Black Teachers Fired En Masse

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Educational policy in the Obama era isn't about education at all. It's about replacing skilled, experienced teachers with rootless temps better suited to serve in the privatized holding tanks they wish to turn public schools in poor neighborhoods into, for a population on its way to low wage jobs and prisons.

Black Teachers Fired En Mass

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Blacks currently make up only 29 percent of Chicago’s teachers, but they comprised 43 percent of those recently fired...”

If you have any doubt that President Obama and his cronies are at the forefront of public school privatization and the decimation of Black teachers, just take a look at Chicago. That’s where Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, wreaked havoc as schools chief until the new president appointed him secretary of education, and where Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, now reins as mayor with overall control of the public schools. Arne Duncan fired 1,300 Chicago teachers during his eight years at the helm, the large majority of them Black women, replaced by mostly white, younger teachers at about half the cost. The teachers union sued, charging racial discrimination – a case that is still before the courts. Now, with a thousand more teachers fired last year under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the union has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, once again charging racial discrimination. Blacks currently make up only 29 percent of Chicago’s teachers, but they comprised 43 percent of those recently fired. Whites represent almost half the teaching force, but only 36 percent of the layoffs. The union’s lawyer calls it a “systematic effort to rid the Chicago Public Schools of tenured teachers who are African-American.”

Community groups have joined the teachers in asking the courts to ha the closing of 17 supposedly “underperforming” schools, many of them on the city’s South Side. In Chicago, such closings wipe out the schools’ entire work force, right down to the janitors – whose performance, of course, has nothing to do with standardized test scores. But wholesale staff massacres clear the way for charter schools operated by private teaching corporations. The Academy for Urban School Leadership, a national charter school founded by a venture capitalist, once employed the current CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. The new crop of young, white teachers are largely graduates of programs funded by a Who’s Who of rightwing foundations and corporations – the people educator Diane Ravitch calls the “billionaire boys club.”

Their goal is not just to break the teachers unions, but to de-professionalize education and to sunder all ties between teachers and the communities they serve. ”

President Obama has advanced the corporate project to privatize public education with lightning speed, inflicting far more damage in far less time than George Bush ever could – because George Bush is not a Black Democrat. Bush’s men called the teacher’s unions “terrorists” and other bad names, but Barack Obama has been a much more effective servant of the privatizers. Their goal is not just to break the teachers unions, but to de-professionalize education and to sunder all ties between teachers and the communities they serve. Thats why Black teachers have been targeted for mass firing in Chicago and all across the country. They tend to have tenure and to be staunch supporters of their unions, and they live in the communities where they work, as neighbors, parents and leaders. When Barack Obama and Arnie Duncan and Rahm Emanuel target Black teachers for mass elimination, they deliver a savage blow to African American community cohesion. Privatization of public schools is a central part of the disempowerment of Black America. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].




Both big teacher unions, AFT and NEA have already fallen over themselves to endorse Barack Obama for re-election. 

beverly: due process for teachers and other workers-

Teachers take a lot of heat, and I don't agree "deserve to be fired" because the leaders of  the unions made bad decisions.  And, anyway, it's my birthday this week.  I'm looking forward to it.  My [email protected] .  "sanda aronson"  


I wish you a very Happy Birthday and many more!

An educated population as opposed to an indoctrinated population is a threat to those who see everyone but themselves (of course)  as just another disposable worker bee in the hive. If the people who believe that education is a commodity and that schools should be run like businesses in the service of business win, most of us will lose.

Thank you. Teaching critical thinking would be a good idea &

community control of local schools.  The perversion of charter schools pretending to be public schools - that is, taking public money, public space for privatization has to be stopped.  Privatization, outright, continuing creeping privatization,  has been bad for people in re health care, the slide into it by the postal service, electricity, water supply, historically the rail road system, the ballot box (including electronic voting machines, and the software is "proprietary" = secret), prisons, city parks (e.g. NYC),  etc etc.

I'm All for Principle of Worker's Collective Bargaining Rights

BUT- We have to be realistic about the history of most US main-stream trade Unions- especially at the Management level. The Fact is most of them have not been very progressive, w some unions having even helped to perpetuate the good ole white boys network for decades & even today [especially police & firemen's unions, but others aslo]. And- Main-stream unions have too often been sooo myopic & short-sighted in their vision IE: When Unions were at the height of their power in the 1950s, 60s & early 70s - they failed to push the envvelope to expand unions across the work-force, didn't push for a national health-care plan that would cover everyone [especially ALL Workers], the UAW backed Detroit's car maker's fight against higher CAFE standards & help push the SUV craze! Hell it turns out that the now defunct Air Traffic Controllers Union actually backed Ronnie Reagan [Talk about a clear-cut case of shooting yourself in the foot!]!

AND Most main-stream unions [at-least at the leadership level] have been joined at the hip to the Dims since- humm FDR's new deal maybe. You would think that after Slick NAFTA Willie ['That Sucking Sound You'll Here will be all those US jobs going over-seas...'] - that many/most unions would have cut ties w the Dims or at-least pressed real hard bargains w them to 'Make them Earn It' [union support] as opposed to 'Make me do it'.

Lets be clear Rahmbo became Chicago's 1st Jewish Mayor for 2 reasons 1: his connection to Chicago's Democrat machine, & 2: just as important if not more so- Obama's endorsement.

IMO- It's telling that the 2 main teachers unions can automaton-matically endorse Obama even as teachers of the US' 3rd largest public school system [CPS] have on-going discrimination suits against Obama's Sec of Ed & Ex-CPS 'CEO'- Arne Duncan, -&- Obama's ex-chief of staff & current Chicago mayor- Rahmbo... - Even if they were inclined to give Obama & Duncan a pass on RTTT's school Deforms!


I've held union jobs for most of my life. I'm grateful for the added pay, benefits, and job security which comes with my union membership. I am very pleased that my employment is not subject to the whims of some supervisor who has had a bad day at home, or one who wants to install a relative or a lover in my position. That said, I have no regard for the shallow, self serving, short sighted, and ultimately, self-defeating reactionary politics of most of the largely White work force. In spite of the fact that, over time, they have lost wages, vacation time, pensions, and other benefits to the machinations of their employer and its political allies, they continue to blame liberals, racial minorities, gays, Muslims, and people in the China and the "Third world" for their problems, while they continue to vote for people who are hostile to unions and to union labor and to labor rights in general and and protections of any kind for those who are not bosses. Black people are right to be deeply suspicious of those who try to shackle us and our interests to those of the White working class whether it is unionized or not. In my experience, most of them will never figure out who their enemy really is, and if they do,  they will never do anything about it. 


Obamaism is one of the most frightening things I have seen in the American cultural and political arenas in a long time. It is so obviously and openly retrograde in so many ways. It is unfortunate that this old accomodationist, overseer model has been successfully transplanted from the plantations where it originated to the White House. It is deeply disturbing that many Blacks  are blind to the fact that the current occupant of the White House is as bad or worse than most of his predecessors when it comes to dealing with Black Americans as full citizens with legitimate concerns and issues worthy of serious effort. As I've said before, the scariest part of Obamaism will be its after effects, a swarm of Obama-like clones installed in positions of "power" and influence by the 1%, and foisted upon Black people as "agents of change" and as evidence of "progress" while actually being neither.  

good stuff glen

We charge Black GENOCIDE all down the line!