Yes, a Teacher Should Be Alderman!

I am a 35-year-old science teacher. I grew up in a middle class suburb of Buffalo. Some will ask, because of my background, if I can represent this ward as an alderman.

Absolutely, I can. My nine years as a Chicago Public School teacher give me a clear view of the problems in this city and of what needs to be done. I have seen what the ruling class is doing to education for the children of working people. I consistently opposed their policy. I have supported students and parents who fought to stop attacks, and I was active in the teachers' strike of 2012. I am a committed unionist, and I have been a conscious socialist most of my adult life.

I teach at Lindblom, a selective enrollment school in West Englewood. Funding at Lindblom has become tighter, and working and learning conditions more harsh. And this is at a school that serves a selected minority of students. I know things are much worse at the neighborhood schools. The elementary schools in Englewood were hit very hard – half the elementary schools near Lindblom were closed just in 2013.

While spared closings, children in the 25th ward have suffered from the same budget cuts that have hit all of Chicago's public schools. I stood with the parents at Whittier Elementary in their fights to defend their library and community center, both during their first occupation in 2010, and at its demolition in 2013.

Some people would say that this is a majority Latino ward, and so it should have a Latino alderman. If that's what Latino residents of this ward want, it is certainly their right, and they can vote on that basis. 

But I think there is another issue. Most of the residents of this ward are working people. We need an alderman that takes the side of the working class, whatever his or her background. I have consistently done that – and told people what no one else has said: that working people will not change their situation until they fight together as a class to tackle the problems.

The 25th ward is largely working class, made up not only of Pilsen, but also of the former ABLA Homes area, Chinatown, some of the West Loop and a small piece of McKinley Park.

The ruling class has a strong interest in dividing up the working class in every way it can: by race, by ethnicity, by sex. They pit different parts of the working class and different wards against each other, to fight over the limited resources that the city expends on education and services in the neighborhoods.

Why should we fight amongst ourselves over the crumbs from their table, instead of fighting our true enemies, the corporations and the politicians who serve them?

We all face specific deadly problems. Racism against the black population is a virulent danger. Attacks on immigrants set us against each other. But we are all part of the working class. We all have an interest in better schools, in better public services, in more jobs and higher wages. And we will be better able to address our problems when black, Latino, white and Chinese working people stand together, when the working class fights for its own class interests.

We can overcome the divisions imposed on us and work together.

Ed Hershey
for 25th Ward Alderman, Chicago

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