Posts Tagged ‘Chicago teachers strike’

PSAT for 9-18-12: Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

It has been a wild few days in Chicago. I was away for most of the time and got my news from a combination of WGN and the local Phoenix stations and newspaper.

It was clear that the local story was incredibly rich and the national story was incredibly thin.

National news fixated on how much Chicago teachers make, and how many students drop out. I had to tweet sharply to ABC News for claiming that Chicago charter schools are better than traditional schools.

When I got back and read all the local papers, I was astonished at the depth and breadth of the coverage. You’d think education had something to do with sports! Every columnist seemed chimed in, and some of them were actually saying some reasonable things.

So, while we wait with fingers crossed for a good outcome (whatever that means to you beyond having our children back in school), take some time to look back at the remarkable week when Chicago’s media, Chicago as a city actually meaningfully talked together about education.

CTU striking for better schools

Monday, September 10th, 2012

It seems very odd to be in Phoenix getting my mom settled back into her home after a summer with us, rather than in Chicago where all the action is.

But the whole world IS watching, and it’s not because the whole world really cares that much about a local city labor dispute. It’s because this is a fight about the very nature of public education and the needs of middle class families.

Read this letter by Teacher X’s (the amazing Xian Barrett) to JC Brizard for a powerful take on what’s at stake. Here’s a taste.

  • When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.
  • When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.
  • When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.
  • When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there‚Äôs no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

Even though my marching shoes have gotten a little dusty, I’d be out there today.

My sons were in preschool and second grade during the last CTU strike. I didn’t know much about school politics then (ah… so young!), but I supported the teachers then, and became aware soon afterwards how much changed as a result of that strike – most notably, the creation of local school councils.

I hope and believe that we will look back on this strike with the same sense of pride in what we did here in Chicago. My dream is that this movement will bring about an elected school board for our city, the establishment of an independent training center for local school councils (let’s name it in honor of Don Moore), class size limits and parental testing opt-out rights enacted in state law, a moratorium on school closings, and, yes, air conditioning in every school!

I’m so proud of the CTU and of the parents, students and community members who have rallied around them. There’s a REAL “Won’t Back Down story, folks.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.