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Corporate Media’s War on Public Education

Corporate Media’s War on Public Education


by Stephen Lendman


September 12 marked day 3 of Chicago’s teacher strike. At stake is the future of public education in the city and perhaps the country.


This battle is too important to lose. It’s too early to tell what’s coming. Teachers are resolved. Parents and students support them.


Union officials in Chicago and across America are suspect. They often cave when they should resist. They mostly look out for their own interests.


Chicago teachers may end up alone in this fight. Hopefully they understand and won’t yield no matter what union officials decide. Public education and futures for Chicago kids are on the line.


As expected, media scoundrels invert truth and back the wrong side. A New York Times editorial headlined “Chicago Teachers’ Folly,” saying:


Teacher strikes aren’t ever a good idea, said The Times. Children and families are harmed. This one “seems particularly senseless because it is partly a product of a personality clash between the blunt mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the tough Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis.”


“Beyond that, the strike is based on union discontent with sensible policy changes - including the teacher evaluation system required by Illinois law - that are increasingly popular across the country and are unlikely to be rolled back, no matter how long the union stays out.”


Fact Check


As usual, The Times is pro-corporate, neoliberal, anti-labor, anti-public education, and dead wrong. At issue is education’s future, not dueling personalities.


Saving what’s too important to lose won’t be easy. It remains to be seen whether Chicago battle lines will hold. Thousands of Chicago kids and perhaps millions across America depend on it.


At stake is a societal bedrock. Corrupt politicians and corporate profiteers want it commodified into another business profit center. Media scoundrels support them. Educating kids doesn’t matter. Bottom line priorities come first.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel represents the worst of reprehensible governance. He’s unapologetically pro-corporate, neoliberal and hardline. He’s indifferent about human need and welfare.


His policies are neanderthal and destructive. He’s a consummate scoundrel. He’s a dagger pointed at Chicago’s soul. He’s a perfect corporate frontman. He’s for government of, by, and for super-rich elites like himself.


He wants teachers and other public workers hung out to dry. He wants kids deprived of futures. He wants everything corporate profiteers asked for given them. Chicago’s soul is up for sale. So is America’s.


The New York Times and other media scoundrels endorse what’s wrong and harmful. Its editorial ignores what’s most important. Public education’s future isn’t mentioned once. Nor is the need for good schools that teach.


It claims a vital strike isn’t necessary. It’s fundamental. It’s like breathing out and breathing in. Oxygen sustains life. Education the way it should be assures futures. Taking away either is fatal.


On September 9, The Times headlined “With No Contract by Deadline in Chicago, Teachers Will Strike.”


It claimed Emanuel promised “improvement of public schools as one of his top priorities.” It quoted him saying he made teachers an offer too good to refuse. The strike is “totally unnecessary,” he said. It’s “avoidable and our kids do not deserve this.” It’s “a strike of choice.”


Instead of covering both sides fairly, The Times featured Emanuel’s. Its framing ignored what’s most important. It misstated issues it discussed.


It omitted saying Emanuel wants teachers working longer for less. They’re forced to sacrifice learning by teaching to the test. Their job status depends on doing what’s wrong.


Collective bargaining itself is on the line. Surrender to what Emanuel wants and it’s gone. So is public education’s future and that of thousands of Chicago kids depending on it.


Emanuel doesn’t care. His kids attend private school. He can afford it. Most Chicago parents struggling to get by can’t. One parent said “he’s not going to let anything get in his way.”


He’s right about a ruthless politician allied with corporate crooks at the expense of parents and kids they don’t give a damn about.


Substance News editor George Schmidt took dead aim at The Times. He said its version of reality mirrors Emanuel’s. Its coverage “miss(es) the historical context.”


Emanuel cancelled the final year of an earlier negotiated contract. Doing so “cheated teachers and other union workers out of roughly $100 million.” He fraudulently claimed Chicago is broke and can’t afford it. At the same time, he’s diverting city resources to corporate profiteers.


For months, he deployed a cadre of “paid preachers, paid protesters, and Astroturf supports like Stand for Children and Advance Illinois.” They sold his snake oil.


In January 2012, his scheme collapsed. Turning points arrived mid-winter. He “decreed” that “failing schools” would close. He followed through despite widespread angry protests.


During contract negotiations, his appointed school board “ignored the context again.” They voted to close schools instead of addressing what’s wrong and keeping them open. They agreed to bolster failing charter ones. They’re about bottom line priorities, not learning and teaching.


“Many are guilty of major fraud.” The Times ignored this. Instead of full disclosure, it featured coverup. It supports Emanuel’s position. It marginalizes teachers, students, families, and bedrock public education.


On September 12, Schmidt discussed school board hardball tactics. The Times again ignored it. Board of Education president David Vitale cut striking teachers “off major email and other communications places.”


It reflects city union busting efforts and Emanuel’s war on public education.


Vitale is a former corporate boss. Among other positions, he was president and CEO of the Chicago Board of Trade, vice chairman of Bank One, executive vice president and vice chairman of First Chicago Corp, and held top positions at the First National Bank of Chicago.


His background reflects financial mismanagement and fraud. Emanuel chose him to swindle Chicago teachers, parents and kids like investors.


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) head, Jean-Claude Brizard, earlier served as Rochester, NY school superintendent. His record was practically diabolic. Around 95% of teachers deplored him. He was named in two federal lawsuits. They alleged improper handling of budget cuts and school closures.


Earlier, he attended the notorious Superintendents’ Academy of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. Corporate predator Eli Broad founded it to train administrators on restructuring and privatizing public education at the expense of teaching and educating kids.


Emanuel hired him to replicate what he did in Rochester. Elizabeth Swanson serves as deputy CPS chief of staff. Formerly she was billionaire Penny Pritzker’s Traubert Family Foundation executive director.


It advocates merit pay, school privatizations, union busting, and other regressive education policies. Wrecking public education is policy. Emanuel prioritizes it. So does his team. They plan open-ended conversion of public schools to charter or for-profit ones.


They want them run by marketplace rules. They link teacher pay to student achievement. It’s determined by standardized tests that measure rote memory, not real learning or preparation for higher education.


They’re destroying unions and teacher benefits. They empowered bureaucrats over parents to decide what’s best for their children. They created a two-tiered, class and income-based system. It favors affluent communities over poor ones.


They want inner city kids deprived of real education and future prospects. They put public education on the chopping block for elimination.


The Times and other media scoundrels ignore what’s most important to report and explain. The Washington Post matches its anti-populist agenda.


On September 10, its editorial headlined “Chicago teachers resisting much needed education reforms.”


A litany of inverted truths and lies followed. Union officials are called hardline. Emanuel is portrayed favorably. His agenda is right, said the Post. So is Obama’s destructive Race to the Top, it claims.


His “administration championed reforms” Chicago union officials are fighting. They’re trying to “preserve” a “status quo” they should oppose.


The Post, Times, and other media scoundrels have things backwards. They support corporate bottom line priorities. They want public education made another profit center.


They want unions busted. They want millions of kids denied futures. They want America made less livable than now. They support an agenda demanding condemnation.


Chicago teachers, parents and students are battling for the soul of Chicago and America. Hopefully they’ll stay committed, yield nothing, give Emanuel the fight of his life, go to the wall for what’s right, and hold fast for as long as it takes to win.


The stakes are to vital to accept less.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]


His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”


Visit his blog site at 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 listening.

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About The Author

Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.   After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at year end 1999.   Supporting progressive causes and organizations, he began writing in summer 2005 on a broad range of issues. Topics regularly addressed include war and peace; social, economic and political equity; and justice for long-suffering peoples globally - notably, victims of America's imperial wars, Occupied Palestinians and Haitians. In early 2007, he began hosting his own radio program. Currently he hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. Airing three times weekly, it features distinguished guests discussing vital world and national issues in depth. Today perhaps more than ever, vital social, political and economic change is needed. What better way to spend retirement years than working for it. We owe at least that much to our loved ones, friends and humanity.

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