The Chicago Teachers Union scored a victory for their district last week, following an eleven-day teachers strike that made national headlines. For today’s episode, guest host Richelle Wilson brings the strike into focus: how did it get started? What were the teachers’ demands? What was the outcome? And what does this all say about labor, unions, and education in America right now?
First, we get an on-the-ground account of the Chicago teachers strike from Jackson Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union, who talks about the political climate in Chicago since they first went on strike in 2012, the comprehensive nature of the CTU’s demands (including smaller classroom sizes, increased support staff like social workers and nurses, and resources for students in housing precarity), and what comes next for the union.
Then, Jon Shelton, associate professor of democracy and justice studies at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and author of Teacher Strike!, clarifies how Chicago’s struggle fits into the broader fight for public education and social democracy.
Jon Shelton is associate professor of democracy and justice studies at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and author of Teacher Strike!: Public Education and the Making of a New American Political Order (University of Illinois Press, 2017). He has been interviewed about the Chicago Teachers Union strike by publications like Reuters, Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.