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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Save Our Childrenfrom Furniture First! Students Second. at Do Division Fest

Whittier already had a playground set and basketball courts before Mayor 1% came along. What it didn’t have was a library. A one book per child handout from a Christian charity does not cut it for a fully-funded public education.

Let’s not forget that while we’re celebrating in the neighborhood, CPS approved spending $35 million to move the central offices and buy brand new furniture. That’s over 20 times what the article says was spent at the Whittier playground. They are spending $7917 per staffer on new furniture – nearly two times as much as the $4140 per pupil spent at schools like Whittier, according to a WBEZ interview with CPS spokesperson Becky Carroll.

And what about the 53 schools that got closed at a cost to taxpayers of $285 million? No playground or library instruction for them, huh? Sun-Times reported that only 38% of receiving schools have a librarian.

This was a re-election stunt, plain and simple. Until the CPS budget is directly controlled by parents, students and teachers in the LSCs and not by an unelected puppet board, we will have no control of the public school system that we pay for with our taxes.

Begging FactionHave a spare $9.5 million so CPS can buy office furniture?

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Help us raise $9.5 million for the CPS Board’s new office furniture!

In 2013, the Chicago Public School Board said it needed to close 53 schools to save money. The idea is that if it doesn’t have to fix a leaky roof on one school, it can spend the savings on a library at another school.

In 2014, the CPS Board decided it could save money on both roofs and libraries, if it just spent the funds on brand new furniture for it’s sleek new downtown offices. Joel Hood, told WBBM’s Bob Roberts the old furniture won’t be cheap to move and doesn’t fit the style of the modern 1 North Dearborn space. 

We know the Board wants to do the right thing and put the money in the classrooms, but really, really just need new furniture. Do your part and help us ask the public at large for funds! Dress for success (or in character as a circus performer or a church goer) and bring your donation jar!

Join us at Damen and Division at Do Division Fest, Saturday at Noon. We’ll be putting on a spectacle as well as inviting audience members to become spectactors for a Theater of the Oppressed practice focusing on public education.

This production put on by you! and Chicago Educational Workers Industrial Network, Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education and Theater of the Oppressed.

May Day didn’t come in with a bang but with a drizzle. No fireworks at midnight, no rally calls in the streets. It was like any other Chicago spring day: gray, potholed, and downtrodden.

11:45 a.m., Paulina Ave.

Walking north to Union Park from the Illinois Medical Center blue line, I saw an unhappy woman fooling with the laminated nametag around her neck and a dusty old man sloughing along the sidewalk. A busted red and black umbrella by a fence. Last year’s leaves dead near the curb.

I expect a spectacle. For the whole city to be lit up and on the verge of erupting. Camaraderie raging. But like you I rarely get what I want. Not to mention that anytime I participate in an anniversary of a historic event or visit a monument, I don’t feel anything. I’m a ghost passing through, thin and veiled.

It’s been a difficult spring. Folks have been hard to organize. Everyone has been so insular in their chosen struggles, their individual battles bleeding them dry.

Union Park: Red & Black Brigade Rally

A small group of cold comrades stomp and clap in a circle, singing a chant with POWER as the refrain. Men with black bandanas covering their faces carry red and black flags. Food Not Bombs Pilsen serves banana bread made from dumpster finds on a card table. The social media guru of IWW shouts updates through a bullhorn. CACHE smokes and chats with our Michigan Student Union allies.

“Anytime you’re ready, go up and speak,” she told told me.

I’ve been thinking about what to say. I knew I had promised to speak. And for the last few months, I’ve been working with the idea that we’ve already won. It’s powerful.

You should try it.

Pretend that we just have to go through the motions for it to become complete.

Believe that everything you read is published in order to convince you otherwise: the higher courts refusing to hear the NDAA case, Monsanto creating a GMO marijuana plant, the death of net neutrality. Know that #badmin and oligarchs are pulling so much from under our feet that they can’t possibly continue without severe and relentless backlash. Didn’t they know that? What made them think they could get away with cruelty and austerity forever? Such fools these bourgeois be.

Energy picks up. SlutWalk raise their fists toward heaven and stand defiant. Image.

I take the microphone because clumsy me can’t figure out how to use my new bullhorn without setting off the siren. The thrill of the moment and the brain stagger: “I’ve resurrected and co-opted Rik Mayall’s People’s Poet, for all y’all who know The Young Ones. So you have to scream PIG! at the end of every line. Ready? All right: Taking even more from your public’s hands, are you?”

“PIG!”

“You still forget the rifle’s kickback?”

“PIG!”

“You know Liberté weighs in our favor?”

“PIG!”

“Don’t you know that we’ve already won?”

“PIG!”

“Guess who taught us that?”

“PIG!”

“Not YOU.”

“PIG!”

“You can’t kill revolt.”

“PIG!”

“It’s alive and well.”

“PIG!”

1:30 p.m., Red & Black Brigade Feeder March

A bit of a scuffle taking the streets off Union Park.
“Whose Streets?”
“Our Streets!”
Cop brigade was slow to organize.

And then once ready we were off like a cannon in slow motion. An engine building steam and momentum. Bucket drums out of sync with the chants, always. Why folks say But it’s anarchy as an excuse for not catching the beat I’ll never know.

Good news – the Campus Resistance in 2014 map has gone viral with over 7K views in the first month that it’s been up, and we’re receiving emails from folks who want to share their campaigns with us. Check out the new markers by scrolling down to the bottom of the list.

Here’s the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, 6:30 p.m. in the Resource Center, 4th floor of 623 S. Wabash.

  1. Updates on projects – Chicago Adjunct Action Network, Campus Map, etc
  2. Montreal trip (funding/solidifying plans)
  3. Building the Student Debt Resistance Project with Strike Debt and NLG.

Kick-off meeting for our summer of organizing. . .be there or be squarely in the red.

GREAT NEWS, EVERYONE!

Mary-Faith received a call today from an aide in Gov. Cuomo’s office, and plans are in the works to arrange a meeting and negotiations with him.

As this meeting represents a victory for both Mary-Faith and the adjunct movement as a whole, she’s ended her fast. She is safe and well, and we’re looking forward to learning more about her struggles. We have an article and an oral history in the works. . .so stay strong and determined. We will win.Image

 

Mary-Faith Cerasoli fasts in her “home” in Nassau Community College’s parking lot. Photo by T.L. Mack-Piccone

 

New Markers Published This Morning (both current and past campaigns)

SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGNS – (UC Berkeley) The resignation of Robert Bergneau as commencement speaker; (New York University) Divestment campaign won: contract with JanSport cut until parent company honors the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety AND the Graduate Student Organizing Committee became the first unionized group of graduate workers in a private university; (University of Houston) TA’s celebrated the one-year anniversary of the sit-in that earned them a raise.

ONGOING CAMPAIGNS (Nassau)- Mary-Faith Cerasoli’s hunger strike for a home and a living wage for herself, an adjunct; (Macaulay Honors College)- David Petraeus protests resumed; (City College of New York)-protests against the dismantling of a radical student center; (Central CT State University) Destruction of 18 working-class student murals; (San José State University) Student protests against intolerable heat and a “student success fee”

SHIT LIST – (Kansas Board of Regents) Gag-order on campus workers’ use of social media; (University of Saskatchewan) Firing of dean who spoke out about a reorganization plan.

Homeless Adjunct Activist Mounts Hunger Strike to Draw Attention to College Faculty Poverty

Action Follows March Protest at NY State Department of Education, Letter Ignored by Governor Cuomo

by T. L. Mack-Piccone

Mineola, Long Island, N.Y. – May 14, 2014 – Mary-Faith Cerasoli, an adjunct professor of Spanish and Italian who made national news by protesting her poverty-level conditions while teaching at two New York colleges, made an emergency room visit to Winthrop-University Hospital today after the first five days of a hunger strike on the campus of Nassau Community College in Garden City, N.Y.

In March, Cerasoli demonstrated on the steps of the New York State Department of Education in Albany, wearing a vest that read “Homeless Prof” and holding signs highlighting her lack of access to healthcare or housing while struggling with a life-threatening medical condition. Cerasoli spent the nights of May 8-13 in her car on the Nassau campus, one of two Long Island colleges where she taught seven classes this academic year. She also taught at Mercy College. Cerasoli was able to go to the hospital only because she just received access to Medicaid.

“Institutions of higher education provide working conditions that starve many contingent faculty of their livelihoods,” Cerasoli explained, “so I felt a hunger strike was exactly the right way to highlight the problem, particularly at Nassau, a college that just recently retaliated against adjunct faculty who took a stand against exploitation by striking earlier this year.”

Across the country, more than half of all college faculty are classified as part-time even if they do the same work as and teach the same number of classes, often over several institutions, as full-time faculty. According to the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, average compensation is less than $25,000 per year (Cerasoli earned $14,000 last year) and rarely includes benefits. Many adjunct faculty endure expensive and debilitating health conditions like Cerasoli’s.

Cerasoli received no response to a letter she wrote to Governor Cuomo requesting a meeting. She intended to ask him to help restore her access to professional working conditions and a sustainable living.

Cerasoli is working with faculty activists in New York and around the country to force policymakers and politicians to confront the problem more directly and to begin offering real, concrete remedies. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) has been especially vocal about the need for legislators to support activists who are helping adjuncts to organize and to reform their working conditions.

Activist T.L. Mack-Piccone, who accompanied Cerasoli to Albany, pointed out that national news outlets, including The New York Times and PBS, picked up the story of Cerasoli’s March demonstration. A social media solidarity campaign ensued, featuring adjunct faculty across the country.

“It’s likely that a similar campaign will result from Mary-Faith’s latest action,” Mack-Piccone said. “We have started a hashtag (#hungryhomelessprof) through which people can follow her story. After five days of drinking only water, medical personnel have pronounced her physical and mental health sound. This will not be surprising to the adjuncts and others across the country who have been inspired by her bravery and determination.”

This facebook page shows many ways to support her with solidarity actions, including a petition to act in three ways:

  1. Distribute a photograph of your fridge/cabinets on social media with the hashtag #HungryHomelessProf

  2.  Forgo one meal

  3. Embark on a one-day fast