Rouge Forum

The Rouge Forum is an organization of educational activists, which focuses on issues of equality, democracy, and social justice.


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.[1]

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.[2]

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:

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?[3]

Adam Renner Education for Social Justice Memorial Lecturers include:

Related reading





See also


External links

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