A new 'Chicago Symphony' is born on every street in the Second City... Massive support for teachers as the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 begins

If one of the great symbols of America — cars, trucks, and other vehicles operated on internal combustion engines — could make music that became a symphony of democracy, on September 10, 2012, that was what took place in Chicago. The third largest city in the USA was the noisiest in its history on September 10, 2012, as cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles honked their horns and blared their air horns from Howard St. near the Evanston border to 135th St. on Chicago's far south side. As the Chicago teachers strike began, the new Chicago Symphony was making music across the city and drowning out the noise of the rich, powerful, and dishonest many are hoping forever.

Teachers from Steinmetz High School on Chicago's far northwest side stand along Naragansett Ave. near the school with Ald. Nick Sposato (36). On every major street in Chicago and on many side streets, the majority of motorists, from the drivers of huge semi-trailers and firefighters to small car owners were honking their horns in support of the Chicago Teachers Union on the first day of their strike against the policies of the Board of Education appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Many students joined their teachers. Steinmetz student signs read: "We care, we love, we support the teachers" and "Disrespect our teachers, you’re disrespecting us." Substance photo by Claudio Mendrano.The reason for the music? Across Chicago, people were showing their support for the city's teachers and for the Chicago Teachers Union as picket lines stood outside the city's 675 real public schools and a strike the nation's rulers said was impossible began.

"Noise, hell. That's our music..." teachers were saying as they slowly understood what was unfolding before their eyes and ears.

The first pickets showed up at the headquarters of the Chicago Public Schools at midnight, and were singing "Solidarity Forever" without a song sheet (and with a little help from this reporter). By dawn, thanks to more than two years of organizing by the CTU leadership, the teachers and other school workers with their signs were arriving at their duties across the vast city. From O'Hare Airport to the Indiana border, by 7:00 a.m. the "CTU red" lines were along every main street in the city, and the "Honk if you support the teachers" symphony had begun. It couldn't be drowned out, no matter how craven the lies of the men and women who, by 2012, were known generally as the "one percent." Every truck driver, firefighter, cab driver, police officer and citizen knew that this was THE beginning of the fight to take back the USA from the plutocracy, and the teachers of Chicago were leading it and knew why they were doing what we were doing.


September 10, 2012 at 7:32 PM

By: Anthony Smith


I am extraordinarily proud of the teachers from Kilmer, Field elementary schools, and Sullivan High School on the north side who marched and stood on Pratt and down Clark street!

The public was so supportive as well it made me proud to be a Chicagoan. The first responders: police and fire, cta, streets and sanitation, truck drivers, taxi drivers, regular people, store owners, were so supportive it was overwhelmingly terrific!

They shouted support, honked their horns, waved hi, stopped by to speak with us and we are especially proud of the parents and their sons and daughters, our students who stood with us, brought us water and brought us food! And we appreciate our former graduates who also stopped by with encouragement and support.

I am certain that in many neighborhoods people experienced the same response. Being visible, on the major thoroughfares is definitely good publicity and immediate positive reinforcement for our souls.

The younger, brand new teachers, were overwhelmed with the outpouring of kindness and support! It was very heartening for them especially, since they are concerned about not having tenure!

For Rahm and the media that he controls, the cat is out of the bag, we know the public supports us, because we see it and we experience it. We saw it at the rally on May 23rd and we see it today on September 10th!

Rahm and his controlled media can downplay it all they want, the public knows the difference. And now it is making national news!

In Solidarity.

Standing Proud!

September 10, 2012 at 7:39 PM

By: bob Busch

TFAs and FNGs became one with us this morning


This was my tenth strike. We walked at 65th and Wood 83rd and Vincennes 81st and Morgan

69th and Steward, 99th and Michigan.

But this morning at 79th and Pulaski was beyond my wildest dreams. I would personally like to apologize to anyone working the second or third shift because the noise was loud, very loud.

I would also like to thank the kids. The young teachers all learned something today.

They pulled it off. Only three of us had ever walked a picket line. The former TFAs and FNG’s became part of something this morning.

When that first semi engine broke and laid on his air horn it started a crescendo that vibrated off the very walls of City Hall. Some of our young teachers' grandparents were not even born in 1969 when we first went out on strike. As we made the first pass up 79th street I told them two things. Welcome to the labor movement and you will always remember this day.

I really feel I can retire now. Our union and our kids are in good hands.

Well done you made me proud.

September 10, 2012 at 8:07 PM

By: Lee Alexander

Gresham Community

Teachers, students, parents, and community members rocked the southside!!! We are working for the betterment of the schools so that kids reach for the stars.

If Rahm wants to compare us to Estonia's computer programming classes THEN GIVE US THE RESOURCES!!! Tinley Park second graders ALL receive Ipads. You get what you pay for.

September 10, 2012 at 8:55 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

South side activision

I was very proud of Clara Barton Elementary School where I serve on the LSC. The teachers and other staff members were out in full force at 6:30 this morning. They were organized and the community showed their support. I plan to be there for a period of time every morning that the strike continues. For most of the teachers that I talked to, it was their first strike--some weren't even born the last time we went out. This is one of the days that make me proud to be a Union member.

September 10, 2012 at 11:21 PM

By: Susan McGuire

2012 strike. Day One. Thanks Nick...

Alderman Sposato came out wearing a red t- shirt and provided water and donuts at my school on Diversy. Local police, fire and streets and sanitation came out in support. Parents along with their children also carried signs. Strike cars loaded with teachers drove by neighboring schools with signs hanging out to show solidarity. It was truly an amazing historic event on what democracy is all about.

September 11, 2012 at 12:14 AM

By: Dave Vance

Noise Report on a monumental day

It was loud on 90th and Commercial in South Chicago this morning. Teachers and staff from Mireles all showed up in unity for their school and the union. It seemed every bus and truck driver on Commercial was also supporting the CTU.

Mireles with 900 students is underfunded like all the schools. Thirty five students in each classroom is common. The teachers know defending their school is also defending public education as we know it. Rumors are floating that they will be picked off in the next "turnaround".

Everyone agreed this strike is "monumental" history is in this struggle.

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