Teacher Union Climate Commentary

Mike Antonucci:

I provide a lot of criticism of teacher unions on this site, so in the interest of balance, here are a couple of stories from major publications portraying them in a holy light.

* “New teachers union boss fighting Trump, school reopening battles” by Nicole Gaudiano in Politico, is a profile of new National Education Association President Becky Pringle.

Pringle said a second Trump term wouldn’t stop the union’s work in states that are supportive of public education or its fight, for example, for the inclusion of ethnic studies in schools. And the union will keep pushing aggressively for safety and equity in schools during the pandemic through strikes, protests and sickouts — or by backing lawsuits, as it has in Florida, Iowa and Georgia, she said.

…Pringle’s tenure begins during a national moment of reckoning on racial justice, which is the very reason she became involved in unions.

Lily Eskelsen García, who headed the union before Pringle, said her successor “changed the conversation” within NEA around racial justice issues in education and led that work as the union’s vice president.

“As we talked about, ‘How do we get test scores up?’ And she’d say, ‘Shut up about the test scores. Why don’t these kids have the resources, the staff, the class size?’” Eskelsen García recalled.

* “The Teacher Unions Reinvigorating Progressive Politics” by Lauren Anderson in the Harvard Political Review, takes us on a slow tour of recent teacher union activism.