Tag Archives: strike

Pounding a Drum: Chicago teachers come out and Speak up!

Join me on the radio in Chicago,WCPT  am820 at 10am this Saturday. This will be the occupy anniversary, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to commemorate than by giving the microphone to the Chicago Teachers. In the studio will be David Orlikoff and Brian Murray from Occupy Chicago. We’ll be taking your calls, teachers, about the challenges you face in your classroom, and efforts to continually undermine the quality of education in Chicago.

I’d like to get as many teachers on as possible, so have a good hard pitch so we can get as many voices on as possible.

Call in at 773-763-9278. If the strike runs into next week, we’ll do it again the following Saturday.

You have a voice here on Chicago’s only Progressive station. Pass this on, spread the word and be heard!


With Chris and Wiggler on the picket line in Chicago

I stopped by a grade school this morning in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago to ask the pocket of energized red-shirted teachers to listen and call in to my radio show this Saturday at 10am on WCPT am820. I’m doing an Occupy anniversary show, but promised to give the teachers as much time as I could.

I snapped a couple of shots, engaged in a bit of good-natured back and forth when a guy pushed through the group and asked pointedly, “Do you support the Teachers?”

“Damn right!” I replied. “I grew up in a union home, and was union myself for the better part of a decade. Yeah, I support.”

He came out and met me at the curb, looking like a hip teach from a WB drama, with a neatly trimmed beard and long wavy blond hair. He introduced himself as Chris. Another, slightly more conservative fellow joined us there, calling himself, Wiggler. Not sure where the name came from. Seemed unimportant to ask. Not sure I needed to know, exactly.

I’d been listening to talk show hosts on the very Rightwing station WLS impune and attack the teachers, as if they were some sort of street scum, or deadbeats that needed to be taken to task. For the WLS talking heads it was all about the money, and of course their ultimate angle is to deride and denigrate anything union.

“It isn’t about the money,” Chris said. “It’s about the evaluation process and making it fair.”

WLS and their comrades over on WMAQ did in fact mention the review process, while conveniently omitting key parts of that argument. According to Chris and Wiggler, it isn’t simply about a review process, but about realities in inner city schools, particularly in challenged neighborhoods that at the very least complicates any review process to the point of damaging the records of otherwise gifted and excellent educators.

“It’s really common in CPS,” said Wiggler, who’d taught in some of the city’s toughest schools in the Engelwood neighborhood.

Both men pointed out that gifted students often migrate away from classes to better schools under various programs. The children that remain are often those with learning disabilities, or from homes and neighborhoods burdened with significant challenges from stifling poverty to physical abuse, malnutrition, gang violence and substance abuse. Wiggler pointed out that he’d  seen these sorts of migrations  suck away up to 60% of the best students from a classroom.

But this shouldn’t really even be about evaluations either. Both men, with the others in boisterous agreement lamented the attrition of supplies, resources and programs from schools, classrooms and students. More and more teachers are forced to buy supplies and media necessary to teach children as budgets are cut and programs like arts education, music, P.E. and more are cut. Students are crowded into classrooms with fewer and fewer teachers. And here’s why.

The tactic is a cynical and very purposeful one, fought carefully and incrementally over decades by the Right, and by complicit dupes on the Left as well. Starve the system until it becomes non-functional or marginally functional and then point to the disfunction as the cause of the problem, with the obvious solution being chater schools, vouchers, breaking up the teacher’s union, all of which only accelerate the first part of the strategy.

Education use to be about helping a person to gain critical thinking skills that could be applied to life and building a better tomorrow for themselves and their community. The attack on teacher’s unions, charter schools, home schooling, vouchers and dishonest review programs instead are intended to maintain a lower class beholden and enslaved to a wealthy and powerful 1%, unburdened by critical thought and trained rather than educated. They will be the perfect consumers of sugary crap not at all healthy or enlivening to their souls or bodies. and if there is one singularly critical battle line between what the Right wants and the freedom this nation supposedly promises for all, it may well be this fight.


Alert!!! The Chicago Teacher’s Union Crime wave

See if this sounds a bit familiar. This morning, as the first day of the Chicago Teacher’s Union Strike began, Police superintendent McCarthy announced he was canceling time off and pulling police officers off desk duty in anticipation of the coming crime wave brought on  by the strike. Yep, the police department is gearing up to protect the city folk of Chicago from the teenage and adolescent ne’er-do-wells unleashed by these thoughtless commie teachers who have the audacity to demand better working conditions and benefits. In good fashion, the strike by teachers in walking shoes and sandals, surely a dangerous lot, awakened the massive police state apparatus mandated with keeping us all safe from the perils and confusion of freedom. The horses were called out to maintain control over this horde, should their belligerent assertion of constitutionally protected rights provoke the police. and of course we all know what happens when that takes place, and a sudden assault by the police evokes terror. Why, terror by civilians is an assault against the police and the corporate power they protect-the ones that gives us jobs, and obesity, and cheap goods made by children in Indonesia, and diabetes inducing high fructose corn syrup, Bp oil, Goldman Sachs and Chase Bank. You know, the good guys.

Seems as if I’ve seen this before…when was…oh yeah, when citizens with a legitimate interest in petitioning the government over secretive NATO agreements regarding billions in cash, while people were suffering, jobless and poor in their member nations. Without being allowed to utter a single word, even if any news organization would have carried it, the message was crushed and buried in a virtual lockdown of the city. From the police to the news media Chicago was besieged by fear of vast unprecedented violence by Occupy and anti-war protesters.

So what is the teacher’s protest about? You’d better find out today or ask a teacher. The media right now is slow to react, but the reaction will soon be only too predictable. The police will manufacture a threat. The media will inflate it beyond proportion into a din of fear and hysterics. it has already started. “We’re preparing for the potential for violence and crime amid the teacher’s strike,” we can hear the chief say. “What violence, who’s committing crimes,” cries the media. “We just want to be prepared for that possible scenario,” says the top cop. “It’s the black and Mexican kids, those gang bangers. They’ll overrun the city won’t they. What should good god-fearing people do?’ the media will screech. “It’s all about safety, that’s all. Rem ain in your homes and only leave when necessary to forage for food, just don’t miss any must-see TV, and if you must go out, only travel in packs of as many white people as possible. Carry flashlights, whistles and energy bars,” says the wise old chief. “And guns. we need guns, and bullets and lots of them,” says the  watchdogs of the media, “remember, guns and the Second Amendment are all we have between us and the First amendment.


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