26 March note: evidently April 10 in Fresno is off, and there’s talk about having a conference in LA instead April 17 or 24. The concerns about process and agenda – making this conference a productive one for the movement – stand.

Defendcapubliceducation (the “official” statewide March 4 blog) has finally posted official notice of the April 10 statewide conference in Fresno – a successor, I suppose, to the October 24 Conference, and a very important opportunity to talk about what’s next for the statewide movement after March 4.

The agenda:

Proposed structure of the conference

1) Demands
2) Action(s)
3) Breakouts
4) Reconvene
5) Open

See the rest of the motivation and structural proposal here.

Frankly – and this me speaking as an individual – I think this conference is incredibly important, and the structure proposed looks incredibly weak. Most importantly, there needs to be a structure for people to submit detailed proposals in advance for discussion. The thought of spending several hours listening to men trained in sectarian socialist modes of operation put forth more-radical-than-thou (or even more-intersectional-than-thou) proposals for demands brings me physical pain. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. It brings me intense psychic discomfort. And I say this as a socialist and as someone who thinks the term “sectarian” can be flung around in irresponsible ways. The problem is not socialists – organized socialists have played a vital, necessary role in this movement. The problem is sectarian, masculinist modes of communication that get amplified in a room full of 400 people and not-strong-enough facilitation.

The October 24 conference was essential, and March 4 would not have happened without it. That said, the democratic process and facilitation of October 24 were not up to the challenge posed by the diversity of sectors and political positions represented. I see no sign in the call for April 10 that the organizers have learned from what went poorly on October 24.

Related: is a large contingent from the direct action wing of the movement going to attend this conference? We need them. Many of them were very upset with the process on October 24. What has been done to create a broadly-amenable-yet-streamlined democratic structure?

Both on demands – but even more importantly on “actions,” a point I think ought to be reconfigured as “strategy” – we ought to come in with two or three or four major, counterposed proposals that have already been to some extent shared around the movement, refined, and debated. Then the conference could be a space for debate and deliberation, amendments, etc. rather than listening to so many ideas people just thought of right there and then.

I wonder if April 10 is too soon to do this necessary prep work. I realize people have been kicking this date around for a couple of weeks at least, but I’m disappointed to see such a low level of preparation. Perhaps we should push it back a couple of weeks and do it right.

On a lighter note, I hope everyone is enjoying Spring Break! Please observe this important public safety message. Warning: I find this incredibly amusing, but no one with whom I’ve shared this in the last two years has found it more than tolerably worthy of a pained chuckle.