Chicago Teachers Build a Movement

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Chicago teachers see themselves as engaged in a movement to defend the public sphere from corporate acquisition. “Wall Street hedge funders and other speculators are betting heavily on school privatization as the next great investment frontier.”


Chicago Teachers Build a Movement

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition.”

Thousands of Chicago teachers and their community allies marched and rallied for three days in opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school board’s plans to close 54 public schools, almost all of them in Black neighborhoods – the biggest round of closings anywhere in the country, to date. Parents and teachers say the plan puts children at greater risk as they cross the boundaries of different gangs’ turf; destabilizes neighborhoods that will lose their schools; and is part of a larger scheme to further decimate the teaching ranks and convert more schools to charters. Teachers Union president Karen Lewis says “study after study” has shown that shuffling children around from school to school accomplishes nothing unless the new schools are significantly better – yet, most of the cross-city movement in the mayor’s plan is from one poor neighborhood to another.

The mayor claims that the closings are necessary cost-cutting measures. But a report by the Chicago Tribune, which is no friend of the teachers, shows that Emanuel’s minions have fudged the numbers. For example, a school was marked for closing because it lacked adequate air conditioning, but students were then slated to be transferred to another school that also lacks sufficient air conditioning. Another school was put on the shut-down list because it would cost almost $10 million to fix. But the students’ new school requires nearly as much money for repairs. The report concludes that it would cost millions more to renovate the schools where the displaced students would be assigned, than to fix the old schools.

The teachers union is engaged in a political battle royal.”

So, this is not about costs; that’s just a cover story. It’s about further privatizing the public schools, destroying the union, and destabilizing neighborhoods full of people that the mayor and his big business cronies would, ultimately, like to expel from the city, entirely. The teachers know it, and so does a growing portion of the community, who have joined in common cause.

The teachers have filed two class action suits against the closings, and the mayor’s school board appointees were set to take a pro-forma vote on the matter, on Wednesday. However, the teachers union fully understands that they are engaged in a political battle royal with forces that are bigger than the mayor’s office. Philadelphia and cities across the country face near-identical assaults on their public schools, part of a full-fledged austerity offensive by corporate America. The Lords of Capital are privatizing, financializing, monetizing and de-unionizing everything.

American racism makes inner city public schools an easier target, and the privatizers have a great ally in President Barack Obama. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is best known as Obama’s former chief of staff, but he also made millions as an investment banker. Wall Street hedge funders and other speculators are betting heavily on school privatization as the next great investment frontier. Chicago’s teachers are attempting to build a community fight-back coalition that can break the stranglehold of corporate rule, and serve as an example to teachers unions and Black and brown communities across the nation. In the fight against austerity, and for community control of schools, the Chicago Teachers Union is on front line.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].



Also Note Dave Zirin's New Article @ Common Dreams

Rahm Emanuel’s Zombie Pigs vs. Chicago’s Angry Birds [@ ]


In the article Zirin's tells how Mayor Rahmbo plans to spend at-least $100 million in taxes on a private basketball stadium boon-doggle for Depaul U's 3rd tier team that has NOT even generated much excitement since the 1970s & 80s. 

So much for the lame excuse that Rahmbo's closing these Black schools due to a [phony] budget crisis.

Chicago teachers union sparks to spread, must spread

Thank you, G. Ford.  I almost credited Mr. Dixon on another piece in his series.   With enough pubicity,  the Chicago Teachers/Community movement  will spread :to organize, revitalize the schools, stop privatization (You can "fight city hall" and push back the feds
 policies as well- think of examples from history, recent and not so recent.)   The corporate (and often, NPR radio/PBS tv) push the Margaret Thatcher button "Nothing Can Be Done" - but it's their hope the population will believe the propaganda.  One big problem is getting publicity and information to people, the public.  This is a major reason why BAR is so valuable for me - education and information - and news.

This is promising except for.....

the fact that most of the folks will remain on the Dummocrap Party plantation.  It goes to my point about the death of liberalism/progressivism.  How can you "fight the power" when the purported ally is the enemy? 

All these teacher's unions voted Obama in and nary any of them have criticized Every Black Child Left Behind or Race to the Bottom.

Does anyone think (or forsee) this emerging coalition backing a Mayoral candidate against Rahm?  The Black, Brown, or White for that matter political appartchtiks they will most likely petiton their greivances to are Dummocrap Party fixtures, as are their union bosses.

Stay tuned.  I see cooption around the corner?  My guess is that it will take one or more parent leaders to build this coalition for it to have any sustainability.


"Misleadership class" is

"Misleadership class" is precisely the term to characterize Jewish misleaders as well, such as the central character in the above story. Have they dug themselves in so deeply that there is no return possible?  Not only do they perpetuate Jewish stereotypes, but they also have made it very difficult for people who actually struggle in anti-semetic work cultures to receive any assistance.

I live in a city with a well-documented history of anti-Semitism. Folks who have lived only on the east or west coasts would not believe this sort of culture still exists. People are hired and promoted to pretty hefty salaries with no other credential than a German surname. The telling of this sounds like a Mel Brooks farce, no? This is a multi-ethnic town, yet every top manager has a German surname, as do 90 percent of the hires.

The only solution to the problems addressed here are for people to unite on the basis of social class as it intersects with race or ethnicity. Let's face it: No upper class or upper-middle-class anybody is going to stick his or her neck out for someone who is on the receiving end of institutional discrimination, which always involves the intersection of class and race or ethnicity.