Teaching is a profession that must respond to the changing social world. From new technology and curriculum reforms to privatization and climate change – teachers are on the front-lines of a complex system that has huge consequences for the future.  In this context, what is it like to be a teacher today? How do teachers manage the competing pressures?

My guest today is  Armand Doucet, an award-winning teacher recognized around the world. Nominated in the Top 50 for the Global Teacher Prize, Armand is a high school history teacher in New Brunswick, Canada and the author of the new book Teaching Life: Our Calling, Our Choices, Our Challenges.

Citation: Doucet, Armand, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 170, podcast audio, September 2, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/armanddoucet/

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Unions are on the front lines of advocating human rights. That puts them in natural collaboration with non-governmental organizations doing the same. Amnesty International is one such NGO that has strong ties to global trade unions.

Today I speak with Shane Enright(@ShaneEnrightTU), a Workers’ rights campaigner and global trade union adviser at Amnesty International. He recounts various campaigns organized by Amnesty that have tried to pressure governments to release some teachers held in prison. He also talks about climate change and the September 20th general strike.

Citation: Enright, Shane, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 169, podcast audio, August 26, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/shaneenright/

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How does change happen? What role do unions play in creating decent quality lives for its members? When is more militant action needed?

These questions are asked by all unions. So, in our quest to explore education unions in more depth, I want to explore how transport unions answer these questions. In many ways, the struggles facing teacher unions worldwide are similar to those facing the transport sector.

My guest today is Stephen Cotton, the general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation. The ITF is composed of 677 national trade unions and represents over 19 million workers in 149 countries. It represents the seafaring, ports, roads, rail, tourism and aviation sectors. In our conversation, Stephen shares his history in trade unionism and reflects on the process of making change. He also talks about the climate crisis as one of the biggest issues facing unions today.

Citation: Cotton, Stephen, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 168, podcast audio, August 19, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/stephencotton/

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In the second installment of our focus on the big issues facing education unions, we focus on union renewal.

My guest today is Howard Stevenson,  Professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Nottingham. He has researched teacher trade unions around the world to try and understand the best way to revive the power of unions. In our conversation, he talks about his findings and contextualizes the state of education unions.

Citation: Howard, Stevenson, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 167, podcast audio, August 12, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/howardstevenson/

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Education International is the global federation of teacher unions, representing some 32 million teachers worldwide. Every four years EI, as it is commonly known, holds a World Congress to determine its policies, principles, programs, and budget for the future. It is also where the President, Vice Presidents and General Secretary are elected to new terms. The World Congress this year was composed of some 1,400 delegates nominated by and representing member organizations.

I had the privilege of attending EI’s World Congress where I met and interviewed people from around the world. Over the next 2 months, FreshEd will air some of my conversations. My hope is that these interviews will show unions in their complexity. Profoundly democratic, unions struggle to figure out how best to address the biggest issues facing the world today in ways that have material consequences for the lives of teachers and students.

But unions are often misunderstood. Right-wing politicians and capitalist elites have systematically tried to destroy the labor movement for decades. These attacks on unions have decreased union membership, lowered public opinion, and even found union leaders and members harassed, imprisoned, and – in the most extreme cases — killed. I actually met some teacher union members at the World Congress who recently got out of prison. Fearing for their safety, these members could not join me for an interview, but their stories stick with me.

So to kick off our mini-series focused on the big issues facing education unions today and into the future, I begin with a two-part show. The first part is a short interview with Susan Hopgood, president of Education International and  Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union (AEU). She explains what the world Congress is and some of the big issues being discussed.

In the second part, I interview Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, which represents some 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories.

Citation: Hopgood, Susan & Burrow, Sharon, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 166, podcast audio, August 5, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/susanhopgood-sharanburrow/

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Teachers are striking across America. From Arizona to Oklahoma to West Virginia, teachers are not simply demanding higher pay. They are also demanding better learning conditions for students and better working conditions for all state employees. And they are succeeding.

Many of these industrial workplace actions are taking place in states that have passed right-to-work laws, meaning workers cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. The strikes are also happening in the states that Trump won in 2016. So what does this mean for public education generally and the 2020 US presidential election?

My guest today is Eric Blanc, the author of the new book Red State Revolt: The Teachers’ Strike Wave and Working-Class Politics (Verso 2019). Eric is a journalist and a former high school teacher and has followed the on-the-ground developments of the Los Angeles, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Denver, and Oakland public education strikes.

Citation: Blanc, Eric, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 161, podcast audio, July 1, 2019. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/blanc/

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Nine public service employees are suing Navient, the student debt service provider, for providing misleading and inaccurate information. They allege that Navient engaged in predatory lending, more interested in turning a profit than finding them the best repayment plan.

My guest today is Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. ATF has been helping their members navigate the student loan industry. What they found is shocking.

For Randi, there is a legal and electoral path to find justice for student loan borrowers.

Citation: Weingarten, Randi, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 133, podcast audio, November 5, 2018. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/weingarten/

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To kick off the new year, we have a special show for you. Today, Linda Darling-Hammond joins me to talk about her new co-authored book Empowered Educators: How high-performing systems shape teaching quality around the world

The book explores how several countries and jurisdictions have developed comprehensive teaching and learning systems that produce a range of positive outcomes, from student achievement to equity and from a professionalized teaching workforce to the integration of research and practice.

Linda Darling-Hammond is the president of the Learning Policy Institute and a Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University.

Citation: Darling-Hammond, Linda, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 102, podcast audio, February 5, 2018. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/lindadarlinghammond/

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