Public Education

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As parents, students, teachers, other education workers, and community citizens, ISO members are deeply committed to the fight to defend and improve public education. We believe that a broad movement of working people and communities must lead the fight for the struggle of schools we deserve. While education cannot, by itself, solve social problems, the teaching and learning process can make an essential contribution to social change. School can be a site for personal and collective growth and transformation, where people develop their creative and intellectual powers, and think critically about their lives and about the world as a whole.

ISO members aim to challenge the influence of racism, sexism, and homophobia in our schools. We believe that students have a right to explore their identities through curricula that are relevant to them, and to develop literacy in their own languages. We are opposed to the racist “zero tolerance” policies that have led to a school-to-prison pipeline for many students of color. We are also utterly opposed to the current “reform” trend that attempts to quantify every educational “outcome” and reduce the schooling process to that which can be measured or to mere job training. Such “reform” is a part of the general trend towards privatization, austerity, and the reduction of the social wage.

As one of the principle organizations of working class self-defense, we support unions, and encourage all of our members to join unions and, where possible, to organize them. Unfortunately, teacher unions have all too often been passive in the face of the attacks on public education, or worse, they have been complicit. We believe that, at their best, teacher unions understand that their fight is connected to the broader struggle for public education and for a robust public sector in general. ISO members participate in student and parent organizations, and for democratic control of our educational institutions. ISO members also participate in union caucuses that want to build genuine, broad movements of rank and file teachers and, where possible, stand for office in union elections. In New York, ISO members are active in the MORE reform caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

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Further Reading

Education and Capitalism: Struggles for Learning and Liberation
edited by Jeff Bale and Sarah Knoll

101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History
edited by Michele Bollinger and Dao X Tran

The Future of Our Schools: Teachers Unions and Social Justice
by Lois Weiner

Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life
by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis

Socialist Worker’s education coverage