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"Mayor Rahm-Ney’s Attack on the Chicago Teachers Union." By Amy Goodman

Democracy Now! on September 13, 2012 19:25

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    Award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman records a podcast in conjunction with her weekly column, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/QBC5S

    September 13, 2012

    Here is an excerpt of this week's column by Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan:

    Unions are under attack in the United States—not only from people like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, but now, with the teachers strike in Chicago, from the very core of President Barack Obama’s inner circle, his former chief of staff and current mayor of that city, Rahm Emanuel. Twenty-five thousand teachers and support staff are on strike there, shutting down the public school system in the nation’s third-largest school district. This fight now raging in Chicago, Obama’s hometown, has its roots in this historic stronghold of organized labor, and in the movement started one year ago this week, Occupy Wall Street. The conflict presents a difficult moment for Obama, who will need union support to prevail in his race with Mitt Romney, but who is inextricably linked, politically, to his brash, expletive-spewing former aide, Mayor Rahm-ney Emanuel.

    At the heart of the conflict is how schools will be run in Chicago: locally, from the grass roots, with teacher and parent control, or top-down, by a school board appointed by Emanuel. Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, worked as a board-certified chemistry teacher at King College Prep High School in Chicago. She understands how the system works. Months before the strike, I asked her about the situation in Chicago. The newly elected Emanuel had an appointed board comprised mostly of corporate executives, the Academy for Urban School Leadership. Lewis told me, “One of the biggest problems is that when you have a CEO in charge of a school system, as opposed to a superintendent, a real educator, what ends up happening is that they literally have no clue as to how to run the schools.” The AUSL not only relies on business executives with no education experience to run schools, but also brings in recent college graduates to teach. These recruits cost very little to pay, but arrive with little or no teaching experience.

    This struggle reflects the essence of Occupy Wall Street—community members across class, race and other traditional divides uniting in disciplined opposition to corporate power. Author and journalist Chris Hedges, who has observed the Occupy movement closely, put the strike into context:

    “The teachers’ strike in Chicago is arguably one of the most important labor actions in probably decades. If it does not prevail, you can be certain that the template for the attack on the union will be carried out across the country against other teachers unions and against the last redoubt of union activity, which is in the public sector, of course—firemen and police.”

    For people who are wondering where Occupy is today, just look at the streets of Chicago.

    To read the rest of the column, visit: To read the rest of the column, visit: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2012/9/13/mayor_rahm_neys_attack_on_the_chicago_teachers_union

    For more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org.

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    ABOUT AMY GOODMAN:
    Amy Goodman is an award-winning investigative journalist, syndicated columnist, author and the host of Democracy Now! Goodman is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize” for "developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media." The Independent of London named Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! "an inspiration"; pulsemedia.org placed Goodman at the top of their 20 Top Global Media Figures. Goodman is the author of four New York Times bestsellers. Her latest book, Breaking the Sound Barrier, proves the power of independent journalism in the struggle for a better world. Read all of her recent columns: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/category/weekly_column

    ABOUT DEMOCRACY NOW!:
    An independent, global weekday news hour, Democracy Now! is hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. Democracy Now! is broadcast in English and in Spanish on more than 1,000 public television and radio stations around the world.

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