I received an email from a parent who is also an educator in Chicago. She wondered about the identity of a group called Education Reform Now, which placed ads in the local media undermining the teachers’ strike. ERN is part of a group called Democrats for Education Reform. DFER is funded by Wall Street hedge fund managers who support charter schools, privatization, and using test scores to evaluate teachers. It is interesting that the charter schools they promote are often (depending on state law) exempt from test-based evaluation. Oh, and 88% of all charters are non-union.
Greetings Ms. Ravitch,
I write this letter to you with both excitement and disappointment in my heart. I am sure you are well aware of by now of the strike/battle over the fate of our children and public education that is currently taking place between the Chicago Teachers Union and the City of Chicago. I write this letter not as an educator, but as a parent with children in the public school system here in the city who is infuriated that my children, other children and tax paying citizens are having their civil rights infringed upon through the bullying tactics of our mayor, CPS and big business moguls of this country.
I have been extremely active in the process of fighting against the unfunded longer school day put upon us by the mayor, fighting for an elected representative school board and now walking the picket lines and taking information to the streets and the people regarding the issues that the union is truly bargaining for for our students and teachers. My children have been in the streets along side me as well. I have utilized this opportunity as a teaching moment because I understand the importance of teaching our children, our future, true democracy in action.
My excitement comes from not just the part I play in the process, but more importantly the role and witnessing of the process by children. We talk about the importance of providing a comprehensive education to our children and that we are a “democratic society”; but based on what I am witnessing now brings me to what has has me disappointed and incensed.
Yesterday I watched a television ad paid for by Education Reform Now Advocacy that ran on our local ABC station channel 7. The ad blared carefully selected quotes taken from stories in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune against the union, the teachers and the strike. It ends with the narrator quoting from the Sun-Times that “a deal is within reach, all CTU has to do is grab it”.
The content from both media outlets is based off of mis-information that is simply not true. This is a strike that is, in fact, long over due. Contrary to what the city wants everyone to believe, this is a strike to take back the fate and control of our children’s education. The city and big business are combining efforts and dollars to dismantle the union, and to pit parents and communities against teachers and our children so that they can continue to create standardized testing factories. They aim to turn our students into consumers of a privatized, on-line product that produces data and dollars so that the rich can continue to become richer.
This is both disgraceful and disrespectful and therefore, I am making a plea to you to support our union, our children and the people of Chicago by helping to shed light and expose the bullying tactics of big business in their continued attempt to dismantle unions and privatize education in this country during the time of our fight.
Thank you in advance for your attention and support! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.