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View Diary: Chicago teachers on strike (171 comments)

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  •  Walked the line with my kids this morning... (9+ / 0-)

    I've been a CPS teacher for 8 years.  It was the greatest career change I could have made. I feel I'm fairly paid, I work at a local neighborhood K - 8 elementary school with an enrollment of 1400 students.  We have 5 of every grade level and an average class size of about 31 or 32.  

    I've taught 8th grade for the last six years and am part of my school's Leadership Team.  We are lucky to be at a school with a GREAT administration. He invites us to sit in on teacher interviews, asks us our opinion on possible hires, allows us significant input into curriculum and schedule development.  Our school tests very well even though it's a neighborhood school that is required to take ANY student that walks through the door.  If we were completely merit based our teachers would undoubtedly get the biggest raises and hugest perks.

    But this isn't about us.  There's something else here, something that hides just under the surface that people hate talking about.

    Let's start with the something that people just simply can't appreciate properly.  Air conditioning.  In the last few years, I've taught 37 8th graders in a room that was 105 degrees for several days on end.  Think about that.  What is getting accomplished in that sort of oppressive heat?  They come back from gym covered in sweat and then sit in a room that's over 100 degrees.  To keep any sort of breeze, I need to open the windows, to open the windows I need to open the shades, and this allows my west facing room to be totally soaked in direct sunlight.  I need to keep them awake, alert, and interested.  If every employee in CPS worked in these conditions then I'd have no problem with it.  But they don't.  The mayor doesn't, the board doesn't, the administrators don't.  Just the teachers and the students.

    Let's talk about Emmanuel.  He rescinded our 4% raise last year claiming a financial emergency which allowed him to take an escape clause in our contract.  Immediately after doing that he began offering $100,000 to every school, and $1,500 to every teacher who agreed to work his "longer school day."  But I thought there was a financial emergency....see the problem.  He lied and he treated teachers like trash.  In fact one of Rahm's first speeches as mayor was to say LITERALLY, that teachers gave students "the shaft."  Those were the words he used.  My life's work resulted in our mayor saying I had given my student's the shaft...

    But let's look a little deeper than that.  The entire CPS Board is APPOINTED by the mayor.  Not elected.  Appointed.  He chose them all.  And of all the members on the board, only Vitale---ONLY ONE MEMBER---has a student in CPS.  Brizzard, the CEO of CPS, was also appointed by Rahm.  Rahm has hand-picked all of CPS's leadership.  None were elected and they have been nothing more than a rubber stamp for everything that Rahm has wanted.

    Finally, let's look at Senate Bill 7.  This was designed so that CPS would not be allowed to strike.  As previous posts have noted, this required a 75% approval of membership...not total votes...of total members. So if you don't vote, that counts as a NO.  While this is bad enough, the scary thing about SB7 was that it ONLY applied to Chicago.  Every other Illinois school district simply had to have 50%+1...why would Chicago be made to have a different set of standards than EVERY OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THE STATE.  It doesn't make any sense.  Actually, it does, Jonah Edelman from the pretend school reform group Stand for Children actually said, "In effect, they wouldn't have the ability to strike, even though the right was maintained.  The unions cannot strike in Chicago. They will never be able to muster the 75 percent."

    I need to take this and turn it into a diary.  There's so much more I need to get off my chest.  Residency requirements, teacher evaluations based on surveys taken by students, 11 board mandated standardized tests I have to give my students this year...

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