Learning from Lacunae in Research: Making Sense of Teachers’ Labor Activism
How does educational research inform understanding of the current labor activism among U.S. teachers and illuminate teachers’ capacity when they are organized as workers to challenge neoliberal educational policies? To address these questions we examine critical research on teachers’ work and teachers unions from 2000-2019, scrutinizing knowledge production about teachers’ work and the role of teachers unions in contesting and conceding to reform, and analyzing how ideological assumptions about capitalism, labor, race, class, and gender configure the amount and nature of scholarship on teachers unions. We explain why scholarship on school reform should include attention to teacher unionism, re-conceptualizing tensions between what are understood as “social justice” struggles and defense of teachers’ professional interests, livelihoods, and working conditions.
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