Friday, December 12, 2014

Win or Lose?

Is Winning Everything?
By Jim Vail

The Chicago Teachers Union is focused on winning in the elections. But is this the focus this union should be pursuing today?

The CTU has endorsed some very problematic politicians who have "won" and then whacked the union hard.

Let's first look at the federal level where President Obama was endorsed by the teachers unions. He then implemented Race to the Top - a total attack on teachers union forcing states with financial incentives to evaluate teachers harshly and incorporate more non-union charter schools.

The CTU endorsed Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan, no lover of public schools. He wears UNO Charter school hats in public, a big sponsor of corporate education reform that favors charter schools, not to mention his work on pension reform that hurts the retirees. 

On the city council level, the CTU endorsed Will Burns. Burn has then burned the CTU, in particular the fight to save Dyett High School. He hides from the public and CTU members in particular from listening to their wishes to keep the school open.

Today we see the CTU quickly abandoned alderman Bob Fioretti who marched with the teachers on strike and has been a big backer of the CTU for years, in favor of little known county commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who the union believes can "win."

Then we have a couple of teachers who are running for alderman who have not been endorsed because, again the question - can they win.

Tammie Vinson and Ed Hershey are CTU activists who have been fighting the fight for public education. They have done what CTU president Karen Lewis asked of them, to run for public office.

Except now the union is withholding an endorsement for both candidates because they are questioning whether or not they can "win."

But what is winning if you still lose?

What is the point of continually backing outside democrats tied to big money if they still hit you hard.

How true is the union fight if it's just about winning?

When I joined CORE before it won the elections to lead the Chicago Teachers Union, I and many others did not join to win an election. We signed up to fight the fight! And we said the fight would continue regardless of the outcome of the CTU elections.

CORE helped lead the charge to fight school closings and turnarounds. The board of education had to respond and take some schools off the list.

We won some of those fights. But it wasn't via an election - it was via a true fight where the people in the streets is far more powerful than casting a vote and going home, only to return in three or four years for the next election.

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