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5 So-Called Liberal Pundits Who Are Attacking Teachers

Chicago's teacher strike is shaping up to be one of the most important labor actions in a generation. So why are people who consider themselves progressives siding with the bosses?

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Teachers, fire & police shouldn't have right to strike. It's blackmail power over essential services. They have many other protections.

At least Weisberg is consistent here in saying that teachers are just as essential as police and firefighters. But he then argues that none of them should have the right to strike. It's thinking like this that led to the assaults on public workers' collective bargaining rights that flared up last year but haven't really gone away. It's also the same thinking that leads to Republicans arguing that public sector jobs aren't real jobs, that they're simply government waste. Or that leads to a  Democratic mayor cutting wages for all public workers (again, including police and firefighters) to minimum wage.

Striking is the strongest weapon that working people have to fight for their own rights. The bar in Chicago was raised to a height that politicians thought the union would never be able to scale, cutting back what the teachers were legally able to strike over and requiring a larger percentage of the union to vote than they thought possible. But they underestimated the solidarity and determination of the teachers' union, and now Democrats are making Republican-sounding arguments while insisting that they don't hate all unions or all teachers, it's just that this time is different.

 “What about the children,” what Weisberg essentially asks here, is a question being used across the board against the unions. We are supposed to believe that wealthy charter school backers and Wall Street Democrats, along with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the architects of No Child Left Behind, and so many other conservatives, really have the best interests of children at heart instead of the people who willingly take on a thankless career in the nation's poorest schools.

As economist Dean Baker pointed out, “The main determinants of childrens' performance continues to be the socioeconomic conditions of their parents. Those unwilling to take the steps necessary to address the latter (e.g. promote full employment) are the ones who do not care about our children.”

Sarah Jaffe is a staff writer at In These Times and the co-host of Dissent magazine's "Belabored" podcast. Her writings on labor, social movements, gender, media and student debt have been published in The Atlantic, The Nation, The American Prospect, AlterNet and many other publications, and she is a regular commentator for radio and television. You can follow her on Twitter: @sarahljaffe.

 
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