Monday, July 3, 2017

What can turn the teachers' union around? | SocialistWorker.org

What can turn the teachers' union around? | SocialistWorker.org:

What can turn the teachers' union around?

Michael Mochaidean, a public school teacher in West Virginia, provides his view on the direction for the union after its strategy for the 2016 elections failed completely.

Public school teachers rally against "right to work" legislation in West Virginia (West Virginia Education Association | Facebook)
Public school teachers rally against "right to work" legislation in West Virginia (West Virginia Education Association | Facebook)
CAN LEFT-wing politics and action save conservative unions from themselves?
This April, the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), met in West Virginia's capital for its annual delegate assembly.
Nominally, the NEA is a progressive education union whose mission is "to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world," according to the NEA's website.
Similarly to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of the chief means by which the NEA pursues these goals politically is by courting Democratic candidates whom they believe will advocate for teachers in their state. That strategy has proven to be ineffective, particularly in the current right-wing political climate--and in a state that has tipped more and more to the right along with mainstream politics.
West Virginia acts as a stand-in for all things Appalachian in our national consciousness--rural, exclusively white, poor, bigoted and isolated. To some extent, these caricatures tell us more about the liberal observer than the reality of life in the state.
Upon further analysis, it becomes clear that West Virginian interests and attitudes aren't monolithic. The stereotypes and even the statewide surveys of public opinion miss the critical junctures of a population that historically has been active politically, including around the most left wing of ideals.
It's politically unwise to neglect the state's history of solidarity and struggle, something that WVEA members have learned the hard way.
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A SENSE of paternalism loomed over the 2016 Delegate Assembly, its 150th such gathering.
Dale Lee, president of the WVEA, opened the 2016 assembly with optimism at the What can turn the teachers' union around? | SocialistWorker.org:

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