Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
Chicago teachers have been on strike for a week, and two other suburban areas have since followed suit. Predictably, the argument coming from critics of the CTU centers around teachers making too much money, putting children at risk while “whining” about pay, and teachers being some sort of self entitled class uninterested in hard work (re: lazy).
Given that the majority of Americans attended school at some point and more than likely, had at least a few good teachers who helped their education and changed their lives in some positive way, it’s already hard to imagine the cognitive dissonance it takes to make sweeping generalizations about a group of 30,000 people. But, critics of the CTU seem readily able to forget what the classroom looked like in their day with themselves on the other side of the podium, more than likely not always sitting still and paying attention. In which case, I would suggest those critics who have a fuzzy memory to ask a teacher – maybe one of their old ones – if their job was an incredibly easy cakewalk and if they felt they made too much money for doing it.
In talking to the teachers I have on the picket line, ones I’ve known and grown up with my whole life (some CTU and some not) and following very easily available analysis and demands, the short answer is, teaching isn’t a cakewalk, and most salaries aren’t enough. More importantly however, CTU teachers aren’t only talking about compensation. They’re talking about resources for students. Remember how stifling a hot unairconditioned classroom is on a 90 degree day? How easy do you think it is to keep a classroom of 40 engaged? How exactly should students be taught when books are unavailable? Fixing issues like these are just a few demands the CTU put forth to Mayor Emanuel and his administration. Moreover, in addition to scarce resources and a crumbling infrastructure, those teachers on the line have to educate students facing hunger, poverty, and violence in their daily lives.
Thousands of passionate and caring teachers have filled the streets for a week with parents and children standing with them in solidarity, marching not only on Chicago Public Schools headquarters, but in neighborhoods across the city. Pass any public school and chances are, you’ll find well crafted and clever signs with slogans like “Don’t starve our neighborhood schools” and “strike of force, not choice.” On the first day of the strike, teachers and supporters taped hundreds of notes to the street poles in front of City Hall saying why they’re fighting for Chicago’s schools. But rather than listen to the teachers, staff, students and parents, so many hang on the words of the mayor, top administrators, analysts or other “experts” who probably haven’t spent time in front of a classroom in years, if ever. At a rally in Grant Park this week, one speaker called the relationship between media and the mayor “public education by press release.” And so, much of the public still appears willing to take their word over that of experienced individuals from the field.
Read the full post at Diatribe Media.