Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Sunday night, anxious about the oncoming strike, I spent ten minutes of my time with my small voice to write a short piece about why I was striking. I sent it out via twitter and facebook, and let it go for the night.

The response was overwhelming. First teachers, then parents and students, and finally the mainstream media reached out.

Today, I am filled with hope. I didn't conceive it, but I am proud to be part of this international movement to save public education. Let's maintain these connections, organize in our own communities and take back our education system.

To this end, I'd suggest a couple of actions:
1) Bring together parents, students and educators with equal voice.
2) Develop our own vision of what education should be.
3) Demand community control of policy and implementation of our shared vision.

As a starting point, I'd suggest that we agree on some basic ideas:
1) Public education means every single young person gets the supports they need to take ownership of and advance their education.
2) Parents and students have a right to determine what they want from their schools.
3) Teachers have a right to determine how to best fulfill parent and student vision with our professional expertise.

For too long, we've waited for the rich and powerful to improve our schools. They have no interest or motivation to do so. We are the ones we've been waiting for. Let's build the schools our students deserve.

Wearing red day 2 on the picket line.


  1. As a union member who has nothing to do with CPS, I often wonder is there a certain sense of schadenfreude that affects the outlook of the mainstream media. Over the last twenty years, they have stood by while they were stripped of most of their basic benefits. Now they seem to want to stir the pot and get other people cry out how "good" you have it. How many of these people could last one week in a classroom? How few of them could ever hope to truly make a difference in the lives of students that many on the management side of CPS has written off.

    Even if you asked a doctor to perform one additional wart removal from the posterior of one member of society, would he not rightfully expect to receive an additional sliver of recompense? Why then should any less be expected for a teacher?

    [Excerpts from Wikipedia about Rahm Emanuel]

    He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, and went on to receive an Master of Arts in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985. Although he did not have an MBA degree or prior banking experience, he became a managing director at the firm’s Chicago office in 1999, and according to Congressional disclosures, made $16.2 million in his two-and-a-half-years as a banker.[35][36] At Wasserstein Perella, he worked on eight deals, including the acquisition by Commonwealth Edison of Peco Energy and the purchase by GTCR Golder Rauner of the SecurityLink home security unit from SBC Communications.

    Emanuel was named to the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) by President Clinton in 2000. He earned at least $320,000 during his time there, including later stock sales. During Emmanuel's time on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight later accused the board of having "failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention." Emanuel resigned from the board in 2001 when he ran for Congress.

    How does a man who should have never risen above the rank of press secretary for Mayor Daley dare cry out, "it's for the children." Personally, I am sick of the Kool-aid that is being served up to the poorly educated electorate by the likes of Mayor Emanuel as well as R. Eden Martin and Laurence Msall of the Chicago Civic Federation.

    This is one time that we all need to read between the lines.

  2. Thank you for speaking up clearly and articulately.

    -teacher in Wisconsin

  3. Chicago teachers are already the highest paid teachers in the country. Stop worrying about yourselves and think of the kids. Why should it be so difficult to fire a poor performing teacher? Why should all teachers who were laid off be guaranteed a call back? Why should you guys get a 30 percent raise when the city is facing a budget shortfall? Selfish, selfish, selfish.

    1. Not sure what you do for a living, but I bet it's not teaching. Say your company decided to downsize and cut 100 people including you. No income, benefits, nothing. Within a year they experienced growth and given the demands of the market needed additional staff to help handle such demands. They decide to hire 100 brand new people because it's cheaper, given the entry-level salaries they are able to provide. Still you are receiving a pittance of unemployment benefits while searching for a job that will pay within 80% of your former salary... teachers are the last ones to say "why me" and yet people like you are the first to point blame. SHAME ON YOU.

  4. You wrote a long post Sunday listing claimed deficiencies in the CPS system, and you said these are the things you are fighting for. Yet even your union boss does not echo your propaganda. In fact, the true demands of the union are the following:

    - A 19% raise (down from the initial demand of 30%)

    - No increase in health care premiums paid by union members (currently, teachers only pay 3% of their premiums)

    - Lowered teacher accountability, thus ensuring that no deadwood is fired.

    Where in all of these demands is the claimed care for the welfare of the students? Where in all of this is the CTU demanding air-conditioned classrooms, patched roofing, and new textbooks? It's not there. The CPS has spent enough money over the years to easily gold-plate every school in the city, but the teachers were more concerned with gold-plated retirement benefits, high salaries, and lax work rules. And they still are.

    Moreso than in most places, the CTU has been very effective in extracting what it wants from the taxpayers, but financial reality has a way of rudely reasserting itself. Nearly three-quarters of new education spending over the last five years has gone to pay teacher retirement costs. CPS is currently facing a budget shortfall roughly one and a half times the size of the 16% salary-increase offer rejected by the CTU. The CPS' bonds have been downgraded by two of the "big three" ratings agencies. The state's teacher-pension system is less than 20% funded.

    Strike all you want, but you can't change reality.

    The theme of this strike is simple: Selfish "public servants" fighting a war against math.

  5. As of today there are two issues the two sides have not agreed upon and are keeping kids out of their classrooms in Chicago: teacher evaluations and teacher rehires. Not even strikeable issues. Its pretty obvious the CTU really does not care about improving education for kids.

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