Patterico's Pontifications


Chicago Teachers Union Group Under Fire After Traveling To Venezuela And Praising Its Socialism

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:36 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Recently, three Chicago teachers and a union representative crowdfunded a trip to Venezuela this summer. . The group, which identified themselves as a Chicago Teachers Union delegation, met with officials in the Venezuelan government and with fellow educators. The group is now facing a barrage of criticism for their simultaneous praise of the socialist country and its government while at the same time condemning the United States in comparison:

They wrote online about wanting to connect with Venezuelan teachers, students and unionists, criticized U.S. economic sanctions against the South American nation and wrote admiringly of its socialism, its communes and high literacy rates.

But critics say the group glossed over Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crises and were excessively complimentary of President Nicolás Maduro, whose administration has been accused in recent United Nations reports of “grave” human rights violations and violence against dissenters.

There seems to be some disagreement about whether the group went under the auspices of the Chicago Teachers Union:

And though the four travelers regularly called themselves a “CTU delegation” online, the union representing close to 25,000 people has sought to distance itself from the trip, stating the CTU did not endorse, sponsor or fund the trip.

Asked on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” last week about “some controversy” surrounding the excursion, union President Jesse Sharkey said: “Members go all kinds of places in the summer. This was neither an official trip nor something that was funded by the union. This is a group of people who are members of the CTU who decided to go to Venezuela.”

While that might be so, it doesn’t explain then why CTU would follow the group’s trip and retweet updates and observations made by the group on their official webpage:

Yet, the official CTU Twitter account retweeted some of the group’s updates, including a blog post titled “Introduction to CTU Delegation to Venezuela.”

CTU also retweeted another post by teacher Sarah Chambers, one of the travelers and a member of the CTU executive board, which read: “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person. USA is the richest country in the world; yet, there are homeless people everywhere. Over 17k CPS students are homeless… This is why @CTULocal1 is fighting for fair housing #CTUAgainstVezIntervention.”

[Ed. Are you kidding me? “We didn’t see a single homeless person”? Yeah, I don’t think so… Perhaps there is a massive void on the streets of Venezuela now that 3 million Venezuelans have been driven out of the country by their freefalling government. Of course, Potemkin villages certainly wouldn’t have homeless people milling around…]

Taking the group to task, a union member pointed out the dishonesty of the group:

[T]he Delegation fails to acknowledge is they used the CTU name to raise the funds, to set up meetings, to blog their ‘findings.’ This was never voted on. They don’t get it. Irresponsible and reckless.”

In another article about the trip written by Chambers, former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s name came up – and not in a favorable way:

“Through major economic hardships, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro never closed a single public school or a single health clinic. This stands in stark contrast to our experience in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools and several mental health clinics in a single year,” Chambers said in the story for Fight Back! News, a publication that bills itself as “News and Views from the People’s Struggle.”

Imagine coming up short next to Maduro!

The group has received criticism from colleagues and fellow union members among others, for their political advocacy:

Ana Gil-Garcia, who co-founded the Illinois Venezuelan Alliance and teaches in the College of Education at Northeastern Illinois University, said the trip was unacceptable, though it would be different if they’d gone on their own, without using the CTU brand.

“Once you go there as a delegation of a very powerful union like the Chicago Teachers Union, it’s questionable,” Gil-Garcia said, adding the trip could come off as the union endorsing the Maduro regime, which she said has killed and imprisoned opponents and contributed to widespread food shortages in the country.

“That’s what makes me really upset about it,” she said. “The Chicago Teachers Union should be very objective because the membership is formed by people with different ways of thinking.”

Gil-Garcia said more than 50 people, many CTU members, contacted her, displeased by the group’s actions.

Further, 18 year veteran of Chicago Public Schools system and union member, Karen Moody saw the trip as a propaganda tour:

“I am appalled a delegation representing themselves as CTU went to Venezuela, not to support striking teachers, not to object to human rights violations, but to go on what appears to be a state-chaperoned propaganda tour… called the resolution’s “pro-Maduro” tone “heavily biased.”

“Both the resolution and the trip reflect the personal politics and world view of (CTU) leadership and their inner circle — not the majority of rank-and-file teachers,” Moody said.

Saying she’s not anti-socialist and leans “pretty far left” politically: “What I personally object to is not the word socialism — but the support of an extremist anti-democratic autocratic lunatic who rules by fear. “

And yet another Chicago Public Schools teacher criticized the trip:

Rebecca Testa-Ryan, said she found out about the trip when a fellow CTU member showed her the fundraiser.

“My first thought was, ‘Why would you voluntarily go to Venezuela when so many Venezuelans are fleeing the country?’” Testa-Ryan said.

Testa-Ryan said she recently returned from a trip to her native Panama, where she “had the chance to speak to many Venezuelans about the horrific conditions” there. Noting her own family had to endure the dictatorial rule of Panama’s Manuel Noriega, she said the Venezuela trip was disrespectful to Latino people and their history. She also took issue with the union resolution.

“CTU has no business involving themselves in foreign policy,” she said, adding that should be left to groups like the United Nations “and experts who have a handle with what is occurring on the ground in Venezuela.”

As a union member, Testa-Ryan said, “I did not vote for this type of representation nor am I comfortable (with) delegates supporting a dictator.”

Here is CTU’s resolution opposing US military intervention in Venezuela, and to advocate for the suspension of the current sanctions against Venezuela.

Takeaway: Bad U.S. Good Venezuela.


11 Responses to “Chicago Teachers Union Group Under Fire After Traveling To Venezuela And Praising Its Socialism”

  1. Welp.

    Dana (fdf131)

  2. Aeeeeh, as my co-worker said during the big Fall 2012 strike, “they didnt take my kid at the the selective enrollment school, so eff ’em”. I do wonder if he’ll be back at the testing-in tables in December of 2020 for the High Schools (nk’s alma mater might be the lead in that one v. Northside and Walter Payton Prep). Me (with a daughter the same age albeit in a downscale northern suburb) I could use my mom’s South Side address which is to basically fog a mirror, but I’d rather pay the Archdiocese in the open than paying some CPS goon in secret.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  3. If the complaining teachers sat idly by while their colleagues crowdfunded the moolah for the trip then why should we take them seriously when they now claim to be scandalized by the outcome? It seems they are really complaining about the bad publicity coming from the stupid resolution, not about the ideological drift of their union.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  4. Good point, JVW. Of course too, Venezuela doesn’t have a teachers’ union that sucks up all the money that could, in theory, be spent on students. Also, I’m not up to date on CTU and their solvency, but I wonder if pension debt is taking them under like so many other cities across the country. My guess is that is is.

    Dana (fdf131)

  5. bill ayers peanut gallery, he and his adopted son, and possible next da of san Francisco, chesa boudin, were in Venezuela in 2006

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. Educated people go to Venezuela, and say its a paradise! Who are we to disagree? They’ve actually been there! They saw no homeless people!! (And people lament that the US does not trust self-styled “intellectuals.”)

    1930’s British highbrows Sidney and Beatrice Webb wrote 1,000 willfully delusional pages titled “Soviet Communism: A New Civilization?” They didn’t see anyone mistreated during their tour of the USSR either. And it was as free as the US they said.

    So 90 years after the delusional Webbs, communist apologists, we have even stupider people, belching the same adoring and delusional reports of a totalitarian state. Only there are teaching our kids.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

  7. the other political pilgrim to soviet client states,

    narciso (d1f714)

  8. The schools indoctrinate them when they’re young, F-‘em after graduation, and then the kids and colleges skull-F the American taxpayer…

    “Defaults have fallen for most forms of consumer debt as the economic expansion continues. Mortgage delinquencies last quarter hit a historic low. But severely delinquent student loans have soared since 2012 and are now 35% of “severe derogatories”—more than credit cards (23%), auto loans (21%) and mortgages (11%).

    About 10% of the $1.5 trillion federal student-loan portfolio is 30 days or more past due. Another 20% is in deferment or forbearance, and about 30% is in income-based repayment plans that allow most borrowers to cap monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income and discharge the remaining balance after 20 years or 10 for folks in “public service.” . . .

    Income-based repayment plans have also encouraged schools to raise prices and enroll students who probably won’t earn enough to pay off their loans. Someone with a master’s degree in dance from New York University shoulders on average $96,000 in debt, according to government data. Imagine if the government created income-based repayment plans for mortgages. . . .

    But many loans will be written off long before then due to the Obama repayment plans. “We are running a big experiment here: No generation before has carried student debt burdens anything like what today’s students are carrying,” former Obama higher-education adviser James Kvaal told Bloomberg. “There will be substantial amounts of student debt that will never be repaid.”

    Now he tells us, though he should have done so in 2010.

    The student loan program isn’t a subsidy for students. It’s a subsidy for a vital Democrat-supporting industry. Understand that and a lot of other things make sense.”

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  9. Why does this continue!?!?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  10. And Walter Duranty denied that there were famines in the USSR.
    For the CTU members who went to Venezuela and those who agree with their little resolution, union leadership should put them on Maduro Diet for the school year.

    Paul Montagu (a2342d)

  11. You gotta wonder what they tell the kids in their classes. Loyalty oaths sound better and better.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2174 secs.