FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On the Line in Chicago

by DAVID STEWART

On Monday, September 10, 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike. The next day Linda and I drove up to Chicago, parked our car on the North Side, rode the “red line” mass transit downtown and arrived after the speeches were over and just as the big march began.

We joined in as the procession moved in front of the Chicago School Board Headquarters, rounded the Loop, and ended at Buckingham Fountain.  It was a bright, clear day, and exuberant chants filled the air, none louder than “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Rahm Emanuel has got to go.”

Most everyone was wearing red, and many were wearing the red Chicago Teacher Union t-shirts.  A teacher walking next to me explained, “This is all about the Mayor.  And of course, he was President Obama’s right hand man.  It’s not good for the Democrats to have Teachers demonstrating against them so near to the Presidential Election.  I think the ‘bat phone’ is going to be ringing; I think Obama is going to be calling Rahm and telling him to resolve this pretty soon.”

The next morning, Linda and I walked to Senn High School and marched the picket line. The striking teachers were thrilled at our participation and very happy to talk with us.  A counselor explained that, “We want to be taken seriously.  It is obvious that they are trying to destroy Public Education and we are fighting back with our last resort, a strike.”

A Social Studies teacher explained how classroom size had increased due to the closing of many schools, and explained how this was a national issue.  “Every American will be affected by how this is resolved.  At issue is whether our society will allow education to be corporatized.”

Every teacher we talked to mentioned how the curriculum was being set by adherence to standardized tests.  An English teacher exclaimed, “The students have to take so many tests!  So much time for is being used for certification, what about time for instruction?” She also explained that the love of reading literature cannot be taught through standardized testing.

Linda saw a poster that referenced something called TIFs and asked a Teacher what that meant.  He explained that Tax Increment Financing in theory was meant to be used for community improvement but that in practice was funneling money from poor neighborhoods to rich areas.  “They say they have no money for public education, but at the same time they have used money from TIFs to build the Hyatt downtown.”

When Linda and I said that we enjoyed having these conversations, a teacher told us:   “It is because we are Teachers. We know how to articulate things!”

On Wednesday, we car-pooled with two teachers to the afternoon rally at Marshall High School.  In the van, the young women explained that they used to teach at Charter Schools on a one year contract. “Every Teacher goes into the profession with a desire to help their students, but without any job security it becomes very difficult.  Plus, when the teachers are interchangeable, the students don’t have any continuity in their education.”

On Thursday, the Chicago Teachers Union rally began at the Hyatt near the Chicago River. Soon a sea of red was parading down Michigan Avenue.  Students, and families, had come out to be in solidarity with their Teachers.

I stood on the steps of the Art Museum and looked back.  As far as I could see, there were people marching in support of the Chicago Teacher’s Union goals, chanting “Education under attack, what do we do?  Stand up!  Fight Back!”

David Stewart lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail