Striking Chicago educators have received their share of criticism but political hip hop group Rebel Diaz is giving teachers some lyrical praise in their new track, "Chicago Teacher". The two brothers, Rodrigo "RodStarz" and Gonzalo "G1" Venegas, who make up Rebel Diaz currently run a community arts center in the South Bronx, but grew up on Chicago's North Side and attended the city's public schools. On top of thanking the teachers that taught them reading, writing, and music, they offer some real talk commentary on the hot button education policy issues that are at the heart of the strike.
In the first verse, Rodstarz gets to the nitty gritty of oft-voiced critiques of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, standardized testing, and corporate influence in education with lines like:
"Rahm's a fake pretender with a corporate agenda
Neo Liberal Offender, of course you offend us!
This ain't about money! That’s far from the truth,
they want better work conditions to teach the youth."
"Top down education...Chicago—the birthplace
And now its spreading nationwide all over the place
They don’t teach us how to think they teach us how to test!
they teach us how to work to put money in they checks!
The CEOS need to get up out the classroom
before these streets get hotter than the sand in Cancun!"
The second verse by G1 goes even harder:
"Too many children left behind
by this corporate assembly line
how they privatize?
education is a human right!
and they kids gon' be fine
they send em to private schools
while ours get sent to prison
or given a job servin' fast food
so it gets treated like a business
bought and sold
by businessmen turned politicians
so if Rahm was the chief of staff
and Arne Duncan got his start
in Chicago sellin' off
the education system
then Obama gotta respond
the teachers or the corporations?
Which side is he on?"
The Obama administration and Secretary Duncan have had no official statement on the strike, only expressing that they hope it ends quickly. Despsite the tentative deal between the school district and the union, the teachers are continuing the strike for a second week. Union delegates say they need more time to get feedback from the membership. Emanuel's vowing to get a court order to force teachers back to work. One thing's for sure, whenever and however the strike ends, the issues Rebel Diaz is rhyming about aren't going away anytime soon.