Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lamphere and Sartori Review "Reds at the Blackboard"

Education Activists:

Check out the new review of Reds at the Blackboard online now at Socialist - and come discuss it at the next ISO Teachers' Happy Hour (see below) on Friday.

Also in the September issue of Socialist Worker, Brian Jones reports back from the SOS march in Washington D.C., and Jason Farbman gives an account of the Chilean wave of activism against the privatization of education in Chile.

In Solidarity, 


****please forward widely****

The International Socialist Organization presents...

Teacher Happy Hour!

Reds at the BlackboardCommunism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union

Join radical teachers for a discussion of the hidden history of teacher unionism in New York City, based on Clarence Taylor's exciting new book Reds at the Blackboard, which explores the hidden history of Communist Party radicals organizing in the Teachers' Union, one of the predecessors to the UFT.  Taylor recounts this pivotal relationship and the backlash it created, as the union threw its support behind controversial policies and rights movements. Taylor's research reaffirms the party's close ties with the union—yet it also makes clear that the organization was anything but a puppet of Communist power.

Copies of the book will be available for sale, as well as sign-up lists for a future reading group.  Please join us for this important discussion!

FridaySeptember 23rd
266 Broome St
B/D to Grand St
F/J/M/Z to Delancey
Please RSVP

The International Socialist Organization’s Teacher Happy Hours are designed to be a safe space for teachers to be political without fear of reprisal. Join us on Friday afternoon for a discussion of the socialist perspective on the attack on public education. For more information, feel free to call (347)-443-4598, or write to

An alternative to unionism as usual

New York City teachers Peter Lamphere and Gina Sartori review a book that uncovers the hidden history of a left-wing union for teachers.
September 13, 2011
SINCE THE early 1960s, the leadership of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has tried to project itself as a union of professionals, paid and treated accordingly. The largest teachers' union in the country representing 200,000 members practices traditional service unionism, focusing on benefits and salaries.
However, this approach has sacrificed democratic involvement of the rank and file, community alliances and building shop-floor power, which has resulted over time in deteriorating working conditions.
Clarence Taylor's Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights and the New York City Teachers' Union offers an account of an alternative to this model with a history of the Communist Party-led Teachers Union (TU), which pioneered a strategy based on social-movement unionism. The book, while academic in style, offers a highly readable and engaging story of the rise of this model, as well as the ferocious onslaught against it during the McCarthy era. It is a must-read for those looking to emulate the TU's approach and apply it to modern teachers' unions.
Unlike service unionism, social-movement unionism focuses on building alliances with grassroots organizations for the purpose of providing resources to the communities and schools in which teachers work. The TU's brand of unionism prioritized forging partnerships with Black and Latino parents, civil rights organizations, unions, community groups and civic organizations to improve the lives of the children they taught as well as the working conditions of their members...

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