Dr. Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz explains how the push to professionalize and standardize educators beginning in the mid-1800s, without granting them decision-making power, has made them the public face of foundering school policies developed and implemented by local school administrators and state and national policymakers. Widespread policy narratives that schools and teachers acting as mother figures can solve communities’ problems have inherently placed the public’s blame on teachers when those problems don’t disappear, as seen most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. D’Amico Pawlewicz is an assistant professor in the Educational Foundations and Research Program at the University of North Dakota, where she focuses on the history of education and social policy. She received the 2021 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award for her recent publication, Blaming Teachers: Professionalization Policies and the Failure of Reform in American History.
Matt Kautz explains how his observations while teaching in Detroit and Chicago led him to study the rise of suspensions and other disciplinary tactics in urban districts during school desegregation, fueling the school-to-prison pipeline. His research has focused particularly on Boston, Detroit, and Louisville during court-ordered desegregation, for which there is ample documentation of school disciplinary codes, statistics on usage against students, and responses from administrators, teachers, law enforcement, and the community. Kautz is a Ph.D. candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University
Kelly Goodman speaks about the political history of funding education through local and state taxes. Having worked as a data analyst for the Detroit public schools, Goodman pursued graduate school to explore the structural issues surrounding questions she often found herself asking: why are some schools perceived to be bad? Why do some schools receive less funding than others? How does the economy work, and for whom?
To answer those questions, Goodman’s research for her dissertation, “Taxing Limits: The Political Economy of American School Finance,” reorients political history around enduring tensions between the control of decisions and the allocation of money in federalism by exploring the 1930s and 1970s public budget crises in Michigan and California. Both states were notable for their powerful labor unions and business associations, and for their pioneering role in applying the fiscal concept of tax limitation to constrain, not cut, government. Her extended research at the Reuther Library has led her deep into the archives of the American Federation of Teachers and AFT tax guru Arthur Elder, as well as records documenting the UAW’s political actions on school finance and teacher organizing. Goodman is Ph.D. candidate in History at Yale University.
In celebration of Equal Pay Day on April 2, 2019, podcast host and American Federation of Teachers archivist Dan Golodner recounts a time 100 years ago when male teachers tried, and failed, to prevent female teachers from bargaining for pay equity with their male peers. AFSCME archivist Stefanie Caloia discusses AFSCME’s groundbreaking equal pay campaigns for public employees in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in Local 101 in San Jose, California and Council 28 in Washington state. To alleviate the large pay disparities between male and female public employees, the “comparable worth” of jobs typically held by men and jobs typically held by women were reevaluated. City managers and politicians got cheap, librarians got tricky, union members got cheeky with a barbecue grill, and eventually female AFSCME members got a raise, although not enough to completely erase pay inequity between women and men. Producer and archivist Troy Eller English threatens to celebrate Equal Pay Day by editing out just 80 percent of Dan’s cursing, but scolds him for mouth breathing, instead.
American Federation of Teachers archivist Dan Golodner tells guest host Bart Bealmear about the 1933 Chicago Teachers Walkout, when Chicago teachers joined together to demand that they be paid in actual money and on time, rather than in scrip that wasn’t honored by local businesses and banks during the Great Depression. Paid only nine times in four years because property taxes meant to fund Chicago schools were withheld by corrupt businesses, banks, and school board members, students and teachers staged public demonstrations on the streets and in bank lobbies, ultimately shaming the banks into releasing school funds and the school board into issuing consistent paychecks.
Meghan Courtney, Reuther Library archivist, discusses Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to the U.S. as well as his long-term relationship with the American Labor Movement during his time in prison and after his release.
Mandela’s 12 day, 8 city fundraising tour in June 1990 took place just months after his release from 27 years in a South African prison and included visits to the AFL-CIO, AFSCME’s convention, UAW Local 600 and Tiger Stadium. Courtney explores Mandela’s philosophical alignment with the labor movement, labor’s support for anti-apartheid efforts in the U.S., and archival collections at the Reuther Library where researchers might find evidence of Mandela’s friendships and partnerships. Continue reading American Labor’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 U.S. Tour→