Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Chicago Fight

UPDATE: I wrote this post yesterday afternoon and timed it to appear on today, September 19. Last night, I read that the strike has been suspended. It appears as though the union got some concessions, but it appears as though the plan to evaluate teachers by standardized test scores will remain. You can read about it here.




I am undecided about the concept of striking, especially when it involves students missing school. I don't believe there will be any make-up days for this. I don't think it is the best thing to do in light of that. However, I do believe that Chicago teachers are fighting for what they believe is right, and I believe that they are doing it on behalf of all public school teachers in the country. They are only asking for the things that the private schools who enroll the children of the reformers have. They include the following:


  • Reasonable class sizes
  • Electives (art, PE, music, etc.)
  • Well-maintained facilities
  • Restricting the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations
  • Restricting the unfettered expansion of unregulated charter schools


These are all things that teachers across the country are fighting to attain. It's unfortunate that the Chicago Teachers Union had to go this far, but something has to change in this "education reform" climate. As a nation, we have been doing the intense testing thing for the past ten years, yet these same reformers continue to complain about low our students are scoring on international exams. Their only answer is to increase the amount of testing and the consequences on teachers if test scores do not improve. The reformers love to call detractors supporters of the "status quo." However, testing is the status quo. This is a ten year endeavor that has done nothing but intensify with little to no results. 

Assuming that the No Child Left Behind provisions began in the 2002-2003 school year, the students who started kindergarten should now be in tenth grade. Are they performing better in reading, writing, math, and science than the children of the 1990s? According to the reformers own comments, the education system is only getting worse. If the system is only getting worse, then why have these reformers been able to maintain their credibility? 

Though striking is something I would be weary of doing myself, the political establishment needs to do a better job of involving teachers in educational decisions. Obviously, they weren't involved too much in Chicago, and this is the only way those teachers felt they could express their concerns.



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