Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis spoke to 18,00 supporters yesterday in Chicago’s Daley Plaza and she did not mince her words.
Chicago was the birthplace of education reform as we know it with then CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, and his failed Renaissance 2010 program to privatize the public education system in Chicago. For an in-depth look at how the program began and who was behind it, see Arne Duncan and the Chicago Success Story: Myth or Reality? and Catalyst In-Depth: Renaissance 2010.
When you hear the teachers in Chicago shouting “Enough is enough!” it is because they and their students have had to endure this senseless program for eight years and they have had enough. The final straw? Obama’s man and now mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, has taken the Draconian measures of the Renaissance program a step further when he demanded that the school day be extended without additional pay to teachers and now wants to close approximately 100 schools and more than likely turn them into charter schools. There were also the shenanigans that he pulled last winter by hiring protestors to support the opening of more charter schools in Chicago.
For articles on Rahm Emmanuel’s actions as mayor see Rahm’s Attack on Teachers: Showdown in Chicago, Rahm funnels millions more away from public schools to charter operators, Paid to protest? and School protesters pray, sing at Emanuel’s home.
The preponderance of charter schools in Chicago has left the most vulnerable with fewer resources. At a meeting that I attended with Arne Duncan and protestors two years ago, one Chicago teacher said that her public school was surrounded by charter schools who were skimming off students and leaving her school with the students who needed the most time and resources but with less financial support because the money had gone with the students to the charter schools. She asked Arne Duncan what could be done to stop the bleeding. He, of course, with a lot of words and grins said nothing to address the question or provide solutions.
So yes, these teachers have had enough and they are ready to strike. This is what it will come down to in every city. Teachers, students and parents will have to take their schools back.
Now for the videos. The first video was artfully created by Chicago school teacher Tim Furman. The second video was taken by an attendee. It’s a little noisier but you have the opportunity to see Karen Lewis speak.
For additional information on Chicago public schools from the time of Arne Duncan, see: