'Teachers for Social Justice' group is trying to pit police against teachers with false history, damaging hysteria...

The 'Teachers for Social Justice" teach-in will present Chicago with a program that actually claims that police are "unnecessary" based on bad history and worse pedagogy. Among the other silly and false historical narratives to be peddled at the September 24 teach-in and the subsequent annual TSJ "Curriculum Fair" is that claim that mass incarceration in the 20th and 21st centuries is as bad as slavery was in the 19th. Above: The poster being circulated for the TSJ "teach in" in late September 2016.The Chicago group called "Teachers for Social Justice" has announced a program this month (and later) trying to pit teachers against police. The pitting will be based on a false history and a silly narrative about the source of violence in those Chicago communities plagued by drug gangs. "Teachers for Social Justice' will host a teach in at the University of Illinois at Chicago on September 24 and its annual "curriculum fair" later this school year. Both will ignore voices among teachers and from the schools that promote serious and principled policing and security and work to continue the claims that the police themselves -- and not bad policing and criminal drug gangs -- are the source of problems for people living in Chicago's inner city minority communities.

The 'Teachers for Social Justice" teach-in scheduled for September 24 will present Chicago with a program that actually claims that police are "unnecessary" in Chicago's most crime-ridden communities. That claim, which is not deeply based even in those Chicago inner city communities that face controversial police actions, is based on bad history and worse pedagogy. Among the other silly -- and false -- historical narratives to be peddled at the September 24 teach-in (and the subsequent annual TSJ "Curriculum Fair") is the claim that "mass incarceration" in the 20th and 21st centuries is as bad as slavery was in the 19th.

The group is also trying to pit the cost of additional policing for Chicago against the cost of Chicago's public schools, adding to the false versions of reality that some teachers are being asked to accept.

Although TSJ is not officially a part of the Chicago Teachers Union, the favoritism shown by some of the union's leaders to the group since CORE was elected to lead the CTU in 2010 has been significant. The CTU, as of the September 7 House of Delegates meeting and the planning for the September 21 - 23 strike vote, has not yet promoted the TSJ event. But TSJ leaders are once again ignoring many of the facts about Chicago's inner city policing problems -- especially the fact that some of the largest and most violent drug gangs this side of Mexico have been active for four generations on Chicago's streets and in some cases are embedded in Chicago inner city communities. A bias agains the police by those who are often safely protected within university and other well-policed communities has been a long tradition in Chicago.

But another tradition has been the involvement of Chicago's violent drug gangs in the work of undermining decent and necessary policing. As historians have noted, while "voter suppression" has been a problem in place in the United States, the largest example of voter suppression in Chicago history came during the 1968 national election -- when Chicago's African American street gangs, led by the Black P. Stone Nation leader Jeff Fort, intimidated voters and prevented thousands of African American voters from voting for the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States, Huber Humphrey. As a result of the work of his gang, Fort was rewarded by Richard Nixon with an invitation to the Nixon inauguration in January 1969.

False history will not be the only falsity at issue as the confrontations over the costs of policing and public schools escalate in Chicago during the early months of the 2016 - 2017 school year. A small but determined faction within the leadership of CORE (the Caucus of Ranks and File Educators) has been pushing the "TSJ line" within the larger Chicago Teachers Union for several years. Confrontations over those facts are now coming to a head, as more and more rank and file teachers and union delegates are demanding that the Chicago Teachers Union do its jobs as a union and stop pretending to be leading an expensive but undemocratic "social justice movement." The two main jobs of a union in the United States are (a) to negotiate a strong contract for all its members and (b) to enforce that contract ruthlessly once it has been won.

In order to gain the strongest contract possible for Chicago's public school teachers and other union members, the CTU leadership must not only bring the issues strongly to the bargaining table, but must also terminate legal restrictions against bargaining on certain topics by the Chicago Teachers Union. Since the passage of the so-called "Amendatory Act" of 1995, the CTU has been barred by law (alone in Illinois) from bargaining over class size and a large number of issues which are defined as "management prerogatives." Along among Illinois teacher unions, Chicago cannot enforce class size maximums by contract grievances. Other issues are also "off the table" for Chicago -- only.

While CTU lobbyists have been pushing vigorously for legislation that will create an elected schools board for Chicago, after more than six years in power the current leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have still refused to provide legislative language in Springfield for legislation that will restore all bargaining rights to Chicago public school teachers (and Cook County college teachers). No explanation has ever been given for this lapse in legislative work. At the same time, with the support of this reporter and others, the CTU has increased dramatically the annual support asked of members for the union's "Political Action" (PAC) fund. Three years ago, on a motion from this reporter, the CTU House of Delegates voted to increase the annual monthly contribution to the PAC from $2 per month to $5 per month. PAC money has been given to candidates supported by the CTU, sometimes in secrecy (a full report on all PAC spending since 2010 is still not available on the CTU website,

[Disclosure: This reporter is a founding member of CORE and served for years on the CORE steering committee. He is currently a very active member of CORE and a delegate to the CTU House of Delegates representing retired teachers. He is also a delegate to the national conventions of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in 2016 and 2018 and to the conventions of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, including the one coming up this Fall].


September 10, 2016 at 7:29 AM

By: Susan Hickey

Need to change the 1995 'Reform'

I totally agree with the part of this article that said CTU must work on legislation to bring back the right for CTU to bargain about class size (and for clinicians- workload) among other workplace issues. By making CTU only bargain for 'financial concerns, it gives CPS the propaganda tool that teachers are greedy. At my last allowed participation as a BBT member, I was allowed to address clinician concerns to the few politicians that can to meet with us. I was the only one who asked those politicians to repeal the 1995 'reform' to allow us to bargain for non-monetary school issues. Shortly after that, I was told I was off the BBT team. Coincidence?

September 10, 2016 at 8:54 AM

By: Jean Schwab

Police are needed along with more funds for schools

I agree with you that Police are needed. I also agree with people that say we need more money poured into schools in high crime areas for afterschool activities and vocational training. These schools should be as good as our best schools with more resources. Yes, too many people are incarcerated for non - violent crimes instead of given treatment, training and the resources they need to succeed. I believe in wrap-around schools and making our schools the center of communities. Police are needed and more important, are the schools in those areas. Good article!

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