Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Austerity matters; resource starved schools can't educate... Where does Obama stand?

This strike, truly in the end, boils down to class and the impacts of austerity on the poor and working class--but its playing out along a wages and benefits narrative.  But, facts are facts, and resource starved schools can't educate their students. 

Appears school officials prepared a how-to guide explaining to the nonteacher fill in's a few days before the strike (guess they saw it coming) on what to expect...

A few days before the strike began, school officials distributed a "how-to guide" to hundreds of non-teachers who are using to staffing the more than 140 schools serving as "drop-off" centers during the strike. The guide is a tacit admission by CPS of how horrible conditions are at many Chicago schools.

According to the guide, those staffing schools should "wear a watch--your room may not have a functioning clock." Dress comfortably, too, because "many schools are NOT air-conditioned." Bring 30 sharpened pencils, 30 pens and a pencil sharpener. Also, "you will need to bring your own breakfast and lunch. Please note that you cannot rely on access to refrigerators or microwaves."

This won't come as news to a supposedly pampered Chicago teachers. In one radio interview, strikers described classroom temperatures that regularly hit triple digits during the hot months at the beginning and end of the school year. One teacher said she stocked her classroom with a dozen ice packs--which she purchased herself--to treat heat exhaustion among her students.

Yet Rahm and CPS officials insist that teachers are responsible for poor performance among Chicago's students. Not only does this shift attention away from the city's unwillingness to provide decent facilities or hire enough teachers to bring down class sizes, but it is also an attempt to blame teachers for the crisis gripping the U.S. public school system, from coast to coast.

Teachers can't be expected to overcome the problems of hunger facing their students. They can't address the fact that poor kids don't have computers at home or even a good place to do their homework in some cases. And, of course, teachers can't overcome the fact that so many parents, overworked and underpaid themselves in their own jobs, don't have the time and energy to help children with homework.

On the first day of the strike, Rahm and the rest of the CPS bureaucracy repeatedly took to the airwaves to flog the idea that a strike is "unnecessary" because only a couple issues remain as sticking points in negotiations. "Finish it for our children," Emanuel said, playing to the TV cameras. "Two issues: an evaluation system designed by teachers, for teachers, revised by teachers [and] a system in which the local principal picks the most qualified teacher to teach."

David Dayen connects the dots As Paul Ryan Lines Up Behind Rahm, the Scheme to Privatize Chicago Schools Becomes Clear

I think the most important by-product of this strike is that it will show how deeply embedded the Students First/Waiting for Superman frame has become, in the traditional media, in the cultural firmament among elites, and in the Democratic Party. I’ve heard people on social media wondering what this strike is about. Narrowly speaking, Chicago teachers aren’t supposed to be able to strike over anything but pay and benefits. And certainly, they’re trying to retain their health care. But it’s not that hard to see what this is about. Significant sections of the Chicago Public Schools system are starved for funds. They are putting 40-50 students in classrooms without air conditioning. The kids don’t have books or materials weeks into the term. And ultimately, the goal is to make those schools so poorly maintained, staffed and administered that they “fail,” allowing Rahm Emanuel and his hedge fund buddies to essentially privatize them:

What we’re seeing in Chicago is the fallout from Jonah Edelman’s hedge fund backed campaign to elect Illinois state legislators who supported an anti-collective bargaining, testing based education proposal giving Edelman the “clear political capability to potentially jam this proposal down [the teachers unions'] throats,” political capability he used as leverage to jam an only slightly less awful proposal down their throats. It’s a political deal that explicitly targeted Chicago teachers, while trying to make it impossible that they would strike by requiring a 75 percent vote of all teachers, not just those voting, for a strike to be legal. But more than 90 percent of Chicago teachers voted to strike.

It’s not just Jonah Edelman, though. Rahm Emanuel worked with a tea party group to promote Chicago charter schools and denigrate traditional public school teachers and their unions. Emanuel’s political allies have been caught paying protesters to show up at hearings on school closures. Every story you read about the greedy teachers (greedy? does that description fit the teachers you know?) has years of big money anti-teacher campaigning behind it, pushing us to believe that teachers, who bring work home every night and routinely spend their own money on school supplies and even food for their students, are overpaid, selfish, lazy. Now, all those narratives that the right wing has built up—anti-union narratives coming together with pro-privatization narratives—are being used against Chicago’s teachers.

Privatizing the services of public schools, or the entire schools themselves, has become big business. If it takes a standardized test to force that into being, if that becomes the data that “proves” the need for privatization, that’s what will get used.

It will be important for the teachers not to get distracted by the forces arrayed against them. This liar floated that they asked for a 35% raise, a complete fabrication made doubly disingenuous by the fact that the management figure of 16% is off by almost a factor of 2.

So far, the public, which gathered in excess of 50,000 by some accounts last night at a CTU rally, is supporting the teachers, and not buying the narrative swallowed whole by the elites. We’ll have to see if that continues.

Obama's poll numbers will start to hurt at some point from all the "When you agree with Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney--its a sign you need to reevaluate" and he either stays silent or openly sides with the 1% agenda of corporatization.

I just want to go back to what Dean Baker noted earlier.  Something doesn't fly in Rahm's story--
Did Education Secretary Arne Duncan Really Leave Chicago Schools a Mess?

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