Photo: Fred Klonsky
– Michelle Gunderson is a 27 year teaching veteran who teaches first grade in the Chicago Public Schools. She is a doctoral student at Loyola University in Curriculum and Instruction. This first appeared on Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue blog.
What would our city look like if it were run by Chicago teachers alongside other labor and community groups? This was the thought that kept running through my head as we gathered to support the launch of the new United Working Families political organization in Chicago.
I have strong hope that Chicago would look much different than it does now. It has to.
Mayor Emanuel states over and over again that Chicago is a world class city. Yet this is a place where we do not have resources for our schools to educate our children, where we do not have wages and jobs so we can afford our own city, and where we do not have affordable, safe housing for our families.
Mayor Emanuel, we are far from being a world class city.
The mission of the United Working Families (UWF) states that we will “organize families, strengthen their voices on issues of racial, social and economic justice, and challenge the corporate dominance of a two-party system by lifting up our issues and our champions.”
What does this mean? We will no longer blindly open up our checkbooks to the Democratic Party.
That was the old way of doing business.
According to Matt Luskin, a Chicago Teachers Union organizer, “We are looking for immediate campaigns that address our struggle.” UWF was not formed to take over the roles and leadership of groups that are already doing social justice work in Chicago. Its goal is to identify and back political power that will support our work.
“Imagine a campaign of face to face organizing in as many wards as possible”, says Bob Simpson in his Daily Kos blog, “supporting independent City Council candidates with a vision for a city where public resources are allocated by need rather than by race and income. Karen Lewis would be at the top of the ticket as the mayoral candidate, drawing on her popularity in African American and Latino neighborhoods. This could help bring out more voters to support the independent City Council candidates.”