The Chicago Public Schools Strike – Seen By Me

If you haven’t heard, the Chicago Teacher’s Union is participating in its first strike in 25 years. The dividing line is STRONG. Those who are adamantly FOR the teacher’s and those who aren’t.

I happen to be – for once in my life – right in the middle. As a parent I’m very concerned for the loss of days and the timing of the strike. As a volunteer in the cellists’ school, I KNOW how hard these teachers work, and how much they do with what little they have. As a parent, I wish that this would have been finalized before my child spent an entire month getting acclimated to new teachers, new schedules, new policies. As a volunteer, I know that no time is ever the “right” time.

Today I was serving jury duty (yeah, you read that right, one day AFTER my birthday – joy) and after dismissal, I was let out right into the streets into a sea of red shirts and placards. Many people were chanting and others seemed to be milling around hugging each other in support of the strike.

I felt…weird.

For someone who values education as much as I do, I felt that in all of this political bantering and requesting fair wages and classrooms conducive to learning, our children were STILL losing. While overcrowding and lack of textbooks don’t provide the environment that we need in so many schools across the city of Chicago, the children aren’t learning anything while school is out.

By no means does this mean that I support the Board fully either. I just wish that our children were not stuck in the middle of this. I don’t quite remember the strike of ’87, but I’m sure that it was the same story, different day. My parents had their parents around to help watch us. We were in a safe environment, we were in a neighborhood where everyone watched everyone else. That’s not so today.

And the protesters weren’t without protesters of their own. Several non-union supporters were downtown hurling insults back at the teachers. One particular individual made sure to call every teacher he passed “nothing but scum.” Another decided to hurl expletives at every red shirted individual he passed. This made the situation at hand all the more intense and uncomfortable for me.

I know that this is supposed to make the parents sweat enough to call down to the board of education to plead with CEO Brizard to settle on the contract that the CTU has set forth. Our children are out of school and we NEED them back in those seats. We’re falling behind so many other cities when we have the second largest school district in the NATION. It’s not right.

Now we have to sit and wait. Except in this Houseful, the cellist will be starting his own homeschool curriculum and hopefully, this mama can do him some sort of justice.

I happened to take a couple of photos of the signs that some of the teachers were carrying. I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Hopefully an agreement is reached soon. Hopefully.

9 comments

  1. Mayen says:

    I am saddened by the fact that the teachers had to go on strike to get something done. I agree that they should have “breaks”, or that they should be paid for work they do on their “breaks”.
    I used to work (unpaid) at our children’s school before homeschooling. I know there is more work for teachers than can fit in a paid school day.
    They need to be paid and they need more teachers or guaranteed volunteers in each class or at least in each grade level (that roam from class to class).
    I am truly saddened that it is the children that are missing school! :/

    • Mrs. Houseful says:

      Mayen,

      No one wants to volunteer anymore. Gone are the days where parents can mark papers or anything else because it’s filed under confidentiality. I hate that the city is in the midst of a strike. I hate that our teachers are not teaching, but what I hate most is that our children are not learning.

  2. Nicole says:

    Wow! I have family in Chicago who are middle of this as well. I got a message from my cousin saying there were protesters right outside her home and she could hear them from the bedroom window. That has to be a scary situation for everyone the teachers, parents and all. To keep the children in limbo is not right. I will share this post with her!

    • Mrs. Houseful says:

      Please share! It is pretty scary. Especially when you are fighting for what you believe in, and someone comes through and challenges your right to protest. First and foremost, I made sure that I was safe, but I loved getting the story. I may go back downtown today.

  3. Julie Hanson says:

    I liked the “We are teaching right now” sign. I am in the same boat as you in the sense that I have mixed feelings. However, I have to say I’m leaning more towards supporting/being proud of our teachers for refusing to be bullied around. I also know some teachers and am constantly amazed by the dedication and sheer amount of work they do in the “free” time. I do not like seeing this administration picking on the “little guys”. I do hope an agreement can be reached for the well-being of the kids. At my library we had double the amount of people in the building (compared to a typical Monday) and the kids were safe and definitely learning (we had board games galore). But I know that was just a fraction of the kids out there and it scares me to think of how many of them were unsupervised/unsafe.

    • Mrs. Houseful says:

      I’m mostly for the teachers as well. I just don’t like who they have at the helm of the negotiations, explaining things. She makes it very hard for under-involved or non-involved parents to understand exactly what’s going on. And of course, I’m pretty sure we know where I stand with Rahm Emanuel. Sometimes I feel like the ‘elite’ of the city are so out of touch with the folk who help them get there.

  4. Val says:

    I have to say that teachers get the raw end of the stick in terms of expectation levels. I commend anyone who can successfully manage to teach 20+ kids at a time and keep their sanity. I can barely keep up with my 3. Hopefully this will be resolved quickly. All the best to you all..
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  5. Emily says:

    Wow. I can really see the teachers’ perspective–one of those signs asked for a library in each school. I can’t imagine not having a library in the school. In your opinion, Natasha, are they asking for what isn’t there? Or can the city budget be adjusted to fill the need? What is being funded at the expense of public education? I’m sad that there is such need down there, but I am glad that you are up to the homeschool challenge.

    • Mrs. Houseful says:

      They are asking for the right stuff.Our city is broke according to the politicians. I’m not too fond of Rahm either. He cut our library hours by one full day earlier this year and then discontinued library pages. So books and videos and other stuff sat around until things were able to get filed by the already busy librarians and clerks. Now they have at least one page in each library and the hours have be re-enlisted. However, the librarians and the city supporters protested when the library was closed, so that they were able to provide services to the patrons. I believe that the teachers do need this and more. Charter schools (in my opinion) are doing more to hurt our budget line and expectations of teachers, students and principals. Teachers and Principals in the charter schools do NOT have to be certified and they can negotiate wage with them, therefore cutting out a lot of paying what people are worth. However, after seeing so many people I love and care for have to work more for less pay for years, I just feel that some belt tightening needs to happen EVERYWHERE. Including our city officials. It’s high time we stop putting actual education on the backburner, and start educating. I feel like our children are being held hostage in these negotiations and each day lost is so detrimental to their well being.

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