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My years as a Chicago Public Schools teacher gave me a very unique view of the system. I plan on sending my child to CPS schools, but with some reservation. I know how abusive the system can be to its employees and how that can affect the overall school climate. Chicago is not unique in this problem. According to a report on a survey commissioned by Met Life last spring, morale among the nation's teachers is at its lowest point in more than 20 years. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years. According to the report, just three years ago, the rate was one in four.

Met Life's results did not shock me. I often felt powerless as one teacher, advocating for the supports my students needed to succeed. In my first two years, not a week went by that I didn't consider changing careers and that had nothing to do with my students or their parents -- it was the system.

By Kenzo Shibata

Cross-posted from Huffington Post

24 minute documentary "Chicago Teachers Union Vs. Astroturf Billionaires"

There may be only one way for educators to regain respect in the workplace -- a strike. This is something that has not happened in Chicago in 25 years.

The school board's priorities were never -- in my near decade in the system -- aligned with the reality of the classroom. This became evident during current negotiations between CPS and CTU over a new contract.

The two sides were -- and continue to be -- far apart over some major issues. I often felt far apart from my administrators in the classroom, who would not listen when I pled for reasonable class sizes and the resources necessary to best serve my students.

CTU Takes its fight to the communities

I could have left the system, but I would have just been replaced and the same policies would be implemented in my absence.

This collective feeling of powerlessness led CTU members to unite and authorize its leadership to call for a strike if the Board refuses to move on some important issues in negotiations.

The narrative of "greedy teacher" is being repeated over and over again by billionaire-backed outside groups hoping to influence the process. However, an independent arbitrator, agreed upon by both CPS and CTU, not only issued a report favorable to teachers, he said teachers deserve even more compensation than they proposed.

These outsider groups continue to attack educators in an attempt to weaken the public's opinion of CTU. Earlier in the year, the Chicago Tribune conducted a poll that stated that the public supported the CTU over the Mayor with a ratio of over two-to-one.

With the public, an independent arbitrator, and 25,000 members all on the same page, why won't the Chicago Public Schools take CTU's contract proposals seriously?

This is the same disrespect I felt as an educator, but on a system-wide scale.

I know as a parent, I want the people who directly work with my child to be shown respect by their employer.

Teachers and other school workers are ready to do what's necessary to improve our schools, but the top-down management style employed by the new crop of school administrators leave educators feeling frustrated, dejected and ready to throw in the towel. Educators need respect and may have to use the most powerful tool they have to get it -- a work stoppage.

A strike will be hard on everyone. CTU is working with parents and community leaders to prepare everyone for the possible event.

Rahm Emanuel's powerful friends throw money at busting CTU

The Board of Education is well aware of CTU's demands and the ball is in their court to do what's best for educators and the students they serve.

It appears that there's a great deal of misinformation circulating on the radio and the Internet involving the interim agreement between CTU and CPS.

The agreement was achieved to settle a contentious issue concerning the length of teacher work days due to a longer student day. The agreement provided that the extra hours each day would largely be filled by hiring over 500 new teachers rather than extending the hours worked by current teachers. By resolving this issue before any schools opened, it will not be necessary to make changes to teacher work schedules mid-year when the contract is finalized.

However, the contract is still not settled and there are many big issues that have not been addressed. That is why CTU members continue to prepare for a work stoppage this fall.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

The earliest teachers could strike would be Aug. 18, but first the union's House of Delegates must set a strike date and the union must give CPS a 10-day heads-up of its intent to strike. School starts for most CPS students on Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Although there were theories that largely non-union and privately-run charter schools will weaken the power of strike, CPS CEO Brizard even admitted that he needed CTU members to open schools on time:

"You know, 500,000 students, 26,000 teachers, there's no way in the world that we can run schools without our teachers. We need them to be there."
Since CPS is now admitting that it needs its teachers, maybe it's time that they start showing us some respect.

Rahm Emanuel works with the Tea Party to smear the Union

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nycjoc, shaharazade

    "Your conspiracy theories won't work without evidence." -Nasir Jones

    by Tristero 312 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:19:03 AM PDT

  •  Can you say, "Scott Walker"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites

    To strike right before an election is to say you want more Republicans in your legislature and that you want to crush Public Employee Unions like they did in Wisconsin.

    Postpone the strike until X-mas vacation.  Stop and consider the politics and the future.

    •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

      Walker would take away their ability to negotiate at all, then lay off about half of them, and fire the complainers.

      If Obama didn't get Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger; then Bin Laden didn't take down the World Trade Center because he didn't fly the planes.

      by Bush Bites on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:07:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, nevermind. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I thought you were saying the CTU was dealing with a Walker situation.

      It's nowhere near that and, as you imply, it could be much worse.

      If Obama didn't get Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger; then Bin Laden didn't take down the World Trade Center because he didn't fly the planes.

      by Bush Bites on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:10:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well then, (0+ / 0-)

      the ball is in the Board's court. Rahm should tell the Board to settle this contract. Why should the teachers work under no contract Rahm is playing Republican in Chicago?

      "Your conspiracy theories won't work without evidence." -Nasir Jones

      by Tristero 312 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:14:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah Rahmn (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tristero 312

      and company need those votes so don't rock any boats. How does Public workers, teachers in this case, striking translate into saying you want more Republicans? How does support for our public workers and unions help the Republicans? Really ass backward politically. Maybe if the Democrat's actually put on comfortable shoes and walked the picket line people would 'enthusiastically' vote for them. The politics of the future look pretty grim for teachers and all workers even if the Dems do win.

      If they postpone and the Dems. are the majority how will this help public workers when the Dems are just as hell bent on privatizing and austerity as the Republicans? do you believe if we actually support and fight for the workers and our public institutions it might embolden the RW and make it seem like the Dems are socialist's who  gasp! want public institutions like education rather then, no childs ass left behind and privatized for profit schools? Good Luck with that.          

    •  They can't wait. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tristero 312

      Using "civility" when you are already under attack is worthless [review the WI Tom Barrett campaign for Gov.].  Of course important elections could be impacted by a strike.  That would mean jobs lost by Democrats. It's a motivator for Rahm.  He can choose to negotiate in good faith and keep Democratic Party power and keep those public schools.  Win-win.  The loser here needs to be corporate charter schools.  

  •  One thing I'd advise all CTU teachers. (0+ / 0-)

    Don't fall for the "Chicago School Board should be elected" malarky.

    If you think "The narrative of "greedy teacher" is being repeated over and over again by billionaire-backed outside groups hoping to influence the process" now, just imagine if those outside groups were able to throw money into an election for control of the Chicago Board of Education and what they'd do if they got control.

    If Obama didn't get Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger; then Bin Laden didn't take down the World Trade Center because he didn't fly the planes.

    by Bush Bites on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:12:27 AM PDT

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