Chicago needs to put its students first

The Chicago public school teachers’ union (C.T.U.) voted overwhelmingly in mid-December to go on strike. The issues include compensation, teacher evaluations and layoffs. Before a strike, the union and school officials are mandated to attempt mediation. The actual strike would not begin until spring 2016.

The teachers last went on strike in 2012. And that time, according to the journalist Micah Uetricht, the union got what it was asking for, a rare major victory for organized labor. But the contract they signed in 2012 ran out last June, and negotiations since then have failed to produce a new agreement. According to the C.T.U.’s vice president, Jesse Sharkey, the union is asking for improved teaching and learning conditions with less standardized testing and less compliance paperwork, adequate staffing for both teachers and other professionals like librarians and nurses, and help from the administration with social problems that spill over into the schools. The last demand reflects the problem with violence that infects many Chicago neighborhoods.


The school situation requires the deep involvement of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also under pressure to restore fractured relations between the community and the Chicago police. It requires commitment by the school board, the determination of the union to avoid a strike and the cooperation of the wider civic community, which has a profound interest in the quality of schools. The almost 400,000 students in the Chicago public schools do not need a strike. They need to learn, to grow, to hope. They need the adult community of Chicago to get behind them and to give them every chance to take their own turn some day in leading their city.

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Mike Evans
3 years ago
If you want quality educators and an educational system that provides the quality desired, you must admit to paying for it. The onus is not upon teachers to accept lower pay for very hard work, particularly in these hard pressed times with more difficult students from low income backgrounds, scarce and limited funding formulas, and a decline in overall respect for the teaching professionals. As to the call for mediation, there remains a huge disconnect between unions and school boards over their own actual goals. And the continuing degradation of conditions from class size, support services and building maintenance add to the overall decline in learning. We cannot expect to form a well educated citizenry on the cheap.
Charles Erlinger
3 years ago
A very cogent comment, concerning the disconnect between the goals of the board and the goals of the Union. If they are different, one from the other, then not only is mediation an exercise in futility, but negotiation itself is doomed. How can a productive negotiation be conducted if the terms and conditions at issue are seen by the respective parties as steps in a plan to achieve disparate goals?
3 years ago
Our universities and schools are palaces. As I drive to my office daily I drive by middle schools, high schools, grammar schools and half dozen for-profit technical schools. America does not know true poverty. Compensation is not a problem here given the plethora of incidentals Americans purchase in their hunger of consumerism. Patients claim they do not have money for healthcare treatments and co-pays for medications, but their luxury items are on their person, they dress better than most citizens of the world, our "wants" have become our "needs". My family in Latin America has none of the electronic gadgets we have in America, and they do not live in excess of medications for medical ailments self-inflicted (e.g. obesity, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, etc). These illnesses dont appear out of thin air: we buy our poor health habits And yet we hear year after year how the quality of education in America is inferior to the test results of students abroad. Our buildings and resources runneth over, while foreign students who outperform our students come to America for jobs, beat our students in performance testa and behold the wealth of America. Then they too befall the American malaise. It isnt the lack of money that is killing our education. America has a far worse problem than lack of funds. Look within! A Jesuit in the Vatican talks about it daily - radical inner conversion.
Richard Booth
3 years ago
I agree with much of what you have said. However, in the health realm, let's not forget the increasingly important role genetic predisposition plays in the issues you have outlined. Further, not letting the U.S. off the hook, we would be less than honest if we failed to recognize the many people in other nations who have the same disorders mentioned in your statement.
Joseph J Dunn
3 years ago
Worth noting: The big items driving the developed world’s health care costs, and our health, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health at a Glance 2013, are obesity and related health conditions. Obesity is a known risk factor for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems (asthma), musculoskeletal diseases (arthritis) and some forms of cancer. In its Health Care Costs: A Primer published in May, 2012, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation states that “increases in disease prevalence, particularly chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, coupled with the growing ability of the health system to treat the chronically ill, contribute to the high and growing levels of health spending.” The United States has the highest adult obesity rate among the 34 OECD countries, at 36.5 percent.
Richard Booth
3 years ago
Professional rights to adequate recompense vs. depriving students of teachers during strikes. Two groups that tend to cloud a vital underlying proposition: Americans, overall, are anti-intellectuals. We pay for what we truly value, and it is not education.
William Johnson
3 years ago
I to a great extent agree with the said things. Moreover I feel settlement can be done between the organization and teachers so as not to affect the student studies. The employment settlement can be done on agreements earlier set.convention collective automobile pdf


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