Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Give the Kids a Break
Well, here we are in the second week of the Chicago Teachers Strike and the beat goes on. Despite the striking teacher's best efforts to keep the children's welfare in the forefront of the debate, the critics have been doing their best to portray the teachers as money grabbing ($76K avg. OMG we are almost milliionares) slackers who simply put in their time in (not enough of it apparently) without regard to the educational responsibilities that go with being a teacher. I dunno, maybe they never had a Miss Crabtree in their sorry lives. Some of these critics should spend a day in one of the inner city classrooms that the striking teacher's decry. Maybe if they spent the day in an over-crowded room, without the benefits of an air-conditioner, trying to get the intellectual engagement of forty, hungry, ten year-old kids who are sharing a seat and a textbook, they would perhaps see that the "working environment"of teachers is the "learning environment" of the students. Perhaps, just perhaps, one of these critics would see that the teachers struggle is for the benefit of the children in their care. Every issue at hand, from the teacher evaluation to hiring formalities will, in the end, impact the students. Teachers already know the political dynamics of how teacher evaluation will effect not only their status in the system but also how this evaluation framework can be devised to essentially dismantle public education and the mandate that all children have access to quality public schools and teachers. This is more than a struggle for wages and benefits that might normally be the focus of a striking union. Teachers are different - you can't measure our effectiveness by looking at the bin to see how many widgets we assembled during the hour. And just because some private edu-enterprize devises a self-serving system of evaluating teachers or the skills teachers employ in education, it does not mean that the teachers are going to buy into that system especially when it is exposed as intellectually bogus, misleading and serves neither the teachers nor the students affected. Enough is enough - it is time to forcefully inform those who look to portray us as "cry babies who get so much for putting out so little", that we will not back down, will not be bullied into submission and we will continue to fight for quality public education, for funding in distressed communities and dammit, to put a piano in every music classroom so we don't miss out on the next Frank "Sugar Chile Robinson".