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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bringing Justice to the Public School System: Teachers Involved in Community Organizing and Social Justice Unionism to Transform Schools

  • Author(s): Asselin, Chloe Valentine
  • Advisor(s): Harding, Sandra G
  • et al.

Over the past twenty years community organizing has emerged as an important new tool for education reform in the United States. However, teachers usually play a supporting role rather than becoming community organizers themselves working with parents, students, and the community to transform their schools. Furthermore, there has been growing attention to the need for teachers' unions to move beyond traditional approaches, to form coalitions with community groups and to practice social justice unionism. This ethnography analyzes the work of CO and TUO, two organizations in Los Angeles created by a group of teachers dedicated to both community organizing and social justice unionism. Analyzing interviews, observations, and documents of teachers in CO and TUO, I argue that the merging of community organizing and social justice unionism is a successful model to transform public schools and to counter neoliberal attacks on public education.

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