Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chicago Resistance to Ed Deform Grows as Does Opposition in the Union

Maybe it takes 15 years of mayoral control and the entire ed deform program to get things moving. Chicago has been the poster boy, having had first Paul Vallas (who ruled and ruined Philadelphia and is doing the same to New Orleans as we write) and then Arne Duncan, who was almost considered a joke when he ran the schools before Obama put a punctuation point on Duncan when he Peter Principled him into a national role as Education Secretary.

The Chicago Teachers Union, being run a basic clone of our own Unity Caucus dominated UFT, not only didn't stand up to the Mayor Daley assault, but actually cooperated in many areas (sound familiar to UFTers?) The CTU version of Unity is called the United Progressive Caucus (UPC). In 2001, an opposition caucus led by Debbie Lynch won power (with George Schmidt's Substance playing a major organizing role by distributing 3 issues of the paper to every single Chicago teacher). By the way, it should be pointed out that Daley supporters on the editorial pages actually urged teachers to vote for the UPC and against Lynch's PACT Caucus.

For a number of reason too complicated to get into here, Lynch lost the next election (she got the most votes in the first round but lost in the run-off to UPC's Marilyn Stewart. But for those in NYC thinking about this spring's UFT elections that all it takes is "winning" an election, the point should be made that the UPC still controlled the House of Delegates (like out DA) and the staff positions and used these positions to undermine Lynch at every turn. (She also made some crucial mistakes.) Stewart won the next few elections as Lynch's power waned (she is running again with PACT in the CTU elections this May).

The ed deform program in Chicago is known as Renaissance 2010 and the attack on the public schools has been intense. We've seen the entire program here in NYC under BloomKlein. They have the nerve to call it Children First. I won't get into details of the impact of ed deform but watch the 5 minute video below for Jackson Potter's perfect representation. It is no accident that these deforms have been linked to the increasing violence in Chicago, as we reported on George Schmidt's wonderful piece a few weeks ago. (Chicago Turnaround' the deadliest 'reform' of them all.) I love it when Schmidt's bitter enemies and who were silent for so long write about this issue but make sure to never mention the work Substance does.

The impact on the CTU has been intense. The CTU has hemorrhaged over 6000 teachers to charter schools and other privatized operations. Stewart's response has been to try to repress the growing opposition. She recently forced opposition groups to give out their literature outside and banned Schmidt from selling Substance at the doors of the House of Delegate meetings (which he has been doing for 30 years) and even called 911 on him and two cops threatened to arrest him.*

The rise of the Caucus of Rank an File Educators (CORE)

Around 18 months ago, CORE came on the scene and created an alliance of sorts with Schmidt. The combo has had a dynamic effect on the Chicago scene. Jackson Potter is one of the chief spokespersons for CORE. I got to hang with Jackson and a group of CORE people in July at the 5 city conference we held in LA and I learned an enormous amount from them.**

Here is a 5 minute video from March 2009 where Jackson elucidates the impact of Renaissance 2010 and the work CORE has been doing.

The URL is


Follow all the doings in Chicago at Schmidt's Substance News.
And the CORE blog.

Must see 28 minute video of Chicago's George Schmidt and CORE Shredding Arne Duncan and the Chicago Corporate Model on our sidebar or at Labor Beat hosted on

See the Black Agenda Report on CORE's anti-discrimination suit.
""The fired teachers are disproportionately African American, and the newly hired teachers are not-(ironic, eh, in Obama land?)

Chicago Teachers File Racial Discrimination Suit Against Obama Administration's School “Turnaround” Plan

*{By the way, this same kind of repression has started here in NYC. And I believe that was one of the reasons Mulgrew was chosen because the AFT/UFT hierarchy knows that what happens in Chicago will eventually happen here, but much more slowly because Unity is way more powerful than the UPC. Mulgrew is there to bring the goon mentality to the table, as opposed to Randi's "I feel your pain" mantra. (Speaking of goons, I saw Jeff Zahler at the DA after his return from Washington DC as AFT staff director - look for the usual red-baiting from Zahler in this year's union elections - mr. zahler goes to washington....). Mulgrew's new regime has forced all visitors to the DA up to the 19th floor to watch on TV, something I refused to do and was harassed by 2 Unity goons. I told them to call the cops and they backed down. But I think it will eventually happen as Mulgrew will feel he has to defend his toughness (GEMers and ICEers will be ready with cameras.) More on this issue in a separate post.}

**We are way behind here in NY in organizing efforts but maybe we need a decade or more of ed deform for things to jell. The work of GEM, ICE, TJC, NYCORE, and Teachers Unite allied with the growing core of parent and community activists, and even some politicians, give us hope.

1 comment:

  1. When student killings in Chicago is discussed on TV, no mention is made of what the students learn in schools. They need to learn that murder is bad, although killing (e.g., in self-defense) is not. Confusing but vital. Teachers need to stress basic principles, be it math principles or moral principles. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

    Let's video classroom instruction, and interview students.


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