The September strike by Chicago teachers was a significant victory. Not since the UPS strike of 1997 has labor flexed its muscle and won.
The Chicago teacher strike demonstrated that if we fight, we can win. And even more, it showed the vital importance of not kowtowing to the Democratic Party, charting instead an independent political course. In its fight for better schools, the Chicago Teachers Union fought Rahm Emanuel, a powerful Democrat. The teachers stood up to the entire current corporate push in the Democratic Party and within some quarters of the American Federation of Teachers.
To win, the Chicago teachers chose not to be wooed by political compromises with elected officials. With a 7 day popular strike, they beat back merit pay, reduced the significance of standardized tests in teacher evaluations, and partially won the right of recall of displaced teachers. But more than that, the teachers argued that students aren’t test scores. They said students deserve better schools, schools with libraries, the arts, adequate technology, and adequate help from qualified staff in beating back the effects of poverty.
The following collection of analyses does a better job at summarizing the strike than I can. If you have any more to add, feel free to post a comment and I’ll add it.
Seven Days that Shook the Windy City: Reflections on a Chicago Teacher Strike, by Bob Simpson (Daily Kos)
There’s Something Happening Here, by Steven Ashby (Editorial in Chicago Tribune)
Lessons from the Chicago Teacher Strike, Video with Transcription (Solidarity)
What the Chicago Teachers Accomplished, by Lee Sustar (SocialistWorker.org)
What Really Happened in Chicago, by Gus Miller (Counterpunch)