Education reform and unions.

Author:Vogt, Leonard
Position:News for Educational Workers

In "When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto" ( August 13, 2013), Henry A. Giroux warns that if right wing billionaires hungry for even more corporate power continue to have an influence on education reform, public schools will become "dead zones of imagination" which threaten critical thinking, literacy, and historical memory, as well as deskill teachers and create punishment centers for low-income and poor minority students.

"Reclaim School Reform," an editorial in The Nation (December 23/30, 2013), describes a new coalition of teachers and their unions, along with parent, student , community and religious groups, which undertakes to reclaim "the promise of public education as our nation's gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice." Inspired by the Chicago Teachers Union strike of 2012, when parents and teachers fought against school closures, this new coalition is backed by such divergent groups as the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Philadelphia Student Union, and the Boston Youth Organizing Project.

Aside from group activism encouraging school reform, individual activists are successfully standing up against school closures, defunding, and high-stakes testing. After the Philadelphia School District threatened to cut almost $300 million from the schools and lay off 19 percent of the school system's workforce, a group of parents and laid-off school workers went on a 15-day fast which ended with a partial victory of the refunding of $140 million back to the school district. Activism over school...

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