07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September is back to school time...not!

My kind of town. Chicago

Hi there!! It's B. A. Binns again, here with the Genre-Istas for September. (You know, back-to-school time)

My alma mater
I am shifting gears a little, from writers to readers; past, present and future.  I live in the Chicago area. I spent most of my life in the city, although I reside in the suburbs now. I went to one of the Chicago Public High Schools, although my Alma Mater is now called a Career Academy, and I have fond memories of haunting its halls, and working hard for my teachers - ok, for most of them. Some of the time, anyway. Come on, I was a typical teen)

Last month our city held the annual Bud Biliken Day parade. It's a giant, open-air, back-to-school celebration.  Parents and kids were happy. They wanted to head back to school. Kids want to learn. Student athletes, artists, performers, all want to be there displaying their talents. Seniors want to prepare for college. The summer break was fun, but most kids understand a little thing called a future.  They want to be in school.

But they can't. The Chicago Teachers Union declared a strike that started on Monday.

I write for Young Adults. Most of my stories are set in Chicago, in a made-up school on the south side. My teachers and students are as real as I can make them. I care about kids of all ages. I raised a daughter, and watched many nieces and nephews grow up. I know the union and the board of education have differences. But these kids belong in school. And the ones trying to get to the safe havens the city has set up should not have to cross a picket-line first.

I am not anti-teacher.  My sister teaches in the Chicago school system. One of my greatest joys is visiting schools and talking to students. Really, call me and I will happily set something up because I visit schools all the time.  But I am not ambivalent about this strike, I think it's wrong. It will hurt much more than it will help. And it's hurting the most powerless people on the totem pole. Statistics say that 350,000 students are out of school, apparently for the foreseeable future

Concerned grade school parents
and students
I'm not an education expert. As I said, I am just a former student and the mother of a (thank God) former student. But I can see that the people being hurt the most by this are the students and their parents.  They are also the people who are allowed absolutely no input into the process. Parents are left scrambling to find alternative care for their children while struggling to keep jobs so they can pay rent and feed those kids.

From what I hear, the two major sticking points appear to be teacher job evaluations and re-hiring laid-off teachers when new positions open up.  Come on union and board, surely you can keep working to resolve those issues AND keep working in the classroom to help the students and their parents. Show the kids that you really do love and respect them and continue to teach while you negotiate. Be like doctors: First, do no harm.

The teachers union says teachers love their students. This strike is supposed to help show that love. Teacher's say they are striking for the students. They insist the kids will understand that their teachers are striking to get the kids a better education, not just for their own job security.

I'm sorry. I'm an adult, and I don't understand. And I can see kids saying how can this be love? Can anyone explain this to me? Or explain how the seven-year-old who wanted to spend time with his or her new teacher and impress them with their skill will benefit from the extra "vacation" so they have time to forget even more?

By: TwitterButtons.com


Judith Ashley said...

Thank B.A. for clarifying what the main sticking points are in the teacher's strike. I'm always ambivalent about strikes because I believe if both sides come to the table wanting to solve the problem it can be done. However, I also know that in the real world not everyone wants to solve the problem if they have to 'give up' anything.

And, I wonder if the Teacher's Union has thought of how this is playing out in the states where the goal is to bust all unions starting with those representing public sector workers.

Sarah Raplee said...

As a former teacher, I understand the union's frustration, but I agree that in the long run, this particular strike is likely to erode the teachers' base of support.

My heart goes out to the parents that don't have quality childcare available that they can afford. How many children are at risk of abuse or neglect as a result of this strike?

I, too, am saddened and frustrated at the thought of all those eager,disappointed children losing time in the classroom they won't easily make up.

As you said, B.A. - First, do no harm.

Diana Mcc. said...

Ditto, what Judith and Sarah said! Too bad Grown ups don't know how to play nice. Arbitration and keep on working.

B. A. Binns said...

The strike is now in it's second week, 400,000 students are still without an education. The Union votes later today on a new proposal. I hope they finally get it that a negotiation does not mean you get everything you want and that the kids and their parents need them. Surely that need has to count for something.

Judith Ashley said...

I agree, B.A., kids need to be in school to learn and parents need to know their kids are safe. Fingers crossed!