Tag Archives: teacher strikes

Have the teacher strikes created a blue wave of national teacher activism? How will teacher activism impact presidential candidate platforms?

A year from now, February 4, 2020, the greatest circus in the world begins: the caucus/primary race to choose a Democratic candidate for president. Iowa voters, first in the nation, will cast ballots at caucuses around the state, a week later New Hampshire voters will trek to the polls and every week or so through mid June the 4,000 plus delegates will be selected and at the Democratic Convention, July 13-16, select their candidate.

The Convention Rul es reduces the power of superdelegates (usually electeds) and also restricts voters to members of the Democratic Party, (Bernie is not a Democratic Party member).

See Rules here.

Check out the dates of primaries here.

The following is a list of notable announced candidates:

  • Cory Booker(D), a senator from New Jersey, announced that he was running for president on February 1, 2019.
  • Pete Buttigieg(D), the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced that he was running for president on January 23, 2019.
  • Julian Castro(D), a former secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.
  • John Delaney(D), a former representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.
  • Tulsi Gabbard(D), a representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand(D), a senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.
  • Kamala Harris(D), a senator from California, announced that she was running for president on January 21, 2019.
  • Elizabeth Warren(D), senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.

Hovering on the edge of candidacies: Joe Biden, U. S. Senators Sherrod Brown, (Ohio) and Amy Klobushar (MN), still considering former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and probably a host of others; a few “maybes,” who have been visiting early primary states, current NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo.

One of the fascinating questions is whether the new found teacher activism, the strikes in red states, the strike in LA, the approaching strike in Denver, will continue to build. In the November, 2018 hundreds of teachers and nurses ran for local offices around the country; I suspect the activism will translate into running for delegate seats for the 2020 Democratic Convention.

The strikes did not grow out of Facebook posts, the strikes were the result of grassroots activism. With schools located in every town and across every state, teachers have a presence and the strikes begat more activism.

The Janus decision that was planned by the anti-teacher union, pro-choice think tanks and oligarchies seems to have  had the opposite of the effect intended; rather than erode the power of unions the SCOTUS decision appears to have reinvigorated teacher unions.

Hundreds of teachers  across the nation ran for political office.

In New York State the blue wave was a tsunami, Democratic wins both in September primaries, throwing out “straddlers,” who tried to work both sides of the political landscape and in November,  seizing control of both houses of the legislature by majorities that have never been seen.

Eliza Shapiro, in the NY Times, wrote,

Over the last decade, the charter school movement gained a significant foothold in New York, demonstrating along the way that it could build fruitful alliances with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other prominent Democrats. The movement hoped to set a national example — if charter schools could make it in a deep blue state like New York, they could make it anywhere.

But the election … strongly suggested that the golden era of charter schools is over in New York. The insurgent Democrats … have repeatedly expressed hostility to the movement.

John Liu, a newly elected Democratic state senator from Queens, has said New York City should “get rid of” large charter school networks. Robert Jackson, a Democrat who will represent a Manhattan district in the State Senate, promised during his campaign to support charter schools only if they have unionized teachers.

And another incoming Democratic state senator broadcast a simple message about charter schools: “I’m not interested in privatizing our public schools.”

 The statutory cap on charter schools in New York City is about to be reached, with little chance of increasing the cap.

Is this a New York State only phenomenon, or, is it spreading across the nation?

Education has been far down the issue list for presidential candidates, not so the last few months: will education remain high on the political agenda; most of the announced Democratic candidates supported the LA strike.

While education issues vary from state to state one uniform issue is charter schools. One of the first out of the box candidates is Cory Booker, a vigorous supporter of school choice, aka, charter schools and vouchers. As part of the rollout of his candidacy he paraded his hedge fund charter supporters.

Kamala Harris, was California Attorney General before her ascension to the Senate, as AG in California she threatened to incarcerate parents of students who were truants, and has been silent on charter schools, a major issue in California.

Elizabeth Warren began her career as an elementary school teacher in Oklahoma, and, at the 2018 AFT Convention gave a rousing pro-public education speech. Amy Klobuchar (MN), at the 2016 AFT Convention wowed the audience with passionate support of public schools. The newly elected governor of Minnesota nominated the Mary Cathlyn Ricker, the Executive Vice President of the AFT as the Commissioner of Education for Minnesota. (Read George Will, Washington Post assessment of Klobuchar’s presidential chances here).

Education was absent from the 2016 Clinton-Trump campaign and teachers were divided. Most teacher unions endorsed Clinton, significant numbers of teachers supported Bernie; in November some Bernie teacher supporters voted for third party candidates or failed to vote.

For the next year ten, or fifteen, or twenty Democrats will vie for public support, will seek their place on the political spectrum, how far left can I go? how do I attract younger activists without alienating older voters? can I get the youngest voters into my campaign? can I raise the dollars necessary to run a campaign? Next : the February to June race across fifty states, the weekly posting of delegates won, the “dropouts,” the quiet and not so quiet “arrangements” among candidates, the hundreds of candidate forums culminating in the July 13-16th Convention.

I don’t have a candidate, I do know who I‘m not supporting, I’ll contribute  what I can, dollars are essential, and, whomever wins will be my candidate.

Democrats who were unhappy with Hillary or just plain alienated by the process, who decided not to vote may have determined the outcome.

Teacher activism across the nation can not only play a role in setting a pro-public school, anti-choice platform; it can also mobilize a blue wave of teacher activists.

The teacher strike in West Virginia may have the turned the tide of politics across the nation.