Now we find ourselves with the situation in Chicago. Faced with questions as to who and how they can be removed from their classrooms, teachers have chosen instead to walk out of their classrooms at the onset of the school year. People who don’t understand the amount of work or stress teachers endure under even ideal circumstances feel that teachers are crybabies and undeserving of striking. They claim teachers only work 2/3s of the year (untrue teachers work constantly, and mostly off the clock), and that with their summers off and cushy hours they have no right to complain. I challenge anyone to manage a classroom of 30 to 40 eight year olds for seven hours, without intense planning for almost as many hours per day. Teachers spend their time and money honing their craft, researching their lesson plans, and making their classroom environments as comfortable and nurturing to students as possible—however the movement for privatization seeks to run a business of teaching children—one that is measured by a standard that is more appropriate to cars or shirt buttons than education.
The teachers in Chicago are fighting for their students. They are fighting for better schools, not corporate ones. The teachers in Chicago are fighting for the integrity of their profession and the quality of education they can impart onto children. Their fight is about the ability to teach what needs to be taught and not boxed curriculum published by a company in corporate alliance with the charter parent organization; their fight is teach students the skills they need to be successful, not the skills they need to successful on a standardized test. Their fight is to keep alive the best bet we have as a nation to stay in the forefront of economically, scientifically, and militarily. Without our education system and our educators willing to stand up for their students we are truly sunk. The Chicago teachers are protesting even though they will lose some of their classroom consistency for every day they are out—but for every day this “reform” agenda moves forward there is another strike against the future of our children, students, and country.
As a union member, a parent, and a teacher I wholeheartedly support the struggle to keep public school public, teachers secure, and children learning. Anyone who claims that these teachers are failing their students (I’m looking at you Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Romney), you clearly don’t understand the issue—or you understand it better than you are letting on.