This is a response to a fellow Chicago Now blogger Ray Salazar's recent post on his blog "The White Rhino: A Chicago Latino English Teacher."
The post can be read in it's entirety here http://www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino/2012/08/with-the-chicago-teachers-union-i-will-defend-my-profession/
I want start by thanking Mr. Salazar for his nearly 17 years in CPS classrooms. On behalf of all young Republicans, we thank you and all hard working teachers for taking up the call to teach the youth of our city.
I agree that teachers are taken for granted in our society. Teaching is a unique profession that requires the full hearts and souls of its practitioners. In Chicago, teachers are often dealt a particularly difficult hand because of inefficient bureaucracies that exist in both the Chicago Public Schools system and the Chicago Teachers Union system. These organizations offer little flexibility to good teachers and little support to those that struggle. In the end, both students and teachers are at a disadvantage due to the lack of innovation that comes out of the system as it is currently structured.
I also agree that the Mayor and CPS CEO Brizard have not done a great job negotiating a new contract.
However, Mr. Salazar's post said nothing about students. Not a word.
These negotiations are not about students. They never are. It's about money. It always is.
If it were about the students, CTU would start every press conference saying the average percentage of CPS students who meet or exceed state standards is 66%. The percentage of CPS 11th graders who meet college readiness benchmarks is 21% in Reading, 19% in Math, 11% in Science and 38% in English. If it were not all about the money, these would be the only numbers that would matter.
The CTU never explains why decades of increased compensation have failed to increase the educational outcomes for CPS students. They fail to offer a proposal that fundamentally changes the education system in Chicago for the betterment of both students and teachers. They fail to propose a transparent method of teacher evaluations to see if students are getting access to good educators.
Mr. Salazar states he is defending his profession in joining the CTU's call to strike. However, isn't every teacher's moral crusade to defend the right of students to learn from good teachers? And if so, how does a strike advance that cause?
It seems the CTU has completely given up on improving the educational outcomes of CPS students. They have proposed very few new ideas in this contract process aimed at aiding student outcomes. Their inevitable line is "if the kids can't learn it's not our fault. Blame the kids and blame the parents. Don't look at us."
I am pleading with Mr. Salazar and the teachers union not to strike. Please do not hold Chicago's youth hostage. Please do not demand a ransom.
If you want to protest outside CPS headquarters or pick a few members to picket outside schools, that's all fine. If you want to start a Super PAC and run TV ads, fine. But for the love of God, please do not punish students by turning your back on them. That is not defending your profession, its bullying those who have no one to represent them. It harms the most vulnerable in society. It is wrong.
I know this appeal will fall on deaf ears to the CTU leadership. However, Mr. Salazar seems dedicated to his profession and his students. My appeal is to him. From one citizen to one teacher. We all need to work together to bring our school system up to a high standard where every student graduates high school with an acceptance letter to college in hand. Walking out of a classroom that should be filled with young minds in a dispute about money is not the way to do that and it sends the wrong message to students.
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