For more than a century, one of the most persistent ideas in US politics has been that education is the best solution to inequality. But it’s not persistent because it’s true — it’s persistent because it’s a useful myth for political and economic elites jealously guarding their money and power.
The 1968 Ocean Hill-Brownsville teachers strikes pitted teachers and parents against each other. But they didn’t have to. Teachers and parents today can avoid those past mistakes and create coalitions against racism and austerity.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the “strike that changed New York,” the Ocean Hill-Brownsville teachers strikes have much to teach us about building a strong anti-racist labor movement made up of both workers and community members.
America’s schools are more segregated than ever. We can integrate them — but only by forcing the state to expand universal public institutions and redistribute wealth.
The United Federation of Teachers shouldn’t stand in the way of a ban on suspensions for New York’s youngest students.
New York City’s prekindergarten program is far from perfect, but it’s the kind of universal public good we have to defend and expand.