Teachers Unite is an independent membership organization of public school educators in New York City collaborating with youth and parents to transform the city's and the nation’s public schools.
We resist institutions that segregate and criminalize Black and Latino/a youth, such as the school-to-prison pipeline, by organizing educators to work as allies in local and national campaigns for social and economic justice.
We develop and share resources for restorative justice and school-based power-building that promote grassroots leadership in public education, and we conduct collaborative research on pressing educational issues.
We believe that schools can only be transformed when educators work with and learn from parents and youth to achieve social and economic justice.
Teachers Unite is working to create a movement of educator-leaders who collaborate with parents and students to abolish mass incarceration as well as transform public schools into caring communities that empower students to develop their skills to their fullest potential.
We envision a democratic teachers union that stands against racism and systems of oppression.
We demand a public education system governed through popular control, where each school is grounded in the needs, values and collaborative decision-making within its community.
The act of growing Restorative Justice/Transformative Justice in schools is the act of building power at the school site. TU members provide peer-to-peer professional coaching on how to build a positive school culture that embodies transformative justice through its practice (circles, alternatives to suspensions, etc.) and its principles:
We work in service of a vision in which all teachers and students have democratic political representation, either through a community school board, or a democratic teachers’ union that works for social justice.
We seek to build school-wide communities in which teachers and other staff work in concert with students and their families. We want police, arrests and metal detectors out of schools, because we want schools that foster education and loving inclusivity, not punishment and fear.
We want to help teachers and schools build a way of relating to students that focuses on teaching students how to relate to others even in times of fear, crisis or conflict, so that they are prepared to handle conflict and difficulty when they are adults.
We believe that if the city’s public schools system is transformed in this way, the changes will come in the way money and power are distributed in the city. Communities will be more involved in democracy, and New York City will be, de facto, a more democratic place. There will be space, school materials, and technological access for every student in New York, and each of her teachers as well. Families will understand school as a place where children they can be students: young people learning intellectually, emotionally and politically. This analysis leads us to grounding our work in transformative justice.
Teachers Unite members, board members and staff met in the summer of 2013 to think deeply about our vision for the organization. A series of conversations and a great deal of work in between meetings resulted in the production of this document with which we envision all our work to align.
The purpose of this handbook is to:
We thank Critical Resistance, Dignity in Schools Campaign, People Power Movement and Youth Justice Coalition who have served as just some of the inspiration and resources we have drawn from as we compiled this handbook. Their commitment to principled work, grassroots democratic organizing, and leadership from the ground is what we seek to emulate with this document.
Download the handbook below: