Update Strike Ends
Chicago schools on Wednesday were once again filled with students.
Update Day 5
the Associated Press is reporting that a Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers. This will clearly be seen as good news to teacher unions in Chicago, Lake Forest, Illinois as well as workers in Wisconsin.
Today 9/14, the attorney for the teachers’ union, Robert Bloch, said that while both sides were continuing to work out the details; union officials were “hopeful” that they could complete an agreement they could take to delegates on Sunday for a vote.
“This has been one of the most difficult labor contracts negotiated in decades,” Robert said.
Karen Lewis,the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, speaking to thousands teachers at a downtown rally stated “The revolution will not be standardized. The assault on public education started here. It needs to end here.”
Her comments were meant to address the highly contested proposed changes to teacher evaluation and tenure policies.
Chicago is America’s third-largest school system, with more than 400,000 students enrolled. As of today the majority of of registered Chicago voters still seem to be behind the teachers. A poll confirmed support for the striking facility was at 47 % while 39% opposed. If the strike continues past next week, school sports teams will need to forfeit games putting some Student Athletes in danger of losing college scholarships.
After 25 years without a strike, Chicago public school teachers are out walking the picket line. Both sides were working up till the last minute on Sunday night each believing that there was a reasonable chance for a settlement. Hopes of parents were raised when they saw both sides working straight through the weekend, conducting talks that the union said were productive and the fact that the two sides were not far apart on the issue of compensation.
However, in the end, the negotiations collapsed over other issues, such as teacher’s wanting to maintain current health insurance benefits and a newly instituted teacher evaluation plan based in significant part on student’s standardized test scores.
This is a difficult decision and one we hoped we could have avoided,” she said. “We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis ”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, never one to speak softly, was visibly upset with the union’s decision, particularly since he felt that the side were actually rather close.
“This is not a strike I wanted,” . “It was a strike of choice … it’s unnecessary, it’s avoidable and it’s wrong.”Emanuel said in a late-night press conference.
All of this confusion left parents scrambling to figure out what to do with their children come Monday morning. “I have to be at work at 8:30 I can’t afford to miss a week or more of work, and I can’t leave my 9, 12 and 14 years old kids home alone”, said a mother of 3 CPS students.
As an employer, we understand the pressure that this places on parents who are torn between obligations at work and home.We have times where one or more of our employees will bring their children to work, rather than take days off or leave children home alone.
It is my hope that the strike will end quickly. I understand the positions of both sides. Teacher hold an important place in preparing our children to be successful contributing members of our nation. They deserve to be well paid, but I’m not sure that the city has the funds. Teachers must be accountable, just like workers in any other job, but we need a fair way to make those determinations.
Standardized test scores are great in a world of “Standardized children”. The problem is not all students start off at the same place. For some schools going to a 30% dropout rate would be a major improvement, at other schools, parents would be mortified if the dropout rate was even 10%. Schools like Payton, Northside, Whitney or other selective enrollment and honors programs are filled with the city’s smartest kids; so there is no excuse for the scores NOT being impressive. Other teachers find themselves in classes of 28 kids, gang-bangers, kids who are malnourished, maybe homeless, then we are surprised when the scores are so different.
That is a bit like saying “Wow, I can’t believe your Ford Escort cant keep up with a Ferrari.”
Maybe we should base teachers evaluation on level the of improvement that students experience.
Unions are not the problem. Teachers are not over paid. Get the class sizes down to 20, and watch scores rise. Problem is that costs money, more money than Chicago has available.
Only take the smartest kids, watch scores soar, but what about the rest of the children?
No these problems are not easy, but if we want to stay a world power, we are going to have to invest in education, while also holding teaches accountable. lets hope that the strike will end soon, and that it will be at least another 25 years without a strike