Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > The 2019 Chicago Teachers’ Union Strike


View graph of relations

The 2019 Chicago Teachers’ Union Strike: meeting student needs analysed through Nancy Fraser’s ‘politics of need interpretation’

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/07/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies
Issue number2
Number of pages32
Pages (from-to)173-204
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date2/07/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article analyses the narratives and counter-narratives which characterised the struggle between the Chicago Public School Board (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) preceding the 2019 Chicago teachers’ strike. This was an extraordinary event which has received little scholarly attention. The paper explores the types and uses of the discourses put forward in the struggle through the lens of Nancy Fraser’s ‘politics of needs interpretation’. Fraser’s framework was conceived and is typically applied to social welfare policy, so this paper provides a new perspective and understanding of its theoretical application in its examination of competing educational claims. Analysing key CPS and CTU texts which are in the public domain, I argue that different actors in the struggle competed for ownership of an expert discourse on student need in Chicago. The paper draws attention to the way a teachers’ union consciously used social movement framing to foreground an inclusive view of the working class. The CTU’s refusal to accept the dominant conceptualisation of education as performativity was an assertion of teacher professionalism. Placing the social reproductive needs of their students and families at the centre of their demands for better education provision in Chicago was a radical reimagining of education. In conclusion, Fraser’s theory is found to be a helpful tool when considering who has the legitimate authority to determine education needs.