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This morning 1, 800 members of Rockford Education/ Illinois Educators Association went on strike in Rockford IL. Teachers have been 11 months without a contract, some have been four years under a wage freeze. The district has paid tens of thousands of dollars to consultants, security firms, marketing corporations and legal counsel simply to prepare for the strike. Historically our teachers have taken health benefits in lieu of wage increases, so they recruited hospital administrators to go after our health plan saying it was too good. Thus some of the same people who benefit as high paid administrators of health care are setting high costs, and shoving the premiums back on teachers. The district offer adds $3000 burden to every teacher’s health care cost.
Meanwhile with a Chamber of Commerce sponsored initiative we are besieged with charters, small learning academies, theme schools, privatized curriculum, out sourced security, alternative learning. The shadow government of our district is perhaps one of the most well organized in the US, modeled after Alignment Nashville. The Nashville model has contributed to segregation and to an assault on teachers collective bargaining rights in that state. For a year, Rockford Chamber of Commerce under the guise of Alignment Rockford has been running charter plane field trips to Nashville for its cheerleaders. Our state legislators have been smoothing a path for charters, and our mayor would like to move to an appointed Board of Education. David Stocker
The Board of Education appears willing to blame the teachers and crash the school district in order to preserve a privatization agenda, and fat paychecks for executives in the top heavy administration. 2000 teachers’ paychecks, cost of living step and ladder increases have been frozen for 3 years, while the controversy plagued board/administration squirms at questions about missing money, golden parachutes and crony contracts. The district has accused teachers of not acting in good faith.
LaVonne Sheffield, another Broad superintendent who went down in flames in Rockford, see “No Confidence” in Yet Another Broad Academy Grad, had been hoisted onto the beleaguered teachers of Rockford two years ago. She came to town to close schools with the full intention of reopening these campuses as charter schools. If that wasn’t enough a Rockford Alignment campaign began based on the Nashville Alignment model of corporate control of schools.
It’s now at the point in Rockford where Alignment Rockford handles all grant money as it is funneled into the Rockford school system, talk about corporate control! For more information on this “Alignment” effort see For sale: American public education — big discounts, free theme park passes. This is starting to sound similar to what’s been happening in Seattle, but that’s another story for another day.
So you have a very strong privatization program in place and part of that program is to squeeze the life out of the teachers and their union.
Yesterday there were 1,200 teachers, parents and children circling the block of the (new) admin building, 4 people deep, and all school sites were picketed by REA/IEA members. City workers, electrical workers, plumbers, teamsters and UPS drivers put in stoppage on district 205 projects and deliveries and teachers have traveled to Rockford in solidarity.
One teacher was quoted as saying:
“The Board has hired a newly formed security company called Crossover Protections to be at all sites.
They should be more concerned about the theft of millions from our school budget than about vigilante teachers coming to steal stuff from their buildings.
Members of Parents Across America, Rockford are marching in solidarity with their teachers and many of us are with them in spirit.