Rethinking Schools: Chicago points the way for a new teacher unionism.


The editors of Rethinking Schools draw lessons for the teacher union movement from the recent events in Chicago.

Some people describe this new unionism as an organizing model. Others call it “social justice unionism” or “social movement unionism.” Regardless, the Chicago teachers demonstrated its main features:

  • Unapologetically defend wages and working conditions of public school educators. Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.

  • Stand up for students, the teaching profession, and an equal and nurturing education that embraces the whole child.

  • Defend public education—the only educational institution in our communities that has the capacity, commitment, and legal obligation to serve all children.

  • Forge alliances with parents and community organizations to work for better schools and for social justice in the entire community.

  • Build democratic union structures that encourage members to be organizers and active participants.

In cities around the country, teachers and other education activists are strategizing how the lessons from Chicago’s strike can be applied to their specific situations. It is time to use the energy and lessons from Wisconsin and Chicago to refocus the national narrative on education, to strengthen and transform our unions, and to broaden the fight for quality education for all.

3 thoughts on “Rethinking Schools: Chicago points the way for a new teacher unionism.

  1. SO the pendulum swings in the opposite direction of the Bob Chase ideology that paved the way for nearly two decades of reduction of wages, benefits and not to mention, countless measures of “ed-reforms” that did serious damage to the learning environment of our students. We only have our out of touch with the rank-and-file union leaders to blame, as we in the classroom have known from the beginning the difference between what is good and what is bad.

  2. I said on another blog today that Chicago and Karen Lewis are the boiler plate we all need to emulate. Fact is it can be done. While we may not clone her I think teachers everywhere know someone who possesses her strength, intelligence and fight. We need to stop vetting whooped by dopes with bankrolls and slimy politicians. Now that we have seen it done it’s high time we export the CTU methods around the country.

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