By Jennifer Johnson, Chicago public school teacher (Contact)
To be delivered to: Ben Rattray, Founder of Change.org
I'm a public school teacher who has taught high school history for nine years in Chicago.
Because of broad public support and overwhelming unity among teachers, I'm truly hopeful that we can achieve real gains for kids and teachers through our current contract negotiation--including adequate funding for art and music, school nurses, counselors, playgrounds, and libraries.
That's why I was dismayed to learn that, in the middle of this delicate but honest negotiation, the social action website Change.org is taking money to promote a campaign attacking Chicago's public school teachers by a conservative anti-union organization.
In any negotiation, it's essential to have trust and good-will on both sides. This kind of tired, old teacher-bashing by ideological conservatives only makes things more difficult, and I wish Change.org would stop taking money to promote it.
Ninety-eight of our Chicago schools don't have playgrounds, and 160 schools don't have libraries at all. Forty percent of our schools do not have full time art and music programs. These are some of the important issues that teachers would like to discuss at the bargaining table not just to improve working conditions for teachers but to ensure that our students receive the education they deserve.
As a teacher, I'm so proud to be on the right side of this fight, but it's disheartening to find teachers once again under attack by knee-jerk teacher-bashers. In this case, the attacks are coming from the anti-labor group Stand for Children, whose former leader Jonah Edelman recently bragged on video about how he was nearly able to "dupe" politicians into ending collective bargaining rights for Chicago teachers.
By taking money to promote this anti-union campaign, Change.org is turning their backs on teachers and endangering our efforts to provide a world-class education to our children.
The teachers of Chicago deserve a public apology from Change.org and assurances that you won't again promote conservative groups who oppose collective bargaining rights for teachers or other unions.
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