Elizabeth Warren Made A Pit Stop In Chicago To Help Striking Teachers
Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a quick detour to Chicago this morning to show her support for a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. Warren reminded the striking teachers that sometimes fighting for a better future means standing outside on a cold, rainy Chicago morning and shutting shit down.
Warren told the frigid teachers, staff, students and supporters that she too used to be a special needs teacher (until she was quit-fired for getting pregnant). Teachers unions, Warren said, make sure that every kid gets a chance at public education. "A long time ago I stood where you stand," Warren said. "I was there on the front lines with the children. I remember what it was like to see a child's eyes light up. I remember what it was like to be able to give just a little extra encouragement to a child. I remember what it was like to be one of the most important people in a child's life."
Warren's visit comes as the Chicago teacher strike enters its sixth day. Negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city took a turn for the worse yesterday after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sent a condescending letter to the CTU, complaining about school sports programs and asking teachers to end their strike while negotiations continued. CTU President Jesse Sharkey scoffed at the letter, saying that hopes for a quick end to the strike were "dashed." Lightfoot's letter, and subsequent op-ed, has been part of a media strategy to out-progressive the 32,500 striking teachers and support staff who are fighting to get funding for basic school services, like special needs instructors, social workers, janitors, and nurses.
Over the last several years Chicago's public schools have taken a beating. Since 2002, 70,160 kids, most of them black and brown, have seen their schools closed or the staff fired. Every time the city has decided to close schools, the arguments have been the same: It saves money. In 2013, then-mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools, spurring a bitter summer strike and paving a crooked, red line to the sorry state of the city's schools today. Since then, Chicago has created a number of charter schools in affluent North and East sides -- where students get high quality educations complete with gizmos and guidance counselors -- while underfunded public schools on the South and West sides don't even have a librarian. Though a lot of these problems can be attributed to decades of Chicago-style politics (read: blatant corruption), teachers advocates argue the city sold out poor black and brown kids in order to make skyscrapers and slush funds.