From Rico on the ground with TSJ…
We won so much more than a contract!
In this strike, so much more was won than a contract. After 17 punishing years of corporate, neoliberal policies, Chicago teachers stood up, and they stood up for the whole country. This courageous strike was born of a new kind of teacher unionism – democratic, activist, allied with parents, and fighting not only for fair compensation but for a richer, more humane and just education. What has been accomplished in Chicago in the last few weeks has reverberated nationally. It powerfully demonstrated an alternative to business unionism and the whole corporate education agenda. There are new solidarities, forged on picket lines, among teachers and between teachers and students, parents, and community members. Through this strike, teachers have emerged as activists and organizers, and there is a deeper consciousness about the system we are confronting. We have felt a new sense of our power to shift the education agenda. These gains are deeper and more enduring than any contract provisions. We are so much stronger due to the strength and unity of the CTU and the outpouring of public support.
We will need our new strength and unity for the battles ahead. Rahm plans to close 100-200 schools, expand charters to half the district, and essentially dismantle public education in African American communities, ushering in a new education apartheid, causing massive devastation to these neighborhoods. If this plan succeeds, there will be few African American teachers and a much smaller CTU. The confrontation in front of us may be decisive for public education in Chicago.
Deep respect to all the TSJers who picketed, marched and rallied, organized flyering in communities, talked to their friends and family, and organized community meetings. Looking ahead, we will take a minute to reflect on the lessons of the past couple weeks and continue strengthening our teacher-community alliance to prepare for the next battle.
Teachers for Social Justice (Chicago)