CPS Teacher Rally Speech

The following is the transcript of a speech given by Dario at a rally with Cincinnati Public Schools teachers.

Hi, my name is Dario, I’m a member of Democratic Socialists of America, one of the two co-chairs of DSA Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky. We’re a democractic, member-run, and member-funded organization, and we’re out here standing in solidarity with teachers, parents, and students against this unjust reopening because we, as socialists, believe that our society should be run by those who make this society run--the workers--not by the wealthy and powerful who profit off our labor.

And you know, if we’d had a society where workers had more power, we would be able to safely reopen schools right now. When this pandemic kicked off, we would have sent every worker home to shelter in place except the absolute most essential, canceled rent so people could shelter in place without worrying how they would survive, and then used that time to build up the testing system we needed from the beginning (and still don’t have) to fully reopen our society and contain the virus where it appears. There’s nothing magical about this. Plenty of other countries have done it. But our country is run by a wealthy few, and they, and the politicians who obey them have really only had one priority this entire time: how can we get the workers back to work as quickly as possible? How can we make sure that the landlords and bosses keep making money, and those who work keep giving it to them?

And that’s why we’re in this fight now. Because those with power realize they need in person public schools to make our economy run. Not because they value our public education (hey, I wish it were otherwise), but because lots of workers are parents, and to send the parents back to work, our ruling class needs a place for their kids to go. That’s it. Nothing else. We know how doing this will literally kill and permanently injure hundreds if not thousands of  teachers and students in our area. How in-person school days will spike daily case counts in Cincinnati in ways that few other indoor gatherings can match. And it will absolutely traumatize  everyone forced into these spaces, forced to adhere to impossible guidelines, and constantly afraid of those they would otherwise trust. No learning can possibly get done under such conditions. But many people in these schools will have their futures smashed because.  Children who can’t obey them will be expelled. Teachers will snap under the stress and be fired. All so that the capitalist machine can stay greased, stay moving, no matter how many lives get ground up in the process.

But it’s WE the WORKERS who make it run, and at this rally, here and now, we are telling the school board, telling City Council that we don’t accept your inhumane agenda for our teachers and children, that we’re organized against it, that we stand united, and that you can’t make it happen without us!! We’re not going to let the school board divide parents being forced to work from teachers who don’t want to get sick. Instead, we’re going to organize together as working people, because we know that parents and students trust their teachers more than they trust corporate politicians like Mike DeWine, or John Cranley, or Donald J. Trump. In the last five years, teachers have organized for power around the country. They’ve organized for power in Chicago and LA and West Virginia and they’ve been able to do this because they didn’t just organize themselves, but all the parents and students in their districts, to fight for equitable, safe, and fully funded public schools, and that’s what we’re doing here today. The teachers can’t win this fight alone. Parents and students can’t win this fight alone. Our power to make the schools that we want, the society that we want, comes from all of us being organized and united against those who want to sacrifice our lives for their profits. For that to happen we need working-class organizations that can mobilize not just hundreds, or thousands, but millions for real change.

I’m a member of DSA because I believe that we can be that organization. Many of the most transformational teacher organizers around the country, including Hala right here, are DSA members. I’m asking each of you to join DSA (if you aren’t a member already) today so that we can build the multi-racial working-class organization that we have to build if we want to transform this country.

Because it’s not just about schools reopening. It’s about preventing the gutting of public schools that we know is coming because of this predatory economic crisis. It’s about defunding our racist police force and directing that funding back toward public services. It’s about building enough collective power to wrench our massively powerful nation away from endless wars and fossil fuels and toward solving climate change.

All of this might seem unrelated to the current fight. But I believe that this fight, right here, is a link in the chain of oppression and exploitation that holds all the others together. And if we can win this fight, then we can reach out to the parents still forced to go into work and say to them, “we don’t think you should be forced to go into work during this pandemic to survive either. And we’re willing to stand with you, fight with you, so that you’re not subject to this brutal choice, because we believe a better world is possible” And if we can organize and fight with them, and our students organize and fight, then we can unite the entire working class to secure decent, safe, and equitable public schooling for every single child in this country. No one else is coming to save us. Only we, the workers, have the power to create, for our children and grandchildren, the world we want, the world we desperately need, the only world, truly, with a future. Solidarity with CPS Teachers, parents and students. Let’s organize like hell and win.