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Teachers, students, parents, and scholars collectively tell the story of the current wave of teachers’ strikes in the U.S.

Table of contents

On Strike for Our Students and the Common Good Rebecca Kolins Givan

The Long War on Public Education
1. Collective Action and the Common Good: Teachers’ Struggles and the Revival of the Strike
Joseph A. McCartin and Marilyn Sneiderman
2. Battle for or in the Classroom: Teachers’ Strikes in the Context of the “Epidemic” of School Violence and the Working Environment
Elizabeth Faue
3. The Critical Issues of Teacher Pay and Employment
Sylvia A. Allegretto
4. The Ripple Effect of the 2012 Chicago Teachers’ Strike
Robert Bruno and Steven K. Ashby
5. The Long History of Attacking Teachers’ Unions and Public Education
Clarence Taylor

Red States Rising
6. Rank-and-File Organizing and Digital Mobilizing in the Red State Revolt
Eric Blanc
7. Educators United Online
Rebecca Garelli
8. Owning My Labor
Nicole McCormick
9. The Antiracist Struggle in the Kentucky Teacher Strike
Petia Edison and Ivonne Rovira
10. “People Are Sticking Together”: School Bus Drivers Take Action in the Right-to-Work South
Marion Payne and Rebecca Kolins Givan

On Strike for the Common Good
11. Black Lives Matter at School to Social Justice Union Educators: Lessons from Seattle
Jesse Hagopian
12. The LA Strike: Learning Together to Build the National Movement We Need
Cecily Myart-Cruz and Alex Caputo-Pearl
13. Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles: Whose Strike? Our Strike! LA’s Fight to Reclaim Our Schools
Rudy Gonzalves and Edgar Ortiz
14. The Teachers’ Strikes of 2018–2019: A Gendered Rebellion
Gillian Russom
15. You Can’t Fire Us! Student Solidarity on the Picket Line
Jhoni Palmer and Rebecca Kolins Givan

What Comes Next?
16. The 2018 Wave of Teacher Strikes: A Turning Point for Our Schools?
Stan Karp and Adam Sanchez
17. Trust, Joy, Militancy: Lessons from the First Charter Strikes
Chris Baehrend
18. Relearning the Supermajority Strike
Jane McAlevey
19. Silicon Valley, Philanthro-Capitalism, and Policy Shifts from Teachers to Tech
Roxana Marachi and Robert Carpenter
20. Global Educator Movements: Teacher Struggles against Neoliberalism and for Democracy and Justice
Lauren Ware Stark and Carol Anne Spreen

Afterword: The Strikes Continue . . .
Rebecca Kolins Givan

Look Inside


In February 2018, 35,000 public school educators and staff walked off the job in West Virginia. More than 100,000 teachers in other states—both right-to-work states, like West Virginia, and those with a unionized workforce—followed them over the next year.  From Arizona, Kentucky, and Oklahoma to Colorado and California, teachers announced to state legislators that not only their abysmal wages but the deplorable conditions of their work and the increasingly straitened circumstances of public education were unacceptable.  These recent teacher walkouts affirm public education as a crucial public benefit and understand the rampant disinvestment in public education not simply as a local issue affecting teacher paychecks but also as a danger to communities and to democracy. 

Strike for the Common Good gathers together original essays, written by teachers involved in strikes nationwide, by students and parents who have supported them, by journalists who have covered these strikes in depth, and by outside analysts (academic and otherwise).  Together, the essays consider the place of these strikes in the broader landscape of recent labor organizing and battles over public education, and attend to the largely female workforce and, often, largely non-white student population of America’s schools.

Rebecca Kolins Givan is Associate Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers University.

Amy Schrager Lang is Professor Emerita, Syracuse University.

Strike for the Common Good is an engaging and incisive examination of the wave of educator strikes in 2018–19 that will be remembered as a defining moment of activism—a moment when educators, parents, and communities came together to reject the war on public education and serve up a new narrative about the promise of public schools and teachers as pillars of democracy, communities, and racial and economic justice. The volume is packed with the insights of academics examining where our movement came from, and the passion of activists shaping where it is going.”
—Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers

- Randi Weingarten

“After more than a decade of neglect, racial and social inequities, underfunding and disparagement, educators across the country said, ‘Enough!’ Strike for the Common Good is a timely and thoughtful volume that tells their stories and their frustrations. It explains how they came together as a powerful force to demand the equitable resources their students and their schools needed.  Strike for the Common Good captures the energy of an unexpectedly powerful and organic movement that became known as ‘Red for Ed,’ where educators, joined by parents and local communities, used collective action to make a memorable stand for public education.”
—Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association

- Becky Pringle

"Strike for the Common Good promises to be the definitive source for learning about the current wave of teachers' strikes."
—Chris Tilly, Professor of Urban Planning and Sociology, UCLA

- Chris Tilly

"The future of public education hangs in the balance. As this book shows, only teachers can save it for future generations."
—Diane Ravitch, New York University

- Diane Ravitch

"I highly recommend Strike for the Common Good for teachers, everyone interested in the education system, trade union officials, activists, and labor scholars—the editors and contributors have provided detailed and informed insights into a groundbreaking wave of mobilization." 
ILR Review

- Jörg Nowak

"This well-written, timely collection constitutes serious political and social analysis of an important turn in both the labor and social-justice movements in the US. Importantly, it is filled with the voices of organizers themselves, their reflections on tactics, lessons learned, and what is needed for the future of public education. While the book is especially important for those interested in social movements, labor movements, and education policy, its focus on the role of public education in American society makes it appropriate for and accessible to a broad readership. Highly recommended." 

- M.J. Garrison

"Strike for the Common Good provides an excellent roadmap for beginning that important work and is therefore essential reading for anyone interested in the future of worker collective action and the labor movement." —The Forge

- Alexander Hertel-Fernadez

"[A]n exceptionally rich collection, filled with diverse voices and keen insights. . . .The work of building broad, stable communities of common interest—of forging genuine solidarity—is slow and difficult, but this excellent volume demands that we think of what it could mean for the power or leverage we could bring to the bargaining table and the good we could do even for people who are not members of our unions."

- Stephen Pimpare

Watch: Rebecca Givan discussed Strike for the Common Good and the future of public education with Jack Schneider & Jennifer Berkshire via Literati Bookstore I 01/21/2021
Read: Review in Academe | Winter 2023
Read: Review in The Forge | 01/14/2021