History in the making... A medley of reports and analyses following Day One of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012
[Editor's Note:Of the many compilations of articles and analyses of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, one of the most extensive as we began our coverage and work on September 11, 2012, the second day of the strike, came in to use from Portside, which does compilatons. Many of these reports originally appeared here at Substance and elsewhere. Without editing, we are sharing it all here. As teachers said all day on the picket lines: Join us. The more the merrier.].
Why Chicago Teachers Strike - CTU Leader Speaks Out, as do Rank-and-File Teachers, Parents; What You Can Do; Background to Strike
1. Why We're Striking in Chicago - 'Join Our Fight for Education Justice,' says CTU President Karen Lewis
2. Press Release: CPS Fails To Negotiate Fair Contract To Prevent First Strike In 25 Years (Chicago Teachers Union)
3. Why I'm striking, JCB - Teacher X (Xian Barrett)
4. video - Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose "Corporate" Education Model in Chicago (Democracy Now!)
5. video -Chicago Parent Puts Penny Pritzker on Trial
6. Behind the Chicago Teachers Strike (Theresa Moran in Labor Notes)
7. Chicago teachers are facing down big money and political power to fight for better schools (Laura Clawson in Daily Kos Labor)
8. Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign; How You Can Help =====
Chicago Teachers Union Why We're Striking in Chicago 'Join Our Fight for Education Justice,' says CTU President Karen Lewis by Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union President, Common Dreams, September 10, 2012 http://www. commondreams.org/ view/2012/09/10
Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians in Chicago have been without a labor agreement since June of this year. Following the inability of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to reach an agreement over benefits, the role of standardized tests in teacher evaluations, and physical improvements to schools that teachers say are harming both teacher and student performance, the CTU has announced that a city-wide strike will begin today â€” the first teachers strike in 25 years. Pickets are expected at 675 schools and the Board of Education. The following are remarks from CTU President Karen Lewis.
Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid. Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined. We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.
Talks have been productive in many areas. We have successfully won concessions for nursing mothers and have put more than 500 of our members back to work. We have restored some of the art, music, world language, technology and physical education classes to many of our students. The Board also agreed that we will now have textbooks on the first day of school rather than have our students and teachers wait up to six weeks before receiving instructional materials.
Recognizing the Board's fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation. However, we are apart on benefits. We want to maintain the existing health benefits.
Another concern is evaluation procedures. After the initial phase-in of the new evaluation system it could result in 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations will be based on students' standardized test scores. This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.
We want job security. Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even decreases) in teacher training. This is notable because our Union through our Quest Center is at the forefront teacher professional development in Illinois. We have been lauded by the District and our colleagues across the country for our extensive teacher training programs that helped emerging teachers strengthen their craft and increased the number of nationally board certified educators.
We are demanding a reasonable timetable for the installation of air-conditioning in student classrooms--a sweltering, 98- degree classroom is not a productive learning environment for
children. This type of environment is unacceptable for our members and all school personnel. A lack of climate control is unacceptable to our parents.
As we continue to bargain in good faith, we stand in solidarity with parents, clergy and community-based organizations who are advocating for smaller class sizes, a better school day and an elected school board. Class size matters. It matters to parents. In the third largest school
district in the USA there are only 350 social workers - putting their caseloads at nearly 1,000 students each. We join them in their call for more social workers, counselors, audio/ visual and hearing technicians and school nurses. Our children are exposed to unprecedented levels of neighborhood violence and other social issues, so the fight for wraparound services is critically important to all of us. Our members will continue to support this ground swell of parent activism and grassroots engagement on these issues. And we hope the Board will not shut these voices out.
While new Illinois law prohibits us from striking over the recall of laid-off teachers and compensation for a longer school year, we do not intend to sign an agreement until these
matters are addressed.
Again, we are committed to staying at the table until a contract is place. However, in the morning no CTU member will be inside our schools. We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We will talk to the community. We will talk to anyone who will listen - we demand a fair contract today, we demand a fair contract now. And, until there is one in place that our members accept, we will on the line.
We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the state and country who are currently bargaining for their own fair contracts. We stand with those who have already declared they too are prepared to strike, in the best interests of their students.
This announcement is made now so our parents and community are empowered with this knowledge and will know that schools will not open on tomorrow. Please seek alternative care for your children. And, we ask all of you to join us in our education justice fight - for a fair contract - and call on the mayor and CEO Brizard to settle this matter now. Thank you. Karen Lewis [Karen Lewis is the president of the Chicago Teachers Union
CTU PRESS RELEASE BELOW HERE:
Press Release: CPS Fails To Negotiate Fair Contract To Prevent First Strike In 25 Years, Chicago Teachers Union September 09, 2012
http://www.ctunet.com/blog/cps-fails-to- negotiate-fair-contract-to- prevent-first-labor-strike-in-25-years
More than 29,000 teachers and education professionals will not report to work today 9/10
CHICAGO - After hours of intense negotiations, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent the first teachers strike in 25 years. Pickets are expected to begin Monday at 675 schools and the Board of Education as early as 6:30 a.m. Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians have been without a labor agreement since June of this year.
Union leaders expressed disappointment in the District's refusal to concede on issues involving compensation, job security and resources for their students. CTU President Karen Lewis said, "Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid. Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined. We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.
"Talks have been productive in many areas. We have successfully won concessions for nursing mothers and have put more than 500 of our members back to work. We have restored some of the art, music, world language, technology and physical education classes to many of our students. The Board also agreed that we will now have textbooks on the first dayof school rather than have our students and teachers wait up to six weeks before receiving instructional materials.
"Recognizing the Board's fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation. However, we are apart on benefits. We want to maintain the existing health benefits.
"Another concern is evaluation procedures. After the initial phase-in of the new evaluation system it could result in 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations will be based on students' standardized test scores. This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.
"We want job security. Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even decreases) in teacher training. This is notable because our Union through our Quest Center is at the forefront teacher professional development in Illinois. We have been lauded by the District and our colleagues across the country for our extensive teacher training programs that helped emerging teachers strengthen their craft and increased the number of nationally board certified educators.
"We are demanding a reasonable timetable for the installation of air-conditioning in student classrooms--a sweltering, 98- degree classroom is not a productive learning environment for
children. This type of environment is unacceptable for our members and all school personnel. A lack of climate control is unacceptable to our parents.
"As we continue to bargain in good faith, we stand in solidarity with parents, clergy and community-based organizations who are advocating for smaller class sizes, a better school day and an elected school board. Class size matters. It matters to parents. In the third largest school
district in Illinois there are only 350 social workers - putting their caseloads at nearly 1,000 students each. We join them in their call for more social workers, counselors, audio/visual and hearing technicians and school nurses. Our children are exposed to unprecedented levels of neighborhood violence and other social issues, so the fight for wraparound services is critically important to all of us. Our members will continue to support this ground swell of parent activism
and grassroots engagement on these issues. And we hope the Board will not shut these voices out.
"While new Illinois law prohibits us from striking over the recall of laid-off teachers and compensation for a longer school year, we do not intend to sign an agreement until these
matters are addressed.
"Again, we are committed to staying at the table until a contract is place. However, in the morning no CTU member will be inside our schools. We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We will talk to the community. We will talk to anyone who will listen - we demand a fair contract today, we demand a fair contract now. And, until there is one in place that our members accept, we will be on the line.
"We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the state and country who are currently bargaining for their own fair contracts. We stand with those who have already declared they too are prepared to strike, in the best interests of their students."
"This announcement is made now so our parents and community are empowered with this knowledge and will know that schools will not open on tomorrow. Please seek alternative care for
your children. And, we ask all of you to join us in our education justice fight - for a fair contract - and call on the mayor and CEO Brizard to settle this matter now. Thank you."
[NOTICE: The union is not on strike over matters governed exclusively by IELRA Section 4.5 and 12(b).
The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and
families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU's website at www.ctunet.com .
ONE OF MANY TEACHER VOICES â€”Â XIAN BARRETT OF CORE, TEACHER AT GAGE PARK HIGH SCHOOL
Why I'm striking, JCB by Teacher X (Xian Barrett) ChicTeacherX.Blogspot.com September 9, 2012
Teaching is not pouring knowledge into kids' heads. It's supporting students to choose their own values, develop their own skills and forge their own path in life.
CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying both that CTU leadership is deciding whether or not to strike, and that "everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids."
I just wanted to educate my boss a little on the history of Chicago, as he is relatively new to the area. Chicago is founded on the hard daily struggle of working people. It is the birth of the labor movement - not a movement just for wages and benefits, but a movement that stopped child labor so that each of the kids in CPS schools could attend school instead of working. It was a movement that stopped the practice of working conditions so unsafe that consumers were
eating the actual workers who fell into the mix while they were making hot dogs. It was a movement that fought so that workers could have some tiny measure of time with our families
rather than spending all waking hours working for the enrichment of their bosses.
But even more importantly, I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to "help or hurt our kids". When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.
When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.
When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.
When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there's no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.
When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a "full school day" and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.
When you support Mayor Emanuel's TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.
When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids' lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.
When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.
When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, "communicate with words", that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.
When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as "our kids" or "other people's children". And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I'm striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I'm doing to tell you, "No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.
I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.
See you on the picket line, my friend. ï£¿
[Xian Barrett teaches law and Chicago history at Gage Park High School in Chicago, Illinois. In 2009, he was selected one of ten Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellows by the U.S.
Department of Education. (bio information from CNN.com http://schoolsofthought. blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/07/my-view- chicago-school-day-a-teacher-responds/ )]
video - Striking Teachers, Parents Join Forces to Oppose
"Corporate" Education Model in Chicago
Amy Goodman interviews Chicago teacher and parent
September 10, 2012 - 9:12 a, EDT
To discuss the Chicago teachers' strike, we're joined by two
guests: Phil Cantor, a teacher and strike captain at Chicago's
North-Grand High School and member of Teachers for Social
Justice, and Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, the mother of two public
school students in Chicago and a member of the grassroots
group Parents 4 Teachers.
video -Chicago Parent Matt Farmer Puts Penny Pritzker on Trial
CPS Parent Matt Farmer Puts Penny Pritzker on Trial at CTU's
STANDS STRONG RALLY
CPS parent Matt Farmer puts billionaire Board of Education
member Penny Pritzker on Trial at CTU's STANDS STRONG RALLY.
Pritzker doesn't seem to feel it is necessary to provide other
people's children with the same educational experience as
[Matt Farmer is a Chicago lawyer who writes songs and plays
music in his spare time. He is currently serving a two-year
term as a member of the Local School Council at Philip Rogers
Behind the Chicago Teachers Strike
by Theresa Moran
September 10, 2012
Chicago teachers are on strike today to demand smaller
classes, much-needed student services, and stability for a
profession that's battling a corporate takeover.
Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union president, said with
regret that the union had no choice. "We must do things
differently in this city if we're going to provide students
with the education they so rightfully deserve," she said.
With throngs of red-shirted union members flanking the doors,
CTU officers emerged stoically from the union office at 10
p.m. last night to announce the strike, which came after nine
months of contentious negotiations with Chicago Mayor Rahm
Emanuel and his appointed school board.
Not a half hour before, school board President David Vitale
was visibly shaking as he announced that talks had broken
down. He emphasized the concessions the board had made on
economic issues, saying, "This should satisfy most of their
needs." He claimed the board was unsure what more teachers
CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey made clear, however, that for
the union, it wasn't about money in teachers' pockets. Lewis
said the two sides had come very close to agreeing on
Sharkey cited in particular a new evaluation process that
could cause 28 percent of teachers to lose their jobs within
two years. Illinois passed a new teacher evaluation law in
2010 to qualify for federal Race to the Top education funds.
CTU says the evaluations place too much emphasis on
standardized tests, which are an unreliable and narrow measure
of a student's progress, and are tied to a systematic
privatization of public schools.
Recall rights for teachers displaced by school closures is
another of the union's top priorities, though not an issue
they're able to strike over. By law, the teachers can only
walk out over unfair labor practices or mandatory subjects of
bargaining like wages or health benefits.
Bargaining improved in recent weeks, the union said, with the
city withdrawing its attempt to institute merit pay,
reinstating some scheduled raises based on education and
experience, and annual raises each year of the four-year deal
instead of the initial proposal for a one-time 2 percent bump.
CTU said the city offered 3 percent the first year and 2
percent each following year.
Lewis said the 26,000-member union is motivated by much more.
"We don't intend to sign an agreement until all these matters
are addressed," she said.
At its core, the strike is nothing less than a faceoff between
two conflicting visions of public education. More important
than economics or the teacher evaluations, said Sharkey, are
"pedagogical issues" like small class sizes; a curriculum of
language, art, music, and physical education for all students;
and nursing and social-work services inside schools to address
the many needs that poor students bring to the schoolhouse
door - and that hurt academic performance when left
On the Line
A constant chorus of horns blared in support as teachers and
students alike joined a steadily growing picket line this
morning at Roosevelt High School in Albany Park, one of 675
lines across the city.
Teenagers stood with their teachers and cheered, waving signs
and wielding noisemakers.
Roosevelt is a designated CPS "holding center" where students
can go for food and supervision between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30
p.m. Several police stood by the school entrance to watch the
few who came.
While teachers raised issues from evaluations to school
privatization to class size to explain why they backed the
strike, they were in solid agreement on one thing: public
education in Chicago is not working and Mayor Emanuel is
making things worse.
English teacher Keith Plum says he's sick of teaching to the
test. "It's always some big corporation selling a canned
curriculum that's never been tested," he said, adding that he
was told he'd be punished if he deviated from the curriculum's
Plum recalls a sophomore who, three weeks into the school
year, raised her hand to ask, "When are going to do some real
A New Direction
Emanuel and the school board say the best way to deal with
struggling public schools is to close them or turn them over
to private charter operators.
The problem they see isn't a lack of resources or a "drill-
and-kill" test-based curriculum, but bad teachers. The
solution is to use students' standardized test scores to
identify - and then get rid of - both schools and teachers who
are "failing." Job protections like tenure and seniority
rights, to education privatizers, are roadblocks on the path
to wiping out public schools.
The corporate plan for education is not just about ideology,
however. It's also about money. Charter schools can be
lucrative investment opportunities, and glitzy new charters
are placed in gentrifying neighborhoods, serving as a magnet
for newcomers while excluding local children.
Eliminating job protections and evaluating teachers based on
student test scores is also about saving money, says high
school teacher Adam Heenan, "designed to make teachers cheap"
by firing experienced educators. Another money-saving move is
alternative teacher certification programs like Teach for
America that guarantee a steady supply of brand-new teachers,
trained for just a few weeks before they're in front of a
class. Most leave the job after a few years.
Lewis says the revolving door of teachers is bad for kids, who
often have chaotic home lives plagued by hunger, homelessness,
and violence. "Job security is stability for our students,"
The union singles out poverty as one of the biggest roadblocks
to academic achievement. CTU has insistently pointed to
disparities within the city, particularly the lack of
resources in schools serving low-income Black and Latino
students. The union says 160 schools have no library, and many
Problems in the schools themselves, the union argues, can be
solved by fully funding them, providing a rich curriculum and
the wraparound services students need. Class size matters,
too. Kindergarten and first-grade classrooms in Chicago are
bigger than those in 95 percent of all Illinois schools,
according to the CTU's research.
"How can we learn with a classroom of 50 kids in it with not
enough books or materials?" asked Marta Aguirre, a senior at
Roosevelt High School, who was walking the picket line with
her teachers this morning.
She says she once had a class so packed that students had to
sit on the floor.
The strike has been "a long time coming," Heenan said.
The conflict has its roots in the push to privatize Chicago
schools, which began in the late 1990s and was turbocharged by
former Mayor Richard Daley's "Renaissance 2010" plan. Carried
out with zeal by Arne Duncan, former Chicago schools chief and
now President Obama's secretary of education, the plan closed
more than 100 schools, replacing them with charters.
In many cases Duncan allowed multiple schools to operate under
a single charter to skirt legal limits on the number of
charters permitted in the city.
The Caucus of Rank and File Educators, whose members currently
occupy the union's leadership slots, formed in 2008 when
teacher activists fed up with school closures started fighting
At first, they lobbied the union to get involved. When the
leadership at the time didn't share their activist approach,
they began organizing themselves. The group developed strong
ties to community groups, partnering with them to save several
schools from closure. With a track record of success, the
group grew quickly and won union office in 2010.
Rahm Emanuel continued Daley's tornado of closures and
privatizations when he took over last year, targeting another
21 schools in December. Indeed, the fight against school
closures has only gotten harder. Even the occupation of a
local elementary school earlier in the year by parents was not
enough to prevent its shuttering. The onslaught only promises
to get worse.
The union took another hit with passage of a state law in May
2011 that chipped away at seniority rights, made it harder for
teachers to gain tenure, and said the Chicago teachers
couldn't strike unless 75 percent of members voted yes. CTU
was the only local union singled out by the legislature for
Practice Makes Perfect
While years of abuse from elected officials primed the CTU
membership for drastic action, preparing for the strike took
months of methodical organizing.
Contract negotiations began last November and, even before
sitting down to the table, the union set to work organizing
contract action committees in each of the city's more than 600
schools. Committee members were responsible for keeping a team
of co-workers - with the lofty goal of one committee member
for every five staff - informed on bargaining issues.
Committees at each school in turn reported to volunteers
responsible for communication with all schools in a small
The goal was "to develop the leadership of people who could
take responsibility if a job action proved necessary," says
Debby Pope, a retired Chicago teacher who is working for the
All the work to build mobilizing structures in the schools
paid off when members realized by the spring that bargaining
was going nowhere. The board was proposing to eviscerate
already inadequate class-size protections, institute a 20
percent longer school day without a proportional increase in
pay, do away with raises for experience and education in favor
of merit pay, and jack up teachers' health care costs.
Ensuring adequate resources for schools was nowhere on the
Frustrated members were ready to ratchet up the contract
campaign and start planning for a potential strike - the
local's first in 25 years.
In April, contract committees at several schools decided on
their own to hold practice strike votes to gauge support -
which they found in spades. Next, the union polled the entire
membership, to test the structure's ability to coordinate
logistics on a large scale. Ninety percent backed a strike in
the informal poll.
Shortly after, 4,000 members filled an auditorium to capacity
for a rally, before joining thousands of supporters for a
march on Chicago's Mercantile Exchange, where they protested
the $77 million a year subsidy the derivatives marketplace
receives from the state.
City officials have said they seek concessions because the
schools face a $665 million deficit this year and a bigger one
next year. But CTU says the city could find the money to fix
schools if it wanted to, noting that Chicago pumps $250
million a year into development projects backed by political
cronies and downtown business interests.
To meet the threshold set by the new anti-union law, the union
needed 75 percent of members to approve a strike. Ninety-eight
percent of those voting gave their enthusiastic "yes."
Over the summer, the union brought in several dozen teacher
and paraprofessional members to work as organizers, making
sure their colleagues stayed connected to the union and up to
date on bargaining through the break.
When a third of the schools opened their doors in mid-August,
the union held informational pickets to educate parents and
give members a sense of what a picket line might feel like.
At Curie Metro High, where Adam Heenan works, staff broke up
into teams of 10 responsible for supporting and keeping each
other informed on the line.
"People were already so fed up that even though a strike was
scary they weren't horrified by the idea," said Jen Johnson, a
history teacher at Lincoln Park High School. "we're
organizationally, mentally, and emotionally prepared." The
Boss Prepares, Too
The city has made its own preparations for a strike,
allocating $25 million for a contingency plan. The city is
spending the money keeping 145 schools open for four hours a
day, providing food and daycare.
The union has questioned whether this is money well spent. The
facilities are being run by clergy and staff from the
district's central office - people with no educational or
childcare background. A manual for those working the holding
centers instructs them to play games like "Simon says" and to
"communicate with words."
CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin called the plan "the
equivalent of opening a fire station without firefighters and
giving a bunch of lawyers, accountants, and clerical workers a
few fire hoses and rubber boots."
Ironically, the manuals draw attention to poor building
conditions teachers are raising.
District employees are warned to dress for classrooms with no
air conditioners, not to count on having a refrigerator or
microwave available, and to be prepared to come early and
[Theresa comes to Labor Notes after several years working as a
researcher and organizer for health care unions in New York
and New Jersey. Before that, she cut her teeth as a student
labor activist in New York, fighting to kick Coca-Cola off
campus and assisting campus security officers in their
successful campaign to organize for higher pay and better
benefits. http://labornotes.org/staff ]
Chicago teachers are facing down big money and political power
to fight for better schools
by Laura Clawson
Daily Kos Labor
September 10, 2012 - 1:34 pm EDT
Chicago teachers are fighting not just for fair pay and decent
health care but for a host of things that will improve
education for Chicago kids - smaller classes, needed books and
teaching materials, comfortable and well-maintained schools.
But they're running into a buzz saw of well-organized, well-
funded opposition from the massive anti-teacher, pro-corporate
education policy world. Teachers don't have the money or the
media platform that Wall Street billions and Mayor Rahm
Emanuel will get you, which is why they need our help and
What we're seeing in Chicago is the fallout from Jonah
Edelman's hedge fund backed campaign to elect Illinois state
legislators who supported an anti-collective bargaining,
testing based education proposal giving Edelman the "clear
political capability to potentially jam this proposal down
[the teachers unions'] throats," political capability he used
as leverage to jam an only slightly less awful proposal down
their throats. It's a political deal that explicitly targeted
Chicago teachers, while trying to make it impossible that they
would strike by requiring a 75 percent vote of all teachers,
not just those voting, for a strike to be legal. But more than
90 percent of Chicago teachers voted to strike.
It's not just Jonah Edelman, though. Rahm Emanuel worked with
a tea party group to promote Chicago charter schools and
denigrate traditional public school teachers and their unions.
Emanuel's political allies have been caught paid protesters to
show up at hearings on school closures. Every story you read
about the greedy teachers (greedy? does that description fit
the teachers you know?) has years of big money anti-teacher
campaigning behind it, pushing us to believe that teachers,
who bring work home every night and routinely spend their own
money on school supplies and even food for their students, are
overpaid, selfish, lazy. Now, all those narratives that the
right wing has built up - anti-union narratives coming
together with pro-privatization narratives - are being used
against Chicago's teachers.
Mitt Romney is diving in, with a statement accusing the
Chicago Teachers Union of "turning its back on not only a city
negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands
of children relying on the city's public schools to provide
them a safe place to receive a strong education." But it was
the teachers pushing the city to guarantee that students would
have textbooks on day one instead of in week six, pushing for
more social workers and school nurses.
The money and the megaphones are stacked against Chicago
teachers as they fight for the working conditions they need to
effectively educate Chicago students. They need fair
evaluation systems, not to risk firing based on standardized
tests that were not designed to evaluate teacher performance.
They need enough job security to be able to go to bat for
their students without fear. They need to be teaching in
classrooms that aren't overflowing with 30 or more students.
Those are things they're negotiating for, striking for,
walking picket lines for. But they need our help getting the
word out about what this fight is really about. And they need
to know we're with them. If you're in Chicago, you can rally
or wear red in solidarity.
Wherever you are, talk to your friends and family in Chicago
and let them know what's really going on. Help counter the
anti-teacher onslaught. And tell Chicago teachers you're
standing with them as they fight for better schools and
[Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributing editor since
December 2006, and Daily Kos Labor editor since 2011.]
Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign As of Monday, September 10th, the CTU is on strike for the soul of public education.
We must support them while they bravely fight for all of us!
The Strike HQ is at 1642 W. Van Buren, Teamsters Local 705.
Stop by anytime to get volunteer and help out. Or, look below for specific ways to contribute to the cause:Join a picket line from 6:30am-10:30am at any of the schools CPS will attempt to open and operate without any teachers. Full list here: http://goo.gl/maps/nlTo0
You don't have to come for the whole time, but walking with the teachers is a great way to show them our support. Picketers also appreciate donations of coffee and/or donuts.
Rally to demand a fair contract from CPS at their HQ at 125 S. Clark, at 3:30pm on Monday and every day of the strike. You are also welcome to join the picket there in the early mornings or late evenings.
Call Chicago's mayor and school board and tell them public education is about students, parents and teachers, not private profit. Demand smaller classes, a better school day, and a fair contract! Let your voice be heard. Call now:
Mayor Emanuel at 312-744-3300 CEO Brizard at 773-553-1500 (Every Thursday night Parents4Teachers is calling to flood CPS with messages supporting teachers.)
Buy a teacher lunch by donating to Primo's Pizza, a locally owned and teacher-friendly restaurant near the strike HQ delivering pizza, pasta and salads. Call Gus or Daisy at Primo's Pizza at (312) 243-1052. Primo's is at 816 W Van Buren Street, Chicago. Open 11 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday.
Visibly and audibly support CTU by: 1) Talking with your friends, family and co-workers,
2) Downloading materials or picking them up from strike HQ and distributing them,
3) Wearing our t-shirt or other red clothing in solidarity. You can also use a red ribbon to tie around your neighborhood or clothing. (Our shirts can be bought at strike HQ, our events, or you can place a minimum order of 24 at $11.50 each union-made, union-printed CTSC shirts by contacting American Campaigns Co. at (773)261-6800 or email Gigi email@example.com)
4) Put a CTU support sign in your window/yard. Distribute signs to coffee shops, work places, other public spots.
5) Host a meeting at your home or school to help your friends, family and neighbors understand what's really at stake and brainstorm ways we can all make a difference at this critical time. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and Parents4Teachers will help facilitate the meeting and make a presentation.
6) Get creative and get the word out!
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