Why You Should Support the Chicago Teachers’ Strike

by CHRISTOPHER FONS

The serious villagers have now spoken: the editorial boards of many of the country’s major newspapers including the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, Mitt Romney, Rahm Emmanuel’s new friend Paul Ryan, Illinois’ “progressive” Senator Dick Durbin, Jesse Jackson…  They all agree that the Chicago teachers need to get back to work and accept whatever the Mayor of Chicago thinks is in their best interest.

Why the consensus from the “Left” and the Right of the US political system about the action taken by the Chicago Teachers?  Because strikes, and union organizing, are the last bastion of serious struggle in the US today and their tactics challenge the charade that is our political system.

With minor exceptions, the two major parties in the US today have a consensus when it comes to most matters of substance: free trade and globalization, the drug war, the prison industrial complex, a view that the entire world (including the US) is an endless battleground against “terrorism”, and the idea that the US tax payer is an ATM for any large industry that nears bankruptcy.  Unfortunately for the people of Chicago and other poor and minority parts of the US, the consensus extends even to the idea that public schools, and democratic control of those schools, are a luxury only for the well-healed neighborhoods of America – certainly not the “ghetto.”

Education “reform” has been a major focus of most right-wing foundations (including the Heritage, Bradley and Gates Foundations) for over 25 years.  Vouchers, charters, the replacement of school boards with Mayors or managers, test driven decision making and the destruction of collective bargaining are core goals of the “reform” agenda.  With remarkable speed, it has profoundly altered public education, particularly in lower income and minority neighborhoods.  The Obama administration and most of the Democratic Party’s movers and shakers have wholeheartedly embraced this agenda.

The Chicago strike is the most important political struggle today challenging the consensus politics of our moribund two party system.

Following on the heels of the defeat in Wisconsin, the Chicago teachers, and now those in Lake Forest, Illinois, are showing us that there is an alternative terrain on which to fight for progressive change in the US and that it is not the fixed, money-soaked ground of electoral politics where we are almost certain to lose.  Although we hear populist rhetoric from both parties during election time, they rally around the corporate agenda when it counts.  Think of the billions that the labor movement has spent over the years on the Democratic Party.  What has been the outcome?  Aside from the almost total destruction of private sector unions, we now see a new onslaught against public sector unions as well.  Across the country almost any harebrained “reform” advocated by some John Birch Society-like Think Tank is actually taken seriously at Democratic Party fund raising events.  In Milwaukee, Cleveland, Florida and elsewhere, public money now flows to all kinds of sectarian and private schools with almost no accountability and with no discernible improvement in instruction compared to public institutions.  Yet, the Democrats and Republicans continue to expand them.

The Right Wing Think Tanks and their Democrat and Republican allies want to destroy public education because it is one of the few institutions that maintain some autonomy, through democratic school boards and workers democracy (unions), from private corporate control.

Public schools potentially will be auctioned off, for the purpose of public to private wealth transfer, to educational corporations, the testing industry, food vendors, maintenance, transportation, software and hardware companies of over 100 years of public infrastructure.

Public educational institutions are also the most widespread link that people in the United States have with a democratic workplace because of their high levels of unionization.  And they are widely popular.

Public schools then, although not perfect, are a demonstration effect of a public space that works. They function as the backbone of our society, educating 85% of the population while at the same time involving workers and the community in democratic decision making.  This and the potential goldmine for private companies as a result of privatization are the reasons the paymasters for the two corporate parties want to destroy public schools.

Christopher Fons is a public school teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Will Falk moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee, WI where he was a public defender.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece