An eclectic coalition of UC Berkeley students, lecturers, employees and local education activists held a rally on Sproul Plaza on Tuesday in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers Union strike.
Asking for better pay, more comprehensive benefits and a moratorium on school closures, the Chicago Teachers Union began their strike on Sept. 10. The strike received national attention, as it had been 25 years since the nation’s third largest city had its last.
The Chicago Teachers Union suspended its walkout on Tuesday and promised to return to classrooms Wednesday, national news outlets report.
The campus rally began at noon and lasted for about an hour, with participants dressed in matching red shirts holding up a sign reading “Berkeley Stands with Chicago Teachers.”
“Their fight is our fight,” said Bill Balderston, a rally organizer and spokesperson for Oakland Education Association, a teachers’ union for Oakland Unified School District. “Chicago Teachers Union is fighting against school closures and drastic austerity measures, the same problems that East Bay teachers face today.”
According to Balderston, five Oakland schools have shut down in the past year, and there have been major cuts in school arts, special education and physical education programs.
“Some say teachers are being selfish. That is not true. Teachers know that students are the real victims, and that is why they are fighting to save the schools,” Balderston said.
The rally’s message extended beyond support for the strike into a general concern regarding the direction of public education.
“This rally is not simply about our support for CTU,” said Barbara Barnes, a lecturer in the UC Berkeley Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. “It also serves to raise awareness about our society’s shift away from public education to privatization of education.”
Contact Dan Kwak at [email protected].
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