UPDATE: Connecticut’s teacher unions issues statements in support of Chicago colleagues – see below
For the first time in twenty-five years, school teachers in Chicago are going on strike.
President Obama’s confidant and former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, set up this strike over two key issues – merit pay and evaluation.
700,000 students out of school, 30,000 teachers and support staff on the picket-line because Emanual, a Democrat, wants to introduce even more “education reform,” and this after Paul Vallas and Arne Duncan spent years privatizing and undermining Chicago’s public school system.
The spin from Mayor Emanual, like the spin from ConnCAN and the Connecticut “education reformers” is “we’re just trying to help the children.”
In fact, the mayor said, “The kids in Chicago belong in the classroom…Our kids do not deserve this.”
Oh how right Emanual is.
The Democratic Party has taken a sad and self-destructive turn.
Here in Connecticut a Democratic Governor introduces the most anti-union, anti-teacher “education reform” bill in the nation and in Chicago, a Democratic Mayor forces a strike and confrontation with its teacher union.
Debate within the party on key issues is not only understandable, but appropriate.
Seeking to destroy a key partner in the Party is never the right thing to do.
Chicago teachers have been extremely eloquent in the talking about what has caused this strike and what Chicago’s elected officials must do – FOR THE CHILDREN OF THEIR CITY.
Late last night, Diane Ravitch, posted a blog that linked to the words of one rank and file Chicago teacher. I’ll repeat them below because the clearly and concisely explain what is happening in Chicago.
[Of course, we know part of the story because Paul Vallas spent years privatizing and undermining the Chicago Schools long before he came here to Connecticut to destroy the school system in Bridgeport.)
From a blog called Teacher X
“CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying… everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids.”
…I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to “help or hurt our kids”.
When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.
When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.
When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, 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 support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.
When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.
When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.
When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.
When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as “our kids” or “other people’s children”.
And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I’m striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I’m doing to tell you, “No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.
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.”
Wait, What? readers know that some of these very problems are showing up in Connecticut and more will be occurring if people like Malloy and Vallas have their way. Privatizing and selling public education is not “reform” and it is education industry that is hurting the kids of this country.
Brought on, in part, by a wing of the Democratic Party…
From American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut:
AFT will be hosting a national day of solidarity with CTU on Wednesday, September 12. Please wear red to show your support.
From the Connecticut Education Association:
STATEMENT FROM CEA PRESIDENT SHEILA COHEN IN SUPPORT OF CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION
In this tough economic climate marked by increasing poverty, budget cuts, and attacks on the middle class and labor unions, we stand in solidarity with our professional colleagues, who continue to fight for the resources children need to ensure that all students succeed and have the best public education possible.
This strike is about the shared commitment for the future of our children and public education in America. Educators and students in our nation’s classrooms are discouraged by broken promises and an environment that doesn’t respect teachers as partners in educational achievement.
America’s teachers all want what’s best for their students and for the nation’s public schools. That’s why teachers are leading the movement toward advancing solutions to the country’s most pressing challenges regarding public education, and focusing on equality and equity for all of America’s children.