in, community coalitions organized against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, usually coalitions involving labor, leftists, grassroots collectives, and religious groups aimed at ending the war, and are frequently involved in school-based organizing, and counter-military recruitment as well.
The Rouge Forum News
The Rouge Forum has published a newspaper/zine since 1999. The Rouge Forum News appeared twice a year in both print and online editions from 1999-2004. In 2009, The Rouge Forum News returned to a regular publication schedule as a digital zine.
Rouge Forum meetings and conferences
The Rouge Forum holds meetings on a regular basis at both local and national levels. The national conferences have been held on a more or less annual basis; all meetings are action-oriented and the national conferences usually include workshops for teachers and students; panel discussions; community-building and cultural events; as well as academic presentations. Many prominent voices for democracy and critical pedagogy have participated in Rouge Forum meetings.
Past Rouge Forum conferences:
- Detroit, MI (June 1998) International Social Studies Conference of the Rouge Forum
- Detroit, MI (January 1999) International Social Studies Conference of the Rouge Forum
- Rochester, NY (February 1999) Developing Democratic Citizens: Teaching Social Education K-16 (with Whole Schooling Consortium)
- Detroit, MI (June 1999) Whole Schooling Consortium and The Rouge Forum Summer Institute
- Albany, NY (June 2000) Standardized Testing in K-12 Schooling: Tool of Reform or Tool of Tyranny? (with Whole Schooling Consortium)
- Detroit, MI (June 2000) International Education Summit for a Democratic Society (with Whole Schooling Consortium and Whole Language Umbrella)
- Chicago, IL (June 2001) Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: Critical Literacy for Caring Democratic Classrooms (with Whole Schooling Consortium and Whole Language Umbrella)
- Bethesda, MD (July 2002) Restoring the Passion: Thriving in a Standards Environment (with Whole Schooling Consortium and Whole Language Umbrella)
- Louisville, KY (June 2003) Rouge Forum Summer Institute on Education and Society
- Detroit, MI (November 2003) Lessons of War Teach-in for a Democratic Society
- Sryacuse, NY (June 2004) Rouge Forum Summer Institute on Education and Society
- Detroit, MI (March 2007) Their Wars Left Behind: Education for Action
- Louisville, KY (March 2008) Education: Reform or Revolution?
- Ypsilanti, MI (May 2009) Education, Empire, Economy & Ethics at a Crossroads
- Williams Bay, WI (August 2010) Education in the Public Interest
- Chicago (Romeoville) IL (May 20-22, 2011) Education and the State: A Critical Antidote to the Commercialized, Racist, and Militaristic Order
- Vancouver, BC, Canada (April 13, 2012) The Rouge Forum at the American Educational Research Association
- Oxford, OH (June 22-24, 2012) Occupy Education! Class Conscious Pedagogies for Social Change
- Detroit, MI, (May 16-19, 2013) Winning the Class Struggle Against Corporate Education Reform
- Altwerger, Bess. (2005). Reading for profit: How the bottom line leaves kids behind. Portsmouth, NH: Heinnemann.
- Brosio, Richard. (1994). A radical democratic critique of capitalist education. New York: Peter Lang.
- DeLeon, Abraham P., & Ross, E. Wayne. (2010). "Critical theories, radical pedagogies, and social education." Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
- Emery, Kathy, & Ohanian, Susan. (2004). Why is corporate America bashing our public schools? Portsmouth, NH: Heinnemann.
- Gabbard, David A., & Ross, E. Wayne. (2008). Education under the security state. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Gibson, Rich, & Ross, E. Wayne (in press). Marxism and education: International perspectives on education for revolution. Works & Days/Cultural Logic (Special co-published issues).
- Hill, Dave. (Ed.). (2009). Contesting neoliberal education: Public resistance and collective advance. London: New York: Routledge.
- Hill, Dave. (Ed.). (2009). The rich world and the impoverishment of education: Diminishing democracy, equity and workers’ rights. New York: Routledge.
- Hill, Dave, & Kumar, Ravi. (Eds.). (2009). Global neoliberalism and education and its consequences. New York: Routledge.
- Hursh, David W. (2008). High-stakes testing and the decline of teaching and learning: The real crisis in education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Mathison, Sandra, & Ross, E. Wayne. (Eds.). (2008). Battleground schools (Volumes 1-2). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Mathison, Sandra, & Ross, E. Wayne. (Eds.). (2008). The nature and limits of standards-based reform and assessment. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Paraskeva, João, Ross, E. Wayne, & Hursh, David. (Eds.).(2006). Marxismo e educação. Porto, Portugal: ProfEdições.
- Peterson, Michael, & Hittie, Mishael Marie . (2009). Inclusive teaching : The journey towards effective schools for all learners. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Merrill.
- Ross, E. Wayne, & Gibson, Rich. (Eds.). (2007). Neoliberalism and education reform. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
- Shannon, Patrick. (2007). Reading against democracy: The broken promises of reading instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinnemann.
- Strauss, Steven L. (2005). The linguistics, neurology, and politics of phonics: Silent "E" speaks out. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Vinson, Kevin D., & Ross, E. Wayne. (2003). Image and education: Teaching in the face of the new disciplinarity. New York: Peter Lang.
- Critical Education
- Cultural Logic
- Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies
- Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
- Why Are Things As They Are?
- Where the Blog Has No Name
- Workplace Blog
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- Gibson, R., Queen, G., Ross, E. W., & Vinson, K. D. (2007). "I Participate, You Participate, We Participate…" Notes on Revolutionary Educational Activism to Transcend Capital: The Rouge Forum." Journal for Critical Educational Policy Studies, 5(2).
- Gibson, R., & Ross, E. W. (2007, February 2). No Child Left Behind and the Imperial Project: Cutting the Schools-to-War Pipeline. Counterpunch. Gibson, R., & Ross, E. W. (2009). The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Connecting Reason to Power and Power to Resistance. Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, 16