The Illinois Green Party released the following statement after the declaration that the Chicago Teachers Union strike would begin September 10:
We stand with the Chicago Teachers Union. Months ago we declared our unity with them, and today we reaffirm that unity.
The battle the teachers of the Chicago Public Schools are fighting is not one of their choosing. It is one which has been foisted on them by politicians who have been bankrolled by, and who therefore represent the interests of, the 1%.
Rahm Emanuel’s war against the Chicago Teachers Union is not simply about wages or benefits. It is about the future of public education in Chicago and beyond. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, with their “Race to the Top” initiative, are seeking to destroy the influence of the teachers unions, to reroute public dollars to private interests, and to undermine the core fabric of public education in America. Still, the Democratic Party is convinced that so long as President Obama says some nice things about teachers and emphasizes how evil the Republicans are, teachers will sit down, shut up, and continue to vote Democratic.
The Chicago Teachers Union is leading the way for teachers everywhere by saying that they will not sit down and shut up. Teachers are highly educated professionals, who care deeply about the well-being of their students. They are also highly politically aware, and they know that they are being mistreated by Democrats and Republicans alike. At one point the Democrats may have been their friends, but now they know that the Democrats are just corporate sellouts like the Republicans.
Many of them are also learning that the Green Party is different. We take no corporate contributions. Our presidential candidate, Jill Stein, is a staunch defender of public sector workers. Our platform calls for restoring workers’ rights which the Democrats have refused to restore, like repealing the Taft-Hartley Act. Not just teachers but other unionized workers are seeing how the Democrats do not have their backs, but the Greens do.
The Illinois Green Party reiterates its call for an elected school board in Chicago, accountable to the citizenry, not accountable to Rahm Emanuel and his corporate backers. Outside of Chicago, we call for hundreds of citizens to stand up and defend their public schools by running for the elected school board seats which exist everywhere else in Illinois, on a platform of protecting public education from corporate encroachment, and respecting the hard-working teachers all across our state.
We also call for more teachers throughout Illinois to stand up and speak out against the entrenched Democratic leadership. Embrace the Green Party as your party, as the party of working people, as the party of the 99%, as the party who joins you in caring about the future of our children.
Teachers, we are in solidarity with you.