HOD Meeting Rallying the Troops

For those who haven’t heard the news — there is currently a war between the Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union. And at the latest House of Delegates meeting on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, it was announced that the next battle will be the school closings list — or the infamous "Hit List."

“The school closings will be the biggest ever,” CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey told the delegates.

The Board of Education – keeping up with the new corporate lingo – has termed the next round of closings based on test scores (but not charter school test scores for some dang reason) “school actions.”

On March 15, 2010, Karen Lewis, then a teacher at King High School in Chicago, was one of dozens of people who spoke against the closing and "turnaround" of Bradwell Elementary School at the hearings at CPS. The Chicago Board of Education members didn't even bother to attend the hearings or read the dramatic transcript of the remarks made by parents, students, teachers, and others about the reality of Bradwell, which served some of the poorest children in Chicago in one of the city's most dangerous gang-infested communities. A week later, the Board voted to subject Bradwell to the humiliation and disruption of "turnaround" under the aegis of AUSL. Three months later, Karen Lewis became President of the Chicago Teachers Union. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber. Union leaders said the Chicago Public Schools could release a possible list of up to 100 possible schools to be closed, and force those schools to prove why they should continue to operate.

“This represents a grave threat to our profession,” Sharkey said.

The current CORE union leadership, in a complete reversal of the previous UPC administration, is rallying the troops of teachers and aids early to fight the privatization plan to destroy public education. [A look at how things were four years ago is available in a Labor Beat video from March 2008 posted at this week as a historical reminder.].

CORE first made its name by rallying massive opposition to the school closings, which resulted in forcing CPS to remove almost a dozen schools from the lists to show it was responding to the communities’ concerns.

The school closings list is set for December 1, much earlier than in years past because of the new facilities bill that passed earlier this year which makes the closing process more transparent and accountable to the community.

The CTU has scheduled a teach-in on stopping the school closings on Saturday, December 3 at King College Prep, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd. from 10am – 2pm.

CTU president Karen Lewis told the delegates the union had a “huge win” in stopping CPS from implementing a longer school day. While the agreement will allow the current 13 schools to continue to have the longer school day despite the Illinois Labor Relations Board’s decision that many of those teachers’ rights were violated, Lewis said the union decided to use its resources to fight the mayor’s determination to continue closing public schools.

Lewis noted that the Board probably decided calling children failures was in bad taste, so they changed it to 123,000 underperforming “seats.”

“They want to scare everyone,” Lewis said.

This latest fight should be entertaining fare to those who like to see action.

In the one corner, you have the mayor, the neoliberal darling of the Democratic ruling party who has declared war on the unions in Chi-town. And he hasn’t disappointed – forcing some public school teachers to break their contract to work a longer day, and continuing to privatize.

In the other corner, you have the Chicago Teachers Union led by Karen Lewis, certainly nothing what the government leaders and their corporate masters are used to dealing with. Lewis has called the mayor out on his pseudo rudeness and vulgarity and made it known to the corporate controlled media that she will not back down in a fight for the life of public education.

Plus, you have Occupy Chicago and the Chicago Transportation Authority or CTA workers ready to fight with the CTU to stop the school closings, Lewis said to a large round of applause from the teacher delegates.

She asked delegates to also support the CTA workers who are being asked to give huge compensation concessions, or else increase fares.

"Their job is to get the public against public workers," Lewis said.

The CTU president cautioned against any emotional outbursts should their neighborhood school be targeted.

“Do not panic if your school is ‘actionable,’” Lewis added. “The first day you should call your children’s parents. And if your school is not on the list, don’t think you’re safe. You could be a receiving school, and what support will you get.”


November 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

By: Anton Antoszek

Cowards of Power

Aw! My critique of an unjust and inherently dishonest status quo that is SB 7, SB 512, the odious E3 process and its supporters is too harsh. All anger, frustration, and rage for these evil instruments is unjustified and must be suppressed by the 1% and their paid operatives--local city and state officials.

The social structure that will be imposed on Chicago teachers in the workplace by these laws is indefensible. Nuanced discussions, reason, and common decency are meaningless to the systems apologists and enforcers.

The Cowards of Power have to disguise their lack of humanity by telling the abused in this society that there is no injustice committed against the people. Its all in your head or you simply do not understand the wisdom of these prevaricator, thieves, and murderers like bush@@er, obomber, or emanulie.

Giving awards to people who want to destroy the jobs of the 99% while protecting the wall street scammers and skanksters, I mean bankers like bank of america is hypocrisy at best. Treachery at its worst.

If the only thing one can hide behind is exercising propriety toward bullies, thieves, liars, and murderers in authority, I have another reality for you to consider.

Do not hide behind fallacious appeals to defend working within a corrupt system for a place at the table, never speaking a discouraging word. Then your false claims and malevolent sensibilities won't be violated.

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