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Out On the Line:

On Charter School Unionization and the Chicago Teachers’ Strike

Act 1:

In Act 1 we talk to teacher-organizers Martha Baumgarten and Renee Ridolfi about their pathway to becoming teachers and how they ended up at Acero Charter Schools in Chicago. Commenting on the broad problems with charters and with the broader privatization of education, they reflect on what they have learned about practices of anti-racist solidarity — spoiler, you don’t find it at Teach for America — and what they might have done differently.

Act 2: Between Charter Unions and Charter Abolition

The University of California San Diego is on Kumeyaay land. The chancellor’s house is on an indigenous burial ground. How do universities move beyond guilt and toward a rematriation of the land? How do we teach, and train teachers, in these places with such violent history? How do we live and teach sustainably on this land? Yang, as his avatar la paperson, believes “a third university is possible. We talk about it in Act 2.

**Outro music in Parts 1 and 2 is by Akrasis: Mark McKee (beats) and Max Bowen (Raps): “A Good Spy (Reprise)” from Children Singing in Hell and “TTE” from Unemployed Apologist.

**Music by Akrasis is available on BandCamp: Check them out!

about our guest/s

^Renee (left) and Martha (right) pose in their Acero uniforms, accessorized with union stickers

Renee Ridolofi is a school social worker in the Durham and Chapel Hill area, and she specializes in child/adolescent mental health. Drawing on her background in elementary education, she worked for two years as a teacher in UNO/Acero schools while she was completing her Master’s in Social Work from UChicago. During this time, she was part of the first-ever strike by charter school teachers.

Martha Baumgarten is an organizer and educator who currently teaches elementary special education in Cook County, IL. Before that, she worked for six years at Chicago’s Acero/UNO charter school network. There, she served as union steward, Vice President for Teachers, anon  the committee that united the Chicago Teachers Union locals representing public teachers and charter teachers (respectively). Fun fact: Martha and Lucia attended the same summer program — the Youth Theological Initiative, featured in a previous podcast-– as teens. The rest is history!