Why We’re Striking in Chicago September 10, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Chicago, Education, Labor.
Tags: chicago, corporate education, ctu, education, karen lewis, labor, labour, teacher strike
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‘Join Our Fight for Education Justice,’ says CTU President Karen Lewis
Teachers, paraprofessionals and school clinicians in Chicago have been without a labor agreement since June of this year. Following the inability of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to reach an agreement over benefits, the role of standardized tests in teacher evaluations, and physical improvements to schools that teachers say are harming both teacher and student performance, the CTU has announced that a city-wide stirke will begin today — the first teachers strike in 25 years. Pickets are expected at 675 schools and the Board of Education. The following are remarks from CTU
Negotiations have been intense but productive, however we have failed to reach an agreement that will prevent a labor strike. This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could avoid. Throughout these negotiations have I remained hopeful but determined. We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.
Talks have been productive in many areas. We have successfully won concessions for nursing mothers and have put more than 500 of our members back to work. We have restored some of the art, music, world language, technology and physical education classes to many of our students. The Board also agreed that we will now have textbooks on the first day of school rather than have our students and teachers wait up to six weeks before receiving instructional materials.
Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation. However, we are apart on benefits. We want to maintain the existing health benefits.
Another concern is evaluation procedures. After the initial phase-in of the new evaluation system it could result in 6,000 teachers (or nearly 30 percent of our members) being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned that too much of the new evaluations will be based on students’ standardized test scores. This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator. Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.
We want job security. Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even decreases) in teacher training. This is notable because our Union through our Quest Center is at the forefront teacher professional development in Illinois. We have been lauded by the District and our colleagues across the country for our extensive teacher training programs that helped emerging teachers strengthen their craft and increased the number of nationally board certified educators.
We are demanding a reasonable timetable for the installation of air-conditioning in student classrooms–a sweltering, 98-degree classroom is not a productive learning environment for children. This type of environment is unacceptable for our members and all school personnel. A lack of climate control is unacceptable to our parents.
As we continue to bargain in good faith, we stand in solidarity with parents, clergy and community-based organizations who are advocating for smaller class sizes, a better school day and an elected school board. Class size matters. It matters to parents. In the third largest school district in Illinois there are only 350 social workers—putting their caseloads at nearly 1,000 students each. We join them in their call for more social workers, counselors, audio/visual and hearing technicians and school nurses. Our children are exposed to unprecedented levels of neighborhood violence and other social issues, so the fight for wraparound services is critically important to all of us. Our members will continue to support this ground swell of parent activism and grassroots engagement on these issues. And we hope the Board will not shut these voices out.
While new Illinois law prohibits us from striking over the recall of laid-off teachers and compensation for a longer school year, we do not intend to sign an agreement until these matters are addressed.
Again, we are committed to staying at the table until a contract is place. However, in the morning no CTU member will be inside our schools. We will walk the picket lines. We will talk to parents. We will talk to clergy. We will talk to the community. We will talk to anyone who will listen—we demand a fair contract today, we demand a fair contract now. And, until there is one in place that our members accept, we will on the line.
We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the state and country who are currently bargaining for their own fair contracts. We stand with those who have already declared they too are prepared to strike, in the best interests of their students.
This announcement is made now so our parents and community are empowered with this knowledge and will know that schools will not open on tomorrow. Please seek alternative care for your children. And, we ask all of you to join us in our education justice fight—for a fair contract—and call on the mayor and CEO Brizard to settle this matter now. Thank you.
Represent Our Resistance March 20, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Education, Race, Racism.
Tags: andy kroll, arne duncan, black commentator, capitalism, corporate education, educating blacks, educating browns., education, education reform, lenore daniels, militaristic education, militry schools, obama administration, resistance, roger hollander, secretary of education
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It is not enough that Black and Brown children are subjected to the school-to-prison “programs” called “education in America. We have Arne Duncan, Education Chief, who specializes in establishing military schools for Black and Brown children.
From white liberals we hear this question: how do we (the city, the state, the nation) provide schooling for children growing up in urban America? The question should be, how do we (Black, Brown parents, citizens, intellectuals, teachers, activists, and students) provide schooling for our children growing up in capitalist America?
In “The Duncan Doctrine: The Military-Corporate Legacy of the New Secretary of Education,” independent journalist Andy Kroll looked at Arne Duncan’s performance as Superintendent of Public Schools in Chicago. He turned to the military! According to Kroll, Duncan’s solution for “educating” Black and Brown children in Chicago included the establishment of military academies in low income areas or areas with a dense population of single parents. It was no surprise that Duncan’s military school solution to achieving equitable education for all American children didn’t target suburban children.
No, the military school solution will teach obedience. But obedience to what end? What is the product if not docile citizens who won’t resist and who will accept their place as commodities and consumers? Who benefits from surrounding Black and Brown children in the walls of a military academy? What will these children learn? To remember and honor their ancestors? Or will they learn to love a country and an economic system that refuses to even engage a dialogue on reparations? Will they learn to love a country and an economic system that has little regard for Black and Brown life? What does Duncan care about our ancestors?
But, it will provide structure in the lives of these children! All Black and Brown children are without structure in their lives? For even those without familial structure, the question should be what in this nation’s ideology of the “American Dream” destroyed the “structure” in these children’s lives?
Kroll added that the Chicago military academies, if not explicitly a military recruitment tool, certainly offer deals to graduates, encouraging their entrance into the military.
Under Duncan’s “education” solution, children come to associate education with monetary reward. Students receive money for high grades. The higher the grade the more money! Education is also associated with “getting the job.” In corporate America that means becoming a content cog in the machinery. Education means money and a job that makes you “worthy!” Being “worthy” in the eyes of others depends on how much money you have in your bank account, if you can trust the banks to keep your account.
Love capitalism; hate yourself!
Kroll writes that Duncan’s Chicago legacy emphasized “a business-mined, market-driven model for education. If he is a ‘reformer,’ his style of management is distinctly top-down, corporate, and privatizing.” Teachers are “expendable,” unions are “unnecessary,” and students are “customers.” But since Arne Duncan plays basketball and his managerial style mirrors President Obama, his friend, he finds himself in Washington D.C., rewarded for his “good job” in Chicago.
Encouraging students to be critical thinkers, to question accepted beliefs and norms, remains key to a teacher’s role at any grade level.
And? Black and Brown critical thinkers would question the status quo of a U.S. corporate-lead government, and such people would certainly come to “question” capitalism itself? Do we remember Malcolm and King? Thinkers are not welcome now and they certainly won’t be welcome within Duncan’s “educational” scheme!
Sheep are easier to control and manipulate. Sheep look to the leadership of an oligarchy. Sheep obey orders. They chew on the dribble from corporate media without understanding the difference between their interests as “sheep” and the interests of the leadership.
A student who learns to play the cello, who studies how to read music, will learn discipline too, without a military-themed learning environment. But what use are Black and Brown cello players within a market-driven, corporate-militaristic government?