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Brownbag Discussion: Teacher Strike! Public Education and the Making of a New American Political Order
March 5 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
With author and U. of Wisconsin Professor Jon Shelton & Introduction by Michael Fabricant (PSC-CUNY)
Co-sponsored by the Murphy Institute Labor and Urban Studies, and Bronx Community College, Department of History
A wave of teacher strikes in the 1960s and 1970s roiled urban communities. Jon Shelton illuminates how this tumultuous era helped shatter the liberal-labor coalition and opened the door to the neoliberal challenge at the heart of urban education today.
As Shelton shows, many working- and middle-class whites sided with corporate interests in seeing themselves as society’s only legitimate, productive members. This alliance increasingly argued that public employees and the urban poor took but did not give. Drawing on a wealth of research ranging from school board meetings to TV news reports, Shelton puts readers in the middle of fraught, intense strikes in Newark, St. Louis, and three other cities where these debates and shifting attitudes played out. He also demonstrates how the labor actions contributed to the growing public perception of unions as irrelevant or even detrimental to American prosperity. Foes of the labor movement, meanwhile, tapped into cultural and economic fears to undermine not just teacher unionism but the whole of liberalism.
Jon Shelton joined the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies in Fall 2013. Jon specializes in US labor and working-class history as well as the history of American culture and politics. He finished his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland–College Park in May 2013. His research has been published in LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, and a forthcoming piece will appear in the Journal of Social History. Shelton has also contributed opinion pieces on contemporary politics to Dissent and truthout.org.