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As of Sunday night, Chicago teachers are on strike. They have good reason.

After months of negotiations, we've reached the point where Chicago Public Schools management has agreed that, okay, they'll provide textbooks on the first day of school rather than expecting teachers to educate and students to learn effectively without textbooks for up to six weeks. Teachers who are nursing mothers won't have to choose between continuing to nurse and continuing to work.

According to the Chicago Teachers Union, "Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation." But health care benefits remain unresolved in negotiations. Because teachers somehow think it's reasonable that they have health care they can afford. Likewise, they don't think it's fair or right to base their job evaluations heavily on their students' scores on standardized tests that were not designed to measure teacher performance. Also, "Despite a new curriculum and new, stringent evaluation system, CPS proposes no increase (or even decreases) in teacher training."

A school system that decides to bring in a new curriculum and evaluate teachers in a new way yet does not increase teacher training is a school system that is looking for excuses to penalize teachers, not educate students more effectively.

Blogger Teacher X explains "Why I'm striking":

When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

Air-conditioning so that students and teachers alike don't suffer in 98-degree classrooms is another thing that Chicago Public Schools management apparently thinks it's unreasonable for teachers to want; anyway, a "reasonable timetable for the installation of air-conditioning in student classrooms" is another sticking point in negotiations, according to the teachers union.

Here's the thing: It's reasonable for teachers to want to get raises that keep up with the cost of living. It's reasonable for teachers to expect that if they're working more hours, they'll get paid more. It's reasonable for them to be pissed as hell that a raise they were supposed to get last year was taken from them by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It's reasonable for them to expect decent health benefits. These are all things that Emanuel and his teacher-hating corporate education deform allies will use to try to depict teachers as greedy. It shouldn't be seen as an outrage for professionals to fight to be treated as professionals. It should be understood that teachers will teach better if they aren't working second jobs or worried about making ends meet if they get sick. But even if you're not on board with that basic human understanding, it should be absolutely clear that it is the Chicago Teachers Union, not Chicago Public Schools management, that is fighting for the best possible education and learning environment for students.

Tell Chicago teachers you're standing with them as they fight for better schools and educational justice.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 06:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Daily Kos, Your Government at Work, and Occupy Wall Street.

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