Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why I'm striking, JCB



CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is on record saying both that CTU leadership is deciding whether or not to strike, and that “everyone knows that a strike would only hurt our kids.”

I just wanted to educate my boss a little on the history of Chicago, as he is relatively new to the area. Chicago is founded on the hard daily struggle of working people. It is the birth of the labor movement—not a movement just for wages and benefits, but a movement that stopped child labor so that each of the kids in CPS schools could attend school instead of working. It was a movement that stopped the practice of working conditions so unsafe that consumers were eating the actual workers who fell into the mix while they were making hot dogs. It was a movement that fought so that workers could have some tiny measure of time with our families rather than spending all waking hours working for the enrichment of their bosses.

But even more importantly, I wanted to educate Mr. Brizard about what it means to “help or hurt our kids”.
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.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.

When you do enough of this, it makes me wonder if you really see our students as “our kids” or “other people’s children”.
And at that moment, I am willing to sacrifice an awful lot to protect the students I serve every day. I am not hurting our kids by striking, I’m striking to restore some semblance of reasonable care for students to this system. I’m doing to tell you, “No, YOU are the one hurting our children, and you need to STOP because what you are doing is wrong, and you are robbing students of their educational opportunities.

I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids.

See you on the picket line, my friend.

205 comments:

  1. Albuquerque is with you Xian! Teachers are wearing red tomorrow in support. Labor Day here had petitions for supporting CTU as well as donation cans. What can we do? You are on the front line of the battle to stop the corporate takeover of our schools. My daughter has been in public schools for 6 years, and I'm so grateful to her teachers.

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  2. Supporting you from Florida! Stay strong and stay safe! Your fight is our fight.

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  3. That was excellent! I'm behind you 100%!

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  4. I'm a teacher in the Chi-town burbs... supporting all CPS teachers!

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  5. Thanks Xian! Beautifully & powerfully stated.

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  6. Behind Chicago teachers all the way!!! Don't back down!! - College student from Bridgewater, MA!

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  7. Connecticut is behind you 110%!!!!

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  8. Teachers are the real heroes! Keep fighting for the kids! We support you!

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  9. Wow, Xian, keep up the great work. We are cheering you on from NY!

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  10. Even more than 110% from Connecticut. We know what has happened to CPS because we have Paul Vallas destroying the school system in the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Our spirits on on the picket line with you.

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  11. Solidarity from Virginia. Stay strong.

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  12. Solidarity from the New Jersey Teacher Activist Group! We are wearing red to support you today! Thank you for your courage to stand up to corporate education reform!!!

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  13. This future teacher is rocking the red today! Go CTU!!

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  14. My son is a CPS student. He's in high school now and has been in CPS since kindergarten. He has had a number of hero-teachers who saw his potential and helped him realize it. We will be on the line with you and at the rally today. I will show up at a school to stand with our teachers before work every day. Stay strong! You are not just fighting for our kids but for all the kids in this country who face ridiculous and dangerous education policies!

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  15. Yes yes yes! Thank you for your words and your important stand for our children!!!

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  16. Its interesting to me that all the poor conditions in the schools of which are talked about have been under the life-long rule of Chicago Democrats. If you don't like the horrible conditions don't strike and make the kids to suffer. Maybe it's time stop stop voting Democrat.

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    1. It's true, the Democrats, from Obama down, are fools about education policy, idiots about what they consider "reforms." Indeed, they are just as foolish and idiotic as the Republicans. Sadly, our votes can't fix things, at least not at this historical moment.

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    2. Maybe so. Because Republicans really care about education when they call people who go to school educated elitists and cut programs for schools and funding for schools and undermine public schools with voucher programs. Screw you.

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    3. This doesn't have anything to do with Democrat or Republican. This has to do with the loss of respect for the education of teachers and the care they provide to the students they teach. Every Tom, Dick and Harry who has been through 8th grade thinks they KNOW how to teach. Man, are they wrong. Sure wish those who think it is so easy would take over for a couple of months - but then again, our poor students would really suffer and we can't have that. We need to believe in and rely on those who have trained to be educators - not the wannabes or pretends.

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    4. Fools. This isn´t about Obama or Romney, Democrats or Republicans. I stand with my brothers and sisters. We are teachers, educators if you must, and our primary purpose is for our students. We believe that the best place to service our charges is in US public schools. That is where we teach. Target us. Diminish us and you diminish yourselves.

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  17. Solidarity from Maryland! I'm with you in spirit.

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  18. Sharing with this with my education students at Minneapolis Community and Technical College this morning. Thank you for your role in this struggle!

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  19. Stay strong in your belief in what is right for kids! With you from Washington State!

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  20. An injury to one is an injury to all - stay strong, you've got nationwide support!

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  21. Surely painful for students, parents, and teachers as well, whose lives are disrupted. The issues surely justify the sacrifices.

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  22. With you all the way CTU!
    Love,
    Jesse The Walking Man Turner
    Save Our Schools March National Steering Committee

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  23. This "hurting the kids" rhetoric is used by the Daily News and New York Post here in NYC, all part of campaign to undermine union protections and cut costs by "excessing" us veterans.

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  24. this is wrong, please get back to the classroom and stop listening to Karen Lewis.

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    1. This is completely right in every form possible. It is not about pay as those issues have been resolved...it is about our children starting the school year and textbooks not being available. it is also about a program for a longer day with no plan on how to staff it. It ultimately is about our children and enriching their education through arts and world languages and physical education that has gone to the wayside over the years. It is about implementing a year round school system when the average temperature in July here was over 100° and many classrooms have no air. IT IS ABOUT OUR CHILDREN.

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    2. Claudia - I think you need to prepare to take over since you so intently think this so wrong. Maybe then you'll discover YOU were so wrong.

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    3. Are you a teacher too, Claudia? Do you teach in Chicago?

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    4. No one is completely right or wrong in situations like these. I hear about CPS teachers complaining that the administrations wants to lengthen the school day but they want to be compensated. You cannot say it isn't about pay, even if those issues have been resolved, they were a part of the negotiations leading to the strike! CPS has the shortest school day in the Chicago land area.

      That being said, the administration needs to stop giving themselves raises and put money into school renovations. These are the main problems with what is taking place in CPS. All schools should have air conditioning for days when it is over 80 degrees outside! All students should have the proper supplies going into the school year including text books.

      I do not support the strike but I sure as hell don't support the administrators who have become to greedy for their own good! Being on the school board should not allow someone to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      If CPS administrators and ALL (I capitalize all because I know not every teacher feels the same way about pay increases) teachers really wanted to focus on the children, then both sides would stop taking 2-5% pay increases each year and turn around and put more money into the physical conditions that help make the learning environments better for everyone. This will help not only the students who will be able to focus more on studies, but teachers who have to deal with higher class sizes.

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  25. "Connecticut is behind you 110%!!!!" This is why we need better teaching. No one can give more than 100%, because that would be everything. Nonetheless, I support better teaching conditions for Chicago. Maybe you should oust your mayor and let Chick-Fil-A run the schools.

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  26. Got Shoes ???

    ❝You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate … to me, he was still the guy who'd picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door … he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he'd found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.❞

    ❝And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I'll walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.❞

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA9KC8SMu3o&feature=player_embedded

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  27. Shared on Facebook this morning in Oregon where So OR Jobs with Justice is standing with you even if you can't physically see us there. Thank you for taking a stand for OUR kids!

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  28. Jean-Claude Brizard is a real brave man, using kids as shields. OWS is 100% behind you.

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  29. Completely agree about TIF money. The way it works now is a bizarre scandal and a total misuse of the law (labeling areas like the South Loop as "blighted," for example). And I agree about not fixing physical plants and instead spending money on pet projects. Nonetheless, what seems to be the issue now is benefits and job security, not all of the other things you mention.

    Benefits are a tough issue. Health insurance costs are, and have been, eating everyone's raises for over a decade. Thus we are all poorer because of exploding health insurance costs, and something has to be done. Unfortunately, what usually happens in these situations is the employer wants to put the employees into a cheaper plan (meaning more out-of-pocket costs, fewer benefits, less choice, etc.) and/or ask them to pay higher premiums. What stinks is that with such a large workforce, CPS and CTU have some power to get creative with health insurers, and really try to push the envelop to bring costs down. For example, they could require all teachers to draft a living will and an end of life directive, and/or give highly reduced co-pays for teachers who go to salaried hospitals and clinics (like the Mayo Clinic), where the doctors are not compensated on a fee for service basis and costs for insurers are typically far lower. But I doubt that anyone is trying to get creative in this regard, which is really unfortunate.

    Also, I know how tough the job and the kids can be, especially in CPS, where you have a ton of low-income students. But I still think job security should be reduced. Set up as far and impartial a system as you can, and continue to tweak it as you go along. And if you're doing a decisively poor job, you get canned, without the process taking years and years. If you're mediocre, you get a lot of help to help improve. And then make sure everyone else gets paid more. I love teachers, but we all know people, even at many fine schools, who have checked out and are mailing it in. So let's go with less security, higher standards, but better pay. And let's do that not just for teachers but for other important public employees (particular cops). Expect more, pay more, still maintain a respectful working environment, and get better results.

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    1. One of the problems with leaving details to be worked out later is that Mayor E, CEO Brizzard and the CPS BOE have shown teachers should not trust them.

      Increasing the length of day and length of year without going through the motions of negotiating made it exceedingly difficult to trust management to operate in good faith.

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    2. Mr. Man,

      Your post is very accurate in the way I think things should be handled and as far as Carl, although they went about lengthening the school day in a way that shouldn't have been done, I'm tired of hearing teachers complain about this. CPS has the shortest school day in the Chicago land area and a majority of these students need to be in school the most, not only for education purposes, but sometimes safety reasons as well!

      My wife is a teacher in the burbs and although I like the idea of tenure because I know she will have a very difficult time losing her job, I believe tenure should no longer be used or at least changed to a point where teachers must be evaluated more regularly and can lose their jobs as easily as the average person. THIS DOES NOT MEAN USING TEST SCORES TO ME THOUGH. Like Mr. Man stated about the health care benefits, there can be more creative ways on evaluating teachers and test scores should only be a very small portion of those evaluations!

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  30. Supporting you from Southern Illinois!! Way to stand up!

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  31. Xian, I'm glad I got to meet you when we watched that documentary on the Iraq War in River Forest years ago.

    One of the things that bothers me about some of the hostility toward CTU is the complaint about the bad teacher who can't be fired.

    CPS did fire a bunch of teachers. The goal was to get rid of teachers who principals didn't like. These were often high quality teachers who complained or otherwise challenged principals and other administrators who were performing at a suboptimal level.

    But singling out teachers who complained about principals would be too obvious and a violation of the contract and probably the law.

    So CPS fired thousands of teachers and created a secret "do not hire" list. Almost all the teachers were rehired, but not the teachers that principals didn't like.

    The people who are angry about the one teacher choose not to notice that when CPS did give themselves the power to fire teachers, the district didn't fire the screw-ups, it fired the teachers that were agitating for their schools to be better.

    CPS already has the power to hire, train, manage and fire administrators. Has this resulted in particularly high quality of administrators in the schools?

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  32. I'm a laid off teacher in California because class size went up :( I support you!!!

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  33. I was a student in CPS 25 years ago when teachers last went on strike. As a 12 y.o. student, I saw the horrible conditions in our school way back then - over crowded classes, mixed grade classes (I was in a 6th/7th grade split class with one teacher and over 30 students), the lack of A/C made it difficult to concentrate on hot days, teachers who had no prep time because they were too busy discipling or providing extra help to students, no recess or gym classes, over-focus on standardized testing. I now live over 1,000 miles away, but I still support the teachers in the Chgo Public Schools. You had a tough job then, and it seems even tougher now. Good luck!

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    1. Same boat as you Mel my children were CPS students 25 years ago. Teachers went on strike every two years. I got sick of it, they did like clock work. I finally moved away, far away! I was a CPS graduate. I got a good education graduating in 1969. We worked hard and I think that was the end of the good Chicago Public School education. I don't know what changed. Too bad you can't get back what once was. Yes, I do think the teachers have a hard job made harder by politics and a greedy top heavy administration system but keeping the kids out of school by striking is not the way to get your way. Why don't you teach the children but refuse your paychecks in civil disobedience?

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  34. a thankful student that has been lucky to have been taught by amazing teachers all my life is supporting you 1000%. Thank you for fighting the good fight, this working professional hasn't forgotten where he was inspired to learn.

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  35. Grad student to become a teacher, in support of all of the strikers. Districts and the media need to stop demonizing teachers and their labor unions. You guys are the ones doing the hard work. The administrators are the ones, for some mysterious reason, getting the raise. Keep it strong.

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  36. Supporting you from Rochester, NY - the last district JCB was at. Thank you and all CPS teachers for standing up to his practices.

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  37. I am a future teacher getting ready to do the student teaching part of my program and I support you...I hope the District wakes up and realizes what they are doing to our kids. I wish the government would do away with the ridiculous High Stakes Testing anyway it takes away from actual learning anyway. I do not believe in the idea of High Stakes testing at all. I believe in assessing our students but not putting so much pressure on them that they are stressing out over a test. I watched the coverage on the Today Show this morning concerning this strike and they really made it sound like the teachers were the ones in the wrong....I wish for one day these people who do not work as an educator could step into their shoes. I may not be a teacher yet but I have seen what goes into it ....working for free to get stuff done for the students, using their own money so that the students have the best supplies and resources available for a lesson, I am sick of teachers always getting a bad rap. It needs to stop.

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  38. Thank you for this post and for your commitment to your students and educational equity. I teach a class on diversity and education in Georgia (non-union state). Today, I scrapped my lesson and taught the #CTUStrike instead. I gave the students a packet of pro and con articles and asked them to make up their own minds. Your blog post was included in the packet, and they all loved it. According to one, "Teacher X is the kind of teacher every kids needs and deserves. He is speaking up so his students will learn how to speak up, too." Thank you for speaking up for your students and for teaching my students how to speak up, too.

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  39. A used to be teacher from Chi land is supporting you also!!!! You deserve better.

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  40. Keep up the great work. You deserve a 50 % pay increase and more benefits. You know - shorter school year and more time off. Who cares if the kids can't read.

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  41. Much support in Western New York as well. Fight the corporate reformers!

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  42. I am not supporting this like of thinking at all but I have heard some say, "if the conditions of the schools is the reason, why not use the $400 million raise to fix the schools instead?" So I am just wondering what response you all how are supporting the strike would offer to that argument.

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  43. So eloquently said--and so true in every aspect. Supporting you from Missouri!

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  44. Chicago teachers make seventy-something thousand a year, plus 3 months paid vacation, kids learning scores are pathetic, they should all be replaced if they don't report for work! America is sick of your wining.

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    1. I would like to hear a little bit about your background Kacee and would like to sit down and have a chat with you. If you would look around and investigate a little bit, it is really not about the money, as some would want you to believe. It is truly about working conditions and unilateral, unfair, and unpopular decisions being forced on an entire population. The worst part is that said decisions affect children, even more than teachers, administrators, counselors, or other support staff. For the record, I don't make nearly 70,000/year.

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    2. And we don't get paid summers off. I wish though!

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    3. If its not about money, then ask your union leaders to remove the salary increases and put that money into the air conditioning. Do that one thing and I will respect you.

      If you know that striking hurts children, WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?

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    4. Funny how nobody who supports the strike can answer why they don't put their raises toward better facilities and conditions. If its not about the money than prove it.

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    5. They're only allowed to strike over salary, not working conditions. And if you cared about anything other than vilifying teachers, you'd know that.
      http://news.yahoo.com/chicago-teachers-strike-illegal-under-illinois-law-222851216.html

      Personally, I look forward to a time when teaching is such a horrible job that only child molesters apply for it. Of course, I'm leaving the country soon.

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  45. Shared this on Facebook this afternoon where so many of my friends are Philadelphia public school teachers and members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. I am a retired teacher, veteran of 34 years and never have I seen conditions like this in our nation's urban schools. The very souls of the students are at stake. You are so right in saying that this is about "other people's children. Those politicians and business people now taking over urban schools make sure their own children go to suburban or private schools where the class size is limited, supplies are abundant and teachers are free to use their knowledge and professional experience to create curriculum that engages their students, treats them like constructors of knowledge and prepares them for the emerging economy of creativity. There will be no place for those trained as rote test takers in this new evolving world the students of today will be entering. Thank you for all you do and the cogent way in which you made the case for so many teachers and students across this country. Best to you and your colleagues in this struggle. You are not alone.

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  46. If you want to strike and make signs about class size, and run down class rooms and air conditioners, then great. Then strike for that and I am there with you. But, if you are just negotiating for 10 months of severance after layoffs (10 months!!) and not wanting a particular system of evaluations then stop obfuscating and say that. Because I bet once the union gets it's 10 months and its evaluation system, my kid will go right back to his un-air conditioned, 22-person, 100-year-old class room.

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    1. They are negotiating for AC in the classrooms.

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    2. Take your raises off the negotiating table and use that for AC in the classrooms. BAM

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  47. I stand with you Chicago! A teacher in Delaware!

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  48. We're teachers and wedding photographers in Illinois and we're with you all the way.

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  49. I'm a recently retired teacher from West Virginia, and I fully support what you are doing for your students there in Chicago.

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  50. From Wisconsin...beware of the powerful force$ that work agianst you. We could not overcome the extraordinary advertising up North. We find hope in you efforts.

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  51. This NJ teacher stands with you, Chicago! I wore red to work today and shared your story!

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  52. We're with you in Philadelphia, X! SOLIDARITY!

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  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  54. This CO teacher supports you and your fellow teachers. We, too, are under attack in Douglas Co. due to an overly zealous board who has forgotten to focus on what is best for students in exchange for vouchers, union busting and other pet projects. Good luck in restoring order in the name of students!

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    1. It's the same here in La Plata County! They want to run our new school like a business and not a classroom. I do not want 50% of my evaluation to be based on test scores. That is NOT fair. Maybe Denver and other cities will RISE UP and join the Chicago teachers.

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  55. Retired teacher from Upstate New York supports you. I was part of an illegal strike here in 1985, understanding what you are dealing with. NYSUT / AFT local Mount Markham TA. Hang in there. - Vince

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  56. Nice list of complaints. Too bad those aren't really the reasons you're striking. According to your union boss, the primary issues are health insurance premiums and job security. So enough with the red herrings -- man-up and defend what this strike is really all about.

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  57. I'm too lazy to check the facts stated in this. BUT,
    If just only 10 percent are true, then, I say
    STRIKE.
    My experiance thru 60 years of life has always shown me 95 percent -PLUS- of TEACHERS are selfless, sacrificing, dedicacated people.
    (My english teachers would probably cringe at some of the spelling and grammer used above.)

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  58. TN is with you! Strike for us and our students because we no longer have the voice that you possess.

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  59. This educator from MA supports you 100%! Clearly you understand what teaching is all about. Your former students clearly have seen that THEY MATTER to you..and YOU MATTER to the students of Chicago. We will be wearing red in solidarity on Wednesday. Stay strong and keep up the good fight.

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  60. Solidarity from this AFT higher ed union rep in New Jersey. Go get 'em tiger! We're with you. What you're doing is so important, not just for your students but for all educators who care about them.

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  61. teacher from AL 100% with you, Xian!!!

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  62. I only pray this strike goes for weeks.

    If that happens then the public will fire back... and there is a blueprint for that. It started in Ohio and was made bulletproof in Wisconsin.

    Illinois is next. You teachers (may or may not) know the state is broke but you want more $? You want more when the private sector struggles? You want no performance measurement? What kind of crazy world do you live in?

    Oh and clogging streets tonight in rush hour did more to hurt your case than it could ever help.

    I wish Reagan was alive and he would do to you what he did to the air traffic controllers. You all make way too much, 76K on average - vs 47K on avg in private sector.

    Today was the Union's Waterloo.

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  63. Waiting with breath bated to see how your strike goes! Every teacher that I've talked to at my school is wearing red on Wednesday to show our support!

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  64. You supported WI teachers when their unions were disbanded and their benefits slashed a couple of years ago, I feel it important to support you now.

    Teachers deserve a safe and functional workplace just like anyone else and our children even more so. I have worked high volume factories that were more comfortable than some of my kids classrooms.

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  65. I'm a parent & a tax payer in North Syracuse NY and I'm with you! I support you in your fight; I believe in what you're doing! Know that there are people who believe in what you're fighting for and why you're fighting! Keep up the good work!

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  66. This teacher in Colorado is behind you in Chicago 100% and will be wearing red to support you. Everything these politicians are attempting to do HURT our kids so they can capitalize on the poor and disenfranchised. I hope teachers everywhere join in the strike and show solidarity. Chicago has a rich history of labor -- Haymarket Square, the Pullman strike -- let the labor rejuvenate on the strong shoulders of Chicago! RISE UP!

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  67. 13 years on the job in L.A. my friend. We support you. It will soon be our time. Keep it up. Our life is yours.

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  68. Michigan stands with you! The country needs to understand what is happening to the education in the public schools.

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  69. I wish to goodness CPS would call your bluff and offer to fix everything on your list... in return for raising your health insurance premiums, freezing your pay for the next four years, and instituting a teacher evaluation system with teeth. I'm sure that all of you would go back to work the next day.... yeah, right.

    It's always "about the kids," except that it never is. The students (who, by the way, mostly read below grade level in Chicago) are just props for union propaganda.

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  70. On Wednesday the teachers in the Philadelphia School District will be wearing their red union shirts in your honor. Fight on!

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  71. Brilliant comment and so true: "I ask anyone who does remotely care about the kids we teach and learn from and triumph and cheer and cry and grow with., to stand with us and fight for a better future for our kids."

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  72. Thank you! You have lots of support in Wisconsin and from Wisconsin teachers. Keep up the fight - we need you to take a stand against this corporate ed reform! Stay strong & get lots of hugs - you'll need them.

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  73. Well said, Xian. I am a former public school teacher in the Chicago area, and I am standing with CPS teachers!

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  74. Solidarity from New Mexico. Stay Strong!

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  75. Thank you for this clear account of what teachers (and teachers' unions) care about.

    - IFT-AFT colleague who knows what unions really do

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  76. Xian thank you for this post. I wish your union leader had shared with the media the real reason the teachers are FORCED to go on strike. The board wants others to think that the teachers want more money. It is not really about the money, the reason the money comes up is because all the other teachers' rights have been taken from them. Teachers no longer have seniority, pension is at risk, principals can fire any teacher, test score is used to evaluate teachers when most of the school year is spent on preparing for test instead of teaching. Teachers are being blame for low test score. CPS officials do not take into consideration the social situation of some students, the increase crime rate in the city, and the number of students in a classroom. Experienced teachers got fired to be replaced by young unexperienced teachers; then they want the rest of us to believe they care about the kids - give me a break. Guess what: the salary for one teacher can hire two or more unexperienced teacher - now you make your conclusion.
    I have nothing against young or unexperienced teachers because they have to start somewhere but a mixture of young and older teachers will be best. Those teachers who see an opportunity now will be at some point in their career in the same situation. There is no doubt the kids are the victims but parents, the community need to stand up with the teachers so the situation can be solved once for all. The lack of respect that exist for teachers in this country is unbelievable. One more point: teachers' job do not end in the classroom. They take assignments at home to grade and contrary to other professions, teachers have to prepare lesson plans prior going to work. Teaching is just the easy part of the profession; there are so many other things a teacher has to deal with to keep 30+ focus. I would love to send my children to the laboratory school because Chicago Public School is ...

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  77. Why I do not trust Advance Illinois and other outside reform groups such as Stand for Children

    ...We must be careful of wealthy foundations that support the prevailing tsunami of educational reform. It is not honest "reform." It is about profits and privatization of public schools. These corporate millionaires behind groups like Advance Illinois and Stand for Children will not and "cannot be held accountable" for the damage they will incur; they are not elected by anyone. This is an irony since these groups believe that teachers should be held accountable for all the failures of their students.

    Under what pretense can we embrace the agenda of outside groups such as Advance Illinois and Stand for Children and reject our own experiential and implicit understanding about what must be done to guarantee that all students obtain the best education possible?

    Implementing so-called performance agreements, diminishing the power of unions, establishing merit pay, hiring and firing personnel according to private sectors’ procedures – do not address problems in education. Consider, for instance, how a public school district would establish an assurance of administrative impartiality and competency before providing the requisite training for fair and equitable evaluative methods and due process.

    Changes for educational reform must come from teachers, administrators and its local school board, and from students and their involved parents as they work together to solve the many challenges that we face. Modifications of current teachers’ evaluations, benefits, and rights should not come from outside, corporate-funded groups that emphasize an accountability program based on questionable sanctions and unformulated “multiple measures” linked to teachers’ performance.

    Be aware of the “Trojan Horse” that groups such as Advance Illinois and Stand for Children will bring to a school district. Be mindful of their glib adulations that "your district is a premier school district riding the top of the wave of student achievement… that it is not your district that should be concerned"; be aware of promises made for complete local autonomy regarding this legislation when it becomes law, for it may be a Faustian bargain in the end.

    No Child Left Behind and its spawn, Performance Counts, cannot resolve the difficulties that teachers will invariably inherit. Why? Teachers do not work with "quantifiable outcomes." (Perhaps we need Performance Counts legislation for our students’ parents instead: streamline dismissal hearings for ineffectual parenting, an independent fact-finding panel for impasses, an evaluative process based largely on how well children are doing in school and everywhere else...).

    How does one measure the effects that a teacher has on his or her students’ character, aspirations, responsibility, and moral and ethical values? How does one measure a teacher’s inspiration, dedication and passion that these influences have on students? Are there reliable, valid tests and data for such indelible impressions on students? I have had some teachers who would not have received a “Satisfactory” rating today, but some of them have had a lasting influence on me that is incalculable.

    Carefully examine the goals of public education. They are not the goals of Stand for Children and Advance Illinois. A teacher does not make a sale or earn a profit. A teacher works with children and young adults. Though we all want the best instruction for our students and children, we do not have to consider riding along with this prevailing wave of attacks on teachers’ autonomy and their rights by corporate factions and their entrepreneurs, such as Jonah Edelman's Stand for Children and Robin Stean's Advance Illinois. Why? Because waves will crash to shore no matter how we ride them.

    http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-i-do-not-trust-advance-illinois-and.html



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  78. The economy is in shambles resulting in city budget cuts and the city/state/nation's pension system is being crushed because there is little return on investment. Its mathematics. Teachers must suffer alongside the rest of the population. Why they are different, should deserve more than others or should be able to take a larger share of a shrinking pie is beyond me.

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  79. This Milwaukee teacher and mom stands with you and all of my CTU brothers and sisters. Thank you for such a beautiful and eloquent post. Solidarity!

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  80. former CPS student right behind you!

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  81. Stay strong. This law student, who went to public school all my life in AR and saw how bad it was becoming, stands with you all the way! Keep up the fight! And let any of us know what we can do to help!

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  82. Hi Xian - This is Nicole Colson from Socialist Worker newspaper (SocialistWorker.org). We were wondering if we could have permission to reprint this on our website? If so, just let us know how we should credit it (we'll be happy to provide a link to this page). Feel free to email me at colson@socialistworker.org.

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    1. Ha-ha! Perfect! You deserve one another.

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    2. Tone down your hate please. It's a bad influence on others.

      Thanks!

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    3. Gotta love it -- "hate" is now the all-purpose term of disdain. It basically means: "I disagree with you but don't really have an argument. I emote, therefore I am." And thus, why this strike makes sense to you becomes clearer.

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    4. I posted my argument above, you were the one who entered this space and was obnoxious to people.

      Projection is the child of insecurity.

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  83. Bravo!! I am putting a link to your wonderfully cogent piece on the Facebook page of our film. "AUGUST TO JUNE with respect for each child" is the title of the Facebook page(the film is titled "AUGUST TO JUNE: Bringing Life To School").

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  84. Solidarity from Rochester, NY...JCB's last "home" where he also caused union/management gridlock, imposed his will on us instead of working with us, overspent by millions and then tried to solve the budget issues by laying off staff while he & management got large raises & bonuses, encouraged a culture of teacher blame and lowering of accountability for other stakeholders and eventually pushed us out on the streets to picket and protest. He & Emmanuel are simply taking advantage of the current trend to demonize unions in some hope to advance their own agenda for power & advancement. He's gone and Rochester, NY is in recovery. Amazingly, our new SuperIntendent is having no problem collaborating with the unions and improving the district for kids. We are not having the same inflated drama about budget deficits. JCB'S is your biggest problem and Emmanuel is right behind him.

    Stay strong and remember that although you may not have your students in the classroom, you are teaching them an important lesson about speaking out and standing up for what you believe in. You are teaching them about standing together and pushing for leaders to listen to what you have to say. These are important lessons too especially in this election year. We can't let only the rich or politicians supported by them have a voice in this country. I'd like to see them teach for a school year and then see how they feel about unions, class size, work conditions, etc. I am certain the rhetoric would differ.

    I am wearing red tomorrow and will be there with you all in spirit. Fight CPS teachers! Teachers are counting on you all around the country!

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  85. Rochester is with you and believe me, we know exactly how you feel! We are wearing red in solidarity with Chicago tomorrow.

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  86. WOW ! It is a good thing that the NEA and its state pooh-bahs in places like Washington are stepping in with effective counter messaging!

    … ooops!

    I forgot – I pay dues to a bunch of political cowards, on a good day – except when they aren’t focused on dumping tens of thousands into the pockets of the same ol same ol CON$ultant$ of “Democratic” stripe who’ve lead us working stiffs down this primrose path to penury.

    rmm.

    (pst! any WA. union “leaders” who’d like to email me privately about unity and solidarity - blaming ME for this crap state of affairs – I’ll be posting your blame crap on dailykos, with my reply. Step Up.

    We could have a democratic public debate on policy towards this strike, the strike where 'leader' silence has been deafening, BUT, that kind of democratic member engagement runs counter to the Top Down grassroots tactics of our union, and the DLC sell out Democratic party which Rahm is leader of, doesn’t it.)

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  87. ROCHESTER NEW YORK SUPPORTS YOU!!!! We all know we would be the ones striking if JCB didnt leave her and go straight to Chicago!!! He does NOT care for teachers or students!!! We will ALL be in red tomorrow supporting you!!!!

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  88. Member of Missouri NEA in St. Louis says you are the foundation of our voice right now in America. Thank you so much, and stay strong!

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  89. Tucson is with you, Mr. Barrett. Thank you for standing up for our kids.

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  90. The union demanded a 30% raise, but is now willing to settle for "only" a 19% raise. Remind me again what part of this demand is "for the kids." It's so hard to keep up.

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  91. In solidarity from Los Angeles! You are leading the way for all of us!

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  92. Xian, Thank you! Your thoughts inspired an entry for my own blog on teaching with informational texts! http://sundaycummins.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/info-texts-essential-questions-on-labor-movement-in-chicago/

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  93. We're supporting you here in Champaign-Urbana! Why are so many people are ready to vilify teachers? In no other field do we focus so much on the few who are not competent and/or committed and overlook the vast majority who are dedicated, working long hours, and fighting for our kids. Thanks for your work and your words.

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  94. Great Post. Thank You & Solidarity in Dignity for Chicago Education.

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  95. Xian,

    I truly believe you are about the kids 30-50 kids in a classroom is very difficult.

    That being said, something in this country needs to change with education, and we cant just throw money at it. The US spends more per capita per student than any other country in the world.

    http://mat.usc.edu/u-s-education-versus-the-world-infographic/

    And we are not getting results.

    The Chicago mean and median salaries for teachers are $78K and #68K. These are base salaries. This is plus government healthcare, and pensions. The base salaries alone are 60% higher than the median US income.

    The charter school movement enables innovation and reallocates costs from salaries to materials and resources for students. You say that 50 kids per classroom is too many. If a traditional public school is shut down, 2 charter schools could open up in its place. The innovation of education is key here - there is no room for innovation in non-charter schools.

    Charter schools that are successful, get more $. Ones that are not, get shut down.

    Charter schools, while unpopular amongst traditional teachers because they are viewed as union busting. But looking at the performance of schools - something needs to change.

    My sister has taught in traditional public schools, and left for a non-union lower paying job because the charter school was more innovative, successful, and resource-laden

    Please reply as I want to know your thoughts

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    1. Ted, I would in most ways agree with you. We spend less of our GNP on education compared to our most successful counterparts. Additionally, we spend a great deal on Special Education services, as we should.

      We are getting results--we have the best education in the world for middle class students and above.

      But we are failing as a country in fair economic results for work. We are failing at economic opportunity, and no one is using their tax cuts to set up job opportunities in the neighborhoods we teach in. Peep the unemployment rate for minority youth (remember--that's for people actively looking for jobs).

      We have bad educational outcomes for 2 reasons:
      1) Top down educational system that makes teachers focus on compliance and testing instead of teaching.
      2) Devastatingly bad economic conditions and a poverty gap that is only increasing.

      Fact check: Our mean and median salaries are not what you've posted. Those are based on counting admins and downtown personnel, and it's not the latest info. We make a below average salary for the value of dollar in Chicago and our level of education.

      Charter schools that are politically connected and unsuccessful get cloned--not shut down. That's why they are twice as likely to underperform as outperform. They are a scale up of all of the top down problems that plague the regular system.

      UIUC's charter research shows that charters are only more innovative in marketing and fundraising, not in educational practice.

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    2. Thanks for the response - I appreciate it. Here are my closing remarks, feel free to respond, or not.

      I agree compliance should not be the key here. However standardized tests ("top down") are the norm world wide. That being said, I never want to deal with "teaching the test"

      Your arguments about pay do have some merit. That being said, your response indicates that your salary, benefits, etc are an issue here. 2 questions - 1 - Do you think that you would be a worse teacher without a Masters Degree? I dont and I question the merit of getting one. I think great teachers are knowlegeable, enthusiatic, driven, and passionate - you dont need a masters degree for that. 2 - You make less than peers with same education - did you expect anything different?? If you went to grad school for the money, a Masters in Elementary Education is not the one to pick.

      I am a liberal, 4 for 4 democratic presidential voter, however, I believe the only true solution is to bust the teachers unions.

      Total Spend should be re-allocated to focus on resources, cloning successful schools, and performance-based-bonuses to teachers. Not caught up in lengthy contracts, inability to fire the worst of the worst teachers, and GUARENTEED pensions.

      I have a masters degree, work in private industry, have no gaurenteed pension, and could be fired at any moment for performance - or rewarded for performance as well.


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    3. I just don't see the data--the top performing states and country have stable educators who are protected by unions. The argument that unions lower the standard of education just has no basis in reality.

      My response on salary was because you asked about it. If you asked me about ice cream and I talked about it because I love ice cream, that wouldn't mean that the strike was about ice cream, it would mean that I'm a good conversationalist (who likes ice cream).

      I think I would be a worse teacher without a master's degree, but specifically in my case, I was trained to teach in Japan, so I had to take graduate classes in order to obtain my teaching degree.

      I don't want more money than my peers, but when our critics are saying that we are overpaid compared to people without comparable education it ignores the trend in society that greater education is rewarded.

      Finally, we don't have guaranteed pensions. Quite the contrary, we contributed and the state/city robbed our pension fund. Please don't blame us for politicians' greed.

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  96. Bravo and well written. Appreciated here ion the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I am striking back with an offer to help teachers in the classroom. http://www.core-strength.net/offers/the-fire-of-learning/
    Keep up the good fight.

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  97. Your post is great to read. I was wondering what is the easy way to clean dog teeth?

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  98. Teachers are our best resources and I believe that they need all our support to help them be successful in their efforts to educated our children.

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  99. Firstly, I like how people who are against the strike have no actual reasons to back it up, other than "it hurts the children" (which I think Xian does a great job of dismantling here).

    Secondly, the bit about Chicago having the shortest school day in the country is completely inaccurate. From what I understand, that's based off of ONE school in Chicago. The school day of every CPS high school I have met teachers from (around 7 hours) is longer than the school day I had (6.5 hours) in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb known for its quality school system.

    Thirdly, some people threw out creative ideas of ways for teachers to make change without striking. One was continuing to teach without accepting paychecks. For starters, this is EXACTLY what the Board wants; free labor. Doing their work for free would not give teachers ANY power to affect change in the school system. Additionally, although teachers are awesome, they aren't superhumans and have the same basic needs as every other person such as food, clothing, housing, etc, which in our capitalist society can only be attained with money.

    Someone suggested that teachers should use their raises to install air conditioning in the schools. Even if my above point about basic needs wasn't true, this puts all the responsibility on teachers to provide even the most basic amenities for students. Should teachers just start doing all the building repairs in the schools? Maybe they should give all the students rides to and from school every day, and scrub the school toilets too. The point is to hold the Board of Education and CPS accountable to THEIR duties, which include providing an environment in which students can actually learn.

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  100. Supporting you from Richmond, VA!

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  101. The best thing we ever did in New Orleans after Katrina was switch to charter schools and dump most of the union. Now over 70% of students attend non-union charter schools and the children are finally learning something.

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  102. Yeah, I know, "The best thing that ever happened to New Orleans education was Hurricane Katrina". The thing is, I've been there. I've seen the devastatingly unequal schooling after the hurricane. I've seen the charter empires bully the mom-and-pop charters and more than that, I've seen and heard the stories of the students of New Orleans. So I don't know if you are Paul Vallas or some random dude, but your anonymous input means little.

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  103. Parabens pela estrutura e conteudo de seu blog, Forte abraço Renato Artesanato em MDF

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