A new teachers group in Tennessee affiliated with the #RedforEd movement is threatening a strike, even though teachers strikes have been illegal in the Volunteer State since 1978.
And with a wink and a nod, Tennessee Education Association (TEA) spokesperson Jim Wrye recently claimed that “when ‘all of K-12 — teachers, school boards, administrations — when everyone takes the action,’ it is harder to punish those who strike,” as the Chattanooga Times-Free Press reported.
This political controversy comes as a recent study by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) reported that 46 percent of 2017 Tennessee public high school graduates who attended publicly funded community colleges or four year institutions in the state required remedial instruction in mathematics, while 30 percent required remedial instruction in reading.
The study of more than 30,000 2017 graduates of Tennessee public schools defined anyone who scored below a 19 on the ACT in either reading or mathematics as requiring remedial assistance in that subject area.
Last week, the Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported on the details of this potential strike:
A new group aims to unify Tennessee teachers in advocating for public education, following a blueprint that led to teacher strikes that rocked states like Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia.
The three founders of TN Teachers United, who are current and former teachers union leaders, say their state affiliate, the Tennessee Education Association, is not fighting hard enough for educators.
They plan to circumvent the state teachers union’s leadership to advocate for increased funding and less testing in schools, while bringing more teachers who don’t belong to unions into the process.
The name of the new teachers group in Tennessee–TN Teachers United–contains elements of the name of a similar group in neighboring Kentucky–KY 120 United–which over the past several weeks has supported, directly and indirectly, a series of teacher sickouts that have led to school closings while teachers are lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly in opposition to education bills they oppose, as Breitbart News reported last week.
“What you have seen in West Virginia, Arizona and Kentucky is teachers are recognizing that no one is going to save them,” Chris Brooks, a frequent contributor to the Marxist Jacobin Magazine, where he is described as “an organizer from Tennessee and a graduate of the labor studies program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said on the the Commercial Appeal.
In its article last week, the Commercial Appeal also reported that “Labor Notes connected TN Teachers United with other organizers in states that led to strikes outside of their union organizing,” Brooks said.
As Breitbart News reported previously, Jacobin Magazine has become the communication vehicle used by the socialist activists who have been embedded within the teaching profession around the country, whose purpose is to promote a socialist political agenda.
“If teachers’ unions want to build off the momentum of the recent strikes, they cannot simply return to business as usual,” Brooks wrote at Jacobin in May 2018.
“One of the most important lessons coming out of the strike wave is that prohibitions against striking aren’t laws of nature — they can be broken,” he continued.
“Participating teachers all took a big risk, but they took that risk together. They could have lost their jobs or been targeted for retaliation. In some states, striking educators can be stripped of their license and barred from teaching. But that has yet to happen because they acted collectively, proving yet again that a union’s greatest strength lies in unified action,” Brooks noted.
Brooks’ comments echoed those of Noah Karvelis, the 24-year-old Arizona teacher who launched the current version of the #RedforEd movement in March 2018.
Writing at the Jacobin Magazine in January, Karvelis said, “The first lesson I hope people take away from Arizona #RedForEd is that a grassroots, rank-and-file movement is absolutely necessary — particularly in ‘right-to-work’ states.”
As Breitbart News noted:
Karvelis added four more lessons right out of the Saul Alinsky playbook, including (2) the need for “a community-centric orientation to teachers’ movements,” (3) “that democratic organizing, whether through union reforms or establishing new structures such as Arizona Educators United, must be embraced,” (4) “that the gradual escalation of tactics that was embraced in Arizona, and originally mobilized in West Virginia, is a vital strategy that can be duplicated in nearly any setting,” and (5) “the most important lesson to be learned is that teachers have tremendous power.”
Jacobin Magazine also reported extensively on the Democratic Socialists in the #RedforEd movement behind the recent Oakland, California teachers strike.
But in a state Donald Trump won by 26 percent, wildcat illegal strikes will be perceived very differently by the voting public than similar actions California an Arizona.
The Tennessee General Assembly is currently considering legislation to expand school choice through education savings accounts and stronger charter schools. Any illegal teachers strikes in the state now would strengthen the hand of such school choice advocates.
Breitbart News Contributor Michael Patrick Leahy is also the CEO and Editor-in-chief of The Tennessee Star.