Category: Education

LA Strike: Self-Mobilization of Workers and Communities

In January 2019, a massive strike of over 30,000 public school teachers stunned the Los Angeles power structure when it received massive, almost unanimous public support, especially in the city’s large Latinx and Black communities.  Latinx students now make up . . .

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Why New York City’s teachers should vote “no” on the proposed contract – By Dan Lupkin

ImageNote: While teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, members of the largest teachers union local in the US, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City, are debating a proposed contract settlement. In this guest blog, UFT activist Dan Lupkin explains why he wants the proposed contract to be voted down. We invite other opinions on this debate underway in the UFT. – Lois Weiner

Liberal fear about teaching a "people's history": Sam Wineburg on Howard Zinn

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The Zinn Education Project has published a fine response to an article based on Sam Wineburg’s book, “Howard Zinn’s Anti-Textbook.”

Clever Corporate Criticism of U.S. Schools – by Gerald Coles

ImageNote: In this guest blog, Gerald Coles, known for his work in literacy education and disabilities, describes capitalism's love/hate relationship with public education.

Return of the Strike: The Teachers Rebellion in the United States: A Forum

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A Forum on the Teachers Rebellion in the United States with Tithi Bhattacharya, Eric Blanc, Kate Doyle Griffiths, Lois Weiner. Edited and introduced by Jeffery R. Webber

Few anticipated a labour upsurge in the United States in early 2018, and fewer still expected a blaze to ignite among teachers in West Virginia, or for it to spread to Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado. Ellen David Friedman poses one of the questions which immediately springs to mind: “why is this stunning revolt occurring where unions are weak, where labor rights are thin, and where popular politics are considered to be on the Right?”[1]

Walkouts Teach U.S. Labor a New Grammar for Struggle

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Like the Arab Spring, the U.S. “Education Spring” was an explosive wave of protests. Statewide teacher walkouts seemed to arise out of nowhere, organized through Facebook groups, with demands for increased school funding and political voice for teachers. Though the walkouts confounded national media outlets, which had little idea how to explain or report on the movements, for parent and teacher activists who have been organizing against reforms in public education over the past four decades, the protests were understandable, if unexpected. What was surprising was their breadth of support (statewide), their organizing strategy (Facebook), and their breathtakingly rapid spread.

The AFT, Janus, and the fall of the Berlin Wall

Reflections on AFT's national convention

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Reflecting on the days I spent as a delegate during the AFT national convention in Pittsburgh (held July 13-16), I was reminded of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet Communism in 1989-90. No one predicted it, and it seemed to come out of nowhere. But peace activists in the West who organized international support for struggles of dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe saw the social ferment.

Walkouts teach U.S. labor a new grammar for struggle

This article will appear in the Summer 2018 issue of New Politics.         

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The Red State Walkouts

An analysis - and homage - to the work of teachers

 ImageWhen I write for New Politics, I tag my blogs with key words. I wonder how many other Left publications include "teachers unions" under "labor" or include "education" as a separate topic and run critical analyses—as we do?

Teacher walkouts in Oklahoma and Kentucky challenge GOP legislatures

Kentucky school districts shut todayTeachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky massed in their respective state capitols on April 2, to demand GOP legislatures revoke  bills damaging to education passed in virtual stealth. The spark plug in Kentucky is a group of activist parents with teachers, #SaveOurSchools Kentucky.  In both states the movement has been organized outside the official teachers unions, using social media as well as traditional organizing techniques of talking with colleagues and neighbors about the issues. Another struggle of teachers is simmering, near boil, in Arizona.

50 Years After 1968: Student Strikers Attacked Again

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Not an April Fool’s joke. Here are the facts: Four days ago (March 29) the ultra-conservative Dean of the Montpellier University Law School was summoned to police headquarters, interrogated, hauled into court, and held over in jail for arraignment by the Chief Prosecutor – all on the complaint of nine student strikers, who claim to have been brutally assaulted with Dean Philippe Pétel’s active complicity while ‘occupying’ a school auditorium.

These Teachers Refuse to Be Weaponized

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The call to “arm the teachers” started as another stink bomb President Donald Trump lobbed into the crowd at a conservative rally. But somehow, the concept cycled through the 24-hour news loop and, within a few hours, became a ubiquitous meme. Now, the morally repugnant idea of gun-toting teachers in America’s schools has taken center stage in the nation’s macabre debate on gun safety.

West Virginia’s strike is no “wildcat”

Getting the language right

National City, CA teachers, in a contract fight themselves, show solidarity

National City, CA teachers, in a contract fight themselves, show solidarity

           

West Virginia's school employees teach US labor a huge lesson

ImageAs the AFL-CIO holds its day of action across the US, protesting what has been cast as a likely loss in the Janus case, which the Right intends to use to destroy labor and the Left, a movement of school employees in West Virginia is showing organized labor what it means to be a union without the right to strike and without collective bargaining.

UFT shows how Not to protect unions and the public sector

ImageIn its January meeting, after a pro-forma discussion, the Delegate Assembly of the UFT (United Federation of Teachers), which still has the legal right to bargain collectively on behalf of New York City's teachers, voted down a resolution to work with community groups to support Black Lives Matter in the schools in February. LeRoy Barr, UFT's assistant secretary, co-staff director, and Chairperson of the Unity Caucus, gave the UFT leadership's rationale for rejecting the motion. Support for BLM was, he contended, a splinter issue, divisive, at a time when the union had to stay focused on what was key, the Janus decision and the threat to collective bargaining rights.

Standing in Solidarity with Sarah Chambers

A Teacher Who Stands Up For Kids

Sarah Chambers is an award winning special education teacher in Chicago’s Saucedo Academy. Sarah is a local leader a national figure in the fight to defend and transform public education against the corporate education reform attack. She is a relentless advocate for special education students and LGBTQ students. Sarah is a published author, organizer, and speaker on issues of education reform and social justice.

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A Teacher Who's Dangerous – To Chicago's Power Elite

ImageDuring the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) spring break, Sarah Chambers, beloved to her special needs students, well-known (to staff and parents of her school), notorious (to CPS labor relations officials), received a letter saying she was suspended and had to stay away from the school.  Though Sarah was an early member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) that is now the CTU’s elected leadership,  she remained a teacher of special needs kids who represents her school in the House of Delegates and serves on the union’s Executive Board.

We Are No Longer Scared: Non-Tenure Track Faculty at the University of Puerto Rico

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The situation at the University of Puerto Rico is framed within a context of a 10-year economic depression and unsustainable debt crisis, which was meant to be remedied by the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight Management Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), signed by President Obama, and its federal Fiscal Control Board (Junta de Control Fiscal, the word Junta in Spanish is politically charged). Similar to what was presented at the conference this weekend regarding Greece, South Africa and Mexico, the public university became, throughout the second half of the twentieth century, a vehicle by which many people have escaped poverty.

Public Education and Teachers Unions at a Crossroads

Public education is truly at a crossroads in the US, as are both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). 

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Accreditation struggle at City College of San Francisco – Guest blog by Rick Baum

 In this guest blog, Rick Baum, who  teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco and is a member of AFT 2121, reports on the struggle over accreditation and the continued attempts to destroy the institution.

For liberals, inconvenient truths about Democrats and unions

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What makes Nikhil Goyal’s analysis of the dangers in Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education so useful, beyond its incisive discussion of education reform, is that it captures the essence of the conundrum liberals face about fighting Trump on his Achilles heel: the grip the wealthy and powerful have on government which he will tighten.

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