Frequently Asked Questions

Who is involved with MITUL?

MITUL is a non-profit organization comprised of a network of volunteers and consultants who are dedicated to helping emerging leaders in today’s teacher unions. MITUL coordinators draw on the talents of experienced, progressive teacher union leaders who can work with teacher union locals as coaches, trainers, facilitators, planners and organizational consultants. We utilize the experience and talents of veteran progressive leaders within the Teacher Union Reform Network as well as other local union leaders whose skills and knowledge base can be of use to their colleagues. Our consultants and volunteers assist local union leaders in developing strategy for a union role in education reform in public school systems.

What is Progressive Unionism?

Progressive unionism integrates three perspectives in conceiving of the mission of teacher unions:

  • Bread and butter, or industrial unionism – in which the union works to improve pay and working conditions, champions fair treatment, and protects the rights and living standards of teachers.
  • Professional unionism – in which the union serves as the professional voice of teachers, empowering the most accomplished teachers, and advocating mechanisms for improving teaching and learning, creating a professional learning community in schools and the school system, and
  • Social justice unionism – in which the union unites with parents and students to counter the societal systems of disadvantage based on race and social class that are the source of unequal student outcomes in public education.

Progressive unionists work to expand the scope of bargaining and the work of the union to include sharing responsibility for improving the quality of teaching and learning. They refuse to cede to school district management control over the quality of the system, but rather work collaboratively to reform the basic systems of professional development, compensation, curriculum, assessment and instruction so that human resources are utilized to best effect and the profession is elevated. In progressive union locals the challenges of closing the achievement gap and improving student learning across the board occupy center stage at union meetings and the union engages its members to ensure that the perspective of teachers informs decisions and policies in the district. Progressive union locals build teacher leadership and institutionalize ways for accomplished teacher leaders to be heard in the union, the school system, and in the community.

What does MITUL do?

MITUL provides leadership and organizational development services to teacher union locals by engaging in a multi-year consulting relationship with the locals and providing a cohort experience for a group of “critical friend” locals. MITUL contracts with interested teacher union locals to engage in a process of self-analysis, leadership development and capacity building. We ask for a commitment to the consultation and cohort process from a defined leadership team in the local.

MITUL also engages in broad communication, education and advocacy around the role of teacher unions in defining and leading public education reform. We seek to continually build and deepen a progressive vision and analysis for teacher unions, opinion leaders, policy-makers and advocacy organizations. We engage with our colleagues at the NEA, the AFT, TURN, and with public education advocates nationally.

Is MITUL an alternative to the NEA or the AFT?

No. MITUL is a non-profit consulting organization that regularly interacts with the NEA and the AFT.. It functions within, not outside the teacher union movement. Its consultants have devoted their work lives to the teacher union movement and its improvement. MITUL does not have and will not seek a membership base itself and it does not initiate or support efforts to contest for union office within NEA or AFT.

By the same token, MITUL is not subject to the policy swings in each of the unions that result from democratic elections of national leaders within the NEA and the AFT. MITUL is committed to a mission and a vision that is independent. We hope to find receptivity to that vision within the two national unions and their locals.

How is MITUL funded?

MITUL has received funding from five independent foundations.

  • The George Gund Foundation
  • The Joyce Foundation
  • The Broad Foundation
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Knowledgeworks

Union locals affiliated with MITUL fund part of the cost of participation by their leader-teams in the institute. The NEA and the AFT have provided some of the support for the involvement of their locals.