I continue to participate in my first strike as a worker and as a teacher. I have gone to show solidarity to other workers’ struggles in the past, but now I am in the midst of my own. The first day there was a sense of the unknown felt by others at my school. People were posted in different locations around the building in five different groups. Some were well acquainted while others had only seen each other in passing.
As we spend more time on the picket line, we as a staff have grown closer. With the staff being split into two buildings, the time to bond is extremely limited, especially with the extended day. We have begun to exchange our feelings about everything on the line. Veteran teachers have shared some of their experiences from being in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with new teachers.
The first day CHALLENGE was distributed, teachers showed interest. They liked the leaflet that accompanied it as well. Little by little, we have begun to have conversations about what CPS schools are like for children from working-class neighborhoods. We have spoken about how capitalism and racism affects what children bring into the classroom that impact not only their academic performance but their life altogether.
We all agreed that we needed more nurses, social workers, psychologists, and overall support to assist our students in being successful in the world that surrounds them. It was also mentioned time and time again how these school closings were aimed at the children of the working-class. This angers me in particular because I take it as the Board of Education seeing our students as disposable objects that shouldn’t be taken into consideration.
This reveals how the Board is trying to separate teachers from the environment in which he/she teaches and how it directly affects a student’s performance. There is no mention of this when the talk is raised of teacher’s evaluations, which are based on students’ test scores.
Comrades from Chicago and New York City have come out to show support at my school. They are participating in these conversations as well as explaining that the only way to change all of this is to fight for communism.
Many of my school’s staff were really open to these discussions. I thought that perhaps they would hear the word communism and dismiss everything. But it has been the opposite. People have been reading the leaflets brought by comrades and discussing how it is time for a change. It was easier to point out the false hopes the Democratic Party gives to workers when Romney showed support for what Mayor Rahm Emmanuel was doing.
I remember asking one colleague if she still was going to vote for Obama. She said yes. I asked her what was the difference between the Democrats and Republicans if Rahm Emmanuel was behaving like a Republican. She stood quiet and said, “That’s a really good point…”
Ever since Romney’s support for Rahm came out, the line between a Democrat and Republican has been blurred. I see this as a great opportunity to continue these conversations about what is wrong with the public school system that only a communist revolution can change.
This is only the beginning of our struggle. That is why it’s critical for those in the Chicago area to make the effort to win teachers to PLP. The potential is too great for us not to act on it. This strike has set a foundation for the workers of the world to unite.