Category: Education

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.

Trump’s Victory: What American Federation of Teachers President Weingarten should say

ImageRandi Weingarten, who engineered the 1.6 million member union’s early endorsement of Hillary Clinton has issued a statement about the election, lamenting that voters chose to believe Trump about economic insecurity, rather than hearing the identical message, sent by Clinton and unions.

The Mexican Teachers' Long Struggle for Education, Workers Rights, and Democracy

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The last few years of repeated strikes and demonstrations by the teachers of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and the government’s violent repression of these protests–including forced diseappearance of students, massacres of supporters, and assassinations of individual teachers–has led to interest in the background of the teachers’ movement. The following article is meant to provide a long historical overview of the Mexican teachers’ movement, together with a bibliography for further reading.

Why Mexico's teachers are fighting: CNTE's program

An activist/scholar in the Mexican teachers union democratic opposition (CNTE) has asked me to publicize this statement (copied below).  It explains the demands the movement is making on the government and fleshes out the short but excellent update on The Real News about the struggle.  As this statement shows, CNTE and its supporters  are struggling about far more than their jobs.

Mexico's teachers face more repression, win more support

Support for resistance to the current model of education reform in México continues to grow after the Mexican Secretary of the Interior, , to Oaxacan protesters and members of Section 22 of SNTE, urging them to stop their blockade of highways.

BLOODY JUNE: MEXICAN GOVERNMENT KILLS 9, WOUNDS MANY IN BATTLE WITH TEACHERS

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The Mexican Federal Police and Oaxaca State Police killed nine people and wounded more than one hundred others, while dozens more were beaten and yet others were arrested and jailed in what has been the most violent and bloody attack on teachers and their supporters in Oaxaca since the tremendous upheaval of 2006. Several teachers leaders have also been arrested and jailed on a variety of charges; warrants have also been issued for others.

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