Will Chicago Students Benefit From the Teacher's Strike?
The teacher’s strike in Chicago is over. Parents held hostage over the disputes are now able to return to work, and children grounded at home (after only just starting school) are able to return.
It seems that a compromise was made that would increase school days, increase pay for teachers, and would count student test scores in teacher evaluations.
It is not predicted that the huge number of teachers who came out to protest this past week in Chicago and their unwillingness to budge until an agreement they considered reasonable was presented, will inspire unions nationwide to follow suit or to get politicians to address the problems facing this country’s educational system.
As a parent I feel that I want to pick and choose items for both sides. I am not sure that I would want my children to go to school for more hours than they already do – because I think there is more to education than what is offered in the classroom. But I do want the standards for evaluation of teachers’ performance to be raised and I don’t want seniority to be the reason why a bad teacher can continue to teach. I want smaller classrooms and for my children to have all the supplies that they need. I want the teacher who deserves it to get paid more, and though I understand the need for unions and the protection and voice they serve – I want a teacher who thinks independently. Not a member of the group think herd that is constricted by union rules and limitations.
I am losing faith in our educational system. It had already started to fade from the moment I moved out of the United States and to the Dominican Republic years ago. I was told I had to repeat a grade because the level of education I had thus far received from good ol’ America didn’t meet the standards of a third would country. It baffled me that what I was always told to believe was the greatest country in the entire world couldn’t keep up with the levels of education of so many other countries.
Our children already spend more time in the classroom preparing for tests (no doubt tests that will help keep the teachers employed now) and not enough time actually learning anything of value – like computers and math, and yes, foreign languages and global studies – things that they actually need to make it in this ever-changing world.
Everyone says that they are fighting for our children. And in some cases, when I meet my children’s teachers and talk to them one-on-one, I believe that they are – that the one individual person who writes to me and talks to my child and grades his papers and motivates him to focus and participate – I believe SHE wants what is best for my child and that she is most connected with what I want to. But somewhere up the chain of command our voices are not being heard. People are trying to win fights and elections. People are trying to claim victory and cash checks.
All the while making it harder and harder for the teachers to do what they set out to do, let alone love doing, and for kids to learn.
I have to wonder, when all the dust settles and kids find a normal pace in school again, will Chicago find that our kids are truly better off for it. Or will anyone bother to notice?