Public Education | Participatory Democracy: After Neoliberalism

Teacher Unions

In Chicago, the school board is appointed by the mayor and the teachers union adopted an unprecedented organizing structure: building alliances with communities that cross racial and class divisions, ceasing donations to political campaigns, and demanding better resources and learning conditions for students during educator contract negotiations. In New York the mayor also appoints the school board, communities are organizing although not in citywide coalitions, and the teachers union maintains a more typical posture. While organizing in Texas has gained national attention, efforts in Texas are more recent occurrences, collective union action on the part of educators is limited given state law, and school boards are elected.

Chicago and New York school districts both have strong teachers unions, while the Metroplex (Texas in general) does not. The Chicago Union functioning under a CORE change in leadership, structure, and function that builds and draws upon the power of unified teachers, clinicians, paraprofessionals, parents, and grassroots community organizations, diverted funds and efforts to organizing within the union and the community transforming into a social justice organizing union. Chicago also has a culture of union support. While a challenging MORE body of union members has formed in New York, the establishment appears to be strong enough to withstand the challenge and continue business as usual as a service, business model union. Unions do not come into play in the Metroplex, thus educators and school personnel do not have the organizing protections unions can offer. Texas as an at-will state, enjoys little support of unions. 

School Boards of Education in both Chicago and New York are appointed by the cities’ mayors, a change that was made (DATE and PROCESS). The boards function at the pleasure and discretion of the mayor and seem immune from accountability to the the citizenry and tax payers. STATE SCHOOL BOARDS? In the Metroplex, SBOE are elected with in the specific municipalities as well as the state.

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