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.
- 319 CPS students were shot last school year (ending June 15, 2012). 24 of those injuries were fatal.
- 10,000+ students are living in temporary living situations (time not spent in shelters or on the streets is spent in class and in after school programs)
- Over 87% of CPS student families are classified as low-income and thereby qualify for (and need) free and reduced meals (breakfast and lunch) provided by CPS
- 50,000 students, including autistic students, depend on special instruction.
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.
- Number of Homeless Students Surges (Chicago Sun-Times, September 17 2012)
- CPS Program: Students in Temporary Living Situations
Chicago court delays Emanuel’s bid to put striking teachers back to work (Fox News, September 16, 2012)
- Number of CPS Students Shot Increases, as Does Fear of More to Come (Chicago Tribune)
- If the Teachers Say No (Chicago Tribune, September 17, 2012)
- Issues at Center of Contract Negotiations (Chicago Tribune, September 17, 2012)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about my charities or the blog.
Categories: Professional Development