thestar.com — Many mocked us, many vilified us, many told us we would achieve nothing. But after a wave of student mobilization in Quebec through the spring and summer, we can count our victories: on the first day of the new PQ government’s term, it cancelled a tuition hike and repealed an anti-protest law that curbed basic freedoms of expression and assembly. If the PQ yielded so quickly to some of our demands, it is because we organized a strike movement whose support was popular and broad, which allowed people of all ages and walks of life to express their grievances about our political and economic system. That might be hard to believe, going by the depictions of us in English Canada: half-witted hooligans, spoiled brats or frightening extremists. But if we are guilty of anything, it is of questioning the dogmas of the rich and powerful, who have spent the last decades trying to lower our expectations for what is politically possible.
commondreams.org — The Chicago teacher strike is over, but the assault on our nation's children has just begun. As with all free market systems, the price is set high enough to ensure a profit for the companies doing business, even though not everyone will be able to afford their product. With our private health care system, 1 out of 6 Americans are uninsured. It's frightening to think of a private educational system in which 1 out of 6 children have to settle for an inferior education. We've learned a lot in recent years from the struggles within our schools. Here are three sensible considerations for anyone involved in the education of our children.
prospect.org — Consider the battle of Chicago’s teachers as a lesson for what’s ahead as the same struggle winds its way away around the nation. For the nation’s beleaguered labor movement, the six-day strike by the Chicago Teachers Union that ended on Tuesday is proof that a strike is not suicide, as has been the fate lately for most unions. Indeed, as the end neared and they were heady with an apparent win, the teachers’ talk catapulted from standing up for teachers to standing up for organized labor and ultimately to speaking for bullied, and exploited workers.
Teachers are heroes, not villains, and it’s time to stop demonizing them. It has become fashionable to blame all of society’s manifold sins and wickedness on “teachers unions,” as if it were possible to separate these supposedly evil organizations from the dedicated public servants who belong to them. News flash: Collective bargaining is not the problem, and taking that right away from teachers will not fix the schools. It is true that teachers in Chicago have dug in their heels against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demands for “reform,” some of which are not unreasonable. I’d dig in, too, if I were constantly being lectured by self-righteous crusaders whose knowledge of the inner-city schools crisis comes from a Hollywood movie. more »
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aljazeera.com — The Chicago school teachers managed to overcome the enormous money and power on the other side. This included the media, which is dominated by people who instinctively side with Rahm Emanuel and his Wall Street types whenever they confront workers. The teachers did an outstanding job making their case to the people of Chicago, and especially to the parents of school children. A poll of Chicago parents commissioned by the union found that two-thirds supported the teachers in spite of the inconvenience caused by the strike. The parents understood that if the teachers won their demands it would likely mean better educational outcomes for their children. The lesson from this strike is that even as money is becoming ever more important in politics, it is still possible for well-planned collective action to win out. The Chicago school teachers and their unions did their homework and moved at the right time. The rest of us can learn a lot from their example.
In any society where wealth and income concentrate overwhelmingly at the top, the affluent will almost always come to sneer at public services and the men and women who provide them. In Chicago, those men and women have pushed back.
inthesetimes.com — In June 1995, the economist Milton Friedman wrote an article for the Washington Post promoting the use of public education funds for private schools as a way to transfer the nation’s public school systems to the private sector. “Vouchers,” he wrote, “are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a market system.” While Friedman has promoted vouchers for decades, most famously in his masterwork Free to Choose, the story of how public funds are actually being transferred to private, often religious, schools is a study in the ability of a few wealthy families, along with a network of right-wing think tanks, to create one of the most successful “astroturf” campaigns money could buy. Rather than openly championing dismantling the public school system, they promote bringing market incentives and competition into education as a way to fix failing schools, particularly in low-income Black and Latino communities.
progressive.org — Marie Sklodowska Curie Metro High School is located in a hardscrabble neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side. A coal-burning power plant lies just to the north and various factories and warehouses stand on surrounding streets. Gang violence is a serious problem in the area, and the economic crisis has hit many immigrant families hard. Students and teachers describe the school as a safe haven, a place where, despite a severe lack of resources, teachers offer innovative lessons with real-world context and organize clubs and after-school programs on topics like literature, science, and the environment. Curie students say they recognize the extra lengths their teachers go to in making sure they get a stimulating, top-flight education even in such trying circumstances. Hence many students and former students have spent the past few days on the picket lines with their teachers and former teachers.
lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com — The Chicago Teachers Union deserves everything they are asking for because many of them are heroes. For some, for kids like me, they are role models who give young people social mobility and who teach them that learning is a great thing. The Chicago Teachers Union deserves the world because they take kids like me out of working-class families and help them fulfill their dreams. Those who attack them place themselves on the other side of the class divide, on the side that promotes social inequality and the side that provides no incentives for good teachers to stay in working-class schools since poor test scores, largely a result of poverty, will cost them their job. They claim to help children but don’t understand poor public schools; they claim to support policies that will improve education but promote ideas that will enrich capitalists at the expense of students. Which side are you on? I side with the people who changed my life.