Essential Reading

If you are looking to get more informed on public education, labor, and the intersection of the two, check out the following things to read…


NYC Educator


Ed Notes Online

Gadfly on the Wall Blog

Diane Ravitch’s Blog

Mercedes Schneider’s Edublog

Jersey Jazzman

Living in Dialogue


  • Strike Back, by Joe Burns
    • (via Goodreads) During the 1960s and 1970s, teachers, sanitation workers and many other public employees rose up to demand collective bargaining rights in one of the greatest upsurges in labor history. These workers were able to transform the nature of public employment, winning union recognition for millions and ultimately forcing reluctant politicians to pass laws allowing for collective bargaining and even the right to strike. Strike Back uncovers this history of militancy to provide tactics for a new generation of public employees facing unprecedented attacks on their labor rights.
  • Secrets of a Successful Organizer, by Alexandra Bradbury, Mark Brenner, and Jane Slaughter
    • (via Goodreads) Are there problems where you work? Maybe your pay is too low, conditions are unsafe, or your boss has it in for someone you work with… and you’re ready to do something about it.This book will show you how to fight back where you work and win. You’ll learn how to identify the key issues in your workplace, build campaigns to tackle them, anticipate management’s tricks and traps, and inspire your co-workers to stand together despite their fears. It’s a step-by-step guide to building power on the job.
  • Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity, by Micah Uetricht
    • (via Goodreads) The Chicago Teachers Union strike was the most important domestic labor struggle so far this century—and perhaps for the last forty years—and the strongest challenge to the conservative agenda for restructuring education, which advocates for more charter schools and tying teacher salaries to standardized testing, among other changes.In 2012, Chicago teachers built a grassroots movement through education and engagement of an entire union membership, taking militant action in the face of enormous structural barriers and a hostile Democratic Party leadership. The teachers won massive concessions from the city and have become a new model for school reform led by teachers themselves, rather than by billionaires. Strike for America is the story of this movement, and how it has become the defining struggle for the labor movement today.
  • How to Jump-Start Your Union, by Mark Brenner, Jenny Brown, Jane Slaughter, Samantha Winslow, Alexandra Bradbury
    • (via Goodreads) How to Jump-Start Your Union tells how activists in the Chicago Teachers Union transformed their union and gave members hope. Readers will learn how to run for office, work with their communities, build stewards networks, train new leaders, run a contract campaign, and strike.
  • The Strike that Changed New York, by Jerald Podair
    • (via Goodreads) On May 9, 1968, junior high school teacher Fred Nauman received a letter that would change the history of New York City. It informed him that he had been fired from his job. Eighteen other educators in the Ocean Hill–Brownsville area of Brooklyn received similar letters that day. The dismissed educators were white. The local school board that fired them was predominantly African-American. The crisis that the firings provoked became the most racially divisive moment in the city in more than a century, sparking three teachers’ strikes and increasingly angry confrontations between black and white New Yorkers at bargaining tables, on picket lines, and in the streets.This superb book revisits the Ocean Hill–Brownsville crisis—a watershed in modern New York City race relations. Jerald E. Podair connects the conflict with the sociocultural history of the city and explores its legacy. The book is a powerful, sobering tale of racial misunderstanding and fear, a New York story with national implications.

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