Teachers’ Strike: It’s Not Over

THE STRIKE CONTINUES

The photo above is an accurate depiction of how I have felt each morning since the Teachers’ strike began.  The shift to school deployment is difficult on many levels, the most important being the anxiety and shame I feel when crossing the union picket line.  Many find it odd when I mention the shame aspect.  After all, I was ordered to cross the picket line by administration or face the ramification of disciplinary actions and unpaid days (we are not allowed to use benefits days to avoid deployment). It was not my choice. I believe the shame is a consequence of having my choice taken away from me, thereby making me feel just as much a victim as the children and parents who have had no choice but to rearrange their lives as a result of the strike.

SCHOOL IS A SAFE HAVEN FOR MANY KIDS

It has been several years since I’ve attended highschool but I remember the safe haven it provided.  The routine of daily schedules, friendships, classes and activities.  What saddens me the most is that there are thousands of students for whom school offers the most safe and stable environment.  It is the place where they receive expectations and guidance, feedback and motivation.  Supporting all this is nourishment students receive via regular meals, counseling and peer activities which help to build their confidence and hope for the future.

THE STATS

The common concern many parents express to me pertains to student safety.  With the sky rocketing crime rates in Chicago, we worry about the children who no longer have school as a safe haven.   We worry that some parents will soon run out of options for childcare and will begin leaving their children without supervision or in less than ideal situations.

According to a recent Chicago Tribune editorial, “Now, with the district facing a second year of deficits hovering around $700 million, major funding cuts have been made to initiatives designed to help the most troubled children, according to social service agencies that work with at-risk CPS students.

Because of a loss of federal stimulus money, a mentoring program serving about 2,200 students lost 64 percent of its funding last school year — nearly $10.7 million. This summer, the church-based Safe Haven program is seeing a $665,000 cut — 40 percent fewer churches are participating, and many report they’ve been asked to slash their budgets in half or solicit donations.”

My hope is that no children are hurt during this crisis.  I’ve been told not to worry because children are resilient.  “They’ll bounce back”, people say.   They may bounce back but they will not forget.  For those students most in need, school has now become another part of their life that is uncertain and temporary.

Sources:

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  I am a strong believer in individual accountability and collective action.  When not reading, working or blogging, I’m supporting my favorite charities: Teen Living Programs where I am a volunteer and Executive Board member and YWCA Chicago where I am an Associate Board Member. I am passionate about causes related to supporting youth, women and families. Particularly in the areas of education, social services and housing. I can be reached at sherryclayton78@gmail.com if you would like to know more about my charities or the blog.

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Categories: Professional Development

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4 replies

  1. I don’t belive the strike is over money. The strike appears to be over the evaluation system that was introduced by President Obama and backed by the Chicago Mayor (Race to the Top). In point of fact the IEA was an instrumental player in the introduction of the new evaluation system state wide. I’m having a hard time seeing why there is a strike in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, I was not in favor of the new system, at least not given the limited training and short timelines for implementation. In point of fact, evaluators are required to obtain certification or they can not evaluate…even though the system may not be fully implemented until FY 2016. Chicago Public schools have a shorter timeframe. Defining student growth by test scores may not always be the best measure of growth. Good luck and I hope you will get the peace of mind that you seek.

    • Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for your comments. It is an incredibly complex situation. At what point can we draw the line between teacher performance and student outcomes? I think the bargaining parties have tentatively agreed on 30%. There are so many complex interdependencies which determine how well a student will perform in school or if they will show up at all. Perhaps the concern is that if we lower the bar, the performance will lower to match.

      The question is, how do we get everyone to try harder? I’m talking about students, parents, teachers, community organizations, businesses, etc. I see so much good being done on a small scale but partnerships do not happen often enough. At this point in the game, our neighborhoods and schools are in such dire straits that it will take more than one community or organization to solve this problem. Our entire city must come together to save the children.

  2. 「Over 87% of CPS student families are classified as low-income 」 It is miserable.

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