Saturday, October 11, 2008

ACORN, Organizing, and Education

My writing on community organizing now mostly appears on Open Left. But a couple of my fellow bloggers asked me to write something on ACORN, the national community organizing group that is currently under attack for its voter registration work.

The right wing is attacking ACORN not only because of its voter registration work, but because it is one of if not THE most important community organizing groups in America.

Unlike other national groups, ACORN generates its membership by knocking on doors, one after the other, not by organizing organizations like churches. As a result, its local membership is usually more broadly representative of poor and working-class people in America. Also unlike other groups, it participates actively in national campaigns and policy debates and does not just operate as an umbrella training and support organization.

ACORN is not a 501(c)3 organization, which means it can integrate political AND issue work, something most other organizing groups cannot do. ACORN is also one of the publishers of Social Policy.

ACORN and Education

ACORN has done extensive work on education, including running their own schools, national policy studies and reports, local studies (pdf), and, of course, direct . action for educational . change.

This report (pdf) is a few years old, now, but gives a sense of the range of educational issues ACORN engages with.

Note: I haven't had much direct involvement with ACORN, and I'm not really up on their current activities.

Those new to my organizing posts may want to read Part I and Part II of "What is Organizing?".


Unknown said...

If you thought the New Left was dead in America, think again. Walk through just about any of the nation’s inner cities, and you’re likely to find an office of ACORN, bustling with young people working 12 hour days to “organize the poor” and bring about “social change.” The largest radical group in the country, ACORN has 120,000 dues-paying members, chapters in 700 poor neighborhoods in 50 cities, and 30 years’ experience.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps some day organization will realize the significance of education over material.

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