Monday, thousands of striking Chicago Public School teachers, the highest-paid teachers in the country, stood in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union as they took to the streets—and caused a traffic nightmare for the rest of downtown Chicago.
To get their message across, these protesters brought hundreds of Chicago Public School students to march and chant on behalf of the teachers. Students chanted alongside their teachers, “we are the teachers, the mighty-mighty-mighty teachers,” and “hey-hey, ho-ho, Rahm Emanuel’s got to go.”
When questioned, the teachers who were leading their students in the march replied that it is appropriate to bring children—some as young as seventh grade—out to the protest, “because it affects their future.”
Some students were holding signs from Chicago Jobs with Justice. When asked if they students knew what Jobs with Justice was, they responded, “I don’t know, jobs with benefits? “ Chicago Jobs with Justice is a socialist lobbying group that was recently honored at the Democratic Socialists of America’s Annual Eugene Debs Award Dinner.
Those students in the march would have observed that many of their teachers chose to wear red Che Guevera t-shirts and wave revolutionary anarchist flags.
When interviewed, one teacher said he believes that the Chicago Teachers Union supports the “revolutionary unionist” movement and pointed to a local school network in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, where teachers have adopted a “syndicalist platform” (revolutionary unionism) and elected their delegate based on those values.
A frequent complaint from teachers was that they were there to lobby for air conditioning in schools. During an interview with one teacher on the subject, he couldn’t point to any statistics about which schools have air conditioning but argued that “the schools that are predominantly African-American and Hispanic don’t have it, but the schools that are predominantly Caucasian…the schools that I go to, have it.”
For a movement that is contorting itself to be presented to the public as “for the kids,” teachers in Che Guevara shirts, complaining about air conditioning, that knowingly use their students and place extremist signs in their hands, without educating them as to what they’re asking them to represent, couldn’t be further from “for the kids.” Try, “for solidarity”—and “for ourselves.”