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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Teachers’ Unions Are Demanding Police-Free Schools

Teachers’ Unions Are Demanding Police-Free Schools

Teachers’ Unions Are Demanding Police-Free Schools

A major lesson from the recent teachers’ strike wave was the necessity for unions to bargain for the common good of the entire working class. By joining the nationwide protests against police brutality and demanding police-free schools, teachers’ unions have taken that lesson to heart.

It’s been three weeks since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Protests continue in cities, suburbs, and even small towns all over the United States.

The sheer volume of political activity makes it hard to focus on any particular development. But there’s something important happening right under our noses that has received far too little attention outside of disconnected local media stories. Across the country, teachers’ unions are stepping up to demand police-free schools.
The union-led police-free schools movement represents a welcome development in the labor movement more broadly. For decades, many unionists have argued that it’s critical to connect the bread-and-butter demands of union members to issues affecting other members of the working class. The Red for Ed teachers’ strike wave was the best sign yet that this orientation was gaining renewed popularity in the labor movement.
Now, emboldened by the strike wave and feeling their power, teachers’ unions are broadening their horizons further than at any time in recent history as they take advantage of this moment to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.

Bargaining for the Common Good

In February of 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released a forty-six-page white paper called “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve.” In it, they proposed a new vision for Chicago public education: better staffing, smaller class sizes, better facilities, a less testing-oriented curriculum, and more nurses and counselors. The paper proposed these reforms be funded through progressive taxation. The first sentence of the paper read: “Every student in CPS deserves to have the same quality education as the children of the wealthy.”
The report provided the backdrop for the 2012 CTU strike, which took place later that year. And it also represented a major development in the politics of teachers’ unions: by negotiating for many of the CONTINUE READING: Teachers’ Unions Are Demanding Police-Free Schools