Understanding the Chicago Teachers’ Strike

This is NOT just about the classroom. This is about the state of education in the country.

Oct. 30, 2019

If you aren’t paying attention, it’s easy to just wonder why Chicago Teachers can’t just take a few extra bucks and go back to work. This strike is different. This is the strike to prevent strikes in -the future. This is not just about pay, but about the realities of education, in the hope of transforming the state of education here in Chicago and the country.

Teachers are looking for solutions for students, lower-cost housing for them and their parents, ways to eliminate the hurdles of education, the largest one being the stressors of extreme poverty. Chicago teachers are not striking as workers wanting money. They are striking as education experts discussing class sizes, ameliorations for poverty, success-oriented SPED programming, health priorities for students, and more.

Stacey Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, told reporters on Thursday. “We mean business. It cannot be about politics and personalities. It’s got to be about shifting and transforming the infrastructure of inequity.”

This is NOT just about the classroom. This is about the state of education in the country. And that is why I support Chicago’s Teachers.

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Oct. 31, 2019

One of the things that Chicago’s teachers just won for its students is smaller class sizes. The agreement calls for enforcing class size restrictions on classrooms over 32 children in a way that is not just advisory but effective. That means reorganizing classes, hiring more Teacher’s assistants and bringing in more teachers. There were Chicago classes with 40 or more students. As a rubric, try to remember the last time you had to get 40 or more people to do ANYTHING.

At Simeon School, the place where Wednesday’s press conference was held, a third of the core subject classes last year had more than 28 students, above the “advisory” recommendation.

Chicago is a weird city. The long line of very powerful Daley Mayors resulted in some complex legislation on the books, In 1995 state law established mayoral control over Chicago Public Schools, making striking over class size or other issues illegal. The CTU only is allowed to strike over wages and benefits. So they did.

Studies show that smaller class sizes are not inconsequential. The benefits of a smaller class size increase with students in poverty, but all students benefit. In fact, smaller class sizes at a young age carry benefits that do not disappear later, even if the classes grow bigger with their subsequent years.

Chicago Teachers fought and risked their jobs to be able to teach the children of this city better, with more personal instruction, according to models that really work. And that’s just one thing they fought for.

And they won for everyone. This is worth celebrating.

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