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Not The Best Way To Be Thinking About This

Woke up this morning to the news that the Chicago Public Schools are having a teachers' strike. Now, the rational adult in me basically agrees with the teachers' union; public school teachers get treated and paid like crap even as we ask them to fix more and more complicated problems. I'm all for teachers getting the benefits they need.

But, honestly . . . well, I'm not a public school teacher. But I was a public school kid*, and in this instance, I find that my real interest is in what's happening with the students. The city has worked with the schools, parks, and some houses of worship to arrange what's essentially half-day babysitting for the students. No teaching will be going on, because the student-sitters aren't qualified to teach, but the kids will be fed breakfast and lunch, and there'll at least be something for them to do and adults around to keep them off the streets.

And I have to say, when I was a kid in the public school system . . . I would have killed for a teachers' strike like this one. I freely admit that it was mostly a combination of being one of the smartest kids in the whole town school system and not getting along well with most of my classmates for most of my schooling, but I really was not a big fan of school. I was perfectly capable of learning stuff whether or not there was a teacher in a classroom there to teach it to me, so the Pony Parents were never all that worried about my education. And I would have adored the disruption in the routine, the chance either to go to different places or to do different things in the same places. It's early September, the weather is perfect, and the parks are running programs. I would have liked that, too.

I know that most of the kids in CPS aren't thinking of the strike like this. I know that most of their parents are really worried, and probably rightly so, about their educations suffering and what kind of care arrangements the city will cobble together. The strike is a major pain in the ass for parents, and I'm sure there are a lot of kids who really like school who are terribly disappointed at not being able to go to class. Even I probably would have gotten bored long before the strike was resolved. But . . . those first few days would have been glorious.

So, SOLIDARITY with the teachers' union! And HUZZAH for at least a few days of non-routine just at the beginning of the year.






*That's the American public school system, by the way. No Choate or Deerfield for me.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
elliska
Sep. 10th, 2012 12:45 pm (UTC)
Wow! They went on strike! I admit I really didn't think they'd do it. I hope it gets them somewhere. Most of the places I've lived would just fire the lot of them and start from fresh, quite pleased that the salaries were even lower because all teachers were first years. Quality education and fairness to the teachers would not have even entered into anyone's thoughts. It will be very interesting to see how Chicago handles this in an election year.
frenchpony
Sep. 10th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
Yup, they actually did it! Read all about it.

I have to say, given that quote in the CNN article about how the union fought to win the concession of having textbooks on the first day of school, I'm with the teachers on this one. If I'm going to pay taxes, I'd much rather they go to giving teachers and librarians decent pay and pensions rather than funding wars or the incessant ripping out and re-planting of flowers along South Michigan Avenue.

Frankly, I'm surprised that Mayor Rahmbo let things get to this point. He's so violently anti-union, I wouldn't have thought he'd let negotiations get this far.
heartofoshun
Sep. 10th, 2012 01:03 pm (UTC)
In this case, my heart is all with the teachers. The parents should use the ballot box to ensure that their children's teachers are well paid and cared for. I am all for public education and quite disenchanted by everything I have seen with these semi-private solutions (most of them just awful in New York City and just an edge short of being a total scam and take much needed funds away from public school funding!). It breaks my heart to think that the US public schools went from being some of the first and best in the world to being among the worst among developed countries and only getting worse.

So, sorry! It's one of those subjects that sends me off on a rant every time!


Edited at 2012-09-10 01:21 pm (UTC)
frenchpony
Sep. 10th, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
The sad thing is, I suspect that some of the special programs that are being set up to babysit the kids during the strike may in fact be more educational than what they'd be learning at school.
heartofoshun
Sep. 10th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
There is the whole thing of drilling for the standardized tests instead of teaching! Scary business really. I had a great aunt who died a number of years ago who taught primary school for well over 40 years and had seen every fad in the books and said the one consistent thing about public education is what and how it teaches had always been wildly controversial. The thing that is controversial now that scares the life out of me is whether or not it should even exist. I can flip right into panic mode over that question.
frenchpony
Sep. 10th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of times when I think that the worst legacy of the Bush Years won't be the war in Iraq, it'll be No Child Left Behind. The first NCLB kids are getting into college now, and I'm the one that's going to be teaching them. They're so timid about learning. It's terrifically sad, but sometimes you hit one with an assignment that clicks with them, and they suddenly realize what this whole "learning" thing is about, and it's like a light bulb goes off. Oh! So that's what school is all about!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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