Today, everyone who works in the Chicago Public Schools heard the same question: "Is there really going to be a strike?"
And before answering, every educator who heard that question—in addition to having to weigh Rahm Emanuel's ego against his likely ambition to run for President some day with union support, and in addition to having to weigh the media's sloth and greed against the good sense of Chicagoans to see through propaganda—had to also navigate the following obstacle: the assumption, inherent in almost any conversation about strikes, that a strike is a negative thing, that it is the fault of the strikers, and that it would be best for everyone involved, especially the children, if the reckless strikers were to immediately propitiate.
To this end, CPS made the immensely demeaning move, and not for the first time, of compelling teachers to hand parents a written statement from the CEO in which Chicago teachers are accused, not subtly, of refusing to put children first.
It is the act of a bully. Rahm Emanuel is currently playing the part of the schoolyard tormenter who everyone is advised not to stand up to, lest he beat them all harder tomorrow. Even if we can convince the questioners in our community that teachers are standing up not only for teachers' rights, but for children's rights, and that when a union of workers stands up for their rights, they fight for every working man and woman; and even if we can convince them that the owners—in this case, those whom the mayor has appointed—set this strike in motion long before it was made official by an overwhelming vote (not by the union leadership but by the teachers themselves); even if we can do those things, we still, as a society, have to learn to stop blaming the victims for the risks involved with self-defense.
Rahm thought it would be easy to raze our faction and divide our family, and he may find a day yet to massacre us all, but so long as we stand together as a city, that day will not be today. I have hope that if CPS does not provide teachers with a fair contract NOW, Chicago will show Rahm how much he miscalculated, and how poorly his advisers, and his conscience, have misled him. But I also have hope that we've already proved our resolve, and that there will be no need for a strike. I suppose we'll all find out soon.
Just two days left, Rahm. We're not budging.
(literary allusions care of Shakespeare)