Filed under: Discrimination, Me Stuff, Race, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics
“Don Moore was the most persistent, thoughtful, smart advocate I know,” said Anne Hallett, director of the Grow Your Own teacher preparation program. “He would get his teeth into something and not let go.”
“We have lost a giant. We have lost a lion.”—Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis
It’s easy to stereotype public policy wonks as data driven, numbers crunching, analytical geeks with horn-rimmed glasses and bad haircuts who provide the research for the real organizers who go out into the real world and mobilize for social change. Chicago’s Don Moore, who died last August, defied that misleading stereotype. Besides being Chicago’ s premier educational researcher, Moore was a coalition building organizer par excellence, a strategist with a grand vision for educational democracy and one who possessed a deeply held moral vision. It was a vision that still stirs those who knew him even after his life’s journey has ended.
He was a genuine educational reformer, not a fake like the Michelle Rhees of today. Rhee and those like her call themselves “reformers” but use hi-stakes testing and school privatization to generate profits for huge corporations who hope to gain control of Amerircn education.
Don Moore always put children over profits understanding that a child is always more than just a test score.
Filed under: Me Stuff, Race, Society & Economy, Unions, Workplace
“The CTU is teaching the USA a lesson in working class love and solidarity. It’s a transformational moment for the membership of the CTU and its allies. How can they transform the horn honks, the raised fists, the friendly waves and the kind words of encouragement into a political force to be reckoned with?”
It was of course, more than a Chicago teachers’ strike; it was a city-wide working class protest. Parents and concerned community members walked the picket lines. Workers of all types who passed in their trucks, buses, taxis and passenger cars joined in with honking, friendly waves and fist raising.
There was serious carb-loading and elevated caffeine levels for days as strike sympathizers brought muffins, cookies, donuts, pop and coffee to picket lines. Labor professor Steve Ashby organized a scheme (originally used in the Madison uprising) where strike supporters called in pizza orders to help feed the legions of volunteers who came to the Chicago Teachers Union(CTU) Strike HQ in the Teamsters hall on the West Side.
In response the mayor and his allies launched an expensive propaganda campaign against the strike that even the best efforts of the CTU and its allies could never match in its reach and scope. TV and radio ads blasting the union were all over the air waves. The local corporate owned news media was almost uniformly hostile. The national media was no better.
Their money was wasted in Chicago’s working class neighborhoods. Chicagoans backed the teachers by a substantial majority. As CTU president Karen Lewis put it,“Let’s be clear — this fight is for the very soul of public education, not just only Chicago but everywhere.”
Monday was a long day at the Chicago Teachers Union Strike HQ that began before my 5 am arrival. CTU staffers and volunteers were glued to laptops and cell phones. The sound of staple guns attaching signs to sticks competed with the voices of people reporting on the latest news from the picket lines. There were huddled meetings sharing data and a mass meeting of the strike coordinators that erupted into cheers as the overwhelming success of the strike became clear.
Across the city parents, students and teachers joined together on the picketlines. There were very few scabs and massive participation on the picketlines. In fact it was hard to travel anywhere in Chicago without seeing a picketline. Across the city people were stopping anyone wearing the now well known red t-shirts and asking about the latest news, offering thanks or just wanting to express their opinion, either for or against.
Bus drivers sounded their horns in support along with truck drivers and ordinary motorists. Cops and firefighters made their solidarity known. Working class Chicago was expressing its opinion and by the reports that I heard, the opinion was overwhelming in support of the teachers, even by those who were inconvenienced by the strike. Read more
UPDATE: No agreement was reached between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union. There will be a strike beginning Monday morning.
I was walking my bike out of the CTA Blue Line stop nearest to the CTU Strike HQ at around 11:15 am Saturday morning when I encountered two Chicago cops standing at the entrance. They noticed my red shirt with the “Stand with the Chicago Teachers Union” emblazoned across the front.
One said, “You must be a teacher.” I replied, “Yeah, I’m headed for the Strike Headquarters to volunteer my services. He answered,”Good luck,” while his partner smiled. I thanked them both and was on my way. It was the first time a Chicago cop had ever wished me well during the entire 36 years I have lived here.
Over the weekend of May 4-6, 1500 union members, workers’ center activists and working class rebels gathered at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont IL for the biennial Labor Notes Conference. Labor Notes is the monthly magazine for labor activists who “want to put the movement back into the labor movement.” The publication grew out of the rank and file labor revolts of the 1970’s and for the past 33 years has reported on key labor struggles and issues. Not satisfied with just writing about labor insurgencies, Labor Notes also convenes special organizing workshops in addition to their regular national conferences.
Labor Notes readers proudly think of themselves as part of the “International Troublemakers and Boat-Rockers Union”. Their symbol is the slingshot, a weapon associated with David bringing down the mighty Goliath. It’s not an actual union of course, but a state of mind. Their brand of aggressive organizing is not only hated by global corporations but is unwelcome among those union leaders who cling to the tattered status quo of their big salaries, with little effective action to show for it. Workers from 20 nations, including the USA attended the 2012 meeting.