Monday, May 9, 2016

Lois Weiner on MORE and A May Day Message to Teachers - On the Front Lines of a War on Public Education

We need to transform the UFT so that it defends all kids' rights to a humane school environment, public education's democratic responsibilities, the dignity of teachers' work and our profession, democracy in our union. My vote is going to MORE.... Lois Weiner, New Politics
I've had this lingering for a few weeks so here is some reading on a rainy Sunday.

Good news from Lois Weiner on her support for MORE.
Lois made the remarks below at NYU recently on a panel with Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelson Garcia. I bet steam was coming out of Randi's ears. Maybe Lily's too as all they had to offer in the battle for public ed was buying Pierson stock.

A few excerpts from Lois' remarks - there was video including Randi but it is not up yet:
My current research is with and about teacher activists who are building social movement unions, primarily by creating reform caucuses within the existing union structure. The caucuses are the embryos of a new kind of teacher unionism committed to social justice; mobilization of union members with community allies as respectful partners; and thorough-going union democracy, beginning at the school level. Collaborations between social justice activists, academics, and teachers unions are extraordinarily important today. When we say teachers are on the “front lines” we imply they are at war.  In my remarks I will try to clarify what the forces are in this war and what is at stake, posing three challenges for us.... 
While privatization is an aspect of the neoliberal project in education as many speakers have noted, in fact education is being transformed by policies that cannot be separated from a more fundamental drive: to make all human activity, including intellectual and artistic work, subject to what is called the discipline of the market, but is, in fact, the control of powerful elites who manage capitalism and are using the state to extract profit from what is viewed as an  untapped source....

We need to stand unequivocally against educational policies that give business access to services provided in public education, whether it is teacher evaluation, professional development, or school management. Moreover, the public sector has to be overseen through democratic means. Operationally this means protecting or creating elected local school authorities. It means insisting that capitalist elites and the politicians in their thrall do not have the right to dictate terms of educational policy to communities or nations as an ostensible quid pro quo for loans and financial assistance....

Feeling disempowered and alienated from vehicles for resistance, some teachers identify students and parents as their adversaries. This occurs especially in schools that are under-resourced and repressive, where students and parents lack formal education and are members of communities that have been historically oppressed. Teachers are human and are not immune to toxic social prejudices and bigotry. As we see all over the world, those who are economically oppressed often turn against those who are equally or more oppressed. Rage obscures the more distant political and economic forces that create and maintain economic dislocation...
There are areas where I disagree with Lois' analysis about growing an opposition and the role a social justice caucus - she often refers to this as an SJ Movement - plays out in this scenario. But I'll get to that another time.

Her Full piece at: 
http://newpol.org/content/may-day-message-teachers-front-lines-war-public-education

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