GEM NYC
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Detroit speaks, we listen and learn

On the ICE’s listserv is the text of a flyer that the Equal Opportunity Now Caucus and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) distributed at the mass membership meeting of the Detroit Federation of Teachers today. The meeting attracted about 5000 members, and accepted a 60 day contract extension.

They call for a strike and picketing.

Our union doesn’t do strikes – and not much demonstrating either, since they’re collaborating bigtime on transforming the system.

But GEM does speak up, on the streets, at public hearings, on the steps of City Hall and in our blogs. What Detroit’s putting on their signs goes for New York, L.A., DC, and all the other big cities across the country as well:

“NO MORE SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL EDUCATION”

“OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT FOR SALE”

“NO MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS”


Here’s part of the Detroit flyer, and if you don’t have time to read it all, head to paragraphs 3 and 4.

Motion for a Just Contract and to Save Dr. King’s Vision for America in Detroit

Whereas:

1. The Bing and Bobb plan for public education and public services are the same plan. The plan is to privatize, degrade public education and public services and clear the way for private charter schools to become a competitive alternative to public education. If successful, their plan will relegate Detroit to a depopulated, second-class city forever, and to condemn the young people of Detroit to inferior educational opportunities.

2. For the last four months our union has engaged in a bargaining process with Rob Bobb premised on the view that our cooperation with Rob Bobb was the best way to both meet the needs of the children and youth of Detroit, and to achieve a fair contract settlement. The primary slogans of our contract process have been, “Don’t do it to us, do it with us” and “We’re asking for nothing and Rob Bobb wants us to accept less.” This negotiating strategy and public profile of the DFT has made us weak and incapable of generating the community support necessary for us to defeat Rob Bobb and his billionaire charter school backers. We need a bargaining strategy aimed at mobilizing rather than demobilizing our members and the community to achieve a different outcome in the next two months than we were able to achieve in the last four months.

3. To win, we need to tell the truth, that what the DFT is fighting for is the defense of the right of every young person in Detroit to a high-quality, public education, and for the principle of universal public education. The DFT must adopt the three slogans featured by AFSCME Local 345 on their picket signs at the all-school-union rally held last week – No More Separate and Unequal Education, Our Children are Not For Sale, and No More Charter Schools – as the central public slogans of this contact negotiations. That will completely transform the character of our contract negotiations and will place teachers at the center of the fight to save Dr. King’s vision for America in Detroit. There is no way Bobb and Bing can beat us if we frame our contract fight this way.

4. DPS students and their parents and community supporters have been engaged in a struggle to stop school closings since 2006. Our union has repeatedly joined with DPS management in claiming that school closings were necessary because of falling student enrollment rates in DPS. Our union must reverse this policy now and instead of standing with DPS management in opposition to the struggle of students and parents to maintain public schools and defend the principle of public education, join with them in their correct fight to stop the hemorrhaging of DPS students due to the cycle of school closures leading to more Detroit students being forced into charter schools because they have no neighborhood public school to attend. The DFT must support and join the efforts of students and parents to stop further school closings, layoffs and cuts, and to prevent more charters from entering Detroit.

Teachers are in a position to defeat the Bing and Bobb plan through our struggle for a just contract. A combined teachers- and Detroit city- and Wayne County- public workers strike will be necessary to assure that the billions of dollars of federal funds available for public education and to revitalize decaying urban areas actually come to the city of Detroit for public schools and public services rather than being diverted to fund the development of a whole new private primary and secondary charter school system . . .

Flyer by EON Caucus and BAMN.

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