Chelsea Gardner Staff Writer
Last week, the Chicago Teachers Union and school board resurrected a 25-year power struggle. The two groups are in a heated dispute about new contract terms. Some of the key components of the contract include: the influence of principals in the teacher hiring process and an update of a “40-year neglected” teacher evaluation system. This system holds teachers accountable for poor test scores. The Union has protested for six days, beginning Monday, Sept. 10. Chicago teachers are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and the school board is livid. Parents are growing impatient. But, in all of this disarray, I can’t help but wonder about the concern for students.
Approximately 350,000 Chicago public school students were out of school this past week. During Sunday’s meeting, an agreement was not reached, and the strike has resumed. So…again, I must ask, what about the students? They may have been excited at first, beguiled by the idea of an extended summer. Maybe they were even blinded by the weeklong freedom from the return of a monotonous school routine. However, this moment of elation will quickly fade, because the strike is negatively affecting the children. With Union members shouting “It’s not over yet,” elementary, middle, and high school students have no choice but to suffer. School resumed from summer vacation just a few weeks ago and now students are being deprived of the school setting. How is this going to help students prepare for tests, which is a critical component in this issue?
I totally understand that teachers want to make a difference in the community, by getting their voices heard. However, until an agreement is reached this conflict is hindering the success of the children. They need a suitable environment for learning. Parents with demanding jobs and financial instability are struggling to manage in this chaotic situation. Also, who will supervise students who live in dangerous areas of Chicago? What are the children supposed to do with this time? Where are students expected to go? These are questions that need answers.
Chicago is the nation’s third-largest school district. Clearly, the priority of the school should be to educate and serve the students. I wonder if that is the priority? The Chicago school system clearly needs to make some adjustments, but not at the expense of education. A compromise is necessary and with the weight of this situation, I feel “sooner rather than later” is best. I only hope that the school board and teachers union can re-focus to better serve the kids.