[CROSS POSTED @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... ]
In a recently released video, Chicago Teachers Union shows the games played by wealthy elites to smear the Union in the midst of heated contract negotiations. Chicago Teachers Union has maintained that it will not bargain in the press over a fair contract, but associates of Mayor Rahm Emanuel have apparently used backroom deals in Springfield, paid protesters and even members of the Michigan Tea Party to distort the public's image of the Union.
Billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Betsy DeVos, and Bill Gates fund astroturf tools like Jonah Edelman, Rebecca Nieves Huffman, and Kyle Olson. Working with anti-working class politicians like Rahm Emanuel, these groups and individuals strive to privatize public education, union bust, and profit off the sufferings of the poor. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is on the front lines of the battle to save public education, but they are fighting right-wing forces with limitless resources. Their bold actions in the face of overwhelming odds may well be the turning point in the battle to prevent the neoliberal project from eliminating public education nationwide. They need our support, please contribute to the CTU Solidarity Fund.
Here's CTU's introduction to the film:
The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students.The video begins with footage Tea Party blogger Andrew Marcus boasting about how he worked with Mayor Rahm Emanuel "against the Unions in this town." Marcus directed the film A Tale of Two Missions -- an anti-public school video featuring a candid interview with Mayor Emanuel. Tale of Two Missions was produced by a Tea Party-backed group in Michigan called the Education Action Group.
On the other side, the Chicago Board of Education—which is managed by out of town reformers and Broad Foundation hires with little or no Chicago public school experience—has pushed to add two weeks to the school year and 85 minutes to the school day, eliminate pay increases for seniority, evaluate teachers based on student test scores, and slash many other rights.
Teachers, parents and community supporters in Chicago have fought valiantly—marching, filling auditoriums at hearings and parent meetings, even occupying a school and taking over a school board meeting. Most recently, 98 percent of our members voted to authorize a strike. But now we find ourselves facing new opponents—national education privatizers, backed by some of the nation's wealthiest people. They are running radio ads, increasing press attacks, and mounting a PR campaign to discredit the CTU and the benefits of public education.
This one-minute clip shows Marcus and Edelman boasting.
The first half of the EAG video was essentially an infomercial for The Nobel Street Charter School Network while the second half was essentially a smear video against Chicago Teachers Union. In the video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel explains that charter schools seem to have a "secret sauce" to success.
It seemed strange that Emanuel, a longtime member and leader of the Democratic Party establishment would work with ultra-right wing Tea Party members to execute political goals.
The video also features a man admitting to being paid to protest at the 2012 Crane School closing hearing. The Chicago Tribune reported last February that Rahm Emanuel's associate Greg Goldner's firm Resolute Consulting, a firm that worked on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2002 Congressional bid, allegedly paid people to protest at these hearings. The paid protesters largely blamed Chicago Teachers Union for problems in Chicago's schools.
The video also shows Jonah Edelman, CEO of Stand for Children, the group behind "Senate Bill 7" - a "school reform" bill that did nothing to improve schools, but focused on squashing the bargaining rights of Chicago Teachers Union.
This one minute clip shows a man admitting to being paid to protest. However, he's unsure why he's protesting.
Senate Bill 7 was written specifically to take power away from the teachers union and set the stage for changes pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed school board, most notably the longer school day and year.In "Astroturf," Edelman boasts that the hurdles of a 75 percent required strike vote and the issuance of a fact-finders report would make it impossible for Chicago teachers to strike. In the end, union members who voted in the strike authorization election voted 98 percent for the option to strike and the fact finder made a decision in favor of Chicago Teachers Union. In an especially candid moment in the video, CEO Edelman explains that he "made up" the statistic that Houston students receive four more years of education compared to Chicago, a claim that was repeated over the course of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's' mayoral bid.
The video ends on a positive note showing CTU's efforts to organize not only teachers and school staff - but parents and students to support them in their battle for a fair contract.
The video can be used as an educational piece showing the power of democracy even in the face of political tricks and backroom deals.