Privatized Schools | Letters | Chicago Reader

Privatized Schools 

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In reference to the article "Raising a Stink" [Schools, December 20], the comment about labor-management cooperation was made (since I made it) because some union members feel that deals are being made at the expense of the workers. We need worker unity for our needs (the rank and file union members) and for quality free public education for all children. States and federal government should fund equal education for all school districts, with elected school boards, and no vouchers.

There is a labor party being formed because many believe that we need a government of the majority, not of the few, and this is a constitutional right. For working people's political power, we need more than just a democratic appearance. The working-class majority needs political power to help us fulfill our human aspirations to leave behind a better world than what has been left for us.

People want equality, are against racist discrimination, and want to defend affirmative action because they believe that an injury to one is an injury to all. Racist treatment is a daily reality for millions. People want jobs for all at a living wage with affirmative action, a stop to union busting, playing divide and rule, and moving jobs to cheap nonunion locations.

The "you are the problem" mentality, and the current attack on professionals who work for the CPS system because of the 109 schools placed on probation on the basis of achievement test scores, is unprecedented. The low test scores, if the list is carefully examined, come from the schools in the neighborhoods with the most extreme poverty (though we all agree poorer children can achieve as well as middle-class children given equal circumstances, that is, drug-free, gang-free, etc communities), but still the threat of firing and involuntary transfers persists (for principals and teachers) if the school doesn't improve.

Those who feel that they have been given the power of life or death over our professional careers must end management by character assassination. Cheap shots will not fix the schools. Though Chicago educators in the public schools aren't in teaching for the money, we are among the lowest paid in the greater Chicago area, though we do a harder job than our colleagues in the suburbs, and under worse conditions. The same is true for custodial workers, lunchroom workers, engineers, and principals.

In union-busting moves, 500 day-to-day janitors and 120 schools have been privatized by the board of education. Additionally, 190 lunchrooms have been privatized, and the board says that it plans to privatize all 533 lunchrooms.

As taxpayers, workers, parents, and community members, we have the right to oppose privatization, and we have the right to demand that those of us who work with our children be paid union wages and benefits to provide the best quality working and learning environment. Together we can stop privatization by showing our solidarity with the janitors and lunchroom workers. Resolutions supporting unionized workers and opposing privatization can be passed at local school council meetings and at other community gatherings.

Is it a wonder that a rank-and-file labor party and other progressive networks are being formed?

John Whitfield

S. Wolcott

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