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ERIC Number: EJ1056730
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-1946-7109
Reading for Change: Social Justice Unionism Book Groups as an Organizing Tool
Riley, Kathleen
Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, v12 n1 Spr 2015
Kathleen Riley begins this article by providing quotes from James H. Lytle, and Anissa Weinraub, which were published in "Perspectives on Urban Education" in the summer of 2013. While they hold different professional positions (Lytle is a retired administrator and professor; Weinraub is a teacher and organizer), both wrote as Philadelphia residents and educators deeply committed to a vision of schools that are accessible, democratically run, and responsive to local communities. Both wrote against the neoliberal agenda in which private funders make decisions about what is best for communities--especially working class and poor communities of color that have long been disenfranchised from decision making structures. Both cast a vision for a rising social movement that includes parents, teachers, community members, and students working together in solidarity to resist the privatization and standardization regimes that are eroding public education (Lipman, 2011; Ravitch, 2013). The article follows with a commentary that provides an account of the early work of the Caucus of Working Educators (WE or The Caucus), a social justice caucus within the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) that has emerged since Lytle's and Weinraub's prescient commentaries. Riley's article focuses on one of the group's early efforts to build a social movement in Philadelphia, a Summer Reading Series comprised of nine interconnected book groups that met throughout the summer of 2014. Rather than concentrating exclusively on improving instruction at the level of the individual teacher, the Caucus responded to the urgent need for teachers to organize together to fight for the kinds of conditions and institutions that will allow for teacher autonomy, student dignity, and the material resources necessary for quality instruction to take place. This account of the early work of the Caucus serves to inform and inspire teachers, parents, teacher educators, faculty, organizers, activists, students, and community members to join--or create--similar spaces of self-education and empowerment so that social justice unionism and the values for which it stands can continue to grow stronger.
University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A