Chicago:the war on unions continues



“Let’s be clear — this fight is for the very soul of public education, not just only Chicago but everywhere.”

So said Karen lewis, the head of the Chicago teachers union.

She is exactly right.

The attack on teachers is an attack on organized labour taking place in the USA with little resistance by Democrats. Corporations are slobbering over the chance to break into the lucrative education market.This means breaking uniuons and living wages ; it means the tex book industry; in effect it means the race to the bottom for workers and more money for corporations.The union movement is all that stands between poverty and a midle class existence.

The Catholic bishops should be on the picket line with the workers. They are nowhere in sight. They have not analyzed the situation correctly. It is about the dignity of the human person, the right to collective bargaining ; the right to a living wage and the defence of the poor. all of these used to be staples in the Catholic firmament.

Chicago teachers are the canaries in the colal mine.They are sick of the real problems in public schools are going unaddressed.Those issues  are about poverty, resources for all kids, equity and a decent shot at life..This can not be solved by rote testing and privatization.

Theresa Moran points out in The Progressive that  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his kids to a private school  with three libraries and seven art teachers. “But half of Chicago public schools don’t have full-time art and music teachers, 98 don’t have playgrounds, and 160 don’t have libraries. Crumbling facilities sometimes have asbestos insulation poking through the ceilings. One teacher told me her South Side school shares a psychologist with four others. Students traumatized by a string of shootings this year join a growing waitlist to receive the healing they need.”

What is happening in Chicago has ramifications everywhere.It is about corporate power versus people and community power. Demonizing teachers as “greedy, fat cats” is not only wrong it is evil. It obfuscates.Emmanuel is a pricularly noxious characyer whose real job now is running Obama’s super pac. He sends aides to mneetings and negotiates in the press. He is a water carrier for his buddy ARne Duncan ,the US cazar on education—a first rate privatizer and cahrter school booster.

One University of Illinois study says Chicago teachers work 58 hours a week, grading papers at home, tutoring students before and after school and meeting with parents. Teachers also often provide snacks and supplies to pupils who arrive hungry and ill equipped for class.

And let’s not lose sight of this: most of these kids are black.

Keep your eye on this.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    wmgrace Says:

    Just happened to see this. Alex K. asks, regarding public education in Chicago, “In the absence of any bold effort to alleviate the pressures of poverty, in the absence of any bold investment in educating our children, is it fair to ask that the schools – and by default, the teachers – bear the sole responsibility for closing the economic divide? In other words, how can teachers overcome the enormous social and economic disadvantage of 87% of the students in the public ed system, and the resulting learning disadvantage that flows from this reality?

    Not sure about the characterization of the strike in his opening remarks – but his targetting and analysis of the root problem (poverty) which underlies the surface issues in the labour dispute in Chicago, seems very accurate. By extension, this would apply, he states “in virtually every urban school district around the country”. I’d suggest Canada too. The analysis greatly supports the teachers.

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