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Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity

“Brilliant political analysis." – The Nation

The Chicago Teachers Union strike was the most important domestic labor struggle so far this century—and perhaps for the last forty years—and the strongest challenge to the conservative agenda for restructuring education, which advocates for more charter schools and tying teacher salaries to standardized testing, among other changes.

The teachers took on the bipartisan, free market school reform agenda that is currently exacerbating inequality in education and waging war on teachers' livelihoods. In the age of austerity, when the public sector is under attack, Chicago teachers fought back—and won.

The strike was years in the making. Chicago teachers spent a long time building a grassroots movement to educate and organize the entire union membership. They stood up against hostile mayors, billionaire-backed reformers out to destroy unions, and even their own intransigent union leadership, to take militant action. The Chicago protest has become a model for how reforms to the school system can be led by teachers and communities. It offers inspiration for workers looking to create democratic, fighting unions. Strike for America is the story of this movement and how it triumphed in the defining struggle for workers today.

Reviews

  • “Brilliant political analysis.”
  • “A finely bound pamphlet and a piece of old-fashioned socialist pedagogy, written in a modern, accessible style.”
  • “Indefatigable reporting and elegant writing backed by an erudite command of the relevant history, and by precious on-the-ground experience as an organizer. Uetricht’s first book establishes him as the most exciting young labor writer today.”
  • “A short, accessible guide to one of the most important and inspiring events of our time.”
  • “A wonderfully readable, smart account of the CTU’s transformation into a democratic, militant union that with its community partners took on Chicago and the nation’s power elite.”
  • “An indispensable account of a strike that was badly misconstrued and underreported by the mainstream media. Uetricht not only tells the story lucidly, but explains why the struggle of teachers in Chicago should matter to all of us.”
  • “A read to sustain all of us who continue to fight for the next victory for education justice and for those who want a vision to fight for.”
  • “In this pithy and accessible book the author provides a passionate, well-researched and highly engaging account of the 2012 Chicago teachers strike.”

Blog

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    In this latest post, Nina Power suggests ways that we can improve our universities, Malia Bouattia on why we need a complete transformation of our society’s approach to education, and Adam Elliott-Cooper examines universities as neocolonial spaces.

    See also: Professor Akwugo Emejulu's essay on the exclusionary relations at the institutional core of our universities.

    Part 1 of this round-up was published yesterday.


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  • The Future of our Universities: Part 1

    Our universities are at breaking point. Governments have systematically imposed new procedures regulating funding, governance, and assessment, forcing them to behave more like business enterprises in a commercial marketplace than centres of learning. This week on the Verso blog, writers respond to Speaking of Universities, Stefan Collini's cogent analysis of the marketisation of higher education. Speaking of Universities is 40% off until April 2.

    In this post, William Davies, Emma Dowling and Matt Mahon look at tuition fees, care work in the university, and supporting outsourced workers. See also: Professor Akwugo Emejulu's essay on the exclusionary relations at the institutional core of our universities.


    Part 2 of this round-up will follow tomorrow.

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    For our first piece, Professor Akwugo Emejulu argues that when we speak of universities we must speak of the exclusionary relations at their institutional core: "Universities are contradictory spaces. They govern knowledge through hierarchies of control whilst simultaneously providing temporary and contingent spaces to think within and beyond themselves. When speaking of universities, it is imperative that we do not attempt to silence the realities of power that regulate what is legitimate to be known."


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