Students could bear biggest burden among CTU strike
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 18:11
If there’s one thing Chicagoans should agree on it’s this: education is important.
But the intricate details on a bucket list of important issues in Chicago’s education school system isn’t so easy of a situation to come to terms with.
Just ask public school teachers.
Up until last week, members of the Chicago Teachers Union hadn’t gone on strike in 25 years. But after months of trying to work out a contract deal on issues like wages, longer school days, and pensions the entire world saw Chicago teachers take to the picket line.
Many Chicago teachers, led by CTU President Karen Lewis’ heavy-handed leadership, feel they need more qualified teachers, better books, and more money. But officials certainly don’t have trees with money growing on them anywhere around the city - just ask Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
So while CPS and the CTU continue to hash out an agreement, you may find yourself asking the question of who’s right and who’s wrong. The answer depends on which side of the table you are on - literally. But one thing is certain: once again students are going to bear the biggest burden of this entire strike.
For example, the strike in the nation’s third-largest school district could have unintended consequences for Chicago students whose dreams are tied to their action on the playing field, according to Barbara Rodriguez of the Associated Press. In her article, “Chicago teachers strike carries risks for young athletes,” Rodriguez spoke with a few high school seniors who said that they understand how a teachers strike could cause them a few missed high school football practices and games.
“Football is basically my way to get into college,” said Deandre Welch, a CPS student highlighted in the story. “I’m applying to schools, and some are asking for film of my senior games. If the strike continues, I won’t be able to send in that film.”
According to the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, reading scores of Chicago’s largest minority population, African-American students, has not improved in the past two decades highlighted in columnist Doug MacEachern’s article “Teachers’ strike in Chicago not about kids.”
That column also pointed out that during the 1970s, Chicago teacher-union strikes were a regular occurrence; in fact, the nation was “racked by 298 large-scale strikes that involved more than 1,222,000 workers idled for a collective 21 million work days.”
Chicago teachers have only been on strike for one week, but when I spoke with high school senior students on day one, they told me they were frustrated – worried that all this striking, in all of its glorious solidarity, could prevent them from graduating on time.
And amid all the chanting and drum banging, is anyone thinking about those students? Don’t they deserve a chance to have a successful graduation and an exciting college orientation that starts on time?
It’s a chance that many of us got – don’t they deserve the same?
So, while we sit on the edge of our seats waiting and wondering just exactly when the strike will be over, and under what terms, say a little prayer for Chicago public school students - one that their load be lightened and not burdened by tough negotiations between adults.