September 12, 2012

The Chicago teachers strike and the war on teachers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 4:53 pm

Author’s note:
Teachers across the country should learn from the examples of teachers in Chicago today and in Madison last year. The war on teachers is part of a class war designed to destroy the middle class in America.

A threat to the establishment.

A threat to the establishment.

Former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, was part of Obama’s war cabinet. As Chicago’s mayor, he is waging a war against teachers. With the emphasis on standardized test results and the voucher system, teachers in Wisconsin are facing a similar assault.

It is back to school time, which means it is also time for the pundits in the corporate media, the Tea Party, the GOP, Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan and politicians such as Rahm Emanuel and Scott Walker to chastise those who have the audacity to work in the public sector, teaching in public schools.

The big headlines are currently being made by the Chicago public school (CPS) teachers and their union, the CTU. The issues that CPS teachers are raising with their strike, however, are part of a much larger national trend.

According to the Occupied Chicago Tribune, there are four primary reasons the Chicago teachers are on strike. Of course, there are other reasons, but these are the four main points of contention:

  1. A better school day: A comprehensive education including not only curricula in math, science and history but also art, music, physical education and foreign languages in all Chicago Public Schools.
  2. Wraparound services and adequate staffing to support students in need: This includes counselors, social workers, librarians and school nurses with defined job descriptions as well as preparation and break time.
  3. Recall rights for educators and school staff: Hundreds of teachers have already been displaced by school closures across the city and more will be by the planned closing of at least 100 more schools in the coming years.
  4. Fair compensation: No merit pay, less reliance on standardized tests and pay commensurate to increased time in the classroom as well as inflation. CPS reneged last year on the contractually obligated 4 percent pay raise negotiated in 2007 and is currently offering annual 2 percent raises over the next four years. An independent fact-finder’s report released in July recommended pay raises of 15-18 percent next year.

A closer look at the public school system and those in other states reveals even more disturbing trends in K-12 education. The most disturbing, perhaps, are the trends toward privatization with voucher systems and the reliance on standardized testing in performance evaluations of teachers.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast sums up these two trends in a good example:

In a school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher – I won’t use her name – who’d been cemented into the school system for over a decade, wouldn’t do a damn thing to lift test scores, yet had an annual salary level of close to $70,000 a year. Under Chicago’s new rules holding teachers accountable and allowing charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by the principal.

In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school, part of the city system, had complete freedom to hire. No teachers’ union interference. The charter school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field – for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the fired teacher.

You’ve guessed it by now: It’s the same teacher.

The reliance on standardized testing that began with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2004 (a.k.a. No Child’s Behind Left), has become a failed, unfunded policy that teachers are paying for with their jobs.

When politicians from both parties say “children are our future,” do they mean the children of China, who will produce our products and the children of India who will run the IT systems and handle your customer service calls? Of course, we do need an elite few that will handle formulating the complicated derivatives for bankers, some lawyers that will help them get around the laughable regulations, the ones that can invest in Wall Street stocks and overseas business ventures. But what will be left for American children, besides helping feed our fast-food nation, or stocking shelves with Chinese products?

Teachers, politicians, anyone reading: Make no mistake about it. The war on teachers is no accident, it is planned. We are seeing this nation being divided, deliberately, into a nation consisting of a privileged few, and the rest, a lower working class who have absolutely no way up, because the education is not there to give them a chance for upward mobility to give them a way out of working minimum wage jobs. Well-paying jobs in this country are being outsourced by corporations at a horrific pace, so the education for those jobs is considered no longer necessary by the powers that be.

America will end up with a population that thinks in sound bytes, does not read, cannot innumerate and cannot think critically. A population that will accept, without any hesitation, anything the government tells them, and hate every country on the planet the government tells them to hate, to the point of being willing to volunteer to pick up a rifle, and kill anyone the government tells them to kill. The U.S. is almost there already. That seemingly is the plan.

Sadly and unfortunately, teachers may ultimately get the blame for that, when in fact it is not their fault.

Read full article, see slideshow and video here: Madison Independent Examiner – The Chicago teachers strike and the war on teachers

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