News Release

Fallout from the Chicago Strike: * Rally in D.C. * Testing

HELEN MOORE [email]
Jitu Brown [email]
Hiram Rivera [email]
Moore is a parent from Detroit participating in a caravan and march to the Department of Education Thursday. Youth and parents from 18 cities have organized a “Journey for Justice” demanding a moratorium on school closings. The group states: “Federal ‘school improvement’ policies require districts to utilize one of four intervention models in low-performing schools. One of these ‘improvement’ strategies is closure. Across the country, hundreds of schools have been closed, virtually all of them in communities of color. These closures have devastated neighborhoods and disproportionately impacted black and Latino students, students with disabilities and English language learners. There is no evidence that the closures have resulted in widespread improvement in student outcomes.”

Moore said today: “The so-called reforms that are and have been implemented in our schools have taken away the concept of neighborhoods and have left hoods. In Detroit, since the takeover of our schools we have lost over half of our neighborhood schools, increased the deficit, divided the system up into four parts that are run by corporations and a virtual dictator controlled by Governor [Rick] Snyder. We are prepared to fight to the end to stop these greedy, non-caring, incompetent outsiders from destroying our children because we believe that without the proper education the people will perish.” Jitu Brown is with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization in Chicago, Hiram Rivera is with the Philadelphia Student Union. See the piece in Education Week.

MONTY NEILL [email]
BOB SCHAEFFER [email]
Neill is executive director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) and lead author of Testing Our Children: A Report Card on State Assessment Systems. Schaeffer is communications director for the group. Neill said today: “The Chicago strike focused the country’s attention on the damage to public education from politicians’ fixation on boosting standardized exam scores, rather than addressing conditions that really affect learning and teaching. By their courageous action, the Chicago teachers catalyzed the growing grassroots resistance to high-stakes testing. Already 425 organizations and 12,500 individuals have signed a National Resolution calling for an overhaul of assessment. Expect to see many more local protests led by parents, educators and community activists demanding an end to test-driven classrooms. Instead, the nation needs genuine reforms that address the needs of the whole child.”

PAULINE LIPMAN [email]
Professor of educational policy studies at the College of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Lipman is author of The New Political Economy of Urban Education Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City. She said today: “The Chicago Teachers Union won so much more than a contract. Through their courage and militance Chicago teachers have shifted the ground on education reform and on teacher unionism in the U.S. They have shown that it is possible to stand up the neoliberal corporate education agenda, and that there is an alternative. The incredible unity and activism of Chicago teachers, paraprofessionals, and clinicians electrified the country, crystallized local battles against corporate ‘reform,’ and will reinvigorate teacher unions. In Chicago we are seeing the rebirth of social movement unionism that is activist, mobilized, democratic and allies with parents and communities for equitable education for all students.”

SUSAN OHANIAN
Author of Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? Ohanian said today: “The significance of the Chicago strike is not that a couple of Chicago teachers have doubt about Karen Lewis’ leadership. The significance is that teachers across the country know they, too, can stand up for issues that matter to the children they teach:

* Guaranteed textbooks the first day of class
* Almost 600 new art, music, and gym teachers
* Reduction in class size
* More than twice as much money for classroom supplies

“I bet most people in America are surprised that a union had to fight for schoolbooks to be available on the first day of school.” Ohanian wrote the piece “‘Race to the Top’ and the Bill Gates Connection” for FAIR’s magazine, Extra!