• Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Chicago Fires More than 2,000 School Staff as Crippling Cuts Deepen

    Austerity deepens in Chicago this year with the firing of more than 3,000 total school staff after closing 50 schools -   July 23, 13
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

    TRNN is giving us real understanding of the issues and a way around the corporate news spin. - heylair
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


    Chicago Fires More than 2,000 School Staff as Crippling Cuts DeepenJAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

    Chicago Public Schools has announced the firing of nearly 2,300 teachers and support staff in the country's third-largest school district, in what's being described as one of the largest round of teacher layoffs in the city's recent memory. This latest round of cuts comes on top of the 855 teachers and staff laid off when the city approved plans to close 50 schools last month. The city says the layoffs are necessary due to a drop in enrollment and a massive budget deficit.

    Now joining us is Xian Barrett, one of the teachers just laid off by Chicago Public Schools. He taught law and Chicago history at Gage Park High School. He's the recipient of a number of teaching awards, including being selected as a 2009-2010 U.S. Department of Education classroom teaching ambassador fellow. He's also a founding member of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators and former political director of the Chicago Teachers Union.

    Thank you so much for joining us, Xian.

    XIAN BARRETT, EDUCATIONAL ACTIVIST: Thanks for having me, Jaisal.

    NOOR: So, Xian, start by describing how you found out that you were getting laid off.

    BARRETT: Well, it was Friday morning, and I got a phone call from my mother, who said that my principal had called my parents' house, which I haven't lived in in 20 years, and said that there was important news and that I needed to call back to the school. And so then my mother, you know, she had called and relayed this. And then I called the school, got an answering machine message. The principal called back within about five minutes at 9:11 a.m., and she read me a script that thanked me for my service to the district and informed me that I would no longer be employed with the Chicago Public School.

    NOOR: And so, Xian, you are one of the 3,000 Chicago teachers and support staff that have been laid off this year alone. This comes on top of the 50 schools that Chicago voted to close down. What is the feeling in Chicago right now? 'Cause as viewers of The Real News know, there is massive opposition, civil disobedience, hundreds of people got arrested, marches across the city that ended up being futile, ended up failing at stopping these cuts.

    BARRETT: I think what we're coming to realize here in Chicago is that the people running our city, and especially the school district, which is unelected--it's exclusively appointed by the mayor--is not really interested in the voices of parents, students, or educators. And until we escalate to a point that we can force them to stop what they're doing, no reasoning or pleading is going to stop their push to undermine the public schools.

    NOOR: And, Xian, it's not just the schools being closed and teachers being laid off. School budgets are being slashed across the city. What kind of impact is this going to have on public education in Chicago, which is a majority African-American, Latino, low-income school district?

    BARRETT: I mean, it's going to be devastating. Just to put it in perspective, a lot of times in these moments, people focus on the jobs lost, which, I mean, each job represents a person, their livelihood, the career that they're passionate about, and their ability to feed and provide for their own family.

    But at the same time, with these massive cuts, we're talking about an extreme impact on the youth of Chicago, who already attended a school system that much of the funding was being diverted away from the neighborhood schools, to the point that even prior to this round of what we estimate to be between 50 and 20--excuse me--15 and 20 percent budget cuts, a lot of our neighborhood schools, the facilities were falling apart. There was no availability of soap or toilet paper. The textbooks were very old. The classrooms were, you know, in the summer up to the 90s and in the winter on Monday morning would start out in the 40s. So the conditions are already horrendous for learning. And a lot of people were wondering where these cuts would even come from. And, you know, what we found out is that they're going for the last piece, which is the actual human being there to teach the students each morning.

    The other thing I'd just like to add to that is when I looked at out at my classes last August, my rosters ran between 30 and 40 students each. So when we're talking about a 15 to 20 percent cut of staff, we're talking about that in the context of already classroom sizes in the high 30s. And so a student can't learn in an environment beyond that, especially when we're talking about Chicago students that--many of whom are coming from relatively transient and difficult conditions beyond the school.

    NOOR: And, Xian, let's talk more about who runs Chicago, who runs Chicago Public Schools. Your mayor, Rahm Emanuel, was President Obama's former chief of staff. And at the same time he's been cutting city budgets, including in education, he's been giving tax breaks to private institutions, to corporations. We did a story about how the same time they're closing 50 schools, they're giving DePaul University a free stadium to the tune of $50 million. Now, Illinois Representative Mary Flowers has proposed a bill to tax financial transactions at the Chicago Mercantile exchange at 0.01 percent, which would raise up to $80 billion annually, enough to fund the entire Federal Department of Education, let alone Chicago Public Schools. What are activists, what are people on the ground calling for? What kind of changes are people calling for in Chicago right now?

    BARRETT: I mean, what the big thing we're asking for--I mean, the financial transaction tax fits into this, but we would just like to see an entire priority shift, in that currently, under this non-democratically elected school board and this mayor who was elected with a small portion of the total registered voting populace voting for him on the tune of $9 million coming from outside the city to support him, under this group of people, we're seeing again and again that they're choosing private stadiums over schools. We're seeing again and again that they're raising taxes and fees on working people and lowering them on the very richest residents of both the city and the state of Illinois. So we want to see a complete priority shift. And if we need to remove the current people in power in order to get that, then we're ready to take all action necessary to do that.

    NOOR: And finally, Xian, you were aware one of the founding members of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, a group of educators that got together and started reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and then a few years later took over the leadership of the third-biggest teachers union in the country. Now, a lot of people kind of view these latest round of cuts as payback by Rahm Emanuel against the leadership of the teachers union and the teachers who went on strike in 2012 against budget cuts and against school closings. What is the future of this fight for public education going to look like in Chicago?

    BARRETT: I think the first thing we have to do is understand the fact that what we're talking about in terms of this being retaliation for teachers stepping up, unionists stepping up and pushing for our rights amounts to victim blaming in a lot of ways. This push to destroy the public school system in Chicago is not something that happened because the union got more militant. It's part of a three-decade-long push in Chicago, but not just in Chicago, all over the country. The playbook that was used for this round of cuts and school closings is literally a playbook that was printed by the [incompr.] Foundation, which is active in cities all over the country.

    So we're certainly going to continue to organize and increase our fight-back in Chicago, because we feel like this isn't a case that our fight-back caused these problems; it's that things would be even worse if we were not mobilizing our members, if we were not working with our parents and students and our community.

    That doesn't mean that through that mobilization we're going to win tomorrow or next week or even this year, but the Chicago public schools won't be truly the schools that our students deserve until we as a city take back the school system and mold it in an image of what the community wants rather than the image of what these very wealthy profiteers who send their own kids to nonpublic schools want.

    We also look forward to learning as we ally and collaborate with educators and those interested in the public schools from all around the country in the world, because if the other side is organizing internationally, we need to do that as well.

    At the end of the day, though, they're very rich, but there's many, many more people who are directly invested in the public schools than there are this small group of people who are investing for profit in the public schools. So through that organizing we believe we will win.

    NOOR: Xian Barrett, thank you so much for joining us.

    BARRETT: Thank you, Jaisal.

    NOOR: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


    Latest Stories

    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    Important Revelations In New Leaks of CIA Torture Report
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7), Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting