Author: Lois Weiner

LOIS WEINER writes widely on education and labor and is the author of “The future of our schools. Teachers unions and social justice,”  (Haymarket). She is a member of the  New Politics editorial board and a co-editor of the print issue.

Getting rid of the losers, like teachers who are “old and costly” and kids who are not “champions”

            A headline in a recent news story about Los Angeles teachers, calling the district’s teaching force “old and costly,” is a companion piece to the New York Times front page article about the Success Academy chain headed by Eva Moskowitz.

Challenging "labor imperialism" AFT-style

Image            It’s encouraging that US unions are acknowledging the deep crisis facing labor and even the need for union democracy, as Labor Notes contributor Mark Brenner observes in his March 2015 column about the conference organized and hosted by the Albert Shanker Institute, an arm of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Why fine teachers are often the best union leaders

           Image I’m struck by how many of the skills and understandings good teachers acquire can also make them fine union activists. Though they may not realize it, teachers have already learned a great deal about organizing – through their work as teachers.

Philly teachers – the kind of troublemakers who built teachers unions

Image        I have a long-time  friend who recalls how, as a young teacher, she came to  her Brooklyn school on November 7, 1960  to walk the picket line. She was terrified at breaking the law and was only one of a very few teachers in her school to strike. Fearful but also committed, she held hands with a gal pal for mutual support.

Teachers unions, police, and the real 'new civil rights movement'

            ImageWhen Rudy Giuliani blamed the deaths of unarmed Black men on teachers unions in appearances on Geraldo Rivera’s show and Fox News’ “Hannity,” Giuliani relied on the same logic that Rod Paige, Secretary of Education, employed in Read more ›

“But my union president won’t let me…”


A love supreme: What's inspiring teachers' resistance to the destruction of public schools


After you win the union election, what next?



What happens after a social movement/social justice reform caucus wins the union leadership? As we see more victories, we need to consider what changes and why. I was delighted to open a panel that began the convention of CORE, the now-leadership caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union. I think CORE faces some new challenges, which I briefly describe in my remarks.

A snapshot you won't see in the media


Teachers in British Colombia are on strike and deserve our help



Labor Day and the right to be lazy – at all ages

                     This Labor Day, let’s celebrate “the right to be lazy.” Let’s play, dream, and imagine what a world without alienated labor would be.

Interview with Sam Gindin on 'The Making of Global Capitalism'

         Sam Gindin, former Research Director of the Canadian Auto Workers union and co-author with Leo Panitch of “The making of global capitalism” graciously agreed to answer questions from NP board members about his book when he and I participated in a conference at the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

An open letter to Frank Bruni about tenure for NYC teachers

Dear Frank Bruni,

            I enjoyed your restaurant reviews in the NY Times. Reading your descriptions of the food and ambience allowed me to experience vicariously many restaurants. We seem to have a similar sensibility — about food.  You seemed not to allow  restaurant publicity and PR to influence your ratings or judgment, maybe because you know good food and the restaurant business thoroughly enough so that you could see through hype.

Fireworks in both US teachers unions

            Both US teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), held their national conventions in July. For the first time in decades the conventions were marked by challenges to union leaders on educational policies, including union approval of the Common Core and union leader's unwillingness to take on the Obama administration and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.

The Teachers’ Trifecta

Democracy, Social Justice, Mobilization

ImageAcross the United States, we are in the midst of a great struggle over the nation’s education system. On one side is a bipartisan effort to privatize schools and undermine the promise of public education. Opposing that effort are large numbers of parents and teachers. 

Understanding the attack on teacher tenure – Guest blog by Doug Mann

Guest blog: This week I have a commentary by a reader. Doug Mann provides background about the issue of tenure for teachers in Minneapolis. His analysis, identifying how the Right has pushed this issue and why systemic racism has to be named in defending teachers’ rights to due process, applies in most respects to other urban school districts.  Doug is the Green Party candidate for Minneapolis School Board, citywide, and an education activist.


Explaining the defeat of tenure and teachers unions in Vergara

Tenure and teacher unions suffered a defeat this week when a California court ruled in the Vergara case that the state's law giving teachers tenure violated California's constitution.  I've blogged about why the claims in Vergara were manufactured to pit students against teachers.

Reimagining and remaking union solidarity

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) hosted a conference on global education “reform” May 24, bringing together NUT activists with union leaders and scholars from the global south and north. My blog this week adapts my presentation, which along with papers from others (all quite informative) will be published on the Research Collaborative of

Hats off to Philly's Caucus of Working Educators (CWE)

  ImageThis brief story about the Philly TAG (Teacher Activist Group) conference suggests what was special about the occasion but it misses what was the most salient political feature of the conclave.  Philly teachers who are committed to social justice have formed a caucus in their union, an AFT l

New faces and base-building

           Image In studying urban teacher preparation (the hat I wear professionally when I’m not thinking about teacher unionism), I examine how school practices and organization influence teachers and students.  To understand what goes on inside classrooms we have to look at the welter of powerful influences within schools and outside their walls.  Blaming “teacher quality” f

Teacher Appreciation Week: How to #thankateacher

            This is “Teacher Appreciation Week.”  Should we mark the occasion? How? Why?