Race, poverty and politics: countdown to teacher strike date; school bus shot on South side; Obama invisible on race and poverty

Race, poverty and politics: countdown to teacher strike date; school bus shot on South side; Obama invisible on race and poverty

As the countdown to the possible teacher's strike looms closer, the Chicago Teachers Union chief says  negotiations have "taken a turn for the better." The CTU and Chicago Public Schools would need to come to an agreement on several contentious issues, including school closings, tenure allowances and air conditioner in Track E schools to avoid a strike. Several schools around the city began holding informational pickets this week. The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, a group of parents, teachers and activists supporting the union, are setting up a strike headquarters for the union and its supporter. It's where businesses can donate food and volunteers will help direct newcomers to pickets around the city. The CTU held a Labor Day rally which drew thousands of people.

Meanwhile, the gun violence that plagued the summer has already trickled into the school year. On Friday morning a school bus on the far South Side was hit by gunfire while picking children up for school. No injuries were reported.  The tweets of teenage rapper Chief Keef apparently mocked the death of one of his rival rappers, who was killed in a separate shooting. The tweets sparked a burst of rage online for his callous remarks. In the weekend before Labor Day, 24 people were shot and 2 of them killed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he is bringing in 50 federal agents to help deal with the violence, though their role is not clear.

The Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Obama accepted the party's nomination Thursday, has seen more than its share of punditry. While Michelle Obama's speech came with calls for her candidacy in 2016, some people were more critical of Obama's speech. The online magazine Colorlines, playing on Clint Eastwood's Republican National Convention speech to an empty chair that was said to hold the president, instead noted that there were two areas that would be invisible in his speech:

"There was an invisible man at last week’s Republican National Convention, but tonight in President Obama’s acceptance speech there’s likely to be an invisible topic: black and brown unemployment. Communities of color are mired in an economic depression. Yet the president struggles to publicly acknowledge it. The choice not to do so presents Obama with a political problem when he can least afford it."

 But the policies that hurt low-income people of color are bipartisan ones, commentator Michelle Chen wrote this week. "The real scandal here isn’t what Obama did or didn’t do to 'workfare'; it’s that both parties have gutted the welfare system as a whole to conduct a cruel social experiment on impoverished families." Others, such as The Reader's Ben Joravsky, said they had a hard time telling the Republicans and Democrats apart altogether, especially on their policy on teachers unions.

An Illinois judge has barred Gov. Pat Quinn from closing a string of prisons while the dispute with the prison guards union is resolved. AFSCME, which represents the guards, filed an injunction in August against the closings, and took a trip to the DNC this week to protest what they called Quinn's poor labor record.

Photo credit: tncountryfan

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