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Teacher-Run Schools and the History of Worker’s Cooperatives

Posted on | November 24, 2010 | Comments Off

Following our case study on teacher-run schools, Henry Levin wrote to remind me of Worker Cooperatives in America, a 1984 book he co-edited with Robert Jackall.  It still offers pertinent insight into the opportunities and problems of worker owned and operated organizations. “[T]he affective ties which are the basis for selection into collectives bind workers to one another and to their groups in very intense ways.  One one hand, such ties provide collectives with a resiliency that is necessary to cope with their marginality; on the other, they personalize and thus intensify even routine disputes, often producing tangled emotional situations that are very difficult to reconcile.  Many cooperatives founder on the very intensity that is their hallmark.” (95-96)

It is not surprising that cooperatives are again drawing attention; founding them is a historic reaction to hard times. Last night, PBS aired a NOW show on local sourcing, and job creation, including cooperatives.

It is unfortunately the case that our society is so attuned to hierarchical control that we do not train ourselves, our students, or our children in other possibilities.

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