Why I Didn't Write About the CTU Strike...

Chicago Public School teachers are on strike. There hasn’t been a strike in 25 years. This is national news…everyone is blogging about it. (even fellow ChicagoNow comedic bloggers, “Lists that Actually Matter”)

What kind of education blogger sits this one out?

The number of issues and angles to a potential story are overwhelming—maybe I am suffering from “analysis paralysis” …maybe that has been the excuse for the politicians, administrators, unions, and teachers for lack of progress in education reform for decades.  Does anybody remember that report  A Nation At Risk ...from 1983?

Hmmm... do I write about:

Privatization of public education
Charter Schools
Hardships on parents during the strike
Merit Pay/Teacher Evaluation
Standardized testing
Respect for teachers
Power of the unions
Effect on Rahm Emanuel’s re-election/Democratic party
Pritzker’s Getting TIF Money that Could Have Gone to Schools (one my CPS teacher friends advised “Look it up, it's really sad”)
Paul Ryan actually supporting Rahm Emanue
l (what is the world coming to?)
Inequities of School Funding

This list could go on and on...and it does!

As a former teacher, I completely understand the frustration of not having adequate tools and means to do your job (from textbooks, air conditioning, social workers, to a roof that doesn't leak and  safe schools ). I don’t think it is fair to evaluate a teacher on standardized test scores when so many other factors are in play in regards to a student’s background (parental involvement,  poverty, hunger).

I do think a longer day was necessary for Chicago. The day was much too short and you simply can’t “fit” everything in to your school day. Something has to give.

I agree with teachers and parents, you simply don’t just lengthen the day without having something constructive in place. Cuts to art, music, physical education, recess and library have affected the quality of the student’s education.

It is all extremely complicated but the children caught in the middle are foremost on my mind.

In a recent NBC broadcast covering the strike in Chicago, Rhema Ellis said “80% of the students rely on breakfast and lunch” from the Chicago Public Schools. That is staggering. It speaks volumes to the larger issues that need to be addressed as a nation.

Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save The Children stated that 25% of the United State’s children now live in poverty in a recent radio broadcast. Over the last 40 years the poverty rate has been on the rise. He went on to say that other countries are committed to making early childhood education a priority. The United States is surpassed by China and India in this area. Shriver posed the question, “as a country, are kids really a priority?”

Kids have no political voice…parents, teachers, politicians, unions, and policymakers need to work together to be sure their needs are the real priority.

After all is said and done and the strike is settled…will the plight of the children improve? I hope so!

Please comment, tweet, share, or contact me at lisa.schoolzone@gmail.com


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  • Appreciated references to topics for consideration. Tough problem here, important one but lots of angles.

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    My name is Lisa Stiegman and I have been a Chicago area resident all my life. Besides being the mother of three children, I have been a writer, editor, and teacher.

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