Teacher strikes can’t fix the core problems with our schoolsRoundup
tags: teachers, education, strike
Diana D'Amico, Ph.D. is a historian of teacher policy and author of the forthcoming book, "Blaming Teachers: Professionalization Policies and the Failure of Reform in American History."
On Monday, teachers in the nation’s second-largest school system went on strike, pledging to man the picket lines “for as long as it takes." Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, has insisted that 20 months of failed negotiations and the likely strike are not just about salary, but a larger fight for the soul of public education and the greater good.
Austin Beutner, superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District, has mounted his response in similar terms.
As Caputo-Pearl and Beutner speak past each other, unable to find common ground, they find themselves in excellent company, the latest example of an ongoing conflict responsible for thwarting educational change.
Like those who came before them, they are afflicted by local myopia. They’ve imagined school battles as municipal ones, and that’s the real mistake here.
Public schooling is a local affair, but the state of urban education is a direct byproduct of the suburbs. Following World War II, white families across the country left cities for newly planned suburban communities, pulled by dreams of homeownership and pushed by racialized fears of violence and integration.