Thursday, May 23, 2013

In response to school closures, a new movement is born » peoplesworld

In response to school closures, a new movement is born » peoplesworld

Obama and the right’s “brave new world” » peoplesworld

Obama and the right’s “brave new world” » peoplesworld

In response to school closures a new movement is born for education justice


By John Bachtell

"Mindless destruction."

That’s the immediate reaction to the vote to close 50 schools by the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) on May 22. The BOE voted unanimously for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan, in reality a continuation of the same policy dating back 20 years.

There was never much doubt about the outcome by the deaf, rubberstamp BOE. It is after all an unelected, unaccountable board appointed by the Mayor and composed of corporate CEOs, millionaires and billionaires.

The closures are the largest in US history and follow similar closures based on similar policies in Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Sacramento and other school systems.

The closures are a direct outcome of a corporate “market based” approach to public education. No longer are educators in charge of public education, but corporate executives, CEO, millionaires and billionaires who are looting public education and turning it into a profit making venture.

Such an approach involves creating a two tier public educational system, one for the wealthy, which gets showered with abundant funding and resources, a rich curriculum, small class sizes and experienced educators.

And the other is reserved for working class and children of color, which is starved of resources, a bare bones curriculum in which students are considered expendable by society and warehoused accordingly in overcrowded classrooms in dilapidated buildings.

That the policies are patently racist is evidenced by the fact that 90% of children affected are African American. This prompted a lawsuit by CTU that the closures violate the federal Civil Rights Act.

That children with disabilities will be being warehoused and denied funding to address special needs also prompted a similar lawsuit claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Meanwhile the education profession is being destroyed and teachers are becoming merely unskilled low wage classroom managers, easily replaced as they burn out after a couple of years.

The entire system is opened to privatization and looting by Wall Street hedge funds and the likes of billionaires Gates, Waltons, Broads and their ilk.

The BOE approved the plan despite broad based opposition by the Chicago Teachers Union, parents, students and communities around the affected schools and the community at large.

High school and elementary school students boycotted classes and sat-in to protest the plan and joined their teachers, parents and community activists in marching rallying and being arrested in civil disobedience actions.

Emanuel and CPS officials conducted themselves disgracefully throughout the process, presenting shifting reasons for the closures and justifying them on the basis of lies, distortion and omission. When one justification was exposed as a lie, they shamelessly shifted to another.

First it was a billion dollar budget crisis and underutilization. Then it was underutilization and low performance.

Even this was too much for the corporate media mouthpieces like the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times who voiced growing skepticism.

When the expose of the lies became too much, CPS simply imposed a news blackout.

All along they hid the real CPS agenda of privatization.

Those who opposed the closures warned that they would only deepen the education crisis in Chicago; place the children in greater danger of exposure to gang violence; they would mirror past closures and not result in educational gains.

They warned the closures would continue to destroy the fabric of communities that are already reeling from deep poverty and economic crisis.

A school closure is akin to a plant shutdown. It is destruction of human community and public institutions built up over generations from the hard work, blood, sweat and tears and creativity of thousands.

Like a plant shutdown, the consequences are brutal with ripple affects that are widespread and unforeseen. They involve harm to children, families, neighborhoods and the teachers, support personnel, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers and their families – the very fabric of a community.

As CTU president Karen Lewis said “this battle is far from over.” A new movement has already begun in the political arena: register 250,000 voters and unseat Mayor Emanuel and his supporters in city council and pass legislation to establish an elected school board.

To win, such a movement must be far broader than present, reach deeper into the grassroots and go beyond communities so far affected, and unite our multi-racial working class and mobilize the entire labor movement while affectively countering the corporate lies and setting out a vision for the future of public education.

A new national movement for education justice has been born all across the country, to defend public education from those who would destroy it, to end the corporate looting and privatization and to provide a fully funded, equitable public education for all.
At Senate Hearing, Hyatt Workers Oppose Pritzker Nomination for Commerce Secretary

Citing labor abuses and Pritzker’s inaction as Hyatt Director,
workers call Hyatt “the worst hotel employer in America”

For more background on labor abuses at Hyatt, visit

[Washington, D.C.] Today, Hyatt workers, joined by UNITE HERE President D. Taylor, will be present for a Senate hearing with Penny Pritzker, in opposition to her nomination as Secretary of Commerce. Workers say that Hyatt’s record of labor abuses and outsourcing jobs makes Ms. Pritzker, a longtime Hyatt board member and heir to the Hyatt fortune, a bad choice for Commerce Secretary.  In recent years, Hyatt has drawn criticism for opposing higher wage standards, replacing longtime housekeepers with minimum wage temps, and lobbying against safer working conditions for hotel housekeepers.

Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst hotel employer America, leading the industry in outsourcing practices that destroy good jobs and hurt housekeepers. Some Hyatt housekeepers clean as many as 30 rooms a day, getting paid as little as $2 per room. In a first for the hotel industry OSHA issued a companywide letter to Hyatt warning it of the hazards its housekeepers face on the job.

“Under Ms. Pritzker's leadership, Hyatt has exhibited a broad pattern of labor abuses, including aggressive outsourcing, low wages and the mistreatment of housekeepers,” says D. Taylor, the President of UNITE HERE.  “In order to get our nation on the road to recovery, the Commerce Department needs leadership far different from what Ms. Pritzker has demonstrated at Hyatt Hotels.”

Hyatt workers have been locked in a protracted battle with the company, which has resulted in numerous strikes nationwide and a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels. Earlier this week, hundreds of Hyatt workers led protests against Pritzker’s nomination in Chicago—Hyatt’s hometown. On Wednesday, UNITE HERE published an ad in Politico detailing these abuses and calling President Obama's nomination "A Mistake." UNITE HERE has submitted a statement of opposition to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“The Commerce Secretary’s first concern should be to create good, family sustaining jobs for all Americans,” says Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt housekeeper who has led a national campaign to elect a hotel worker to Hyatt’s Board of Directors. “Under Pritzker’s direction, Hyatt has led the hotel industry in a race to the bottom by aggressively subcontracting out career hotel jobs to minimum wage temps. This is not the model that will lead our country to a bright economic future.”

Nationally, civil rights leaders have championed the cause of Hyatt workers.  The National Organization of Women (NOW), the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) have endorsed the global boycott of Hyatt Hotels.