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The Biggest Organizing Wave You Never Heard Of

Nobody would pick the U.S. state of Virginia to be a trade union organizing hotspot. But that’s what increasingly is happening, despite the fact that many of the unions and certainly the national AFL-CIO are oblivious to it.  Richmond the state capital was once the capital of the Confederacy, and Virginia is in many ways the ideological and historical home of U.S. segregationist and anti-union bigotry. Virginia is seeing a significant and remarkable expansion of its small but wily labor movement. In a labor movement urgently in need of new union organizing experimentation it would certainly be of value to consider the situation in Virginia as one guide to expanded organizing work across the South.

An Eco-Socialist Education Agenda

Our education system is a mess. The reason is obvious: it’s being eroded by capitalism. This erosion takes many forms, from the privatization of schooling itself to altering curricula to meet the demands of employers to undermining the state’s capacity to deliver universal public education, and so on. It’s one of many ways that capitalism shreds our social fabric, keeping us in a constant state of crisis and anxiety. For the same reason, there is also a great dearth of education for adults and the elderly. Instead of a lifetime of learning and enrichment, adults are lucky to get job re-training after a layoff and the elderly might get to learn a new card game after being shipped off to the old people warehouse.

Insurgent Slate Wins UFT Retiree Chapter Election

In a significant setback to the union’s leadership, former educators with the Retiree Advocate caucus of the United Federation of Teachers have ousted the incumbent Unity slate. In balloting for leadership of the union’s Retired Teachers chapter, the Retiree Advocate slate received 17,226 votes, or 63 percent of the total, while Unity, which is aligned with UFT President Michael Mulgrew, got 10,114 votes, according to unofficial results. Members of the Retiree Advocate had campaigned in opposition to the city’s efforts to switch retired city workers to a Medicare Advantage plan from their traditional Medicare. The plan is backed by the Municipal Labor Committee, of which Mulgrew is the executive vice-chair.

Indigenized Education: Reclaiming Language, Culture And Land

When you walk through the doors of the Oceti Sakowin Community Academy (OSCA), you are greeted as a relative. The school opened its doors to kindergarten students in the fall of 2022. It is the first of its kind, built on a foundation of Lakota language, culture, and philosophy. Everything that students learn – math, reading, writing – is taught through and with the traditional language of the Oceti Sakowin, giving its students an education that centers their identities. OSCA was developed over several years by tribal and community leaders, educators, students, and parents. The basis for the school is to address the need for culturally relevant curriculum, language and culture revitalization.

Big Union Win In Virginia Schools Where Bargaining Is Suddenly Legal

Education unions just won a massive victory in the fight to bring collective bargaining rights to Virginia’s public sector. Workers at the Fairfax County Public Schools voted this week to unionize, creating a wall-to-wall union of 27,500 teachers, custodians, teaching assistants, bus drivers, and more. The new bargaining unit is one of the largest K-12 unions on the East Coast, according to the National Education Association. Fairfax County is in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., and the Fairfax County school district is by far the largest in the state. But many teachers, especially newer ones, live outside Fairfax County because housing there is too expensive. And “a lot of custodians do two or three jobs just to provide for their families,” said Ernesto Escalante, a building supervisor at Crestwood Elementary and an activist in the union drive.

27,000 Virginia Education Workers Win Union Recognition

Around 14,000 teachers and 13,000 support staff will now be represented by an alliance of the Fairfax County locals of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). This win increases union density in Virginia by at least 15%, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The election victories were for the two bargaining units within the FEU: the Licensed Instructional Unit, covering all workers requiring a license, such as teachers, counselors, social workers, psychologists, librarians, and speech language pathologists; and the Operational Unit for workers such as various kinds of assistants, cafeteria workers, custodians, transportation workers, and front office staff.

Every Single Day, Biden Chooses To Continue Funding Genocide

A dozen Debt Collective members were arrested when a coalition of students, debtors and cease-fire activists gathered recently in Washington, D.C. with a simple demand: ​“Fund Education, Not Genocide.” Pointing to the Biden administration’s use of executive powers to approve millions of dollars in arms shipments to Israel — and his refusal to use that same authority to advance student debt relief — Debt Collective organizers marched from the Department of Education to the Capitol to make their voices heard. Democratic Congresswomen Cori Bush (D-MO) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) addressed the crowd, urging attendees to keep the pressure on the Biden administration. ​

Chicano Students Walkout For Principal To Get Job Back

Los Angeles, CA – On the morning of May 28, over 100 Chicano students at Mendez High School walked out of their classes. Students were demanding that their school principal Mauro Bautista be brought back after mysteriously being removed for more than a month now from the school. Starting at 9 a.m., the students walked out of their classes and marched along the front of the school, holding a banner that read, “Free Jefe!” After the march and coming back to school premises, the students refused to return to classes and staged a sit-in, where organizers read their demands and made speeches. Their demands were clear

Educators Celebrate As Judge Strikes Down ‘Banned Concepts’ Law

Education and free speech advocates cheered Tuesday's federal court ruling striking down New Hampshire's classroom censorship law, one of several so-called "white discomfort" bills passed in Republican-controlled states in recent years. U.S. District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro's 50-page ruling says that the New England state's so-called "banned concepts" law is "unconstitutionally vague" and contains "viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that do not provide either fair warning to educators of what they prohibit or sufficient standards for law enforcement to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement."

How An Alabama Town Staved Off School Resegregation

I recently traveled to rural Wilcox County, in Alabama’s Black Belt, to understand the origins of the local “segregation academy” and how it still divides the broader community. It was the first story in our series about segregation academies, private schools that opened across the Deep South after the U.S Supreme Court released its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. White Southerners opened hundreds — perhaps thousands — of these schools, which allowed white children to flee just as Black children arrived in the public schools. Now, 70 years later, ProPublica has found that hundreds of these academies still operate. Where they do, schools often remain segregated — and as a result, so do entire communities.

As Brown Vs Board Of Education Turns 70, Fight Against Segregation Not Over

In 1954, the landmark decision by the Supreme Court, Brown versus the Board of Education, established that the segregation of students based on race was no longer legal. Seventy years later, schools remain highly segregated and the education system is becoming more unequal. Clearing the FOG speaks with Jennifer Berkshire, a licensed school teacher, journalist and author of the new book, "The Education War: A Citizen's Guide and Defense Manual," about the forces behind the defunding and privatization of education in the United States. Berkshire describes nontraditional coalitions that are forming at the state level to stop voucher programs. Some are having success. She also explains how rightwing ideology has infected Democrats and liberals in this struggle.

Missing Links In Textbook History: Opposition To War

The inescapable fact is that war has dominated much of U.S. history. According to Freakonometrics–statistician Arthur Charpentier, the United States has been at war 93% of the years since 1776. Nevertheless, as I have noted elsewhere, most of those wars are ignored by both textbooks and media. Informed by experience as a teacher, I’m convinced that students need to study at least the most significant American wars. They need to study why and how those wars were fought, the debates that occurred at the time and why some supported war while others opposed it. Unfortunately, when a war is included in history textbooks or discussed in classes, opposition to that war is generally ignored or misrepresented.

70 Years After Brown, Too Many US Schools Remain Hypersegregated

I was 21 when I started teaching at Hope-Hill Elementary School in Atlanta. I had big dreams and bold ideas — some held, others fettered as the toll of teaching in majority Black schools suffering from resource deprivation took hold. My first year was complicated by the fact that C.W. Hill Elementary closed, or merged with John Hope Elementary, depending on whom you ask. And in an effort to make the devastating change more palatable, John Hope Elementary School became Hope-Hill Elementary School. This was my introduction to austerity measures, or the practices in school districts that justified slashing resources, slimming budgets, and closing schools, which are often in working-class Black communities.

Segregation Academies Still Operate Across The South

A mile of Alabama country road, and a history of racism, separate the two schools. At the stop sign between them, even the road’s name changes. Threadgill Road, christened for a civil rights hero, becomes Whiskey Run. Black students take Threadgill to one campus; white students turn off Whiskey Run toward the other. Both schools are shrinking. Wilcox County, a notch in the swath of old plantation country known as the Black Belt, struggles with declining population — a common scenario across this part of the South. In such places, the existence of two separate school systems can isolate entire communities by race.

Occidental College Undergrad Workers Join Campus Labor Movement

Los Angeles - Occidental College, one of the first liberal arts colleges established in California, presents a portrait of the idyllic all-American collegiate experience that many folks dream about. The small, well-planned campus features a distinctive Beaux-Arts design to its buildings and a tree-lined quad that have been featured in dozens of TV shows and movies over the decades, including Beverly Hills 90210, Clueless, and Jurassic Park III. Just under 2,000 full-time students were officially enrolled at the college in Fall 2022, and it remains one of the few colleges nationwide that focus exclusively on undergraduate education.
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