Archives for posts with tag: Chicago

The so-called education reform movement decided long ago that change could come only through confrontation. Teachers figured that out when the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”; seven years later the teachers union is washed away and the public schools are mostly charter-ized. They figured that out when the White House celebrated the firing of the entire teaching staff in Central Falls, R.I., because of students’ low test scores. And it became clearer to them when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York published teachers’ names alongside standardized test results of their students.

Now, finally, a unionized group of teachers has decided to meet this confrontation head-on.

If evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores is a bad idea for teaching and learning, then the Chicago Teachers Union strike is good for teachers and students. If small class sizes are good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students. For that matter, if air-conditioning is good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students.

Tying teacher pay, tenure and even employment status to standardized test scores corrupts the teacher-student relationship and inspires no one. This carrot-and-stick routine won’t retain great teachers, and may turn our best teachers into test prep tutors. Any experienced classroom teacher will tell you that punishments and rewards at best encourage obedience, but will not promote creativity, intelligence or initiative.

I taught in three different public schools in New York City. Where I was able to be my best depended as much on the class sizes, the conditions, the financing, the materials available to me, the support staff for teachers, the support for students and the climate created by administration, as it did on my own efforts and abilities.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “reforms” in Chicago will not improve any of those very important factors, and are deleterious to all of them. By confronting the mayor and standing up for things teachers and students desperately need to actually improve our schools, the union is likely to do more to retain the best teachers, and to help more teachers to do their best, than any merit pay scheme ever could.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying both that CTU leadership is deciding whether or not to strike, and that “everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids.”

I just wanted to educate my boss a little on the history of Chicago, as he is relatively new to the area. Chicago is founded on the hard daily struggle of working people. It is the birth of the labor movement—not a movement just for wages and benefits, but a movement that stopped child labor so that each of the kids in CPS schools could attend school instead of working. It was a movement that stopped the practice of working conditions so unsafe that consumers were eating the actual workers who fell into the mix while they were making hot dogs. It was a movement that fought so that workers could have some tiny measure of time with our families rather than spending all waking hours working for the enrichment of their bosses.

But even more importantly, I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to “help or hurt our kids”.
When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.

When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as “our kids” or “other people’s children”.
And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I’m striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I’m doing to tell you, “No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.

I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.

See you on the picket line, my friend.

By initiative of the PCP (Portuguese Communist Party) we publish the Joint Statement signed, until today, by 35 communist and workers parties from all over the world on the NATO Summit held in Chicago on the 20-21 May 2012.

In an international situation marked by the deepening crisis of capitalism and by the violent imperialist offensive against the achievements and rights of the workers and peoples, a NATO summit will take place on the 20th and 21st of May, in Chicago, USA.

In the context of an ever-deeper crisis of capitalism, imperialism embarks on a militaristic and interventionist escalation.

Having renewed NATO’s strategic concept in 2010 – a new and dangerous qualitative step in its interventionist ambitions, of which the aggression against Libya was an example – the USA and NATO, which has the EU as its European pillar, seek to expand their sphere of influence, promote an arms race and ever greater military spending and invest in new weapons and in their worldwide network of military bases.

Imperialism militarizes international relations, proceeds with occupations, threatens new aggressions and promotes conspiracies and manoeuvers of interference in countries of every continent and through a permanent militaristic escalation, violates the existing agreements for international disarmament. The principles of the UN Charter are seriously jeopardized and there is a growing instrumentalization of the UN, with a view to providing a cover for imperialist violence. The process of destruction of theInternational Law that emerged from the defeat of Nazi-fascism in World War II, paves the way for the imperialist goal of controlling resources and of dominating the planet on a military and geo-strategic level.

As imperialism’s main instrument in its quest for world domination, NATO is an enormous threat to world peace and security.

But, as the facts are demonstrating, imperialism’s force-based response to the crisis of capitalism is coming face to face with the progressive and revolutionary struggle of the peoples, who in various parts of the world are taking into their own hands the defense of their rights and the sovereignty and independence of their countries and are resisting in the most diversified ways, imposing setbacks to the strategy of imperialist domination.

Reaffirming their commitment to the struggle for peace, for the right of every people to determine freely its destiny, for social progress and socialism, the Communist and Workers’ Parties signing this declaration:

Demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, as well as from all other imperialist interventions in the world;
– Reject the escalation of war in the Middle East, namely against Syria and Iran;
– Demand the dissolution of NATO and support the sovereign right of peoples to decide to disassociate their countries from this aggressive alliance;
Reject the deployment of the US and NATO’s new antimissile system in Europe and demand an end to foreign military bases;
Demand an end to the arms race and nuclear disarmament starting with the world’s major nuclear powers – such as the USA – and the complete destruction of all chemical and biological weapons;
Express their solidarity with the peoples that resist imperialist occupation, aggression and interference, namely in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa

21st May 2012

List of signatories Parties

 

Sometimes we get good news, like this one on a teachers’ labor fight in Chicago that the Union win!