Posts Tagged ‘#CutCorbett’

It’s about 3:30 am and I am up preparing for today’s PASSHE Board of Governors meeting in Harrisburg. I am printing out the last faculty letters to the Chancellor that I received late last night, reviewing my notes for my 90 seconds before the Board of Governors, rechecking Google maps directions to ensure I can return to KU in time for my office hours and afternoon class, and hoping that enough faculty members from our 14 university system will make the trip to Harrisburg today to pack the Board of Governor’s meeting. As an academic – especially one that teaches writing and advocacy rhetorics, I am compelled to accept the persuasive power of rational discourse and I hope that the words of my colleagues and I will have some degree of impact on the Chancellor and the Board of Governors. I want to believe that we can help convince PASSHE administrators to bargain in good faith and help us secure a good and lasting contract.

However, the activist in me, the labor unionist in me, is also compelled to recognize that the persuasive power of words – yes, even in an academic context – have power only insofar as they are backed by people willing to act up on those words. Words, by themselves, are constrained by context – e.g. if there is no one listening, or a decision has already been made, or there are no institutional rules that require those in power to listen. If words are not empowered to be meaningful in any given institutional context, then their source of power must come from outside that institutional context. As Frederick Douglass memorably put it:

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

For sure, Douglass was no slouch when it came to a commitment to the persuasive power of words. However, he was also no fool. His direct experience with slavery and racism taught him otherwise.

Late yesterday we found out that the Chancellor’s Office has limited the public comments section of today’s meeting to three speakers. Each speaker will be limited to three minutes. Then, that’s it, comments are cut off. The Chancellor’s Office limited public comments to three speakers at least once before – when cafeteria workers from IUP, represented by SEIU, were protesting the Board of Governor’s meeting because of Sodexo. The take away? When workers in the PASSHE system – from cafeteria workers to academic workers – seek to make their concerns part of the official discussion, the Chancellor’s Office turns off the mic after providing just enough time for comments so they can claim to have been “open” to public concerns, but not enough time for any substantive discussion. It’s not about discussion after all. It’s about control.

I will be splitting my time with our local APSCUF-KU President, Paul Quinn. Before hearing that the Chancellor’s Office was going to limit debate, each of us had three minutes. But, we’ll take what we can get. I will deliver faculty letters and I will make some brief remarks. But, in the end, what will matter is if the Chancellor and the Board of Governors see that they are not up against three or four faculty members, but hundreds. The power of our words will be measured by the number of faculty members packing the meeting room and manning the picket lines outside the Dixon Center.

I prepare to drive to Harrisburg knowing full well that the Chancellor’s Office has already stacked the deck against us. That the only reason I am  being given time to speak is because the Chancellor’s Office needs to appear to to be open to public comments. I don’t have any illusions about that portion of today’s meeting. I am going to Harrisburg to stand with my colleagues from across the state who, through their physical presence, are saying, “Enough!” I am going to Harrisburg to provide the Chancellor’s Office with a small taste of what a picket line looks like. I am going to Harrisburg to begin a process of demonstrating what gives a union power at the negotiations table  – not simply the negotiation skills of the people at the table, but the collective power of our more than 6,000 members across the Commonwealth. I am going to Harrisburg to begin a process of putting limits on the aspirations of would-be, petty tyrants.



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In a new blog post, APSCUF explores the question: Where is the Chancellor?

Chancellor John Cavanaugh sits on the Governor’s Commission for Post-Secondary Education. He testifies annually in front of both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees about the State System’s budget request. He is the leader of State System and should be its biggest advocate. So what is his vision for PASSHE’s future?

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With the increasing numbers of submissions to Raging Chicken Press, we’ve been thinking of expanding our publishing schedule from once a month to twice a month. If you’ve been following the going-ons in our little corner of activist media, you know that I’ve been batting around the idea of doing an “Early Edition” at the beginning of each month. Well, here’s our first crack at it. As you’ll see, this “Early Edition” has fewer contributions, but if we continue to get the kind of submissions we’ve been getting, we might just try publishing full editions twice a month. Frankly, the only thing that is holding us back from doing so at this point is the work load. And, yes, that sentence is a segue to a call for aspiring activist journalists, videographers, editors, podcasters, and social network enthusiasts to c’mon out and join us Raging Chickens. At this point, we’re all volunteers and we can use whatever skills you bring to the table. Interested? Drop me a line at ragingchickenpress@gmail.com.

Here’s the contents for the May Early Edition:

If you’re still thinking about contributing to the May issue of Raging Chicken Press, remember the deadline for submissions is this Thursday, May 10th. It looks like we’re in good shape to go ahead and publish the May issue on the 15th.

The Never-Ending Fundraising Drive

There are 52 days left in this round of our fundraising drive. The good news is that as of this writing we’ve raised $515.00! A little side-note to all of you who contributed so far, you’re thank you gifts will be on their way very soon. After several unexpected setbacks, I got a package this week with stickers, mugs, t-shirts, and more to send out to all of you awesome Raging Chicken supporters.

The less good news is that we’ve only raised about 2% of our goal. It’s been a learning experience for sure. I could not be happier with the amazing work we’ve been able to do with next to no resources (other than those that come out of my pocket). However, we’re growing fast and are hitting the limits of what we can afford to do. For example, one of our writers is doing some pretty amazing investigative research on fracking out in Western Pennsylvania. He’s been able to do some great work over the phone and email, but we’d like to be able to send him out there for a few days with a video camera and recorder to talk to the affected families. Imagine if Raging Chicken Press had the resources to cover some of the costs of this kind of investigative research. Pretty cool. My goal from the beginning of this project was to appeal first to the progressive community directly for support. The idea was that the more that this project is funded by individual members of the progressive community, the more we can ensure it will always be for the progressive community in a very concrete way. We recognize that not every progressive out there has the time or ability do the kind of work we are doing here. But we can build a networked community of contributors and donors to help strengthen our movements.

It’s clear that I’m going to have to rethink how to best fund this project for the long haul. I am wide open for ideas and help! Let me know if you’ve got some ideas for raising funds. I’ve been looking at some grants, starting a membership program, and approaching some regional, progressive organizations directly. We’ll see what comes of it all.

Shop Progressive and Support Raging Chicken Press

Another very easy AND FREE way you can help support what we do is to use the links on the right-hand sidebar to do all your Amazon.com, fair-trade coffee, and book shopping. Use the search boxes or click through and shop as your normally would. You will have the same experience as if you went to the sites directly. The only difference is that part of your purchase, generally 4-8%, will go directly to Raging Chicken Press. Even better, bookmark the links and use that bookmark every time you shop.

Here’s three links that you can start using right now to help support what we do:

I want to put in a special plug for the Shop Indie Bookstores link. Here at Raging Chicken Press, we are now using this site for buying all of our subscriber give-away books. The Shop Indie Bookstores link not only allows you to buy from Independent, non-chain bookstores, you can choose to shop local. That’s key. For example, we’ve bought several books directly from the Doylestown Bookstore using the Shop Indie Bookstores link. Why does that matter? Well, here’s the persuasive case made by Indiebound.org:

When you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

The Economy

  • Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
  • Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  • More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.

The Environment

  • Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

  • Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
  • Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
  • More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

We’re certainly convinced. So, next time you’re thinking about ordering a book online, picking up a good read for a gift, ordering textbooks for school, or downloading an eBook (yes, Indies do eBooks too!), consider going Indie and going local. And, to ge the most bang for your buck, use our Shop Indie Bookstores link and support Raging Chicken Press while you support your local community.

A Note on the May Issue

I think you’re going to really dig the full May issue. We’ve got some great interviews and articles that remind us that the month of May begins with May Day–International Workers’ Day. The Occupy Movement organized actions around the country, which seemed to be the opening shots of an American Summer. We plan on being there as actions over the summer heat up. Let us know what you will be doing to fight back.

Bread and Roses,

Kevin Mahoney
Editor Zero, Raging Chicken Press

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It seems like getting the February issue out took FOREVER! I don’t know if that’s what it felt like for all of you out there, but it was certainly my experience. But, the important thing is that it’s out!  And, it’s kind of cool that we published the February issue on the one year anniversary of the first mass protest of the Wisconsin Uprising against governor Walker’s attack on working families. We are STILL Badgers! I’ll give you a little sense of what’s been going on behind the scenes; but, for the moment, here’s what you’ll find in the February issue:

Reminder: Subscribe and Be Entered in the RCP Monthly Give-Away!

I want to make sure to remind everyone out there to subscribe to Raging Chicken Press. If you subscribe by Monday, February 20th, you will be entered in this month’s Subscriber Give-Away! This month’s Give-Away includes two books hot off the presses: John Nichols’s book, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest from Madison to Wall Street and regular contributor to Raging Chicken Press, Lee Camp’s new book, Moment of Clarity: The Rantings of a Stark Raving Sane Man. All you need to do to subscribe is to enter your email in the subscription form on the right-hand side of the page. Subscribing doesn’t cost you a thing, but it does ensure that you will receive notifications of all new Raging Chicken Press content right in your inbox. Really, can you think of a downside?

Fundraising Campaign: Can You Help? 

I’ve been squawking about this for a while now, but we’re into the thick of it now. Twelve days ago, we launched our first ever fundraising drive on a web platform called WePay. We are attempting to raise $25,000. Yes, that’s what I said, $25,000. I’ve gone back and forth as to whether I should even try to raise this kind of money at this point. It’s a lot of money, I know. But, here’s the deal. I’ve said from the very beginning that I am building Raging Chicken Press for the long haul and I intend on building it in away that is both realistic and sustainable. That is, up until this point Raging Chicken Press exists on whatever money I can stash away, sales in the Raging Chicken Press store, and the affiliate programs we are using. While these sources help, they are by no means sufficient for developing a serious progressive, activist media site.

The $25,000 number comes from thinking about what I’d like to do with RCP in the next few years and what it would take–financially–to make that happen. I’ve talked about some of these projects before, but here’s a flavor of the kind of things I think Raging Chicken Press can do if we get the support:

  • Annual Best of Raging Chicken paperback book and eBook, featuring the best articles of the year. Ideally, we can have the first edition ready for our one year anniversary in July.
  • Three paid internships a year: 1) a fall internship on issues in PA public and higher education; 2) a spring issue focusing on PA policy and budget issues; and, 3) a summer internship on PA environment and sustainability.
  • “Broadside” editions of each issue of Raging Chicken Press to be distributed to regional coffeehouses, bars, hangouts, etc.
  • Annual presence at the PA Progressive Summit and Netroots Nation.
  • Payment for contributors to Raging Chicken Press based upon similar progressive publications’ payment structures.
  • Press passes for Raging Chicken Press reporters.
  • Promotional materials including a banner, fliers, and Raging Chicken Press swag.
  • Shifting t-shirt sales from our Zazzle.com store to locally produced, union printers (the issue here is that in print t-shirts locally in unionized shops, we need to buy larger quantities of shirts and to keep stock on-hand. Buying large numbers of shirts is a chunk of change).
  • Establishing a brick-and-mortar presence on Main Street (or close to it) in Kutztown as a base of operations, meeting space, and store front for t-shirts, buttons, posters, books, and other progressive materials.

This is not a comprehensive list, but representative of some of the major initiatives I’d like to move on in the very near future. Some of these items will require on-going fundraising and grant applications (which I am also working on). The brick-and-mortar presence is a perfect example an initiative that needs up-front money AND a fairly predictable budget.

There is an additional reason for beginning a fundraising drive at this point. I’ve wanted to avoid having to go the advertising route as a way of sustaining Raging Chicken Press. I think the potential strength of this project is dependent upon a decision progressives in our communities deciding to support the development of this progressive, activist media site. In short, I need to know if progressives in PA and beyond believe this project is worthwhile. Are you willing to help build this site? Do you think it is valuable to build progressive alternatives to mainstream media? Do you think it is valuable to have media site that gives progressive writers, videographers, podcasters, artists, and activists an outlet for their work? Those are questions that I don’t have the answer. I need to know from you: Can you help? Can you help build a regionally focused progressive, activist media site?

You can contribute any amount over $2. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS! We hope that there are enough of us out there who want to join with us to help build progressive media alternatives. I, for one, think we are going to need it.

Call for Submissions for March Issue

Yeah, I know we just published the February issue, but I’d like to get a jump-start on the next issue. Give the deep cuts being proposed by PA governor Tom Corbett and the ramping up of the election cycle, I want to put out the call for the March issue sooner rather than later. Here’s the deal:

Deadline for Submissions for March Issue: Saturday, March 10th. 

If you think you’ve got something to send our way, check out our submission guidelines. If you still have questions, drop me an email at ragingchickenpress@gmail.com.

Wrapping Up for Now

I’m going to leave things there for now. There are a couple more things that I want to tell ya, but this post is long enough already. I will say that I will be looking for your input for the 2011 Best of Raging Chicken Press book pretty soon! Look for your chance to help pick which Raging Chicken Press articles will make it into our first-ever “Best of” book!

Bread and Roses,

Kevin Mahoney
Founder and Editor Zero, Raging Chicken Press

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Like to write music? Progressive? This might be for you:

The November issue of Raging Chicken Press will be out soon (hopefully by Monday–we’ve been a bit sick here).  I know, the waiting game sucks.  Well, Raging Chicken Press has got something for at least some of you to do while you are waiting for the next issue.

Raging Chicken Press announces its first ever song contest! More specifically, song parody contest. Frankly, if I had the musical talent, I would have been on this over the summer. But, we all have to accept our short-comings. So, I thought this would be a cool project to push out to fans and friends of Raging Chicken Press.

Have you ever seen Disney’s version of Robin Hood? Well, I loved it as a kid and now my three-year old son loves it too. As I was watching it over the summer, I began to see the possibility of repurposing some of the songs on the soundtrack for our current struggles against right-wing attacks on collective bargaining, public education, social services, and our democracy. I began to think about casting our “beloved” governor, Tom Corbett as “Prince John” the “phony King of England.”  In particular, I was thinking about the song “The Phony King of England.” Listen to this song and replace “John” and “England” with “Tom” and “Pennsylvania” and you’ll get the idea:

Got it? If you check out Chris Priest’s repurposing of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (see below) you’ll get the sense of what we’re thinking about here at Raging Chicken Press.

So, we’re going to try a little experiment: We are calling on readers and friends of Raging Chicken Press to submit parodies of the song “Phony King of England” to Raging Chicken Press. All entries will be posted to Raging Chicken Press and readers will have a chance to vote on the best version. The top three entries (if we get that many) will receive their choice of t-shirt from the Raging Chicken Press store.  The winning song will also receive Raging Chicken Press’s “Must Read” book of the month.

Here’s the rules:

  • Song must be a rewritten version of the “Phony King of England” that appears in the video above
  • Song should replace “John” with “Tom” and Tom should refer to PA Governor, Tom Corbett. Likewise, “England” should be replaced with “Pennsylvania”
  • All entries must be recorded in MP3 or .wav format.
  • All final recordings must be loaded up to YouTube. Ideally, the final video should include images to political protest against Tom Corbett and the PA Republican’s austerity budget and other attacks upon working families and the Commons.
  • Once songs are uploaded to YouTube, an email should be sent to ragingchickenpress@gmail.com including a link to the video, the name(s) of the song writer(s), and contact information including email and mailing address.
  • All entries should be submitted by November 29th.
Entries will be posted to Raging Chicken Press as they are received. Voting for best parody song will begin on November 30, 2011 and the winner(s) will be announced in December issue.
Any questions? Send email inquiries to Kevin Mahoney, Editor Zero, Raging Chicken Press @ ragingchickenpress@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted exclusively to the XChange and a lot has changed.  A couple of weeks before the beginning of the fall 2011 semester, my daughter Scout was born. In addition to the sheer joy of welcoming her into our family, lack of sleep has been a constant companion. Readers of the XChange also know that I stepped down as Vice President this past year in anticipation of the birth of my daughter.   This fall marks the first time since 2002 – the year I started teaching at Kutztown – that I have not been an elected representative for our local chapter of APSCUF.  It’s a bit odd, I have to say.

While I know I made the right decision to focus on my family this year, I am also keenly aware of how easy it is to fall out of the loop. Doing union work, especially at the Executive Committee level, means that you are intimately involved with micro-battles every single day. The administration’s decision to cut programs and retrench faculty last year meant that the bulk of my days were dominated with the practical and emotional weight of fighting an administration that had no intention of looking for alternatives to their slash and burn approach to the “budget crisis.” I’ve been astounded how “easy” my job feels now – a 4-4 teaching load, and ONLY a 4-4 teaching load, actually feels like a break. How messed up is that?

Stepping down from APSCUF leadership for a bit has allowed me to do quite a bit of thinking about where I want to put my efforts and how to best build some kind of sustained resistance to the budget cuts and assaults on public, higher education. Last year I oscillated between intense frustration and cynicism because I could not understand why faculty and staff at Kutztown University and the other PASSHE Universities were not flooding the streets of Harrisburg and their communities to defend their institutions and the promise of public higher education. I still don’t get it, but I think my experience this semester is helping me understand better how it’s just so much easier — at least in the short term and before the pink slip shows up in your mailbox — to just focus on teaching and let someone else worry about the future of public higher education.

Much of my “free time” is now spent on building my independent, progressive media site, Raging Chicken Press. October will be our fourth issue.  I’ve been kicking around the idea of an autonomous or semi-autonomous organization/institute/center for quite some time. At least two of my conference papers over the past five years have suggested the need to develop extra-curricular institutions for advocacy rhetoric and training citizens for participation in 21st century democracy. In my writing and research, I’ve grown more and more pessimistic about the ability to do the kind of progressive, democratic work that many in my field feel lies at the core of literacy education within the terms of the curriculum. That does not mean that I think there is not room for courses that can contribute to progressive, democratic projects. I only mean to suggest the university and most faculty do not see their work as being primarily concerned with public education’s charge to train the next generation of democratic citizens.

For better or for worse, faculty and curricula tend to be primarily focused on job preparation and more traditional disciplinary concerns. There was a time that I thought it was a worthy struggle, a worthy expenditure of energy, to attempt to shift the curriculum more toward citizen training. And that still may be worthwhile.  However, given the intensity of the attacks on the public sector, workers’ rights, collective bargaining, voting rights, environmental protections, and women’s rights and the rather timid response from faculty, staff, and students in Pennsylvania’s state and state related universities, I have felt an urgency to find more direct means to network and build citizen-based movements in the State.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that faculty, staff, and our unions were silent. I personally made four trips to Harrisburg, organized two bus trips with faculty and students to Harrisburg for rallies, and APSCUF and the other education unions were doing some great work responding to Governor Corbett’s slash and burn budget.  All that is good.  However, to my knowledge, there has been no recognizable, sustained organization effort to push back the budget cuts. When it comes right down to it, people still lost their jobs, students still had a hefty tuition increase, and PASSHE Universities still saw almost 20% of their budgets gutted. These are all losses by any measure. We should be learning from colleagues in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and others who have organized mass mobilizations–and occupations of their state capitals. These states have now almost nine months of organizing under their belts and are building strong coalitions moving into the 2012 election. Hats off to them.

It has been striking to me that Kutztown University didn’t see a version of #OccupyWallStreet this past year, especially given the administration’s smoke-and-mirrors “budget crisis.”  As readers of the XChange know, APSCUF-KU has been contending for a long time that the University was not being straight with it’s numbers.  President Cevallos was persistent in his claims that Kutztown faced perpetual shortfalls.  However, as I wrote in a post here on the XChange and in the first issue of Raging Chicken Press, we found out that Kutztown University has been sitting on $29.1 million that could have been used to save programs and jobs. Put another way, stripping faculty of their tenure, jobs, and programs was a conscious calculated choice, not an unfortunate, unavoidable consequence of a force of nature as the administration would like us all to believe.

But, as a community, our defense of our retrenched colleagues and efforts at building an organized resistance has been lackluster. I say “as a community,” not “as a union” purposely. Anyone on Kutztown’s campus  who’s been paying even partial attention is well aware of charges that the “union didn’t do enough” or that “the union should have done X instead of Y.”  What baffles me is why people are more willing to criticize their union or stick their heads in the sand instead of organizing.  I’m not suggesting members should not criticize their union.  As a matter of fact, I think member involvement and critical participation is essential to any effective union.  Rather, I am saying criticism does not stand in for action. I mean, think about it. If I was criticizing my union while I was joining together with my colleagues to resist the administration’s attacks that’s one thing. Any community worth its salt comes to the aid of other members of the community out of a commitment to that community.  It does not wait to be told what to do.  It does not wait for others to do it for them. It just acts. Because it’s the right thing to do.

I know this is very ranty and scattered…it will take me a little while to get my XChange groove back. I’ve still got a lot to say about where we go from here and fights we are going to face down the road.

For now, I have to go teach.

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