Re: Detroit Strike! "School Reform" = Scabbing
- Subject: Re: Detroit Strike! "School Reform" = Scabbing
- From: Michael Peterson <j_m_peterson@WAYNE.EDU>
- Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:16:29 -0400
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- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
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This is Michael in Detroit. George, attached is a translated version of
Rich Gibson's piece on the Detroit strike in word 5.1 format for mac --
pc's should pick this up as well. I was at the dft meeting yesterday with
my wife, a detroit teacher, and rich's account and your informatoin fit
what I experienced there. Here is the piece.
>August 31, 1999
>Yesterday Detroit teachers shut down their school system in the face of
>"school reform" and the opposition of their own union leaders to their
>strike. But first news reports show that their strike has overwhelming
>support among the rank-and-file of their union and the support of the
>majority of citizens who are answering polls in the Detroit newspapers. We
>all should support this strike and help articulate what is going on now that
>the lines are drawn, with "School Reform" on the side of scabbing and
>oppression and the teachers lined up on behalf of lower class size and better
>schools on the other.
>People who want more detailed information about the Detroit teachers' strike
>and its relationship to the movement for better schools (and against official
>"school reform") might also hit the two Detroit newspapers and any other
>sources of information about Detroit, despite the limitations of the press.
>Both the Detroit Free Press (the scab paper) and the Detroit News are
>covering the strike in depth. I hope people will add to the on line addresses
>where we can get accurate and up to date information about the strike as the
>thing unfolds in the coming days. Accurate information will be at a premium
>once the corporate disinformation specialists get ahold of this thing.
>People should also note that the Detroit strikers will be facing the combined
>weight of their local union leadership (with the backing from on high of the
>leadership of the American Federation of Teachers) and others, all lined up
>Last Spring, Chicago Teachers Union President Tom Reece (a national vice
>president of the American Federation of Teachers) went to Detroit where he
>helped sell Chicago's version of anti-teacher and anti-union "school reform"
>to the leadership of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Reece bragged about
>the "reforms" Detroit was putting into place to Chicago's House of Delegates
>-- at the same time that his political buddies were terminating 137 veteran
>teachers under "school reform" and spending more than $100,000 to hire
>lawyers to fight against the Chicago union's feeble lawsuit opposing the
>attack on seniority and tenure.
>I won't even be interested in debating that with anyone here, except to say
>that most of the horrors that have flowed from Chicago's "school reform"
>(including yesterday's termination of 44 more veteran teachers, my continuing
>"suspension without pay", and the proliferation of idiotic "standards" and
>"accountability" "reforms" (as I've posted in detail here) could not have
>happened to the children, parents and teachers of Chicago without the
>collaboration of the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, which is also
>"Local 1 of the American Federation of Teachers".
>Note that the Detroit strike began because the rank-and-file of the teachers
>were organized and ready to lead the majority against the "school reform"
>atrocities which were being forced on them through their union contract.
>Specifically, at a mass meeting of 3,000 (or more) Detroit teachers, one of
>the teachers took the floor and urged an immediate strike vote against the
>recommendation of the union president's wish to extend negotiations. "No
>contract. No work!" has been a time honored teacher union tradition, and it
>was good to see it back in place. According to the reports we've gotten, the
>floor demand was that those in favor of a strike go to the left of the hall,
>those opposed to the right. Almost everyone went to the left, and the union
>leadership was powerless to prevent the strike from beginning.
>That is only the beginning, however. A similar event took place to begin out
>last strike here in Chicago (September 1987), when the union leadership was
>so convinced that a strike wouldn't happen that they didn't even have picket
>signs printed. It took 19 days for the sellout to get into place that year
>and nearly a decade before all of the results of that could be seen and
>analyzed. Going out on strike is only the first in a long series of steps,
>although an important one. Good luck to everyone involved.
>The beginning of the Detroit strike could become the stuff of legends. "If
>you want to strike, move to the left..." if we begin to make the legends now
>and don't quibble about the imperfections of reality in the teeth of the
>class struggle. We have had some contact with some of the Detroit teachers
>and sent 130 copies of the March Substance to them a few weeks ago. I hope
>that all that has helped.
>We will also be available 24 hours for clarifications about how bad the
>Chicago sellout "reform" model is. Let people know that this service is
>available, since I note that Michigan Gov. Engler is already talking about
>"not backing down" on "reform".
>Let's make it clear that "Reform = Scabbing, Union Busting, and Racism..."
>Let them (Chicago's Mayor Daley and Paul Vallas, Michigan Governor Engler and
>his minions) have the word "reform." Someone could say, for example, "We need
>better schools for all kids, not Reform School" etc., etc. "School Reform" is
>now patented by the enemies of children's education, unions, and working
>people, and we will only be confusing one another if we use the word in a
>positive light. Paul Vallas is the leader of "School Reform" in Chicago, and
>his program (backed by Mayor Daley and the city's business elite, along with
>the bought words of the professariate) is little short of fascism for the
>schools, teachers, and children.
>The following are some random thoughts. I'm stuck here in Chicago until at
>least next Tuesday, when Substance will be out from the printer, so I have to
>communicate this way. After that, if it would be any help, let us know.
>1. I couldn't get your strike material off the download because it was in a
>format I couldn't translate into my Mac format. Could you please post your
>stuff as part of your e-mail instead of as attachments, especially of your
>system puts the attachment into some exotic format?
>2. We need, by Friday or Saturday, as many pictures of teachers striking and
>parents and students supporting as possible. Substance will go to press
>Monday (Labor Day, pretty cool. huh?) and be off the presses on Tuesday. I
>will break out the top of page one for this story, but it will be best with
>photographs. Any photographs will do, but high quality black and white are
>best, followed by high contrast color. We will pay anyone shipping charges,
>so please ask that they be sent UPS Next Day and don't worry about the cost.
>3. I will post to the ARN list and elsewhere whatever I can get on this from
>other sources. One important thing will be that the disinformation campaign
>against the strike will get into gear by the second or third day, just as
>happened in Ontario. The networks of information will prove crucial, both on
>the picket lines and elsewhere. One of the first things I did was "vote" in
>favor of the strike in the Detroit Free Press poll on line and then post a
>pro-strike letter. Those who are only able to help in Cyberspace should do
>that, keeping the Yahoos at bay.
>4. As things evolve, I can provide specific information about how Chicago's
>strikes were demobilized and the demoralized state of things here achieved.
>An important role was played by the mass media, especially television.
>Everyone needs independent sources of information, or TV will eventually put
>everything out of business.
>5. We will need as many e-mail addresses as possible of people from whom we
>can get stuff. Can you help me with this? Although it's hard to tell what
>will be happening over time, with our production schedule coming up this
>weekend we might have enough in Substance so that it is able to be recycled
>That's all for now. Good luck to all of you.
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Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan 48202
Inclusive community and democracy
Whole Schooling Consortium
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