Note well that those who demand that workers accept sub-standard wages, nasty conditions, and minimal benefits all have above-average incomes, spend more time on holiday than the workers do, and hide their income in “tax shelters” (both legit and covert), raising the tax burden on all the rest of us… I find that disgusting and evil… and offensive in the sight of Almighty God. By the way, I’ve no need for your “Jayzuss” or his “salvation”… he has no relation to Our Lord Christ and His Church.
Chicago’s teachers have reached the end of their rope in negotiating with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, so, for the first time in 25 years, they’ve been forced to go on strike. The Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) announcement that they were going on strike Monday morning didn’t please Mayor Emanuel, whom many see as a tool of the special interests and the very rich. On Sunday night, after months of failed negotiations, Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis said, “Negotiations have been intense but productive, however, we’ve failed to reach an agreement to prevent a strike”.
As the Occupy Movement becomes more organised and the people more oppressed, and, at the same time, less fearful as conditions grow worse, they see that they’ve nothing to lose. In May, just before the NATO Summit and timed to coincide with May Day celebrations, Occupy Chicago and over 75 other protest groups banded together to protest numerous problems, including school closures and low teacher salaries. Of course, due to the nature of May Day, one of the chief issues was worker’s rights. Several Chicago-area Unions took part in the demonstrations; they not only wanted to bring attention to key issues, but they had to fight for the very right to stay alive and continue to exist.
Back in May, I spoke to Rachael Perrotta, an activist with Occupy Chicago and a member of the Occupy Chicago Press Team. She said that Chicago has a serious problem with school closures and money budgeted for education goes for things like the NATO Summit instead. In May, Rachael also spoke to NBC News, saying, “What we’re seeking to do as Occupy is to become the glue that can bring all of these causes together, creating a gigantic coalition that can begin the hard work of fixing this country”. She meant that the Occupy Movement could bring worker’s groups and unions together under one umbrella.
I can say one thing, having spent part of my childhood as a pupil in the Chicago Unified School District, conditions must be extremely bad if Chicago’s teachers decided to go on strike. Chicago has some of the toughest schools and some of the toughest kids in America. The teachers in Chicago are some of the toughest in the country, and they put up with conditions that are bad to begin with. If they’ve been pushed so far as to strike, things must be completely unbearable. One of the key issues that the union and City Hall are sparring over is a new system of teacher evaluation that CTU President Lewis told the press could cause 6,000 teachers to lose their jobs within two years.
Mayor Emanuel also wants to coerce teachers to extend the school day by 90 minutes so that he could keep his campaign promise to do so, and he attempted to skirt the union and ignore their contract. The CTU complained to the Illinois Educational Relations Board and the mayor stopped attempting to bypass the contract. However, in July, the city and union reached a compromise where the school district would rehire 500 laid-off teachers to work the extra hours required to extend the school day.
In the USA, teachers receive some of the lowest salaries in the country as compared to others with comparable education, and the importance and difficult nature of their jobs isn’t appreciated and it isn’t rewarded as well as it should be. Chicago-area teachers are fortunate; they still have a union to look after their interests, as many unions and labour organizations in the USA are floundering. The CTU’s 26,000 teachers didn’t show up for work on Monday, although the city said that it made quite a few concessions. In Mayor Emanuel’s opinion, there are only two stumbling blocks left:
- the teacher evaluation system
- his demand that the principal of each school decides who will be on the faculty in his school, as he’s responsible for the educational level of the facility
Mayor Emanuel believes the Chicago Public School System (CPS) and the union shouldn’t have a say in deciding what teachers work where. Across the USA, teachers and unions are watching the situation in Chicago very closely because the issues at play in Chicago are issues that teachers all across the USA share. One of these is class size, which in Chicago has grown to over 40 students in a classroom. The mayor says this isn’t a problem, but as a former teacher myself and, as any teacher will tell you, class size is a very important and key issue for many different reasons, the main one being the quality of the education and learning that takes place. Giving a teacher a class of such size and then basing their evaluations on the student’s results is a lose-lose situation for all those concerned and one which will backfire completely.
The Occupy Movement, along with many others in the USA, see the rich as not doing enough for the common people, and that’s clearly more evident in the area of education than it is anywhere else. However, why should the American Government promote and support high-quality education when a less-educated population is easier to control. This is a short-sighted strategy that’s bound to lose. High-quality education guarantees a prosperous future for any country, for any country that doesn’t value education, doesn’t value its citizenry nor its own future.
Voice of Russia World Service