Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
spent years waging war on progressive politics. He's a corporate predator
As White House strategist and senior advisor, he represented the worst
of the Clinton years. His abrasive style earned him the nickname "Rahmbo."
From 1999 - 2002, he earned a reported $18 million as managing director
for Chicago investment bank firm Kleinwort, Wasserstein.
From January 2003 - January 2009, he represented Illinois' 5th congressional
district. From January 2005 - January 2007, he chaired the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee.
From January 2009 - October 2010, he was Obama's White House Chief of
Staff. He left to run for mayor of Chicago. On May 16, 2011, he won
easily. Doing so fulfilled his longtime ambition.
He's known for saying "winning is everything," and "You never want to
let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is that's an opportunity
to do things you couldn't do before." He didn't mean popular ones.
Emanuel is notoriously pro-war, pro-Israel, neoliberal, and anti-populist/now
button-down rogue Chicago mayor. He believes anything government does
business does better so let it.
He's handing over as many city functions to corporate profiteers as
possible. He launched what he calls "a public private partnership."
The sky's the limit. He bought off unions with promises to invest pension
funds in profitable enterprises.
Instead of investing in Chicago's future, he's giving it away to corporate
friends and cronies. His schemes are still unfolding. They involve city
airports, water system, community colleges, public transportation, parks,
public health, schools, and various infrastructure projects.
On July 6, 2012, the Wall Street Journal headlined "Look Who's Embracing
Privatization - Big City Democrats," saying:
Emanuel embraced a multi-billion dollar "rebuild Chicago" scheme. He's
involving private firms and banks. He's letting profiteers cash in on
He began straightaway after taking office. He forced city workers to
do work longer for less. He laid off thousands of others and wants new
hires paid less.
He proudly claims his "duty as mayor is to protect our city's taxpayers
and be their voice - not to protect the city's payroll."
He's handing over city resources and functions to corporate predators
so they can profiteer at the expense public workers and most Chicagoans.
He's forcing on Chicago what Obama and Congress are doing to America.
Privatizing schools is prioritized. It's happening in Chicago and across
America. Public education is on the chopping block for elimination.
Richard M. Daley began it during his mayoral tenure.
He called it Chicago's Renaissance 2010 Turnaround strategy. He planned
100 or more new "high-performing" elementary and high schools in the
city by that date. Under five year contracts, they're "held accountable….to
create innovative learning environments under one of three "governance
(1) charter schools
(2) privatized contract schools run by so-called "independent nonprofit
(3) "performance schools with freedom and flexibility on many district
initiatives and policies."
Under the 1996 Illinois Charter Schools Law, quasi private/public charter
schools are called "public schools of choice, selected by students and
parents….to take responsible risks and create new, innovative and more
flexible ways of educating children within the public school system."
Orwell couldn't have said it better. Stealth privatizations plan eliminating
public schools entirely.
In 1997, the Illinois General Assembly approved 60 state charter schools.
Chicago was authorized 30. Suburban areas for 15, and downstate locations
another 15. Mayor Daley bent the rules. He operated 53 charter "campuses"
and planned many more.
Currently, 119 charter schools serve 52,000 students. They remain open
during Chicago's teacher strike. They're not affiliated with the Chicago
Teachers Union (CTU).
Only 10 city charter schools are unionized. Each operates independently.
Doing so neuters their effectiveness. Union representation effectively
is toothless. Principals have almost total power. They have hiring and
On September 10, Chicago teachers walked out. At issue is saving public
education and providing futures for city kids. Emanuel has other ideas
On September 11, the Chicago Tribune headlined "Mayor's plan to close
schools fuels union fears during teachers strike," saying:
Plans call for closing 80 to 120 public schools on Chicago's South and
West sides. Low income areas are affected. Bronzeville, North Lawndale,
Garfield Park, and Englewood will be hard hit. Poor kids will entirely
lose out. Families will be cheated. Thousands of teachers will lose
Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton called the report "completely untrue."
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the same
They lied! They want dirty scheme details suppressed. At issue is replacing
public schools with charter or private ones. Doing so, of course, sacrifices
effective education in the process.
Unnamed sources told the Tribune about "plans to launch a targeted outreach
program to broach the topic with community groups as soon as" teachers
go back to work.
Emanuel's continuing Daley's scheme and then some. It involves letting
"private operators of charter schools" educate Chicago kids. He calls
it a "key component in fixing elementary and secondary education."
CPS officials acknowledged a plan to dramatically transform city schools.
Privatizing them is prioritized. Former CPS CEO Terry Mazany said:
"The union is going to have to face the brutal truth that with declining
enrollment and continuing growth of charter schools, there will be continuing
pressure to reduce the teacher workforce" and close schools.
The Tribune said "a (CPS) proposal to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation….laid
out a plan to create 60 more charter schools over five years." If accomplished,
they'll number over 170. At the same time, public schools will be down
to 480 with more closures and privatizations planned.
CTU president Karen Lewis complained about Emanuel planning to "privatize
public education and further disrupt our neighborhoods."
He did nothing to allay public fear. He's allied with business cronies.
They're eager to cash in on privatized schools. They contributed generously
to his campaign. It's payback time.
Chicago children have been marginalized throughout most of father and
son Daley tenures. Emanuel plans completing what they began.
Privatizing schools assures destroying their effectiveness, ending the
careers of thousands of experienced teachers, replacing higher paid
ones with low paid replacements, and depriving most Chicago kids of
Parents, students and teachers are own to stop it. CTU president Karen
Lewis' words ring hollow. She'll collaborate with Emanuel if plans are
pursued in a "reasonable way."
"We understand the whole movement of closing schools and doing it aggressively,"
"We either do this together in some reasonable way or we will always
be fighting, and I think the key is that the people that are making
these decisions want to make them unilaterally."
"Instead of sitting in air conditioned buildings with your spreadsheets,
come talk to us and look and see what's really going on."
Lewis has her own interests in mind. Saving teacher jobs is key. Fewer
teachers means fewer union members, less revenue, and less power and
income for her and other CTU officials.
Laid off or fired teachers want jobs back with fair pay and benefits.
They want contractual language assuring it. Emanuel's hardline. He insists
principals decide who's hired and fired at schools they run. Key is
replacing higher-paid teachers with lower-paid new ones. He also wants
In July, an "interim agreement" involved lengthening the school day
with no added pay. Teacher concessions yielded little. A small number
laid off benefitted marginally.
Those rehired got "interim" deals. They remain vulnerable to future
layoffs after one semester. Emanuel even wants this scheme ended. He's
all take and no give. He wants schools privatized, profits prioritized,
union influence neutered, and teachers, parents and kids hung out to
On September 12, Marshal High School was the venue for a mass rally.
Thousands turned out. Chants included "Hey Rahm we're no fools we won't
let you ruin our schools." "Ain't no stopping us now," and "R E S P
E C T."
Two other rallies were held with large turnouts. "Drums beat, bells
rang and fists soared as the crowd" also chanted "Hey hey ho ho, Rahm
Emanuel's got to go" and "Rahm Rahm Rahm Rahm Rahm Rahm Rahm, hey hey,
Questions were asked and comments made, including:
"Why are the public schools paying for private schools?"
"When our students go to Charter Schools and, they don't come up to
par, the first thing they do is put them out and send them back to public
schools but they don't send the money with them. They keep the money."
"When they come back to public schools and they don't come up to par,
we're going to teach them no matter what."
"And when they don't come up to par they put the teachers out. Does
that make sense? NO!"
A march followed throughout the neighborhood. Parents and children waved
and cheered from doorways and windows. Some joined them. Cars honked
horns. Even some police showed support. Endless signs and banners were
displayed. Slogans were chanted.
Strike day three showed solidarity. This struggle has miles to go. At
stake are thousands of jobs, futures for kids, bedrock public education,
and the soul of Chicago and perhaps America. It that's not worth fighting
for, what is?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News
Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time
and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy