Last week, in Gainesville and Tallahassee, Florida: events making the case for Socialism took place simultaneously.
In Tallahassee, the Center for Participant Education hosted a 4 part “Marxism 101” course taught by myself. Attendance was consistently between 10 and 25 people. The majority of attendees were students and young workers currently or formerly interested in activism in Tallahassee. The topics ranged from an introduction to Marxism, Socialism of the 20th Century, Anti-Communism from the Left and the Right, and Socialism for the 21st Century: prospects for socialism today. Following each course was a long discussion where attendees were quite engaged.
In Gainesville, at the same time as one of the Marxism 101 courses, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) held an event titled “The Case for Socialism” while an anti-Cuba talk by the daughter of Castro was going on at the same time at the UF campus. The presenter of the event says that around 30 people attended and that issues from Capitalism, Marxism to LGBTQ rights were discussed. Like the Tallahassee event an engaged discussion followed.
These events, while relatively small, show a renewed interest in Marxism. While Gainesville and Tallahassee are often portrayed as “progressive college towns,” they are also two cities in Florida that are considered to be culturally “Southern” compared to some of the cities in the Southern part of the peninsula . This demonstrates that while there is a renewed interest in Socialism, it’s time to not only organize in the South, but begin to have these sorts of conversations with wider audiences. Education can be as important of a tool for the Left as a good demonstration.
We Won’t Go Back: Defending Wake County Schools Against Racism and Resegregation
[Excerpt] On March 23, 2010 the Wake County School Board voted 5-4 to end school assignments to achieve socioeconomic diversity and move toward a process of creating a neighborhood schools policy. This vague concept seems to mean something different to each of the five school board proponents, although they assure the public that the radical change will magically solve all the challenges of one of the country’s largest urban school districts.
Regardless of the intention of its “authors,” the end result of such a move is clear — re-segregated public schools with highly-resourced schools for affluent and predominantly white students and under-resourced, failing schools for poor children and children of color. Due to “neighborhood schools” policy, the state of North Carolina failed to recieve a $469 million federal Race to the Top education grant. The Magnet Programs with strong Federal funding that once were the pride of Wake County will disappear.
These new “Magnet-style” schools that are currently being promised to parents in suburban areas will not materialize and every child and parent in Wake County will lose, except those who can afford to send their children to private schools. The biggest winners will be those who run those schools and will make a profit, among them Ron Margiotta, current chair of the school board, and Robert Luddy, the number 1 contributor to the campaigns of the winning candidates.
In the 2009 Wake County School Board elections, four candidates, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman, Deborah Prickett, and John Tedesco, won their respective races in an off-year election with less than 5% of the voting population’s support. All four candidates ran campaigns centered around removing the nationally recognized diversity policy in favor of “neighborhood schools.” Their campaigns were primarily funded by a small network of wealthy conservatives with ties to local private schools. Goldman, Tedesco, Malone, and Prickett joined sitting member Ron Margiotta to create a right-wing bloc with a majority on the nine member board.