Introduction to sjem
The Social Justice Education Movement, or SJEM (pronounced s-jem), is the K-12 education committee of the member-run union, The Industrial Workers of the World, or the IWW. As a committee of the IWW, we are provided with space and resources for organizing our K-12 workplaces in order to achieve better working conditions.
The Twin Cities IWW Branch has been organizing K-12 workplaces since 2010 but adopted the current name of this committee, Social Justice Education Movement, in 2015, to convey a dedication to social justice. Members are trained in organizing tactics that have been developed over decades of workplace organizing campaigns and meet regularly in order to support efforts amongst members. In addition to organizing workplace campaigns, we host the annual Social Justice Education Fair, bringing together hundreds of educators, students and community members to share knowledge, ideas and resources in order to transform thinking about our current education system.
Over the years, we have embarked on and won many campaigns in our local schools. In 2015, we succeeded in organizing with parents, educators, students and community members to cancel a proposed contract between the Minneapolis Public Schools district and a reading curriculum created by Reading Horizons, which was filled with racist and sexist content. We have led campaigns putting pressure on the Minneapolis Public School board to create pathways for their diverse support staff to earn licensure while working in the district (a program called Grow-Your Own which we demanded accept 100% applicants of color) and we have demanded that staff receive their contractual Professional Development time after having it taken away in 2016 at a local school. In the winter of 2016, we launched our website and blog where you may now read about some of our more recent campaigns which focused on organizing against systemic racism.
We believe in the collective power of organizing our workplaces and working in solidarity with students, families and community members. As we grow, we are able to put our collective power to use in transforming our workplaces, schools and communities, one campaign at a time.