FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail