The Young Democratic Socialists of America organization is urging socialists to “take jobs as teachers” in order to exploit the “political, economic, and social potential the industry holds.”
“Why Socialists Should Become Teachers,” an 11-page pamphlet crafted jointly by YDSA and the Democratic Socialist Labor Commission, contends that education is “a strategic industry to organize,” and offers prospective socialist educators “a basic roadmap for how to get a job in education.”
The pamphlet begins by outlining the “success” of the recent West Virginia teachers strike, which it attributes to “creative shop floor organizing” from teachers who believed in “socialist politics.”
“Our immediate win in West Virginia was a 5% raise for all public sector workers, plus halting charter school legislation and attacks on seniority,” the document boasts.
“But crucially, our movement’s demand was that the money come from highly profitable corporations that have long exploited West Virginia’s natural wealth.”
While the funding debate has yet to be resolved, the pamphlet credits socialist agitators with pressing for corporate tax increases, saying most union leaders simply expect lawmakers to “figure out where the money comes from” after securing pay raises.
“Socialists have a long history of involvement in the workplace,” the booklet asserts, noting that while existing labor unions are imperfect from a socialist perspective, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organization believes it is now “in a position to develop a concerted, coordinated presence in unions, to help shape the militancy and political ideology of those unions, and ultimately to play a role in building working class power.”
Acknowledging that there are other industries in which “workers are far more oppressed,” the document contends that education is nonetheless a “strategic” sector because it is so pervasive and heavily unionized that it can impact the “political and economic demands for the working class as a whole.”
In addition, it argues that teachers can leverage their relationships with students and their families to engage in “campaigns around police brutality, immigrant rights, and environmental justice.”
Notably, the section concludes by pointing out that teaching “is still one of the most stable professions in the United States,” asserting that “even in West Virginia, where teachers experienced some of the lowest pay in the nation, they were sometimes the highest-paid workers in their communities.”
After briefly outlining some personal and professional reasons that socialists should consider a career in teaching, the pamphlet turns its attention to the question of “How to Become a Teacher,” stating that while there are certain “barriers” to entering the profession, these can be “overcome.”
Although teachers have traditionally pursued a “standard” certification through a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education, for instance, the document notes that “as teaching has become increasingly deprofessionalized in the past twenty years or so, ‘accelerated’ teacher preparation programs have spread,” enabling those with “a generic bachelor’s degree” to “enter the classroom with little to no teaching experience under a ‘transitional’ certification.”
For those who might be reluctant to engage directly in teaching, the handbook suggests non-teacher positions that are often represented by education unions, such as “school secretaries, guidance counselors, psychologists, speech therapists, parent coordinators, and special education support staff.”
“There is a growing national network of educators in DSA working to transform our schools, our unions, and our society,” the section concludes.
“Being a member of DSA means there is a pre-existing network of fellow socialists you can tap for support as you undertake this work.”
“Teaching is proving to be one viable way for socialists to get into the labor movement and wage class struggle in a key industry that is under attack by capital,” the pamphlet declares.
“Teachers across the country and indeed the world have shown us that if we organize in the schools, we can not only win concessions from the millionaire and billionaire class, but can also set a powerful example for the entire working class to follow.”
Campus Reform has reached out to both the YDSA and the DSLC for comment, but neither has responded.