Update (9/10): read Bill Barclay’s background on the strike here.
Update (9/12): watch Dissent contributor and editorial board member Joanne Barkan discuss the strike on Al Jazeera English.
After unsuccessful negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union, the CTU went on strike today, with approval from over 98 percent of union members. (The Chicago Tribune has up-to-the-minute coverage of the strike.) The union is striking over disagreements on a host of issues, including compensation, the length of the school day, social services at schools, classroom size, job security, and the use of a new curriculum and standardized tests to evaluate teacher performance. But as David Moberg of In These Times reports, teacher grievances “run much deeper,” including anger over money Chicago has spent on expanding the city’s charter school network.
Teachers are angry at how the mayors of the city, especially the current office holder, Rahm Emanuel, and CPS administrators and board members have treated them as the source of most school problems and not respected their professional training. “We’re tired of not being listened to,” said one Roosevelt high school teacher. “And we’re pretty unified.”
Theresa Moran, at Labor Notes, describes how the strike has pitted the Democratic Party against organized labor, just on the heels of a national convention that ran on non-union labor.
Observers see the strike as a “which side are you on?” moment for Democrats. On one side is the teacher union, which says too big class sizes, too few school services, and too little support for teachers are the problems. On the other are the corporate-education pushers, who heap blame on bad teachers.
For background on the goals and methods of the corporate-style education reformers, read Joanne Barkan’s extensive and essential reporting in Dissent: “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools,” “Firing Line: The Grand Coalition Against Teachers,” and “Hired Guns on Astroturf: How to Buy and Sell School Reform.”
Photo from CTU, via Flickr