While commonly referred to in the pejorative register due to its recent links with the far-right, the work of Ernesto Laclau and his followers has sought to re-claim populism for the progressive left. Rather than necessarily the site of an irrational and reactionary politics, Laclau conceived populism as an ‘articulatory logic’ which can potentially carry any ideology. This paper argues, through a discussion of recent media campaigns of the NZEI teacher union, that populism is a potentially useful strategy for leftist educational activists. Through clearly marking the boundaries between neoliberalism and a progressive educational ethos, the logic brings together teachers, parents and the wider public around shared cultural values. While there are ethical issues associated with a strategy which encourages simplification and the exclusion of an Other, I argue that these concerns can be mitigated against through the grounding of campaigns in widely shared ethical principles and the provision of accessible online spaces. Further, there is no ‘who’ which is excluded, but a ‘what’: a globally hegemonic system which itself has inflicted much social harm.