Chicago Teacher Strike Might Finally Be Over -- Who Wins? (VIDEO)

This Just In 52

empty classroomLate Friday a tentative agreement was reached between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city's school board. This means 350,000 students may be able to return to school on Monday if everyone can agree to agree on the things they have apparently agreed to agree upon. Not a lot of which is public yet.

CNN sites a source close to the negotiations saying some of the terms include "keeping the current length of school year and school day; giving principals the freedom to hire their own teachers; and, chief among the dispute's sticking points, updating the teacher evaluation system for the first time in 40 years."

So while there is clearly a lot on the table for these teachers, I am very conflicted over their ability to strike in the first place -- hurdling working parents into a childcare nightmare. It's hard not to put myself in the position of all of those parents that have had to figure out what the heck to do with their kids while the teachers fought this one out. And I feel especially bad for those parents dealing with less-than-understanding bosses ... or those that had their pay docked because they had no other option but to stay home with their kids.

On the flip side -- I went to a public school in a big city with broken desks and classrooms so crowded that the radiators in the back were lined with students taking notes -- with our binders on our laps. I went and spoke before my local community board when I was 16 years old to try to help create change. Explained what it was like. Nothing changed. So I can also understand why the Teachers Union felt like they were left with no other choice. If you don't push for what you believe in -- for what you think is best for yourself and for the students you are teaching -- then you probably will never get what you really need.

More from The Stir: Chicago Teachers are Already Overpaid

What confuses me the most about these kinds of strikes -- because they happen all over the country in big cities and small -- is why it has to come to this in the first place? It is so obscene to try to come to an agreement without having to resort to such drastic measures? Stop. Don't answer that.

Do you think teachers should be allowed to strike like this? Is there a clear-cut winner?

Image via sidewalk flying/Flickr

education, in the news, politics, back to school, child care


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Michelle Lee-Reid

Between Courses, you are right on!  And EvaSamuel, thank you.  I am a mom of three and an urban public school teacher.  Not in Chicago, but a large city all the same.  Teachers don't want to strike, they want to teach.  Parents don't want a strike because they have to find day care.  Headlines talk about parents "scrambling" for day care.  You should always have a backup plan in place anyway--I always did until my husband stayed home with our children.  Striking during the summer--don't be absurd!  No one would take notice and it wouldn't solve any problems--the purpose of a strike is to add pressure to the management (the school board) to come to the table and talk.  Also, teachers are busy during the summer--working to make money (teachers don't make a lot of money despite what the conservatives want you to think), taking classes to teach your children better, and traveling (I do this and plan a unit for my students based on where I traveled).   Teaching isn't a job--it is a way of life and school boards are increasingly trying to use a top-down model and to use "business-based practices" in management.  Well, our children are not manufactured products formed from uniform, created parts.  They are organic creatures with minds, and personalities, and needs.  Teaching requires an artist, not a business person. 

wamom223 wamom223

That's funny Erika private schools seem to have no problem finding good teachers what so ever.  $74,000 a year sounds like a lot to teach to me and that's not counting their healthcare and retirement benefits.  There are teachers in this country getting screwed but the teacher's in Chicago aren't getting screwed at all.  As more baby boomer's retire everyday there will come a point where we are paying more to teacher's that are retired than to the ones still teaching.  There are no advocates for the children and its not right.  These unions are fighting so no one gets fired and its not right to keep the teachers that are doing a poor job.

nonmember avatar Erika

Of course private schools have no problems! They almost always have textbooks for every student, air conditioned classrooms, and supplies such as computers, calculators, etc. Public schools not so much. I completely agree that bad teachers should be fired. But we need better evaluation procedures- one of the things the teachers in Chicago were asking for. Teachers should be paid well, and according to the cost of living in their area. Go spend a day teaching inner city kids, then tell me how much is "too much." CEOs can make millions but 74,000 per year is too much for the people responsible or our children for 75% of their waking hours? The people who prepare our children for college and the real world? Seems backwards to me.

Venae Venae

I was talking to someone about these teachers' ridiculous pay and they said - well, the cost of living is so high in Chicago.  True, but the average salary there is about $30,000 LESS than the teachers'; so obviously people live there on less income.

They want a pay raise, not to be evaulated and never to be fired - while 15% of the 4th graders are able to read on grade level.  Cost to educate a child in Chicago - appx $13,000 a year.  I could put two children in private school for that amount of money and get damn better results!

amazz... amazzonia

Teachers are not babysitters and schools are not day care, that's the problem, people think that school is a free prolonged day care, school is a place where you send your kids to learn things, not a place where to send your kids so you can go to work or do your things. Teachers should be the hipeighest payed workers on earth they have the future of our kids, and of the. World in their hands

Hocke... HockeyMomNJ

Michelle - most teachers are against being evaluated partly by standard test scores. Why is that? How else would the teachers want to be evaluated?

EvaSa... EvaSamuel

The problem with evaluating teachers based on test scores is that good teachers would be discouraged from working with struggling students.  Even more so, it would be difficult to recruit good teachers to struggling schools, leading to high turnover.  If we want students to succeed, we have to ensure that we are recruiting good, proven teachers to schools that need it.  This means that we need a consistent staff and that staff needs permission to try new approaches and practices that might not lead to success right away, but could eventually prove useful.  Also, as a music teacher in a large urban district, how would I be evaluated?

EvaSa... EvaSamuel

Venae- Most teachers hold a Master's degree.  Do you really feel that it's fair for a teacher with years of experience and education should be paid at a level consistent with someone who works in a less skilled position?  Also, there is a large population of poor in Chicago, which may bring down the average income.

Hocke... HockeyMomNJ

Eva - those are good points. So if not test scores, how should they be evaluated? As for music - um, the students have to play Mozart perfectly?? Lol

EvaSa... EvaSamuel

I feel that a teacher should be able to show that students are consistently engaged in meaningful learning.  This can be shown through class observations and exhibitions of student work.  In my state, we are currently aligning all of our learning goals throughout the state.  We use "I can" statements in the classroom and work on mastery of our skills.  Just as standarized state tests are a snapshot of a student's abilities, so are the test scores for a teacher.  A larger view is needed to understand what is going on in the classroom and test scores simply cannot provide that.

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