Chicago: America’s Epicenter of Resistance
by Stephen Lendman
Public education is on the chopping block for elimination. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants it commodified into another business profit center. At issue is saving it.
Education isn’t a product. It’s a fundamental right. It’s a societal bedrock. In Chicago and across America, it’s being handed over to corporate predators. Their scheme is exploiting it for a buck.
Money making is all they care about. Educating kids doesn’t matter. Federal, state, and local politicians are in league with corporate profiteers. The future for millions of children is up for grabs. It’s disappearing in plain sight.
On September 10, Chicago teachers walked out for more than better pay, vital benefits, job security, and other headline reasons. Media scoundrels twist truth their way. Readers are betrayed. Issues aren’t explained. What’s at stake isn’t discussed.
Chicago streets are ablaze with red. It’s the color of Chicago resistance. Thousands of red-shirted picketers took to the streets.
Perhaps two signs said it all: “On strike for better schools.” “Enough is enough.”
Substance News is a leading source of information on Chicago schools. For over 30 years, it’s defended public education. It publishes daily articles and updates on city schools and issues related to them.
It takes dead aim at corporate news, union busting, and efforts to marginalize public education and destroy it. It’s abreast of unfolding strike action and events leading to it.
On September 10, it headlined “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.”
Chicago was the noisiest in its history, it said. From Howard Street up north to the city’s far South Side, cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles honked horns in solidarity against corrupt politicians and corporate predators wanting education exploited for a buck.
Thousands of teachers took to the streets. Parents, students, and concerned residents joined them. The strike “the nation’s rulers said was impossible began.”
“Noise, hell. That’s our music,” teachers said. They know what they’re fighting for. Saving what’s too vital to lose is key. At midnight September 10, teachers sang “solidarity forever.”
“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.”
America’s soul is on the chopping block for sale. It’s up for grabs. Corrupt federal, state, and local politicians in league with corporate predators want it carved up and devoured for profit.
They want ordinary people hung out to dry. They want kids deprived of futures. They want no profit opportunity left behind. They want all private wealth in their hands. They want America transformed into Guatemala. They want goon squad repression targeting non-believers.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel represents the worst of reprehensible governance. He’s a war criminal/corporate predator running Chicago. He’s a cancer metastasizing throughout the city’s body and soul.
He’s waging war against teachers and other city workers. He wants them deprived of all rights. He wants public education commodified.
He should be in prison, not City Hall. He’s pro-war, pro-Israel, neoliberal, anti-union and anti-populist. Chicago activist Sherman Skolnick once called him the “acting deputy chief for North America of Mossad.”
His father was a Jerusalem-born pediatrician. Pre-1948, he smuggled weapons to Israeli terrorists. Emanuel is just as hardline. During the Gulf War, he served as a civilian IDF volunteer. He holds dual US/Israeli citizenship.
In Congress and as White House chief of staff, he supported the worst of Israeli and US imperial crimes. His abrasive style alienates him from anyone expressing opposing views.
He’s affiliated with neocon/neoliberal Democrats. He’s corporatist, heartless, and soulless. He’s ideologically no different from Republican hardliners. He doesn’t give a damn about ordinary people. They’re to be used, not served.
He represents everything wrong in America needing fixing. For Chicagoans, it’s saving public education and a whole lot more.
In Chicago, September 11, 2012 is more than the 9/11 eleventh anniversary. It’s day two of Chicago teachers striking for justice.
Substance News headlined “History in the making….A medley of reports and analyses following Day One of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012.”
Editor George Schmidt compiled them. Substance published some earlier. Others are new. Teachers walked out over core issues left unresolved far too long.
Xian Barrett teaches history and social studies. He runs the Teacher X blog site. On September 9, he headlined why he’s striking.
America’s labor movement has roots in Chicago. It’s more than about wages and benefits. It helped stop child labor so kids could attend school.
It contested unsafe workplace conditions. It “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.”
At issue now is whether to “help or hurt our kids.” Overcrowded classrooms left too hot in summer and too cold in winter hurts plenty.
“When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, 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 scavenge school budgets to enrich corporate favorites, that hurts plenty. Somebody ought to go to jail, said Barrett.
When you close schools, privatize others, fire teachers, disrupt the lives of kids, leave thousands without classrooms, prioritize bureaucracy and corporate interests over education, that not only hurts kids, “it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a (school) district at all.”
When you bargain in bad faith, you prove you want force-fed diktat authority, not equitable resolution.
Barrett says he’s “willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day.” Striking isn’t hurting them. Teachers walked out “to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system.”
“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.”
Retired teacher Mike Klonsky‘s Small Talk Blog headlined “Romney, Ryan Support Rahm.” What else from a corporate predator and wannabe. Both blame victims. According to Romney:
“Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet.”
Ryan said “Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We know (he’s) not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”
Obama’s no different. He doesn’t give a damn about kids anywhere. White House spokesman Jay Carney said “the president has no opinion about this particular incident.” That’s administrationspeak for strong Emanuel support.
Labor Notes contributor Theresa Moran headlined “Behind the Chicago Teachers Strike,” saying:
At issue is smaller classes, vital student services, “and stability for a profession that’s battling a corporate takeover.”
Key also is a draconian evaluation process able to sack around 28% of teachers within two years if not stopped. It’s part of Obama’s pro-corporate Race to the Top initiative. It’s tied to privatizing public schools for profit.
Teachers are facing off against corrupt politicians allied with corporate predators. They want education prioritized over profit. They agree “public education in Chicago isn’t working and Mayor Emanuel is making things worse.”
English teacher Keith Plum says he’s sick and tired about what’s going on. He’s forced to comply with what hurts kids or be fired. When are we going to prioritize teaching and learning, he asks?
Strike action has been “a long time coming.” Unresolved core issues fester. Teachers, parents, and children are harmed. They’re fed up and fighting back.
They’re angry that Emanuel “continued (Mayor) Daley’s tornado of closures and privatizations….The fight against school closures” got harder. The onslaught promises to get worse if not stopped.
History teacher Jen Johnson said people are fed up and want change. “We’re organizationally, mentally, and emotionally prepared” to go to the wall and fight.
On August 29, the Chicago Teacher Solidarity Campaign met to discuss fighting for fully funded education. Parents, teachers, students, and community members were involved.
Organizing for action was urged. City schools are in crisis after years of budget cuts.
“So why are Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the billionaires on the Board of Education blaming the teachers for our schools’ problems?”
“How dare they threaten to bankrupt our public schools with more spending on charters and magnets, but no money for small class sizes or a full curriculum?”
If they can find millions for corporate scoundrels, why not for kids? Fighting back in solidarity is key.
Laura Clawson headlined “Chicago teachers are facing down big money and political power to fight for better schools,” saying:
At issue is education or corporate power. Well-funded anti-populists want harmful to kids proposals “jam(med) down the” throats of teachers.
Big money, corrupt politicians, and media scoundrels “are stacked against Chicago teachers as they fight for the working conditions they need to effectively” teach. Dark force destructive tactics target them.
Teachers, parents, students, and concerned residents are in this fight together. “If you’re in Chicago, you can rally or wear red in solidarity.”
Wherever you are, get involved for justice. It’s our nation, our future, and our choice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.