A Morning on the CTU Picket-Lines

A morning on the CTU Picket lines

By Bob George. September 14.2012

Today I had the honor of walking the Chicago Teachers’ Union Picket lines. I joined students, parents, nurses, counselors and Teachers. They are united in a common cause. Each fights for the schools that the student’s deserve.

Throughout the day, parents united, stood on the picket line, with the Teachers. In the morning, Mom and Dads brought breakfast to the educators. Then. later, more parents arrived; home-made lunches for the strikers in hand

Students joined their mentors on the picket lines. Whole families joined in supporting los maestros in their effort to secure the school los ninos deserve.

The first teacher I talked with Alicia, teaches First Grade. It is her first year teaching. She did her student teaching at Salcedo, the same school we were picketing. The best thing for her about this strike is she is getting to know her fellow teachers and form bonds with them. Often, a concerned and conscientious classroom teacher has little time to meet with his or her fellow educators.

Alicia and every teacher I spoke with is fully aware of the issues. This strike is about the shape of what Public Education looks like. It is about high-stakes testing crowding out all of the art, music, science, social studies and physical education instructional time. To ensure students do well on the weighted tests, classroom curricula has been reduced to mostly math and reading.

Alicia is on strike to stop the turn arounds and school closings engineered by the school board. Actions that lead to Education Management Organizations [EMOs] and for profit charters taking over what were once viable community schools are serious concerns. Neighborhood unity is lost when schools are seen as money-making businesses.

Angel Perez, spoke of the Marquette Elementary turn around. All 149 teachers fired, all of the schools staff let go and then AUSL and EMP came in. This Not for Profit organization supported by the Gates Foundation was given 8.7 million by the school district to refurbish the school. This fully funded turn a round group was able to buy or furniture and new materials for a school that CPS ignored before. Angel and the Marquette community ask; why not invest that money in the existing community school? This is what CTU wonders about as well. Teachers and supportive parents are on strike to stop this madness.

Skipper teaches fourth grade and has for 21 years. She spends so much of her time testing she cannot meet the diverse needs of her students. This troubles her. Students who range in ability from 2nd grade to 6th grade sit together, and take the same mandated tests. Each child is defined by a grade, not by their progress or potential. Skipper tells me there were three iterations of tests added this year because of a grant. This on top of the three tests she already administers, a pre and post. There is no time to teach.

Sarah the CORE CTU leader spoke of how the union is working to create teacher evaluations that do not overly depend on these tests. They are fighting for a fair evaluation process, with checks and balances, so that Principals or central office leadership cannot arbitrarily create low evaluations. Why is it that too often when a teacher reaches a certain point in their career (20 plus years) they are suddenly seen as unsatisfactory and rifted? The coincidence leaves many to worry and wonder. Are their skills and experience less valuable than those of a new teacher?

The overwhelming feeling among all I encountered was a unified sense of purpose. An energy flows through this group of dedicated individuals. They are determined to take back the schools for the students, parents and teachers.

Fight the Power, focus on the children

The purpose, the means ,the goal

Morning Negotiation update Rank and file learn of the progress made at the bargaining table

The core supporters discussing the issues of the day…..

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