R.E.S.P.E.C.T.- What Teachers Everywhere Gain From the Chicago Strike

karen lewis

Karen Lewis

Whatever the outcome ultimately of the Chicago Teachers Strike, teachers around the country are going to face the future with new pride and confidence. After ten years of being attacked and held up to ridicule by an incredible cross section of the nation’s leaders — ranging from politicians to editorial writers to business leaders to talk show hosts and Hollywood film personalities — teachers have shown they have the power to shut down a large urban school system and have the support of many parents and students in the process.

Not only do the images of tens of thousands of teachers marching through the streets of Chicago have inspirational power, so does the brilliant commentary of strike leader Karen Lewis, who has eloquently portrayed the teachers fight against school closings and high stakes testing as a battle for the future of Chicago’s children.

At a time when teachers around the country increasingly work under extreme stress, not only from policies which evaluatee their performance on the basis of student tests scores, but from the daily battering they take in the press and the broadcast media, Chicago teachers have shown the way, not only to force changes in policy, but to create a new narrative about what is really going on in the nation’s schools, one that puts the onus on reformers for policies which raise class size, eliminate music art and sports, and undermine the role of schools as centers of community life.

In the long run, putting that narrative into the center of the nation’s discourse may be as important as the show of power. Chicago teachers have put forth a vision of schools as places where students talents should be nurtured in all their variety, not confined to testable components, and where the views of students, parents and community members should be determinative when the fate of neighborhood schools is decided.

They have not only decisively shattered the image of union teachers as selfish timeservers protecting the incompetent, which the Reform movement has used to justify its policies, they have raised the question of what education should look like in a democratic society, and show the Reform policies to be ones that offer public school students a kind of rote learning which they would never allow their own children to endure.

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent

Published: Saturday, 15 September 2012 

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Comments

  1. ronwf says

    “At a time when teachers around the country increasingly work under
    extreme stress, not only from policies which evaluate their performance
    on the basis of student tests scores, but from the daily battering they
    take in the press and the broadcast media, Chicago teachers have shown
    the way, not only to force changes in policy, but to create a new
    narrative about what is really going on in the nation’s schools, one
    that puts the onus on reformers for policies which raise class size,
    eliminate music art and sports, and undermine the role of schools as
    centers of community life.”

    What narrative are you reading? I live in the Chicago area. The narrative there is that teachers average a $75K salary are demanding from households that average $47K income a 16% raise over 4 years when the vast majority of people who are expected to pay for that raise are LUCKY if they get a raise at all. Sure, the teachers claim it’s for the kids, but there’s been no contract provisions publicized by anyone (including the CTU) that would benefit the kids – it’s all about more money and less accountability for the teachers. The bottom line is that this is looking HORRIBLE for the Chicago teachers.

  2. harry wood says

    This article had no beef, the “graduate them, don’t incarcerate them” article had some real things to say. I have already forwarded it to other school systems and to the editor of a local paper. I have a daughter in the school system. They work hard but have too much overhead. The people working in places that MUST have a profit know what that means. I had to worry about overhead years ago, retired now. Teacher do not worry about overhead or profits, but should, the students are the teacher’s product, without them, no job so they should come first. I know of teachers sitting in non-class rooms in NYC who are paid not to teach. They can do anything else but can not teach and receive full pay. they are union members who can no longer have children under their control in a class room. They wait for their case to be satisfied and have waited years for that to happen.

  3. Trod says

    In reference to JBH Ministry perhaps as a businessman you should ask yourself how many well dressed and “successful” business people take great pride in selling crappy over-priced products and could care less about the quality of their products as long as customers put the money on the counter. I know many teachers and they work much harder than many so called successful business people. Not all of them dress to your standards or even mine but Hitler and Mussolini were always impeccably dressed while neither John the Baptist or the great prophet Elijah dressed to impress.

  4. JBH Ministry says

    OK ! So you succeeded to get what you wanted….
    Now the rules should be if any child in your class fail you should be fired with no questions asked…
    I am a businessman with 14 years of schooling and i can tell you on one hand how many teachers throughout my career actually showed interest in me succeeding.

    And i am sure if we sat and talked to many successful people we will find limited support from their teachers throughout their school years..

    One of my business partners wife was a teacher and she would always brag about taking students on ski trips during school session and she was always complaining about not making enough money,
    Well I’m sure skiing on an resume or application looks very impressive..

    If you want respect ! Put the children that people place under your care first for 180 days without making them pay with not getting a full summer vacations or a complete opportunity to learn.

    I saw the news media and how some of you were acting on worldwide television, didn’t look to professional to me..
    I remember when teachers dressed professional and you could tell them from the students. The only ones to dress casual was the coaches..

    Remember the impact that you have on one student will last them long after you have forgotten their name.

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