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. 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.
About the Author
Jon Shelton is an assistant professor of democracy and justice studies at University of Wisconsin Green Bay.
Table of Contents
Introduction: From Labor Liberalism to Neoliberalism 1
1 "A New Era of Labor Relations": Teachers and the Public-Sector Labor Problem 26
2 Teacher Power, Black Power, and the Fracturing of Labor Liberalism 56
3 "Who Is Going to Run the Schools?" Teacher Strikes and the Urban Crises of 1972,-73 82
4 Dropping Dead: Teachers, the New York City Fiscal Crisis, and Austerity 114
5 The Pittsburgh Teacher Strike of 1975-76 and the Crisis of the Labor-Liberal Coalition 143
6 The "Fed-up Taxpayer": St. Louis, Philadelphia, and the Eclipse of the Labor-Liberal Coalition 160
Conclusion: Teacher Unions and the American Political Imagination 192