As a union member within my capacity as a law enforcement officer, I applaud negotiations. I am all for fair wages, healthcare and accountability in the workplace. I am all for getting a raise! What I am angry about, involving this Chicago Teacher Union Strike, is the claim that this “is for the kids“. It says, without saying, “If I am happy, your kids will be happy.” That is a fair assessment and may even be true, but children being educated is a natural born right. Any interference therein is an abomination. Period.
Children belong in the classroom, not on the Chicago streets as target practice.
Has everyone forgotten we are in the throws of a horrible spike in gun violence?
The displays of signage where there is name-calling, derogatory commentary about Mayor Rahm Emanuel or other officials, is juvenile and points directly to what is wrong in our violent city. Where is the professionalism? The taunting, the strike lines where the kids are participating holding up vile sayings, further perpetuates the “Tail-gate” mentality so alive here in Chicago. These debates have become classless and negate what we are trying to teach the kids regarding conflict resolution. The CTU’s vs The Chicago Public Schools is not a homecoming game or a Superbowl. There are real consequences here. Seniors who might be late turning in final transcripts, missing scholarships opportunities or worse, not being prepared for ACT/SAT, playing games and missing scouts, stats, and offers!
As I drove home down Laramie at Harrison, on Chicago’s disenfranchised West Side … you know, the side of town where no one is considering them in these talks. Where crime rates are extremely high, where my caseload bubbles at the seams, and where kids truly rely on education to propel them from their circumstances, I saw at least 10 young men on the CPS fields attempting some semblance of practicing football. They had their formations, hut and the ball would sail, only to have no one else there to direct them and give them what they need right now, which is help and incentive, tools and guidelines to grow. Where, on the West Side, can those who want to test new theory or engage in intellectual conversation simulate their plays? These kids deserve better.
The Chicago Moms participated in a conference call with Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chief Education Advisor this morning with an open mind, in the hope that my own personal distaste for the strike would be dispelled. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on where you stand, our conversation only re-affirmed my belief that this strike is detrimental on so many levels.
Reading is fundamental (just had to throw that in) and in receiving several press emails aimed at getting Chicago’s Teacher’s Union’s message out, I learned a lot. In particular, yesterday Stacie Davis Gates, Political Activities, of CTU emailed me the major points still outstanding: Pay Fairness, Protect our benefits, Fair Evaluation Procedure, Teacher Training, Timetable for air conditioning, Fair recall procedure for laid off teachers and Fair compensation for a longer school year.
So, in our conference call with Ms. Byrd-Bennett, I was happy to see her take all of these issues to task, many without being prompted! Teachers will obviously be compensated with what budget allows for and with benefits. The Fair Evaluation, we learned, is an issue that both parties previously negotiated on in 90 hours of meetings! This evaluation is based on a state mandate known as PARA (Performance Evaluation Reform Act 2010). This process is an ongoing, collaborative, 5 year process. Do children have to be out of school as this mandate plays out?
Chicago Public Schools stance is that there will be no willingness to lower the calibration that determines standard. The Charlotte Danielson rubric is based on research, not Rahm, as propaganda in the news might lead us to believe. Giving principals autonomy to hire is being disputed by CTU. Do our kids really need to be at the receiving end of this argument?
“Proficiency and excellence” as Ms. Byrd-Bennett exclaimed is a core belief of many parents and staff alike, as well as, I am sure, by the members of the CTU. So let us all pipe down the rhetoric, the name-calling and street mentality that some are using to showcase their anger and frustration about what is going on in our education system. Do it for our kids. Show them how we would all like to see them behaving the next time they have a dispute or are even at a sporting event or game. The display I saw, while beautiful because of the numbers, lacked class. Failing to accomplish a vision, that we can all applaud, simply affirms that even more kids will end up in the criminal justice system where I am employed, and believe me, no one wants that.