Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chicago Teachers Organize Against Privatization

With a severely weakened union, there's a new union caucus in town in Chicago. CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators) organized the protest, which is being reported by Labor Notes.

Here's on interesting note in the articlem which I posted on norms notes with links active:

As Chicago’s school district has become increasingly run by private contractors, the 31,000-strong Chicago Teachers Union, an AFT affiliate, has seen its rolls plunge by 6,000.

Chicago Teachers Organize Against Privatization

See the video:

The Core web site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Re: Chicago Teachers Organize Against Privatization

Taking Action Against A Sea of Troubles;

Why I am Fighting Chancellor Joel Klein Esq.

And the NYC Dept of Education In Federal Court

If one simply lives, or should I not better say, survives, long enough upon this old Earth, he or she will eventually realize that sooner or later what we at first thought was impossible, and could never happen, given enough time- finally becomes a fact of life that is exponentially far worse than anything we might have conjured up in our worst dreams or nightmares.

How often does one hear people utter words that they seem to believe are engraved on the walls of History's most ancient Temples, as if as indelible as the Pyramids, only to later discover that their worst fears have been realized. In fact realized in spades.

Throughout all of recorded history, people have rarely awakened from their sleep until it was too late to save themselves. So it has been with the threat of wars looming on the horizon but people would find ways to lull themselves into the false self delusion that things could never "go that far" that their very existence would be in danger, their very lives and the lives of their families placed at risk.

How many people in Europe in the period between 1939 and 1945 believed till it was too late that no matter how dire circumstances became, they would surely be spared the ultimate tragedy. That "it could not happen to them".

How many times in my life did I pass by the World Trade Center and reflect what would happen if a modern plane would for some reason fly into those gargantuan Towers and then laugh at myself with self deprecating ridicule for even thinking for an instant that such a bizarre accident and/or planned incident could ever take place on this Earth in my own lifetime.

And now we find ourselves in the midst of the worst world wide economic crisis since the Great Depression began to unfurl its ever widening tide of horrors beginning in 1929.

Are we not now, those of us who are American Educators, witnessing just such a 'dejas vu'.

Just as all catastrophes have a way of creeping up on ordinary people ever so slowly and silently until it is too late to escape the danger that has surrounded us, so too have America's teachers witnessed a steady, growing erosion of their Constitutional protections, guaranteed to them by the Founding Fathers, as well as their protections guaranteed them by decades of Labor Laws that since time immemorial were taken for granted.

The year I entered the noble calling of Education back in 1968, at a time when America was embroiled in a huge and tragic war on the other side of the world, it came to pass that a school District in Brooklyn decided that it could unilaterally dispense with the services of a New York City teacher, a dues paying member of the United Federation of Teachers.

Immediately, the President of the UFT, Al Shanker, called a City wide strike. Every teacher in NYC was instructed to walk out of their school in all five Boroughs. The message to New York City and every Principal in every school in NYC was clear and unmistakable.

"An Injury To One Teacher, Is An Injury To All Teachers".

That teacher walkout became one of the longest strikes in the history of the NYC Public Schools system. That was the Union I discovered I had become a dues paying member of in my first year as a NYC teacher in the "Fort Apache" section of the South East Bronx.

But over the years we have witnessed that inexorable and steady encroachment on the rights and protections of Teachers and not just in New York City, but nationwide and even worldwide. Note the many courageous battles waged by Teachers in foreign countries to try to preserve their sense of simple human dignity.

Yet here in New York City we witness the constant and daily spectacle of Principals and other "administrators", who are not only frequently inept but openly sadistic, visiting havoc and horror on the lives of Union members who refuse to march in "Goose step" fashion to the wishes, dictates and commands of a former Federal Prosecutor's vision of his "new world order".

Even those who try to stay under the radar, for fear of losing their ability to feed their families are no longer immune from this ever expanding nightmare. Those who choose "to go along to get along" eventually come to realize that they are just as expendable as everyone else.

My own teaching career began sufficiently long ago that I can recall a time when teachers did not arrive at school each morning full of fear and apprehension as they do today. Not anxiety arising from the difficulties and challenges of teaching far over crowded classes but the worry of what some Administrator was planning to do to them that day to build a "case" to rate that Teacher as "Unsatisfactory" for the Year as a prelude to taking away their job and career.

How far we Teachers have fallen in these past 40 years. How far away seem the days when we could hold our heads high and feel proud of our chosen occupation as Educators.

How many Teachers feel abandoned and hopeless and now are experiencing the added sense of hopelessness as the US economy spirals ever deeper into the Black Hole of a total economic meltdown.

I never could have imagined so many years ago, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani saw fit to Honor me in New York's City Hall that I would be writing such words as these now.

Should we not all now, loudly and with one strong voice raised in unison, Praise the dedicated Teachers of Chicago, and Puerto Rico and Mexico and Africa and everywhere, who believe in the Rights of Teachers, in the Rights of Children and in the inalienable Rights of all Human Beings to be treated with the Dignity that should be accorded to every inhabitant of God's Earth.

David Pakter, former Teacher of the Year