With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, April 1, 2016

Strike morning

 Oscar DePriest  teachers load up the picket signs.

After stopping at Dunkin's for a bucket of coffee to bring with us, Susan and I are heading down to Telpochcalli Elementary school in Little Village later this morning to walk the picket line with my daughter Jennifer and her CTU brothers and sisters.

BTW, thanks to Spoken Cafe on Montrose for their offer of free breakfast to teachers heading to the strike line.

It's the logical school for me to walk the line because I've been a part of that small (by design) neighborhood school since it was founded by teachers as part of the early small-school movement. And the school's been a part of me.

Jennifer has been a teacher there from the beginning. My grandson Oscar went to Telpo and I'm forever grateful to his teachers for the loving care and support he received there. He's my pride and joy,  16 now and a high school sophomore.  So maybe, we should spend some time picketing at the high school as well. We'll see how things go.

The one-day teachers strike for school funding and fiscal reform comes in response to the continuing violations of the contract by the board and Gov. Rauner's hostage taking of the state's school budget. Rauner is using his hold on the budget to fulfill his dream of a Republican-led state takeover of Chicago's public schools and the busting of all public employee unions, especially the CTU.

His manufactured budget crisis even threatens to shutter predominantly-black Chicago State University on the city's south side.

The strike is drawing support from parent groups, several of the city's unions -- including SEIU Local 1 which led its own one-day strike of airport workers yesterday out at O'hare -- and from community organizations from across the city. If the weather holds up, this afternoon's rally and march should be huge.

This despite threats directed at teachers by CEO Forrest Claypool and a vicious and misleading, anti-union media offensive, the likes of which I haven't seen in years. Both papers and CBS News have even sent reporters out, beating the bushes, with little success, to find one or two teachers willing to scab on their colleagues.

The worst, as you might expect, was an editorial in the Tribune calling the strike "Tantrum Day" and calling on teachers to "rebel" against their own union. Remember, it was the Tribune board that recommended "Mussolini-like" command and control over CPS.

The Sun-Times hasn't been much better with articles referring to CTU Pres. Karen Lewis as a "boss" and hoping against hope that some teachers will cross the line.

Crain's Greg Hinz offers his own unsolicited tactical advice, telling teachers that their efforts amount to just "noise" and are bound to fail.

Fail or not, it's better to stand up and fight than sit passively and hope that our sociopath governor and autocrat mayor concede out of the goodness of their hearts.

Today's strike is just another step in a long struggle to save and transform public education. If things don't change, a bigger and protracted strike in May is on the horizon.

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