Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chicago Teachers Union Educates Members on History of Strikes

Here in NYC the UFT tries to bury the history of teacher strikes. In Chicago they celebrate them.
History is important if you want to build a movement. One day I have to upload all the print editions of Ed Notes going back to 1997. There is a real history of the Weingarten years and the early days of the ed deform movement.

Diane Ravitch labeled me a "prolific" blogger on Saturday. I just counted 6 of hers today and it's 9:15AM. This is only my 2nd today. I hope she keeps them coming every half hour if necessary -- even if we can't read them all, they offer a tremendous resource for us all. I know, I know, I am inundating you on the first day you have to go back to school  -- and good luck to you all.

Substance reports:

VIDEO HISTORY: CORE and Labor Beat team up to produce the half hour video 'CTU Strikes 1969 - 1987' where veteran teachers help a new generation understand the work of union militancy

The video produced by CORE (the Caucus of Rank and File Educators of the Chicago Teachers Union) and Chicago's Labor Beat during the summer of 2012 in conjunction with the four CORE "Successful Chicago Strikes" . . .


Here is more from George Schmidt's Substance story:

The video features six veteran Chicago Teachers Union members (including this reporter) who discuss the history of the strikes between 1968 (the famous FTB strike against racism and segregation) and 1987 (the 19-day strike) that made the Chicago Teachers Union the most famous militant union in the USA. As the video points out for historical accuracy, CTU continued to strike successfully even after "PATCO" supposedly made the labor movement afraid to strike.

The video was produced during the summer of 2012 as the union busting tactics of the Chicago Board of Education and the administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear to more and more teachers that the CTU was being forced into the position of "Strike or Surrender" that it had faced during the earliest days of collective bargaining in the 1960s, and that many of the issues, including the tactics of the city and the Board of Education, had not changed in 50 years.

In the introduction to the video, George Schmidt and Jim Daniels talk about the vicious racism that divided the City of Chicago through the 1960s and resulted in the majority of Black teachers in the city not only teaching in segregated schools, but unable to get "certified" because of a blatantly discriminatory oral certification exam.
Members of CORE continued organizing and informing the CTU membership throughout the summer of 2012 as the strike loomed closer and closer. CORE leaders noted that a union that has forgotten its history is doomed to repeat the worst mistakes of its past, so CORE begin the long process of reviving the militant history of the Chicago Teachers Union in video and print.The segregation and racism were challenged both within the CTU and in the schools by a growing group of teachers, most of them Black, who eventually led a wildcat strike that shut down or disrupted more than 100 of the city's schools. The "FTB Strike" of 1968 is widely revered among progressive unionists in Chicago as a pivotal moment in the history of the CTU. As Jim Daniels notes in the video, the union leadership at that time declared the FTB strike against racist certifications an illegal "wildcat," but the leadership of that action eventually pushed the union into full integration and into overcoming the racism of the Board of Education's certification and assignment procedures.

A trick used to keep minorities from becoming "fully certified" (and thus eligible for "assignment" as "regular teachers" and later, tenure) was the oral examination. Throughout the 1950s, as Chicago's enormous Black ghetto expanded across the South Side and the West Side through block busting and deliberate school overcrowding block by block, the Chicago Board of Education created more and more new Black schools, staffing them with Black teachers (and some whites, usually those considered "Hippies" and "Commies") who were forced for the most part to remain in "FTB" (Full Times Basis Substitute) status for years, or even decades. Ironically, however, the compression of the Black ghetto (which had been "allowed" to expand block by block thanks to edicts of the Chicago Real Estate Board beginning during the 1920s) also gave rise to a form of Black Power (in both the communities and the schools) unique in many ways in the USA.
There's even more to read at:

Those who appreciate the work of CORE and Labor Beat in making this learning tool available are asked to join CORE (see www.coreteachers.org) and make donations to Labor Beat and to Substance. The video is available in DVD format from CORE for $10 (a part of this cost goes to build CORE and democracy in the CTU) from CORE at coreteachers.org. Members of CORE can request copies of the video. The video will be shown on Labor Beat in early September 2012.

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

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