Today is a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children. Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.

This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis commenting on today’s news that the Board of Education has voted to close 50 Chicago public schools.

While only around 40 percent of children in Chicago are black are Latino, 90 percent of children whose schools will be shuttered are black or Latino.

Teacher X: Why I'm Striking, JCB

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.

24: A Summary
  • Jack Bauer: You have to listen to me or there's going to be another attack
  • Chloe O'Brian: Of course. Even if we didn't have a long personal history of working together I'd still help you because you've always been right in the past
  • CTU: No
  • FBI: No
  • CIA: No
  • Cabinet Members: No
  • Foreign Officials: No
  • Presidential Advisers: No
  • President: No
  • Terrorist: *launches another attack*
  • Everyone: Give Bauer whatever he needs to stop this
  • Jack Bauer: So you'll listen to me in the future?
  • Everyone: Probably not

Chicago Teachers Flood Daley Plaza To Rally For Contract

With a potential strike looming, hundreds of Chicago teachers are flooding Daley Plaza this Labor Day afternoon to rally for a new contract.

The 10:30 a.m. rally comes a week before more than 26,000 teachers and other school workers could hit the street, disrupting what would be just the second week of school for hundreds of thousands of Chicago public schoolchildren.

Teachers at Daley Plaza are being joined by members of other unions. Many of them are wearing red. The Chicago Teachers Union promised a “sea of red.”

When will there be an honest conversation about poverty and racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of an education product in our school system? When will we address the fact that rich white people think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African-Americans and Latinos, no matter what the parents’ income or education level?
—  Karen Lewis, Chicago Teacher’s Union president on the school closure crisis in Chicago.
Diane Ravitch: Why The Chicago Teachers Union Deserves support

I support the union in taking this stand for the following reasos

1. Closing schools, many of which have been a bulwark of neighborhoods for generations, has been a complete disaster. It has destroyed one point of stability in the lives of young people who have precious little. It removes teachers who have been a part of students lives. It is not an accident that Chicago has seen a serious uptick of violence since Emmanuel became mayor. Young people in distressed neighborhoods need to see community institutions strengthened and teacher mentors protected. School closings and staff turnover take away needed anchors

2. Rating teachers and schools on the basis of student test scores, and threatening to close schools and fire teachers if the proper results aren’t achieved have not only ratcheted up stress levels in schools, they have led to the elimination of art music, sports, school trips and even recess for test prep. The result is that more and more teachers hate teaching and more and more young people hate school, increasing the drop out rate in neighborhoods which desperately need schools to become community centers where young people want to go. The union wants to make schools welcoming places where students want to come by reducing class size, and bringing back sports and the arts, and strengtheining struggling schools rather than closing them. That makes a lot of sense to me

3. Favoring charter schools over public schools has resulted in the systematic creaming off of high performing students by the charters and the warehousing of ELL and special needs students, along with students who have behavior issues, in the remaining public schools. The result is that overall academic performance in the district has not improved

4. Removing teacher tenure and job protections has resulted in the most talented teachers leaving the city system or trying to move from low performing schools to high performing ones where they are less likely to be fired. The result is an accentuation of racial and economic gaps in performance

Liberals, you know what hurts children? Look in the mirror. Your complicity with a regime of austerity that deprives poor people’s kids of everything they need in order to thrive. That’s what the teachers are protesting. Not only are they seeking to improve their own dismal labour conditions, they are fighting to save Chicago’s public schools - and kids - from Democratic politicians who seek to destroy them.

“Keeping class sizes small is one of the few proven ways to narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor children.”

The educators are asking for better learning conditions for the children they teach, including smaller class sizes. In early grades, it is well documented that large class sizes hurt student achievement. Keeping class sizes small is one of the few proven ways to narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor children.

Four reason why Chicago teachers are on strike
September 10, 2012

Across mainstream media and through the megaphone of city government, Chicago public school teachers have been consistently demonized and criticized for everything from self-serving greed, to negligence of their duties, and lack of care and respect for students.

Mayor Emanuel and his hand-picked school board—stacked with millionaires and former charter administrators—along with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, have continued to use their dominion over the school system to apply a corporate model of school reform to the Chicago Public Schools.

This type of “reform” has allowed private operators to take control of public schools, undermine the teachers union, close and turn around neighborhood schools rather than invest in them, and over-test students rather than provide them a comprehensive and nurturing education.

Meanwhile the Chicago Teachers Union, numbering nearly 30,000 members, is demanding that CPS cease this drift toward putting control of schools in private hands, and provide the necessary conditions for effective and equal public education—putting the needs of students ahead of corporate and government powerbrokers.

So what are the teachers fighting for?

A better school day: A comprehensive education including not only curricula in math, science and history but also art, music, physical education and foreign languages in all Chicago Public Schools.

Wraparound services and adequate staffing to support students in need: This includes counselors, social workers, librarians and school nurses with defined job descriptions as well as preparation and break time.

Recall rights for educators and school staff: Hundreds of teachers have already been displaced by school closures across the city and more will be by the planned closing of at least 100 more schools in the coming years.

Fair compensation: No merit pay, less reliance on standardized tests and pay commensurate to increased time in the classroom as well as inflation. CPS reneged last year on the contractually obligated 4 percent pay raise negotiated in 2007 and is currently offering annual 2 percent raises over the next four years. An independent fact-finder’s report released in July recommended pay raises of 15-18 percent next year.

As CTU President Karen Lewis proclaimed to a massive crowd of thousands of teachers and their supporters at a Labor Day rally in Daley Plaza, “This fight is for the very soul of public education, not only in Chicago but everywhere.”There are of course many other points of contention in negotiations, but these demands represent the core reasons that 98 percent of the CTU membership voted to authorize a strike. They represent the contours of a larger struggle against the neoliberal model of corporatized education being pushed by Emanuel, Brizard, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and their ilk.

The American Federation of Teachers—the nation’s 1.5 million-member education labor union, which has been complicit in corporate education “reform” in the past—has come out with a statement of support for Chicago teachers. President Randi Weingarten says: “Chicago’s teachers want what is best for their students and for Chicago’s public schools… The AFT and its members stand with the CTU.”


We stand in solidarity with Chicago & other  struggling teachers! They are some of the most important workers we have.