Coming Soon: “Class Action” Film Essay

photo-classaction

I’m honored to announce that one of my first projects as Multimedia Editor of Jacobin Magazine is a companion video to “Class Action,” a critique of neoliberal education reform produced by Jacobin & the Chicago Teachers Union’s CORE Caucus.

I’m a bit late in blogging this news and now there’s only 10 hours left to back the project. Do it! Your money supports the printing of a full-color booklet documenting the destruction of America’s public schools currently taking place under the guise of “reform.” Copies will be given to unions & community groups to use for fundraising and organizing, but won’t be for sale online. But a $10 Kickstarter pledge gets you a physical copy. (My video will be available for free.)

The propaganda machine of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is sophisticated and insanely well-funded, and has nearly succeeded in masquerading the gutting of our public school system as a “progressive” movement. The actual fruits of GERM include undermining teachers unions and democratic school boards through privately run charter schools; a counterproductive obsession with standardized testing and unidimensional “accountability”; and the shuttering of dozens of schools in cities across the country. The research supporting GERM ranges from non-existent to fraudulent. Rarely do these reforms benefit students, quite often the reverse, though the billionaires who fund the movement do stand to profit both directly and indirectly.

My video will be an attempt at a counter-narrative exposing the pernicious role that billionaire philanthropists and their foundations play in the “education reform” debate. The video will be based on an essay in the booklet by Joanne Barkan, who has done excellent reporting on the subject, and will feature images from Katrina Ohstrom of abandoned Chicago schools. This project is my first foray into the film essay, a form I’ve long admired. I hope I can do the material justice. Stay tuned!

Please Watch this Lecture on Full Employment & Argentina’s Jefes Program

I’ve finally uploaded the video of a seminar I shot back in March, GUARANTEED INCOME OR EMPLOYMENT: ECONOMIC RIGHTS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. Of all 8 of the Modern Money & Public Purpose Lectures I attended & recorded, this one is perhaps the most important.

In particular, I recommend Pavlina Tcherneva’s lecture. She discusses her research on the Jefes program in Argentina, which provided government jobs to impoverished “Heads of Households” and is about as close as you can get to a real-life full employment program. The program was very successful on a number of levels. Contrary to the intentions of the program’s administrators, nearly 75% of the workers employed were women. They ended up socializing childcare, among other community services. The government preferred for women to stay at home and receive a basic income, but they could only get women to switch to a welfare system by shutting down the Jefes program.

Her talk (~20min) starts at 3:19 & I [awkwardly violate my omniscient videographer duties to] ask some follow up questions about the Jefes program at 1:49:17.

Further reading can be found here & anyone interested in the subject should check out this semester’s schedule of Modern Money Network events. I’m the house videographer again this year, so if you can’t make it live, do check for the edited videos on youtube — hopefully I’ll be a bit more prompt getting them posted this time around!

Chris Seefer: “Detecting, Investigating and Documenting Fraud”

Video I shot in 2011 of a lecture by Chris Seefer, an attorney at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP — the law firm responsible for collecting the “mountain of evidence” of a massive ratings agencies scandal, as documented in Matt Taibbi’s brutal article The Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis.

via Chris Seefer: “Detecting, Investigating and Documenting Fraud” – YouTube.

Lightworks – Pro video editing for Linux?

Anyone have any experience with Lightworks?

Very affordable ($60) video editing software, claims to be pro, and they (beta) support Linux!

I need to upgrade my video-editing set-up and with the demise of FCP really not sure what to do.

Apple makes a great laptop but I’m sick of using it for editing. I want a high-powered tower that I can upgrade myself as funds become available (and that will function decently with the limited budget I have now). The new Mac Pro will surely be out of my price range & I detest being locked into one manufacturer’s hardware, especially when nothing but the RAM appears to be upgradeable. And it looks idiotic. But the thought of running Windows is unsavory, to say the least. A Hackintosh seems like more trouble than it’s worth, but maybe not…

Linux is already standard for render-farms, and Blender is supposedly quite good, and Black Magic’s DaVinci Resolve (pro color-correction software) runs on Linux. So Linux seems like a promising environment for pro video editing & post. But the editing options were dire last I checked (albeit a couple years ago) — doable for simple web videos, perhaps, but buggy and definitely not set up for making deliverables for a professional post house. Though mencoder can probably do anything; perhaps I’ll end up with some convoluted workflow of editing on a Mac and compressing with Linux?

Anyway, mulling over the next upgrade. Avid on a PC? FCP-X or Avid on the cheapest Mac that will work with eSATA? Premiere on any of the above? None of these are particularly appealing, so I’ll be very excited if a Linux video workstation were to become a not-insane option. Lightworks on Linux is in Beta now, with a very long list of bugs, so it still qualifies as insane for the moment. But I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on it over the next year.

Edward Snowden’s Opening Statement


“NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society …”

“You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter. He’s on the nerdy side of attractive, sensible-sounding and relaxed, articulate, and able to deliver key points in a compact, mass market friendly manner.” Yves Smith

I was surprised that the existence/extent of our surveillance state was a surprise. Didn’t everybody know that? But the way the Guardian/Greenwald have played this so far is wonderful. The prosecution of whistleblowers is in many ways a much greater threat to our freedom than the spying. It seems completely inescapable that private data will be collected by both corporations and governments so long as the server space & energy exists to do so cheaply. But it’s what’s done with the data that’s scary, especially the lack of consequences for abusers of data. Whistleblowers are a crucial line of defense against abuse. This is true not just of surveillance but also financial & environmental regulation, for example. Consistently we’ve been prosecuting the whistleblowers instead of the criminals, accelerating the cycle of corruption and decay in government and society.

For Edward Snowden to publicly reveal himself at the height of media attention on the story, is a masterful shift of the story away from “privacy” and towards “importance & vulnerability of the little guy who speaks out against the system.” Whereas police brutality was arguably a distraction from Occupy’s message of income inequality, I hope whistleblower prosecution usurps the surveillance debate. Which isn’t to say that surveillance isn’t a huge issue. It deserves the spotlight, or even better, full sun. But we can’t make any traction on that issue, or financial crimes, or unsafe power plants, etc., if we keep ignoring & imprisoning whistleblowers.

In this video Snowden is a perfectly-cast hero for the whistleblower plight. If a more confident America in 1964 got Mario Savio speaking truth to power, then for 2013, with our “rockstars” being Facebook developers (or some such nonsense), Snowden is perfect: white, male, nerdy, calm, non-threatening, attractive enough to look good on camera, “self-made” high school drop out who went on to a lucrative upper-middle class career thanks to his skills. Basically, how the archetypal Redditor imagines himself to be.

So we finally have a narrative to make rally around whistleblower protection. Exquisitely played PR, Mr. Greenwald. What Cindy Sheehan was to the anti-war movement, perhaps Edward Snowden will be to whistleblowers. Of course, that means the counter-PR will ferocious. So far Snowden appears to have more foresight than Manning and more humility than (and hopefully none of the rapiness of) Assange. So it remains to be seen how they’ll go about destroying him in the court of public opinion. I am relieved that he seems to have gone into this with his eyes open, fully aware of what he is sacrificing. He deserves our gratitude and admiration. The battle ahead will be nasty indeed.

May Day: Demand JOBS FOR ALL

Jobs For All - May Day
Download .pdf

Join the Rally and March on May Day for JOBS FOR ALL!

Join a large, visible presence advocating job creation and an end to unemployment:

JOBS FOR ALL
Dignified work at good union wages for everyone who wants a job.

TRABAJOS PARA TODOS
Trabajo digno con sueldos buenos de escala sindical para cualquiera que quiera un trabajo.

TUESDAY MAY 1
Mayday 2012 Rally & March
Union Square, NYC
4:00PM
Join us at the corner of Union Sq. West & 14th St.
(By the dry fountain)

We demand a democratically-controlled public works and public service program, with direct government employment, to create 25 million new jobs at good union wages. The new jobs will be to build the facilities and provide the services needed to meet the needs of the 99%, including in education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and clean energy. The program will be funded by raising taxes on the banks, corporations and the wealthiest 1%, and by ending all U.S. wars. Employment in the program will be open to all, including immigrants and persons formerly incarcerated.

Demandamos obras públicas y un programa de servicios públicos democráticamente controlados, con empleo directo del gobierno, para crear 25 millones de nuevos empleos con sueldos buenos de escala sindical. Los nuevos empleos serán para construir las instalaciones y proveer los servicios necesitados para satisfacer las necesidades del 99%, incluyendo en educación, cuidados de la salud, vivienda, transporte y energía limpia. El programa será financiado aumentando los impuestos a los bancos, las corporaciones y el 1% de los más ricos, y poniendo fin a todas las guerras por los Estados Unidos de América. Empleo en el programa estará disponible para todos, incluyendo a los inmigrantes y a las personas anteriormente encarceladas.

www.jobsforallny.org
Facebook Event

NY JOBS FOR ALL COMMITTEE • www.JobsForAllNY.org • twitter: @JobsForAllNY

For more information, or to endorse the demand, email: info@jobsforallny.org
Para mas información, o para apoyar la demanda, email: info@jobsforallny.org

VOTE! Tuesday, April 17: Maplewood-SO Board of Education Election

To my friends and neighbors in Maplewood-South Orange,

I am writing to urge you to vote in Tuesday’s election for Board of Education. There is a lot at stake for our district and it looks to be a very tight race. Polls are open from 2-9pm on Tuesday, April 17.

I support Amy Higer, Jennifer Payne-Parrish, and Tia (Karen) Swanson. The key issue for me is the district’s plan to raise expectations and provide a high-quality education to ALL students by delevelling the middle school and substantially restructuring the high school’s placement system. Combined with curricular reform that is already underway, I think these changes will have a positive, much-needed impact on our district.

Higer, Payne-Parrish and Swanson support these reforms and Payne-Parrish, an incumbent, voted for them. The other slate (Pai-Eastman-Bennet) opposes these changes and Eastman, the incumbent on that slate, voted against them. Instead, they support a “choice-based” system which, though rhetorically appealing, is clearly not a realistic option for our district of limited resources. We need unity and a firm commitment to all students –– not more division.

Another important factor which I don’t think has received much discussion is that Madhu Pai works as a “marketing executive for an educational consulting firm” (according to her campaign website). According to LinkedIn, Pai works for Education Dynamics, a company which colleges and universities hire to market their schools to prospective students. Their services allow expensive, for-profit colleges and online-diploma programs to pay to have their programs promoted on seemingly informative websites. While I do not doubt that Pai is committed to our district, I cannot help but see her employment in the for-profit education industry as a conflict of interest. Already, Mark Gleason, a current school board member, is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia School Partnership –- an organization which raises funds from billionaire philanthropists to advocate charter schools and other “choice” style programs. I believe we must be vigilant in keeping our school board independent from an industry that is steadily and stealthily working to undermine our public education system.

On a more positive note, I recently visited my high school history teacher. The AP US History program at the school has nearly doubled in size since when I was a student. What began as a class of 15 now includes over 90 students — nearly 20% of the grade. Test scores have not fallen; nearly all students still receive 4s or 5s on the exam. As my teacher explained, “many of these students never thought of themselves as AP students — until they found themselves an AP class. Then they quickly rose to the challenge.” Expectations matter. We have a great district filled with incredible, dedicated teachers and competent, driven administrators. Already significant improvements have been made, but there is still much to be done. Let’s vote for the board members who will support our district in doing best by ALL students.

Sincerely,
Rebecca

PS. You can learn more about all the candidates on their websites:
http://payne-parrishandswanson.org
http://www.amyhiger.org
http://www.votesoma2012.com

Also, when considering Pai-Eastman-Bennet’s promise to “make our decisions based on data and evidence about what works and what does not”, I suggest keeping the findings of this essay in mind:
http://monthlyreview.org/2010/12/01/the-loneliness-of-the-long-distance-test-scorer

“The Struggle for Full Employment: Not a New Idea and Not a New Struggle”

Last weekend I attended Left Forum and videoed a fantastic panel, The Struggle for Full Employment: Not a New Idea and Not a New Struggle, sponsored by the National Jobs for All Coalition.

“The Struggle for Full Employment: Not a New Idea and Not a New Struggle”
Left Forum 2012
Saturday, March 17, 5:00-6:40 PM, Room W401

www.njfac.org
www.jobscampaign.org

The presentation explores New Deal job creation efforts and FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights that began with the right to a decent job. It discusses two major attempts to secure full employment, in the immediate post-World War II period and in the 1970s, the first ending in the defeat of full employment legislation and the second, in the failure to implement a watered-down full employment act. Full employment, the presentation shows, will take a fundamental break with neo-liberalism and a reorientation of power from big business and Wall Street to middle- and working-class people and will require the full-scale social movement that both earlier struggles lacked.

Panelists:

Chuck Bell: Vice Chair, National Jobs for All Coalition, co-author of “Shared Prosperity: The Drive For Decent Work” (2006). Twenty years of experience in consumer and health care advocacy, and community movements for jobs and economic justice.

Helen Ginsburg: Professor Emerita of Economics, Brooklyn College, CUNY., and co-founder of the National Jobs for All Coalition. Author of books and articles on employment policy and strategies.

Gertrude S. Goldberg: The New Deal and Social Welfare Professor of Social Policy Emerita, Adelphi University School of Social Work where she directed the Ph.D. program. Chair of the National Jobs for All Coalition. Co-chair of the Columbia Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare & Equity. Author/co-author and editor of six books and numerous book chapters and articles on social policy and employment.

Moderator: Sheila D. Collins, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University and co-founder of the National Jobs for All Coalition.

Video by Rebecca Rojer, http://rrrojer.net

Rocky Anderson Super Tuesday Money Bomb

I just donated $50 to Rocky Anderson’s presidential campaign. I’ve already come public about my support of Rocky and unwillingness to keep voting for Dems but I just wanted to share this email from the Rocky campaign, because it’s so damn refreshing to hear something like this from a politician:

Rebecca —

Thank you for your donation to our campaign. With your help, we will lead the United States forward on a healthy, just, and sustainable path.

We do not accept more than a total of $100 from any person. We are making the choice to emphasize the need to end the corrupting influence of money over our political system. We will rely on grassroots organizing and democratized means of communication to overthrow the dictatorship of selfish narrow interests, which, with the collusion of the two dominant parties, have been undermining the public interest.

This campaign stands for:

An immediate end to the on-going wars;

Essential health care coverage for all citizens;

Urgent international leadership by the U.S. to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate disruption;

Adequate revenues to balance the budget through fair taxation;

Treatment of substance abuse as a public health, rather than criminal justice, issue;

Control of the Federal Reserve by the Treasury Department and Congress;

A balanced budget (or a surplus) except in times of war or major recession;

An end to the legal concept of corporate “personhood;” a constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United ;

An end to the corrupting impact of money in our electoral system;

Protection of U.S. jobs, through re-negotiation of trade agreements and jobs programs like WPA and CCC to improve our nation’s infrastructure and employ millions of Americans;

An end to the stranglehold on our government by the military-industrial complex.

United we can come together to put the public’s interest first.

With gratitude,

Rocky Anderson

Tell TINA to shove it & donate today!

Rebecca R. Rojer