Solidarity with Chicago Teachers: Building Community Alliances to Defend Our Schools
Thursday, September 4th, 6 pm
Offices of the Illinois Education Association
304 South Eldorado Road, Ste. 2
Bloomington, IL 61704
Chicago teachers, in preparation for a historic strike, are getting the word out throughout Illinois on their battle with an unelected school board and the powerful corporations in the city that want to destroy public education.
The attack against public education is a national battle, but Chicago is now on the front lines. Public schools and teachers are under attack by business groups that want to privatize the school system and profit from the education of children.
The 1%, and the politicians that represent them, have no qualms sacrificing the educational needs of children in their pursuit of profit.
In Chicago, as elsewhere, school boards purposely starve schools of funds as a pretext for turning them into quasi-private, non-union charter schools. In many schools, funds are not made available for adequate staffing, up-to-date technology, building repairs, and enriching arts programs.
Meanwhile, charter schools are flush with cash, both public and private.
The Chicago Teachers Union, led by the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), has been in a long-term fight against the corporate deformers. Since their beginning as an internal union caucus, CORE has built alliances with parent and community groups, defending every school from being shut-down during the mayoral reign of Arne Duncan and Rahm Emmanuel. In 2009, CORE won leadership of the union with a 60% mandate.
Under CORE’s leadership, the union has continued to fight for better schools and learning conditions, bringing demands from parent and community groups to the negotiating table during union contract negotiations. CORE has also revitalized union democracy within CTU, taking its cues from the membership and building grassroots power.
The issues now facing CTU in contract negotiations represent a test case, since the powerful 1% have decided to attack the union on all fronts. Fair compensation for teachers is one issue, but CTU is fighting for many issues centered on learning conditions for children, which the board is not obligated under law to negotiate with the union.
In an environment where the school board is trying to starve schools of funds, the union is fighting for lower class sizes, a better educational day (and not just a longer day, as pushed by the mayor, without teacher and parent input), adequate and qualified staffing, arts programs in all schools, and adequate air conditioning and technology in schools.
In preparation for their attack against the union, right-wing groups tried to take away CTU’s right to strike by imposing a 75% strike approval requirement in last year’s education law, SB 7. The right-wing succeeded in imposing the rule, which says 75% of all members must approve a strike. Yet in May of this year, the CTU garnered over 90% approval for a strike (of those who voted, 98% approved strike authorization).
To learn more about the work of the CTU in defending their schools, join us in listening to a presentation by a member of the Chicago Teachers Union. She will be speaking Tuesday, September 4th, 6 pm, at the offices of the Illinois Education Assocation in Bloomington (304 South Eldorado Road, Ste. 2