Rockin' on the West Side as Spencer and Melody picket

It was rocking on the Westside as over 40 teachers, para professionals, parents and students joined in solidarity on August 23, 2012, at Melody Elementary School on S. Keeler, to get the word out that student learning conditions can be improved with a fair CTU contract. Horns were honking as participants handed informational flyers to pedestrians as well as people driving by. The support was strongly in favor of the students and teachers.

CTU teachers and supporters picket outside Melody Elementary School on Chicago's West Side on August 23, 2012. The day before, Melody's principal, last year a "Pioneer" of the Longest School Day, told the Board of Education meeting that under her leadership the school did not need a librarian. Substance photo by Kati Gilson. Susan Green, holding up a picture of Frederick Douglas told Substance, “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” She also stated “We need to have a second language to be more productive citizens especially when the climate is changing”, agreeing with the union's position that every school should be providing the children with World Languages instruction.

At Spencer School on N. Lavergne, more than 100 people participated in an informational picket. Parents were reading the flyers as fast as they were handed out. After a strong presence of handing out flyers and talking with parents, the teachers, CTU members, Track R school teachers, community members and parents marched down to Washington Boulevard. During the march on one of the busiest streets on the West Side, they chanted and cheered as car after car honked in support.

Many teachers from both schools stated that the longer school day was a disaster. Melody’s principal, stated at the Board Meeting on August 22, 2012 “Our school doesn’t need a librarian”. The principals of both Melody and Spencer are being featured by the Board of Education as part of their campaign against the CTU.

When I asked the teachers to respond to this comment one teacher stated “I guess she doesn’t want them to read”. One teacher did state that all the classrooms have classroom libraries.

Chants used at the schools included “Better Schools is a right… That’s why we have to fight!”, “Hey Rahm we’re no fools, you will not ruin our schools!”, “Hey Brizard we’re no fools, you will not ruin our schools!” “CTU! CTU! CTU!” and “What do we want? A fair contract! When do we want it now!”

The teachers had all been informed of the August 22 House of Delegates vote and when asked about a possible strike date early September seemed the most popular.