Strike for the Common Good

Fighting for the Future of Public Education
Rebecca Kolins Givan and Amy Schrager Lang, Editors
Teachers, students, parents, and scholars collectively tell the story of the current wave of teachers’ strikes in the U.S.


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, 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.

Praise / Awards

  • 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
  • “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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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." 

Look Inside

Table of Contents

News, Reviews, Interviews

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 The Forge | 01/14/2021

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 286pp.
  • 3 images.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07472-3

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  • $70.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05472-5

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  • $24.95 U.S.

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