Message of solidarity send by CLASSE:
Solidarity for quality public education from Quebec to Chicago

Over the past months Chicago teachers, students and community members have been organizing to secure a fair contract with the Chicago Board of Education, despite sustained community rallies and ongoing intensive negotiations. A strike date of September 10 now looms.

Moving toward the first teachers’ strike in Chicago in 25 years, the Chicago Teachers Union, representing 26,000 public school teachers, has opened a strike headquarters and states, « for far too long our students have been short-changed, their teachers have been undermined and their schools have been financially starved of the resources they need. »

Coalition large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (CLASSE) extends our support and solidarity for the Chicago Teachers Union in the struggle to sustain quality, equitable and community based education in Chicago.

In light of announced strike plans and sustained community action to mobilize both teachers and community members toward the cause of accessible education we salute you from the streets of Montreal. In Quebec a historic student strike, driven by direct democracy, mass protests and direct actions recently won major victory in defeating attempts by the Quebec government to increase university tuition fees by 82%, teachers and professors played an important role in this strike under the banner « Profs contre la hausse » (teachers/professors against the hike).

Students in Quebec fought for accessible education threatened by neoliberal policies intent on privatizing public services, in particular, education. As increasingly inaccessible post-secondary education and skyrocketing student debt across the U.S. has shown that neoliberal approach goes against accessible, quality, community based centers of education, both at primary and post-secondary levels.

The Chicago Board of Education is now moving to close over 100 neighbourhood schools, while shifting public education funding toward a half public-half charter school district in Chicago. A shift toward free market solutions, as often symbolized by a move toward « charter schools » across the U.S., is not a response to the major challenges facing public education.

Today the Chicago Teachers Union is struggling against Chicago Board of Education reforms that will extend working hours for teachers without adequate compensation while undercutting important funding towards art, music, physical education and world language classes for students, focusing obsessively on standardized testing that so many educational experts have illustrated to not be a meaningful solution to challenges faced in the public education system in the U.S.

In May thousands took to the streets in downtown Chicago to support the demands of the Chicago Teachers Union and the union has continued to put pressure. Today from Quebec, CLASSE is extending our solidarity for your struggle in the face of the imminent strike.

Solidarity in struggle !

Coalition large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (CLASSE)

Large Coalition of Association for Solidarity among Student Unions