Staff at the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School will be holding a two-part community forum following their affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union, to be announced at the school's Board meeting Monday night. On Saturday May 16th, and Saturday May 23rd parents, students, parents, community members, and the media are invited to discuss the school's new Union, and how a worker-student-parent alliance might achieve social justice and quality education. Meetings will be held at the Holyoke Public Library Community Meeting Room from 1PM to 3PM.
Since the school's founding in 2013, teachers, staff and students have struggled to realize the promise of an educational experience that actually embraces the ideals and vision of the school's namesake, Brazilian revolutionary educator Paulo Freire. But instead of a school that holds liberation for the poor as a main guiding principle, the administration has created an authoritarian environment that punishes students as well as staff for challenging racial inequality, both inside and outside of school walls. From the racially-biased preferential treatment, hiring and firing of staff, to the administration's complicity in the wider societal trend of criminalizing youth of color through the "school-to-prison pipeline," the Union members have concluded that the administration does not hear individual voices. Therefore, the Union has forged bonds of inter-racial solidarity that will speak collectively and be heard.
In the words of the school staff's organizing committee, because "we understand that the needs of the workers differ from the needs of the administration due to the hierarchy of power and privilege in our learning community, we now proudly stand as members of the Industrial Workers of the World, the union for all workers, and vow from this day forward to fight for the principles for which Paulo Freire stood and upon which this charter was founded—social justice and equity at all levels, encompassing both job security and wage equality for all workers from subs and essentials teachers to administrative staff to teachers, students, parents, and community members in association with the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School."
Founded in 1905 on the principle of organizing workers of all industries into One Big Union, the IWW was the first labor organization is US history committed to welcoming all workers into its ranks, no matter their race, sex, skill or national origin. We carry on that tradition in the fight against the system that exploits workers by keeping us separated. In the midst of a historic struggle for education rights happening throughout North America and beyond, the IWW stands in solidarity as an uncompromising voice for youth-and-workers' power.
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