I’m honored that my latest essay for Truthout “The Answer to the Great Question of Education Reform? The Number 42” was quoted by Henry Giroux in his latest Public Intellectual installment for Truthout “Public Intellectuals Against the Neoliberal University.” Giroux’s essay, as usual, provides a grand tour of the socio-economic forces at work on public education, and the academics and artists resisting. Read it by clicking the above link.
Month: October 2013
Free the News: Support Project Censored’s Funding DriveUncategorized
Tired of Kim and Kayne’s kerfuffles controlling the news cycle?
Please consider a donation: http://www.projectcensored.org/fall-newsletter/
For over 30 years, Project Censored has worked tirelessly to provide an organic alternative to the high-sugar, low-content, industrial-grade processed and packaged Junk Food “news” which the corporate media serves up for mass consumption, and mass distraction.
Project Censored is a critical part of the independent media news chain, ensuring we all have access to the real, substantial news needed to make informed decisions in our democracy.
Indeed, Project Censored provided fertile soil to cultivate my approach to education journalism. I’ve had the honor to write for their annual books from Seven Stories Press in 2011, 2012, and 2013, on their companion blog Daily Censored, and to speak on Project Censored Radio, a weekly show on Bay Area’s KPFA.
Project Censored is moving to a broader stage, including an award winning film Project Censored The Film: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News, featuring luminaries like Noam Chomsky
Now, Project Censored needs our support:
Every autumn we celebrate the work of independent journalism with the publication of our book. Even while we look back at the past year’s most censored news, we are hard at work on next year’s volume! Our current Fall Fund Drive is now underway and will continue for 12 days only. During that time, we will send an e-mail reminder every couple days, but only for the duration of the drive. We need to raise $15,000 to begin our work on Censored 2015 and to continue to expand our program of hands-on training in media literacy and critical thinking at college and university campuses across the country. We also continue to seek funding to hire a part-time administrative assistant. And, we have a generous $1,000 match to kick things off! Please choose one of the several support levels on the right hand side of this message. Each level offers different premiums of Project Censored’s latest work. You can choose to become a monthly subscriber or you can simply be a one-time donor. We appreciate all the help we get! Looking ahead, we expect to be even more productive over the next few months, but we need your financial support to do our best work
Please consider a donation: http://www.projectcensored.org/fall-newsletter/
Uncensoring Comix Journalism: An Introduction for EducatorsGraphic Journalism
From his offices at the Daily Planet, journalist Clark Kent stripped into spandex and saved the world outside his mahogany office doors. Now, it looks like the Daily Planet is in need of Superman’s help, as the Fourth Estate is under threat from dwindling sales and dwindling real news content.
“Journalism will survive, but it will reach a limited audience, as the sparsely attended productions of Aristophanes or Racine in small New York theaters are all that is left of great classical theater,” Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges worries, prognosticating a bleak future in which news is only for the elite, the rest of us left to fed on Kayne West and Kim Kardashian’s kerfuffles.
Could comics save the day? That’s right, comics – those immensely popular picture and word stories you always flipped past the real news to get to – can they bring real news back to the masses?
Graphic journalism – “real” journalism with pictures and words (and sometimes, interactive elements) – has pretty much nothing to do with Superman, except for the fact that he was a journalist in a comic. Graphic journalism are comics about reality, about our world – not fantasy, nor escapism. This medium is still in its infancy, but illustrates a clear path forward, one especially critical for students growing up in an media-satured world, in which it’s hard to tell Kayne from Kosovo, the kerfuffles from the real news.
My former collaborator on the graphic report “The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum” Dan Archer defines graphic journalism with elegance:
See him talk on BBC about his comic on human trafficking in Nepal which got ONE MILLION readers in a day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22283856
See also Dan’s comic on comics journalism at Poytner.
Symbolia: A Tablet Magazine of Illustrated Journalism elaborates on Dan’s definition, using comics journalism itself:
Below is a brief overview to the emerging field of graphic journalism, including canonical works like Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Joe Sacco’s Palestine, new and emerging artist/journalists like Susie Cagle and Sarah Glidden, and publications like Cartoon Movement (which is free!). For more background, you can read my article for Truthout “Warning: This Article Contains Graphic Journalism,” which includes a history of this emerging medium, along with interviews with Pulitzer Prize cartoonist Ted Rall and graphic memorist/journalist Sarah Glidden (amongst others).
FINAL NOTE: This post is intended primarily for the participants in my presentation at The English Council of Two Year Colleges, but I hope will be useful for any educator interested in exploring graphic journalism and non-fiction comics in general as a powerful means to critically engage students in our media-saturated world. Links take you to more background/purchasing info.
Sacco, Joe. Palestine (1993)
Sacco with Chris Hedges. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012)
Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. Pantheon. 2007
Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus 1996.
Delisle, Guy. Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea (2007)
Jacobson, Sid and Colon, Ernie. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation. 2006.
Nakazawa, Keiji. Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima (2004 – originally published in Japan 1973)
Glidden, Sarah. How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (2011)
Bors, Matt. Afghan Life (2010). Read for free at CARTOON MOVEMENT!
Archer, Dan. Check out his work on human trafficking in Nepal from Archcomix.
And “The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum: The High Price of Education,” with me (courtesy Truthout)
And of course, the comic which lent the title to this site: Automated Teaching Machine, with fellow community college professor Arthur King.
Cagle, Susie. Check out her excellent comics reporting at her blog.
Cartoon Movement: A FREE Publication of Top Quality Graphic Journalism.
Any comics journalists or graphic non-fiction you love? Please share with me in the comments.
“The Circle” of Education ReformEssays
My latest essay at Truthout “The Great Answer to Education Reform? The Number 42” was released last week, and it was exciting to see the dialogue on Truthout, Facebook, and Twitter, as readers debated the role of automation, corporatization, and technical progress in our schools, and our culture more broadly.
In writing the essay, I was most inspired by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s prophetic and hilarious first novel Player Piano, which vividly imagines a completely technicalized society (Thanks to Paul Thomas for recommendation).
But if it’s possible to be reverse-inspired (as I’m sure Dr. Who would agree it is, given the right kind of temporal flux), then Dave Egger’s latest novel The Circle –which I read immediately after the essay was published – vividly depicts what I was trying to express, extending upon it significantly. Egger’s novel – set in a world perhaps just a few years away – imagines quite vividly and frighteningly what will happen once Big Data dictates all elements of our lives . In one section, he explores a new data system The Circle has created called YOUTHRANK, which compares all students across the country against each other, using their standardized testing scores and other quantitative metrics. Indeed, once it’s fully up and running, with “full participation from all schools and districts, we’ll be able to keep daily rankings, with every test, every pop quiz incorporated instantly.” That way, “soon we’ll be able to know at any given moment where our sons or daughters stand against the rest of American students, and then against the world’s students.”
YOUTHRANK may be a prophetic warning, but it’s also already here in nascent stages, in the form of the InBloom student database, funded by the Gates Foundation and built by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp. And certainly, the competitive, data-driven ethos underneath YOUTHRANK is already encoded in federal law, in the form of Race to the Top – if The Circle existed, it would no doubt get the $3 billion grant it was given by the (fictional) Department of Education in Egger’s novel.
More broadly, though, The Circle provides important answers to the questions raised in my essay: What kind of world is Silicon Valley leading us to? And do we want to live there?
PHOTO: The Revolution Will Be MonetizedUncategorized
The Revolution Will Be Monetized! With Che Guevara – the American Spirit.
Photo by Adam Bessie in Munich, Germany. 2013.
Today’s Appearance on “Breaking the Set”Media Appearances
I had the honor of speaking with Abby Martin on RTV America’s “Breaking the Set” on automation, corporatization, and adjunctification of education. It’s in the first segment. Thanks for viewing!
Diane Ravitch, Adam Bessie, and the Folsom Street Fair…Uncategorized
I had the honor of having lunch with Diane on her book tour for REIGN OF ERROR near her hotel in downtown SF. While lunching, we randomly met up with author David Sirota (http://www.davidsirota.com/) to talk education politics, along with the ever articulate and insightful Anthony Cody (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/).
As if to (leather) cap off a fully San Francisco-esque day, a steady stream of fully-chapped, mustachioed gentlemen flowed by, bound to the annual Folsom Street Fair, an annual celebration of BDSM culture.
It was a fully uncensored experience.
Leather aside, this is the second time I’ve had the good fortune to meet with Diane, and both times, I’ve been struck by her absolute devotion to providing all children the education only our most privileged children receive. Unlike the corporate reformers, who clad themselves in the pleather trappings of social justice and equity, Diane is truly committed to the institution of public education, for the enrichment not of corporations, but of democracy, and humanity.
She is a hero for those of us who still believe in the promise of public education.
You can buy or download her book at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Reign-Error-Privatization-Movement-Americas/dp/0385350880
Bessie on Breaking the Set @ RTV (Previous Appearance)Media Appearances
I just had my second interview with the illustrious Abby Martin on Russia TV America’s BREAKING THE SET. It should be online early next week. In the meantime, here’s a previous interview, focused on Obama’s Drone Warfare … in our schools.
A Model T Education: Public Schooling on the Assembly LineEssays
One of my essays from earlier this year, which links well into an upcoming media appearance…
Mass production is a problem the auto industry solved over 100 years ago,” veteran education reporter Jonn Merrow narrates over grainy images of Model Ts being rolled out of a factory in his most recent PBS NewsHour report. He observes that with the Model T, Henry Ford’s innovation was not in creating a quality car, but in constructing an assembly-line which could mass-produce them, providing this once cutting edge technology affordably to the public. “But it’s an issue our education system has yet to figure out. Nobody has figured out how to mass-produce high-quality, cost-effective schools,” Merrow mournfully concludes – public education has yet to discover its “Model T.”
In other words, Merrow – who has been reporting on education for forty years – is saying public education should aspire to the assembly line of the 1920s.
Perhaps the Mayans were right.
The last few years have felt like the beginning of the end of public education: it’s not just neo-con think tanks and billionaire industrialists calling for the end of public schooling as we know it, even our Public Broadcasting System is airing reports that our public schools aren’t acting enough like productive, efficient, and profitable factories[i]
Read more @ Truthout