I remember the moment I stopped resenting the deduction in my paychecks that went to my union. It took me three years, and happened suddenly, says Eric Shieh, founding teacher of the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, “A School for a Sustainable City.” Halfway through my third year of teaching music, in 2007, administrators in my St. Louis district decided to cut student time in the arts by 64 percent at the middle-school level as part of a plan to improve student test-scores. Appalled, I sent an email to my fellow arts teachers across the district asking what we were going to do. The response from my colleagues? There is nothing you can do; this has been happening for the past 20 years. Nonetheless, unwilling to let the arts programs go quietly, I circulated petitions among staff, acquiring signatures from several hundred teachers—arts and non-arts teachers alike. It didn’t do anything…

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