Can Educators Save the Middle Class: Collective Action


by Amanda Litvinov, Felix Perez and Brian Washington/photo courtesy of Staci Maiers and the Ohio Education Association

This article is part one in a three part series that will post throughout the coming weeks. You can read part two, “Spreading the Word”, here and part three, “Reaching Policy Makers” here.

Few would argue against the notion that public education is the greatest tool we have to maintaining a middle class. Every day in schools across the country, hard working educators give children the skills they need to become successful learners, agile problem solvers, and creative thinkers, preparing them not only to enter the workforce but to think and act as citizens.

Educators’ priorities are the very things that strengthen the middle class in the long-term. Here’s why you have a key role to play in setting the stage for the rebuilding of America in this crucial election year:

You know that collective action can move mountains, and that your participation is essential.

On top of creating dynamic lessons, communicating with parents, keeping buildings safe and clean, and the countless other things you do on behalf of your students, you took to the streets in 2011 to protest unjust legislation, collect signatures, campaign for candidates who will work for public education—whatever was required. And your hard work paid off:

The work is far from over—in fact, things will only heat up in 2012, which makes your participation all the more important. Just ask Heather DuBois Bourenane, a Sun Prairie, Wisconsin teacher turned activist. She used to describe herself thusly: mom, teacher, PTA member, and grad student. But after Governor Scott Walker’s power grab, she is now also an education activist, blogger, grassroots organizer, and recall effort coordinator. “I’m just a regular person who was shaken into action over the past year,” says Bourenane.

Reader Comments

  1. I do not believe we are doing ourselves a favor by making unionism the issue. We have protected too many bad teachers; it has cost us both credibility and support. The issue, for educators, parents, and students is professionalism and equal access to education that democracy demands and protects.

  2. The problem is that we have forgotten that we must be informed voters. Don’t use sound bites or ads to choose the canditate that you’ll vote for. We are Educators with a capital E. We must educate ourselves first, then our students, families and friends. Remember there is more power if we join together than if we fight alone. We can save the middle class but we must ALL step up to the plate and become involded.
    Ann S. Preus, Clearwater, Florida

  3. The problem we face right now is that many union members have forgotten, or never learned, the past. The hard battles won in the past are doomed to be repeated because the current membership has chosen not to remember and participate. I hope to be a part of the new “union generation” as it builds once again and workers are respected for what they do! Will you be a part as well?

  4. FYI- The middle class was the result of union jobs, that assured living wages for people and their families. Consiquently, as the unions are distroyed so is the middle class. It really is that simple.

    1. I believe Jay has got it right. If we lose the unions, we lose support for effective democracy since the unions are a counterforce to the power of big money.

      George Snider, Chatham, MA

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