Late 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.
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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