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Chris Hedges: Dems Owe Chicago Public Teachers Support for "Most Important Labor Action in Decades

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posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 06:07 AM
I agree with author Chris Hedges who was part of a group that has successfully sued the Obama administration over the unconstitutionality of the NDAA. There is so much more going on with this issue than a salary dispute. As I've posted before, salary is the only thing that CTU can legally go on strike for.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, it’s interesting, the—right now, the questioning of the corporate media—you know, why have the teachers waited 'til this point? You know, why didn't they negotiate before? But I saw Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, in Charlotte, North Carolina, that week—


AMY GOODMAN: —for the Democratic Party.

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, you know, the tactic is clear. And, you know, the secretary of education, Duncan, is behind it. And that is essentially the stripping away of—you know, of qualified teachers. We’re watching it in New York. You know, the mayor of New York is very much a part of this effort. The assault on the New York City teachers’ union is as egregious as the assault against the Chicago Teachers Union.

And it really boils down to the fact that we spend $600-some billion a year, the federal government, on education, and the corporations want it. That’s what’s happening. And that comes through charter schools. It comes through standardized testing. And it comes through breaking teachers’ unions and essentially hiring temp workers, people who have very little skills. This is what Teach for America is about. They teach by rote, and they earn nothing. There’s no career. I mean, there’s quite a difference between teaching people what to think and teaching people how to think. And corporate forces want to teach people what to think. It’s a kind of classism. People get slotted. It’s vocational. And so, I see what’s happening in Chicago as, you know, one of the kind of seminal uprisings of our age. And if they don’t succeed, we’re all in deep trouble.

I agree that there is some reform needing to take place within Unions, both public and private sector and most rank and file union members would agree with that but I strongly caution buying into the anti-union rhetoric.

There's a reason Unions are under fire by both major political parties and it isn't because anyone is trying to protect the American people from the big bad Unions. It is because Unions stand as a wall of defense between the work force (whether union or not) and corporations that want to exploit it (more than they already have).

More including video at Democracy Now.

posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 06:26 AM
Why the Chicago Teachers Strike Is Really About Better Schools

Lewis said the two sides are not far apart on the issue of pay, including compensation for a longer day that CPS imposed this year. Sources differ as to the amounts on the table: Mayor Emanuel said the board offered a 16 percent raise over four years; board president David Vitale described the proposal as 3 percent in the first year, then 2 percent each of three following years; and the CTU characterized neither its latest proposal nor the CPS response.

But at its heart, the strike is over the union's deep opposition to what it calls a "corporate reform agenda" that pursues a competitive or punitive relationship with teachers, rather than a collaborative one. Examples include blaming teachers and unions for educational shortcomings, promoting private but publicly financed charter schools, focusing on high-stakes tests and tying pay to merit.

CTU has instead pushed for smaller classes, enriched curriculum, better supplies and facilities, fairer and fuller funding (including the return of some public revenue long diverted into " TIFs" to subsidize developers), more counselors and support staff, respect for teacher professionalism, and a bigger say for teachers in their schools.

That clash puts the union at odds with CPS, the mayor and President Obama--whose education secretary, Arne Duncan, boosted the corporate-reform agenda as former Mayor Richard M. Daley's school superintendent. It also represents a more forceful rejection of such reforms than espoused by the national union, which nonetheless supports the CTU strike.

What's TIFs?

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a public financing method that is used for subsidizing redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects in many countries, including the United States. Similar or related value capture strategies are used around the world.


Instead of experienced professionals having a voice, the board consists of rich people such as billionaire hotel heiress Penny Pritzker , whose businesses benefit from TIF funds that divert money from schools. Meanwhile, she sent her children to the private University of Chicago Lab School (as Emanuel now does), which she praises for its generous, well-appointed facilities. Lab is a few blocks from Ray (a fine public school that my kids attended), but worlds apart in amenities.

The crux of this issue really is corporations once again placing a bid for tax dollars and being the only voice heard. What further proof is there that Dems are now no different than Republicans and that we are rapidly losing 'We the People' soon to be 'We the Corporations'.

posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 07:24 AM
reply to post by Kali74

I taught in Illinois for 8 years. I took a 10K cut in my salary to come to Missouri. Dropping the unions and the property tax in Illinois made my take home pay $650 more a month. I paid $2800 a year in property tax on an 88K home. Milk cost more. Gas cost more. On top of this, the state board of education is setup like a dictatorship in a small country with regional viceroys called regional superintendents. They were in charge of large sums of money. Our regional super was indited on charges of mismanagement and theft of education money. Illinois is the most corrupt state in the land. Unions are taking large sums of money away from kids in the classroom and leaving little for the southern part of the state, while the northern parts have olympic sized swimming pools and all the funding they need.

If you want to check the salaries of any teacher in Illinois, look here. LINK Start with Schaumburg Illinois. Do they need a raise? The entire region is surrounded by toll roads. Realize that surrounding states make a fraction of the salary of Illinois and lawmakers and unions are causing the retirement system to go BROKE! They also risk their teacher pensions in the derivative market, or at least did. Even after the markets crashed, they were in the derivatives.

Why did I leave? My wife's job as elementary music teacher was cut because the union wanted a raise for teachers after building a new building. They threw out good desks and spent $90K for new ones. In the mean time, my wife's job was cut to part-time to save $22 and the superintendent got a healthy raise, larger than what my wife lost. The teachers had a choice to have a small raise or save the music program. The unions made the choice for them. Like I said, we both took pay cuts to come to Missouri. We made more a month after taking a pay cut. How? Union dues, medical, retirement and real-estate taxes.

In Illinois, we had oil chip roads. In Missouri, my 133K home had $650 in property taxes and we have better schools, better programs and paved roads. Ask any teacher in Illinois where the money goes and they will tell you. It's grafted at the top and by the unions, directly to salaries at the expense of programs. The people are then taxed and charged dues to get the money back. It's only a perceived raise.

LINK to Corruption

edit on 14-9-2012 by EnochWasRight because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 02:54 PM
reply to post by EnochWasRight

As I stated, things within Unions definitely need to change. Union leaders aren't above corruption any more than politicians or CEO's. Many rank and file union workers agree with you.

However, your post, much like media and politicians ignores the larger issues outlined in my two posts. People are determined to make the teachers or any union workers look greedy. The alternatives are far worse. The Union system can be fixed. Losing it is a huge mistake.

posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 03:20 PM

Originally posted by Kali74
reply to post by EnochWasRight

As I stated, things within Unions definitely need to change. Union leaders aren't above corruption any more than politicians or CEO's. Many rank and file union workers agree with you.

However, your post, much like media and politicians ignores the larger issues outlined in my two posts. People are determined to make the teachers or any union workers look greedy. The alternatives are far worse. The Union system can be fixed. Losing it is a huge mistake.

That wasn't my experience. Missouri is much better off that Illinois as far as where tax money goes. We collect far less from property tax and have much better schools. As I stated in my post, I make more money taking a pay cut. I have a budget at my school that matches the need. The largest problem with collective bargaining is that an admin must hide money that comes into the district or the union will grub it up each year within the bargaining process. This leaves nothing new for programs. If you take a look at that link I provided, the salaries are high in Illinois already compared to the rest of the nation. I make 50K here in MO. The guy who has my previous job makes 74K. Some admins in Illinois make as much or more than 300K.

An excessive amount of money is wasted at the state level in Illinois with administration costs that are unnecessary. They create admin jobs in the name of state mandates that change yearly. In 8 years, we pushed 8 different educational initiatives through from the state. There was always some new in-service that would revolutionize education from the state boards and regional boards each year. There are armies of workshop and conference providers that are hired by boards of education from the regional and state bureaucracy. On top of this, each school has its own boards and administrators. The regional offices need buildings, secretaries and traveling staff with large budgets. It's a waste of revenue, but empowered by the unions.

In total, there are 56 of these regional offices. That represents a vast sum of money that could be better spent in district. Assuming this ever happened, the unions would immediately demand that money go to salaries. The students never win.

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