Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Hey hey. Ho ho. Rahm Emanuel has got to go!

Thousands of CTU members march up Michigan Avenue to CPS Headquarters after a rally at the Auditorium Theatre. | Scott Stewart~Chicago Sun-Times.
That was the thunderous sound of 5,000 red-clad Chicago union teachers marching past CPS headquarters at Adams & Clark. Just when Rahm thought is was safe to come out of his office after last weekend's NATO Summit fiasco, he once again became the target of working class venom. Speaker after speaker denounced Rahm's ongoing war on teachers. His contract offer was denounced as an "insult."  On every issue, they offered counters to his "reform" agenda of privatization, charter schools, longer school day,and test-based teacher evaluation.

CTU Pres. Karen Lewis, AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten, &  Rev. Jesse Jackson  march along Michigan Avenue to CPS Headquarters. | Scott Stewart~Chicago Sun-Times.
According to Sun-Times reporters:
Inside the Auditorium Theater
The teachers had rocked the city’s Auditorium Theater with chants, cheers and jeers during a Wednesday afternoon rally to rev up the troops against a contract proposal union leaders derided as an “insult.” Dressed in red CTU t-shirts, teachers and other school workers turned the theater and three of its balconies into a sea of hopping, clapping red. "Definitely teachers are mad enough to strike,” said Prosser High School teacher Jennifer Koszyk. “I’m mad for my children. I want to make sure they get the same education as other children get in Illinois.”
 Outside, at the support rally UIC Prof David Stovall mocked Emanuel, asking the crowd, "any paid protesters out there? The response was a loud and joyful, "hell, no!"

Chicago's finest sporting CTU buttons
M. Klonsky pics
After more than 4,000 CTU members poured out of the Congress Theater, they were joined by rallying supporters across the street in Grant Park, with the groups merging into a sea of red-shirted marchers. As they proceeded up Michigan Ave. and then west on Adams, they were greeted with signs of support from onlookers -- a group of custodians, some medical techs, hard-hatted construction workers and retail clerks. Even the mayor's bike cops, many of whom had been used against the anti-NATO demonstrators on Saturday, now were wearing CTU buttons and posing for pictures hugging union marchers.

As the current negotiations move into high gear, Rahm would do well not to underestimate the level of solidarity and commitment on the part of the teachers. I didn't find any who wanted a strike. But neither did I find any who weren't ready to walk if pushed to the wall.


  1. Michael FiorilloMay 24, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    What on earth is Wengarten doing their? She's a major reason we're in the predicament we are.

  2. I'm glad Randi was there. That's exactly where the head of the AFT should have been yesterday.

  3. Solidarity ForeverMay 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Michael F.,

    Thank you for your concern but, we know who the enemy is. We know who is closing our schools and replacing them with charters, taking away our jobs, our pensions, our dignity, destroying our communities. It's not Randi Weingarten.

  4. Michael FiorilloMay 24, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Yes, we know who is closing our schools, and we should also know that Weingarten is one of their enablers.

    Here in NYC, as in Chicago, mayoral control has been the primary vehicle for closing and privatizing the schools. Dictatorial control of the schools was given to our billionaire mayor by Weingarten not once, but twice. The second time she unilaterally supported the re-authorization of mayoral control, ignoring the recommendations of her own governance committee. This was after she was silent about Bloomberg's purchase of the ability to run for a third term, overriding a term limits law that had twice been voted on by NYC voters. She then sat back and remained "neutral" in a race where Bloomberg was far more vulnerable than the media let on, giving him a de facto endorsement. Then there was her disgraceful embracing of Bill Gates at the 2010 AFT convention, a tell that she accepts the privatization of educational policy that the Gates Foundation embodies.

    Need more? How about her support for merit pay, teacher evaluations based on test scores, her embrace of the Common Core Standards (which are a Trojan Horse for ever more high stakes testing and a weapon against teachers and public schools), a passive and legalistic response to epidemic school closings (her empty sound bites offered as a deflection and cover notwithstanding), and her overall acceptance of the premises and assumption of corporate ed reform?

    I don't know whether she truly believes these assumptions, or sees their dominance as inevitable, but that matters little; the results of her leadership, in NYC and nationally, have been catastrophic for teachers, students and the public schools.

    Sorry, but the woman is a fraud and a misleader, and cannot be trusted to represent the interests of teachers or the public schools. As head of the AFT, it is her place to be at the head of that march, but the unfortunate reality is that she is there trying to distract teachers from her sorry record,while working in the background to divert/neutralize the efforts of people like the CTU leadership to mobilize against corporate ed deform.

    When the histories of this disgraceful era are written, Weingarten's legacy will be seen for what it really is, one of complicity and collaboration (that's her term, by the way, not mine) with the 1%.

  5. Sounds like Michael doesn't like Randi Weingarten.

  6. Michael FiorilloMay 24, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Actually, my encounters with Randi have always been pleasant and civil. Like any good lawyer, she enjoys a good debate, and she and I engaged in our share. I respect her intelligence, and I also don't delude myself into thinking that she doesn't have at least the passive support of much of the (mostly disengaged, increasingly overwhelmed and demoralized) membership.

    But her affability and intelligence are not the point; her role in the development of our situation, is. On that count, I feel she has used her political skills primarily to manage the membership's gradual immersion into and passive acceptance of the debacle we find ourselves in. Here in NYC, those who wish us ill are trying to smash and grab everything in sight, and many members (and even principals who've been around for a while) wonder where the UFT is.

    When you contrast what Randi says for the consumption of the membership with what she actually does, I think the record and results speak for themselves.

    If her appearance at the head of the CTU march is a sign of a new direction on her part, then I wish her success on our behalf and hers; otherwise, I'd urge active skepticism.

  7. Michael,

    Take a good look at my post above. Is what you see there a, "mostly disengaged, increasingly overwhelmed and demoralized membership"? Does that look like an AFT membership that has been managed by Randi Weingarten into "gradual immersion and passive acceptance of the debacle we find ourselves in"?

    Do you really think the CTU shouldn't have invited Randi to speak?

    I mean, what's your point here?

  8. Michael FiorilloMay 24, 2012 at 6:51 PM


    Sorry, my comments about demoralization, etc. referred solely to NYC, and should have been clearer. The pictures you've provided, and the success of CTU under Karen Lewis, is an inspiration for us here, and that is most important.

    My point, however, is that Randi is opportunistically trying step to the front of a rebellion against policies she has collaborated with, and would seek to call herself the leader of the parade. I think she should be called on that.

    And my point about the immersion of the membership and schools into the swamp of ed reform stands: has she not not signed off on every matter I mentioned? I notice you refuted none of it.

    My point is that, from where I'm looking, Randi is opportuistically jumping in front of a rebellion created called


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.