DEVELOPING AND SUSTAINING MUTUALLY RESPECTFUL ALLIANCES BETWEEN SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVISTS IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND TRANSFORMED TEACHERS UNIONS
Currently teachers unions and education activists in communities of color in cities are often at odds about reforms that are enacted in the name of equalizing educational opportunity. Yet, each group has resources the other lacks and they share many common aims. Working together they might achieve considerably more than either can alone, especially if differences of tactics or substance turn them into foes rather than allies. This first Brief of the Urban Education and Teacher Unionism Policy Project explains the Policy Project’s mission: supporting activists working to improve schools for poor youth of color to benefit from working with transformed teachers unions as allies and supporting teachers unions to develop mutually respectful alliances with school and community activists from historically marginalized groups struggling for social justice and equality. The Policy Project bases its work on the assumption that creating and sustaining these alliances requires that teachers unions change how they operate and conceive of what it means to defend their members’ interests and all parties grapple with the differing and sometimes contradictory pressures on social justice groups and unions. Lois Weiner, Director of the Policy Project, explains the Project’s aims and purpose and how Briefs can further those objectives. Sally Lee, Executive Director of Teachers Unite, a grassroots membership organization of teachers working to end the school to prison pipeline and democratize New York City, comments about the challenges for activists who work with teachers unions, suggesting how the Policy Project and Briefs can be of use. The Brief ends with a short bibliography of materials that inform the Policy Project’s unique mission and vision.