SUBSCRIPT: Astroturfers trying to insult teachers and union while being caught with their plutocratic pants down

No sooner had the Chicago Teachers Union announced that it would be taking its strike authorization vote beginning on June 6, 2012, than the best-funded Astroturfers in Chicago and Illinois tried to drum up the appearance that their work represented what was going on at the "grass roots." Stand for Children fulminated in a press release. Advance Illinois continued to get its lone treadbare "teacher" on TV (proving simply that WTTW and WBEZ — Chicago's "public" outlets are as deep in the pockets of the plutocracy as their less sanctimonious and annoying friends) and DFER maneuvered to get something into the public eye.

After the Stand for Children Illinois debacle in the summer of 2011 (Jonah Edelman's bragging for You Tube at Aspen; the disorganization of the Chicago office), "Stand" purged the former leadership, including Etoy Ridgnal (who had been the main spokesperson during the SB7 work) and put in a new Chicago leadership team. Above, Juan Jose Gonzalez, the Ivy League chief Chicago organizer for Chicago Stand for Children, speaking at the April 25, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The four main Astroturf groups currently operating in Chicago on behalf of the national moves for corporate "school reform" are Advance Illinois, Stand for Children, Democrats for Education Reform, and the Black Star Project. Two (Advance Illinois and Black Star) are local, while the other two have national reach. All are funded by large corporate donors, and then deployed to organize what is supposed to look like grass roots support for their corporate agendas. Hence the term Astroturf to describe them — phony grass and phony grass roots.

Stand for Children made its play for support in Chicago's African American community during the months following the SB7 fights in Springfield, but was thwarted when the Chicago Teachers Union and local community groups exposed the organization's corporate funding sources. Above, CTU President Karen Lewis (center) debated Stand for Children's Etoy Ridgnal (left) in a forum moderated by Black Star's Phillip Jackson (right) on April 1, 2011 in Chicago's Austin community. Despite Ridgnal's claims to be from the community and her claim that she was going to remain a resident of the West Side and send her children to public schools, she was disappeared by the national Stand for Children leadership within a few months after the above event. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The most aggressive in Illinois and Chicago during the past two years have been Advance Illinois and Stand for Children.

During May and June 2012, Stand for Children has been the most dishonest in its version of what has been going on in bargaining between CPS and CTU. Ignoring the fact that CPS has barred discussion of most of the school reform issues that CTU has brought forward — in "The Schools Chicago Children Deserve" — Stand for Children seems to be trying to hoist the Big Lie about "leaving the bargaining table" to the front rank of talking points.

But the weird thing is that CTU never left the "table"...

And CPS has not yet arrived.

On June 3, I asked Karen Lewis, during the union's "Tele Town Hall" how many times Jean-Claude Brizard has been at the bargaining table.

Karen's answer was "Zero."

So anyone who wants to have fun can begin by asking "Stand" Chicago where they are getting the information they are spewing around from their website.

Their current version of reality (as of June 3, 2012) follows:


There is breaking news that this Chicago Sun Times headline sums up: "Chicago Teachers Union to hold strike-authorization vote"

The vote will start this Wednesday, June 6th.

At a time when good faith negotiations should be taking place, the CTU is donning battle gear - and our students are caught in the middle. Everyone should focus on negotiating a fair contract, not on holding our children's education hostage.

Stand for Children's latest Illinois chief is Mary Anderson, who came to Stand for Children after working for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.Sign and share our petition as we call on both sides to get back to the table and keep kids at the center of these contract negotiations!

Currently, the negotiation is in a process called 'fact-finding' where a member of the union, a member of CPS, and an independent arbitrator are looking at the issues at hand and will issue their recommended compromise on July 15th.

If the CTU strikes, over 400,000 students will be shut out of the classroom come September. Asking teachers to decide now whether to strike - with no information and before the process is complete - is unfair to both Chicago students and their teachers.

Standing with you,

Mary E. Anderson

Executive Director


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 5 =