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Est. April 5, 2002
February 04, 2016 - Issue 639

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Connecting the Dots
Cartel Privatization Strategies
and the
Continuing Fallout
Rahm Emanuel et. al.
Part X

"Black and Hispanic families and children
are the primary victims of Emanuel’s
privatization of public education, and hundreds
of groups advocating against police brutality,
school closings, corporate charters, and city
corruption are coalescing around their issues
with the goal of removing him from office."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now in a stand-off with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) over contract negotiations. In spite of his problems of deceit, duplicity, and cover ups of homicidal police shootings, he is hanging tough in carrying out the public school privatization agenda of the Cartel of corporations, Wall Street financiers, and conservative foundations and billionaires.

Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, and his sons, are keeping local Cartel pressure on Emanuel to ensure that he continues to demonize teachers, create policies to abolish their union, and push low-income African American and Hispanic students into under-performing corporate charter schools so the billionaire Cartel corporate chieftains can profit off their educational misery. (Meanwhile, Cartel members’ school-age children attend upscale, exclusive private schools where a focus on standardized testing is non-existent.)

The bargaining unit of CTU rejected Emanuel’s four-year contract offer due to its insulting elements:

  • Moderate pay increases in exchange for union members agreeing to pay more toward their pensions and health care expenses,

  • Phase out of the longstanding CPS practice of absorbing the bulk of teachers' required pension contributions, and

  • Requiring new hires to pick up their entire share of pension costs right away. (In other words, veteran teachers would be required to cannibalize new hires for a new contract, weakening union solidarity, which is the purpose.)

He believes so strongly in the Cartel’s power that he is placing his elective future at risk in service of their financial interests and, unwittingly, the presidential possibilities of Hillary Clinton and the political legacy of President Barack Obama. He is rolling the dice.

Karen Lewis, president of the CTU, who is leading the talks for the teachers union, has remained strong, deliberative, and steadfast in her efforts to secure a fair deal and to fight off the economic and occupational annihilation of public school teachers. Proceeding in a strategic manner, she recognizes that Emanuel is between a “rock and a hard place.” Only 27 percent of Chicagoans approve of his job performance, while a record 63 percent disapprove, with 59 percent viewing him as dishonest and untrustworthy. More than four in ten residents believe he should resign from office powered by the overwhelming disgust of African Americans and Hispanics. The majority of white Chicagoans also disapprove of Emanuel’s leadership, yet 71 percent support his remaining in office.

But the sticking point among citizens of color is his assault on public education. Black and Hispanic families and children are the primary victims of Emanuel’s privatization of public education, and hundreds of groups advocating against police brutality, school closings, corporate charters, and city corruption are coalescing around their issues with the goal of removing him from office. Since the teachers have already voted to strike if Illinois’ legally-mandated, four-month fact-finding process is not successful in settling the contract, the walkout could occur around the same time as the selection of the democratic nominee for president.

Such an action in a presidential election year could put Hillary Clinton and President Obama in difficult political situations. Unlike the teachers’ strike during the 2012 presidential election, Karen Lewis does not have to convince Chicagoans of the need to support teachers and public education. At that time, Emanuel, other elected officials, and the local and national print and broadcast media pounced on teachers, accusing them of greedy self-interest. But the teachers prevailed and forced President Obama to call Mayor Emanuel to compel him to resolve the strike in order to secure his reelection bid with strong national support of public school teachers, many of whom were headed to Chicago to stand in unity with the CTU.

This time around, the stakes are even higher. If CTU goes on strike, it could negatively impact Hillary’s ability to consolidate the 2012 Obama coalition (rank and file teachers; young people, ages 17-29; public- and private-sector unions; and African American females who had the highest turnout and highest percentage of votes for Obama of any of the demographic groups in the 2008 and 2012 presidential balloting). Emanuel’s insistence on staying in office threatens Hillary’s ability to rally her democratic base to defeat Bernie Sanders who is gaining strength in democratic strongholds across the country.

President Obama’s legacy could also be compromised if the CTU battle with Emanuel escalates. He and Hillary will be drawn into it (as he was in 2012) and ultimately asked to choose sides. Like Emanuel, they will have to weigh their obligations to the Cartel, as both have taken tens of millions of dollars from the alliance to advance their political careers. In addition, President Obama is currently raising millions of dollars from the Cartel community for the construction of his presidential library.

Another CTU work stoppage in the fall of 2016 would be devastating to democratic hopes for retaining the presidency and ensuring the Obama legacy. Moreover, Karen Lewis’ fight against Emanuel is being paralleled with that of Flint, Michigan Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver’s battle with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Cartel member, over his policy to save money on the Flint water system. It resulted in the lead poisoning of Flint residents and children of color who make up more than two-thirds of all students in the Flint Public Schools. Dr. Weaver, a licensed clinical psychologist, knows firsthand the long-term educational and intellectual consequences of lead poisoning as Karen Lewis knows the long-term results of over-crowded classrooms, under-funded schools, neighborhood school closings, etc. for student and community success.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been vocal in denouncing the Flint lead poisoning crisis, but will they equally condemn the educational crisis in Chicago where their close friend and ally, Rahm Emanuel, is destroying the public education, presiding over a corrupt city administration, and covering up for a police department that viciously kills unarmed males and females of color? Obama and Hillary will have to decide soon whether they will stand with Emanuel or the citizens and children of Chicago, and whether they will urge him to leave office to protect their respective political agendas.

Click here for links to all parts of this series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has appeared on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and National Public Radio’s The Connection to discuss public school privatization, and he has lectured to parent, teacher, and union groups throughout the nation. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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