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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
- Syracuse, 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
- Denver, CO (June 5-7, 2014) The Struggle for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada (May 27-28, 2016) Teaching for Democracy and Justice in an Age of Inequality
Adam Renner Education for Social Justice Lecture
Every year the Rouge Forum honours the life and work of Adam Renner (August 18, 1970 – December 19, 2010) by inviting a critical scholar, educator, or activist to deliver the Adam Renner Education for Social Justice Lecture.
Renner was a teacher, scholar, musician, revolutionary activist, and martial artist. He received his BA in Mathematics from Thomas More College. While teaching mathematics at Seton High School in Cincinnati, OH, he completed his MEd at Northern Kentucky University. In 2002, Adam received his PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and subsequently worked as a professor at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.
His scholarship focused on service learning, social difference, social justice, and pedagogy and he published in numerous journals including Educational Studies, EcoJustice Review, High School Journal, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Rethinking Schools among others.
Along with his life partner, Gina Stiens, he created a service partnership with schools and social service organizations in Jamaica and taught an ongoing course, “Education for Liberation or Domination: A Critical Encounter in Jamaica.” He was a key leader and organizer in the Rouge Forum serving as Community Coordinator and as editor of the Rouge Forum News.
In the fall of 2010, Adam left his professorship at Bellarmine University and returned to the school classroom, as a math teacher at June Jordan School for Social Equity in San Francisco.
In an article for Substance News, published just weeks before he died, Renner wrote,
“For me and my K-12 classroom, for instance, I have been searching for the intersection of liberation, curriculum, and student experience (comprised of individual traumas, structural oppression, nine years of mis-schooling, varying levels of confidence and skill, etc.). How can I shape the revolutionary subjects necessary to help tip the inflexion point toward the necessary qualitative changes? When we teach math, social studies, language arts, and science, can we credibly do so in a way that is separate from the growing militarization of our schools and society, gang and drug infestations in our communities, rampant unemployment, a school to prisons pipeline, the assurance of our students’ ignorance through standardization and a teach-to-the-test mafia-like pressure on teachers? So, if we shouldn’t teach our classes that way, can we organize in such a way that militates against such explorations?
Adam Renner Education for Social Justice Memorial Lecturers include:
- 2011 - Peter McLaren, Professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences, UCLA, world-renowned critical pedagogue and author of over 40 books, including Life in Schools and Revolutionizing Pedagogy.
- 2012 - Susan Ohanian, public school teacher, author, and winner of the National Council of Teachers’ of English “George Orwell Award,” for her outstanding contributions to the critical analysis of public discourse.
- 2013 - Patrick Shannon, Distinguished Professor of Education (Language and Literacy) at Penn State University, former primary grade teacher and author of over 16 books, including Reading Wide Awake and Reading Against Democracy.
- 2014 - David Barsamian, founder and director of Alternative Radio and author of Occupy The Economy: Challenging Capitalism and Targeting Iran. He is best known for his interview books with Noam Chomsky, including What We Say Goes.
- 2016 - E. Wayne Ross, Professor of Education, University of British Columbia, critical pedagogue and author/editor of over 20 books on teaching, curriculum, and the politics of education. His latest book is Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom (Peter Lang, 2016).
- Agostinone Wilson, Faith. (2013). Dialectical research methods in the classical Marxist tradition. New York: Peter Lang
- Brosio, Richard. (1994). A radical democratic critique of capitalist education. New York: Peter Lang.
- Carr, Paul R., & Porfilio, Brad J. (Eds.). (2011). The phenomenon of Obama and the agenda for education. Charlotte, NC: IAP.
- Daniels, Emily, & Porfilio, Brad J. (Eds.). (2013). Dangerous counterstories in the corporate academy: Narrating for understanding, solidarity, resistance, and community in the age of neoliberalism. Charlotte, NC: IAP.
- 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.
- Gorlewski, Julie, & Porfilio, Brad J. (Eds.). (2013). Left behind in the race to the top: Realities of school reform. Charlotte, NC: IAP.
- 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.
- Malott, Curry S., Cole, Mike, & Elmore, John M. (Eds.). (2013). Teaching Marx: The socialist challenge. Charlotte, NC: IAP.
- Malott, Curry S., & Porfilio, Brad J. (Eds.). (2011). Critical pedagogy in the Twenty-First Century: A new generation of scholars. Charlotte, NC: IAP.
- McCrary, N. E., & Ross, E. W. (Eds.). (2016). Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom: A Community of Students, Teachers, Researchers, and Activists. New York: Peter Lang.
- McLaren, Peter. (2006). An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education (5th Edition). London: Pearson.
- McLaren, Peter. (2005). Capitalists and conquerors : a critical pedagogy against empire. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- 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.
- Porfilio, Brad, & Viola, M. J. (2013). Hip-hop(e): The cultural practice and critical pedagogy of international hip-hop. New York: Peter Lang.
- Renner, Adam. (2002). Butterflies, boundaries, and breadfruit: The shared story of a service learning experience in Jamaica. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee.
- Ross, E. Wayne. (2014). The social studies curriculum: Purposes, problems, and possibilities (4th Ed.). Albany: State University of New York Press.
- Ross, E. W., & Gibson, R. (Eds.). (2013). Education for revolution. Works & Days, 61/62, 31(1-2).
- Ross, E. Wayne, & Gibson, Rich. (Eds.). (2007). Neoliberalism and education reform. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
- Selwyn, Doug. (2009). Following the threads: Bringing inquiry research into the classroom. New York: Peter Lang.
- 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.
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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
- Gerson, J., Gibson, R., & Renner, A. (2010, November 10). Radicalism and numbers drained from March 4th Movement as liberals, dues eaters, and zombie sects fished for recruits, but all out against the cutbacks and again on March 2nd and Mayday! Substance News