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:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count if Everybody Leaves the EU
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail