Links/ Further Reading

Education  (Attack on Ethnic Studies and Liberal Arts, Student Loan Debt)



Folbre, Nancy. 2010. Saving state university: Why we must fight for higher education. NY: The New Press.

Folbre, a well-known economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has written a short introductory primer on the economics of public education addressing specifically, the back story behind rising tuition, the role of federal financing through Pell Grants and student loans, and the controversies around taxation and public’s resistance.  Her book provides useful information about higher education’s institutional history, but  most importantly, offers ammunition to those who argue that the current budget crisis is a crisis about values and priorities, that education funding does exists and that simply demanding don’t’ cut my program” is not enough.  

Hersch, Richard H. and John Merrow. 2005. Declining by degrees: Higher education at risk. NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 

An anthology of essays on the decline of higher education written by professors, policy makers, college presidents, and journalists.  Contributors include David Kirp (UC Berkeley), Vartan Gregorian (Brown University president) and Tom Wolfe, all members of the loyal establishment opposition.  This collection addresses the issues of the downside of the business model, the dilution of liberal arts curriculum, the problem of grade inflation, and the dilemmas of marketing admissions.  This collection was put together before the budget crisis and is limited for that reason.

Walda Katz-Fishman, Rose Brewer and Lisa Albrecht, Critical Classroom: Education for Liberation and Movement Building, Project South, 2007.  

 This outstanding 100-page toolkit was designed for activist educators, scholar activists and student activists.  The writers have taught at universities for decades, and the book is rich with analytical depth and contains many practical tools for high school, community college or university instructors, such as sample syllabi, assignments and descriptions of community field placement programs.   The authors are long-time members and Board members of Project South, a 25-year-old leadership development organization based in the US South.  Project South centers its work in low-income and working class communities of color—with a strong base in the Black community--and was an anchor organization of the US Social Forum in 2007.

The central premise of the book is that social justice work in the academy should be framed “from the outside in”—understanding the role of community-based social justice organizations as the leading edge of a transformative social movement.  “Movement building should be at the center of our syllabus, pedagogies and community practices.”  

Critical Classroom contains a very useful essay that contrasts the old Eurocentric canon with a reform movement that asked:  “Where are the women? Where are the people of color?”    The major limitation of that reform trend was that it restructured the curriculum while power relations outside the academy remained the same.   

Kumashiro, Kevin K. The seduction of common sense: How the right has framed the debate on America’s schools. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Drawing heavily on George Lakoff’s work, Don’t think of an elephant: Know your values and frame the debate (2004), Kumashiro argues that public education advocates must first understand the values underlying the Right wing’s success in capturing public education agenda. It is the meta-narrative of the “Strict Father” and mechanism of fear and the concern for “safety” that underlies the Right Wing’s concern with address the  “achievement gap,” and their efforts to promote national curriculum standards and standardized testing, to demand accountability for results, and to extol efficiency as the ultimate goal. To counter this “strict father “ narrative, Kumashiro argues it is critical that the Left use messages that can be heard by a wide audience.  These include: “oppression hurts everyone, “it is all right to be different,” and “there are multiple human rights.” Suggested reading for activists looking for new political messages.

Washburn, Jennifer. 2005. University, Inc. The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education. NY: Basic Books.

Washburn’s book offers a historical, systematic, and empirically rich analysis of the impact of neo-liberal higher education policies that over the past forty years have eroded public universities and undermined liberal arts education.  Focusing primarily on research universities (UC Berkeley and the Novartis case), Washburn details the university’s increasing acceptance of business model, the growth of university/business partnerships, the decline of “disinterested inquiry” the pitfalls of patent and intellectual property debates and the consequences of privatization and commercialization of the academy- e.g. the erosion of teaching as a priority and the devaluation of the humanities as unnecessary and not cost-effective.  Washburn book is useful for activists seeking to ground their arguments with empirical and historical evidence. 

Rethinking Schools - The Journal.

This long-standing quarterly educational magazine is a must-read for everyone involved in education.  Although the journal centers on pre-K-12, the analytical pieces and organizing and policy articles are highly relevant for people working in post-secondary education.  The neo-liberal strategy for attacking public education has been most developed in the area of K-12 education, so it is critical for all of us to understand both the attacks and resistance at that level.   Discussions of pedagogy, teacher resources and accounts of resistance are often also relevant to post-secondary. 

Crammed with innovative teaching ideas, valuable resources, and analyses of important issues and organizing, Rethinking Schools is a priceless source. 


Soliday, Mary, 2002.  The Politics of Remediation:  Institutional and Student Needs in Higher Education, University of Pittsburgh Press. 

Soliday’s book provides very useful recent historical background and analysis about political struggles over remedial education:  Should developmental courses and programs have a home at mid-level universities, or should they be pushed exclusively into the community colleges?  Soliday shows how attempts to evict basic composition courses from mid-level universities are part of a program for re-tiering (or re-stratifying or re-segregating) higher education.  The end of university remediation goes along with the end of affirmative action, raising tuition and defining education as a private purchase rather than a public good, and ending student access programs.  The book is centered on the struggle over remedial programs at CUNY. 

Radical Teacher. This is a “socialist, feminist and anti-racist journal on the theory and practice of teaching,” centered on post-secondary education.  The journal publishes articles on classroom practices and curriculum, as well as on educational issues related to gender and sexuality, disability, culture, globalization, privatization, race, class and other similar topics.   The journal comes out thee times a year:

Campaign Finance


Websites/ Organizations

Center for Responsive Politics:

The Sunlight Foundation:

Cleaning Up Elections:


Economic Crisis- Local and Global

Websites/ Organizations

California Partnership: A statewide coalition of community-based groups, organizing and advocating for the programs and policies that reduce and end poverty.

William Domhoff, Sociology at UCSC:

California Tax Reform Association: Advocates fora a fair tax system in California, in order to provide the foundation for a healthy public sector and a successful economy.
Institute for Policy Studies: Their Program on Inequality and the Common Good focuses on the dangers that growing inequality pose for U.S. democracy, economic health and civic life. 
United for a Fair Economy: UFE raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. We support and help build social movements for greater equality. 


Klein, Naomi. 2007. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. NY: Metropolitan Books. Henry Holt and Co.

Klein argues that the spread of neo-liberal social policies is a result of political elites’ success in using what she calls, “The Shock Doctrine” e.g. taking advantage of natural disasters (think Katrina) or economic crises (think California budget crisis) to circumvent democratic processes by declaring a “state of emergency” to push through unpopular social and economic policies. This approach—articulated by Milton Friedman starting in the 1970s—was first implemented in Chile and Latin America and then used more widely to bring about such market fundamentalist goals as deregulation, and privatization of the public sector.  In fall 2009, Klein gave the Mario Savio Memorial Public Lecture entitled, “The California Shock Doctrine” at UC Berkeley.  A DVD of this lecture is available through the Vampire Slayers.


Immigrant Rights


Websites/ Organizations


Lois Meyer and Benjamin Maldonado Alvarado (eds). New World of Indigenous Resistance:  Noam Chomsky and Voices from North, South and Central America, City Lights, 2010. 

This book contains a “dialog among equals” between Noam Chomsky and 22 organizers and intellectuals from Latin America, almost half indigenous.  The Latin Americans comment on three substantial interviews given by Noam Chomsky.  The book was conceived as educators participated in an occupation of 50 square blocks of the Oaxaca civic center in 2006.  Once again exemplifying the leading role of the global south, the book contains a wealth of challenging and original ideas.

The writers analyze the neo-liberal overhaul of education after the resistance movements of the 1960s, in an effort to “put the genie back in the bottle.” Measures were put into place to shore up public education as an “institution for the indoctrination of the young,” to use the language of the elite Trilateral Commission.  These measures reduced education to test-taking and market-driven competencies and intensified the role of education in disciplining the young and standardizing the curriculum under centralized control.

There are three themes that recur throughout the book:  a discussion of the indigenous philosophical outlook of comunalidad, breaking the Western vise of entrenched individualism and industrial standardization; a reflection on what this outlook would mean in terms of a transformed education; and the role of languages as weapons of state domination.  An excellent accompaniment for the book is the inspiring video Grains of Sand/Granitas de Arena, about the education justice movement in southern Mexico.

Military Spending 



Websites/ Organizations



Estamos Aqui: a 10-minute film about the successful 2005 student-worker strike at UC Santa Cruz.

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