Education Austin, our local affiliate for Austin ISD, recently was featured prominently in a report and toolkit developed by the Schott Foundation to encourage partnerships between labor and community groups. The report, “Keeping Students First: Building Community Labor Partnerships for Strong Schools” highlights efforts by Education Austin to build a network of support from other community organizations to advance its work on community schools and immigration policy.
“This report is designed to support community and labor groups that are ready and willing to engage in meaningful relationship building and collaboration to work together to address systemic and policy issues that have contributed to the achievement gap, especially for youth of color,” said by Dr. John H. Jackson, president of the Schott Foundation, which supports initiatives to improve public education. “Centered around case studies of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Austin, Texas, we found that both unions and community groups there succeeded by bringing each other into strategic development and partnership in a meaningful way.”
The Education Austin case study details the work by its president, Ken Zarifis, and former vice president, Montserrat Garibay, to identify community partners and engage with their efforts—such as a fight for better working conditions and pay by the Workers Defense Project—so that these organizations would be ready to go to bat for the teachers union as well. The report details how the collaboration paid off, particularly in the union’s efforts to stop the takeover of neighborhood schools by a charter school chain.