Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Closer Look At Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation PART 1

We've already exposed the IAF that has infiltrated the Mesa School District and suckered some gullible "Republicans" into signing the Arizona Accord.  At this stage of the game, it's too late to try and waste time on the hope that they may some day see the error or their ways.  It's time to move on, even if it means leaving them on the side of the road to wallow with their new-found friends.  Even if they DID come around to the truth, we can't waste time waiting for that moment because by that point, it will be too late.

So, let's expose what the IAF and groups like them (ACORN, PICO) have been up to for the last 50 years...while we were sleeping.

In part 1, we will look at who the IAF is and what role they have played in our schools.

In 2005, this report surfaced on community organizing and our schools.

Can Community and Education Organizing Improve Inner-City Schools?

Norman J. Glickman and Corianne P. Scally

Rutgers University

"IAF is a good example of a national organizing group that has taken on education issues. Founded in the 1940s by Saul Alinsky, IAF organizes a broad base of citizens across race and ethnicity on a wide range of issues (Alinsky 1946, 1971). Today, the Foundation’s network includes more than 50 local groups representing more than 1,000 institutions and one million families, principally in New York, Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Maryland. These IAF affiliates have removed blighted properties and built thousands of units of “Nehemiah” housing built in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Further, they have had successful living wage campaigns in Baltimore and New York; pushed human capital efforts to connect less educated people to good jobs; and, importantly for this paper, developed a large number of Alliance Schools in the Southwest (mostly in Texas) and community-based schools in New York.
IAF’s base is local institutions—primarily faith congregations, but also parents’ associations, schools, and trade unions—which it sees as rooted in communities and committed to advocating for societal change over the long term. The organization bases its philosophy on traditional mainstream American values—on religious faith and the self-interest of people—making campaigns for social change more sustainable. IAF works with poor and often less-educated people, channeling their anger about inequality into an agenda for political action. It maintains an “Iron Rule:” never do for people what they can do for themselves—a kind of tough love. This encourages self-reliance among its community leaders. To reach their objectives, members go through multi-day training programs to learn how to think through local issues, to relate to each other and to public officials, and to recruit neighbors to local causes—creating what IAF calls a “university of the streets.” IAF’s organizing process differs from many of the other groups discussed earlier: leadership development and constituent development come early in the process, with issue identification (such as the need for better schools) coming later, flowing out of dialogue within the organization.
IAF has built a network of more than 150 Alliance Schools in Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest. These campuses operate on the philosophy that public schools have a critical role in improving communities. Local IAF groups began organizing to transform a culture of low expectations for students and little or no community participation. Now, they argue, the campuses have increased achievement and formed strategic alliances. Groups focus on strategically engaging parents in the process of running schools, rather than having them involved in a token manner (Shirley 2002). This means building leadership among parents and using the social capital that grows out of that to improve school performance through civic engagement. The Alliance Schools expect teachers to reach out to parents in their neighborhoods. Teachers learn the basics of the IAF philosophy and train in elements of organizing (e.g., how to carry out one-on-one house meetings with parents).

Since IAF affiliates in these two regions (Texas and New York) have been working in schools for well over a decade, there has been enough time for their actions to begin to show tangible results. Our initial assessment of the indicators of both community and school outcomes show some positive results, although students and schools have not reached the highest level of attainment that IAF desires. As Shirley (2002, 38) finds, the advances made thus far have often come with political friction, remain hard to measure in terms of student achievement, and leave “considerable room for improvement.”

A long-used model of building community power through alliances and collective action—community organizing—has been refocused to make schools more responsive to community needs and to transform them into allies rather than adversaries.

National groups such as the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations (PICO) continue to work with poor people across the nation to improve conditions through grassroots organizing.  Many independent, local organizers are also at work on campaigns for living wages, affordable housing, and fighting predatory lending practices within low-income communities.

Once groups identify and agree upon the issues of greatest importance to them, they work toward indigenous leadership development to increase the community’s ability to address problems on their own and get their voices heard. As these organizations define their issues and develop leaders, they build political power. Poor people can often take on the forces of city hall or the statehouse and win political victories. Writing about IAF, Cortes (1994) says when people learn through politics to work with each other, supporting one another's projects, a trust emerges that goes beyond the barriers of race, ethnicity, income, and geography: we have found that we can rebuild community by reconstructing democracy.”