In a Southeast Chicago neighborhood bearing the brunt of job migration overseas, Wisconsin Labor supporters rallied with hundreds of Chicago Teachers in a show of cross-state Solidarity. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has gone on a media attack against teachers in the nation’s third largest school district, shifting the blame to teachers for the districts financial and performance woes – a divide and conquer strategy reminiscent of Scott Walker’s tactics in Wisconsin. Emanuel and his appointed Board of Education (CPS Board is appointed by the mayor, not elected), and CPS “CEO” Jean-Claude Brizard have put teachers on the defensive this year, and public schools in Chicago may bear the burden of their ideological pursuits. Wisconsin Labor Leaders including John “Sly” Sylvester (WTDY), Joe Conway (Madison Firefighters), Ed Sadlowski (AFSCME), Eric Cobb (WI Building Trades), Marv Vike (Rock County Hwy Workers) and others rallied with CTU President Karen Lewis and other Chicago Labor leaders in a show of support against Emanuel’s attack on teachers.
The similarities to Wisconsin are striking – Rahm Emanuel has a history of supporting privatization and school choice. One of the primary authors and supporters of NAFTA, today he is participating in a bi-lateral, International study to open “free market, international access” to the tri- state region of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. At a time when the CPS Board approved salary hikes for Administration, the District withdrew a 4% raise for teachers, citing the poor financial status of the District. His District CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, is well-known as a proponent and supporter of privatization of schools, expansion of charters, and shutting out teachers from the educational process. The system in Chicago is run absent of any Democratic recourse, as the positions of authority are all appointees of the Mayor. A position Scott Walker is placing himself in through unprecedented power grabs in Wisconsin.
Teachers and taxpayers are being asked to believe that a 30% longer school day for teachers (with only a 2% increase in salary) will solve CPS’ problems. There is no plan from the mayor to address the millions of dollars in corrupt administration, corrupt TIF districts, or real financial issues surrounding the district. There is no plan to address poverty, hunger, segregation, violence and joblessness – the proven most significant obstacles to academic achievement. All these issues have been raised by CTU leadership – and have been ignored. As in Wisconsin – this is not about the money! This is about turning over CPS to corporate money and power – leaving the poorest and most at-risk students behind. After all, in Rahm Emanuel, Mitch Daniels, and Scott Walker’s new “free – trade zone,” there will be tremendous need for low paying, undereducated, underqualified workers who will be happy to just have a job (or two) to make ends meet.
We are all in this together – Solidarity to the teachers in Chicago! Show your support by wearing red on Friday, as the CTU teachers will…
Pictures of the rally: