In The Teacher Insurgency: A Strategic and Organizing Perspective (Harvard Education Press, 2020), Leo Casey addresses how the unexpected wave of recent teacher strikes has had a dramatic impact on American public education, teacher unions, and the larger labor movement. Casey explains how this uprising was not only born out of opposition to government policies that underfunded public schools and deprofessionalized teaching, but was also rooted in deep-seated changes in the economic climate, social movements, and, most importantly, educational politics.
With an eye to maintaining the momentum of the insurgency, the author examines four key strategic questions that have arisen from the strikes: the relationship of mobilization to organizing; the relationship between protests and direct action; the conditions under which teacher strikes are most likely to be successful; and the importance of "bargaining for the common good." More broadly, Casey examines how to organize teachers for collective action, focusing on four discourses of teaching: teaching as nurturance; as professionalism; as labor and craft; and as a vocation of democratic intellectual work.
Leo Casey is the Executive Director of the Albert Shanker Institute, a strategic think tank affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. He taught and worked in New York City public high schools for twenty-eight years. During this time, he was a union activist and leader, serving for six years as a Vice President of New York City's United Federation of Teachers. In that role, he led the union's organizing in charter schools. Casey has won a number of awards for his teaching and was named the 1992 Social Studies Teacher of the Year for the American Teacher Awards. For ten years, his students--all of color, and predominantly immigrants and girls--won city and state championships in the "We the People" civics competition, twice placing fourth in the nation. Casey has worked with teachers in Tanzania and Russia on the development of civics education, and with teachers in China on promoting critical pedagogical methods. He has written extensively on civics, education, unionism and politics, in both print and on-line publications. Casey holds a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto.
Tom Discenna is Professor of Communication at Oakland University whose work examines issues of academic labor and communicative labor more broadly.