CPS teachers' strike: Explaining labor unions to preschoolers

When the bell rung and doors flew opened at our Chicago public school yesterday, a teacher yelled, "check the news!" and 20 preschoolers filed out to their parents with serious looks on their faces. First, they were adorable. I just love seeing toddlers in giant backpacks that make them look like ninja turtles. One little boy marched almost military-style to his mom with arms outstretched with the Very Important Letter the students had been instructed to take home. It was a strike letter.

I never thought I'd have to explain labor unions to my three-year-old, but you know what? I think she got it. Unions are groups that look out for safety and fairness for workers. Teachers are workers. They love their students and love to teach, but their union is upset with their situation right now and so the teachers might go on strike. Strike? Oh, that's when the union decides the workers will stop working until everything is better. But teachers love school! And kids love teachers! We might have to take a break though.

Maybe it's wrong I'm a little excited about the strike. Rather, I'm not doom and gloom about it. If the teachers strike, well, I'd rather miss school a few days and have happy people in charge of my child than hand her over to disgruntled workers. Have you ever been a disgruntled worker? I do not envy the table who sat down after a party of six stiffed me on a steak dinner during my waitressing days.

The other benefit of a teacher strike is the aforementioned learning opportunity. Granted, my child is in preschool which boils down to story time and coloring so we don't have to worry about the problems that face the upper grades: interrupted testing schedules, delayed test results for college-bound seniors, crunched teacher recommendations and lost time on lesson plans, to name a few. We parents of little ones get to seize this as a life experience.

Chicago is trying to go in the direction of better education and more hours in the classroom. Conflict with teachers is an inevitable a growing pain. I hope the CPS and CTU can agree soon. And if they can't? We'll be here learning about labor unions in the meantime.

My kid coming out to greet me after school yesterday

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