Though the titles and acronyms of policies differ from one country to another, throughout the world a political project has taken root with the assumption that to reduce poverty and inequality, governments should privatize school systems, alter teaching from a career to contract labor, use standardized tests to make students and teachers accountable, and curtail the power and legal rights of teachers unions. This article explores how teacher activists might help reverse neoliberal educational politics by developing mutually-respectful collaborations among teachers, parents and youth in poor communities, in school-based and system-wide partnerships that involve teachers unions. Analyzing events as they were experienced and influenced by a New York City-based NGO of teachers committed to educational justice, the author examines the landscape of educational reform politics and the creation of new spaces and organizational forms not confined by collective bargaining jurisdictions and traditional bargaining demands. The study suggests that development of a social movement of teachers that might edge teachers unions in the direction of social movement teacher unionism may not occur in a linear fashion. Rather, a complex push-pull dynamic occurs with each change, opening and retracting space, remaking networks and influencing longstanding personal ties among activists.