September Surprise in Chicago
by Stephen Lendman
September 17 marks Occupy Wall Street’s first anniversary. Appropriate activities are planned. At issue are popular over money power rights.
They matter everywhere. Chicago teachers demand them. So do parents and kids. September 17 marks day eight since strike action began.
City and union bosses want a bad deal approved. So far, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates (HoD) members said no. On Sunday, they voted to keep striking. They want time for more information on contract terms. More on what’s going on below.
On September 17, the Chicago Tribune headlined “Chicago teachers strike continues, Emanuel says he will sue to force end,” saying:
An apparent deal unraveled. On Sunday, HoD members surprised. “Get it right,” they chanted! It’s woefully short and then some.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried bullying tactics, saying:
“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union.”
“I have instructed the City’s Corporation Counsel to work with the General Counsel of Chicago Public Schools to file an injunction in circuit court to immediately end this strike and get our children back in the classroom.”
“I have also asked the President of the Board of Education, David Vitale, and the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Jean-Claude Brizard, to explore every action possible to get our kids back into a classroom or educational facility.”
Emanuel is both politician and corporate predator. He’s contemptuous of rights teachers, parents and kids deserve. He wants Chicago public education destroyed.
He wants it commodified into another business profit center. Teaching and learning don’t matter. Bottom line priorities count most.
Workers have only their labor to withhold. Strikes are legally and morally justified. Rights aren’t handed them. Hard fought struggles win them. There’s no other way.
Chicago teachers are on the front lines for theirs. Emanuel and corrupt union bosses want them denied. Hopefully they’ll hold firm. It’s too soon to know. Battle cries should chant all the way or no way. Quitting isn’t an option. Nor is comprising what’s essential.
All core issues demand equitable resolution. Key is keeping education public. So is preventing dozens of school closures and other vital terms too important to sacrifice.
CTU president Karen Lewis said HoD members aren’t happy with the agreement. “They’d like it to be a lot better for us than is it. This is the deal we got.”
Information Lewis released the previous day suggested a better agreement than negotiated. Belatedly, she acknowledged what should have been explained straightaway, saying:
“This is not a good deal by any stretch of the imagination, not (compared) to what our members are (used) to having.”
Last Friday, she said she’s “very comfortable” with agreed on terms. Now she admits they’re woefully short. Saying the contract won’t “solve everything” doesn’t wash. It solves little relating to what matters most.
Delegates were upset about being force-fed terms with too little time to review them. They balked so everything is on hold.
Substance News Editor George Schmidt said BoD members voted 350 – 220 to keep striking. At this point, it’s only for one or two more days. Delegates want more time to review “available details” released.
Under CTU rules, they set and suspend strike actions. Full union membership has final say. No deal is sealed until they approve it. Voting can take up to two weeks. As a result, when classes resume, walking out again won’t be easy or even possible.
Once BoD members vote approval, “the contract….and all provisions (in it) are in place for the duration.”
Sunday evening, CTU officials posted information on their web site. It was largely an attempt to rally rank-and-file support. Hopefully they’re smart enough to know better.
Negotiations won’t resume. Final terms are set. Union bosses caved. A Chicago Versailles was accepted. Hopefully teachers will say no deal. For now, things are on hold until Tuesday.
Emanuel hopes to bully teachers into acceding. Lewis won’t admit she yielded. Perhaps she hopes pressure and threats for another day or two will soften BoD members’ resolve. Hopefully she’s dead wrong.
Emanuel and officials around him want education the way it should be gutted. He wants what’s most vital to preserve ended. He wants Chicago schools run like cutthroat businesses.
Sack veteran teachers. Replace them with inexperienced low-paid ones. Close dozens of schools, then dozens more. Deprive many neighborhoods of what’s too vital to lose. Privatize what should stay public. Downsize public education en route to destroying it altogether.
End job security. Pay teachers less than they’re worth. Cut their benefits. Keep class sizes too large to handle. Deprive kids of personal attention. Accept the canard that Chicago hasn’t the resources to educate them properly. Say nothing about handing them to business friends and cronies.
Sacrifice teaching and learning. Force-feed standardized tests requiring rote memory. Mandate annual assessments. Give principals diktat authority. Let them sack good teachers because kids can’t perform under a broken system hamstringing them.
Enlist high-profile self-serving figures like Jesse Jackson. He and others like him helped destroy hard-won civil rights. He chose wealth, power, and influence over doing what’s right.
He surrendered to what he should have fought. He abandoned systemic change. He betrayed his own people in the process.
He feigned solidarity with Chicago teachers. He wants them back in classrooms, not on the front lines fighting for fundamental rights.
He and like-minded allies are on the wrong side of history. They support bossism over labor and good education. They’re concerned only about what’s best for themselves.
So do city officials, union bosses, and media scoundrels. They’re not happy about teacher activism. They want public education, labor rights, and other bedrock societal ones abandoned for their way.
Chicago Tribune editors headlined “If the teachers say no,” saying:
Chicago teachers decided to “keep the school doors locked on Chicago’s kids and parents.”
CPS (Chicago Public Schools) officials “already made significant concessions….” They gave “too much ground….”
“CPS has to make it clear to teachers that the deal on the table” won’t get better. What’s on the table is a “best and final offer. “It’s a good deal for CTU members.”
In fact, they gave much too much, got too little, and caved on what matters most.
A Chicago Sun Times editorial headlined “Call off the strike,” saying:
“The deal released late Saturday is a win for both the teachers and the schools.” It’s as far as Emanuel can go….Chicago students must return to school.”
“Chicago’s new contract sets the stage for major change that we hope will significantly improve teaching and learning….This is a day to celebrate.”
Hold the cheers. Hold firm for equitable rights. Force Emanuel to yield. Save public education. Support teachers, parents and kids. Fight corporate profiteers and beat ’em.
A New York Times editorial headlined “In Search of Excellent Teaching,” saying:
Standardized testing, teaching to the test, and teacher evaluation programs “are better than” what they replaced. They’re “far from perfect,” but “(s)rates and cities, like Chicago, will need to keep working at them to ensure fairness, accuracy and transparency.”
In fact, they’re cover to fire teachers, close schools, deprive kids, and ruin education by commodifying it.
A Washington Post editorial headlined “What’s best for Chicago’s schoolchildren? saying:
“(L)oss of….precious school time didn’t seem to faze the (CTU) that fomented this reckless strike….” It came “as no surprise.”
Resisting Obama’s Race to the Top denies poor kids a chance for futures out of poverty. “(U)nions need to….become part of the solution.” Otherwise “they should stop standing in the way of charter schools that give parents” a better option.
The Post endorses privatize, privatize, privatize. It’s not alone.
A Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “The Union Wins in Chicago,” saying:
“How much more does it want?” CTU officials staged an “illegal strike.” They know Emanuel and Obama can’t tolerate a protracted “battle in an election year….”
Inner-city school failure “is so profound that incremental reforms like Chicago’s aren’t nearly enough.” Radical change is necessary. Privatizing lifts all boats. The corporate solution makes things worse, not better.
It’s betrayal, a sellout, a scam. Teachers, parents and kids are harmed. They’ll lose out on issues mattering most. Their rights aren’t bargaining chips. They’re essential to maintain, assure and improve.
It’s critical they’re not sacrificed on the alter of marketplace education. That’s the core issue up for grabs.
Union bosses explain little. City officials and media scoundrels suppress all discussion. Teachers, parents and kids lose out. Sacrificing them counts little. Bottom line priorities matter most.
Making America livable again depends on changing what’s too broken to tolerate. There’s no in between.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.