Introduction to sjem
The Social Justice Education Movement (pronounced s-jem) is the K-12 committee of the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, which means we are a part of a larger union that provides space and resources for people to organize their workplaces and create better conditions. SJEM was founded in 2015 though the Twin Cities IWW has been organizing K-12 workplaces since 2010. After founding SJEM, we have run and won a number of campaigns, such as getting the racist, sexist, Reading Horizons Curriculum out of our schools and getting a high percentage of teachers in the Grow-Your-Own Program to be people of color (our demand was 100%). We are also the host group for the annual Social Justice Education Fair, which just had its 5th successful year, bringing together hundreds of education workers, students and community members to talk about the brights spots as well as issues in education.
Recently, the focus has been on promoting in-school organizing, because it is in that way that we can truly develop the base of people needed to transform our schools. Without this type of organizing, many victories at the district are often disingenuously enforced or ignored completely. Organizing in schools can bring important victories at the school level, and prove to our peers that we have the power to create the types of schools we need. We have seen success through this type of organizing with our members who have succeeded in getting a principal replaced at HIA, ensured support staff got Professional Development time at Andersen, and saved the jobs of a number of teachers across the District. The bigger our presence in buildings, the more staff are communicating about their needs and feel empowered to create change and act in solidarity, the more we can do and that is what this movement is about!