The Chicago Teacher Strike Taught Me a Few Lessons
While it may be a distant memory for many people across the nation, the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike is still fresh in my mind. Why? Because, not only do I happen to be a product of the Chicago Public School (CPS) System, but my son is currently a student.
My son is in 7th grade, a benchmark year for most students. The performance during this year will have a huge impact on their choice of high schools. While my son has been an honor roll student for his entire life, I did not want ANYTHING to wreck his chances of being accepted into a great high school. During the eight days of valuable learning that my son lost because of the strike, I experienced several emotions: disappointment, hope, support (not fully), anger, sadness, resolution. Although I struggled with the strike and it’s impact on my son, I learned a few things from it.
The strike taught me that I am not only my son’s first teacher, but also his main one. I cannot rely on his teachers at school to be his only educational source. I must be there to fill in the gaps. I’ve always been an advocate for my children’s education (I homeschool my younger kids), but the strike made me change my game plan. Now, I “sneak” lessons into our after school activities. Whether it is extra math during dinner time, or a great literature discussion while sitting on our couch, we make learning an integral part of our lives. We’ll even learn while we’re out on “family trips” which double as field trips for my youngest, and times for me to STRETCH my son’s thinking.
The strike taught me that unions will always have an upper hand in public education in Chicago. I don’t belong to a union, and neither should my son’s academic life.
But most importantly, the strike taught me that I can never go on strike when it comes to preparing my children for their future.
Natasha Nicholes is a native Chicagoan and a mom of four. She writes the blog Houseful of Nicholes.
The Chicago Teacher Strike Has Made it Harder for Teachers to Get the Respect They Deserve
My wife was a teacher, my stepdad is a teacher, and my in-laws were teachers and administrators. All of them showed incredible dedication to the profession and did all they could to help students learn.
My wife would spend countless hours grading papers, contacting parents, and helping kids before and after school. Her dedication to her students made me realize that teaching is not a 9-5 job. But regardless of their hard work, teachers are rarely positively recognized for the job they do.
That’s why I closely monitored the Chicago teacher strike. People were quick to vilify the teachers for being greedy and not caring about the student’s welfare. I must admit that this was my initial reaction. But when I learned more about the issues, I started to understand both sides a little better. I was still bothered by the fact that the students and parents were suffering while the parties sorted out their disagreements. I personally believe that civil servants such as firefighters, police officers and teachers shouldn’t be allowed to strike, but I realize that it is a form of leverage that often gets results.
I won’t go into the issues, but I will say that teachers, unions, administrators, and politicians need to figure out ways to improve or educational system without dragging each other through the mud. If this type of behavior continues, people will lose faith in our system and the entire country will suffer because of our inability to do what’s right for our children’s education.
I’m glad that the teachers are finally back at work and the students are back in the classroom. However, I’m disappointed that the profession that my family has dedicated their lives to has received another black eye.
Question: What are your thoughts on the Chicago Teacher Strike?