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"The CTU is teaching the USA a lesson in working class love and solidarity. It’s a transformational moment for the membership of the CTU and its allies. How can they transform the horn honks, the raised fists, the friendly waves and the kind words of encouragement into a political force to be reckoned with?"
It was of course, more than a Chicago teachers' strike; it was a city-wide working class protest. Parents and concerned community members walked the picket lines. Workers of all types who passed in their trucks, buses, taxis and passenger cars joined in with honking, friendly waves and fist raising.

There was serious carb-loading and elevated caffeine levels for days as strike sympathizers brought muffins, cookies, donuts, pop and coffee to picket lines. Labor professor Steve Ashby organized a scheme (originally used in the Madison uprising) where strike supporters called in pizza orders to help feed the legions of volunteers who came to the Chicago Teachers Union(CTU) Strike HQ in the Teamsters hall on the West Side.

In response the mayor and his allies launched an expensive propaganda campaign against the strike that even the best efforts of the CTU and its allies could never match in its reach and scope. TV and radio ads blasting the union were all over the air waves. The local corporate owned news media was almost uniformly hostile. The national media was no better.

Their money was wasted in Chicago's working class neighborhoods. Chicagoans backed the teachers by a substantial majority. As CTU president Karen Lewis put it,“Let’s be clear — this fight is for the very soul of public education, not just only Chicago but everywhere.”

Neighborhood groups supported the CTU
Neighborhood groups like this one from Albany Park backed the teachers

Volunteers from Wisconsin and as far away as California worked long hours stapling picket signs, painting banners, selling tee-shirts and collating strike materials, necessary tasks to keep a strike of 26,000 workers going. One day a United Airlines pilot in full uniform showed up to volunteer her time stapling picket signs. I restrained an impulse to salute her.

Making signs at the CTU strike HQ
Making signs at CTU Strike HQ located in a teamsters hall on the West Side
Facebook and Twitter lit up

Chicago Teachers Union(CTU) social media whiz Kenzo Shibata went sleepless in Chicago to get the message out in the 24-7 endless news cycle. Stavroula Harissis  energetically directed the social media team for the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign (CTSC), a close ally of the CTU and an outgrowth of Occupy Chicago.

Striking teachers and their numerous allies on the picket line enjoyed sharing the many morale-boosting photos, inspiring YouTube videos, hilarious memes, and informative articles that the social media teams posted. From across North America and around the world messages of solidarity poured in as social media workers struggled to keep up with the sheer volume.

The strike required both tough negotiating and a organizing battle plan

While CTU president Karen Lewis,VP Jesse Sharkey and the other top leadership were huddled with the legal team and negotiating with the Board of Ed, the CTU's organizing director, Norine Gutekanst, a veteran Chicago teacher, oversaw the complex logistics of the strike. She arrived well before dawn at Strike HQ to ensure that the 26,000 strikers and their allies received the materials, info and inspiration they needed.

Armed with her laptop, cell phone, an art gallery worth of constantly updated wall charts; plus a small army of CTU staffers and regional strike coordinators, she and her team exemplified the old WWII saying, "The difficult we do today. The impossible may take a little longer."

Norine Gutekanst confers with Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative group
What is so different about this union's leadership?

The current CTU leaders come from a rank and file caucus called the Coalition of Rank and File Educators (CORE). With a history going back to 2008, CORE has a clear vision of union democracy, quality education and social justice. Organized from the ground up, teacher by teacher, school by school, CORE offers a new paradigm for Chicago’s labor movement, which has many members, but very little actual movement.

CORE’s model challenges the Chicago labor tradition of back room deals and topdown union leadership. The democratic way that the membership was involved in all aspects of the strike sent a clear message that this was a labor uprising as well as an educational policy rebellion.

The rising of the women is the rising of us all

The strike was also, as feminist Gloria Steinem noted early on, very much of a women's uprising:

“As an 87% female workforce, and one that is nearly half Black and Latino, the Chicago Teachers Union know what their students need. This is why this country needs unions, collective bargaining, and mayors who recognize, honor and fairly pay the people our children know – and who know our children.”
Many of the striking teachers were also moms.  I saw many strollers being pushed and children being led by the hand in the massive teacher marches through downtown.  It was mostly the women of the neighborhoods who joined the teachers on the picket lines and brought snacks to the strikers. They organized activities to keep the children busy with educational tasks and went door to door explaining the issues of the strike and why it was a strike FOR children not AGAINST children.
CTU women strikers
Women of the strike

As a result, CTU President Karen Lewis came under blistering sexist attack as Derrick Clifton of Northwestern University explains:

Discussions often drifted away from teachers’ demands, becoming referendums on Lewis’s perceived femininity, appearance and attitude.Reuters characterized Lewis as the “fiery, frumpy former teacher leading Chicago’s striking teachers.”

That’s while online comment boards flooded with denigrating characterizations of Lewis like “Java the Hut” or a “potential left tackle on the Chicago Bears’ offensive line.” Others pulled out the ages-old stops used to dismiss feminist and female leaders as hairy-legged, man-hating lesbians...

The sexist and racist attacks on Lewis and her union are only a part of a multi-million dollar attack on public education led by some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the USA. Among them are Bill Gates of Microsoft fame and the Walton family who owns Walmart. An amazing number of Wall Street hedge fund operators are behind the charter school privatization movement. David Brain a multi-millionaire real estate mogul, was asked what business his clients should invest in:
“Well, probably the charter school business. We said it’s our highest growth and most appealing sector right now of the portfolio. It’s the most high in demand, it’s the most recession-resistant. And a great opportunity set with 500 schools starting every year. It’s a two and a half billion dollar opportunity set in rough measure annually.”
A few of these people are motivated by some ill conceived and misguided ideas about education, but most are simply in it for the wealth that can be extracted from public funds and from the labor of teachers whose unions have been weakened or even broken.

The corporate bullies did not get the last word

In Illinois the bullies include billionaire financier Bruce Rauner, whose money helped push through legislation make it nearly impossible for teachers to directly negotiate the most important part of their job, a quality education experience for students. Wealthy lobbyists even pushed through legislation that made it illegal for the Chicago Teachers Union to strike unless the union received a 75% authorization. No other teachers union in the state has that restriction. The corporate bullies were surprised when the union received over a 98% authorization of those voting, something the bullies thought was impossible.

It was a massive repudiation of the whole corporate "educational reform" project and its unscientific "teach-to-the-hi-stakes-test" curriculum, its neighborhood school closings, its privatization of education and its ugly propaganda campaign against union teachers.

When a Stanford University team studied the corporate reformers charter school nostrum, they found that charters often did worse than public schools, sometimes better and most of the time showed no difference. Where charters did do better, couldn’t public schools have equaled or surpassed them if they had the smaller class sizes and the resources that get lavished on the charters?

Decades of corporate failure preceded this historic strike

Anyone who has studied the history of corporate school reform in Chicago knows of its repeated bumbling failures dating back to the early 20th century. This is well documented by Dr. Dorothy Shipps in her book School Reform: Corporate Style: Chicago 1880-2000:

To a remarkable degree, Chicago's corporate leaders have shaped the city's schools while constructing its economic and downtown development priorities, its response to racial segregation, and even its urban mythology. The same corporate club whose leaders' persistence impressed me in 1991 has led, abetted or restrained nearly every attempt to improve the school system in the 20th century...if corporate power was instrumental in creating urban public schools and has had a strong hand in their reform for more than a century, then why have these schools failed urban children so badly?
Chicago teachers march through the LaSalle Street financial district
Teachers march through Chicago's LaSalle St financial district
Nobel Prize winning author Samuel Beckett once advised people to: "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Corporate Chicago seems incapable of even meeting that modest goal. The corporate bullies talk constantly about "standards" but of course never apply that to their own actions.

Why Chicago's working class backed the strike

Chicagoans backed the teachers by a substantial margin, documented not only by the honking horns and raised fists, but by two polls taken during the strike. Parents with children in the public schools were even more supportive of the teachers. Black and Latino parents were the most supportive of all, while whites backed the mayor by a narrow margin.  Today, only 8.8% of Chicago public school students are white.

The disparity between the gleaming new schools in the affluent whiter areas of Chicago and the neighborhood schools in the poorest Black and Latino working class communities was there for all to see.  For retired Chicago teacher and former assistant principal Steve Serikaku poverty is THE issue:

"I know how hard it is to work in Chicago. It’s almost laughable the budgets neighborhood schools are given. When you’re in a poor area, the needs of the students are so great that the school alone cannot address them, but we don’t have the resources to bring in qualified people—like social workers and psychologists—to address the issues.

I can understand why parents want to get away from certain neighborhood schools, but I would rather that the school system and the city work to prevent the kind of damage that is done to children from poor areas. To me, it’s a cruel farce to have No Child Left Behind when we leave whole neighborhoods behind."

In Chicago as in other major cities, poverty is heavily racialized. A significant number of the white working class have left the city for the suburbs and people of color make up a much greater proportion of Chicago's working class today. Whites, by and large, tend to be more affluent, especially as gentrification gallops across the areas adjacent to the downtown Loop area.

Every dollar that goes to the corporate leeches is a dollar the Chicago public schools never receive

The big banks and corporations who push gentrification and school privatization must bear heavy responsibility for the poverty that afflicts the city. They demand huge tax breaks and public subsidies. They turn TIF funding (Tax Increment Financing), which is supposed to help the poorest neighborhoods into a financial bonanza for themselves. They often pay poverty wages and outsource good jobs away from the city.

Penny Pritzker, who sits on Chicago’s school board, is part of the wealthy Pritzker family who owns the Hyatt hotel chain. There is a Hyatt going up in South Side Chicago right now that received a major public subsidy. Hyatt is also engaged in a nasty union busting campaign against its own workers, trying to drive down their wages and push them into the ranks of the working poor.

Chicago parent Lorraine Chavez
Chicago parent Lorraine Chavez speaks at a rally denouncing Penny Pritzker's South Side hotel scheme
Chicago has been labeled (accurately in my opinion) as the most segregated city in the north. You can't escape race in this town any more than you can escape the clutches of The Hawk, that cruel winter wind off  Lake Michigan that seizes you and chills your body down to the very corpuscles.

Chicago's bitter racist past

Chicago is the city where Martin Luther King had rocks thrown at him in  Marquette Park for protesting segregated housing.  Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was assassinated in his bed on the West Side by police after being drugged by an undercover informant. Hampton had been organizing a multiracial “rainbow coalition” of disaffected working class young people to confront poverty and racial division.

It is the city where in 1919, a bloody pogrom was launched by racist whites after a black swimmer drifted into the “white” area of Lake Michigan’s ironically named Rainbow Beach. The riot eventually cost 38 deaths and 537 serious injuries.

1919 Chicago race riot
Two whites attack an already injured Chicago black man in the 1919 race riot
Blacks moving into homes in white areas were often met with angry mobs or dynamited houses with little or no protection by the police

During the 1960’s blacks launched massive demonstrations and boycotts protesting school segregation and classroom overcrowding. Black teachers went on strike in 1968 against the Board of Education whose racist administrators consistently failed blacks in oral examinations to prevent them from gaining full certification.

Chicago school segregation protest- 1965
Thousands gather to march on City Hall to protest school segregation--1965
I remember going to Chicago school board meetings in the 1970‘s when angry hissing racist whites filled the room to overflowing and spoke out loudly against blacks coming to “their” schools.

During the 1980’s when Harold Washington was twice elected mayor, Chicago was dubbed “Beirut on the Lake” because of its bitterly divided racial politics. I was teaching in a Catholic school in a then all-white Southwest Side neighborhood when Washington was declared the winner of the mayoral race. Every single black parent kept their kids home the day after the election for fear of racial violence. 

This brutal history is a tragedy worthy of a Shakespeare or a Sophocles, a working class divided by race and at war with itself. Chicago’s ruling elite has always profited off of ethnic division and the color line has been the most profitable of all. The ideology of white supremacy is what maintains their vast wealth and power.

The financial elite profits off of destroying neighborhood schools

Today Chicago neighborhood schools in the poorest black and brown communities often limp along without libraries, science labs, computer labs, music, world languages or art as teachers struggle with overcrowded classes.

Students in neighborhoods torn apart by street violence  and the crushing burdens of poverty do not get the social services and counseling they so desperately need. Some students exhibit the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but have nowhere to turn in their despair and rage. Some of the worst violence has come in communities where neighborhood school closings have created even more social turmoil.

The corporate school reformers put these neighborhood schools on a bread and water diet, then scream failure in order to close them and create private schools in their place. CPS Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley doesn’t even bother to hide that fact: 

"If we think there's a chance that a building is going to be closed in the next five to 10 years, if we think it's unlikely it's going to continue to be a school, we're not going to invest in that building."
The closing of neighborhood schools is closely linked to the gentrification of Chicago neighborhoods and the generation of profits for the banking, real estate and construction industries. This is explained in Dr. Pauline Lipman’s book The New Political Economy of Urban Education:
In Chicago and other cities, policies to close schools and replace them with schools targeted to the middle class are integral to both production and consumption of gentrification. Closing schools pushes existing residents out of neighborhoods primed for for gentrification. The new schools that replace them, like new police stations and libraries, are key to attracting new investment, and once real estate development is underway, they are part of place marketing the area to a new class of home buyers.
Just who is this middle class they want to bring back to the city?

Particularly since the death of Mayor Harold Washington and the ascension of Mayor Richard M. Daley, the mantra for City Hall has been to bring the middle class back to the city. It is well understood that “middle class” is a euphemism for the affluent white professional middle class. They don’t mean the white people who once toiled in the steel mills and assembly plants closed down by the USA’s corporate elite during the terrible days of the Reagan 1980’s.

This being the 21st century, the affluent middle class of color is included as can be seen in the gentrification of the Bronzeville neighborhood, but the real prize is making Chicago a whiter wealthier city. Making gentrification largely white and affluent is easier now because the disastrous 2008 economic meltdown hit middle class people of color like a financial Katrina. As an example, white wealth is now 20 times that of black wealth.

But why look to the affluent white middle class who decamped to the suburbs? Call me crazy, but aren’t there many thousands of people (mostly of color )living in abysmal poverty right here in Chicago who would love to get an honest chance at joining the middle class?

So why the hell aren’t City Hall and the LaSalle Street financial elite directing investment into economic development for the people who already live in Chicago and really need it. Why not raise their income levels and improve their neighborhoods? Parental income is the best single indicator of likely school success, so why not raise those?

This of course would also mean investing serious money in the schools to create what the Chicago Teachers Union calls “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve,” the name of the union’s educational reform plan that has been ignored by the corporate owned media.

It is a bitter irony that nation’s wealthy elite, who think outsourcing and poverty wages are sound business practices, and whose casino capitalism caused the 2008 financial crash and the massive mortgage foreclosure crisis, now want claim ownership of our schools.

CTU activists love to to remind the public that Mayor Emanuel’s kids go to the uber-expensive University of Chicago Lab School, whose principal is no fan of hi-stakes testing and believes that, “Physical education, world languages, libraries and the arts are not frills. They are an essential piece of a well-rounded education.” The student-teacher ratio at Lab School is 10 to 1.

If that is good enough for Rahm’s kids who live on the city’s North Side in Ravenswood, then why isn’t it good enough for the students in East Garfield Park, Grand Crossing, Little Village, K-Town, Uptown or Englewood? Just askin’.

Resistance to educational apartheid was at the core of the strike

The answer was given by CTU Black Caucus leader Brandon Johnson at a post-strike forum on Chicago’s West Side where he and other strike leaders assessed what they had learned from the Seven Days in September. Mincing no words, he named the corporate attacks on schools in black and brown communities as educational apartheid, with all of the savage cruelty that the word implies.

CTU leaders
CTU leaders Jen Johnson, Jackson Potter and Brandon Johnson
He spoke with pride about how the CTU membership expressed their support for a strong stand against this kind of racism saying,” "If this struggle, this fight, does not have a moral consciousness about the obvious racism, we do not have a fight, ladies and gentlemen.”

He also spoke about a conversation he had with legendary West Side educator Dr. Grady Jordan who told him early on, “Black teachers fought hard. This is a direct retaliation to what we built in the 60's and 70's. They're trying to kill you, son. What are you going to do about it?”.

According to Johnson, 45% of Chicago’s teachers were black in 1995. Now it is down  to 19% with less than 2% being black males. This shocking decline is mostly due to school closings and the spread of charters. Many of their replacements have been young inexperienced white teachers, the teachers most favored by charter school operators. This is a direct attack on the already precarious financial status of the black middle class.

Given these grim racial realities is it any wonder why there was such an outpouring of support from black and brown working class people? The CTU’s efforts spotlighting educational apartheid have also inspired many whites. People have come to view  teachers as advocates for their communities, an honor to be sure, but one that also comes with great responsibility. The CTU has a community board made up of 20 of their neighborhood and labor allies across the city, allies who push the teachers into militant action in defense of neighborhood schools.

During the walkout teachers talked about what the strike meant for the aspirations of Chicago’s working class and for the teachers across the nation who expressed solidarity. Just the act of wearing a CTU red shirt on the street, in the local coffee shop or on the El platform was cause for people to start intense conversations, not only about education, but about their own struggles in our so-called economic recovery.

This was a strike based on a deep love for the city and its people

This  poem expresses the love Chicago teachers have for their students. It has brought forth both tears and cheers wherever Molly Meacham, a Lane Tech English teacher, performs it. Vimeo.
The CTU is teaching the USA a lesson in working class love and solidarity. It’s a transformational moment for the membership of the CTU and its allies. How can they transform the horn honks, the raised fists, the friendly waves and the kind words of encouragement into a political force to be reckoned with?

Across the city, postal workers, cops, firefighters, nurses, janitors, technicians, social workers, bus drivers, rapid transit operators and many other workers are asking the following question, “How did the teachers do it and how can we replicate that at our own workplaces?”

These are questions that demand answers and people are already meeting around the city to grapple with them. I am sure of one thing, Chicago now has something of great value, a multi-racial working class movement the likes of which could transform not only the schools, but become a urban liberation movement with national implications.

But one swallow does not make a spring and one strike does not make a revolution.

CTU Chief of Staff Jackson Potter looks at the struggle this way:

“This next period is really critical. There are a lot of dangers and opportunities ahead and it will determine in no small part whether all of us can do something with this momentum.”
Carry it on...

Bob "Bobbosphere" Simpson is a retired Chicago high school teacher who taught on the city's South and West Sides. He spent the the 7 days of September volunteering at the CTU Strike HQ.

Sources Consulted

Now We Know Our ABCs, and Charter Schools Get an F by Paul Buchheit

Sexism and the Chicago Teachers Union Strike by Derrick Clifton

Displacement, segregation, safety: Chicago schools have a long ways to go. by Yana Kunichoff

New Stanford report finds serious quality challenge in national charter school sector

School Reform: Corporate Style: Chicago 1880-2000 by Dorothy Shipps

Gloria Steinem supports Chicago teachers on strike by Gloria Steinem

The Chicago Teachers Union is poised to lead in the next school-reform fights by Micah Uetricht

Corporate Agenda Behind Public Charter Schools By Aaron Regunberg

Students Suffer in Low-Performing Charter Schools by Karen Lewis

Poll Shows Substantial CPS Parent, Racial Divide on Chicago Teachers Strike by Whet Moser

CPS: Poorer-performing schools less likely to get funds by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

“I See Everything Through This Tragedy” by Alex Kotlowitz

The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City by Pauline Lipman

The Great Recession in Black Wealth: White wealth reaches historic high of twenty times black wealth by Jeannette Wicks-Lim

Originally posted to BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Community Spotlight, and Daily Kos Labor.

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Comment Preferences

  •  a really excellent diary (13+ / 0-)

    Thanks for writing. I hope some of the union-bashing kossacks read it and learn something.

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:43:24 AM PDT

  •  If I could make something (9+ / 0-)

    required reading, and thinking & acting upon,this would be it.
    Well done.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 09:02:15 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this summary (17+ / 0-)

    If anything, you may have underestimated the support of Chicagoans for teachers in this strike. I live in a relatively well-off neighborhood where a lot of teachers, fire fighters, and police officers live, but also where there are a lot of professionals. It's one of the few integrated neighborhoods in Chicago, with about 60% white residents. This political season the ONLY yards signs I've seen are "Proud Union Home" and "We Support Our Teachers."

    One thing that I've found irritating throughout has been the politicians and national pundits expressing oh so much concern for the poor taxpayers of Chicago while the taxpayers themselves supported the strike. A big reason for this is what you alluded to above -- there is a long history of our tax money being skimmed off for sweetheart deals with corporate insiders, with the result that we get much less than we pay for in city services. One of the few countervailing forces against this corrupt system is the strength of public employee unions that has the potential to produce a well-paid professional workforce and hopefully, better services.  Such public employees not only greatly strengthen the economic life of the city, they tend to be engaged citizens who vote.

    •  Cops and teachers (6+ / 0-)

      I think you may be right about the underestimation. The Northwest Side neighborhoods where the more well-off working class people live, especially those who are city workers are natural allies of the teachers. I got  smiles and words of encouragement from cops when I walked around in my red CTU solidarity tee-shirt. On the picket lines, cops would drive past, hit the sirens for a few seconds and then smile indulgently.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:22:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary! (12+ / 0-)

    I am a retired teacher from Wisconsin.  You folks are an inspiration.  The teachers of Wisconsin need to go back to school and take some lessons from you.  When Scott Walker passed Act 10 every public worker in this state should have picked up a sign and hit the streets.  You have great leadership that stood up to the "Mouth"!  I hope that the Wisconsin teachers and public employees get some guts like we had in the old days.

    Even Napoleon had his Watergate - Yogi Berra

    by Danosh on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:58:45 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the cross border solidarity (7+ / 0-)

      Many of the Chicago strike activists had made the trip to Madison when you needed us and we sure loved seeing folks from the Badger State come and join our effort. I met some fine people from Wisconsin who helped out at the Strike HQ.

      The Wisconsin-based Overpass Light Brigade came down and did some wonderful work with the electronic signs. I held up the letter "S" on the overpass of I-290 going into Downtown.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:43:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks bobo (8+ / 0-)

    what a great read. The Chicago striking  union workers are hero's and their courage gives all workers a lift. This is the way forward I can support and believe is how we must fight as workers. Good work teachers and public workers.  

    •  The big question is what next (8+ / 0-)

      There's been an explosion of Chicago public forums, celebrations and intense discussions sponsored by a variety of groups about what to do next. I can neither keep up with or go to them all, but the more the merrier!

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:46:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it seems kind of Occupy-ish? WHAT next? I know (4+ / 0-)

        in Seattle The Game Plan seems to be for the same ol same old washed out, tired, collaborating, compromising, top down, insider sell outs to put on their red stuff and pretend they support Chicago ...

        while they continue with their back door sell outs appeasing the liars from Stand On Children, League Of Education Voters, Democrats for Education Reform, NCTQ, PFL, CRPE, A+ Washington ... and the rest of the Gate$ funded a$tro turf$.

        GREAT DIARY.

        I'm 52, growed up on welfare from Holyoke MA., this is my 7th year being a Seattle math teacher ---

        This Chicago strike is 1 of the few things which has given me HOPE since obama employed Rahm & Summers & Geithner in Nov. 2008.

        What next, for all of us?


        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 04:43:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •   I know that CORE is hoping for the best... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...but planning for the worst. The corporate predators are persistent and they have deep pockets. Rahm is a sore loser. There will be efforts to divide the union from its community supporters and to divide the union from within.

          Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

          "Don't believe everything you think."

          by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 09:47:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Solidarity with other unions and workers (0+ / 0-)

        Teachers must realize that they are part of the working class, not above it.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 02:42:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Once again, nice work. (7+ / 0-)

    I just wish more people were exposed to this work, and would reflect upon it, and, ultimately reject the neoliberal agenda advanced by the so called "realists' in the Democratic party.

    I just hope that all those people who sign not the fronts but the backs of their paychecks show the same determination and fight after the November 6th elections when the "very serious people" of the Beltway enact "entitlement reform."

    "The working class mind is strange and unpredictable" -- Ty Lookwell

    by Illinibeatle on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:41:22 PM PDT

    •  Rahm and neo-liberalism (7+ / 0-)

      Rahm is now the Scott Walker of Chicago. Believe me, the teachers are not the only workers who have a beef with their mayor. Cops, fire fighters and transit workers feel like they are on the chopping block next.

      County workers like the public hospital nurses and state workers like social workers are also facing a bleak future if their fightback fails. The County Board president is Toni Preckwinkle, a Democrat and the governor is Pat Quinn, also a Democrat.

      Private sector workers like Hyatt housekeepers are resisting out-sourcing and brutal treatment.

      South of Chicago in the sprawling warehouse district next to tiny rural Elwood IL a brave band of strikers has taken on Walmart.

      Yesterday, a riot squad of robo-cops accompanied by an armored car with a sound cannon emerged from the locked gate of the Walmart warehouse to arrest a dozen clergy and union activists sitting down in the street singing "We Shall Overcome" as several hundred supporters, many of the elderly, sang along.

      I was there and watching that overkill was chilling, let me tell you.

      As a well known American revolutionary once said," If we don't hang together, we will most assuredly hang separately.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:26:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  South suburban Evergreen Park is now on strike (11+ / 0-)

    Our union brothers and sisters in Evergreen Park IL went on strike yesterday. Their strike color is royal blue. One of the leading activists is actually a former student of mine when I taught in South Side Chicago.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:49:36 PM PDT

  •  Incredible Diary (5+ / 0-)

    Love and Solidarity,
    An unbeatable combination.

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Sept: Viola Liuzzo Voting Rights Martyr

    by JayRaye on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:01:01 PM PDT

  •  CTU did an excellent job (9+ / 0-)

    in organizing this strike. We need to stand up against anti-unionists--especially Rahm--to protect workers' rights and stem the attacks on public education. The faculty of my college joined your lines whenever we could to show our solidarity and to protect quality, faculty driven education. Chicagoans definitely were and are on your side.

  •  My Sincerest thanks Bobbo...however... (5+ / 0-)

    ...the work has only just begun....the corporate leaders who have shaped Chicago's public schools and demonized Chicago public school teachers also hold sway
    over policies that govern our Nation's public schools.

    Teachers have very little voice in this country...and are being deprofessionalized and subjected to outright demonization.

    While Barack Obama says all the right things to teachers, especially now that we are close to the elections, his education policies say it all.

    Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

    by semioticjim on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:24:29 PM PDT

    •  You are correct that is a beginning (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      semioticjim, glitterscale, JanL

      We may be at a turning point, but if so, there is a still long rough road ahead. All of the CTU activists I know are saying that as well. Rahm is threatening to close up to 100 schools and will announce which ones in December. Word has it that CORE has a pretty good idea of which ones they are.

      I suspect we'll have some sit-ins and building occupations. About the only thing we can count on is that it will be one helluva fight.

      The struggle continues...

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:49:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's all out in the open, and has been (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, glitterscale, seabos84, JanL

    for a long time. The facts are all out there, for anyone with an internet connection, or a library card.

    It constantly amazes me that Jane Jacobs published a book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" in 1961, that thoroughly documents the bankers' willful depredation of minority neighborhoods, by their refusal to extend credit and by bankers' and politicians enactment of racist "renewal" policies to destroy these neighborhoods. That book came out, again, in 1961. And people wonder today why "there's so much crime in black neighborhoods."

    It's all tied-in with the charter-school movement, of course, and "choice" and "accountability" and every other corporate-educational-reform buzz-word they throw around today.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:37:01 PM PDT

    •  I really need to read the Jane Jacobs book (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, JanL

      Chicagoans have gotten a real education about the socio-economics of modern capitalism in the past year. From Occupy Chicago to the CTU strike, our power structure researchers have been ferreting out the pieces of the puzzle and putting them together.

      Jackson Potter of the CTU gives a lot of credit to Stand Up Chicago which led large marches of labor and community activists into the LaSalle Street financial district to cast the klieg lights on the predatory big banks and the Board of Trade.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:55:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To be fair, Jane Jacobs (5+ / 0-)

        was writing mostly about NYC. But I think her analysis was applicable to most big cities. She was an NYC housewife in the 1950s who got into attending City Council meetings in Manhattan. This lead her to do some basic research, and to make connections. Hence, her first book. (She was to write several others.)

        I really had my eyes opened, big-time, to the destructiveness of racist "urban renewal" policies OK'd by city politicians in the decades since WWII. In big metropolitan areas, we are still recovering. Poor minority neighborhoods are magnets for crime and blight today, precisely because of this official malfeasance.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:04:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bravo! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semioticjim, BobboSphere, seabos84, JanL

    A tour de force.

    "Whenever I get the urge, I lie down 'til it passes." - Mark Twain on exercise.

    by mkor7 on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:51:18 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful diary! Thank you very much! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seabos84, BobboSphere, JanL

    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

    by glitterscale on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 04:12:00 PM PDT

  •  One of the Best dKos Diaries Ever n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, JanL, Larsstephens

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:04:12 PM PDT

  •  Wow, what a great post! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, JanL, redlum jak, slatsg

    This part is jaw-dropping:

    The sexist and racist attacks on Lewis and her union are only a part of a multi-million dollar attack on public education led by some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the USA. Among them are Bill Gates of Microsoft fame and the Walton family who owns Walmart. An amazing number of Wall Street hedge fund operators are behind the charter school privatization movement. David Brain a multi-millionaire real estate mogul, was asked what business his clients should invest in:


    “Well, probably the charter school business. We said it’s our highest growth and most appealing sector right now of the portfolio. It’s the most high in demand, it’s the most recession-resistant. And a great opportunity set with 500 schools starting every year. It’s a two and a half billion dollar opportunity set in rough measure annually.”

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:12:34 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, BobboSphere

    I'm not sure how much of a role I played, but I wrote letters to my Illinois senators, reps, governor, and Obama alluding to the strike, and talked about it with coworkers and my wife whenever I got the chance. Raising awareness of what's at stake never hurts!

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by progressivist on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 07:52:23 PM PDT

  •  Chicagoans love our teachers! (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the excellent diary!

    Thanks to President Obama, the Iraq War is Over!

    by Viceroy on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:22:21 PM PDT

  •  Probably the best diary I have read (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, slatsg

    Outstanding!  My husband is a teacher here in Oregon.  I am sending this to him under the subject line "MUST READ!"  

    Thank you SO much for all you do!  We were trying our best to follow the strike, but your diary is the "meatiest" thing I have read so far.  Bravo!

    I hope more people on this site and others read it!!!!

    •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

      There has been an outpouring of writings about the strike and I relied on many of them to help me understand what I did not experience first hand. I was mostly at Strike HQ except for the mass rallies and  a couple of picket lines.

      Jackson Potter of the CTU leadership told us at a post-strike meeting that this a first step. There will be plenty more steps to talk about and write about.

      Best wishes to you in Oregon!

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:23:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great writing, (0+ / 0-)

    and thank you (and the strikers) for laying out what is really going on.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 02:57:26 AM PDT

  •  Great, great piece, Bobbosphere! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Best explanation of this strike and the state of the Chicago Public Schools I've seen yet and I say that as an almost 50 year Chicago resident whose daughter received a great CPS education. You are certainly right in saying that the local news media were worse than worthless in their coverage. Lickspittles, the lot of them.

    Thanks for this. I'm sharing with my FB friends.

    I know whose side I am on!

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 07:33:01 AM PDT

  •  Chicago's segregation is a big issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, slatsg

    More needs to be said about how segregated Chicago is. I was happy to read that here and the issues that go along with it. Most people I know take it for granted that certain races are in certain areas most predominantly -- but they gloss over how very little that ever mixes and how much is done to prevent it in the first place.

    I don't think people get it -- even people who live there often delude themselves into thinking it's a "melting pot". It's more like a pot of oil and water. It's truly astounding.

    I moved to St. Louis and the fact that there were even other races in a restaurant with me was a surprise. White neighborhoods in Chicago (and I'm not from some affluent part of the city, but I am from the NW side) are so overwhelmingly white that just does NOT happen.

    If I didn't go to a public school for my first few years I'm not sure I'd have interacted with a single black kid at all. My second school, a Catholic school less than a mile away, didn't have a black student until my 8th grade year. And from what I can tell in talking to friends, this is normal -- it's not a fluke.

    And here, in St Louis, I hear many people worry about how segregated their city is. And sure, it is --  but when I compare it to Chicago, it's just insane to me. It's hard to realize how divided Chicago is until you have a source of comparison at all. It's really, really, segregated. More than I probably ever wanted to admit to myself.

    The climate breeds racism and I'm very thankful that I never bought into it and that I wound up going to a very integrated high school.

    •  I came to Chicago in 1975 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      softserve, Charles Hall, slatsg

      I was born in DC when it was still ruled by Southern Dixiecrats and lived in white-only MD suburbs after my parents fled DC in the white flight of the 1950's. We lived in a government subsidized (cheap VA loans) working class suburb where the "N" word was just what black people were called, not that there were any living there.

      I also saw plenty of white only signs when we visited my mom's family in NC.

      We moved to a more professional class suburb when I was in jr high school and while use of the "N' word was reduced,  the attitudes weren't all that different. I never even knew any black people til high school.

      I had liberal parents and grew up Unitarian, so I knew racism was wrong, but quite honestly, when you grow up in that environment it seeps into your pores anyway and you are often not even aware of it until someone calls you on it.

      I spent some time working alongside of the DC Black Panthers in their rainbow coalition movement because a racially divided working class seemed to be the root of all evil to me.

      The racism we confronted  in the MD-DC area was more a Dixie-style racism. It was vicious and ugly make no mistake about it, but I felt I had some understanding of it.

      Then I came to Chicago. I was shocked at the upfront naked apartheid.  Somehow it seemed so much worse than anything I had experienced further south. It was one helluva education, especially when I worked in the Harold Washington campaign.

      I applaud the CTU for its multiracial campaign against educational apartheid. Enough is enough.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 10:17:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post. Thanks so much. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

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